02-27-2020 WHS Way Graduates; Kute Kid; Berrien County and Spectrum-Lakeland work together for first

WHS SUCCESS ACHIEVED… On Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020 nine students graduated from the Watervliet W-A-Y Program. This marked the 14th ceremony for the program. These young men and women joined 128 total graduates since W-A-Y’s inception at Watervliet High School. Graduate Isaiah Hanson was the speaker and he expressed the sentiments of his classmates that it would have been easier to give up, but that they all had to dig deep and find something inside of themselves to keep pushing forward and achieve this success. The graduates are (from the left): Norma Cortez, Nadia Lauzon, Ruby Gonzalez, Isaiah Hanson, Audrey Romeo, Robbie Porphir, Alissa Nesbitt, Esperansa Mozo-Hernandez, and Soledad Alvarado.


HARTFORD FIRE DEPT. CARES FOR KIDS’ SAFETY AND HEALTH Bronson Wellness and Hartford Fire Department joined forces at the HFD station to offer wellness checks and child car seat inspections on Thursday, Feb. 20. Twenty-five inspections were conducted among 13 participating families who braved the snowy day with 20 free car seats distributed according to Bronson Wellness Center Director Pam Ford, M.A.Ed, CPST. Eighty-eight percent of the seats inspected were non-compliant and replaced. No-cost car seats were provided by a joint venture of the Bronson Health Foundation and the Office of Highway Safety Planning. A general wellness check, vision screening and fingerprinting by the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department were also offered. Ford described the event as “A great example of community building and resource sharing”. She applauded the HFD for their impact in keeping kids safer in vehicles, recognizing the value of the HFD’s time, attention, and caring as immeasurable. The program is part of the Bronson Safe Kids Greater South Haven initiative.


THIS KUTE KID IS… Kyrin Lane Rey Zavala striking a “jumpbaby” pose! His proud parents are Lakayla Wiggins and Irvin Zavala of Hartford. Kyrin’s loving grandparents are John and Patricia Brink and Zonia Zavala all from Hartford and Robert and Nichole Wiggins of Lasalle, Colorado.


Berrien County and Spectrum-Lakeland work together for first responders with communications tower in Watervliet Twp.

By Teresa Smithers Clear communication is essential for the safety and effectiveness of first responders, as well as those they are trying to help. Berrien County Commissioner Dave Vollrath came before the Watervliet Township Board on Monday, Feb. 17 to report that Berrien County is working with Spectrum Health Lakeland to put a new communications tower on top of the Lakeland-Watervliet hospital. The Berrien County 911 department is handling negotiations for this project, led by Director Dave Agens until his upcoming retirement. This tower will give clearer communication for all emergency responders – fire, police, ambulance, 911. “Our radio and pager coverage has always been weak in various spots in the northeastern part of the county,” explained Vollrath. “All fire departments in our county are switching to 800MHz and away from the current VHF system. We have already purchased over 400 pagers, with the cost split between departments and the County. “The cost for this project will be about $400,000,” reported Vollrath. “If we built an entirely new tower on a different property, the cost would be well over a million dollars.” Other locations for the tower have been considered, however they were not as effective as the hospital site. Berrien County is seeking a grant to purchase radios. Seeking volunteers In an effort to get Watervliet Township residents to have an impact in their community, Planning Commissioner Joe Stepich has written descriptions for almost all of the sub-committees and boards, including the Board of Review, Watervliet Joint Fire Board, Library Board, Paw Paw Lake Area Wastewater Treatment Plant Authority Board, Planning Commission, Zoning Board of Appeals, and others. Stepich, who is leading the effort, plans to put the descriptions on the Township website (watervliettownship.org) and then advertise open positions, seeking volunteers. Those who serve on boards have an opportunity to influence the community they live in.

M-140 Truck Stop site plan OK’d Zoning Administrator Bob Lohr reported that the Planning Commission had voted unanimously at their February 4 meeting to approve a site plan for a proposed truck stop/ convenience store to be located at 3558 M-140 (the former DeMars building), contingent upon the developer: Submitting a revised site plan showing an exiting area on the south side of the property that will be completely within the property lines, moving the diesel fueling area on the north side of the property to the east, in line with the façade of the building to enhance maneuvering area for truck traffic, and providing a submittal from the Michigan Department of Transportation verifying their approval of the entrance and exits from the facility on and off I-94. All of this was to be presented to the Township Board to allow a vote at their regular meeting on February 17, but since no revised site plan was provided by that date and no documentation was submitted, a vote by the Board has been tabled until such time as it receives those things. Police Report Berrien County Sheriff Deputy Guy Puffer gave a police report for January 2020, reporting there were 60 checks on residences and businesses (plus another 32 performed by reserve officers), seven felony arrests, 35 complaints, eight follow-ups on complaints, 17 misdemeanor arrests, 21 assists and 37 traffic stops with 31 receiving citations. Deputy Puffer reported that in all of 2019, there were 650 checks on residences and businesses, 49 felony arrests, 187 misdemeanor arrests, 139 complaints, 205 assists, 541 traffic stops with 400 receiving citations, and 29 motorist assists. Ribbon Cutting Chana Kniebes of Coloma-Watervliet Area Chamber of Commerce and North Berrien Community Development announced a Ribbon Cutting to be held at the new Compassionate Care By Design medical marijuana facility on Arnt Boulevard in Watervliet Friday, Feb. 21, 9:00 a.m. Industrial Park survey Bob Lohr reported receiving quotes from Mitchell & Morse Land Surveying and Wightman to complete a boundary and topographic survey at the Township’s Industrial Park. Responding to a request from the board, Lohr will make a comparison chart of those quotes.

Homestead exemption The board voted to adopt the same “Poverty Exemption Income Guidelines and Asset Test” as in previous years. In addition to prior guidelines of homestead and other requirements, 2020 poverty guidelines are as follows: 1 person – $12,760; 2 persons – $17,240; 3 persons, $21,720; 4 persons $26,200; 5 persons $30,680; 6 persons $35,160; 7 persons $39,640; 8 persons, 44,120. For households with more than eight persons, add $4,480 for each additional person. Other business In other business, January bills were approved (General: $117,936.57 and Payroll: $34,606.88 for a total of $152,543.45). The treasurer’s report for January was also approved, showing $1,912,292.33 in the General Ledger and $535,992.65 in CDs, for a total of $2,448,284.98. Upcoming meetings The Watervliet Township Board regularly meets the third Monday of each month, 7:00 p.m., at Watervliet Township Hall. The next meeting is scheduled for Monday, March 16.

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