0-14-2018 New Watervliet City Manager and Clerk in place but not without debate

THEY REIGN! After a rainout moved the MHSAA Division 3 regional championship softball game to Lakeshore on Sunday, from Buchanan on Saturday, Coloma recorded a 5-1 victory over Constantine for the title. Next up for the Lady Comets was their state quarter-finals game, held Tuesday at Davenport University against Stanton Central Montcalm which they won in five innings by a score of 14-0. See Press Box starting on Page 12 for more sports news & photos.


New Watervliet City Manager and Clerk in place but not without debate

By Annette Christie

 The Watervliet City Commission confirmed the clerk and selected the city manager at their Tuesday, June 12 meeting but not without debate and even “no” votes from Mayor Dave Brinker and Commissioner Larry Hehl.

It was during the review of the departmental reports that the debate began with Brinker questioning the statement in the City Manager’s report where it said that he had hired a City Clerk following the closure of the application acceptance period on June 1.

The City Manager’s Report stated that on Monday, June 11, 2018, City Manager Michael Uskiewicz appointed Christa Townsend to the City Clerk position with a salary of $35,360. He recommended a review after six months. Uskiewicz had proceeded with putting Townsend in City Hall as a temporary office assistant following a special meeting held May 23. 

She started at City Hall the Tuesday following. She then went on to attend a two-day course on June 7 and 8 for elections. She and Melanie Marvin both completed the course and were accredited to proceed with the upcoming election in August.

Brinker said that Uskiewicz could not appoint the City Clerk according to the City Charter; however, the minutes of the May 23 special meeting accurately reflected that Uskiewicz was given the authority to select someone to help in the office on a temporary basis immediately and could move forward with the clerk selection following the June 1 application deadline.  The minutes of the May 23, 2018 meeting were approved without discussion.

Clerk Dena Yow left her full-time city employment mid-May, leaving the other office employee, Melanie Marvin to continue her job duties as well as doing what she could of the Clerk’s position.

City Manager Michael Uskiewicz said then that he had interviewed two people and one could come in and assist right away in the office. The minutes reflect the action taken by the City Commission which states that the City Manager could choose from the two current applicants and bring in one on a temporary basis and upon the June 1 deadline, any additional applications would be reviewed by the City Manager and the City Manager could then hire a new clerk.

To placate those in doubt, a motion was made to confirm the City Clerks selection of Townsend.  It passed but not unanimously.  Brinker and Hehl said no.  Hehl chose to address the new clerk before he voted stating that he did not know her and basically was saying that he did not trust the recommendation of both Uskiewicz and Marvin, the very people who work in the office every day.

Move forward to the City Manager position and an almost exact repeat of the City Commission’s actions.  As directed by the May 23 motion of the City Commission, Commissioner Duane Cobb explained that the Personnel Committee looked at 10 applications and narrowed it down to four. The Personnel Committee is comprised of Cobb, Commissioner Rick Kinzler, and Mayor Dave Brinker. By the time they went to set up interviews, two of the four had already accepted other jobs. Of the two that were being considered at this time, one was the top standout of the Committee. Commissioner Cobb made the motion that the City hire R. Tyler Dotson for the City Manager position, it was supported by Commissioner Deah Muth.

Hehl once again was questioning the recommendation of the Personnel Committee by asking if they were going to get to interview him. Brinker said the City Commission was the body that was charged with conducting interviews and making a recommendation. Commissioner Luke Strunk stated that they had already done the interview and selected, R. Tyler Dotson for the City Manager position. “I think the Personnel Committee is a very qualified committee to make that recommendation,” Strunk said. He added “You set the committees up,” referring to Brinker.

A vote of the Commission ended with two no votes again, Hehl and Brinker.  The motion also included direction to the Personnel Committee to begin the contract negotiations with Dotson.

  1. Tyler Dotson is currently the Director of the Downtown Development Authority and Economic Development Department in Blissfield, Michigan. He has experience as a campaign manager, with school boards, and has served on a Brownfield Redevelopment Authority and a Local District Finance Authority.  He has a Masters of Public Administration degree.

In his resume he states that he is energetic, persuasive, and a results-focused leader. He is a lifelong learner with a passion for best practices and goal setting.  He is experienced in strategic communications and political/ governmental processes.

Budget discussion

A public hearing was held on the 2018-2019 proposed budget.  Audience member Bob Becker asked how the public could comment on the budget if they were not presented it. It was not available, there were no other comments from the audience or the Commission and the public hearing was closed.

As the resolution was put forth for adopting the 2018-2019 proposed budget, very little discussion was held after it was read.  The vote of the Commission once again ended up with Brinker and Hehl voting no. They provided no comment or reasoning for their no votes.

As the resolution was put forth for approving the amendments to the 2017-2018 budget, Brinker and Hehl once again voted no without explanation.

Adopts Planning Commission recommendation to opt out of medical marijuana

Brinker said that the Commission was to vote on the Planning Commission’s recommendation to opt out of medical marijuana.  He said in a 4-2 tally, they voted to opt out of medical marijuana. Brinker asked for a motion in a positive manner “to approve the Planning Commission’s recommendation to opt out,” and explained that if they wanted marijuana, they should vote no and if they didn’t then they should vote yes.  The vote, without explanation, received two no votes from Commissioners Kinzler and Strunk.

Summer help needed for water meter replacement project

Strunk said that he would like to hire additional summer employees to help the Public Works Department with the large meter replacement task. Strunk said they have an issue with replacing the dying meters before they go out of warranty. He said the recommendation of the Water and Sewer Committee was to increase the number of seasonal workers to nine and to have them focus on the meter replacement.  “We need to give DPW the resources they need to get those changed out,” Strunk said adding, “We need to get this system resolved, we have been kicking the can down the road too long. Hehl wanted an exact labor cost that this would add before voting but it was explained that it is not that easy to come up with a bottom line figure.  In the meantime the water readings for the City’s water bills are not 100% and are costing the City lost revenue for water use that is not being billed due to the failed or failing meters.  The City Commission approved hiring the additional staff at $10/hr. for the length of the project.

During the privilege of the floor portion of the meeting, Uskiewicz acknowledged that this will be his last meeting and said that he has worked with several individuals that he bids a fond farewell to. “You are in capable hands with the appointments that were done tonight,” Uskiewicz said.

“It has been my honor and privilege to serve the citizens of Watervliet,” Uskiewicz also said.

PASSING UNDER THE AERIAL LADDERS… “Granddaddy” the antique Coloma Fire Truck proudly carries the casket of Stuart Thurlow through downtown Coloma following the funeral ceremony for Capt. Thurlow. His obituary is on Page 8. Many local fire and law enforcement departments came together on Sunday, June 10 to help the North Berrien Fire Rescue Department honor retired Captain Stuart Thurlow who passed away on June 6, 2018. Thurlow was dedicated to serving the Coloma community and surrounding area for over 30 years as a firefighter and police officer. (TCR photo by Christina Gelder)


Bainbridge Township approves two demolitions and one Civil Action on Millburg Drive

By Angela Stair

The Bainbridge Township Board of Trustees held their monthly meeting on Monday, June 11 at the Township Hall.  Problems along Millburg Drive (trailer park area) have been discussed by the Board and worked on by Ordinance Enforcement Officer David Dent for an extended period of time.  The Board decided to take action on some issues.

Township Supervisor Bill Hodge recommended the Board approve a resolution for county demolition to be done at 402 Millburg Drive and 406 Millburg Drive.  Both locations have been abandoned and neglected.  They are an eyesore and a danger.  Mr. Dent has done his best to get this taken care of, Supervisor Hodge said.  The Board approved the resolution with all voting yes.

The second issue on Millburg Drive is at the David Schaffer 345 Millburg Drive address.  It actually has two problems.  Debris from burned mobile home remains on the property.  Several re-inspections had been made including several notices and two citations.  The required corrections have not been completed and a final notice was sent May 17, 2018.

As of May 15, 2018 an unlicensed, inoperative camper trailer remained in the yard.  In order to correct this violation, Schaffer was sent a letter that he would have to discontinue occupying the camper as a dwelling subject to the provisions of the Bainbridge Township Zoning Ordinance.  He had exceeded the allowable time for temporary use of the camper as housing.

The letter gave information on how to reach the Ordinance Enforcement Officer or how to contact the Bainbridge Township Hall to speak with someone about the situation.  No response of any kind has been made.  Supervisor Hodge suggested the Board turn this problem over to the Township Attorney to move forward.  The Board approved Civil Action is taken to remove burnt trailer at 345 Millburg Drive.

The Board also approved turning over all legal transactions of the Schrage Appeal to address variances in their use permit. A public hearing needs to be held.

Other business

The Board approved the purchase of new plot maps for the Township at a cost of $525.

The Board approved the renewal of three-year appointments to the Planning Commission of Melissa Morlock and Charles LaSata.  They also approved a three-year appointment of John DeLaps to the Zoning Board of Appeals.

Supervisor Hodge reported there has been no movement on either the Daikin/Peters Drain or the Potes Drain.  When something starts happening, the Board will be notified.  No dates with the Drain Commissioner are set up at this time.

The rewriting and updating of the Bainbridge Township Policy Book is nearing its completion.  Township Clerk Patty Hiler-Molter presented the Board members with a copy of the proposed revisal.  The Clerk suggested they not pass the resolution to adopt the book until they had taken time to look it over carefully to see if anything should be changed.  She suggested it be addressed at the July meeting.  The Board agreed.

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