By Sterling McGinn

Members of the Pentland Township Board heard a proposal for the moving of the Newberry Feeding America distribution location at their monthly meeting held Tuesday, April 12.

The meeting was held at 7 p.m. in the Pentland Township Hall. All members of the board were present with the exception of trustee Bill Glime.

Members of the Newberry Area Ministerial Association (NAMA) explained that the current location in front of the LINK and the Senior Citizens Center on West Helen Street is becoming too congested. NAMA has discussed the possibility of moving the distribution location for about a year.

The proposal is to move the location to the God’s Country Cooperative Parish (GCCP) facility located in the old Pentland School on M-123 near the bus garage.

“My number one concern is safety,” explained Jim Duflo, pastor of Living Waters Church, and a member of NAMA. “It [the LINK] is a very congested area especially with kids. We wanted to start the process of possibly moving it from the LINK up to GCCP.”

Duflo explained that NAMA has received clearance from Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT). If the move is implemented, the participating cars would line up on County Road 441, also known as Hedberg Road.

“What’s nice about it is they don’t block driveways,” said Duflo. “Looking at this road, there is very few driveways.”

Though the current route runs past many Newberry driveways, Duflo said people have been cordial, and traffic flows very well.

Duflo also noted that if approved, signage would be used to caution traffic on M-123, and radios would be purchased for the volunteers to communicate with each other. Maps with rules and other information would be given to all the participants at the next distribution.

NAMA would also like to stop traffic going west on Hedberg Road by the Bethel Church for safety reasons.

“We block off the road by the LINK and we have never had a problem with that,” said Duflo.

The once-a-month food distribution usually lasts between an hour to an hour and a half.

The township board felt that the Luce County Road Commission should be involved in the decision because of the proposal to temporarily block vehicles traveling to the west on Hedberg Road.

After discussion, the board voted to support NAMA’s proposal, if all entities involved approve.

In other news, Township Clerk Greg Rathje informed the board that a public hearing will take place at next month’s meeting to formally vote on the expansion of the industrial facility tax onto the new industrial park on Miller Road.

In August of 2020, the board approved the idea, but no further action had taken place. Once approved, businesses can apply with the township on a case-to-case basis.

Also discussed briefly that evening was an update on the ongoing wastewater litigation with the Village of Newberry.  It has been three months since Pentland Township sent their last proposal to the village.

“As of this afternoon, we have still not heard back from the village,” Rathje said. “The village told the judge a month ago that they would get back to us next week, so that would be three or four weeks ago, and we still haven’t heard.”

Rathje said that another hearing in front of the judge will take place in May.