02-20-2020 First Career Day at WHS W-A-Y program; It is Anchors Aweigh for Coloma senior Ian Ishmael

CAREER DAY… Students in the W-A-Y program at Watervliet High School listen to speaker Superintendent Ric Seager as he tells them during Career Day on Feb. 12 about opportunities they have access to.


First Career Day at WHS

W-A-Y program

The Watervliet High School W-A-Y program hosted their first ever Career Day for students on Wednesday, Feb. 12. Professionals from 19 different career pathways were present to talk with the W-A-Y (Widening Advancements for Youth) students about job opportunities, training, apprenticeships, plus need in the industry. Superintendent Ric Seager addressed over 60 students who were present about the opportunities they have access to. City Manager Tyler Dotson spoke to the students about how to surround themselves with people who can help them and that if they want something, they need to go out and get it. Many students walked away with not only networking opportunities, but also learned of job openings now or for in the future. The following business representatives participated in this event: Ric Seager – Watervliet Public Schools; Tyler Dotson – Watervliet City Manager; Jamie Dawson – Watervliet High School Student Services; McKenzie Walter – Lane Automotive; Greg Pudell – Big C Lumber; Kristina – Ralph Moyle Inc. Trucking; Brian Smith – Edward Jones Financial; Renee Hook – Fairfield Inn/Surfari Joes; John Keverne & Miles Freed – Wausau Home Builders; Tammy Yeager – Health Occupations/ Lakeland Hospital; Chief Sutherland – Watervliet Public Safety; Chief Mattix – North Berrien Fire Rescue Department; Robin Kniebes – Grapevine Landscaping and Nursery; Brian Wilder – Local 357 Pipe Fitters; Dan Corwin – Local 153 Electrical Union.

ACCEPTED TO U.S. NAVAL ACADEMY… Coloma senior Ian Ishmael (center) recently received a phone call from U.S. Congressman Fred Upton, informing him that he had been accepted into the U.S. Naval Academy, in Annapolis, Maryland. Ian is flanked in the photo by his father Tim Ishmael and his mother Heidi Ishmael. Also in the photo are Coloma Superintendent David Ehlers (far left) and Coloma High School Principal Mike Churchill (far right). (TCR photo by Dave Vollrath)


It is Anchors Aweigh for Coloma senior Ian Ishmael

By Dave Vollrath January was quite a month for Coloma High School senior Ian Ishmael. On Jan. 4 Ian was on the stage competing in the Mr. Coloma contest, and he was surprised when he was crowned as the 2020 Mr. Coloma. That alone is quite an accomplishment, but that was only the beginning of the outstanding achievements in store for Ian. On Jan. 14, Ian announced that he had been offered the opportunity to attend what is considered the number one military academy the United States has to offer, that being the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. Ian received a phone call from Congressman Fred Upton, the day before, congratulating him on his acceptance and appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy. According to Ian it has been a dream of his, and one of his top long term goals for several years. Ian says that he first became interested in serving his country when he was in grade school and would help serve breakfast to our veterans, who would be attending the Coloma schools annual Veterans Day breakfast and ceremony. He says in talking to and hearing the stories of those who have fought for our freedoms, he became interested in also serving to defend our country. Ian said he began thinking about the military academies, shortly thereafter. The application process is one that takes a lot of work and total commitment. It begins with an online application which also includes letters of recommendation, a personal statement, a physical, and fitness test, and finally interviews with U.S. Congressmen from Michigan. Congressmen are the ones who nominate candidates for appointment. Ian said that he had not even told his parents of his initial application, which was in his junior year. He was then accepted to attend a mandatory summer seminar last year. At that point he had to get his parents’ involvement because this required a one week introduction at the academy where they stay in barracks type housing, and are put through a rigorous week of preparatory training. Each year over 16,000 male and female high school students apply to the academy. About 6,000 receive nominations. But then, a typical academy class graduates each year with about 1,000 members. Ian’s parents are Tim and Heidi Ishmael of Coloma, who say they could not be more proud of their son for the commitment he has already shown, and for what lies ahead. Heidi, who is also the president of the Coloma School Board, says that she is also very proud of the Coloma educators. They have also been an instrumental part of the process by making sure that Ian has kept on track to help achieve his goal. They are absolutely committed to assist all of the Coloma students, in helping them get to where they are trying to go, whether it’s a college education, or successfully working themselves into the trade schools. Coloma Schools have always provided the means and resources necessary for the students to go into the world as prepared as they can be, to become successful and productive adults. Ian has been quoted as saying, “I have been living a dream because of the fantastic teachers at Coloma Schools.” In order to receive an appointment to a U.S. Service Academy, the students they are looking for are well rounded, who participate in athletics, being a captain or co-captain of their athletic teams, student body leaders, participate as public speakers, debate clubs, musical activities, and volunteers in school and community events. Ian has participated in all of these things. Naval Academy students are officers-in-training, and referred to as midshipmen, with about 1,200 plebes entering the academy each year. About 1,000 of those will wind up graduating. Tuition is fully funded by the Navy, in exchange for an active duty obligation of five years following graduation. Ian is extremely excited about his future at the Naval Academy and his career in the Navy, and has been speaking to Coloma’s younger students about his journey. He also said he believes there are several other students in the high school that should look into what the service academies have to offer and is encouraging them to do so. Ian’s next step in this journey will begin as he reports for his induction day on June 25 to begin his boot camp like training which will last for seven weeks. He will then immediately begin the fall semester at the academy. His first break will come Thanksgiving weekend, so it will be a tough time for his mom, as it is for all parents whose children go away for the first time in their life. In the meantime, Ian will continue with the commitments that accompany being Mr. Coloma, continue to work toward once again qualifying for the state wrestling tournament, and then play for the Coloma varsity baseball team this spring and move on to graduation from Coloma in June. Coloma Community Schools and all in our community can take some pride in sending Ian, a really fine young man, on to represent us in defending our country.

ATHLETES TRAIN ON CPR… Hartford High School student athletes re-certify in CPR/AED training (from the left): Sophomore Aaron Robles, Junior Nautica Covington, Senior Destiny Chacon and Sophomore Kaden Johnson. The Hartford school district is very proud to announce that over 95% of the entire district staff are certified in CPR/AED. By the end of the 2019-20 school year almost every high school student will be certified, making Hartford a leader among area schools in these valuable life-saving skills. Athletic Director Nick Blackmer decided to begin an advanced Athletic CPR Team. As each sports season begins, another group of student-athletes will be re-certified. “We wanted to make sure that if there was a medical emergency after school hours that the student-athletes would have a plan of action and know how to carry it out, hopefully capable of saving someone’s life,” says Blackmer. Local NBC affiliate WOTV 8 and CBS WSBT 22 picked up the event with feature stories available for view on their respective websites.


Coloma Township to reconsider opting in for medical marijuana facilities

By Annette Christie A Coloma Township resident, who is currently a caregiver, has asked the Coloma Township Board to re-consider opting in and allowing medical marijuana facilities in the township. At their February 12, 2020 meeting, Mark Coleman, who has been a caregiver for 10 years, told the board that if the township chose to opt in it would allow him and many others to increase their business and the amount of options they can offer. The township had previously opted out of both medical and then recreational marijuana businesses once it was legal. Following board discussion, they decided to take another look at it. Supervisor Ken Parrigin stated that he didn’t mind opting in because he felt they (the township) would still have control. The board will ask their township attorney to come in and present to them the what-if and how-to, and will plan to have that at a special meeting that will be open to the public. The date and time will be determined.

Employee Handbook The Personnel Committee of the board has been working for a lengthy time of revising the employee handbook and getting it up to date. Trustee Bryan Duffield reviewed the changes and provided an overview. Duffield said much of it was just out dated and didn’t apply anymore. Some of the areas included vacation, sick, and comp time. He said on call pay was another area that was re-visited. The changes have been submitted to the township attorney for his review and to make sure that all the areas are legally correct.

Paw Paw River signage Parks and Recreation Committee Chair Tony Bertuca told the board the committee has been working with neighboring municipalities on Paw Paw River issues. While it is not a new topic, the group decided to work together on getting mile markers installed along the river. Bertuca, in working with Berrien County Sheriff’s Captain Rockey Adams, will be able to establish mapping of every quarter of a mile where a sign could be located. Bertuca said the cost for about 40 signs (the amount needed to cover the area between Coloma and Watervliet) is $3,000 and if they all split it equally it would come to $750 a piece. “Everyone thought it was a good idea,” Bertuca said. Trustee Jerry Willmeng noted that when a young lady and her husband were on the river, even though they were familiar with it, when emergency responders were needed for her husband, she could not say for sure where she was. This delayed the response time of those responders. “We need to get some kind of marking on the river,” Willmeng said. The board agreed to the $750 expenditure.

Washington Park Bertuca also said that he will be working with consultants to get a grant written for Washington Park. The plan would be to apply for a grant to install bathrooms, replace the walking track, and install a pickleball court. If the funds are awarded it would require a matching grant. Bertuca said he will seek township approval at the next meeting for the grant submittal. In other business, the board moved their March meeting to March 18 due to the March 10 election. They also extended the property tax payment deadline to Feb. 28.

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