MCRC weighs horse-drawn vehicle warning signs

Local citizens group, Signs for Safety have requested the Manistee County Road Commission install horse-drawn vehicle warning signs. (Courtesy photo)

By Scott Fraley

Staff Writer

BEAR LAKE — The Manistee County Road Commission heard Wednesday from concerned citizens, called “Signs for Safety” to consider installing new horse-drawn vehicle warning signs.

Signs for Safety cites the dangers motorists could potentially pose to the growing Amish community in Manistee County.

“With lack of horse and buggy warning signs in Manistee County, a clear and present danger exists,” the group said in an official statement. “Many roads have little to no shoulder, hills and curves making visibility and speed of motorists and buggys a concern in any weather condition.”

Kavela resident Pat Grostick believes a sign can mitigate the danger of collisions.

“If you come up over that hill and there’s a buggy there, where are you going to go and not hit the buggy or an oncoming car. If there was a sign there, maybe people would slow down before coming over those hills,” Grostick said. “They’re moving here thinking its a safe area, well let’s make it safe for them.”

Road commission officials were sympathetic to the risks facing Amish horse-drawn buggies, but some were also concerned about the possibility of opening the road commission up to liabilities.

“As we all know, sometimes when you want to do right and you take responsibility for something, then if something happens — first thing you know you’re getting sued,” said MCRC chairman Robert Rishel.

Some also expressed skepticism toward the effectiveness of the warning signs.

“If by putting up a sign you could make sure that everybody would slow down by making everyone more aware – but we all know that’s not true,” said Rishel.

While Signs for Safety would prefer the county road commission install the warning signs, the group is prepared to take matters into their own hands.

“We calculated how many signs we would probably need, if we had to we were willing to buy them ourselves,” said Linda Little of Maple Grove Township.

The new business agenda item concluded with a mandate to investigate any legal liabilities or other costs associated with the proposed warning signs. Signs for Safety vowed to return during next month’s road commission board meeting with representatives of the Manistee County Amish community to further plead their case.

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