Notes From the Saline Coalition for a Quality Community Meeting

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The Saline Coalition for a Quality Community Coalition met Wednesday for its first meeting of 2021. The non-profit organization, made up of people from various organizations around the community, meets once a month to share information and discuss issues in hopes of facilitating groups working together.

Wednesday's meeting featured a quick roundtable update:

  • Cindy Baxter said Salt Valley Arts activities have been reduced since they're not able to operate out of the EHM Senior Solutions building due to COVID-19. There have been some activities over Zoom and outdoor activities behind Brewed Awakenings.
  • Paul Hynek noted the new Saline Area Schools Board of Education members took seat Tuesday night. He said organizers of Summerfest are beginning to plan for this year's event, hopeful it may be able to take place.
  • Diane Mukkala said the Saline Leadership Institute is in a holding pattern due to COVID-19. The SLI did not offer its program in 2020. Mukkala said the Saline business recruitment and retention committee helped hots a business summit that heard from 60 people in the business community. She said it was eye-opening for local officials and that the committee will review suggestions next week and has plans for another summit. The Fifth Corner Teen Center has its first virtual session Friday.
  • Sunshine Lambert said Rec Center patronage was surging around the holidays, but visits are still down. They are looking for guidance from the state. In the meantime, virtual classes continue and there are even some outside classes. She said the annual Daddy-Daughter dance has been replaced by a Date Night Dash around town.
  • Mike Greene reported Saline City Council has reached an agreement that the wastewater treatment plant rehab/upgrades will take place on site. He noted the city offices will remain closed to visitors (except by appointment) until Feb. 1. City staff is busy working on budgets.
  • Brandon Sears said the Saline Area Fire Department Toys for Tots drive was very impressive. Even in a year when schools were closed and many company offices were closed, the community gave generously to the drive.
  • Anne Cummings noted that the toy drive provided for more than 150 kids served by Saline Area Social Service. Drives by Reinhart Realtors and the Knights of Columbus provided more than 200 coats to local residents. The Adopt-A-Family program helped 352 enjoy the holidays with meals and gifts. The National Honor Society from Saline High School almost doubled their food drive record, collecting almost 15,000 pounds of food that should keep the food pantry stocked until spring. They more than filled up the storage garage and had to use the Saline American Legion Hall to store some food. Cummings said many SASS clients will get some relief with stimulus checks coming in. She noted that the client base has grown more than 50 percent this year.
  • Mary Ellen Mulcron said the Saline District Library has a new Dial-A-Story service that allows people to call a number and hear a recorded story told by a librarian. Circulation is down but improving. The library is participating in Love On Demand, a community forum on race, racism and injustice in schools on Jan. 25. On Feb. 16, the library participates in Washtenaw Reads, with All American Boy authors Jason Reynolds and Brandon Kiely.
  • Sharon Iverson reported the Friends of Library's Corner Book Shop online store has sold more than 2,000 books in recent months.
  • Anna Britnell reported Superintendent Scot Graden officially announced his retirement at the Board of Education meeting. Steve Laatsch, Graden's "right-hand man" as assistant superintendent, was named interim superintendent. Hybrid in-person learning in Saline schools resumed Monday. The district is beginning to make plans for summer programming that addresses the "pandemic slide." Saline students have been working with the Saline Area Senior Center to provide snow removal services for senior citizens.
  • David Rhoads reported the Friends of Henne Field have met with Saline Rotary Club about building a pavilion similar to the one built by the Rec Center. Rhoads said Carla Scruggs, director of Saline Parks and Recreation, is collecting signatures and support for an application for a hawk signal that would help pedestrians cross Michigan Avenue between Curtiss Park and Mill Pond Park. Rhoads noted that Quantum Signal, MDOT and other parties are working in downtown Saline to install equipment that will help the firm do testing for Ford autonomous vehicles. Rhoads reported the Friends of the Leslee Niethammer Saline River Preserve received two $10,000 grants. The city's code review task force is finalizing a medical marijuana dispensary ordinance. 
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