Distributing reflective vests plan for M-55 safety
The meeting, held at the Roscommon County Road Commission, was attended by 16 representatives from various governmental agencies including the RCRC, Roscommon, Denton and Lake townships, Michigan Department of Transportation, Roscommon County Sheriff’s Office and Denton Township Police Department.
Roscommon Township Supervisor Diane Randall opened the meeting by noting that townships cannot purchase the vests for pedestrians as it is not considered to be a “lawful expenditure,” however, she said that doesn’t mean private organizations cannot purchase them.
To help get the vest distribution started, those in attendance began suggesting businesses and organizations that may be able to donate vests or help educate the public on the importance of pedestrian safety. Michigan Department of Transportation Gaylord Transportation Service Center Manager Jay Gailitis said that vests could cost about $14 to $15 each and that MDOT would be willing to donate some vests for distribution.
“I certainly think it can’t hurt,” RCRC Manager Tim O’Rourke said of providing pedestrians with vests.
Lake Township Supervisor Stan Christler asked the law enforcement representatives present if they thought passing out reflective vests would be possible as law enforcement would likely be distributing the vests. Both Denton Township Officer Kelly Pratt and Roscommon County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Sean Hand said their departments would be willing to distribute the vests.
It was then decided that Denton Township Supervisor Bob Spaulding contact Houghton Lake Walmart Manager Jim VanSice to see if his store would be willing to donate vests.
“I think if I proposed it as a safety project Jim (VanSice) would come through,” Spaulding said.
Randall added that she would contact Houghton Lake Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Kim Akin to see if she could speak with Home Depot about donating vests. Denton Township Trustee Dick Pederson suggested that area businesses could also purchase vests to be distributed and Randall suggested that local community groups could volunteer to shovel off the sidewalk.
Randall also noted that educating the public on pedestrian safety cannot end with the purchase of the vests, she asked those present if a pedestrian safety week or month should be designated for the area to remind people of pedestrian safety. To help keep pedestrian safety a priority prior to next winter, the group decided to hold a meeting Sept. 18 at 3 p.m. at the RCRC.
Christler then noted that obtaining 50 vests could be a good starting point and added that Denton Township’s decision to post a notice on its sign warning motorists of pedestrians along M-55 is a step in the right direction. It was also suggested that other places along M-55 that have large lighted signs like Beachfront Hotel and St. John Lutheran Church put pedestrian safety reminders on their signs.
When the matter of clearing off the sidewalk came up, O’Rourke said that shelving off the sidewalks is still an option, however, if it were done the sidewalks would not be cleared all the way to the pavement. Randall also suggested that businesses along M-55 could be asked to consider shoveling the sidewalk in front of their businesses. There was also discussion about businesses purchasing rides for their employees from the Roscommon County Transit Authority.