Coloma Schools may see addition of School Resource Officer
By Annette Christie Students and staff in the Coloma School District may soon have the company of a police officer among them. Superintendent Dave Ehlers told the board at their Feb. 11 meeting that he and Interim Police Chief Wes Smigielski have had some very productive discussions on the subject and that Smigielski has a plan to make it work. As a part of the district’s Strategic Plan to provide a safer school district, Ehlers said having a police officer on site amongst the students will bridge the gap between kids and police, provide education on tough subjects that some students may not even know are a crime, and strengthen relationships to show that police aren’t always just around when something bad is happening. Ehlers said that Smigielski will be taking the idea to the Coloma Township Board and it is likely that a joint presentation will be given to both the school and the township. He said that they will likely approve it through the budget process. Student count The board presented very preliminary numbers on the student count, the second and final count of the year. Ehlers said that the very rough internal count was 1,318, which would be down only 25 students from the fall count. The board will be discussing budget amendments affected by the count and other unseen revenues that have come to the district. School reports School administrators all reported that they have been doing some catch up following the large number of days recently off school due to the weather. High School Principal Mike Churchill spoke with pride about the wrestling team that just became district champs and the woman’s bowling team that are doing very well. Choir Director Rebecca Selvidge thanked the board for allowing the choir trip to Disney which was held recently. She said the kids did a fantastic job. Three of her choir members just made the All-State Jazz Choir. School Board President Heidi Ishmael told Selvidge, “The community can be very proud of our kids that are in your program.” Five high school students in AP History made a presentation to the board seeking permission for a trip to Washington D.C. The students have laid out a calendar with fundraising ideas. It is estimated that the trip will cost $699 per student with all expenses included and they are hoping to get between 15-30 kids. A lot of the students spoke about the importance of witnessing first hand, some of the things in history that they only read about in a textbook. The students were given permission to move forward with their trip plans. In the Intermediate School, some students recently participated in breakfast with the principal and received Principal Awards for good citizenship. The lower grade schools will be participating in “One School, One Book.” This is a national program. The students will all receive a book and will be able to take it home for family reading as well. In addition, teachers will be doing a recording of the readings for kids to watch on YouTube if they are unable to do the family reading. The book is a secret until the revealing of the title. Kindergarten roundup will be held on March 25 during the day, with evening hours on the 26th.
Community Soup & Salad Supper Friday, March 1 A Community Soup & Salad Supper will be held from 5-6 p.m. on Friday, March 1, at the North Berrien Senior Center, 6648 Ryno Road in Coloma. The menu includes soup, salad, bread, dessert and beverage. The public is invited. Cost for adults is $5; $3 for children up to 12 years of age; and free for children under three. Proceeds go to the H.O.P.E. Resources Food Pantry located at Coloma United Methodist Church. This month’s supper is hosted by Coloma Lioness Club.
HEARTSafe HARTFORD PUBLIC SCHOOLS… Since 2015 the Hartford School District has been recognized with the Michigan HEARTSafe School certification. High School Principal & District Safety Director Dave Janicki (right) is proud to announce that staff at all district buildings have completed training which minimally puts two CPR & AED trained staff members in each facility. Installation of strategically positioned Automatic External Defibrillators (AED) is one of many steps the district has implemented for the safety of students, staff and visitors. Teacher Tom Bean (center) worked with the Van Buren Intermediate School District staff with CPR training for each incoming freshman class. Now with the program in its fourth year, the entire HHS student body is fully CPR certified. Athletic Director Nick Blackmer (left) has implemented AED installations including a mobile unit to cover athletic events in the event of a cardiac emergency for both athletes and fans as well. As the Tri-Cities’ only HEARTSafe School, Hartford counts itself among now over 440 Michigan schools who have earned the designation, exceeding the minimal state requirements. Public Act 12 of 2014 requires all Michigan schools, grades K – 12, to have a cardiac emergency response plan in place. Public Act 388 of 2016 requires CPR and AED instruction for students in grades 7 – 12. Van Buren ISD Crisis Management Director Gary Brown credits Hartford as “way ahead of the curve” when it comes to matters of proactive student safety measures as compared to other area schools.
Hartford School Board hears mid-year assessments
By Jon Bisnett The Hartford School Board meeting on February 18 for the monthly business session with Vice President Mike Banic filling in at the gavel was pleased to hear Curriculum Director Brad Geesaman’s report of mid-year data showing solid reading improvement at nearly all grade levels. The shining star of the evening came out of the First Grade showing the most radical jump from 10% to 40% of students testing at or above their given benchmark. With respect to the Third Grade Reading Law which can cause the retention of a student who is not within the state mandated level, Geesaman lauded the work done by the First Grade teachers. They have truly committed to improvement which builds a critical foundation that will carry students into the 2nd and 3rd grades. Citing these teachers who have fully bought in to data-driven solutions for instructional improvement, Geesaman complimented the staff on their push to make early literacy a priority following the credo of “Learn to Read – Read to Learn.” Personnel The board accepted the retirement request from high school teacher Tom Bean who concludes 30 years of service within the district. Middle School Aid Lori Vargas resigns effective February 22 following four years of service to accept a position with Bronson Hospital. New business Approval was granted for the bid from Campbell Ford in the amount of $31,702.12 for the purchase of a 10-passenger 2019 Ford Transit Passenger Wagon. Cost to the district was a minimal $6,000. A grant assumed the bulk of the purchase. Seminar expense was approved for Trustee Rick Vawter to attend Michigan Association of School Boards conference. Superintendent’s Report Andy Hubbard reported a series of upcoming dates of interest. Senior Luncheon February 20 at Redwood Elementary, March 5 is the All-School Art Show, March 23 is the 17th Annual Foundation Auction Event and explained plans for the Kindergarten Round-Up scheduled for March 21, in that “Goody Bags” and backpacks filled with school supplies will be offered free to those enrolling. Hubbard hopes to have board members attend to help with the distribution.
Hagar Township solves Duncan Road question
By Jon Bisnett In an otherwise quiet January, Building Inspector Butch Kelley hit the books; the Platte book that is, with the goal of getting to the bottom of what municipality is responsible for ongoing maintenance of Duncan Road. The question arose during a prior planning meeting with the Berrien County Road Department. Kelley reported during the February 11 Hagar Township board meeting that after extensive research he has found evidence that shows Duncan Road, west of I-196 is owned to the center of the road by Hagar Township from the north and Benton Township from the south. The information will now be reviewed by the township attorney and once confirmed, forwarded to Benton Township and Berrien County. Sheriff’s Department In a report delivered by the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department, Hagar Township experienced a total of 48 complaints for the month of January, with four tickets issued and three arrests. Supervisor’s Report Supervisor Izzy DiMaggio reminded of the upcoming Board of Review dates for those wishing to file tax appeals as Wednesday, March 13 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and again on Thursday, March 14 from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. then 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. DiMaggio promised a draft of the Annual Budget will be available by no later than March 1 in preparation for the Annual Meeting & Budget Hearing 9:00 a.m. Saturday, March 16. Ambulance Report Bill Mears of Pride Care Ambulance visited to report activity for January with 10 Priority I calls at 11:28 and 19 Priority II runs averaging 13:48. Mears spoke on two recent traffic accidents involving his ambulances during the extreme January weather. First and foremost, all occupants of both incidents are fine, receiving only minor injuries. One ambulance was a total loss and the second near total will be removed from service permanently. Replacement units from Pride Care’s pool of five spares went immediately into service. Mears further stated that the long-term replacements for these units will be the traditional box-type chassis. Over $300,000 in equipment was rendered useless by the crash as well. “We are fully insured for this,” said Mears, “The main thing is that all concerned were not seriously injured.” Treasurer’s Report Treasurer Marlene Davis presented expenses for the prior month in the amount of $21,432.378 with nothing remarkable. Parks and Recreation Trustee Beth Raiser reports her department is pretty quiet. Budget projections are in the works for the coming season. Fire Report Supervisor DiMaggio reported the North Berrien Joint Fire Department responded to just 17 calls during the month of January with six runs in Hagar Township, eight in Coloma Charter Township and three in the City of Coloma. Deb Kavanaugh Frank has expressed the desire to resign her current position as Treasurer of the Fire Board. Kavanaugh is willing to continue until a replacement is found and plans to simply step back to serve as trustee on the board. Building Inspector Butch Kelley reported no building permits in the month of January. Kelley remarked that both the Planning Commission and Zoning Board of Appeals are looking for candidates. Interested parties should submit a letter to the Township Supervisor. Kelley also researched a question regarding temporary outdoor sales, such as hot dog carts and found by ordinance such sales are only permitted in commercial zones, which would rule out any of the township parks. Old business Michigan Township Association conference applications are due soon for trustees who plan to attend. New business Supervisor DiMaggio says the Cornerstone Alliance wishes to visit next month with some program updates. Treasurer Davis noted some of her goals for the coming year including updating of the township online resources and to look into use of the hall as a community emergency center. The board meets next for its Regular Meeting on Monday, March 11 followed by the Annual Meeting & Budget Hearing 9:00 a.m. Saturday, March 16.
Blossomtime Fashion Show Feb. 23 at Grand Upton Hall – Lake Michigan College The annual Blossomtime Fashion Show will be held Saturday, Feb. 23 at Upton Hall – Lake Michigan College just three weeks prior to the Miss Blossomtime Pageant. The theme of the show is “Fashion Forward – Coast to Coast” featuring all the 2019 Community Queens. Jeff Alisch is this year’s Chairperson and the event will be emceed by the lovely Megan Roth. The Community Queens will showcase their community themes in a special segment and will model gowns provided by Memories Bridal and Evening Wear. The show will also feature Miss Teen Blossomtime, Miss Jr. Teen Blossomtime, Little Miss Blossom, Miss Pre-Teen Blossom and the Bud Prince and Princess and their courts modeling apparel from Wedding Belles Pageant and Prom. Ticket prices are $20.00 and available from the Blossomtime Office, 2330 S. Cleveland Avenue, St. Joseph, (269) 982-8016, by email, email@example.com and at the door. Doors and silent auction opens at 11:30 a.m. and the show starts at 1:00 p.m.