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At its meeting on Monday, Dec. 4, the Hillsdale City Council dis­cussed the emer­gency pre­paredness of the city and its finances. A local woman also spoke on fracking during general public comment.

City Manager Linda Brown first addressed the issue of approving the Hillsdale County Hazard Mit­i­gation plan. Brown said that the Plan had already been approved by FEMA and the Hillsdale County Board of Directors, and required only the council’s approval for imple­men­tation.

“It mostly con­cerns energy emer­gencies, snow and ice storms, tor­nadoes, and other events we’d have to deal with in Hillsdale,” Brown said.

Coun­cilperson Mary Wolfram said that she was con­cerned with the pos­si­bility of addi­tional costs.

“Please tell me that this plan doesn’t commit us to any major investment,” she said.

Brown said that it’s mostly to render Hillsdale eli­gible for pos­sible FEMA funding, and to mit­igate potential dis­aster damage inten­si­fiers, such as vul­nerable power lines.

“It’s more pre­ventive than reactive,” Mayor Doug Moon said.

Council approved the plan, 8 – 0.

Later, Nancy Barton of accounting firm Willis & Jurasek delivered an audit report of Hillsdale’s finances to the council. Barton said that all of the city’s accounting was in accord with gen­erally accepted accounting prac­tices, and that the city’s general fund had a $1.2 million balance – 27% of annual fund expen­di­tures. These pos­itive sta­tistics, she said, bode well for Hillsdale.

“It makes our job easier and speaks well to your orga­ni­zation.”

Near the end of the meeting, during general public comment, Reading Township res­ident Karen Scugoza spoke to the council on the dangers of hydraulic frac­turing. Hydraulic frac­turing, or “fracking,” is a tech­nique for extracting pre­vi­ously inac­ces­sible under­ground oil and natural gas reserves. Scugoza said the process has health and envi­ron­mental ben­efits that res­i­dents of Michigan should not want to see in their state and com­mu­nities.

“Do we the people of Hillsdale county vol­unteer our­selves to be the guinea pigs in this exper­iment?” she asked.

Specif­i­cally, Scugoza said that fracking both requires mil­lions of gallons of water for oper­ation and taints even the water supply it doesn’t use.

“Water is our most pre­cious resource,” she said.

The net effect of allowing fracking in Michigan, she said, would be dev­as­tating.

“Goodbye to Pure Michigan,” she said.

Scugoza said that, while existing fracking enter­prises in Michigan cannot be stopped, state res­i­dents can try to stop new ones from devel­oping.

“There are things that com­mu­nities can do to dis­courage com­panies from coming into their areas.”                  jbutler@hillsdale.edu