Rapid River resident sues township

Oct. 29—RAPID RIVER — A Kalkaska resident has filed a small claims lawsuit against her township over her Freedom of Information Act requests.

Laura Parzych, a lifelong resident of Rapid River Township, filed a small claims lawsuit for $6,500 against her township for delaying and denying multiple records requests through the Freedom of Information Act, according to a court affidavit.

The records that Parzych was requesting were all related to two cemeteries in the township and a project she was trying to work on with the township.

At the beginning of the summer, Parzych reached out about applying to the Michigan History Center for historical markers at Maple Grove and Westwoods cemeteries. The township supervisor and a trustee expressed an interest in her idea, as previously reported.

To successfully apply for a historical marker, applicants must demonstrate the local or statewide significance of a place or structure using primary documents, but Parzych said that, after filing FOIA requests in June, July and August, she has been denied access to most of the records she requested.

Rapid River's township supervisor Terry Williams said that the township has given Parzych access to all the records she has asked for and access to that the township is in possession of. There's some things that they were unsure what she was asking for, and when they sought clarification, she did not provide any.

"To my knowledge, there's no information that we have that we're withholding from her," Williams said.

The $6,500 that Parzych is seeking is for emotional damages she says she suffered while meeting with township officials about her FOIA request.

In those meetings, Parzych said she was reprimanded and "verbally attacked" for the work she was trying to do.

"I'm just floored because at first they were so on board ... and then all of a sudden, I have hit a brick wall and I am being treated as if I don't matter," Parzych said.

Williams also said that it is "regretful" that Parzych feels she was verbally attacked by township officials. The discourse at her meetings with the township was not meant to be aggressive toward her, he said.

The first hearing for the lawsuit is at 11 a.m. on Nov. 14 in the 87-B District Court in Kalkaska.