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Fairgrove Township board considers Facebook page

Katie Gebhardt, clerk, Fairgrove Twp.
Katie Gebhardt, clerk, Fairgrove Twp.

New Fairgrove Township Clerk Katie Gebhardt’s presence on the board was felt almost immediately Monday when she suggested the board create its own Facebook page.

Gebhardt explained the potential benefits of Facebook to the board, which voted (after a lengthy debate) to “try” creating an agenda for its public meetings earlier this year.

She said a Fairgrove Township Facebook page would benefit the community by informing residents about township meetings, and other events, and also would redirect them to the township’s website.

Gebhardt said the idea came from some residents who indicated they felt uninformed about township business, including the retirement of former clerk Karen Goodchild.

Fairgrove Township Trustee Mike Day – who voted against the agenda idea months ago – said he was concerned with residents treating the page like an arguing platform.

“To me it’s like you go out there and air your grievances and you hide behind the screen, you know, and you can say whatever you want,” Day said.

“It’s about managing it,” said Gebhardt about the Facebook page. “I see it as a benefit.”

“I’ve just noticed even talking to people in the township that they just don’t know what’s going on and that’s kinda where I automatically go is to social media because sadly that’s where a lot of people get their news and information now days. So it’s just trying to be proactive when it comes around again, say somebody else wants to retire.”

The page would supply residents with information like township meetings and redirect residents to the website for information such as minutes from previous board sessions.

Gebhardt said if the township gets a page, she will maintain it.

The board turned to meeting attendees for further input on Facebook.

Mark Trumbauer, community development leader at NextEra Energy Resources L.L.C., said having a Facebook page helps the company see what the people want. The company plans to build a $200 million wind turbine project in Tuscola County, including part of Fairgrove Township.

“I’ll tell you, it’s very helpful to understand what the current climate is when we look to work with townships and to see that on Facebook is a good place for us to go mine some of the local flavor,” he said.

Fairgrove Township Supervisor Keith Aeder said he doesn’t use the social media platform, but recognizes many others have.

“I think we have to accommodate that the world is changing,” he said about the adding the site.

Fairgrove Fire Department Chief Doug Young told the board he uses the platform to post information about firefighter trainings but never anything personal. Akron Police Chief Michael Scarborough said his police department has one and uses it to inform residents of various incidents like scammers claiming to be with the Internal Revenue Service.

The board decided to revisit the idea again at a future meeting.

In other business, the board:

  • Learned the Fairgrove Township Planning Commission will have a public hearing at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 14 at Akron-Fairgrove High School, 2800 N. Thomas, Fairgrove. The meeting is to consider the Public Use Permit for NextEra Energy Resources L.L.C. for the proposed Tuscola Wind III Project.
  • Approved a zoning permit for resident Pat Rahn to build a 1,568 square foot ranch house in front of his old property.
  • Learned from Sexton Doug Foster there were six burials so far in November, three of which were cremations.
  • Heard from Scarborough that he plans to retire in 2017, but did not give an official date. Scarborough also suggested to the board if the township would consider turning it from a four-day to a six-day operation, which would allow him to train a new part-time officer and add more days of patrolling.

Debanina Seaton is a reporter for The Advertiser and can be reached at debanina@tcadvertiser.com

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