2020 WINTERFEST KING & QUEEN… crowned at Friday night’s Watervliet High School varsity basketball game against Coloma is Queen Raelyn Statler and Jay’Shawn Scruggs. The King and Queen titles were voted on by their peers during Winterfest festivities last week.
March 10 primary election contains local proposals
By Annette Christie In addition to the Presidential primary offering Democrats and Republicans for the party nomination for President, Van Buren County voters have several local proposals to consider. Road Millage – Renewal This proposal will allow Van Buren County to continue to levy 0.9769 mills which was previously approved by the electors to fund road maintenance, repair and reconstruction, but which expired with the 2019 levy. The question on the ballot reads, “Shall there be a 0.9769 mill levy ($0.9769 per $1,000 dollars) of the taxable value on taxable property in Van Buren County for the next four (4) years (2020-2023) for the purpose of maintenance, repair and reconstruction of all public streets, avenues and roads in Van Buren County?” A portion of the revenue collected may be required to be distributed to the Downtown Development Authorities, Tax Increment Financing Authorities, Local Development Financing Authorities and Brownfield Redevelopment Authorities established in Van Buren County, City of South Haven, Bangor City, Gobles City, Hartford City, Keeler Township, Villages of Lawrence, Lawton, Paw Paw and Mattawan. It is estimated that the revenue generated on this proposal will be $3,320,282.00 in the first year of the levy. Public Transit Millage – Renewal This proposal will allow Van Buren County to continue to levy 0.2471 mills which was previously approved by the electors to fund public transportation services, but which expired with the 2019 levy. The ballot language reads as follows, “As a renewal of previously authorized millage which expired with the 2019 levy, shall the limitation on the amount of taxes which may be imposed on taxable property in Van Buren County be increased by 0.2471 mill ($0.2471 per thousand dollars of taxable value), for a period of four (4) years, 2020 to 2023, inclusive, for the exclusive purpose of providing funds for public transportation purposes, including the accommodation for seniors and disabled persons?” A portion of the revenue collected may be required to be distributed to the Downtown Development Authorities, Tax Increment Financing Authorities, Local Development Financing Authorities and Brownfield Redevelopment Authorities established in South Haven City, Bangor City, Hartford City, Gobles City, Keeler Township, South Haven Township, Villages of Lawrence, Lawton, Paw Paw and Mattawan. It is estimated that 0.2471 mills would raise approximately $800,000 when first levied in 2020. Veterans Services Millage A new ballot proposition would be used to enhance veteran services for Van Buren County residents. The ballot language reads as follows, “Shall the limitation on the amount of taxes which may be imposed on taxable property in Van Buren County be increased by 0.10 mill ($0.10 per thousand dollars of taxable value), for a period of four (4) years, 2020 to 2023, inclusive, as new additional millage, to provide funds for operations and services dedicated to veterans who have served honorably on active duty in the United States Armed Forces?” A portion of the revenue collected may be required to be distributed to the Downtown Development Authorities, Tax Increment Financing Authorities, Local Development Financing Authorities and Brownfield Redevelopment Authorities established in South Haven City, Bangor City, Hartford City, Gobles City, Keeler Township, South Haven Township, Villages of Lawrence, Lawton, Paw Paw and Mattawan. It is estimated that 0.10 mills would raise approximately $339,744 when first levied in 2020. Van Buren Intermediate School District Special Education Millage Taxpayers serviced by the Van Buren Intermediate School District will be asked to increase the special education millage. This proposal will increase the levy by the intermediate school district of special education millage previously approved by the electors. The ballot language will read as follows, “Shall the current 3.3177 mills limitation ($3.3177 on each $1,000 of taxable valuation) on the annual property tax previously approved by the electors of Van Buren Intermediate School District, Michigan, for the education of students with a disability be increased by .9 mill ($0.90 on each $1,000 of taxable valuation) for a period of 5 years, 2020 to 2024, inclusive; the estimate of the revenue the intermediate schools district will collect if the millage is approved and levied in 2020 is approximately $3,730,173 from local property taxes authorized herein?” Democrat candidates for the Presidency The following Democratic Party candidates are still seeking the Democratic nomination and the chance to face President Donald J. Trump in November. Bernie Sanders, a Senator from Vermont since 2007, has served in Congress since 1991. He unsuccessfully challenged for the Democratic nomination in 2016 but fell to Hillary Clinton. Joe Biden, Washington D.C., U.S. Senator from 1973 – 2009 and U.S. Vice President 2009 – 2017. Elizabeth Warren, U.S. Senator from Massachusetts. She was previously a law school professor. Michael Bloomberg, New York, New York, one of the world’s richest men, he was the Mayor of New York City from 2001 – 2014. Tulsi Gabbard, Kapolei, Hawaii, a military veteran, she has served in the U.S. House since 2013. The March 10 ballot will include several additional names, those of candidates who have since dropped out of the race. Several states held their elections on March 3 which could change the leaders by the time voters in Michigan get the chance to vote. The 2020 Democrat National Convention will be held in Milwaukee in July 2020. Prior to that, individual state caucuses and primaries are held to allocate convention delegates. I Republican candidates for the Presidency One lone candidate remains in contention for the Republican nomination, opposing United States President Donald J. Trump. Bill Weld of Boston, Mass. is a lawyer and businessman. He was the Governor of Massachusetts from 1991-1997.
Fishing The Department of Natural Resources reminds the public that the 2020 fishing licenses went on sale starting Sunday, March 1. This gives anglers one month to purchase a new license, which is required by April 1 of each year. All anglers 17 years of age and older are required to have a fishing license. While ice fishing continues for most of the state the DNR stated, the southern areas of the Lower Peninsula had questionable ice once again last week. Ellinee Bait & Tackle shop on Paw Paw Lake by Coloma reported no ice in the surrounding area. A few anglers are going out to do some open-water fishing, but not many. The strong winds of recent days have discouraged many. In the southwest Lower Peninsula, New Buffalo had pier anglers targeting coho when using spawn on the bottom. Coho salmon were caught in New Buffalo near the mouth of the Galien River, and included some limit catches. St. Joseph pier anglers were also fishing the channel for coho with spawn. St. Joseph River anglers continue to catch steelhead and walleye in Berrien Springs. On the Grand River near Grand Rapids, steelheads are being caught at the 6th Street Dam. Boat anglers found fish on the east side of the Johnson Boat Launch in Kent County. A couple walleye were found off the wall and off Fulton Street. Anyone boating or kayaking this spring must not forget to wear a life jacket. Water levels are high, and water temperatures are cold. Melting snow and ice will increase water levels and debris in the water and may create strong or unusual currents. Learn more about boating safety at the DNR website. People of all abilities can enjoy Michigan’s wealth of natural and cultural resources. They can find a variety of accessible recreation opportunities at state parks, campgrounds, hunting areas, trails, beaches, kayak launches, fishing piers, historic sites, shooting ranges and more. Look for more information on the DNR website under accessible recreation opportunities. State leaders shared Michigan’s draft Adaptive Management Plan that will inform decisions and guide projects outlined in the Domestic Action Plan for Lake Erie, a targeted approach for improving water quality and reducing the amount of phosphorus entering the lake by 40 percent by 2025. Decreasing phosphorus inputs is intended to help reduce harmful algal blooms – caused when an overgrowth of algae produces toxins that can affect aquatic life, recreation, and the quality of drinking water. The draft Adaptive Management Plan is available at www.Michigan.gov/LakeErieDAP. More information can be found at the site. The state will be accepting public comments about the plan from now through March 24, 2020. Hunting The DNR is sharing some highlights of the 2019 deer hunting seasons, which ended in late January 2020. Those seasons were marked by widespread participation in the state’s surveillance efforts around chronic wasting disease, especially in areas of the state with a known CWD presence. In addition to those CWD testing results, the department also takes a look at license sales, compliance with the deer and elk baiting and feeding ban and more. The DNR tested just over 20,000 deer for CWD. In all, 65 CWD-positive deer were identified from the 2019 hunting seasons – and all were from counties with a known CWD presence. “Our primary area of infection remains in parts of Montcalm and northeast Kent counties, where we knew the disease existed going into the 2019 hunting seasons,” DNR deer specialist Chad Stewart said. “We are encouraged that we have not found new CWD positives outside of this known area.” Stewart said that CWD is a problem that will require a commitment to long-term solutions. “Active management includes targeted removals, baiting and feeding bans and carcass movement restrictions and is our best chance of keeping the disease as limited as possible for as long as possible,” he said. At this time of the year, in townships where CWD has been identified, hunters and landowners with five acres or more are eligible to receive disease control permits. These permits allow landowners to take deer on their property and submit deer heads for testing. If the test does not detect CWD, the property owner may keep the deer. The prohibition of deer baiting and feeding in the Lower Peninsula was another important hunting topic that was looked at. “While feedback indicates this hasn’t been the most popular regulation, the best available science shows that baiting bans are an effective tool to limit disease spread,” said Stewart. “Anything that we can do to limit the chances for deer to return to the same location hour after hour, day after day, helps to reduce the risk of disease spread.” DNR conservation officers enforced the baiting ban in its first year and found that overall hunter compliance was satisfactory, though certainly not 100%. Last fall, much media attention was given to the fact that hunter numbers are declining in Michigan. This was also looked at in the surveillance efforts of the state. While true, the trend is not new, and it is not specific to Michigan. Across the country, states are feeling the financial pressure from reduced hunter numbers, because revenue from hunting license sales makes up a large portion of the funding for critical conservation work. Last year, deer license sales were down about three percent over 2018.
When days are around the 40s and nights are in the 20s, it’s time to start tapping those maple trees for sweet sap! Maple sugar and syrup are made from the sap of maple trees. Trees that are about a foot or larger in diameter can be tapped. The sweetness of the sap depends on the time of the season. The most concentrated sugars are in the sap at the beginning of the tapping season. The sapwood, or xylem layer of the tree, has cells that act as pipes for water transport from the roots throughout the tree. Water is pulled up through the tree as water evaporates from the leaf surfaces through a process called transpiration. When temperatures fall below freezing, negative pressure (suction) is created within the sapwood, which gives us the pressured conditions to tap the trees. The sugar in the sap is from food produced by the leaves during the spring and summer. It’s stored in the tree as starch in the fall and some changes to sucrose in winter, which dissolves in the sap. Welcome early spring with a “how to” demonstration on maple sugaring at Sarett on Sat., March 7 at 2 p.m. Learn to identify maple trees, how to tap and collect the sap and how to turn that sap into delicious amber syrup. We’ll taste the sap, syrup and candy! Non-member adults cost $5.