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Alma bat habitats approved

Alma City Council members approved bat habitats for Lake Alma and the city’s 2014 budget during their meeting Thursday night.

Aldermen approved a budget totaling $6,954,083.78 in appropriated monies from the city’s various budgets for 2014.

Proposed expenditures include $2.3 million from the General Fund, $2.3 million from the Street Fund, $85,100 from the Firemen’s Pension Fund, a little more than $400,000 from the Swimming Pool and $1.7 million from the Water and Sewer Department.

Also during the meeting, council members gave Isaac Green with Boy Scout Troop 16 the go ahead to install bat habitats in the forested area around Lake Alma as his Eagle Scout project.

“The good thing about it is they eat the mosquitoes and all the flying bugs, too,” said Mayor John Ballentine.

Green plans to mount five wooden bat houses 15 feet in the air. He told council members that experts believe increasing the number of bat habitats will help the animals fight off the white-nosed fungus disease that continues to spread among area bats, particularly those living in caves.

All five habitats will be mounted to trees, per the council members’ request, facing south, so the winter sun can warm them, Green said.

Up to 100 bats can roost in one of Green’s small, western cedar habitats, he said. Because of this, the habitats will occasionally have to be cleaned of bat guano, he said.

Council members also approved the property at 200 E. Collum Lane to be rezoned from residential to commercial.

Ed Walters, who owns the property, plans to operate a snow cone stand at the location, he said. The rezoning was approved after Walters showed how the flow of traffic would operate and promised to pave the location.

Walters plans to keep hours similar to Alma Aquatic Park, he said.

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