03-02-2017 Hartford Township works to revamp cemetery operations; Community Hymn Sing; Watervliet Pu

Hartford Township works to revamp cemetery operations

By Jon Bisnett

The Hartford Township board continues to move to replace its former sexton through outsource of those duties to private contractors.

Gold Coast Housekeeping has been engaged for cleaning of the hall, while bids are sought for snowplowing and grounds maintenance services for the cemetery and hall in addition to contracted burial service. A new software package for cemetery management has also been approved for purchase.

When a member of the gallery asked about the disposition of the township’s truck, backhoe and tractor, no clear answer was provided at this time. When queried as to the nature of the sexton absence, Supervisor Ron Sefcik, simply stated “…Her employment with the township ended on December 19, 2016.”

Sheriff’s Department

 Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department Deputy Phil Scuiletti logged 1249 during the month of January as he transitioned back into full-time work for the township. Scuiletti recorded 20 arrests for the month, including 19 misdemeanor arrests and one felony, along with 11 traffic stops resulting in 11 citations.

Treasurer’s report

 Bills for the month were presented totaling $46,496.89 of which $6,770.76 were payroll, with just over 10% of the monthly expenses coming under a line item described as Attorney Fees accounting for charges in excess of $5,000. A unanimous motion to pay bills followed.

Old business

 Supervisor Sefcik spoke to the prior month’s presentation from City Manager Yemi Akinwale in regard to a proposed joint venture of a playground equipment installation for the community’s only public park, the city’s Ely Park on Main Street. The 70-30 grant proposal would have asked the city and township for a 50/50 split of roughly $71,000 with the bulk of the funds coming from grant moneys. Sefcik pointed out that the township has no legal conduit for moving such funds to the city and promptly entertained a motion in the negative to deny participation in the venture, which received unanimous support from the board.

New business

 Approvals were granted for Sefcik, Clerk Sweet & Treasurer Starner to attend the Michigan Townships Association Annual Conference at a rate of $160 day.

Purchase of cemetery management software was approved in the amount of $2,925.

And finally, a resolution was passed to place new treasurer Starner on Multi-Bank Securities accounts.

With no other business pending, Sefcik adjourned the meeting at 8:28 p.m.

The Board meets next at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 9, 2017.

COLOMA ELEMENTARY FOOD DRIVE… Pictured are students from each of the kin-dergarten classrooms (from the left) front row: Chase Boyd, Kaylynn Wycoff, Bryce Cartwright, Matthew Brown, and Ernesto Almora Castillo. Back row: John Dahlquist, Kaelyn Jacobs, Levi Pounders, Brooke Oliver, Kail Norton, and Aidin Lomelin. Standing: Joslynn Jordan. Kindergarten students from Coloma Elementary had a food can drive to celebrate the 100th day of school! All four kindergarten classrooms (teachers: Mrs. Contreras, Mrs. Seabury, Mrs. Jerue, and Mrs. DeLaTorre) set a goal of collecting 100 cans of food. Students learned that this was a fun way to count to 100 and more importantly, it helps people in our community. In all, over 400 cans of food was collected and donated to the North Berrien Food Pantry. We are proud of our caring Comets!


Community Hymn Sing, March 4

 The next Community Hymn Sing will be celebrated at Plymouth Congregational Church, 123 First Street in Watervliet on Saturday evening, March 4 at 6 p.m.

The brick church is located on the corner of Red Arrow Highway and First Street across from the Watervliet Laundry.

Special music will be provided by Becky Schemenauer from Hartford Federated Church. Why not come and enjoy the singing, the fellowship, and the ice cream and cookies afterward?

All are welcome!

Watervliet Public Schools add W.I.N. Time to elementary classrooms

Students at Watervliet Public Schools’ North and South Elementary Schools are “winning” in the classroom thanks in part to the addition of W.I.N. Time.

W.I.N. (What I Need) Time is an intervention/enrichment program that benefits the entire student body. Every week, teachers at North and South Elementary schools use their grade level essential standards in Math and English to assess students.  Teams of teachers then meet to analyze the data and group students according to their individual needs.  If they are not proficient, they receive intervention in the form of re-teaching.  The intervention can be one-on-one, or small group, and involves re-teaching the content in new way.  If they are proficient, they participate in enrichment or extension activities designed to deepen their knowledge of the content.

WIN TIME AT WATERVLIET ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS… Experiencing the new program are students (from the left): Sam Crago, Chase Tremblay, and Colton Swisher.


For instance, recently, fifth grade students at North Elementary were assessed on the concept of Author’s Purpose.  The students who were proficient went to an extension room, where they participated in an activity called “Scoot” where they read short, informational articles, and answered higher- level questions that required them to draw inferences from the material.  Once they completed the questions, they “scooted” to the next article.  Those who were not proficient were placed into eight small groups to work on the skill of Author’s Purpose.  Paige Culberson, from Mrs. Pline’s 5th-Grade Class, said, “I like W.I.N. Time because we get to learn new things in a fun way.  We do special activities that make us smarter if we don’t understand a skill the first time.”

One of the special activities that is a favorite of fifth-grade students, Natalie Hart and Grace Chisek, involves a snowball fight with paper balls.  The paper balls have a fact written on one side and an opinion written on the other side, students toss the balls at each other until the teacher halts the activity and requires the students to report on which one was the fact and which one was the opinion.

W.I.N. time has been a positive addition to North and South Elementary schools.  Teachers use creative lessons and re-teaching strategies to meet the individual academic needs of their students.  Students truly recognize the unique opportunity W.I.N. Time offers and embrace the activities.   Fifth-grade student, Jordan Thon, said, “W.I.N. Time is a great opportunity for me to improve my math and reading skills.  I’m glad we have W.I.N. Time because it is a fun way to learn and it will help us succeed.”

Coloma American Legion Post 362 Lenten Fish Fry

 Every Friday during Lent, beginning March 3 through April 14, 2017, the Coloma American Legion Post 362 is hosting a Lenten Fish Fry from 5:30 to 8:00 p.m.

Fish dinners include au gratin potatoes, green beans, coleslaw, bread and coffee and are $8 each. All you can eat fish dinners are $10. Children ages 4 to 12 are $4 each and children 3 and younger eat for free.

Take outs are available by calling 269-468-5501. Coloma American Legion Post 362 is located at 351 E. St. Joseph Street in Coloma.

North Berrien Historical Museum welcomes youth intern

The North Berrien Historical Museum has a fresh new face this spring. Geoffrey Humpal joined the museum team as youth intern in February. Humpal, a senior at Coloma High School, will be interning at the museum through May. As an intern, he is tasked with putting together a display on a local historical topic of his choice which will be showcased through the summer. Being a military history enthusiast, Humpal plans to center his display on the German Prisoner of War camps that were in the local area during World War II. Through this internship Humpal will learn local history and gain experience using museum resources to thoroughly research and design the display.

GEOFFREY HUMPAL… stands in front of the North Berrien Historical Museum on the first day of his internship.


This internship fits in well with Humpal’s passion for history and future goals of pursuing a PhD in History to later become a college history professor. Upon graduating from high school, Humpal plans to first spend time working to save money to fund his schooling. For now, he is thinking ahead by participating in the internship, taking a college level U.S. History class, and reading history books in his spare time.

Humpal’s display will be available for public viewing at the end of May. The North Berrien Historical Museum is located at 300 Coloma Avenue, across the street from Coloma High School. For more information please call the museum at (269) 468-3330.

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