Aug 12

City environmental team receives multiple grants

Posted on August 12, 2022 at 1:57 PM by Jessica VanderKolk

With Patty Hoch-Melluish, environmental and storm service manager

The City of Battle Creek is getting some financial help to protect our natural resources. We have received a number of grants in 2022 to support our environmental programs.

Pollinator Habitat

  • The Michigan Department of Natural Resources provided $17,500 to install 8.5 acres of pollinator habitat along the city’s Linear Path on Jackson Street and in the Leila Arboretum. This included the cost of site preparation, pollinator seed mix, 25 trees and 760 native plant plugs. This pollinator area was converted from mowed turf grass, and now provides food and habitat for wildlife, while also reducing fuel use and emissions with less-frequent mowing.

Two women kneeling in grassy area, planting native plants.

Volunteers plant native plants along the Linear Park path to draw pollinators.

Stormwater Management

  • Dart Container Corporation in Mason, Michigan, awarded the City $4,000 worth of stormwater management products through their “Keep Marinas Clean” program. These grants are available to organizations that conduct work near stormwater inlets where pollutants have the potential to be transported to local surface waters. The City received 15 “gutter guards” and 18 “filter socks” to prevent sediment from entering the storm sewer system. Remember that water – and anything that flows with it – that enters our stormwater inlets goes straight to our waterways without treatment.

Two woman install a gutter guard around a curbside storm inlet.

City Engineering Technicians, Melissa Whitcomb and Amber Whitcomb, install gutter guards at a storm sewer inlet.

  • The Midwest Glacial Lakes Partnership awarded funds to the city for support of the project diverting stormwater away from Goguac Lake to an existing retention pond. This project will eliminate stormwater additions from nearly 35 acres of urban commercial and residential areas draining to the lake. The $75,000 grant will go toward improving water quality and fisheries habitat within this popular Battle Creek lake.

Linear Park Improvements

These projects are possible in part by grants from the Battle Creek Community Foundation (BCCF).

  • BCCF provided $4,000 assistance for an invasive species survey along seven miles of the Linear Path, from Emmett Street to Stringham Road on the north side of the Battle Creek and Kalamazoo Rivers. Invasive species can degrade wildlife habitat, outcompete beneficial native species, and create nuisance conditions. This survey and management plan will help guide the city’s future invasive species management efforts to more efficiently manage the resource.
  • BCCF provided $1,500 for the purchase and installation of a new park bench along the Linear Path on Jackson Street. The bench will provide a much-needed spot to take a rest and enjoy the Kalamazoo River and the new pollinator plantings.
  • The BCCF Thelma Greer City Tree Fund will support the purchase of and site preparation for 15 trees along the Linear Path on Jackson Street. We will select tree species to enhance the habitat for pollinators and other wildlife, while also providing shade and increased aesthetics for park visitors.

Five people help plant a tree. River in the background.

Volunteers from DENSO plant trees along the Linear Park path.

River Cleanups

  • We received a  grant for $3,839 from the Michigan Clean Water Corps (MiCorps) to purchase supplies to host a river cleanup event. The city was able to purchase two boats, a trailer and accessories, and a picnic lunch for our volunteers. The boats will be used for future in-stream cleanup events to help keep the City and our waterways clean. Thanks to city staff suggestions and voting, look for The Creek Battler and The Kalamazoom on a waterway near you!

Two people stand in river, guiding a boat full of trash, including tires.

Volunteers celebrate a successful cleanup on the Battle Creek River.

Person floating on river in kayak points to boat floating nearby full of collected trash.

A boatful of trash removed from the Battle Creek River.

We want to extend a big thank you to all the organizations that provided funding, and to all the volunteers who gave generously of their time to support these important projects in our community. It is making a big difference!

Jun 07

Get connected with the community - run for City Commission!

Posted on June 7, 2022 at 10:18 PM by Jessica VanderKolk

Dais, microphones, and chairs in Battle Creek city commission chambers

It's a local election year again, and these are hugely important positions on your election ballot!

If you are looking for a way to get more involved in your community, consider running for a seat on our Battle Creek City Commission! There are:

  • Mayor - One, directly elected on the ballot, must be City of Battle Creek registered voters
  • Ward commissioners - Five, represent neighbors in a specific geographic area, must be City of Battle Creek registered voters and live in the wards they wish to represent
  • At-large commissioners - Three, represent the entire city, must be City of Battle Creek registered voters

The sitting commission chooses the vice mayor among themselves. 

City Commissioners serve as a connection between neighbors who live in the city, and city staff. They meet twice a month, typically on the first and third Tuesdays of the month, at 7 p.m. They consider the city budget each year, city projects, development of all types, local ordinance changes, and much more. They learn about the many issues that involve a full-service city through packets of information prepared for each meeting; city staff work with them and answer questions along the way. The commission also holds workshops, extra meetings where they do not take action, but learn about and can ask questions about a particular issue.

Here are some numbers to help you plan a potential run for City Commission:

  • June 6, 2022 - Petition packets became available at the City Clerk's office, Room 111 at City Hall, 10 N. Division St.
  • 50-75 - The number of valid signatures required for ward candidates, from City of Battle Creek registered voters
  • 100-150 - The number of valid signatures required for mayor and at-large candidates, from City of Battle Creek registered voters
  • July 26, 2022 - Final deadline to return petitions to the City Clerk's office, by 4 p.m. - NOTE: We recommend returning petitions early, if possible, so candidates can seek additional signatures if any are found to be invalid.
  • Aug. 2 and Nov. 8, 2022 - primary and general elections, respectively

There is much more information here online at battlecreekmi.gov/elections. You can also call the City Clerk team at 269-966-3311. Stop by for a packet from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Whether or not you choose to run for a position on the City Commission, we urge you to vote in this year's elections! Check out michigan.gov/vote for voter registration information, polling place information, sample ballots when they are available, and more.

Apr 08

City airport unique, operating at highest standard!

Posted on April 8, 2022 at 2:56 PM by Jessica VanderKolk

Six men wearing jeans & blue shirts or black jackets, standing in front of yellow airport snow plow. Airplanes on pavement behind them. Blue sky.

Photo: Standing in front of an airport snow plow are the airport teammates certified to do our FAA inspections: (from left) David Erhart, John Gray, Jonathon Young, Mitch Dadow, Jim Tobias, Chuck Orr

***

The city’s Battle Creek Executive Airport at Kellogg Field is unique in many ways, and one of those is its most recent Federal Aviation Administration inspection – which it passed in mid-December 2021.

Because BTL – the shorthand for the airport – does not offer commercial service, the FAA does not require document and field checks. The state would typically handle that for us. But new Interim Aviation Director Philip Kroll said there are several reasons why BTL chooses to receive these annual inspections – backlogged due to the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • Helps us comply with requirements for grants we receive
  • Makes it easy for us to keep following airport safety requirements
  • Helps us identify any problems, and keep up with records

“Being the third busiest airport in the state, we are holding ourselves to the highest federal standard,” Kroll said. “Even though we don’t have commercial service, we want to meet that safety standard.”

BTL’s late 2021 document inspection found three technical issues to correct – but with no legal enforcement necessary – we were a month off checking specific field lights within six months of each other; we have to ensure proof of Battle Creek Fire Department Airport Rescue Fire Fighting training (much different than typical firefighting), and we have some staff behind on field driving training (staff including airport tenants, like Duncan Aviation and WACO Aircraft). The airport corrected all of these issues in February 2022.

We have not received an FAA inspection of the air field since 2019, with no major issues at that time. Kroll doesn’t know yet when BTL will get its next field inspection.

But that inspection involves doing what our airport team does every day – someone must drive around the roughly 1,260-acre airfield to inspect every light, sign, and piece of pavement. Once a week they do the same check at night. They will do special inspections due to weather, or a problem with a plane (like it lands, and pops a tire).

The daily inspection typically takes an hour or two, and most of the BTL staff can do it; they must have FAA training and certification.

“They assess what they find,” Kroll said. “If it’s an immediate action, like a pavement crack where an aircraft could lose control, they would get the crack sealant out there to fix the problem.”

They might have to remove a piece of trash, cut grass in an area where it has grown too tall, or fix a pothole caused by a lightning strike.

While airports are all similar, they all have a unique layout and factors that dictate their operations and inspections. The FAA checks an airport’s certification manual, unique compliance document, training records, emergency plans, snow and ice plan, wildlife management plan, and other documents critical to operating an airport safely.

The city’s Battle Creek Executive Airport has operated for nearly a century, and also is home to the Western Michigan University College of Aviation, the Battle Creek Air National Guard, and 55 private tenants. With many recent business expansions around the airport, and consideration of Unmanned Aircraft Systems drone operations, it is an incredible city asset, and important to our economic development. Learn more at flybtl.com.

Paved airport taxiway with yellow stripe down middle. B 31 sign to left. Grass to left and far end.

BTL airport taxiway - every day our team inspects the signs, pavement, pavement markings, and lights to make sure they meet FAA regulations.

 Drifts and arcs of snow with airport blow shadowed in the middle.

Snow plowing doesn't just happen on city streets! The BTL team must remove snow from runways, taxiways, and ramps, and update pilots throughout every snow storm.