Hartford Township orders demolition of buildings on four blighted properties
By Jon Bisnett Aligning with a common theme among several Tri-City area municipalities to eliminate blight, Hartford Township Board lowered the boom on four blight properties cited for dangerous buildings, approving orders of demolition for all four parcels at its regular January Business Meeting held Thursday, Jan. 10. Zoning Administrator While tightening the screws on blighted properties, the Township will do so without the support of Zoning Administrator Jim Lechenet who tended his resignation on relatively short notice following 14 years of service. Supervisor Ron Sefcik will assume the administrative duties in the interim, while enforcement will be a temporary assignment to the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department Deputy contracted to the Township. The board recognized Lechenet’s service in the form of a resolution commending his 14 years at the post. Sheriff’s Department Van Buren County Sheriff Deputy Phil Scuiletti announced that he would be leaving his post as the Township Deputy citing his five years of service is untypical for such assignments. Deputy Rowley is in the process of familiarizing himself with the area via ride-a-longs with Scuiletti who will transition out this month. Road Commission The Van Buren County Road Commission representative Rick Boze told residents that county plows are idle with the mild weather as the VBCRC is taking advantage of the weather by actively pursuing tree and brush trimming. Other business Responding to an offer from Miss Hartford Brynn Duffy, the board supported contracting with the award-winning Hartford Community Float to place advertising, increasing the amount of financial participation to $1,500. Financial approval was given to the Hartford Joint Fire Department authorizing the purchase of replacement air packs in an amount in excess of the Joint Fire Agreement expenditure cap. A special meeting of the Township is scheduled for 4:00 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 17.
Watervliet pastor named Chaplain of the Year by Berrien County Sheriff’s Office Pastor Brian Hall of Watervliet Free Methodist Church has been selected as the 2018 Berrien County Sheriff’s Office Chaplain of the Year. Pastor Hall started his chaplaincy in 2003 and has been a tremendous asset for the department. Chaplain Hall was nominated by his peers for his leadership and compassion for those he is called to serve. Sheriff’s office chaplains are ordained ministers who volunteer their time and services. Chaplains are commonly used for ceremonies, funerals and giving death notifications. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Office Chaplain Corp was started after the tragic events of 9/11.
Tall grass growers in Coloma Township to be fined plus mowing costs
By Annette Christie The Coloma Township Board approved measures at their Wednesday, Jan. 9 meeting that will attach a surcharge for chronic tall grass residents. Township employee Rory Bell explained to the board that for years they have been charging the mowing expense back to the taxpayer, however, the township wasn’t collecting anything for its administrative costs before and after it gets to that point. Bell said that at the beginning of each mowing season, the township sends out a letter to previous violators. Violators begin getting a notice when their lawn goes over the allowed six inches but by the time all the notices have gone through and the response time is factored in the lawn usually reaches about 12 inches or so. “There is a lot of time involved from township officials so a surcharge would help to offset that,” Bell said adding, “The cost of the mowing and the surcharge can be put on the taxes.” Bell said the township continues to mow a violation lawn every 30 days unless the owner contacts the township to tell them to stop. “If they would just take care of the property themselves we wouldn’t have to deal with this,” Bell said. The board approved a surcharge of $150. Police Department business Interim Police Chief Wes Smigielski presented an amendment to the Police Department budget to cover new cameras and recorders for the police vehicles. Smigielski said that the system they are currently using is aged and is failing. Parts are no longer available. He recommended Digital Alley, a company that can upgrade the system as well as adding more camera views with motion detection, a new server, and backup of the videos. Smigielski was able to find the $14,200 out of pocket cost from his budget but required an amendment to the budget to do that. The board unanimously approved the budget amendment. During public comments, a resident asked the board the status of the Police Chief position as Smigielski is in the position on an interim basis. Supervisor Ken Parrigin said that he will be in the position for 60 days. Parrigin said that the Police Committee will make a recommendation to the township board in the filling of the position. “He (Smigielski) is doing a fine job,” Parrigin said.
ROYALTY VISITS HARTFORD TOWNSHIP… Miss Hartford for 2019 and her court made a stop at the January regular meeting of the Hartford Township Boa