Hagar considers GIS mapping for cemeteries
By Jon Bisnett Hagar officials heard a detailed presentation from Wightman and Associates regarding the possible implementation of a Geographic Information System (GIS) for management of the township’s three cemeteries. A GIS would combine aging paper documentation with digital mapping and database functionality to create a permanent computerized record of existing burials, open plots and unsold lots. The system could eventually be available via the web and even handheld devices to aid visitors in locating graves of loved ones. No decision was made at the Hagar Township board meeting on Monday, March 11, but will be a talking point as the township holds the upcoming annual budget hearing.
Guests Cornerstone Alliance President Rob Cleveland visited to speak of successes of recent interactions with Hagar businesses resulting in some $26 million of new investment and over 120 new jobs in the township. Noting that the alliance is primarily supported by private donations, Cleveland urged the township to consider a $2,500 commitment joining the likes of Benton, Lake, Lincoln, Oronoko, and St. Joseph townships along with Berrien County and the cities of Benton Harbor, Bridgman and St. Joseph. The township will consider the matter at the upcoming annual budget hearing. Berrien County Commissioner Dave Vollrath visited and is pleased to report the continuance of seven evening meetings of the commission beginning April 4 and running through October 3, giving easy access to individuals wishing to attend, but otherwise unable during daytime working hours. Meetings are held the first Thursday of the month with exception of July.
Supervisor’s Report Supervisor Izzy DiMaggio provided updates on the kayak launch project saying all permits were in place pending only the final blessing from the Department of Natural Resources plan review. In theory bids could go out soon with awards as early as April which could put potential completion in August of this year. In the matter of the ongoing lawsuit stemming from a drowning at Hagar Park back in 2011, DiMaggio reports the eight years of litigation may be finally near an end with a settlement conference scheduled for April and a possible trial date in May should negotiations fail to resolve the matter. The township is officially exempted from the suit, while Supervisor DiMaggio and former Clerk Haight are still named in the legal action. Indiana & Michigan Power seeks an easement agreement from the township to upgrade and service existing poles and transmission lines. The township will receive a stipend of $2,500. The matter was approved unanimously. DiMaggio also noted the upcoming Board of Review dates for those wishing to file tax appeals as Wednesday, March 13, 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and again on Thursday, March 14 from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. then 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. DiMaggio reminded attendees of the Annual Meeting & Budget Hearing at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday, March 16.
Clerk’s Report Clerk Sarah Rodriguez reported Pride Care Ambulance activity for the prior month with eight Priority I calls at 11:04, 15 Priority II runs averaging 13:30. A total of 29 calls were run in the township during the month of February with an average response of 14:23.
Treasurer’s Report Treasurer Marlene Davis presented expenses for the month of February in the amount of $36,878.35 with nothing remarkable. In addition, Davis presented the fourth quarter financial report which was also unanimously approved.
Fire Report DiMaggio reported the North Berrien Fire Rescue department responded to 19 calls during the month of February with 11 runs in Hagar Township, three in Coloma Charter Township, two in the City of Coloma and three on I-196. A sincerely grateful DiMaggio lauded local firefighters for their prompt response and successful action in saving the DiMaggio family business from a fire that caused extensive damage to the restaurant earlier in the month. “These people are truly heroes,” said DiMaggio, “as I watched them charge in to a dark smoke-filled building amid unknown danger and risked their personal safety to save our family business” Building Inspector Butch Kelley had just one building permit for February in the amount of $6,262. Kelly prompted a discussion regarding a request he had received to use Roadside Park as an access point for construction equipment to reach the beach for the purpose of private efforts at shoreline erosion control measures. Following a fairly lengthy discussion which cited bad experiences of such access in the past due to poor post construction remediation of the site, the board passed a unanimous motion to prohibit any commercial non-emergency access to the lakeshore via the township’s Roadside Park property. Having no further business, DiMaggio adjourned the meeting at 8:11p.m.