City commission designates Indigenous Peoples’ Day

HOGENSON

BIG RAPIDS — The Big Rapids City Commission has joined a growing number of cities and municipalities throughout the country in recognizing the history and culture of Native Americans.

The city commission on Monday, Aug. 5, adopted a proclamation designating the second Monday of October as Indigenous Peoples’ Day, a day that celebrates and honors the Native Americans and commemorates their history and culture.

This “affirms the city’s commitment to promote the well being and growth of the Michigan American Indian and indigenous community … and encourages all to acknowledge and value the historical sacrifice of indigenous people … reimagining Columbus Day as an opportunity to celebrate indigenous heritage and resilience,” the proclamation read.

“We hope everybody takes a second and harder look at the history of the U. S. — we all need to educate ourselves on the important contribution of everybody involved in our history,” said Big Rapids Mayor Tom Hogenson.

Indigenous Peoples’ Day began as a counter-celebration held on the same day as the federal holiday of Columbus Day.

In 1977, the International Conference on Discrimination against Indigenous Populations in the Americas began discussing replacing Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

Columbus Day is a federal holiday, but state and local governments can choose not to observe it.

In 1989, South Dakota Gov. George S. Mickelson backed a resolution to celebrate Native Americans on the second Monday in October in place of Columbus Day. Since then, a growing number of states, cities and municipalities have opted to change the name and the intent of the holiday.

In other business, the city commission continues to consider whether to permit medical and recreational marijuana businesses within the city limits.

Neighborhood services director, Paula Priebe presented the board with a draft of the zoning ordinance amended for marijuana facilities proposed by the city planning and zoning commission, which excludes the downtown area from retail or commercial marijuana businesses, and establishes a 500-foot buffer zone around all K-12 schools, public and private.

“The planning commission has chosen not to recommend permitting them in the downtown area at this stage, but to reevaluate that after some time has passed,” Priebe said.

The planning and zoning commission will hold a public hearing at the meeting on Aug. 21, to obtain input from citizens regarding the zoning recommendations. The city commission will take up the issue of whether to “opt-in,” or “opt-out” after they receive the final recommendation from the planning and zoning commission.

“In order for the city to decide, we would have to know specifically where these types of businesses will be allowed, as well as understanding the community’s wishes with regards to permitting,” Hogenson said. “We will need to solicit additional comments from the community and make sure we have a good understanding of the various nuances before we make a decision.”

The planning commission hopes to have a final zoning ordinance recommendation ready by the time the city commission meets on Sept. 2, at which time the city commission can begin discussions on whether to permit marijuana businesses within the city, and adopt an ordinance to address licensing and regulating of such businesses.

During the meeting the board also approved the following:

• a resolution adopting the economic opportunity policies for Section 3 of the Housing and Urban Development Act of 1968, which provides that where HUD financial assistance is provided, economic opportunities in that area will be given to public housing residents and businesses owned by those residents;

• a resolution awarding a bid for a new trailer mounted sewer jet to be used by the Big Rapids Department of Public Works at a cost of $67,373;

• a resolution accepting a proposal for design engineering services for the Mechanic Street improvements including an asphalt surface, concrete curb, gutters and storm sewer improvements and extending water and sewer utilities in order to prepare the property for residential construction;

• and a resolution authorizing DART to procure a bus from the Michigan Department of Transportation using grant funds received in the amount of $146,210.

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