'Throwback' township

Residents will gather Monday to participate in a Spring Lake Township tradition that dates back to the 1800s.
Marie Havenga
Mar 23, 2013

 

However, they won't have to take a horse and buggy to listen to the State of the Township address and an overview of the budget for the township's next fiscal year.

Spring Lake Township is the only area township that still hosts an annual meeting of the electors, a throwback to when settlers first inhabited the colonies.

Kenneth VerBurg, author of “Managing the Modern Michigan Township,” said New England settlers brought with them an English system of government. It included the annual meeting when residents or “electors” gather to vote on the amount of taxation, a budget and other governmental matters.

The annual meeting used to be a big deal in Ottawa County townships, because people would come from miles around — on horseback or by foot, to meet at their municipal hall. In our modern, mobile society, many local townships no longer see the need for such a tradition.

Crockery Township Supervisor Leon Stille said there is still an option on the books for an annual meeting of the electors, but “we chose not to pick it up.” He said Crockery Township residents instead participate in monthly meetings.

“We have enough open meetings, and people are always welcome to come in and voice their opinions, complaints or concerns,” Stille said. “My gosh, with the Internet and e-mails and voice-mail, and all kinds of openness in terms of freedom of information, I'm not sure what purpose it really serves anymore. It's pretty old school.”

IF YOU GO:

What: Spring Lake Township Annual Meeting of the Electors

Where: Spring Lake Township Hall, 106 S. Buchanan St.

When: 6 p.m. Monday

To read more of this story, see Saturday’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.

 

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