02-28-2019 City of Coloma bans commercial marijuana operations; Watervliet school board selects six

City of Coloma bans commercial marijuana operations

By Nancy Albright

The City of Coloma passed an ordinance on February 25 prohibiting commercial marijuana businesses from setting up shop within city limits.

Violators will be charged with a municipal infraction and face fines ranging from $100 to $500 per violation. Fines will accrue each day the violation continues, and offenders will be fined separately for each offense.

Mayor Jim Polashak stressed that the ordinance applies to commercial operations and prohibits personal growers from getting a license to grow marijuana on their properties. Medical marijuana is a separate issue. “The state doesn’t know how they’re going to regulate the marijuana laws yet, it could take up to a year,” said Commissioner Jason Hicks. “This ordinance exists to protect Coloma from the unknown.”

Any resident wishing to see the Marijuana Ordinance may do so at City Hall during regular business hours. The next Ordinance Meeting will be at 6:45 p.m. on Monday, March 11, 2019 at City Hall, with a Public Hearing to follow at 7:30 p.m.

Sewer plant repairs

Berrien County Community Development Director Dan Fette explained to the City Commission at their meeting on Monday, Feb. 25 that in order to proceed with needed improvements to the Paw Paw Lake Wastewater Plant, the plant needs to pay off former debt. “At this point the plant doesn’t have the capacity to borrow, so we’re asking the municipalities to borrow,” explained Fette. He is currently seeking approval as required by the county from the City of Coloma, Coloma Township, the City of Watervliet and Watervliet Township to help finance the repairs.

Each municipality will pay one quarter of the repair costs, to be reimbursed going forward. The council approved the resolution, and Fette said that he anticipates the remaining three municipalities will approve their resolutions as well. “There will be more than enough revenue to pay off the old debt and finance the repairs,” he said. If all the municipalities adopt the resolution, the contract will be ready for approval at the beginning of April.

Open burn law

Coloma resident Sieg Freitag asked the council if they have decided to issue an open burn permit to Jerry Street to burn a large pile of debris on a parcel of land between East Logan Street and the railroad tracks, as requested at the Feb. 11 council meeting. “We have spoken with Coloma Fire Chief Mike Mattix and he has given us permission,” explained Freitag.

Commissioner Hicks said that even though Street plans to move the debris a safe distance away from nearby buildings and would like to burn while it is still wet to minimize smoke, he is concerned that those buildings may still be subject to damage. “While I don’t doubt your ability to control the fire, there is a reason we have a no open burn law within city limits, and this is a perfect example,” Hicks told Freitag. “If we allow one person to burn then we have to allow everyone.”

Mayor Polashak told Freitag that Fire Chief Mattix and the city’s attorney will attend the next City Council meeting to address the issue.

The next Fire Board meeting will be at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, March 5, 2019 at Fire Station #1.

Local issues

Coloma resident Bill Smith asked the council if they plan to do something about the pole barn in Lions Park. “It is an eyesore and we should make an effort to clean it up,” Smith commented.

Mayor Polashak said that it depends on the state. “We want to address the barn, but it’s up to the state. We’ve been asking them for permission for a year.” Polashak told Smith they will continue to pursue the issue with the state.

Smith also reminded the council that inspections should continue to be made on rental units in town to make sure they are up to code. Smith said, “For example, we may be liable for fire if we don’t complete the inspections on smoke detectors.”

With respect to Smith’s question regarding a local survey regarding the proposal for city-wide bus service, Commissioner Julie Smith said that the Planning Commission has discussed the proposal and, although a formal survey has not been conducted, it appears that the south end of the city is interested in bus service.

In other news

The council approved the motion to purchase a new truck for use by the Department of Public Works that will be equipped with a plow and overhead lights, not to exceed a cost of $40,000.

Mayor Pro-Tem Marsha Hammond said the city plans to order the vehicle through the State of Michigan, saving several thousand dollars. Once ordered, the truck would be delivered in approximately eight weeks.

Mayor Polashak announced that the resurfacing of Park Street and sidewalk repairs as requested by residents will begin soon. Homeowners are required to pay 60% of the sidewalk repair on their property, while the city pays the remaining 40%.

 Commissioner Fred Reeves reported that he and Commissioner Hicks will hold a second meeting with the Coloma Police Department before negotiating a new contract which expires on June 30, 2019.  The council approved payment of bills in the amount of $948,646.25 as presented by Coloma City Treasurer Kelly Clements. Clements will retire her position on April 26, 2019, and the city is looking for a replacement

NEW EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR… Watervliet resident and new Executive Director of the South Haven Center for the Arts Kerry Hagy brings new opportunities to discover, explore and appreciate the arts to South Haven and beyond. (TCR photo by Nancy Albright)

Watervliet resident new director at South Haven Center for the Arts

By Nancy Albright

The South Haven Center for the Arts is moving in new directions thanks to recently established Executive Director Kerry Hagy, who is a resident of Watervliet.

Former SHCA Assistant Director, Hagy is a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design and has deep roots in the non-profit world. A Chicago-area native, she employs her creative, educational and administrative backgrounds to encourage discovery, exploration and appreciation of the arts.

“We’re focusing on exhibitions, art education, strengthening community relations and working with area schools and organizations to form lasting connections and opportunities that will benefit residents of all ages,” said Hagy.

Hagy and the SHCA Exhibitions Committee are focused on presenting meaningful displays of art that captivate and educate audiences and allow local and regional artists to showcase their work.

Artist David Baker commented, “As a board member I have found working with Kerry a delight. The enthusiastic response from a number of artists, for both the Tales of the Sea and the With (re)Purpose exhibitions, was a result of Kerry’s marketing strategies.”

The SHCA tied a printmaking class to the Southwest Michigan Printmakers exhibit last summer and taught students in the gallery. Watervliet artist and board member Carol Myers said, “It’s a bridge between classes and shows and is a concept with incredible potential.”

“I taught the series of printmaking classes to a group of middle school and high school students last summer designed to engage them beyond just a quickie project,” said Myers. “Kerry and I worked together to develop a thought-provoking and in-depth curriculum to nurture sustained creative effort with great success.”

The art center works with South Haven and other area schools on Artists of Tomorrow, opening on February 10, which is an annual exhibition of artwork that allows students to see their work displayed in a gallery setting. The SHCA also offers summer art classes taught by professional artists that teach kids to work in a variety of mediums.

In the past the SHCA has helped adults discover watercolors, collage, multi-media, jewelry making and life drawing. Hagy is working with artists, local organizations and the community to organize more adult workshops that are open to anyone who is interested.

Thanks to Hagy’s collaborations with the South Haven Community Foundation, the South Haven Rotary Club, the Ward 1 Community Action Committee and other local organizations, the art center has been able to fund art classes and internships for high school students who plan to pursue a career in the arts. Her efforts have also garnered operating funds from the Michigan Council for Arts & Cultural Affairs.

Hagy and Foundry Hall Board President Lotte Resek are collaborating to bring more concerts to the SHCA. “We are enjoying working with the art center as an additional venue for music and hope to provide performing arts programming for kids and design some projects involving both music and art,” said Resek. “Kerry is a great addition to the non-profit community. She brings new ideas and an open mind.”

The SHCA partners with the South Haven Visitor’s Bureau to bring art to local festivals and other community events like Haven Harvest and Ice Breaker to help draw year-round visitors.

“The Visitors Bureau has really developed a strong partnership with the South Haven Center for the Arts. Kerry has been wonderful to work with in supporting all of our events and activities,” said CVB Executive Director Scott Reinert. “She’s worked countless hours alongside our team to create wonderful experiences for our residents and visitors. The SHCA is a tremendous asset to our community and we’re thrilled to be working with Kerry in her new role as Executive Director.”

The SHCA also produces the South Haven Art Fair which is ranked in the Top 100 Best Art Fairs in the country and brings tens of thousands to South Haven every summer.

“I’ve watched her transition from a part-time role to Executive Director,” said Baker. “She identified pertinent issues at last year’s art fair and upon becoming director has implemented changes to address these. In all my dealings with Kerry I have found her diligent and focused, always seeking input to arrive at the best solution to any problem.

SHCA Board President Ginger Adamson said, “Kerry’s passion for the art center is evident as she works with the board and encourages their input and vision for moving the center to the next level.”

“I can connect my artistic, community-organizing and social service backgrounds to make a positive impact on this and surrounding communities,” said Hagy. “I love the arts and particularly enjoy working with artists. Using the arts to strengthen and serve this area is where my heart is.”

 Hagy is also working to make a different in Watervliet and surrounding areas. She and her husband Josh Musinski searched far and wide throughout Southwest Michigan for land to grow organic fruits and organic vegetables and have lived on five acres in Watervliet since 2015. They also own Water & Wheat Vegan Café, a popular destination in Hagar Township.

Watervliet school board selects six superintendent candidates; schedules interviews March 4-6 “It is our hope to have a person in place by July 1.”

The Watervliet Board of Education is moving forward in the selection of a new superintendent. Seventeen educators applied for the position. The Board reviewed the applications and has invited six educators to be interviewed. The process has been facilitated by Dave Killips, Regional President of the Michigan Leadership Institute.

The interviews will be held on March 4, 5 and 6. Two interviews will be held each evening, with one scheduled at 6:30 p.m. and one at 8:00 p.m. The interviews are open to the public and the public is encouraged to attend. All interviews will be held in the media center at Watervliet High School.

The interview schedule is as follows: Monday, March 4 at 6:30 p.m.: Dr. Sean Wightman, Dowagiac Middle School Principal; Monday, March 4 at 8:00 p.m.: Kelly Eckhardt, Fennville High School Principal; Tuesday, March 5 at 6:30 p.m.: Greg Blomgren, St. Joseph High School Principal; Tuesday, March 5 at 8:00 p.m.: Ric Seager, Schoolcraft High School Principal; Wednesday, March 6 at 6:30 p.m.: Dr. Raymond Lechner, Superintendent, Wilmette, IL; Wednesday, March 6 at 8:00 p.m.: Jonathan Whan,

Superintendent, Grant Public Schools. Board President, Bill Spaulding stated, “We were pleased with the number of applicants who demonstrated interest in Watervliet. The Board understands the importance of this decision and the impact the new superintendent will have on our children, schools and community. We look forward to finding out more about the candidates’ leadership abilities and what each candidate has to offer our community. The Board has appreciated the input from the public and encourages people to attend the interviews. It is our hope to have a person in place by July 1.”

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