COLOMA CELEBRATION… The Coloma St. Pat Committee invites community members to participate in the Saturday, March 14 evening lighted parade at 8:30 p.m. in downtown Coloma. Parade applications are available at Coloma City Hall or call Chana Kniebes at 757-2457 for more information. There will be prize money for parade categories and cookies and cocoa after the parade at the Fire Station courtesy of the Ladies Auxiliary. Coloma’s St. Patrick’s Day Celebration offers a fun day with a 5K Run/Walk in the morning, Coloma Public Library Book Sale, North Berrien Historical Museum children’s program and Irish Stew Dinner at Coloma United Methodist in addition to the Lighted Parade. Pictured in the Committee photo are Marsha Hammond, Kandyce Hays, Ross Streu, Fire Chief Mike Mattix, Susie Moser and Chana Kniebes, not pictured is Sandra Kraemer.
City of Coloma to re-visit recreational marijuana issue,
opted out in 2019
By Nancy Albright On February 24, the Coloma City Council approved a motion to investigate the issue of bringing recreational marijuana to town. Feelings are mixed. Commissioner Jason Hicks stated that marijuana is a commodity in demand and that it could help increase Coloma’s tax base. Commissioner Fred Reeves said there are several recreational businesses near Coloma, and that Coloma Township is entertaining the possibility of a recreational facility. Reeves also raised the concern that if Coloma were to opt in, it may be difficult to opt out. Coloma opted out of recreational marijuana in 2019 because the state did not have all the regulations in place. Now that regulations are established, the commission agreed to collectively review the attorney’s written statement that was provided to each council member and revisit the issue going forward. Vietnam veteran’s event in the works The city unveiled plans on January 27 for a spring celebration honoring the service of Vietnam veterans, planned for Saturday, May 9 at 3:00 p.m. The event is a homecoming to thank Vietnam vets the way they deserved when they returned from duty in the wake of opposition to the war. The commission emphasized that the event is also meant to celebrate the service of ALL war veterans that have served in the U.S. military, and all vets are invited to walk in the parade. Medal of Honor recipient PFC James McCloughan of South Haven will speak at the rededication of the Vietnam War Memorial in Baker Park following the parade through downtown Coloma. The city will hang banners from the light posts along the parade route honoring several local veterans and Coloma FOP Lodge 147 will host a dinner. Officials will also read the names of forty area vets classified as Missing in Action in Vietnam at the rededication of the memorial. Several area American Legion and VFW posts are already involved, including Bangor and Legion Post 49 in South Haven. “We have had a good reception from area veteran’s organizations and so far we anticipate a large crowd,” said Commissioner Fred Reeves. Reeves also reported that he has spoken with U.S. Representative Fred Upton’s office and that they have requested a formal invitation to participate in the event. The city asks that residents spread the word. To participate in the parade or help in some way contact Coloma City Hall, (269) 468-6606. To make a donation, please visit Edgewater Bank in Coloma, 167 N. Paw Paw St. The city will donate leftover funds to a local or national veteran’s organization. News from the library The Coloma Public Library, 151 Center St., will host a fun night of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) exploration on Wednesday, March 18 at 6 p.m. The library invites school-age kids to learn about invisible ink, virtual reality, merge cubes, Google Cardboards, Bristlebots, and the 2020 Census. The program will be taught by volunteers from the Coloma High School National Honor Society. Call (269) 468-3431 or visit colomapubliclibrary.net for more information. Coloma resident Harold Bragg commended the library on the success of the President’s Day program. “There was no school that day and the library had a full house. It was the place to be.” News from City Hall The city approved a motion to explore the possibility of selling water in bulk to Coloma Township. The township would then bill its customers for use. The city plans to meet with Berrien County Community Development Director Dan Fette and the Department of Environmental Quality as part of the investigation. Coloma City voting equipment has been tested for accuracy and passed the inspection for the Presidential Primary vote on March 10, 2020. The March Board of Review has been rescheduled from March 9 to March 11 and the winter tax deadline is extended to February 29, 2020. The council approved the rate of pay for census workers in the amount of $12 per hour. The next Fire Board meeting will be held on Tuesday, March 3, 2020 at Station #1, 170 Washington St. Pride Care Ambulance Services responded to nine calls in the month of February with an average response time of nine minutes.
OFFICIAL OPENING… Watervliet Township Clerk Patt Bambrick and James Brobyn, CEO of parent company American Fiber, share ribbon cutting honors at Compassionate Care By Design community open house Feb. 21.
New provisioning center receives warm welcome in Watervliet
Kalamazoo-based Compassionate Care By Design received a warm community welcome Friday morning, Feb. 21, 2020 during the ribbon cutting ceremony for its second provisioning center, now open in Watervliet. “We are very excited to be here in Watervliet,” said James Brobyn, CEO of parent company American Fiber, after he and Watervliet Charter Township Clerk Patt Bambrick shared ribbon-cutting honors. “We’re proud to be part of such a supportive and pro-cannabis community, and want to thank Watervliet for giving Compassionate Care By Design such a warm welcome here. “From Watervliet Charter Township to the Chamber of Commerce, everyone has pitched in to make opening Compassionate Care By Design’s second retail home a success,” Brobyn continued.
THE LOOK GOING FORWARD… American Fiber CEO James Brobyk is pleased with the fresh look of Compassionate Care By Design’s provisioning center in Watervliet, the prototype for future stores.
The Watervliet provisioning center, located at 8277 Arnt Boulevard just off M-140 and I-94, reveals a new store design which Compassionate Care By Design will use for its future locations. “It’s a very welcoming atmosphere,” said Chana Kniebes, head of the Coloma-Watervliet Area Chamber of Commerce. “The people we’ve worked with are very friendly, helpful, and dedicated. They will be a great fit in our community.” “We’re excited to have a cannabis provisioning center here,” Michelle Edmonds, owner of The Sidetrack Cafe II, added. “They are a welcome addition to our community.” Asked why Compassionate Care By Design chose Watervliet as its second retail home, Brobyn was quick to reply: “We’re committed to making sure people who rely on medical cannabis have access to it,” he said. “The southwest corner of Michigan is under-served in that regard, and Watervliet is uniquely situated to provide easy access to medical marijuana patients from a variety of surrounding communities where legal cannabis isn’t currently available.” Compassionate Care By Design began serving Watervliet through the provisioning center’s delivery-only service back in November 2019. “Delivery works well for people with limited time and mobility,” according to Compassionate Care By Design founder Kristen Bearup, “But often, people need the one-on-one relationship to get the right information and the right products for their goals and preferences. “The Watervliet provisioning center gives us better opportunities to get to know our medical cannabis patients, provide expert guidance for those who need it, and gives clients access to a wide variety of product.” The provisioning center hired new staff members from the surrounding area, all of whom have had rigorous education and training in all things cannabis, “so they are ready to answer questions and help clients find the products they need to live their best lives,” Bearup said. Medical cannabis cardholders enjoyed special grand opening discounts and savings throughout the grand opening weekend and throughout this week. Specials are available in-store and customers must have their medical card from the State and drivers license to partake. “We’re looking forward to a long and mutually beneficial partnership with the community of Watervliet and its surrounding areas,” Brobyn concluded. “Thank you again for the warm welcome here in Watervliet; we’re looking forward to growing together.” For more information, or to schedule a delivery, consultation, or to sign up for one of Compassionate Care By Design’s free educational classes, please visit https://ccbydesign.com/ or call (269) 222-4133.
Compassionate Care By Design, Kalamazoo’s first licensed medical cannabis provisioning center, focuses on natural, high quality cannabis and hemp products, superior service, and superior care to help clients live their best possible lives. For more information, please visit ccbydesign.com.
Hartford City Council new format well received
By Jon Bisnett
Hartford City Commissioners met Monday, Feb. 24 in the first of their new streamlined protocol of holding a single monthly council meeting, rather than separate workshop and business sessions. Contrary to some earlier concerns for citizen accessibility, a small unaffiliated gallery was present and all reports, business, and a third-party presentation, was efficiently conducted in less than 45 minutes.
Weeding through the headlines
Addressing an inflammatory headline that recently appeared locally touting “Hartford Ordinance Proposes up to 27 Recreational Marijuana Licenses” can be at the very least a bit deceiving if not inaccurate in nature. Readers should be clear in understanding that the proposed ordinance is not seeking to acquire another 27 more licensees, rather it addresses the sought-after duality of provisioning centers, growers, labs, secure transports and processing facilities to be able to obtain dual licensing for both “medical” and “recreational” cannabis at one location.
The city amended its original marijuana ordinance of 2017 by expanding the number of available licenses roughly two years later in September of 2019 as follows:
… allowing for up to a total of 5 Class A (500 plants,) Grower Licenses, 3 Class B (1,000 plants,) and 5 Class C (1,500 plants) in addition to 5 Processors and 4 Provisioning Centers with 2 Secure Transport and 2 Safety Compliance Facilities. (Up to possible total of 27, by calculating the numbers.)
The Adult Use (21+) Recreational Marijuana Ordinance coming up for vote in March will simply allow those same potential licensees to handle both “medical” and “recreational” product. As the business model evolves, it is clear that most if not all cannabusiness concerns seek the income stream of both “medical” and “recreational” products.
The State of Michigan tracks marijuana production from “seed to smoke.” When a seedling is only an inch high a barcoded tag is attached which declares the plant either “medical” or “recreational”, thus explaining the need for growers to have the dual licensing. Same applies for all the other facets of cannabusiness.
Large scale growers are permitted to “stack” licenses in a single facility.
To date, Hartford has one operating provisioning center, Med+Leaf and has since received two additional provisioning center applications; of which one has been retracted and the other has failed to provide additional information to move forward. An additional concern that had proposed a multi-million dollar grow facility on property the City wishes to sell off Marion Street has no current activity.
March Board of Review: Organizational Meeting is March 3 at 1:00 p.m. Taxpayer appointments may be scheduled with the board for March 9 from 2-5 p.m. and 6-9 p.m. and again on March 12, 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4 p.m.
The Hartford Area Chamber of Commerce Annual Banquet is Thursday, Feb. 27 at the Van Buren Sportsman’s Club at 6 p.m. Tickets are available at City Hall.
The Clerk’s Office will be open on March 7 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. for voter registration and absentee balloting.
Abonmarche representatives Tony McGhee and Derek Sever addressed the council in regard the PFAS remediation work they have initiated with Hartford Township for the affected residences with high PFAS well-water counts due to contamination from the idled Du-Wel plant. Their firm is working on proposals to connect the residences to the city water system. McGhee seeks the City’s cooperation is working out a solution.
Mayor Rick Hall commented, “Everyone should have a basic right to expect a clean water supply,” and pledged to work cooperatively with the project. Estimated costs to extend city water lines to the affected Township residences is in the neighborhood of $2.8 million, with expectations of grants from EGLE and the USDA to cover those costs incurred by the Township.
Chief Tressa Beltran presented a written report detailing activity of 744 duty hours with nine foot-patrol hours which included 87 incidents for the month of January, resulting in eight arrests including three felonies and 14 juvenile delinquencies.
Ordinance Officer Report
A written report from Ordinance Officer Jim Coleman noted five property inspections for the month of January. Blight violation postings for the month totaled 33 violations resulting in 28 follow-ups.
Assistant Chief Kevin McGrew was on hand to report the department responded to a total of 49 calls in the month of January, with 17 runs in the City of Hartford and 31 in the Township plus one in Bangor Township; 39 Rescue/Medical calls and four fires was the majority of calls.
Announcing another new hire, McGrew noted 15 Medical First Responders are now on the Hartford Fire Department role.
Requests for Proposal have gone out to eight manufacturers seeking quotes for the replacement of the HFD’s aging Pumper Truck slated for service in mid-late 2021. Bids are due April 3 and planned to be awarded May 13.
McGrew reminded the council of the free smoke alarm distribution program available to all Hartford residents. Residents will receive one alarm per floor. Call the HFD to arrange a free installation at (269) 621-4707.
Public CPR classes offered by HFD are filling fast and begin in March. Call the station for details and schedule.
The February 13 event with the HFD partnering with Bronson Wellness went very well despite inclement weather offering free inspections of child car seats at the station on Red Arrow Highway.
Pride Care Ambulance forwarded a written report of activity in the month of January showing nine Priority I calls at 7:59 and a Priority II at 8:05 for an overall average response time of 8:01.
Superintendent Dan Staunton’s written report noting general maintenance tasks along with some minimal salt application and some snow plowing interspersed with some cold-patching of streets again thanks to the relatively warm weather. Two water shut-offs, two turn-on and one water meter repair took place for the month. The city pumped 5.059 million gallons for the month.
Wastewater Treatment Plant
Plant Operator Tom Strand filed a written report indicating that all State of Michigan reports for the month have been filed along with routine maintenance tasks. Quarterly mercury reporting has also been submitted. Average flow was reported at .318 million gallons per day.
Treasurer Pam Shultz presented a written report of bills for the month of January in the amount of $110,720.28.
City Manager’s Report
City Manager Yemi Akinwale began by reporting updates to the PFAS affected residents from the defunct Du-Wel plant, specifically 13 residences that are located on Red Arrow Highway. These impacted residents have received a letter from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy regarding funding assistance to connect the homes to the city water system that was extended to serve Four Winds casino several years ago. The city will administer the reimbursement grant on behalf of residents opting in to the assistance.
Collective bargaining for both Police and Public Works expires on June 30, 2020. Akinwale is working through negotiations with the respective unions and expects to have a new agreement in place by July 1.
Akinwale updated the council as to the project planned under the CDBG Infrastructure Grant which was submitted in February to Michigan Economic Development Corporation with an expected decision by March 20. The $3.9 million project includes replacement of water, sanitary and storm sewer along with road construction on Linden and Spaulding streets. New 12-inch storm sewer, curb and gutter replacement throughout project area will be in addition to new ADA compliant sidewalk ramps throughout.
Minutes & Reports archived
Departmental Reports and minutes from the Jan. 27 Business Meeting and Feb. 12 Special Meeting were both approved and archived along with January Departmental Reports.
Mayor Hall presented first reading of the Michigan Regulation & Taxation of Recreational Marijuana Act (MRTMA) Ordinance. The action follows the prior month affirmative council vote to Opt In to State of Michigan Adult Use (21+) Recreational Marijuana Sales Licensing. The final vote on the ordinance will come at the March meeting. Assuming support, the City’s lone Medical Provisioning Facility, Med+Leaf, intends to expand its business to include the sale of Adult Use (21+) Recreational Marijuana at the current location at 303 W. Main.
Mayor Hall deferred any discussion or approval of the 2020-21 Fire Department Budget, pending a scheduled meeting with Fire Board President Steve Starner for the purpose of obtaining additional budget information for the Council’s consideration.
Having no further business, Mayor Hall adjourned the meeting at 8:05 p.m.