Hagar clerk opening leaves township in search of replacement
By Jon Bisnett
Hagar Township Clerk Ian Haight will be leaving the area sometime in May. The announcement came at the regular township meeting of February 13. Stating family priorities as forcing the move, Haight said at this point he was giving advance notice before formerly tending his resignation. Once he does resign, the township has by charter 45 days to either appoint or elect a replacement via special election.
Supervisor Izzy DiMaggio commended Haight as a “brilliant young man who has given exemplary service to the township and will be truly missed.”
DiMaggio said the position requires a unique skill set of multitasking skills ranging from accounting to project management and everything in between. While Haight’s departure will leave some big shoes to be filled, DiMaggio is hopeful that the position can be filled without the cost of a special election.
Interested parties should forward a letter of interest and resume to the township supervisor.
Sheriff’s Department Report
Deputy Everly delivered the numbers for December activity in the township which showed 45 complaints resulting in just three arrests and five tickets issued. Total complaints for the entire county totaled 1133 at yearend with 192 arrests and 192 citations issued.
Supervisor DiMaggio noted that both the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department and Michigan State Police have full access to use the township’s property as an occasional base of operations and appreciate the added police presence that arrangement provides.
County Commissioner Dave Vollrath spoke briefly to inform residents that the Berrien County Commission was expanding its schedule of evening meetings from just four to six for 2017 with one scheduled for June 1 at the North Berrien Senior Citizen Center in Coloma Township at 6:00 p.m.
Supervisor DiMaggio reminded the date of the Berrien County Road Commission Annual Meeting is on Thursday, February 16, 1:00 p.m. at the road commission office conference room.
2017 Hagar road projects
A tentative list is as follows: Coloma Road – Kerlikowske to Riverside; First Street – Riverside to end; Main Street – Riverside to First; West Thar Road – Pier to Fikes; Lakeshore Drive – Maple to private; East Bundy Road – Central Avenue to end; North Chabot – Chabot to Riverside; Anderson – M-63 to Clanton; Clanton – Anderson to M-63; Riverside Road – Clymer to Bundy; Pier Road – M-63 loop to M-63.
The total project scope covers just over 5.5 miles at cost to the township of $69,000 with matching funding from the county in the amount of $143,500. From fiscal 2012 to date the township and county have invested well in excess of one half million dollars in the repair and maintenance of Hagar Township roads.
DiMaggio entertained a motion to schedule a public hearing as required as the next step in pursuing grant funding for the proposed Riverside Kayak Park.
Clerk Davis interjected concerns over ongoing operational costs for the proposed launch stating comparisons of the other Hagar parks annual operational costs at $20,000 each. DiMaggio quickly rebuffed the point by indicating that similar facilities in other counties run under $10,000/year to operate.
Trustee Andy Ulleg joined the cautionary bandwagon with concerns over issues whereby the Department of Environmental Quality might find that the project may require additional costly cleanup of the site that was once used as a dump.
Once again DiMaggio diffused the DEQ issue in saying that “Look, Abonmarche is the architect on the project that has already been paid $2,800 by the DDA for their work which includes two grant applications at no additional cost.
“…Should any unusual circumstances that drive costs of the project up occur, the project can be dropped. There are no guarantees of approval at this time, but the public hearing is the next step in the process.” The date was approved in a 3-2 vote with Davis and Ulleg voting against proceeding with the project.
American Electric Power
DiMaggio was pleased to report further conversation with AEP. The utility provider promises to perform what is called a full circuit trim in 2017 which entails the trimming of branches and/or tree removal with 10-20 feet of its service lines in the affected area. In addition AEP will install a series of sectionality fuses which will limit the affected area in the event of tree related outages by breaking up the local power grid into smaller fused sections, thus isolating the fault.
The annual Hagar Township Public Meeting and Budget Hearing is set for Saturday, March 18, 2017 at 9:00 a.m. at the Town Hall. The general public is encouraged to attend.
Clerk Ian Haight updated the board on Pride Care Ambulance reporting going back to December which showed 12 Priority I calls averaging 11:57 and 19 Priority II runs at 11:29. (Priority II transports are generally considered non-life threatening, without lights or siren, whereby Priority I ALS, Advanced Life Support calls are best described as the most serious of injuries or time-sensitive emergencies such as heart attack.)
January reports showed seven Priority I calls at 9:37 and 15 Priority II calls running at 9:54.
Haight noted an upcoming Benton Harbor Public Schools bond vote for residents only in Precinct 1 will be held on May 2. The bond election will happen prior to Haight leaving the office, thus providing a small scale election training opportunity for his successor.
Bills for the month of January in the amount of $25,610.82 were presented by Treasurer Marlene Davis and were approved unanimously.
Beth Raiser did not expect to be in charge of any old furniture when she accepted the Parks & Recreation post, but do to some irresponsible dumping of personal property at park sites, Raiser is working with police and zoning officials to remedy the recent offenses.
Otherwise Raiser has been working with Clerk Haight in hopes of settling on a single lawn maintenance contractor to handle all the Township parks, cemeteries and the hall.
Butch Kelly had a short report of just two permits issued in the amount of $165,000. Kelly petitioned and received the board’s blessing on a pending easement for Michigan Gas Utility Company.
Ian Haight reported just five calls for January including a one structure fire for the North Berrien Joint Fire Department.
Haight then presented the 2017-2018 NBJFD Fire Board Budget before the Hagar board for approval. The budget was approved in a split vote with Treasurer Davis and Trustee Ulleg voting “no” demanding additional detail in the way of budget breakdowns that the three remaining board members, led by DiMaggio voting in the affirmative, found the details as not to be relevant to the question at hand.
Haight’s departure in May will also create an open chair as representative to the Fire Board. Once again, interested parties should forward a letter to Supervisor DiMaggio.
Fire Chief Search update
DiMaggio deferred to Fire Chief Search Committee Liaison Deb Kavanaugh to update the board and residents on the search process for a new fire chief.
Kavanaugh began by recapping the objectives and recommendations as prescribed by the consultant engaged early in the process: Appoint interim Fire Board; Create Chief job description; Hire a new Fire Chief; Set Board goals; Provide for annual audit; Develop Strategic Plan; Reunite the District; Hire Interim Chief (No).
The search team has been meeting weekly. The job posting for the position was been placed in multiple industry resources on a wide basis. A newly revised formal job description for Chief has been developed.
Twelve applications were received, paired down to 10 by the consulting firm. An essay survey was then forward to the 10, of which five chose not to proceed. Those five essays will be scored on March 2 in addition to a testing assessment program that will then take place under the consultant’s supervision including several fire industry experts, both in group and individual settings. Later that same day the remaining candidates will take part in a “meet & greet” initially with officials from the three communities and then meet the member firefighters of the local NBJFD. The scoring of the activities of March 2 will take the candidates down to three finalists.
A community meeting will follow later on March 16 for the local citizens to meet with the three finalists, with hopes to contractually secure a chief sometime in mid-April.
A resolution of the intent to increase the pay of Treasurer Marlene Davis from $20,500 to $21,000 was approved unanimously. The raise will become formally recognized once the new annual budget hearing takes place.
Having no other business DiMaggio then adjourned the meeting with the next regular monthly meeting of the township board be held 7:00 p.m. Monday, March 14.
COLOMA COMETS WINTERFEST 2017 KING AND QUEEN CANDIDATES… are pictured (from the left): Front row – Cassidy Fickett, Allyssa Bahr, Nathene Wenzel, Destiny Motton; Back row – Anthony Abbott, Zane Lute, Grant Kroschel, Zach Heater. Winterfest is celebrated during the varsity girls’ and boys’ basketball games this Friday, February 17 against the Saugatuck Indians. This year’s theme is Valentine’s Day. The Lady Comets game begins at 6:00 p.m. with the boys’ game following at 7:30 p.m.
COLOMA COMETS WINTERFEST 2017 JUNIORS COURT… is pictured (from the left): Front row – Skylar Crisenbery, Brianna Pierce, Grace Hester, Divine Parker; Back row – Billy Boyd, Levi Wilkens, Calvin Starnes, Teo Bravo Mastral.
COLOMA COMETS WINTERFEST 2017 SOPHOMORE COURT… is pictured (from the left): Front row – Kadee Davis, Marcy Tavolocci, Kassidy Dryer; Back row – Dalton Jenkins, Zach Goodline, Zack Lake. Not pictured are Kalsey Allen and Jacob Bryant.
COLOMA COMETS WINTERFEST 2017 FRESHMEN COURT… is pictured (from the left): Front row – Vanessa Crisenbery, Emma Watson, Emma Vandermolen; Back row -Conner Bittner, Nick Eastman, Cole Alsup and Austin Russel. Not pictured is Isabelle Stevens.
Coloma American Legion Post 362 Lenten Fish Fry
Every Friday during Lent, beginning March 3 through April 14, 2017, the Coloma American Legion Post 362 is hosting a Lenten Fish Fry from 5:30 to 8:00 p.m.
Fish dinners include au gratin potatoes, green beans, coleslaw, bread and coffee and are $8 each. All you can eat fish dinners are $10. Children ages 4 to 12 are $4 each and children 3 and younger eat for free.
Take outs are available by calling 269-468-5501. Coloma American Legion Post 362 is located at 351 E. St. Joseph Street in Coloma.
Watervliet Public Schools Board of Education vacancy
Watervliet Public Schools is seeking qualified applicants to fill a vacant Board of Education seat due to a recent resignation. A qualified applicant is defined as a registered voter in the Watervliet Public School District.
Interested applicants may submit a letter of interest to the Watervliet Public Schools Central Office. Please include a resume with contact information and address to the attention of Matt Clay, Board Secretary, 450 E. Red Arrow Hwy, Watervliet, MI 49098.
Deadline for qualified applicants is Friday, February 24, 2017.
Coloma Lions hosting presentation on identity theft, February 23
Coloma Lions Club is hosting a presentation by the Michigan Department of Attorney General, Thursday, Feb. 23 at 7 p.m. on identity theft. The presentation takes place at the Coloma FOP Lodge #147, 3470 Angling Road, Coloma. The public is encouraged to attend.
Presentation highlights include learning the signs of identity theft and fraud, how to protect your personal information online and off, and what to do if you become an identity theft victim. This program is provided by Donald Miller of Attorney General Bill Schuette’s Consumer Programs team.