Officials set goals for 2017

ESCANABA — Local officials have established goals for the new year and what they would like to see accomplished. Here’s a sampling of what they hope lies ahead in the months to come.

Delta County Administrator Ryan Bergman said that, for 2017, his highest priority is to continue working on the county’s new jail.

“Our goal is to try to break ground by the end of the summer, but, unfortunately, that may not be realistic,” he said.

Bergman said the county is currently seeking requests for qualifications (RFQs) related to this project.

“We are doing RFQs to hire both an architectural and engineering firm and a construction management firm,” he said.

The county is also seeking funding for the jail project from USDA Rural Development. If they receive this funding, they would be able to complete the project at a lower cost to taxpayers.

“We’re trying to secure USDA Rural Development funding for the project … which would allow for a lower interest rate,” he said.

Along with the jail project, Bergman said he plans to manage the county’s acquisition of 1,400 acres of Cornell Township land from forest products company Weyerhaeuser, finish work on a project which will replace aging infrastructure and increase energy efficiency at the Delta County Courthouse and the Delta County Airport, and enhance the county’s online presence in 2017. He also noted that the Delta County Board of Commissioners has expressed interest in removing barriers to economic development in the county this year.

“It seems like the board wants to take a more active role,” he said.

Those working with city governments in the area have made plans for the new year, as well. Escanaba Mayor Marc Tall said his biggest goal for 2017 is to find a replacement for Escanaba City Manager Jim O’Toole, who plans to retire in the coming months.

“Hiring a new city manager is the top of the list,” he said.

Tall also said the city plans to make improvements to Ludington Street, such as adding more facade projects and finishing the Escanaba marketplace project. He said that the latter project should be completed in the first half of the year.

“We’ll be completing the marketplace project … on (Ludington) Street,” he said.

Manistique City Manager Sheila Aldrich stated she will work toward preserving her city’s status as a welcoming place for both visitors and the people who live there.

“The New Year’s resolutions for Manistique would entail first and foremost continuing to keep our residents and businesses safe, secure and supported in their hometown, and to keep our community clean and vibrant, a place where residents and visitors alike feel they can relax, refresh and would want to return,” she wrote.

Other priorities for Aldrich in the new year are preparing to open a new campground in 2017, continuing to work on the city’s marina and Marina Drive, and maintaining the city’s advertising partnerships with Pure Michigan and John Madigan of Pictured Rocks.

Aldrich stated that she and other members of the city’s government are glad to be living and working in Manistique.

“We feel fortunate and appreciate being a part of such a good community,” she wrote.

Bay College will be making some changes in the new year, College President Laura Coleman said. Her primary goal for the college in 2017 is to continue the process of adopting “Guided Pathways.”

According to Coleman, this is a nationwide campaign with the goal of increasing college graduation rates by asking incoming students to select and study a broad “career pathway” before choosing their major.

“Improving the students’ experience throughout their interactions with Bay College … through a more focused approach to certificate and degree laddering,” she said regarding the goal of Guided Pathways.

Coleman said that the college will also make improvements to their courtyard and officially introduce their athletics program in 2017. The athletics program will be launched during the Fall 2017 semester, and the college has already begun to prepare for its introduction.

“We’re well on our way with recruits and improvements in the YMCA gym,” Coleman said.