News and Newsmakers
of 2018 revisited
By Angela Stair
In the first weeks of the New Year it is an annual tradition of the Tri-City Record to recall the headline stories of this past year.
Following the News and Newsmakers feature, the Record will publish noteworthy stories and photos from the Press Box columns of 2018.
Complete pages of each issue are archived at www.tricityrecord.com. They are also available for viewing on the Coloma Public Library website resources in newspaper archives at colomapubliclibrary.net.
Bids opened for Paw Paw River County Park in Watervliet, lowest estimate is over budget
The bids for the future Paw Paw River County Park were opened before the Berrien County Board of Commissioners Finance Committee at their Thursday, January 18 meeting, coming in a bit higher than what was budgeted.
The Commission received six bids with quite a variation in the highest to the lowest bid. The highest bid was $886,994 vs. the lowest at $646,321. The Finance Committee approved the referral of the bids to staff for review and approved the lowest bid if it meets all the specifications and requirements of the project.
Parks and Recreation Director Brian Bailey said that the bids would be turned over to architect M.C. Smith for review and he would present the findings of that review back to the Board of Commissioners. They will check references and other projects that the lowest bidder has worked on in the past.
With the budget being $556,000, the Board will have to consider some options for handling the difference. There are some parts of the project that could be cut to get to the budgeted amount or the County could consider finding an alternate funding source for the balance.
The funding for the project came about by Berrien County receiving a $296,000 grant from the State of Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund, $300,000 from Berrien County, and a generous $25,000 donation from the Friends of Paw Paw River County Park.
The park development includes approximately 20 acres on the east side of M-140 with one mile of Paw Paw River frontage, directly across the river from Hays Park. The plans for the park include improvements to the river frontage, a pedestrian bridge connecting to the island, mature trees on the island and recreational opportunities.
By the end of the month, the Board was told that the lowest bidder does in fact meet all the specifications and requirements according to M.C. Smith, their architect.
OTHER JANUARY NEWS
Issue #1, January 4, 2018
Run, Frosty, Run is Saturday. Walkers and runners alike will lace up their shoes for the 2018 Run, Frosty, Run 5K event in Watervliet.
PLAY BALL… Miss Blossomtime Kaylee Chapin throws out the ceremonial first pitch to open the Watervliet Recreation Council baseball season at Hays Park.
Coloma Miss and Mr. Pageant is this Saturday, January 6. The community will roll out the red carpet with “50 years of the Coloma Glad-Peach Festival,” their theme.
Lakeland welcomes Lillian Helton as First Baby of the New Year.
Keeler Township schedules Parks Public Hearing, eyes regulations to limit bubblers.
Issue #2, January 11
Coloma Township officer becomes accident victim on “Death Trap” highway. Patrolman Wes Smigielski sustained injuries when his parked police vehicle was struck by a semi on I-94 that was going too fast for conditions.
Micah Saxe and Derek Plitt are crowned Coloma Royalty.
Hagar Township moves positively into the New Year.
Coloma City Commission informed of eradication protocol for invasive plant; moves forward on independent contractor for ordinance enforcement.
Majority of Quorum debated again by Watervliet City Commission, Mayor seeks revote of issue in November.
Coloma School Board approves Sinking Fund Millage ballot proposal.
Issue #3, January 18
“Back on the Rack” forced to find another home.
Ellie Troyer crowned Miss Watervliet. Local ladies vying for Miss Spirit crown this Saturday.
Hartford Township hosts a hero, Nicole Burrows, whose quick-thinking action, alerted a sleeping family to a blaze in their home.
Bainbridge Township defers action on drain work; seeks more information because of the high cost.
Spaulding re-elected president of Watervliet school board; committee selections made.
Watervliet Township approves restricting storage container use.
Issue #4, January 25
“Van”tastic! Several community members including two churches came together along with Brookfield Chrysler Dodge Jeep in Benton Harbor to purchase the much needed Town and Country Chrysler for Zoe Phillips, (a 9-year-old Hartford girl) who has a rare childhood cancer, and her family.
Pride Care Ambulance poised to service City of Hartford; 11 West Main Street named as site for proposed Medical Marijuana Dispensary.
Coloma to have downtown farmer’s market on Saturdays beginning May 12; Rory Bell contracted for City Ordinance Officer post.
Olivia Ziemer of Hartford is named Miss Spirit 2018.
Free preschool offered in Watervliet.
Lakeland Hospital, Watervliet Auxiliary holding flower and candy sale on Valentine’s Day.
Hartford School Board moves into the New Year: 2018 Consent Agenda approved; Board considers reviewing Trustee compensation.
Hartford directs medical marijuana dispensary to location near Ely Park and Family Dollar
At the February 19 meeting of the Hartford City Council, Med+Leaf investor and spokesperson Doug Van Koenig addressed the council in regard to the recent receipt of a communication from City Attorney Harold Schuitmaker recommending 309 West Main as an acceptable and compliant alternative to the property Von Koenig has already purchased at 11 West Main.
Last month 11 West Main was deemed by the attorney to violate the 500’ from a church rule contained in the medical marijuana business ordinance. Von Koenig, himself a member of the Zoning Board of Lincoln Township, asked the council what makes more sense; forcing his business to set up next to a city park and playground, or to use the council’s powers to take exception with the Schuitmaker opinion and grant a variance to the ordinance to allow Med+Leaf to operate discretely at 11 W. Main in the best interest of all aspects of community sensitivities and public safety.
By March 26 at the City Council Meeting, they were still trying to force the placement of Med+Leaf at 309 West Main by the public park.
OTHER FEBUARY NEWS
Issue #5, February 1
Berrien County puts in extra funding to secure future Paw Paw River County Park.
Watervliet City Manager reflects on first year.
Trio that saved life of Watervliet man among recipients of Lifesaving Awards given by Berrien County Sheriff L. Paul Bailey.
Hartford Schools pan state legislation over issue of local control.
Jim Lull, former Bainbridge Township official, dies at age 96.
Athletes and sports events of 2017 revisited.
Issue #6, February 8
Tri-Cities schools surviving the flu outbreak better than most.
Love Stories… Celebrate love every day, not just on Valentine’s Day.
New dryer vent debuts at National Home Builders Show, brainchild of local builder on shelves at Watervliet Hardware Store.
Murder mystery to be played out at Watervliet District Library, February 22.
City of Hartford delays bid award for Huffman building demolition.
Multi-vehicle smash-up closes I-94 for hours.
Issue #7, February 15
Watervliet City Commission reinstates committees, again; Mayor suggests City could buy vacant bank building.
Answering a singles ad lands her the love of her life. Dani Veenstra wrote a Valentine’s Love Letter about her husband David and won the Tri-City Record Valentine’s contest for 2018.
Rory Bell hired; Coloma Commission unanimously OKs contract for City.
Color Me Cured donates $1,000 back to community, to the Coloma Varsity Softball program.
Hartford Schools requests City and Township help with marketing.
Watervliet School Board seeks non-homestead millage increase.
Keeler Township to seek millage renewals for police, fire and roads.
Issue #8, February 22
Watervliet Pharmacy to open downtown in March.
Heavy rains and snowmelt earlier this week caused widespread flooding throughout the area, which in turn resulted in some school and business closings.
$11,450 of $100,000 state grant was spent on Paw Paw River cleanup in Coloma and Watervliet; Group seeks annual funds from local governments for maintenance.
Watervliet Township will consider adding river cleanup funding to budget.
Girl Scout asks for dog park in Coloma Township.
Bainbridge prepares for end of fiscal year, OKs cost of living raises.
County declares Local State of Emergency, activates Emergency Operations Center to coordinate responses
Rising temperatures, heavy continuous rain, and melting snow led to wide-spread flooding which began last week, and has resulted in Berrien County officials declaring a Local State of Emergency.
Berrien County began daily briefings in their Emergency Operations Center last Wednesday after flooding began to create a problem. On Friday, February 23, the Berrien County Board of Commissioners declared a Local State of Emergency due to the flooding that affected numerous communities in the county.
This declaration is a formality that allows the local municipalities to utilize county resources in their recovery and damage assessments as a result of the natural disaster.
The Local State of Emergency will be forwarded to the State of Michigan in an attempt to make state resources available to the County of Berrien and the local communities that are being affected by the flooding and the damage caused by this natural disaster.
OTHER MARCH NEWS
Issue #9, March 1
Kayaker missing on Paw Paw River. Kayaker reported missing on February 27 after two kayaks hit a log in the river. One individual swam to shore and the second is currently missing.
Rain a pain for Hartford Schools, flooding closes school for two days.
Morgan Hoshein, Carissa Richmond, and Lainey Meader – Comet Bowlers headed to State following their successful Regional run.
Cornerstone Alliance promotes further commercial growth for Hagar Township; Supervisor DiMaggio announces tentative list of proposed road projects.
Hays Park inundated by flood waters.
Hartford City & Township officials hold annual review of Hartford Fire Department budget, give approval.
Issue #10, March 8
Paw Paw River kayaker still missing; County extends flooding state of emergency.
New evidence causes Hartford to rethink location of medical marijuana dispensary site.
Benton Harbor VFW Post merges with Watervliet.
Don’t forget to set your clocks ahead one hour at bedtime Saturday night… Daylight Saving Time begins at 2:00 a.m. Sunday.
Plans for Coloma St. Patrick’s Celebration are complete.
Tri-City Royalty seeks Blossomtime crowns this weekend.
Keeler Township will ask voters to renew millage for police, fire, and roads.
Hartford Township Board hears application for fire department air packs grant was turned down, cost expected to be $120,000.
Issue #11, March 15
Search continues for missing kayaker; Governor declares state of disaster in wake of widespread flooding.
Garrett Brandt of Hartford named Mr. Blossomtime; Coloma and Hartford representatives make Queen’s Court.
Watervliet City Commission supports Paw Paw River maintenance; No city trash pickup this year, free dump passes instead for residents.
North Berrien Historical Museum St. Patrick’s Day Scavenger Hunt for kids March 17.
Bainbridge Township budget hearing, $411,520 in projected revenue.
Park Street drain solution headlines Watervliet School Board meeting; Do not miss important end of year dates.
Berrien County Youth Fair announces August 2018 grandstand lineup.
Hartford School Board retreat addresses safety.
Special events highlight St. Patrick’s Day Celebration in Coloma this Saturday.
Issue #12, March 22
Hartford Planning Commission draws fire from two city commissioners for support of noncompliant marijuana shop location.
Paul Abrams receives Masonic 70-year award from Grand Master.
Sewer rates going up for Watervliet Township residents.
Hartford Township cemetery sexton’s embezzlement case back in court.
St. Patrick’s Day Celebration in Coloma well attended.
Coloma School Board to host Community Forums on millage vote.
Upton, House advance school safety legislation; Bipartisan bill would improve early detection, intervention, and notification technology.
Therapeutic Equestrian Center (TEC) holding Volunteer Trainings for spring.
Commercial Rehabilitation District created for Hagar KOA upgrades.
Watervliet business owner lists issues which forced him to close.
Coach Barchett brings long history to WHS Hall of Fame.
Issue #13, March 29
Armed robbery at Watervliet gas station, Police seek masked trio that held up Citgo; Death at Watervliet Subway under investigation; Search continues for missing kayaker.
Hartford student killed in car accident, school community rallies to support family.
Hartford Commission rejects planner’s recommendation for location of marijuana dispensary, favors site adjacent to Ely Park in Family Dollar building.
Historical Museum will have Civil War Days during spring break.
Questions raised on proposed Coloma Township dog park.
Easter Bunny’s Hartford appearance draws hundreds.
Coloma Lions Club announces $500 Challenge Grant for Amicus Dog Park project.
Body found in Paw Paw River presumed to be missing kayaker
The ongoing efforts by multiple emergency services agencies to find a kayaker, who went missing in the Paw Paw River on February 27, have resulted in a body being found.
On April 10, Berrien County Sheriff Lt. Marty Kurtz and Undersheriff Chuck Heit were patrolling the Paw Paw River in the continued effort to locate 35-year-old Cory Wright of Niles.
While patrolling the river, Lt. Kurtz observed a suspicious object under the water. Upon further investigation it was believed to be a human body. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Office Dive Team was activated and contact was made with Watervliet Fire Department Chief Dan Jones as well.
Divers located and recovered the body of a white male at 4:47 p.m. The body was transported by Pride Care Ambulance to Lakeland Hospital in St. Joseph.
An autopsy will be conducted Thursday in Kalamazoo and the positive identification of the recovered body is ongoing.
Cory Wright, 35, of Niles was kayaking in the area with two other men when they hit a log and flipped over. One of the men re-surfaced but Wright did not.
The Berrien County Sheriff’s Office and the Watervliet Fire Department have worked together for the last 43 days in an attempt to locate the missing kayaker.
OTHER APRIL NEWS
Issue #14, April 5
Recall petitions filed for Coloma Charter Township officials, Parrigin and Fulton.
Supreme Court denies Berrien County appeal in Coloma Gun Range suit.
Watervliet robbery is Crime of the Week… police seek masked trio who held up Pri-Mart Citgo.
Public voice concern over public lake access space to Keeler Township Board.
Family continues to share Mason’s story, speaks on Good Samaritan Law at Ferris State University.
Hartford Schools further tighten security protocols.
Issue # 15, April 12
Watervliet city manager gives notice, leaving end of June; Planners invite public to medical marijuana discussion.
Judge rules evidence supports embezzlement trial for former Hartford Township cemetery sexton.
Drain Commissioner discusses projects with Bainbridge Township Board and public.
Citizen concerns with Coloma Police voiced at City Commission meeting; City sets City spring cleanup dates.
Hagar Board informed of interest in vacant APL Logistics building; Study of area roads planned.
Need the Watervliet Police? Reach them with the push of a button located on the exterior of City Hall at the Police Department entrance.
Hartford High School National Honor Society members are guest speakers at Paw Paw Lake Rotary meeting.
K-9 team joins Lakeland Health.
Issue #16, April 19
River group ask Watervliet Township to consider regional benefits of river over funding local efforts; Some streets could have 55 MPH speed limits as 25 MPH signs are removed.
Hartford Township blocks County Senior Millage vote request.
Veteran from Riverside, Juanito Dela Cruz, honored for service in WWII, Korea, and Vietnam.
Zach Smith builds Eagle Scout project to benefit Community Garden.
Hartford Strawberry Festival events planned; contestants, vendors and sponsors needed.
Paw Paw River County Park contractor begins Watervliet project; marking trails on the island.
4-H Spring Achievement celebrates Berrien County Youth at fairgrounds.
Issue #17, April 26
Marijuana on Main Street? Watervliet planners seek public comment on issue Monday night.
Huffman’s Furniture building in Hartford demolished.
Candidates file for county and state offices.
Coloma Township works out plan between baseball fans and dog park.
Parcourse at Lakeland Hospital, Watervliet gets new plantings as renovations begin.
Hartford Planning Commission recommends secondary marijuana dispensary site.
Local Girl Scout presented dog park project to Paw Paw Lake Rotary Club.
Recall petition denied for Coloma Township officials.
Coloma students receive spirit award.