02-14-2019 Bainbridge Twp. officials discuss salaries; Coloma welcomes spring with St. Pat celebrati

Larsons still Valentines after 31 years

By Annette Christie Diane Larson of Watervliet describes the man who holds her heart as having stimulating intelligence, exuberant humor, and steadfast loyalty. The man, her husband Doug, has been by her side for 31 years.

VALENTINES STILL AFTER 31 YEARS… Doug and Diane Larson share a kiss over the flowers they won in the Tri-City Record Love Letter contest. Diane (right) wrote the letter about her Valentine Doug (left), the man who still holds her heart after all this time. (TCR photo by Annette Christie)

She describes their life as being together in everything from the moment their story began at Southwestern Michigan College. When asked how they met, they both look at each other and chuckle. “I was her teacher,” Doug says.

They both ended up teaching at the college and their 31 years of marriage has taken them on a love-filled journey side by side. They have owned a farm, lived on a lake, and traveled the country, but decided that Watervliet Township is where they would make their home. Asked about the kind of things they enjoy doing together, in unison they replied, “Everything.” “We both love to read and garden,” Diane adds. The winner of this year’s Tri-City Record Love Letter Contest says the secret to a happy marriage is simple, “Be kind.” In her letter about Doug published in the February 7 issue of the Tri-City Record she wrote, “My valentine is, was and always will be Douglas Larson. Thirty-one years of marriage to him has been my privilege and my delight. We tend to think of Valentine’s Day as romance, as passion, and it is those things and much more. I know because my love is kindness in deed and word. He is stimulating intelligence, exuberant humor, and steadfast loyalty. Doug came into my life in a whirlwind. He charmed me, wooed me and bought me tires for my car instead of flowers (because I needed them more). I would say he wined and dined me, but truly it was Long Island Iced Teas, and dancing the nights away. We have worked together – taught at the same place, raised kids together, owned a store together, travelled the country together, renovated property together – and still like each other. It’s amazing and wonderful. There could never be another Valentine for me. Doug holds my heart.” As winners of the 2019 Be My Valentine Love Letter contest, the Larsons receive a dozen roses, dinner for two at Easy Street Inn, two movie passes to the Loma and gifts from sponsoring businesses. Tri-City Record would like to thank the following sponsors of the contest: Watervliet Coin Laundry, Watervliet Hardware, Cool Tan, Watervliet Shell Station, DiMaggios Pizza and Burgers and the Flower Basket.

Bainbridge Twp. officials discuss salaries; nixes 9% pay increase request for Supervisor, OKs 3% hike for elected officials, 2% for employees

By Teresa Smithers Budgets and contracts were the theme of the February 11 Bainbridge Township meeting as another fiscal year begins. After lively discussion, the Bainbridge Township Board of Trustees voted to prepare a resolution for a 3% increase for the Supervisor, Clerk, Treasurer and Trustee. Supervisor Bill Hodge, who advised a 9% increase for the Supervisor and 2% increase for the rest, was the only dissenting vote. Hodge based his assessment on the currently stable cost-of-living index and comparative salaries, but Clerk Nancy Weber strongly protested. She stated that the increase would equal to only $6.58/week and she thought their work was worth more than that. The trustees and treasurer agreed with her. Long time Trustee Don Baier stated, “I’m satisfied [with 2%] for myself, but not for the Clerk and Treasurer. They are very busy, especially at election times.” “When the Treasurer makes a decision, it’s all on her,” agreed Trustee John Yetzke. Baier recalled that in years past, they had tried to go with no raises, but that caused salaries to get too low for the times and they would have to pass an embarrassingly high cost-of-living raise, so they began giving three percent raises across the board each year just to keep up. The three percent raise was acceptable. A motion was made and vote held to that end. The resolution for the 3% increase will be prepared and presented at the March 11 meeting. A salary increase of 2% was approved for hourly and salaried deputies, ordinance enforcer, assessor, and cleaning. There is no increase for per diems.

Township affiliations The Township extended their partnership with Coloma Public Library. They also voted to renew contracts with Building Inspector Ross Rogien, Mechanical Inspector Rodney Wilder, Electrical Inspector Ron Ketelhut, and Plumbing Inspector Ken Benjamin. Art Scherer was re-appointed to the Board of Review. Budget A report of the budget (April 2019 through March 2020) shows an income of $448,720 and $18,000 in capital outlay. A public budget hearing will be held in March. Cemeteries The contract with Fardello’s Mowing to keep Township cemeteries mowed and trimmed was also renewed. A survey of the Byers and Bainbridge cemeteries is desired to help with trimming maintenance of trees. A motion was made and approved to allow a survey not to exceed $1,000.

Sheriff and Ambulance In other matters, Sgt. Josh Sutherland with Berrien County Sheriff reported that there were 31 complaints worked in the Township in the month of December 2018. Four tickets were issued and two arrests made. This compares to Berrien County totals of 1,106 complaints, 233 tickets issued and 194 arrests made. Pride Care Ambulance reported a total of sixteen calls in January with an average response time of 10 minutes, 23 seconds. (A train was deemed responsible for the increased time.) Drain Commission The Berrien County Drain Commissioner intends to be performing maintenance work on the drain easement at 5400 Meadowbrook Road as soon as the weather and work load make it possible. Taxes February 14 is the last official tax collection day, however winter taxes may be paid through February 28 with no interest penalty. Assessment notices will be coming out soon.

Coloma welcomes spring with St. Pat celebration & park revitalization plans

By Nancy Albright Coloma is welcoming spring this year with a St. Patrick’s Day Celebration and a revitalization of Randall Park. Saturday, March 16 will bring a 5K Run/Walk, book sale, scavenger hunt and a traditional Irish dinner, followed by a lighted evening parade. The 5K begins at Coloma Township Hall at 9:00 a.m., with registration at 8:00 a.m. The Coloma Public Library is having a Book Sale from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., and the North Berrien Historical Museum is hosting a Scavenger Hunt from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. An Irish Stew Dinner will be served at the Coloma Methodist Church followed by the parade at 8:30 p.m. Cocoa and cookies will accompany cash awards for best floats immediately after the parade. Parade applications are available at City Hall or coloma-watervliet.org. Parade line-up begins at 7:45 p.m. at the Coloma Fire Station. There is no entry fee for the parade. Chana Kniebes, Community Development Coordinator of the Coloma Watervliet Area Chamber of Commerce said, “The St. Patrick’s Day celebration is one of our favorites to plan because it signifies the coming of spring, and all proceeds from the event go to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.” The Coloma Leo Club – the young Lions Club group – is hosting this year’s St. Patrick’s Day event.

Randall Park revitalized Upgrades to Randall Park are in the works and the council approved Resolution #2019-1 at the February 11 commission meeting to apply for a Heart of Cook grant to help fund the project. Mayor Pro-Tem Marsha Hammond explained that if granted, the money will be used to renovate the playground and re-landscape the green space at the entrance to the park as agreed upon by the Coloma Downtown Development Association. The Coloma Masons and the Lions Club have already donated four new steel picnic tables. The city will rededicate Randall Park with a ceremony and ribbon-cutting on June 21, the first day of summer. Hammond asked that anyone who would like to volunteer or donate funds to help with the project contact Coloma City Hall at (269) 468-6606 during regular business hours.

Safety first Marsha Hammond reported that some plow repairs were required after the recent winter snowstorm, but all vehicles are now up and running. Hammond commended Department of Public Works Supervisor Rod Burkholder on the great job his crew did to keep the roads safe during the storm. “Safety is our top priority and we appreciate everyone’s hard work.” Pride Care Ambulance CEO Bill Mears reported average response times of 3:46 minutes for the month of January. Mayor Polashak said, “Pride Care provided excellent service for my wife and I last month and arrived within three minutes both times.” With the bad weather there were two accidents involving ambulances in January. The ambulance service plans to replace both vehicles. “We have insurance, but we lost $300,000 worth of equipment over a six-day period. One vehicle was totaled at a loss of $26,000, and the second ambulance is unusable.” Pride Care will purchase two box-style ambulances and outfit them with additional state-of-the-art emergency equipment to better serve patients. Mears told the council that Pride Care is spending on average $3,300 per month to heat the current building reserved for the ambulance in Coloma, and that the building is never inhabited. The company plans to build several sub-stations in the area to serve the population. Mears also reported that a Pride Care representative will be present at a Coloma City Council meeting each month to report activity beginning this summer. The City of Coloma Police Department made 71 traffic stops and issued 10 traffic tickets during the month of January. Officers also handled 40 unlawful incidents, including three cases of non-aggravated assault, six cases of obstructing justice, two arrests for controlled substances, one hit and run, one larceny charge, and five instances of disturbing the peace.

Burning unwanted debris Coloma resident Sieg Freitag requested on behalf of Jerry Street to burn the debris on a parcel of land between East Logan Street and the railroad tracks. Freitag explained that Street has already paid a company to clear the flat part of the property. “They did a wonderful job, but the hill down to the tracks is still filled with fallen trees and brush, and garbage thrown into the area by other people,” explained Freitag. “Clearing what has collected over a period of about 30 years will take more than a dumpster, and Coloma Fire Chief Mike Mattix has given us permission to burn what’s left.” Street would like to burn what remains while it is still wet to minimize smoke, so the city will grant or deny the request at the February 25 meeting.

In other news The council approved January expenses in the amount of $125,520.85. Mayor Polashak invited residents who are interested in seeing expense detail to visit City Hall anytime during business hours. The mayor also reminds residents that taxes are due by February 28, 2019. The Coloma Police Department’s contract expires on June 30, 2019. City commissioners Fred Reeves and Jason Hicks will meet with the department in the next couple of weeks to negotiate the new contract by the June 30 deadline. A visit from Coloma royalty The 2019 Coloma Court visited the city council meeting on Monday, Feb. 11 and will represent Coloma at the Blossomtime Contest in March. Royalty members are Samantha Scott, Miss Coloma; Amber Street, 1st Runner-up; Cassidy Dryer, 2nd Runner-up and Miss Congeniality; Grace Larson, Miss Teen Coloma; Kylie Smith, Miss Teen Coloma 1st Runner-up; Sin’cere Taylor, Mr. Coloma; Zack Lake, 1st Runner-up; and David Hiler, 2nd Runner-up and Mr. Nice Guy.

Hartford City opts out of recreational marijuana

By Jon Bisnett

Falling in line with a multitude of Southwest Michigan municipalities, the City of Hartford voted unanimously to opt out of the Michigan Registration & Taxation of Recreational Marijuana Act, Section 6.1. This action would forbid sales of recreational marijuana and related business within the city. The decision can be reversed if the State were to get licensing and regulations properly in place, which until then would fall upon the City for processing and enforcement.

Dispensary Update

Owner Alex VonKoenig of Med+Leaf, the city’s first medical marijuana dispensary, visited the City Commission meeting on Feb. 4 to update the commissioners on the state licensing progress. Med+Leaf’s application is now in the third and final stage of the process with a tentative date of Feb. 21 for approval.

Communications

The March Board of Review dates are March 20 from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and March 21 from 2:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Word comes from Van Buren Public Transit that it will begin offering Thursday and Friday routes in the city covering Doranne Greene and McDowell Apartments to Rite-Aid, Harding’s Market and Four Winds Casino.

Old business

City Manager Yemi Akinwale recommended the Council revisit the 2019-20 Fire Board Budget, rather than approve it. The budget has been already approved by the township including an additional assessment for the cost of firefighter air packs due to expire in 2020. Two consecutive years of unsuccessful FEMA grant applications put the burden on the Hartford Fire Department equipment fund, which is needed for the planned replacement of the Pierce fire truck that is demonstrating premature frame rust.

Akinwale contends that increased call volume and the associated costs have put the city in a position that he feels requires a further budget review and perhaps a review of the Joint Fire Agreement.

Commissioner Terry Tibbs was quick to point out he criticized the Fire Board for not seeking other means of funding the air packs when the first grant failed in 2017. Akinwale will schedule a joint meeting of the Fire Board, City and Township to address the concern, in effect reviewing the same HFD budget presented by the Fire Board just a month ago to explore the feasibility of further budget cuts.

New business

Commissioners approved a $500 donation to the Hartford Community Float.

Unanimous approval was given to seek demolition bids for buildings located at 32 and 34 West Main Street.

February Workshop and Business will be combined for the 25th due to Presidents Day.

Clerk RoxAnn Rodney-Isbrecht initiated discussion in regard to relocating the Hartford City Precinct 1 Polling Place. Rodney-Isbrecht expressed concerns of limited space at the hall to remain compliant to state regulations of voting equipment to voter ratio. She is suggesting a temporary stop-gap move to the His Place Outreach Center with the long-range goal of the Vanderlyn Community Center when completed.

Resolutions

Resolution 201-001 – Amending Water/Sewer Rates – passed unanimously.

Resolution 201-002 – Supports CMAQ – passed unanimously.

Ordinance 318-19 Opting Out of Michigan Registration & Taxation of Recreational Marijuana Act, Section 6.1 – passed unanimously.

Having no further business, Mayor Hall adjourned the meeting at 8:28 p.m. The Council next meets in a combined workshop/business session on Monday, Feb. 25.

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