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Tag Archive | "Christine Burns"

Burns chosen for Spring Lake job


 

Christine Burns

By Judy Reed

 

Cedar Springs City Manager Christine Burns may be headed for the top job in Spring Lake.

The Village announced Monday that Burns was their top choice for the Village Manager position, with James Freed, who manages both the Village of Lakeview and the City of Stanton under a shared services agreement, as an alternate.

According to Bill Baldridge, the consultant to the Michigan Municipal League who ran the search, Spring Lake held interviews with their top four choices on Saturday, June 2. Afterward, the council discussed the candidates and narrowed their choices to their top two.

“It was very close between the two candidates, and what strengths they would bring the village,” explained Baldridge. “But Chris seemed to be the leader.”

The Post asked Burns how she felt when she got the call letting her know she was chosen for the job. “I was pretty excited,” she said. “Spring Lake is such an awesome community.”

But the thought of leaving her coworkers saddens her. “My staff rocks. I’ve never worked with a better group of people. They are hard workers, and they are friends. The hard part is leaving them. But I am excited for other opportunities.”

While negotiations have already started, nothing will be set until after June 11. That’s when a judge will rule on whether a petition to disincorporate the Village of Spring Lake is valid. The Village maintains it’s not valid, because they are a home rule village. According to information from the Michigan Municipal League, home rule villages have nothing in their charter that allows them to disincorporate. They would have to insert a provision in their charter permitting them to do so before they could disincorporate.

If the judge rules in the village’s favor, Burns can accept the position if she chooses to. If the judge rules that the petition is valid, it will appear on the August 7 ballot, and everything would be on hold until after the voters make a decision.

Meanwhile, Burns is meeting with department heads to work on a transition plan, and is not taking on any new projects. If things go forward, she will ask for an August 1 start date. She will also meet with the Mayor Charlie Watson and the city attorney, so they can begin to work on a replacement.

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Residents frustrated over parking situation


By Judy Reed

 

Two disgruntled residents brought their complaints about the city’s parking ordinance to the Cedar Springs City Council meeting last Thursday night. And one of them, Beth Karafa, of 108 S. First Street, also called WZZM13 and the Post to tell her side of the story.

“I’m frustrated,” Karafa told the Post. “Are they trying to run people out of town?”

Karafa is frustrated because under the city’s ordinance, she cannot permanently park in the gravel area between her yard and the road, in the city’s right of way. And Officer Nick Barbour, the city’s code enforcer, has paid her several visits and ticketed her on at least two occasions. The ticket last year resulted in a court order saying that she could not allow any vehicle to park on her property unless she installed a driveway.

“I’ve lived here and parked there for 16 years,” she said, pointing to where her fiancé (now deceased) had built steps down to where they parked. Karafa does not have a regular driveway, and says she cannot afford to put one in, being a single mom of two teens. She also has several adult children that often visit.

City Manager Christine Burns explained that they are not asking her to put in a driveway. She said they have given Karafa several other options for parking, but that she has refused to use them. The options included asking for permission to park at the American Legion Hall lot, which is across the street and 33 feet from Karafa’s home; on the street in designated parking spaces just west of her residence and to the south of the Legion; or in front of the house directly across the street from her. Those areas have a curb, and the road is wider there.

Burns noted that other residents also struggle with parking, but make a choice to shuffle cars or park elsewhere. “I don’t know of anyone who has more choices for parking than she does,” said Burns.

Karafa told the Post that she didn’t want to have to park across the street near the Legion. “What if I have groceries or laundry?” she asked.

Burns said that under the ordinance, guests could park in front of Karafa’s home, in the gravel area on Beech, just nothing permanent. She said that if Karafa had laundry or groceries, she could park there to unload and then move her car.

Karafa said that since she received her ticket, she has been parking in a side yard, in what was once a driveway, before she moved in. She has also been warned about that. But Burns said that if she can prove it was a driveway, it could be grandfathered in.

Karafa does have photos of it being used as a driveway before she moved in.

“She should bring those photos to the next court date on her latest ticket,” said Burns.

Burns said that the parking ordinance is not unusual, and that many other cities and villages have the same type of ordinance. She said that the gravel area in front of Karafa’s house was not meant to be for parking. “It should be grass, but it has been eroded from all the years of parking on it,” she explained.

Karafa said she has spoken to her attorney about the issue. She said she has also gotten a lot of positive support from people and there is now a petition on Facebook to change the parking ordinance. She said she hopes to get a group of people to go to the next City Council meeting to voice their concerns and find out what to do to get changes made to the ordinance.

According to Burns, any resident with concerns on parking or other issues can call her at 696-1330 ext. 104, or email her at manager@cityofcedarsprings.org.

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Festival proposes city pay to use trademark


By Judy Reed

 

It was 1939, when Cedar Springs Clipper editor Nina Babcock said the businesses decided to tag Cedar Springs as the “Red Flannel Town” and hold a festival. The name stuck, and has been used cooperatively by the city and the festival for many years. The recognizable logo of a pair of long johns hanging on the clothesline and the words “Red Flannel Town” or “Red Flannel Festival” can be seen all over the city—on street signs, city trucks, letterhead, the water tower, and signs welcoming people to Cedar Springs.

That could change, however, if the city decides it cannot afford a licensing agreement recently proposed by the Red Flannel Festival for $8,000—the same amount the city told the Festival last year they would need to start paying to cover services the city provides, such as police protection at the Grand Lodge, DPW work, etc. for Red Flannel weekends.

At budget time last year, the City of Cedar Springs had a deficit of $55,000, and cut services to all community organizations, and also made cuts to city staff. “We had to cut so deep that no one was immune,” City Manager Christine Burns told the Post last year.

They city decided to phase in the cuts to the Festival, and donors came forward to help cover the difference. The two entities completed an agreement for four years with the Festival offering to pay $8,000 each year to the city for services rendered.

According to documents the Post obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, the RFF is now proposing a licensing agreement for the city’s use of the Festival’s trademark—for $8,000 per year, through 2015. Festival president Michele Andres said it’s difficult to determine what the trademark is worth. “What is the cost of someone’s identity and brand for 72 years? It’s been a shared responsibility—a quid pro quo. Now that seems to be over. The Red Flannel ad hoc committee thought that $8,000 would be cost neutral to both parties—to put it back where it used to be,” explained Andres.

The first indication that there was a problem with the city using the trademarked logos and text came in December, when the city ordered and began selling Red Flannel license plates and frames for the library fundraising program. According to Mayor Charlie Watson, Mayor Pro-Tem Christine Fahl was notified by the Red Flannel Festival committee that there was an issue of trademark infringement, and he told city staff to pull the plates until they could work through the issue. The Festival was on hiatus from November through January, and the Festival ad hoc committee (with three members from City Council—Watson, Fahl, and Pat Capek) met with the Festival committee.

According to documents and checks and invoices obtained by the Post, the RFF wrote the city a check for the license plates. Burns said the understanding was that the city would reimburse them next August for the plates they sold. The city then decided to write a check back to them right away, assuring them they would sell them all. But it was returned by the Festival, and they are working with the library to sell the plates. You can buy them at City Hall or the library (see story on page 7)

So why did the Festival pick now to enforce trademark rules with the city? “Obviously we support the library. But the board felt like it’s their duty to protect the trademarks,” explained Andres. “It’s created confusion—is it the city or the festival? We only generate revenue through donations or sales of our products, and we need to protect that. Anyone who wants to use trademarked items must get approval first.”

The RFF holds state trademarks on at least 10 different phrases and logos related to Red Flannels and the Festival is working on federal approval.

During the years that H.H. Cutler owned the main trademarks, only the Chamber of Commerce had rights to the marks, for $1 a year. That did not extend to the Festival or the city, according to a letter written to City Manager Frank Walsh in 1996 by lawyers for the children’s clothing manufacturer. Cutler later closed down.

The Post asked Burns what it would cost to remove the trademarked insignia from city property, if council decided to reject the Festival’s proposal. She wasn’t sure. “It would depend on whether it had to happen all at once or in phases,” she said.

Mayor Watson feels both sides want to work diligently to come to a compromise. “I feel both sides recognize we should work together for the betterment of the community,” he said.

“Working closely together benefits both the city and the Festival, and the community, with the economic impact the Festival brings,” noted Andres. “It’s critical that both organizations have open, honest, communication. We can’t do it without each other.”

The city will meet with the city’s lawyer on Thursday to discuss the proposal. According to Watson, they could come back with a counter offer, recommend council accept it, or that they deny it. He didn’t know yet what they would decide.

What do you think? Do you think the Festival should charge the city to use the logos? Do city taxpayers want the city to pay to use the trademark? Or is it time to develop something new? Send us a letter to the editor with your thoughts to news@cedarspringspost.com, and be sure to include your name, phone number and city or township.

 

By the numbers

Red Flannel Festival President Michele Andres told the Post last year that the 2011 budget for the Festival was about $90,000. To show how much the Red Flannel Festival has grown, total gross assets on the Festival’s 2010 tax return (the latest year available) were shown as $233,902. In 2004, the total gross assets were $4,625.

The 2010 return showed net total revenue of $57,346, with net expenses of $33,016. Net assets, including cash and savings, was listed at $130,250.

Schedule O showed gross expenses of Festival events at $45,161; and other expenses (including building and other expenses) at $16,489, for a total of $61,650. The largest single expense on Schedule O is advertising/printing, at a cost of $16,381. Gross income from fundraisers and events is listed at $65,940. The event that brought in the most money was the Grand Lodge, at $25,607 and the cost was $7,515.

 

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