Friday, April 18th 2014

Stolen manhole cover epidemic spreads to Holly

Written by Amy Mayhew   
Wednesday, June 15 2011

To date, only two sewer grates...

HOLLY, Michigan – It’s been all over the news – scrap metal thieves have been busy stealing manhole covers and sewer grates for money in several neighboring communities like Flint and Burton.

On Tuesday evening, Village Manager Jerry Walker told council members that the epidemic has spread southward to Holly – specifically to the unfinished section of the Riverside Pulte subdivision where empty lots, dirt roads and few people make sewer grates and manhole covers easy pickings for would-be thieves.

For the village of Holly, it not only stands to be costly for taxpayers with a replacement cost of $300 to $500 per lid, but the disappearing covers and grates also create a hazard for pedestrians, bicyclists,  animals and vehicles.

While the Pulte Riverside development resides in Holly Township, the village of Holly Police Department typically does not patrol the area. The rash of thefts, however, prompted Holly Police Chief Elena Danishevskaya to begin working with the Michigan State Police on the matter.

“Chief Danishevskaya is currently working with the Michigan State Police where the village of Holly Police Department will be doing some random patrols to protect the interest of the village,” Walker said.

Cabling boxes throughout the d...

Village council member Jackie Campbell said her home is one of many that backs up to the undeveloped section of the Riverside subdivision, and said stolen manhole covers and sewer grates are just part of the problem.

“It’s more than just the manhole covers and the sewer grates – they’re poaching – they’re killing deer and rabbits,” she said. “We’re hearing guns go off constantly out there.”

Campbell asked for residents to help. “I’m asking that people – everybody, please be the eyes and ears for our police and our administration,” she said noting that people have also been tampering with fire hydrants and pulling cable and wire from receptacles that are normally sealed on vacant property.

Councilman Tom Clark asked if tack welding could be used to secure manhole covers and sewer grates as a way to deter thieves.

Jackie Campbell

“That’s the game plan once we get them replaced,” Brian Klaassen, director for Holly’s Department of Public Works answered. Klaassen said only two sewer grates have been stolen so far, and said that no manhole covers or sewer grates had been stolen from the village of Holly to his knowledge.

“I would very loudly complain against our police department and our taxpayers – paying our tax dollars to have our police cars go out in the township,” Clark said. “(Holly Township residents) have told us repeatedly that they don’t want us because they’re not going to pay for it,” he added. “They have the State Police which is free so I say, let the free State Police go out there and save you.”

Campbell reiterated her concerns to Clark, noting that the problem with poaching in particular has been going on for at least three years – the worst of which is happening now.

“I thank God for Chief Danishevskaya going forward with this,” Campbell said. “We need it, Tom – we had gun shells come up not even 20 feet away from our property.”

“That’s not my problem – I’m a taxpayer,” Clark replied.

Village President Jeff Miller said he understood that Michigan State Police resources are stretched thin, and that often times, stolen manhole covers and sewer grates become a lower priority to the agency in comparison to other more serious crimes to which they must respond.

“I agree with you that it is not our job to police that area, but yet at the same time, somebody then across the street needs to come up with a good solution,” Miller said.

Holly Township resident Janet Leslie disagreed with Clark, noting that Michigan State Police services are not “free.”

“We all pay for the State Police and there are a number of people who are not satisfied with the level of protection they provide,” Leslie said. “The State Police problem is a state budget problem,” she said adding that it was the village that requested that Holly police patrol the area, not Holly Township residents.

Tom Clark

Clark would ultimately have the last word on the matter.  “Well, once they get welded down, they won’t have to.”

Holly Police Officer Craig Simpson said stealing a manhole cover or sewer grate is considered to be a misdemeanor for larceny over $100 but less than $1,000, punishable by a fine of up to $500, and/or not more than 90 days in jail.



#1 localyokel 2011-06-15 14:57
What a bunch of baloney! Mr Clark has obviously not been listening to many of the Holly Township residents because a good portion of them HAVE tried very hard to obtain additional police protection with the Village. There was a committee, many hours of meetings and unfortunately the negotiations broke down because the Village and Township Boards could not come to any agreement. That was not the will of the Township residents. This does not mean we (those in the Township) are not concerned about police protection and the lack of it. The State Police are not "free" and while they have a lot more on their plates beyond stolen manhole covers, they cannot possibly provide the protection needed for our communities.

I have to say this is the first I have heard about stolen manhole covers in the Pulte subs (which I live in) and I have never before heard anything about a poaching problem in the subdivisions. Being that I live there, I havent heard many gun shots so I am concerned about Ms. Campbells allegation that this is a long standing problem.

Let Mr. Clark know that the dialogue regarding Holly Village Police servicing Holly Township can be reopened anytime. There are many of us in the township that are still very interested in obtaining the services of the very qualified Holly Village Police.
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#2 Janet Leslie 2011-06-15 15:25
I agree with your sentiments, localyokel, but I do want to make one minor correction. The breakdown in negotiations occurred between the village council public safety committee and the citizens committee seeking to create a special assessment district. The Holly Township Board did not have a part in the price negotiations, as the special assessment district would not be created unless the owners of the majority of the property in the district signed their approval. It was up to the citizens to arrive at a price they believed their neighbors would approve.

Fortunately, Mr. Clark is in the minority with his very negative stance. Ideas like this-- refusing to let the village police protect village property regardless of where it lies-- can't possibly be supported by village residents. That is a classic case of cutting off one's own nose to spite one's face. Why he so hates the township he would damage the village, I have no idea. I just know that village residents are too smart for that nonsense.
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#3 kfed 2011-06-16 08:44
The Village paints over the fire hydrants every so often, correct? Well I went out there and looked at every (well, I believe every) hydrant and EVERY one was still painted over, meaning that there has been no "theft" of water from the Pulte Sub.

And quite frankly I agree with Mr. Clark, they are the VILLAGE OF HOLLY Police, not the HOLLY TOWNSHIP police, and as that plot of land is in the Township, MSP should be responsible.

Don't get me wrong, it would be great if we could get HVPD's services here (in the twp), but until then its technically MSP.

Question: Why did the Village build it's sewer and water system into that pulte sub to begin with? Was there some sort of special assessment set up or whatever you would call it?

Seems like to me we should just incorporate into a City (The City of the Village of Holly if we must) and annex the pulte sub. Seems it would save alot of hassle and headache...
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#4 Jason M Hughes 2011-06-16 09:15
While I don't agree with Mr. Clark's opinion I think it is unfair to assume he "hates the township". From what I understand Mr. Clark wishes to avoid the appearance of the township receiving a free service at the expense of the village taxpayers (police patrols) which is fair. The question then becomes, "At what cost?" I think it would be best to get clarification from him though.
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#5 Ryan Bladzik 2011-06-16 12:18
Isn't the water tower off of Quick Road the property of the Village of Holly, but that in order to police and secure it, the Holly Police Department must travel through Township jurisdiction? Is that also true of Holly High School?
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#6 Janet Leslie 2011-06-16 14:19
It is true, Ryan.
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#7 Peter Clemens 2011-06-16 15:00
Yes Ryan, you're correct on both accounts.
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