Niles honors businesswoman for years of service

Niles honors businesswoman for years of service

Published 12:15 pm Tuesday, October 24, 2023

NILES — Niles Mayor Nick Shelton and City Council members took time to honor a longtime businesswoman in the community at the start of Monday’s meeting. The meeting also featured action on several items including the new Third Street home repair program, stabilizing the Ferry Street School and contracting with Berrien County for early voting.

Shelton reported that he had been contacted by a local resident, Debra Fox, about honoring local businesswoman Barbara Kyles-Morris. Kyles-Morris is the owner of BryAnn’s Hair Design which has become a Niles institution over the years.

Shelton presented Kyle-Morris with a plaque honoring her years of service to the community. “You’ve touched the lives of so many people over the 40 years you’ve been in business,” he told her. “Thank you for your dedication.”

Kyles Morris noted that she was the first African American to have a business in the Eastgate area of the city. “I’ve been blessed to have lasted so many years,” she said.

With the Third Street revitalization project, council members approved signing a letter of engagement with an organization called enFocus. Interns from enFocus will be assigned to the project which has the goal of helping homeowners and others living in that neighborhood.

EnFocus is based in South Bend and has the goal of matching recent college graduates with local organizations involved with community development.

Two local foundations, the Hunter Foundation and the Michigan Gateway Community Foundation, have pledged $152,000 toward the project. $127,000 of those funds will go toward owner occupied home health and safety repairs and $25,000 to enFocus to pay for their interns’ involvement.

City Administrator Ric Huff reported that Community Development Director Ryan Millin will assist with coordinating outreach to home owners, assisting with project management and identifying appropriate community development block grant funding.

Council members approved an agreement between the city and the Berrien County Clerk’s Office for election services. Voters approved a proposal last November that requires local governments offer nine days of early voting before all federal and state elections and all but two municipalities in the county are partnering with the county to do so.

The move to early voting will come with more equipment and staffing costs and most municipalities have agreed to share the costs and not do it on their own. County Clerk Sharon Tyler said in August that she plans to have two early voting sites, one in the north county and one in the south county, for next year’s presidential primary, primary and general elections.

Councilmember John DiCostanzo said that most people voting for last year’s state proposal didn’t realize the costs involved with offering early voting, noting that it’s very expensive and local and county governments have to pay for it. Fellow Councilmember Michael Thompson pointed out that people have always been able to vote early via absentee ballots.

Thompson was the only one to vote against hiring Pearson Construction for $9,550 for the temporary bracing and protection of the historic Ferry Street School which burned down in May. He said he didn’t think it was one of the roles of government to pay for such work. Others disagreed, saying it’s important to preserve a bit of local history.

In other action:

  • The council extended the contract with Menard Consulting of Addison, Illinois for two years to conduct an actuarial review of the city’s retiree insurance plan for a total cost of $3,900.
  • The council adopted the revised investment policy of the city as required by state law.
  • The council approved the request of the Niles-Buchanan YMCA to conduct the 43rd annual Thanksgiving Day Run and Walk on Nov. 23 with Thompson voting no. He said he didn’t think the city’s fees should be waived.

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