02-21-2019 Watervliet Twp. formalizes 5-year Parks Plan; Medical Marijuana Ordinance in the works;

FREE COLLEGE TUITION… Three Coloma High School seniors have been bestowed the honor of receiving the University of Michigan Ann Arbor Hail Scholarship which offers four years of free in-state tuition and fees worth $60,000 each. They will also be eligible for other scholarships and financial aid which will bring their final cost to a bare minimum. These students are (from the left) Tanya Perea, Adiel Granados and Lindsey Robinson. They have proven by taking difficult courses and receiving high test scores can accomplish great things!

Watervliet Twp. formalizes 5-year Parks Plan; Medical Marijuana Ordinance in the works

By Annette Christie A public hearing was held at the February 18, 2019 Watervliet Township Board for the purposes of formalizing the 2019-2023 Parks and Recreation Plan. The current plan expired at the end of December 2018. The new plan replaces the joint parks plan which put the parks inventories of Watervliet City and Watervliet Township together. Cindy LaGrow with LaGrow Consulting reviewed the plan and told the board that any changes should be made now so that it can be approved as a final document at their March 18 meeting. While the plan identifies a “wish list”, LaGrow told the board that they are not tied to completing the projects listed, but rather can easily apply for grants for any project identified in the plan. The township had their initial public hearing on the plan at their December 17 meeting, followed by a 30-day comment period. Copies of the plan were made available at the library, at township hall, and on the website. The plan includes the two newest parks acquired by the township; Airport Park is the two acres located right next to township hall and Mill Park, 33.7 acres located off of Harper Avenue which was given to the township from Berrien County. A survey of the community was completed to find out the wants and needs of the residents. The respondents identified wanting walking and biking trails, more playground equipment, more picnic tables and benches, multi-use field(s) for soccer or rocket football, and pickleball courts. The plan identified acquiring additional land for the expansion of parks, signage at parks to identify swimming areas and parks in general, playground equipment, picnic tables, pickleball court, soccer and multi-use field, and benches. The intention is to submit a grant for improvements to Airport Park. The grant is due April 1. The grant match would be 25% required by the township. The only resident to speak during the public hearing was Steve Myers. Myers said he would like to see more things at the parks for older individuals. He said that people want to be able to sit down, they want shade, a place to change their shorts, and walking is a big interest in an older generation. Myers added he would like to enhance the parks with older generations in mind. “Trails are a great idea, I’m never gonna play soccer again,” Myers said. LaGrow pointed out that the estimated costs for the project are just that, estimates, and that if the grant was awarded, they would then get some solid numbers. The cost does not need to be exact to apply. There was some discussion about changing the name of Mill Park to Mill River Park or Old Mill Park but the name remained the same following the discussion. Other business The board approved the Paw Paw Lake Association’s request to hold their 2019 meetings at the township hall. They are held on Saturday at 9:00 a.m. from April to October. The board approved a resolution guaranteeing a bond issue for the Paw Paw Lake Wastewater Treatment Plant. The $1.4 million note is being issued by Berrien County. The funds will be used for improvements to the aging treatment plant. Clerk Patt Bambrick said that there will be several resolutions that the township board will approve throughout the process, as all of the four municipalities that own the treatment plant will need to do. Medical Marijuana Ordinance finalized by spring With members of the Watervliet Township Planning Commission present, Supervisor Dan Hutchins asked about where they were in regards to Medical Marijuana Ordinance. Hutchins told the audience that he has had multiple requests for real estate transactions contingent on having the ordinance in place. “The township board already said that we will do this and we are on hold until this ordinance is done,” Hutchins said. Planning Commission members said that they have toured a dispensary and were planning to discuss it at their next meeting but that was cancelled due to the weather. Their next meeting is in two weeks. Hutchins asked if they could schedule a special meeting to keep the subject moving forward. Another member said that they are just at a point now where they have to answer the questions for how many facilities will be allowed in the township and what kind of facilities. Hutchins said he felt that they shouldn’t get hung up on that because his experience shows that the marketplace will dictate that more than anything. The Planning Commission will hold another meeting on February 26 at 2:00 p.m., followed by another one on March 5. They will try to have their attorney at the first of the two meetings and will have the township board at the latter meeting. If everything was to fall into place to approve the ordinance, it could possibly be done by the Watervliet Township Board at their March 18 meeting.

Coloma American Legion serving Fat Tuesday Lasagna Dinner March 5 American Legion Post 362 in Coloma is holding a Fat Tuesday Lasagna Dinner on March 5 beginning at 5:30 p.m. Dinner includes lasagna, salad and garlic toast. Tickets are $9.50 for adults, $4.00 for children 4 to 12 years and children under 4 are free. Dinners will be served until 8:00 p.m. or until they are sold out. Take out is available. The post is located at 351 E. St. Joseph St. in Coloma.

Lunch & Learn event: Intelligent Lives Disability Network Southwest Michigan is hosting a Lunch & Learn event on Wednesday, Feb. 27 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at their St. Joseph office located at 2900 Lakeview Avenue. This event will feature the documentary film “Intelligent Lives”, from award-winning filmmaker Dan Habib. A light lunch will be provided and participants will discuss issues from the film. “Intelligent Lives” invites viewers to rethink their assumptions about intellectual disabilities and consider new possibilities for the most systematically segregated people in America. The film highlights the lives of three young adults with intellectual disabilities who defy society’s perceptions of “intelligence” as they navigate high school, college, and the workforce. This event is free and open to the public; however, pre-registration is required by contacting Miranda Grunwell at grunwellm@dnswm.org or (269) 345-1516 x120. This is a fragrance-free environment; please do not wear scented products to this event.

Van Buren County 4-H Auction Fundraiser, March 2 Van Buren County 4-H Leaders’ Association will offer an innovative fundraiser again this year. Instead of selling the traditional fundraiser items, they are hosting the annual 4-H fundraising auction on March 2, 2019, at the Van Buren ISD Conference Center in Lawrence. The proceeds from the annual 4-H auction are used to sponsor youth and adults in training workshops, materials for fun learning activities, recognition and awards for projects well done, and sponsorships to attend camps and county/ statewide/ national events. Van Buren County currently works with nearly 390 youth and 115 adult volunteers. It is a powerful thing, when kids team up with adults to learn new skills, improve their communities, explore the wonders of today’s world, prepare for tomorrow’s opportunities and have fun. The auction will be held on Saturday, March 2. The doors open at 9:00 a.m. at the Van Buren ISD Conference Center located at 490 S. Paw Paw St. in Lawrence. The auction begins at 10:00 a.m. In addition to cash and checks, Visa/ MasterCard/ Discover will be accepted; payment is expected the day of the auction. For more information on the auction contact Gary Consford at 355-0994 or Janice Zerbe at 657-8213.

United Way & LMC teamed up to create Summer Literacy Kits for Southwest Mich. students

United Way of Southwest Michigan and Lake Michigan College teamed up to create summer literacy kits on Valentine’s Day. The college staff packed 200 summer literacy kits for kids in pre-kindergarten through 5th grade. The kits will be distributed to students in South Haven, Benton Harbor and Niles, where LMC has campuses. Summer reading and writing is critical to support a child’s learning while school is out. These kits will help ensure students are ready for the new school year. UWSM and LMC will be providing these kits to give children literacy resources that keep them engaged throughout the summer. “Study after study has shown that summer reading is critical to a child’s ability to not only retain information learned the previous year, but also to grow for the year ahead,” LMC President Trevor Kubatzke said. “Teachers also will tell you that students who are sent home with books are more likely to read over the summer than students who are just given a summer reading list. That’s why I, along with the staff and faculty here at Lake Michigan College, are so excited to be able to work with the United Way of Southwest Michigan on providing these literacy kits filled with activities students will enjoy. It’s a great way for us to come together and give back. Reading over the summer may be a necessity, but it should also be fun.” Lake Michigan College supplied Red Hawk draw string bags will contain pencils, scissors, a puzzle created by employees which includes an encouraging message the students can read once the puzzle is put together, worksheets, finger puppet cutouts, a small LMC basketball, crayons, colored pencils, coloring book, alphabet tracing sheets, and at least two grade/reading level appropriate books for the kits. LMC’s mascot Rocky the Red Hawk was on campus to cheer on the day. In addition to books purchased by the College, the College held a book drive across all three campuses to collect books for the kits.

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