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White Lake voters resoundingly support city day care

White Lake residents cast their vote at the city hall/library Tuesday afternoon on whether the town should fund child day care. (Sean Ryan/Republic)

WHITE LAKE — White Lake's city-operated day care will stay in business after voters showed significant support at the polls Tuesday.

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Of the 173 voters to cast ballots in the special election, 137, or 79 percent, of the voters voted against an ordinance that would have made it against city law to own, operate or support a day care in the city. Thirty-six voters, or 21 percent, supported the ordinance.

City finance officer Joyce Schuman said the 67 percent turnout for the election was "very good."

The resounding "no" vote means the city can continue to operate the day care center that is now located at the White Lake school and has an average of 22 children in attendance per day.

White Lake Mayor Russ Ehlers said last week that the day care has been a key part of attracting young families to town and has created opportunities within the school system. The day care employs nine people, including four full-time.

The city has operated a day care for the last two years, after the city did not have any child care providers in the town of 375 people in Aurora County. But city councilor Rodney Maine circulated petitions to put the ordinance on the ballot and said the city should not be interfering with free market and disrupting the opportunities for a private day care to be operated in the community. He said private day care operators cannot compete as long the city is involved with a day care.

The city ballot acknowledged that the proposed ordinance could have subjected the city to potential lawsuits and damages from a breach of current agreements.

School opt-out elections

A pair of opt-out elections were held for area school districts Tuesday night. The Bridgewater-Emery school district voters approved its opt-out plan by a 53-vote margin, while an opt-out effort in Gregory failed by 131 votes.

At Bridgewater-Emery, voters approved a five-year, $250,000 tax levy, replacing the school's current four-year, $200,000 tax levy that expires at the end of the current fiscal year this summer. On Tuesday, 256 voters (56 percent) said yes to the opt-out proposal, while 203 (44 percent) voted no.

In Gregory, an opt-out proposal to raise $300,000 per year over the next three years failed a special election Tuesday, failing by 131 votes.

Fifty-eight percent of the voters (436 votes) were against the opt-out plan, while 42 percent of the votes (305 votes) were cast in support of the opt-out. Voter turnout was recorded at 50.7 percent, as 741 of the district's 1,460 registered voters cast their ballots.

A three-year, $300,000 opt-out proposal for the school district failed in September 2013 by a 51-vote margin.

An opt-out means a local government has made a decision to opt out of state-imposed limits on annual property tax increases. An opt-out allows local governments to collect more taxes per year than the state limits would otherwise allow.

Other area elections:

Alpena: Dan Jurgens and Darwin Ochsner are the two winners of three-year seats on the Alpena Board of Trustees. Jurgens received 58 votes and Ochsner received 47 votes. Losing opponents Steven Muilenburg and Dick Small received 34 and 31 votes, respectively. Voter turnout was recorded at 64 percent.

Bridgewater: Lacey Weber won a two-year term on the City Council in Ward III. She received 26 votes, while Ken Haugen, who was defeated, had three votes.

Delmont: Mae Gunnare has won a two-year term as mayor, receiving 68 votes in the election, while Adam Zolnowsky lost the race, receiving 17 votes in the race. The three-person race for Alderman in Ward III went to Earla Strid, who had 17 votes. Rodney Geuther and Elle Rice, who failed in their attempts for the seat, had 8 and 5 votes, respectively.

Ethan: Joe Long and Dale Meinke have claimed seats on the Ethan Board of Trustees. In the race for the city's three-year term, Long received 37 votes to losing challenger Gallus Thill's 21 votes. Meinke earned a one-year term with 32 votes, edging Nancy Schoenfelder, who received 28 votes and was defeated.

Platte: Incumbent Mitch Antonsen won another two-year term in Ward III on the Platte City Council. Twenty-three votes were recorded for Antonsen, while loser Glenda Huggins had nine votes.

Scotland: The two-year alderman seat in Ward I was retained by Dick Behl, who received 65 votes. Challenger Tammy Reub was defeated. She received 33 votes in the race. The city recorded a voter turnout of 39 percent.

Tyndall: Mike Elsberry won a two-year City Council term in Ward III with 57 votes. Challengers Larry Chester and Jane Larson received 27 and 23 votes, respectively, and lost their bids for election. A voter turnout of 38 percent was recorded.

White Lake: Incumbent council member Jeff Thiry will serve another two years on the City Council after receiving 55 votes in the Ward II election. Challenger Kelcie Stahl was defeated. She had 26 votes in the race, which drew a turnout of 61 percent.

Winner: Incumbent Jess Keesis emerged victorious in a three-person race for the two-year term as mayor of Winner. Keesis received 351 votes, while losing challengers John Halverson had 271 votes and Val Sherman received 224 votes. Dave Baker, an incumbent in Ward One, retained his seat on the City Council with 109 votes, with challengers Roger Root and Clint Woods were defeated, finishing with 78 and 71 votes, respectively. Jena Littau defeated current Ward Two Councilor Roger Farley, 230 votes to 121 votes. In Ward III, Brad Schramm received 145 votes to defeat current Ward Three Councilor Orville Lund, who had 95 votes. All council seats are two-year terms.

Woonsocket: A two-year term on the City Council was won by incumbent Brandon Goergen, who received 12 of the 17 voters in the Ward II election. Losing challenger Mike Kogel received five votes. Voter turnout was at 14 percent.

Bridgewater-Emery school board: Dale Becker won the three-year seat that represents the Bridgewater portion of the district, carrying 342 votes. Opponent Ken Glanzer recorded 113 votes and was defeated in his bid for election.