Southwest Michigan Today Friday July 14, 2017

Jul 14, 2017

Governor Snyder signs the 2018 budget. Late Comstock fire chief Ed Switalkski is named Michigan Fire Chief of the Year. Switchblades are legal now. Bronson Park in Kalamazoo has free Wi-Fi. Emmett Township gets ready to welcome medical marijuana dispensaries.

Governor Rick Snyder signed Michigan’s $56 billion budget on Friday for the 2018 fiscal year. M-Live says one area of contention was changing teacher pensions. The old School Employee Retirement System has 60 percent funding and liabilities of over 29 million dollars. The 2018 budget will add $55 million to help teachers transition to the new retirement system. That’s in addition to the state’s one-time deposit of $200 million. Other highlights of the budget included money for at-risk students, infrastructure improvements, and a large donation to the state’s “Rainy Day Fund.”

Comstock’s late fire chief, Ed Switalski, has been named state Fire Chief of the Year. The Kalamazoo Gazette reports Switalski was attending to a car crash on Interstate 94 in Kalamazoo County when he was struck and killed by a Battle Creek man who lost control of his vehicle. According to the Michigan Association of Fire Chiefs, Switalski was nominated for the award both before and after his death.

Michigan has lifted its ban on switchblades. The Detroit News reports Governor Snyder signed that legislation Thursday. The original law prohibited the use and sale of “spring-assisted knives.” But state Senator Rick Jones of Grand Ledge, who sponsored the repeal, says there are now several types of knives that could fall under that category - not just pocket knives. He also says the possession of these common knives has not been heavily enforced by police. Though switchblades are now legal, it is still illegal to use a blade with attempt to harm.

You can now access free Wi-Fi in Bronson Park. The Wi-Fi was one of the things Kalamazoo residents called for during the park’s master plan process two years ago. In a press release, Mayor Bobby Hopewell said that the internet has become a resource that everyone needs. People often apply for jobs, attend classes, and pay their bills online. The city is in the midst of a capital campaign to pay for some of the other amenities suggested in Bronson Park’s master plan.

Emmett Township near Battle Creek may be the first to welcome new medical marijuana dispensaries in the area. The Battle Creek Enquirer says Michigan will begin licensing dispensaries later this year. On Thursday the board voted to finish a draft of an ordinance that would allow them in Emmett Township. The City of Battle Creek has not yet voted on the issue of medical marijuana dispensaries.