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The Governor's Message

The Governor's Message image
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Senators and Gentlemen of the House of Repkesentatives: - The constitution of the State provides that "the Governor may convene the legislature on extraordinary occasions." Sucn an occasion has teen. reached. A.n emergency of pressing charac;er has caused me to exercise the power at an earlier day than would otherwise have been nccessary. A district covering portions of Huron.Sanilac, Tuscola, St. Clair and Lapeer counties was widely devasted in September last by forest fires, the property of 3,231 iamilies destroyed, and 14,438 persons made dependent upon public aid. In this calamity 1,521 dwellings vvere consuined, together with 1,480 barna, hundreds of miles of fences, doniestic animáis in great numbers, and vast quautities of household f urniture, clothing, and agricultural implements, wlth accumulated stores of food. The losses of those who have asked and re ceived aid, as shown by sworn appraisals, anaounted to $2,346,943, or an average of over $726 for each family. To add to the terrible aspects of these dreadf ui misfortunes.nearly 300 human beings pe.rished in consequence by suffocation and by burning. No reference is made in this estimate to the lossea of those who have neither asked nor requlred assiatance, which is known to have been of great magnitude ; nor to those of a public nature, among which were 51 sehool-houses and a large number of churches and highway bridges. ïtie destruction thus wrought left uien, women and children destitute of either clothing, food, or shelter - all that was combustible had been swept away. It eovered a territory of over eighteen hundred square miles, and in the progress of its ravages swbpt the entire district within from two to four hours after it began. No time was given to save even household treasures. AVith a f urious wind came smoke and intense darkness, followedquickly by a fervent heat that nothing could withstand. The wonder ia not that so many perished, but that so many escaped. The urgent necessities ereated by this calamity demanded instant relief. Before the üres were exhauated food and clothing were beingadministeredfrom neighboring coniBQunities. The people of this State and of other States sponded to appeals to their humanity with a broad and kindly generosity that can never be forgotten. Seldom within the memorv oí this generation has the kinship of mankind been demonstrated by more raarked and tangible mauifestations. ïhe thanks of the State are due to every individual who carne to the help of our suffering íellow-citizens at this trying juncture, and they especially belong to the men and women of our sister commonwealths and the neighbonng British provinces. ín addition tolarge amounts contributed for this relief by churches, -ocieties, and individuals direetly to Jie sufferers, of which there is no attainable record, but which is known to aggregate many thousands of dollars, there has been received by the State Fire Relief Commissiory the Detroit and Port Hurón Committees, and committees oí' other localities, aa reported to me, the sum of $623,436.89 in cash, together vi ith donations in kind which when added to the cash contribution would equal the sum of one million dollars. The country where the Qres raged is purely agricultura', without other local industries to f urnish eroployment, consequently;af ter ttie flrst distresses were relieved, the unfortunate people whose want3 we are now considering, beiug left with nothing but bare land, were ;ompelled to elect between seeking new homes elsewhere or to depend upon beine sustained by other than their own resources until they could reach self-support from the product of their own farms. They chose the latter course, with the most encouraging resulta thus far, and have devoted their energies and labor to rebuilding houses and fences and to sowing fall grain, the returns from which can only be realized at the coming harveat. In order to succeed in the course adopted and to continue in the occupancy of their lands as homes.these people must be sustained until the'r crops mature. They must have food until hyvest, and food for their animáis until the grass grows. They also require seed for their spring crops. The contributed funds will soon be spent and the harvest is months in the future. The exigencies of the case dernand dction, and to afford relief is no longer a question of policy, - it is an imperative duty. The State cannot permit its people to want for food. In 1850, under similar circumstances to a limited extent, citizens were aided from the treasury of the State, and the act was in harmony with the judgment and sentiment of the people. For more speciflc information you are respectfully referred to the report of the State Fire Belief Commission which covers the transacüons of committees at Detroit, East Saginaw, Bay City, and Flint, and to the statement of the Port Huron committee, both of which are hereto appended. I commend the wants of these unfortunate citizens to your generous consideration. The tíix roles for the towtíships of Forester and Evergreen, in the county ' of Sanilac, were destroyed in the gen eral conflagration, and legislation is 1 now asked to legalize the action of ' their authorities in making subsequent ( provisión for the collection of the taxes in those townships. I recommend that ] the necessary action be taken. TAX OOMMISSION. During the last session you made provisión for the appointment of a commission to prepare a bilí for the assessment, levy, and collection of taxes. The commission appointed has performed its work with much labor and intelligence. The bilis so prepared are here with submitted for your consideration. I have contidence that upon examination the work of the commission will commend itself inits comprehensivenesa as a great improvement over the present system, and will receive at your hands such caref ui con■ sideration as the importance of tlie subject demands. CONGRESSIONAL APPüRTI'JNMENT. A bilí for the reapportionment of the popular representaron in Congress, ön the basis of the tenth eensus, only awaits the signature of the Président to become a law, and it will devolve upon you to adjust the congresaional districts of the State in accordance therewith. Twomembers have been added to the representation of Michigan, and the relative progress which this fact exhibits will be a subject of general congratularon among our citizens. TUK STATE HOUSE OF OOKBECTION AND REFORMATORY AT IONIA. The number of inmates in this institution, on the fust of the present month, had increased to six hundred The contracta for their labor cover but one half this number, or three hundred leaving three hundred unemployed, save those necessary to do the domestic work of the prison. For the latter purpose sixty are sufllcient. What can be done to euiploy the two hunïred and f orty idle prisoners 'I One lundred of them are now constantly ocked in their cells, and the remainder sept at unremunerative and substanially unnecessary work. Thus it is evident that the number of prisoners has increased out of proportion to the preparation for their proper employnent. This is not for lack of oppor.unities to contract for their labor. The managers report applications for abor, at fair prices.formanufactuiing purposes, to be carried on within the prison walls. The shops now constructed ave occupied by the present contractors, and employment cannot be increased until more room is provided. The managers have submitted plans for additional shops to cost some ten thousand dollars for material, the prisoneis to do the labor of construction. They also estímate that the prison receipts can thereby be increased from 30 to 40 dollars per day without additional current expense.and the men relieved at the same time from constant conflnement. I think the needed appropriation should be made to carry out the plan of the managers. I desire tO cali your attention to another embarrassment in the management of this prison. The law now permits courts to sentenee females to this institution while there are no provisions for their care or employment. The latter should be provided or the former prohibited. I recommend the adoption of the latter course and suggest that Section 12, Act Jïo. HO.Laws of 1870, and Section 3, Act No. 159, Laws of 1881, relativo to disorderly persons, be so amended as to take from the courts the power to send females to this prison. STATE KEFOIUI SCHOOL. The number of inmates in this institution has increased steadily until enlarged accommodations are a necessity. A portion of one of the old central buildings is in a dangerous condition. The material was poor and the coDstruction very defective. An inspection lately made by competent builder3 at my request satisfies me that attention should be given the matter at once. The members of the Board of Control having charge of this school have lieretofore been paid for tlie'r services out of special appropriations. This Las been suspended by the moditication of the law during the last session. I recomrnend that consideration be given to these subjtcts, and such action be taken as the exigencias require. MrCHIGAN SCHOOL FOR TÏÏE BLIND. The location of this institution at Lansing was only settled by the legislature in the last hours of its regular session. The delay in selecting a permanent site had prevented the management from adopting a dcíinite plan on which to ba,se un intelligent request for an appropriation. No appropriation has been made for permanent improvements since the original act establishing the school. The fuuds herelofore provided have been exhausted, and improvements are needed to accommodate the increased demand for admission. Tour attention is respectfully called to the subject EASTEKN MICIIIGAN ASYLUM. The completion of the additional wings to the asyluin at Pontiac will render its capacity equal to the asylum at Kalamazoo, and will necessitate a corresponding increase in the medical staff. The present appropriation is insufflcient for this purpose, and an additional sum is a necessity to duly equip the asylum. I recommend an appropriation for salaries for offlcers for this asylum equal to that made for Kalamazoo. MICHIGAN REFORM S3IIOOL FOll GIELS. The Board of Control of the llef rm School for Girls calis my attentiou to the want of facilitie3 for surgical treatnient of its inmates, and respectfully ask that Section 1 of Act 188, Session Laws of 1881. be so amended as to inelude this school. I commend the request to your consideration. CONTINGENT DAMAOES TO STATE INSTITÜTIONS BY lllíli. At present there is no Insurance against losses by fires occurring in any of the State institutions, nor is there any provisión theref or. The enibarrassments growing out of the destruction of similar property inother States during the past year cause a natural feeling of insecurity here, especially among the managers of our asylums. At a recent meeting of the joint boards of the asylums, the following action was taken: "Resolved, That the Board of Trustees of the Eastern Michigan Asylum, and of the Michigan Asylum for the Insane, now in joint session, respectfully renew their request to the Gov emor of the State, to recommend to the legislature at its approaching ex tra session, that a sum of not less than one hundred thousand dollars be provisionally appropriated to commenc the immediate rebuilding of the asy lums for the insane in the'event o their iniurv or destruction bv flre." Were either asylum to be destroyed most serious inconveuience would be feit, and the longer the delay in repairing or rebuilding te more embarrassing would be the difflculty. Nothing could be done until the legislature conveneü. This would be utiended by loss of time, and should an extra session be necessary, by large expense. Would it not be wise to place within the control of some State autliority a fund sufficient for making repairs or rebuilding to a mited extent u?y of the State buildings which may be injured or destroyed when the legislatura is not in session? 1 have called your attention to these wants of tbe State institutions, feeling forcibly impressed with their importance and urgency, from knowledge acquired by personal inspection. STATE FISHERIES. My attention has been called to a difliculty that embarrasses the commission charged with iish culture, growing out of a want of legal authority to purchase, hold and control real estáte. Needed improvements are delayed ín consequence of this defect. The difflculties encountered will be presented by the Fish Commission ina memorial at the proper time. I commend it íor your consideration. EXECUTIVE OffICü, I Lamina, Feb. 23, 1882. (


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