Norway eyes ballot issue to fund school liaison officer

NORWAY — Norway area voters may see a tax proposal on the November ballot to fund a full-time liaison officer at Norway-Vulcan Area Schools.

The Norway City Council on Monday approved proposed ballot language asking for .5 mills, or 50 cents per $1,000 of taxable value, from 2019 through 2023 to fund the position.

But the governing boards of Norway and Waucedah townships, as well as Faithorn Township in Menominee County, also have to support the proposed language and notify their county clerks by Aug. 14 in order for the matter to go to a vote, City Manager Ray Anderson explained.

A majority of voters in each municipality then would have to approve the proposal for it to become effective. If approved, the millage would generate about $27,657 from city of Norway taxpayers in the first year, and additional funding from the other three municipalities.

More and more schools choose to hire school liaison officers “due to the rise in violence against schools,” NVAS Superintendent Lou Steigerwald said in a letter to the council. However, Steigerwald pointed out schools in Michigan cannot request a millage for paying personnel, so the city and townships have to take the lead on the issue.

“A (school liaison officer) would not only provide protection through his or her presence but would help to establish a positive relationship between our local police force and our youngest citizens,” Steigerwald said. “We envision a (school liaison officer) being able to be in classrooms to teach about a variety of home and personal safety issues. Our parents would benefit from the officer by having increased confidence in their children’s safety during the school day. There would be a strong message sent that our community takes student safety seriously.”

The idea for a school liaison officer came from a school safety committee made up of city and school officials.

Another idea from the committee is to make Fourth Avenue near the school a one-way street to increase student safety and ease traffic congestion during busy drop off times in the morning and pick up times in the afternoon, Steigerwald said in his letter. The council didn’t address this issue Monday.

In other business, the council:

— Agreed to pay $75,000 to Asplundh Tree Company to remove trees from power lines in various areas of the city. The item is budgeted, Anderson noted.

— Approved purchasing $8,000 worth of wildfire suppression gear and foam from Fire Rescue Supply, LLC to take advantage of a Michigan Department of Natural Resources grant that will cover half the cost.

— Approved a change order of $5,000 for the Sturgeon Falls Hydroelectric Facility turbine runner replacement project. The contractor recently discovered some unanticipated alignment issues with the runners that will require use of a laser measuring device, Anderson said.

— Designated Anderson as the city’s voting delegate at the Michigan Municipal League’s annual meeting Sept. 21 in Grand Rapids, Mich.

Nikki Younk can be reached at 906-774-2772, ext. 41, or