Monday’s Saline City Council meeting was preceded by a party of sorts to honor veterans. Cake and beverages were served as council members and others spoke with seven or eight local vets that came for the event. Two of the vets were City Engineer Gary Roubal and Council member Jack Ceo.
The meeting began with four presentations, the first of which was a proclamation by Mayor Brian Marl honoring area veterans. After Marl’s reading, American Legion Commander Tim Driscoll gave a short speech.
Driscoll spoke of the work of the Legion and presented the mayor with a “challenge coin.” Challenge coins are commemorative tokens carried by members of military groups and sometimes given to supporters.
This challenge coin was from the Vietnam Veterans’ State Council recognizing those suffering the after effects of Agent Orange. The mayor was grateful for the honor.
The next presentation was the awarding of 2016 SalineBeGreen awards by Dennis Kittel, Chair of the Saline Environmental Commission. This is the first year these awards have been presented and there were seven recipients.
The two individual Saline residents receiving the award were Aiden Carichner and Sheila Bourgoin. Carichner won for his environmental leadership among fellow students and his work with the Nike Better World Reuse a Shoe Drive. Bourgoin, a Master Naturalist certified by MSU, won for her stewardship of nature activities, especially her work combating invasive species.
The other five awards were given to businesses and organizations. These included Saline District Library, Carrigan Café, Finao, First Presbyterian Church and Pleasant Ridge Elementary School.
The library won for promoting sustainable practices, its raingarden and installing solar panels on the roof. Carrigan won for their efforts to reduce packaging and encourage recycling.
Finao, a local company that makes custom photo albums, won for their efforts to reduce their environmental impact. First Presbyterian won for their program to install solar panels on the roof, allowing parishioners to participate in producing sustainable solar energy communally even when they could not do so at their own homes.
Pleasant Ridge was honored for teaching students about recycling and their hosting of zero-waste days. The school was represented by Principal Kevin Musson, Tracy Pratt, and Rex Clary
Head librarian Mary Ellen Mulcrone received the prize for the library and Karen Carrigan accepted Carrigan’s prize. Fred Lupton III accepted the prize for the Presbyterian Church and a collection of people accepted the prize for Finao.
The award consisted of a Motawi Bee tile embedded in a wood plaque with embossed words.
The third presentation was a recognition of the fiftieth anniversary of the sister city relationship between Saline and Brecon, Wales. Marl spoke about the significance of this relationship and displayed a set of custom-designed Saline coasters he will be giving to the mayor of Brecon. It has become a tradition for mayors of the two cities to exchange gifts.
Jim Roth has been involved with the program for decades, but is not a founding member. He provided some background of the international friendship.
“The history of this goes back to the City Council, 1966,” Roth said. “Mr. Johnson was mayor at that particular time and the first group that went over there was Musical Youth International. And then there was some exchange of some of the mayors and other dignitaries both from Saline and from Brecon.”
The fourth presentation was a quarterly review by police Chief Larry Hrinik on progress in the police department. After the department underwent an independent review last year and then entered a relationship with consulting company Lexipol, the chief was asked to provide quarterly updates.
Hrinik reported that all 155 Lexipol policies have been reviewed and 55 have already been released to the officers and sergeants. He said he expected that by the middle of December over half of the policies will be issued.
This rate of review and adoption, he said, is faster than most departments. He said the use of Lexipol policies would also help the department as they apply for accreditation from the Michigan Municipal League. Such accreditation enables the department to reduce liability insurance fees by 5 percent.
He reported that communication within the department, one of the issues highlighted as needing improvement, was continuing as in the previous quarter with regular staff, shift, rollcall meetings.
Hrinik also spoke of training that various officers were obtaining. He said that the department will probably join the South Michigan Criminal Justice Training Consortium, which will give them access to some free training.
Council member Dean Girbach asked that the chief keep Council apprised of any incidents of intimidation or harassment such as has been reported elsewhere in Michigan since the divisive national election.
“I, and I believe members of our council, would appreciate that information be tracked or even provided to the council so that we understand that our community will continue to be a welcoming and very safe and secure place for all our citizens and I think that’s one of the things that I just need to emphasize at this time because we are all feeling a little uncertain,” Girbach said. “But I think we need to be aware of anything that should arise because of issues that happened in Dewitt, Royal Oak and Traverse City.”
Girbach raised the issue later in the meeting in the context of drafting an anti-discrimination ordinance.