County district lines redrawn

Commissioners elected in November will represent different regions beginning Jan. 1, 2013

OSCEOLA COUNTY – Though homeowners may not have moved, they could find themselves located in a different district congressional after county district lines were redrawn following the 2010 census.

The new districts will take effect on Jan. 1, 2013, after commissioners are selected in the November election.

“Voters should stay attuned and ask questions,” said Osceola County clerk Karen Bluhm. “They can call the (Osceola County Clerk’s office) or their local clerk’s office if they are confused.”

Re-districting can happen every ten years after each new census and is meant to maintain equal population representation while dividing areas as conveniently as possible for elections.

As of the 2010 census, 23,528 people live in Osceola County, an increase of 310 residents from the 2000 census. Each district will represent an average of 3,361 individuals with District Two, which covers Rose Lake Township, Burdell Township and Sherman Township west of 140th Avenue, representing the most at 3,405 and District Four, which covers Middle Branch, Orient, Sylvan and Hartwick townships, representing the least at 3,282 people.

District Five, which covers the City of Evart and Cedar and Osceola townships and District Seven, which includes the City of Reed City and Richmond Township north of Three Mile Road and west of 200th Avenue will remain the same, but all other districts will shift.

District One, which previously covered LeRoy Township, Lincoln Township and the west half of Burdell Township, will now include LeRoy Township, Lincoln Township and Richmond Township south of Three Mile Road. and east of 200th Avenue.

District Two previously represented Rose Lake Township, Sherman Township and the east half of Burdell Township, but will now include Rose Lake Township, all of Burdell Township and Sherman Township west of 140th Avenue.

District Three, which used to cover Hartwick, Highland and Marion townships will now include Highland and Marion townships and Sherman township east of 140th Avenue.

A five-member apportionment committee made up of Bluhm, Treasurer Laurie Leudeman, Prosecutor Jim Sims, and the county Democratic and Republican committee chairs decided the new district line changes last year.

“We tried to have as few (township) splits as possible,” Bluhm said. “We had to try and keep the population (representation) equal.”

District Four, which covered Middle Branch Township, Orient Township, Sylvan Township and the east half of Evart Township will lose the East half of Evart Township but gain and cover Hartwick Township.

District Six used to include Hersey Township, the west half of Evart Township and Richmond Township south of Three Mile Road. and east of 200th Avenue will lose the portion of Richmond Township.

Sherman Township election officials will distribute two different county ballot styles to voters depending on which district they live in, but in the past, more than just one township has had to distribute multiple ballots because of inconvenient district dividing lines.

“Elections are busy for everyone and we wanted them to be as simple as possible,” Bluhm said.

Residents with questions about their district can call the Osceola County Clerk’s office at (231) 832-3261 or their local township clerk. Sample ballots will be available near the end of June for residents to preview their choices in the August primary elections.