02-15-2018 Answering a singles ad lands her the love of her life; Watervliet City Commission implem

Answering a singles ad lands her the love of her life

By Annette Christie

Dani Veenstra took a risk and put herself out there in answering an ad in a singles magazine. She left a lengthy message about herself and her life and what she liked about the ad that was authored by David Veenstra.

When he retrieved the message, he listened to it over and over again, taking notes about the message and the woman who left it.  In writing down her phone number so that he could call her, he accidently hit delete in a time where there was no way to retrieve it.  He hoped he remembered her phone number and even called what he thought it was a couple of times before finally transposing the numbers and getting it right.

By the time they talked, 10 days had passed and Dani was thinking he might never call.  When they finally did speak to each other, the phone call lasted two and a half hours. She recalls with a smile the first time they met in person.  She picked a restaurant that she knew well, one where she knew where all the exits were.  But in spite of meeting this man for the first time with his dorky t-shirt and socks up to his knees, she soon learned that he was one of the most fascinating people she had ever met.  “She’s good to me and good for me,” David adds.

Having both been in a previous marriage, they both knew they had things to learn about being in a relationship.  Dani shared with him that she was reading “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” and soon it became a book that they shared together which David says sparked conversation and topics that most couples put off. “It started us talking about a lot of the landmines that people avoid,” David said, adding, “We were very intentional about the relationship and made it work.”

The two have come a long way since that first date and will celebrate 21 years of marriage this March.  They both acknowledge that there are more things that they love about the other than even when they first met.  A whirlwind relationship that began in August, they were engaged in October, and married the following March.  While it may seem fast, married even before a year of dating, David jokes, “When you know, you know.”

Originally from the Grand Rapids area, the two found their way to the Tri-City area 15 months ago when Dani received her first pastor calling at St. Paul’s United Church of Christ in Bainbridge Township.  The two have come to love this little corner of the state. “We have some loving and caring people that are doing some good things,” Dani says of the congregation.

Following a career in manufacturing for years, Dani found herself in her mid-fifties and needing a change. She found herself volunteering to fill in for the pastor at her home church, much to her surprise.  In giving her first sermon, she says, “The minute I stood up to preach, something happened.”  While not able to give up her full-time job, an opportunity to study came about that would allow her to continue her job by the week as she spent her weekends in training.  Once she had completed her study she says, “It just felt like this was what I was meant to do and David supported me through the whole thing.  He was my biggest cheerleader.”

The two have found and often share with others that in a marriage it is important to lift each other up.  “It’s important to praise one another and to do it in front of other people. It helps you remember the good things about each other,” Dani states.

Her entry in the Be My Valentine Love Letter contest published in the February 8 issue of the Tri- City Record reads, “David Veenstra, love of my life… The day I found your ad in the Single File magazine, before internet dating sites, was the best day of my life. Your photo and description of who you were looking for intrigued me. From the moment we met you have cared for me as if I were a precious jewel, something rare and fine. Even when I am not at my best, you see through the fears that gnaw at me and cause me to be short tempered and unkind. You tenderly hug me and chase away the doubts that cloud my thinking. You cheer me on when I am faced with difficult tasks; above all, you believe me.

  And this year when our grandson needed a place to call home, you willingly opened your heart and agreed to welcome him into our home for as long as he needs us.  This is just one more way you demonstrate your love for me and our family.

  Your love for the past twenty years has made me a better me. From my heart to yours, all my love always.”

DONATION… a portion of the proceeds from the color run held on May 27, 2017 is donated to Coloma Softball. Pictured at the presentation are (from the left): Back row – Maurissa LaGrow, Vanessa Crisenbery, Mika Andersen, Megan Koenigshof, Coach Wendy Goodline, Megan Neubecker, Julia Sternaman, Hannah Mathis, and Phoebe Browne; Front row – Kayla Yore and Morgan Wagner (holding the check), and Skylar Crisenbery and Samantha Stewart.


Watervliet City Commission implements committee structure again

By: Annette Christie

Following the Tuesday, February 13, 2018 Watervliet City Commission meeting, the committee structure used on and off over the years is on again. Mayor Dave Brinker added it to the agenda.

Brinker said that since he brought it up at the last meeting, he has talked to each of the commissioners on a one on one basis and came to the conclusion that overall the City Commission would like to put a committee structure back in place again. This will be in conjunction with the full-time city manager that they have in place to manage the operations of the city.

Brinker said he would once again implement the following committees: Finance; Personnel; Public Works and Water & Sewer; Capital Improvements & Long Term Visions; Safety & Ordinance; and Parks and Recreation. The assignments are as follows: Finance (Mayor Brinker, Commissioner Cobb, and Commissioner Muth); Personnel (Commissioner Cobb, Mayor Brinker, and Commissioner Kinzler); Public Works / Water & Sewer (Commissioners Strunk, Whitney, and Muth); Capital Improvements & Long Term Vision (Commissioner Hehl, Mayor Dave Brinker, and Commissioner Whitney); Safety & Ordinance (Commissioners Whitney, Strunk, and Kinzler); Parks & Recreation (Commissioners Muth, Hehl, and Kinzler).

Brinker said that he gathered from his conversations with the Commissioners that they, as commissioners, do and would like to take an interest in different things that go on. He stated that they have become more routine where they get their commissioner packets, maybe even as they walk into the meeting and that a lot of them don’t stay up on stuff. Brinker said, “The Commission is going more in a direction of having to take the vote, we want to talk about it or argue about it and that’s not beneficial to conduct that type of business out here, it should be taken care of before we get out here.” He added that the discussion should be taken care of before-hand. He compared city government to that of a board of directors with a plant manager. He said, “The big one is finance, we have to let him do his job but we have to answer how are we going to spend our money and that should be done through the Finance Committee.”

Commissioner Cobb said he cringed at the thought of having a regular committee meeting schedule and to have the meeting whether they need it or not.

Some discussion was held about being paid another meeting fee for the committee meetings and Brinker said that is up to each commissioner whether they would like to be paid or not. If they do they need to let the clerk know.

City Manager Michael Uskiewicz was not present at the meeting as he is out on medical leave.

Brinker pulled a budget amendment for discussion and went into a presentation about the way he saw the amendment.  The amended budget resolution was written as follows: An increase in the general revenue from $1,035,455 to $1,079,021 (an increase of $43,566); an increase in general expenditures from $1,006,736 to $1,034,013 (an increase of $27,277); an increase in the total overall revenues from $2,540,697 to $2,598,211 (an increase of $57,514); and an increase in the total overall expenditures from $2,498,281 to $2,532,570 (an increase of $34,289).

Brinker said he had some questions and he wanted some clarification before this was voted on. He said that the City did get $44,000 of unexpected revenue from the State, for what he called “Local Stabilization.” Brinker said the amounts for this has varied over the years, one year they got $35,000 and then another time they got like $6,000. Brinker said that the budgeted revenue was at $15,000.  Brinker said, “My point is that you are not just simply approving moving money within the lines, you are approving new revenues and expenditures,” adding, “Normally when we amend budgets we are keeping the bottom line.”  Commissioner Larry Hehl said he would like to see the additional revenue put in reserve unless needed. The City Commission agreed that the amendment should be held until they can get some clarification from the city manager.

Brinker’s other added topic of conversation for the meeting was the G.W. Jones Bank building. Brinker stated, “I don’t want to get caught in a way that all we do is spend money and we never bring in any more revenue. I wish some of the other commissions before us would have set us up better. I just happen to think possibly we should look at buying that bank building over there.” He added that while everyone likes this building (City Hall) it is not handicapped accessible and that maybe they should have a different building. He said they could look at it as an investment maybe, and was seeking permission from the Commission to have a discussion about purchasing the building from the owner for less of a price than what it is listed for.  The City Commission concurred.

Brinker asked the clerk to add some comments in the minutes regarding the proposed master plan that is open for comments at this time.  He said he personally looked at the Master Plan. He said he is good with everything in the Master Plan and appreciated all the work that went into that, however, Brinker said it appeared that there was a zoning map attached to that plan that had some changes that are not part of the current zoning. Specifically, Brinker said that it showed that the paper mill property was not being listed as light industrial which is what it is now and he said he wants it to remain light industrial.

Commissioner Strunk suggested that perhaps what Brinker was looking at was a future use map.

In other business, due to the Watervliet Public Schools having a May election now, the clerk asked if they could move their May meeting because it will fall on election day. The City Commission voted to move the meeting to Wednesday, May 9 at 6:30 p.m.

Coloma City Commission unanimously approves contract for ordinance officer

By Lynn Mainwaring-Attila

Previously debated ideals over the best solution for ordinance enforcement in the City of Coloma met with unanimous approval at Monday night’s regular Coloma City meeting, February 12, 2018. A three-year contract, beginning February 15, 2018 was officially offered to Rory Bell.

Commissioners had been at odds over the best plan of action; full-time city employee with benefits or contracted employee without. Mayor Polashak previously pointed out a “contract employee” was not an employee of the city but was “contracted” for a specific task and therefore, did not receive the same benefits city employees reap, such as health insurance.

Rory Bell is a decades-long, full-time employee of Coloma Township, currently serving as its’ Ordinance Officer and Sewer Department Manager. The Coloma Township Police Department will monitor his new alliance with the city providing monthly billings. He will maintain his current employee status with the township including benefits.

Budget consideration request

Rick Rasmussen, representing Friends of the Paw Paw River, addressed the Commissioners in anticipation of upcoming budget planning for 2018.

Rasmussen and nearly 50 other visionaries in the four municipalities of Coloma and Watervliet have worked since 2015 toward fruition of The Paw Paw River Pilot Program. The plan was simple, he clarified, “encourage an additional draw for tourist by providing a safe, family friendly river access for kayakers and canoers.” Fund-raising efforts by the group garnered close to $7,000 that was channeled into widening and clearing the river. Achieving initial Pilot goals “is a big step” he pointed out, however, maintaining the integrity of “this public water highway” promises to be “an ongoing yearly project that will require funding.”

Encouraged by the prospect of increased tourism, Watervliet Township Commissioners already have pledged $5,000 for 2018 Rasmussen told assembled city decision makers. “In light of upcoming budget planning, perhaps you also can consider funding,” he asked.

The Coloma City Budget meeting is slated for Thursday, February 22, 7:00 p.m. at City Hall.

Reunion planned

Director of Programs & Outreach at North Berrien Historical Museum, Kristen DeHaan, announced an exciting “save the date” event slated in Watervliet this summer. A Watervliet Paper Mill Reunion is slated for July 14 on the former site of “The Mill.” In anticipation of this celebration, DeHaan requested community members share any paper mill inspired memorabilia with the Historical Museum. Interested individuals may inquire: Kristen@northberrienhistory.org or call 269-468-3330.

Lighted parade forms

Coloma St. Pat Lighted Parade forms are available at City Hall. This year’s “wearin’ o’ the green” will be celebrated on Saturday, March 17. Festivities will kick off at a later start date of 8:30 p.m. Forms may be obtained from City Hall. Questions and concerns may be addressed to Chana Kniebes at Coloma Watervliet Area Chamber of Commerce: 269-757-2457.

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