01-16-2020 Watervliet City holding special meeting tonight for permit request to allow church on Mai

2020 MISS WATERVLIET AND HER COURT… was crowned Sunday, January 12, 2020. The court is (from the left): Miss Congeniality and 2nd Runner Up Meghan Klann; Miss Watervliet Sophia Tavolacci; and 1st Runner Up Adriyanna Winters. The court was selected from a field of six young ladies. (TCR photos by Annette Christie)



Watervliet City holding special meeting tonight for permit request to allow church on Main St.

By Annette Christie The Watervliet City Commission will hold a special meeting on Thursday, Jan. 16, 2020 at 6:30 p.m. to address a special land use permit application for property located at 115 N. Main St. At their regular meeting this month the City Commission was faced with accepting the recommendation of their Planning Commission to deny the permit or going ahead with its approval. At that time, they had decided to table it to obtain assistance by their legal counsel. The special land use permit application was filed by Freshwater Community Church for a Church/ Community Center on Main Street. The process began in April when the church completed the application. Freshwater Community Church started in Coloma in 2010. Over the past nine years they have been meeting in the Coloma Middle School building. They were seeking to purchase the property at 115 N. Main St. and to convert it into a community center and church where their congregation meets on Sundays. They currently have about 75 adults and 25 kids in their congregation and the building would allow for anticipated growth. In addition to the Planning Commission’s review of the plans and the permit request, the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) had reviewed the parking challenges for the property. This was at the request of the Planning Commission. The City Commission, who also serves as the ZBA, took a look at that earlier this month and found that there was sufficient parking throughout the city to accommodate the building’s use. It is expected that the City Commission will take action on the permit application Thursday night.

BEAT OF A DIFFERENT DRUMMER! Coloma Comet drummer Zander Baldwin, with an assist from band mate Ian Ishmael, beats the drums upside down Friday night during the Coloma Comets home win against Saugatuck, Jan. 10. The Comets also beat on the Indians to the tune of an 86-53 victory. See game details in Coloma Press Box on Page 8. (TCR photo by Dave Vollrath)


Sophia Tavolacci and Dylan Tucker named Watervliet Blossomtime 2020 Royalty

By Annette Christie Six young ladies and three young men from the community were able to be their unique self in a show of “Diversity” at the 2020 Miss and Mr. Watervliet Pageant Sunday afternoon, Jan. 12. In the end, it was Sophia Tavolacci and Dylan Tucker that gained the Miss and Mr. Watervliet titles. Each contestant joined in a dance to the song “Born This Way” and then introduced themselves by sharing their unique characteristic for the pageant opener at the Watervliet High School auditorium. Miss Watervliet and court Following three formal appearances, it was Sophia Tavolacci that was crowned the 2020 Miss Watervliet. The 17-year-old is a junior at Watervliet High School. She stands 5’6” and has blonde hair and green eyes. Tavolacci participates in cross country and track. She is the recipient of the 2018 MVP award for cross country and has received the Academic of Excellence award in all core and fine arts classes in 2018 and 2019. She volunteers for the Girls on the Run program, a food pantry, at U.S. Renal Dialysis Center, and as a peer to peer tutor for first graders. Following high school, she plans on attending the University of Tennessee to major in medicine. She hopes to become a pediatrician. Sophia is the daughter of Kellie Cearlock and Jeff Tavolacci. The first runner-up title went to Adriyanna Winters, 17. A junior at Watervliet High School, her future plans include going to college and majoring in physical therapy so that she may specialize in sports therapy. Winters suffered a torn ACL, and it was the amazing people that helped her to recover from her injury that inspired her to go into that field. She participates in volleyball, basketball, and track. She has been on the honor roll and principal’s list. She has earned her varsity letter and was named All-State Academic for volleyball in 2019. Adriyanna was named Snow Princess in 2017 and won Homecoming Princess in 2019. She volunteers for her class, food drives, homeless blessing bags, collects hats and gloves for the less fortunate, and the back to school book bag drive at New Life Harvest Ministries. The daughter of Rebecca Winters and Anthony Winters, she stands 5’5” and has black hair and dark brown eyes. As a first runner-up Winters will have an opportunity to participate in Blossomtime’s Miss Spirit title. It is open to all community first runners-up. That pageant will be held on January 25 at St. Joseph High School. The winner of Miss Spirit can go on to participate in the Miss Blossomtime contest; however, she is only eligible for the Miss Congeniality title. Meghan Klann was a dual-crown winner, claiming 2nd Runner-Up and Miss Congeniality. She is the daughter of Kevin and Lisa Klann. Klann, 17, is a senior attending Watervliet High School. She is involved in National Honor Society, Student Council, and has received academic excellence awards in many of her core classes through high school. She has served as the Watervliet Panther mascot for the past two years. Meghan has completed over 300 hours of community service, participating in local blood drives and food drives, and has volunteered at the Humane Society, the North Berrien Historical Society, and for the American Youth Soccer Organization. Klann is currently attending the Professional Health Careers Academy and Certified Nursing Assistant Program at Coloma High School. She is dual-enrolled at Lake Michigan College and plans on continuing her education at Lake Michigan College to obtain her nursing degree. The other queen contestants that beautified the stage were Emma Morris, Sophia Warsko, and Allison Eisen.

2020 MR. WATERVLIET AND HIS COURT… became the 19th to be community royalty. The court is (from the left): 2nd Runner Up Alex Isbrecht; Mr. Watervliet Dylan Tucker; and 1st Runner Up Gus Hinch.


Mr. Watervliet and court Dylan Tucker was named Mr. Watervliet. The 18-year-old is a senior attending Watervliet High School. Following high school, he plans to go to college to pursue a career in Biomedical Science. Tucker has received his varsity letter in football and baseball and has received the Panther Award for football. He is in the National Honor Society and Student Council and has received various awards in different classes. A previous Mr. Firecracker, he was also the Sunburst King and the Watervliet Snow Prince in 2015. Tucker is also part of the peer to peer group at Watervliet South School. He volunteers at Midway Baptist Church, for the community Christmas celebration, Watervliet Recreation Council, Covert Recreational Center, and helps at various school events. He has completed over 400 hours of community service. His parents are John and Tina Tucker. Gus Hinch was named first runner-up. He is the son of Josh and Kerrie Hinch. The 18-year-old senior attends Watervliet High School. He is involved in National Honor Society, track, and cross country. He was named MVP in cross country in 2017 and 2018, was MIP for track in 2018, and was named First Team All-Conference for Cross Country in 2018 and 2019. He has been the Tri-City Record Press Box player of the week and has received various academic awards. He will be completing his fifth year in the Early Middle College program and then plans to graduate from a 4-year college university. He plans to travel the world and hopes to make a difference in his community. Alex Isbrecht was named 2nd runner-up. He is the son of Tom and Kim Isbrecht. The 18-year-old senior attends Watervliet High School. In high school, he is involved in wrestling, soccer, cross country, and track. He has been on the honor roll every year in high school. He was named the most improved player in wrestling, two years in a row. He is closing in on 100 wins in wrestling (currently at 96). Following high school, he will be attending Grand Valley State University to study computer science. Chairperson Rhonda Yerington introduced the Master of Ceremonies, Phil McDonald. McDonald is a graduate of Lake Michigan Catholic High School and Albion College. Upon his college graduation, he started working for WSJM and WIRX radio and is still with the company today. He is currently Sports Director for Sports Radio 1400 WSJM and Mid-West Family Broadcasting here in Southwest Michigan. He has been the Master of Ceremonies at Watervliet and other pageants for many years including the Mr. and Miss Blossomtime Pageants. The judges were Maria Moen, Anthony Pastrick, and Beth Beaudette. Serving as pages for the judges were former Miss Watervliet title holders including Ellie Troyer (2018), Mattie Troyer Lueben (2015) and Karlee Liles (2016). The contestants all had a group interview, an individual interview and then answered an on-stage question. The male contestants were asked to explain why diversity was the greatest thing, while the female contestants were asked to state what their definition of diversity was. Blossomtime’s overall theme this year is “The Greatest Show” and can include a greatest thing about the local community. Watervliet royalty will go on to represent their community as they seek a Blossomtime title on March 15-16, 2020.

Coloma Fire Department unveils proposed 2020 budget

By Nancy Albright

The North Berrien Fire Rescue Board presented this year’s proposed budget and Capital Purchases Program to the Coloma City Commission at the January 13 meeting.

The restructured $347,698 operational budget reflects the breakdown of expenses between Coloma City and Township, and Hagar Township, and the board designed the Capital Purchase Program to avoid asking the three municipalities to pay for much-needed rescue equipment. The department responded to 248 calls in 2019, which includes out-of-district calls from surrounding areas, and numerous emergencies on I-196 and I-94.

The 2020 operational expenses include bunker gear for four new firefighters, and four replacement packages that are required each year, as well as a dunes fire pack. The department received a $1,500 Michigan DNR Fire Assistance Grant with a 50-50 match to help purchase the dunes pack, which includes a floating fire pump, nozzles, and 400 feet of forestry hose to siphon water from Lake Michigan to combat dune fires.

Capital purchases include new extrication tools and the required change-over to the 800 MHz communication system at a cost of $72,000, which will be funded from the department’s current fund balance.

The board received a $15,525 50-50 matching grant from the county to help purchase the new extrication equipment. The current package is obsolete because metal used in new cars shatters Coloma’s 35-year-old cutting blades. Coloma plans to purchase the equipment from Amkus of Valparaiso, IN —suppliers to NASCAR and Indy car crash rescue teams. A purchase price of $54,000 will net the department two sets of three tools — a cutter, a spreader, and a combo cutter-spreader. The units are battery powered, and the pump and fluids are built into the tools, eliminating the need for hose and pump connections, making the tools easier to use. The package includes two DeWalt lithium-ion rechargeable 6-volt batteries and two chargers per tool.

The Michigan Public Safety Communication System handles rescue radio communications and is transitioning to an 800 MHz frequency spectrum that will require municipalities to purchase new pagers and mobile and portable radios at considerable cost. If municipalities do not remove VHF equipment from state towers by the end of 2020, MPSCS will penalize each municipality $1,000 per month until the equipment is removed.

To fully equip the fleet, which serves the City of Coloma, and Coloma and Hagar townships, the rescue needs 30 new pagers, and 24 portable and six mobile radio units. The County 911 Center has proposed a 50-50 match for the $21,000 price tag on the pagers and will allow the municipality to pay its half in two increments of $5,175 over the course of two years; half due up front. The cost of the radios is $16,000.

Fire Chief Mike Mattix also reported that the three municipalities will recoup $26,900 from fire calls in 2020, and that the cost of workers compensation insurance will decrease this year from $16,000 to $10,000.

Improved river rescue moving forward

The North Berrien Fire Rescue Department has received the Wolf’s Marine Package for use in river rescue that the commission approved in November at a cost of $5,360. The 11’ x 6’ multi-chambered boat with inflatable ribs carries a load of up to 1,265 pounds and is equipped with a 15-horse tiller motor, throw ropes, life jackets, water-activated strobe lights, and trailer. The board is awaiting approval from the Southwest Commission for the standardized river marking system that encompasses the entire 68 miles of the Paw Paw to help dispatchers pinpoint the location of distressed mariners and craft.

Duty pay has been eliminated for 2020 due to a shortage of personnel to man the house. The department would like to use the $5,000 savings to send 3-4 firefighters to the South Bend River Rescue School that offers a one-week accredited Swift Water River Training Program attended by rescue professionals from all over the U.S. Training cost is $600 per person.

New fire truck on the horizon

The fire board will be accepting bids in the next couple of months to purchase a new fire truck to replace Engine 4121, which has been in service since 1991––chassis parts for the old Pierce-Dash are becoming increasingly difficult to find. A new truck will cost approximately $670,000, which, according to Chief Mattix, is in line with industry numbers. The truck will last for 20 plus years with regular maintenance, and the department plans to sell 4121 and preserve serviceable equipment for use on the new vehicle. Turnaround time for a new truck is 12-13 months from point of order, so the vehicle will roll in 2021.

American Legion hard to find for emergency services

A Coloma legionnaire expressed concern at the 12-minute response time from Pride Care Ambulance Service for a stroke victim at Coloma American Legion Post 362, 351 East St. Joseph St. Emergency services found it difficult to locate the Legion with the instructions radioed by dispatch. The council will investigate the incident and work with emergency services to prevent this type of mistake in the event of future emergencies. The stroke victim is now in rehab at Lakeland Hospital, Watervliet.

Snow removal concerns

A concerned business owner expressed frustration that the city plowed snow over the curbs onto the sidewalk during the last snowstorm that hit Coloma. Business owners do understand that they are responsible for clearing sidewalks, but are looking for answers when it comes to customer access from streets to sidewalks before the city can service snow piled over the curbs.

Mayor Pro-Tem Marsha Hammond, who owned a business on Paw Paw Street for many years, explained that common practice is for business owners to shovel a break in the bank for customers to walk through until the city can get to the curbs.

In response to complaints that the Department of Public Works did not remove the ice that formed on Center Street the morning of the storm, causing drivers to slide backward, DPW Supervisor Rod Burkholder explained that the department plows and salts beginning at 7:00 a.m., unless the police department calls him to send his workers out earlier. One of the trucks was in the shop for repair that day and the DPW did address the situation. Mayor Pro-Tem Marsha Hammond thanked Public Works for all their hard work and told those assembled that they “do a great job overall.”

Paw Paw Street water main repaired

The recent water main break on Paw Paw Street near the Wesco gas station was repaired by Compton Inc. of South Haven at a cost of $5,450. The permanent fix consists of a directional bore seven feet below ground and a new galvanized water line. The old water line sat only two feet beneath the street and Hammond said she was surprised it lasted as long as it did. “Compton did a great job and prevented the street from being torn up until spring.”

Potential new business in town

Jason Wilson, owner of the Digital Vapor Den, 172 N. Paw Paw St., requested that the council consider his request to open a new store that will sell hunting equipment pending acquisition of space for the business. Wilson plans to sell firearms, ammunition, archery supplies, and other hunting gear such as tree stands. The council requested that Wilson draft a letter to the commission detailing his request. Commissioner Jason Hicks will help Wilson with the letter and applying for the required Federal Firearms License and Hammond will discuss the matter with the city’s attorney.

The discussion prompted Coloma resident Harold Bragg to express his concern over increasing deaths due to vaping as reported by the national media. Wilson explained that the situation is due to vaping THC, and that he only sells supplies that contain nicotine to customers with a minimum age of 21.

City seeking full-time Ordinance Officer

Commissioner Fred Reeves requested that the council consider hiring a full-time Ordinance Officer to conduct rental inspections. Rod Burkholder currently performs inspections on a part-time basis. A full-time officer would allow Burkholder the additional time he needs to devote to DPW operations. “Rod does a wonderful job. The inspections generate revenue for the city and we’re losing money because we can’t get to all 400 rentals in town. We need to make this a priority so we can get caught up and ensure the safety of our renters.”

The commission approved Reeves’s request and Commissioner Julie Smith proposed advertising the position in the newspaper, to which the council was amenable. The job will be posted for at least two weeks.

Other news from City Hall

The commission approved the appointment of Lindsay VanFerrari to the Cemetery Board in the wake of Bobbie Minor’s retirement. “I don’t know how we could find a better candidate,” said Hammond.

For those seeking office in 2020, petitions and paperwork must be submitted to City Hall by July 23, 2020. Forms are available at City Hall.

Coloma Public Library book sale

The library will hold a book sale on Saturday, Feb. 1 from 10 a.m.-2:00 p.m. “We received a large donation of art books and theology books, and there will be many books for sale on other subjects,” said CPL Director Mary Harrison.

Commissioner Hicks told those assembled that the library is one of the nicest facilities in the state and that it makes the community proud. “Your staff provides excellent service and when I was in the other day I stood in line because so many people were there to use the library.”

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