02-09-2017 Hartford School Board briefed on Third Grade Reading bill; HHS Winterfest Royalty; Night


EDDIE’S DRIVE-IN… celebrated the official grand opening of their new dining area with a ribbon cutting surrounded by family, employees, municipal leaders, chamber members and loyal customers. Pictured during the Coloma Watervliet Area Chamber of Commerce ribbon cutting are: (from the left) Zachary Gatchell, Hannah LaSota (former employee), Chana Kniebes, Yvette Holloway, Charles Hol-loway, Karla Smothers, Albert Patzer, Christine Otte and Sarah Spitzke. Stop in and see the roomy addition and updated facilities. We wish Charlie and Yvette Holloway much success with this beautiful upgrade to their popular restaurant. Eddie’s is located at 5036 Paw Paw Lake Road in Coloma; they have delicious food for dine in or carry out and also do catering, you can reach them at 468-2345.


Hartford School Board briefed on Third Grade Reading bill

By Jon Bisnett

The Hartford School Board February workshop began with a pizza party in appreciation of the middle school who served as hosts for the evening. A major part of that meeting was dedicated to a presentation from Jennifer Stubbs, Reading Interventionist for the middle school, who detailed H.B. 4822; Michigan’s recently passed Third Grade Reading law.

Middle school update

Behavioral Specialist Amanda Roundhouse brought the board up to speed on several programs recently presented in the middle school in the area of anti-bullying, suicide prevention and the State of Michigan’s OK To Say.

Armed with the sobering statistic that suicide is the number 3 cause of death among teens, Roundhouse is mentoring a 7th grade interactive video series that is presented to all students during their social studies class.

The theme “Acknowledge, Care & Tell” provides real-world scenarios to stimulate discussion among students as how to best deal with potentially destructive behaviors, be it their own or that of a classmate.

M.S. students had the privilege of a visit from the “Relentless Tour” with former Michigan State basketball player Anthony Ianni, the first known person with Autism Spectrum Disorder to play Division I college basketball. Ianni, veteran of two Big Ten championships, a Big Ten tournament title and a Final Four appearance, draws upon his own struggle with autism and confrontations with bullies to offer solid advice for kids who face bullying in their own lives.

Last but not least, OK To Say is a program that allows anyone confidential reporting of tips on criminal activities or potential harm directed at Michigan students, school employees, or schools.

Weighted GPA

High school counselor Sandra Trapp presented the case for a switch to “weighted” grade point average scoring for the high school. The concept would in essence assign a 5.0 point value to Advanced Placement and Dual Enrollment College courses to more accurately reflect the difficulty level of the curriculum and reflect same in the GPA of the student transcripts used in the college admission process. As a voluntary method, not in use by all Michigan high schools, Trapp made calls to many college and universities here in Michigan and determined that 16 of those queried stated that they would use the higher “weighted” GPA score, not for admission, but would be reported for the purpose of scholarships. The board will take the matter under advisement for a later vote.

Washington D.C. trip

M.S. staffer Jenn Stubbs reports she has 30 of her 35-student target for the 8th-grade trip to our nation’s capital scheduled for Tuesday, May 30 through Saturday, June 3. The tour will include visits to the national memorials plus Mount Vernon, the Smithsonian, Ford Theater and a special honor for the group to take part in the placing of a wreath at Arlington National Cemetery.

Early literacy – Third Grade Reading law

Stubbs shared the bullet points of an unfunded mandate out of Lansing; H.B. 4822, the Third Grade Reading bill.

Recognizing the nationwide need and push towards STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) at multiple grade levels, it is also widely accepted that progress in those areas is severely hampered in students whose reading proficiency is below grade level.

H.B. 4822 is Michigan’s answer to a national lack of proficiency in early literacy. The new law lays down firm rules for diagnosing students reading level within 30 days of the start of kindergarten and mandates an individualized reading plan for those below standard within 30 days. The plan must include the teacher, principal and parents participation. The plan will follow that student until such time as they show grade level proficiency and potentially face retention, not to be promoted to 4th-grade under the new law.

Stubbs complimented the Van Buren Intermediate School District for a grant acquisition that puts one part-time specialist across the whole county and more importantly also funds a part-time specialist at each one of the 10 Van Buren County schools for collaborative purposes of sharing the load.

Superintendent Andy Hubbard commented, “Although the intent of the law is good, there are holes all over the assessment system. The goal is good and necessary, but in typical Lansing fashion we are looking at a huge amount of required documentation and a strain on financial resources to implement the program.

“My further concern is in the area of retention. There are some possible exemptions to allow a student to move on to 4th-grade, but the guidelines have a fairly narrow interpretation. My question would be that if parents are displeased with the retention, might they just pull the student in lieu of a school of choice that might offer a more lenient viewpoint and advance the student while we feel the compounded effect of lost state and federal student-allotment funds.”

Many unanswered questions remain as the new law takes effect.

HARTFORD HS WINTEREST 2017 ROYALTY… crowned during festivities held last week is pictured (from the left): William Martinez, Prince; Olivia Ziemer, Princess; Marissa Beraza, Queen; Paul Chappell, King.


Board reports

HPSB newest Trustee Rick Vawter has been busy, recently, attending five Michigan Association of School Boards classes. He briefly shared some thoughts on subjects of communications policy, personnel committees, expulsion protocol and superintendent evaluation.

Red Arrow Elementary disposition

Following a multitude of questions at the prior meeting, Business Manager Mike Hallgren addressed the board with findings from his recent conversation with the district’s legal firm as to how the building may be sold, once decommissioned in the fall of 2017.

Regardless of concerns expressed by both citizens and the board, it is of the lawyer’s opinion that the district cannot place an excluded use as a condition of sale.

Further, since there is an outstanding bond on the building, the rules state that the building must be sold at “fair market value.” It cannot be sold for “one dollar,” nor donated. By that same token, the outstanding bond is not interpreted as a lien of a specific amount that must be paid off (as in an auto loan or mortgage). The fact that any bond exists, however large or small, simply forces the “fair market value” valuation.

The building may be sold by a bid process, with the district still empowered to reject any or all bids.

The other method would be via a commercial realtor with an expected commission cost of roughly 8-percent.

In either case a commercial appraisal will be in order. Hallgren’s comments spawned even more questions of procedure that will require more research. The board will revisit the issue at future meetings.

Having no further business President Ben Chamber adjourned the meeting at 8:11 p.m. to meet next for the monthly business session at 7:00 p.m. Thursday, February 16.

North Berrien Historical Museum presents “Eden Springs Park Restoration” Tuesday, February 21

On Tuesday, February 21 at 7:00 p.m. the North Berrien Historical Museum will host a program on the Eden Springs Park Restoration presented by Debbie Boyersmith, volunteer coordinator at Eden Springs Park. There will be refreshments to follow.

Established in 1908, Eden Springs Park was a large tourist attraction that drew many visitors to the Benton Harbor area for decades. The park offered its guests a truly enjoyable experience with zoological exhibits, a miniature auto raceway, an outdoor amphitheater, miniature trains, beautiful gardens, and much more until closing in the mid 1970s. Restorations of the park began when Eden Springs Park Preservationists, a non-profit organization, purchased the property in 2009 with the mission to preserve and restore the historic landmark. Boyersmith will be presenting about the park, its restoration process, and the plans for its future.

No RSVP is required for this free program. For questions, contact the museum at (269) 468-3330 or at kristen@northberrienhistory.org.

Night to Shine prom hosted by The Shore Church in St. Joseph, February 10

The Shore Church at 623 Church Street in St. Joseph announced that they will serve as one of the churches around the world that will host Night to Shine sponsored by the Tim Tebow Foundation simultaneously on Friday, February 10, 2017 beginning at 5 p.m. at The Vineland Center, 1155 Vineland Road, St. Joseph. Night to Shine is an unforgettable prom night experience, centered on love for people with special needs, ages 16 and older.

Every guest of Night to Shine will enter their prom on a red carpet complete with welcoming friendly paparazzi. Included in the receiving line will be dignities, athletes, Mascots, local queens and other special guests. Once inside guests will receive VIP treatment including hair and makeup stations, shoe shining stations, corsages and boutonnieres. The musical group The Spaniels will also be performing for guests. The dance will include karaoke and of course, dancing! The highlight of the night will come when every one of the Night to Shine guests is crowned as a king or queen of the prom and there will be other proclamations presented by The State of Michigan.

While prom participants are having the time of their lives, parents and caregivers will be treated to a catered meal, massages, hair and makeup themselves, door prizes and the ability to watch the event live at The Shore Church.

Pastor Kevin Hester hopes that this event will not only celebrate and show love to those with special needs on this weekend, before Valentine’s Day but hopefully will encourage us to show love to them every single day.

For additional information on the Night to Shine hosted by The Shore Church visit: www.theshorechurchmichigan.com or call 269-208-3844

Organization meeting planned for Watervliet Independence Day Celebration 2017

Members of the Watervliet Independence Day Celebration (WBA) committee are planning an organization meeting on Monday, February 13, 2017 at 6:00 p.m. at the Watervliet Fire Department. Please mark this date on your calendars and plan on attending. We need your help to make this festival bigger and better than last year!

Senior Services

Hartford United Methodist Church

425 E. Main St., Hartford

Monday, February 13, lunch will be served at 12:30 p.m.; Bingo & Euchre/cards, 1:30 p.m.

Tuesday, February 14, lunch will be served at 12:30 p.m.; Cardio Drumming, computer help and Euchre/cards, 1:00 p.m.; Knitting, 1:30 p.m.

Friday, February 17, lunch will be served at 12:30 p.m.; Euchre/cards, 1:00 p.m.; Knitting, crocheting & needlework, 1:30 p.m.

Calling all musicians!

For those who played an instrument years ago, enjoy music and find it meaningful in your life, there are many opportunities to get involved in the many music groups available through Senior Services.   It is a great way to meet new friends and relieve stress!    Hand bell choir, chimes, women’s ensemble/choir, instrumental groups and more.   No auditions required.  Contact MaryBeth at (269) 487-7935 if you are interested in being involved.

Diabetic Support Group!

Being newly diagnosed with diabetes can be confusing and overwhelming with all the new things to learn and understand. Joining a support group is a positive step to take which can help on the path toward improved health and well-being. Please join Melissa Austin, BSN, RN at the Paw Paw Center at 10 a.m. on Monday, February 20 as she discusses how to cope with the diabetes diagnosis.

All seniors, age 60 and older, residing in Van Buren County are eligible to participate in these programs and activities.

Any questions or comments, please, contact Senior Services Paw Paw office at 269-655-8000. Rides are available through Van Buren Public Transit with no less than 24-hour advance notice at (269) 427-7921.

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