Around the Region

Minister purchases the former Dexter Café

By Mike Lange
Staff Writer
    DEXTER — One of the vacant storefronts in downtown Dexter will soon be filled, thanks to action taken by the town council last week.
    Councilors voted unanimously to accept a bid for the former Dexter Café from Merlin “George” Dever, pastor of the Antioch Missionary Baptist Church, for $8,300. The restaurant has been vacant for several years and was acquired by the town for unpaid taxes. It also has an apartment on the second floor.
    While Dever’s bid wasn’t the lower of the two submitted, councilors said they felt that the minister’s plans for the property were more detailed. Dever wants to reopen the café as a restaurant and bakery serving breakfast and lunches. In a note attached to the bid form, the minister said that his objective was to “use as many local sources for supplies as possible. We want to be able to give to the community as well as supply a source of income for ourselves.”

    Town Manager Shelley Watson said that the difference in the bids was only $820, but the high bidder — Sam Brown, owner of Steadfast Farm in Parkman — only mentioned that his plans for the property were “commercial and residential. So I would recommend that the council take the lower bid.”
    Councilor Michael Blake said that since Dever already has a track record of improving property in community “and he has a business plan, I move that we accept his bid.”
    The planned operating hours of the restaurant would be 5:30 a.m.–2 p.m. Monday through Saturday. It would be closed on Sundays.
    The Dexter Town Council also voted unanimously to borrow up to $750,000 for road and infrastructure improvements in the community to be payable “over a period not to exceed 10 years.”
    During the public hearing portion of the meeting, no one in the audience spoke for or against the measure. Watson recapped the council’s earlier support for the proposal, noting that many roads in town “are in disrepair, and this is the only way we can afford to fix them.”
    The council also voted to close the town office on Friday, Dec. 26 but rejected a measure to shut down on Friday, Jan. 2. In both cases, employees wouldn’t be financially compensated unless they took a vacation or personal day off.
    Councilor Missy Smith spoke against the Jan. 2 closure, noting that many residents may want to buy fishing licenses, register their vehicles or take care of other items that typically show up “on the first of the month or first of the year. The day after New Year’s is typically not a day when I think someone has time off.”
    Watson said she agreed with Smith. “I don’t think there would be anybody in here on the day after Christmas, but the day after New Year’s is a different story.” Watson said a survey was circulated among employees, so that’s why the motions were separate.
    The Dexter Town Council also approved transferring $10,500 from the Abbott Memorial Library Capital Reserve Fund to the library’s building repairs and maintenance account.
    The library has been plagued with groundwater problems and the library trustees have agreed to pay 50 percent of an engineering study to determine the cause and remedy.
    Ann Marquis, chair of the library board of trustees, said that the board paid for a full facilities study in 2009 “and we’re getting to a point where we haven’t addressed some of the critical things that will preserve the library.”
    The reserve fund has a balance of $24,000, so the transfer would have no effect on the municipal budget, Council Chair Fred Banks pointed out.

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