Hartford City approves Fire Budget, concerned for future growth funding
By Jon Bisnett The City of Hartford, under old business, voted unanimously to approve the 2019-20 Fire Board Budget in the amount of $267,748.85 at the combined workshop & business meeting of Monday, Feb. 25. Mayor Rick Hall expressed ongoing concern as to exploring options for funding future growth of HFD budget which he hopes to solve through work of a joint committee set to review the fire agreement with the township. Hall however did not move to appoint the city’s representatives as was presented on the meeting agenda. When pressed Hall stated he wished to defer that decision to the March commission meeting.
Public comment Daniel Santos appeared as owner of property slated for demolition at 32 West Main. Having not responded to any of the prior communications from the city, Santos is attempting an 11th-hour move to save his building from the wrecking ball, blaming issues on the neighboring property at 34 W. Main. Mayor Hall says Santos must present the city with an approved contractor’s estimate to repair, a firm timetable and proof that he has the funds available to execute the repairs by no later than the March 18 meeting at which demolition bids for the property will be opened.
Communications The March Board of Review dates are March 20 from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and March 21 from 2:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Van Buren County Sportsman’s Club has applied for use of Ely Park for Annual Easter Egg Hunt on April 13, 2019 – Rain Date April 20.
Police Report Chief Tressa Beltran presented a written report detailing activity of 740 duty hours with five foot-patrol hours which included 89 complaints for the month of January, resulting in five arrests including two felonies.
Ordinance Officer Report A written report from Ordinance Officer Jim Coleman reports six property inspections for the month of January. Blight postings for the month totaled 37 violations resulting in 37 follow-ups. Mayor Hall added that he has steps in place to crack down on repeat offenders. Fire Report The Hartford Joint Fire Department responded to 70 calls in the month of January, including 51 rescue/ medical calls and three fires, with Assistant Chief Kevin McGrew reporting. Total calls for the year are already over 100. McGrew says Chief Harting will keep a running total updated on the fire station’s digital sign.
Ambulance Report Pride Care Ambulance submitted a written report of 10 Priority I calls at 7:55, seven Priority II runs at 12:07 and three Priority III runs at 8:11 for an overall average response time of 9:20.
Public Works Superintendent Dan Staunton was present to answer questions on his written report noting January with ongoing snow removal and salting of City streets along with hauling of snow from accumulated piles in city parking lots. The department reported 12 water turn-offs took place on vacant properties and one turn on took place for the month. The city pumped 5.599 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.
Treasurer’s Report Treasurer Pam Shultz presented a written report of $212,874.66 in bills for the month of January with nothing of note.
Minutes & reports archived Departmental Reports from January and minutes from the February 4 Business Meeting and February 13 Special Meeting were approved and archived.
City Manager Report City Manager Yemi Akinwale says he plans to pursue a Rural Development Grant to replace one of the current squad cars. Commissioner Terry Tibbs was quick to say, “We need a better car next time,” referring to the city’s Ford Explorer. Akinwale is in the process of a grant application for reconstruction of Marion Street from Prospect to N. Center. The project in the amount of $280,000 will require a $70,000 match by the city plus the cost of engineering.
Following completion of the Stormwater, Asset Management & Wastewater (SAW) grant, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality is now requesting an asset management plan for the city under the Safe Drinking Water Act. Akinwale will work with Wightman and Associates to develop the plan to remain in compliance. Bids requests are out for 32 & 34 W. Main demolition, due by 2:00 p.m. March 18. Akinwale is exploring a Community Infrastructure Grant to address two critical areas of the city identified by the SAW grant. The funding provides up to $250,000 with a 50% match to be targeted at either Linden Street from Spaulding to Olds Avenue or Marion Street from Prospect to West Main. Mayor Hall added his communications with the construction manager of the Dollar General indicates they are on target for an April reopening.
New Business Commissioners approved a $1,000 donation and permission for the Hartford Lions Summer Concerts in the Park.
Resolutions Resolution 201-003 – Poverty Guidelines and Asset Test – passed unanimously; Resolution 201-004 – sets polling location of City of Hartford Precinct 1 to 15 South Maple Street..
March planning meeting for Watervliet Independence Day Celebration, Monday, Mar.11 Members of the Watervliet Independence Day Celebration 2019 committee (WBA) are holding a monthly organization meeting on Monday, March 11 at 6:00 p.m. The meeting is at the Watervliet Fire Station. They are looking for volunteers to make this festival bigger and better than last year! Please mark this date on your calendars and plan on attending.
Irish Stew Dinner, Saturday, March 16 at Coloma UMC The United Methodist Church located at 144 S. Church St. in Coloma (church with bell tower) is serving an Irish Stew Dinner on Saturday, March 15 from 5-6 p.m. Dinner includes stew, salad, roll, dessert and beverage. Take-out is available. Cost for the dinner is $7 for adults and $4 for children 12 and under. Proceeds go to the church Backpack Program and General Fund. For more information, call 269-468-6062.
Special Lent & Easter services at Salem Lutheran Church During the season of Lent Salem Lutheran Church will have midweek services on Wednesdays, beginning at 6:00 p.m. with a meal to follow. During Holy Week, they will have services on Thursday and Friday, April 18 and 19, at 6:00 p.m., and Easter service will be Sunday, April 21 at 10:00 a.m. Salem Lutheran Church is located at 275 Marvin Street in Coloma. The church phone number is (269) 468-6567.
Farming for the Future Conference to be held March 20 in Lawrence Biological Farming – How to make it work for your farm Gary Zimmer, a Wisconsin-based agricultural consultant and founder of Midwestern BioAg, will be the keynote presenter at the Van Buren Conservation District’s annual “Farming for the Future” conference. The event will be held on Wednesday, March 20 at the Van Buren Conference Center in Lawrence. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. and the conference runs until 3 p.m. with free lunch included. “Many growers are looking at adding biologicals, composts, cover crops and manures to boost their soil health,” says Conservation Technician Colleen Forestieri. “Soil health continues to be a hot topic for farmers, but we want to talk about how to incorporate these practices into a conventional system. We will also learn about how carbon drives the biological system of soil, which is something that we all need to learn about. Gary is a fantastic and enthusiastic speaker and we are thrilled to bring him to the area.” Zimmer will explain the basics of carbon-based farming and how to start incorporating biological practices. Biological farmers work with nature, feeding soil life, balancing soil minerals and tilling soils with a purpose. Farming for the Future is an annual educational event for local farmers and is a great opportunity to learn from agricultural specialists, educators, researchers, businesses and other farmers. Registration will begin at 8:30 a.m. with coffee and doughnuts. This event is free and open to the public but pre-registration is required and space is limited. Farmers are asked to register by March 15 by calling the Van Buren Conservation District at 269-657-4030 x5 or visiting www.vanburencd.org.