03-15-2018 Park Street drain solution headlines Watervliet School Board meeting; do not miss import

VETS HONOR STARKS FAMILY… Owner Tom Starks of Starks Family Funeral Homes and Cremation Services along with daughters Olivia (left) and Laura (right) were recipients of a measure of gratitude from the veterans of VFW Post 1137 and VFW Post 362. “…In appreciation for their donation and dedication to our nation’s flag…” The Starks donated retired flag drop boxes utilized throughout their Southwest Michigan service area like this one located at the Watervliet Post. Veterans volunteer their time to work hand in hand with the Starks family staff at their specially licensed crematorium to respectfully and legally dispose of U.S. Flags in staggering quantities each year amounting to several hundred pounds of severely worn flags no longer fit for display. Both Starks daughters are also licensed funeral directors engaged in operations at the company’s six locations serving Berrien and Van Buren County. Tri-City residents can deposit tattered flags at the VFW Post located at 8777 Red Arrow Hwy, Watervliet, to be properly disposed. (TCR photo by Jon Bisnett)

Park Street drain solution headlines  Watervliet School Board meeting; do not miss important end of year dates

By Kristy Noack March 12’s Watervliet School Board of Education meeting was all about progress. South School property easement requested by Drain Commission Berrien County Drain Commissioner Christopher Quattrin spoke with board members regarding a county drain located near South School. Quattrin was joined by Sam Leatch and Alan Smaka of Wightman and Associates, Inc. as well as John Brennan of Fahey Schultz Burzych Rhodes law firm, which represents the office of the drain commission. The four were on hand to request the board approve an easement of a portion of the South School property. Leatch, an engineering project manager at Wightman, explained the need for the easement. According to Leatch, the county wants to improve the drainage on Park Street between Lucinda Lane and Silver Terrace. Leatch explained current piping is too small, old, and antiquated, which all lead to ineffective draining. Wightman has worked with the City of Watervliet and Berrien County Drain Commission to find a way to improve the water flow and create a new green space by utilizing Park Street. The road would become part of a detention basin, which would collect the water, guide it into the new infrastructure, and move it into Mill Creek without overburdening the system. Leatch said, “When it rains, what does make it into the infrastructure is getting backed up.” The water then sits on the road, which can create hazards for the buses transporting students to or from the school. The City continues to work on the cost of the South Watervliet drain project, with the Park Street portion currently tabbed at $1.8 million. In addition to needing an easement from the school district for a portion of their property, the City will also seek an easement from St. Joseph Catholic Church, as part of their property is affected by the project as well. The board approved the easement for the drain, as well as temporary grading easements, unanimously. The drain and detention pond are not a retention pond. Water will not accumulate for long periods of time. The water will drain and, for the most part, the land should remain a dry green space. Leatch also spoke of possible benches and a pavilion that could be installed so the public at large could enjoy the area. Bill Spaulding, school board president said, “It is a creative and much more frugal solution,” to eliminate flooding. There are plenty of details that still need to be worked out with the largest being additional easements needed from private homeowners. All easements need to be approved before the project can be sent out for bid. Additionally, public hearings would need to be held if special assessments are required. As for the construction phase, Smaka suggested allowing “three to four months” and beginning next spring. School safety stressed by Schooley A somber Schooley provided the board members with an update on school safety in light of the mass shooting at Parkland High School in Florida last month. “I want to stress school safety is important all the time. It is on our minds every day. We work very hard to maintain a safe learning environment,” Schooley said. In an effort to gauge the school’s safety efforts, Schooley met with Watervliet Police Chief Tim Sutherland and Watervliet School Resource Officer Bruce McKamey with a request to “put a critical eye to the policies and practices of the district.” According to Schooley, both Sutherland and McKamey had a few recommendations, including additional camera placements, which are being taken under advisement. Schooley added, “There is no substitute for communication between students and adults at the school.” He referenced the “Ok 2 Say” link on the high school website’s home page. The link allows students to submit an anonymous, confidential tip if they have concerns about a student or potential issue. Schooley remarked, “We take the job of protecting our kids here at school very seriously.” Mrs. Morse’s fifth-graders go slow(motion) Mrs. Beth Morse, a fifth-grade teacher at North Elementary was on hand and supported by several of her students as she showed the board how her classroom is implementing technology. The students created stop-motion animation videos to explain how the colony of Roanoke was settled in 1585. The students created short videos by taking photographs of dioramas they built. They added voiceovers to the video to explain how the colony sustained itself and four possible theories as to why the colony declined. Mrs. Morse credited Mr. Bill Tiefenbach with his help on the project. Mr. Tiefenbach, the school’s instructional technology specialist, also taught the students how to use Google slides to create presentations. Watervliet schools are a good choice The board members approved a request by Superintendent Schooley to continue the district’s participation in the State of Michigan’s School State Aid Act as a school of choice. Thirty percent of students in the district are school of choice participants. According to Schooley, “I anticipate limited openings throughout the district (for the 2018-19 school year).” The school will post school of choice openings in May and begin the application process. “We are really mindful of the number of openings,” Schooley advised the board. High school year end events set Watervliet High School Principal Brad Coon shared some very important upcoming dates with the board. The WHS prom is set for May 12, and senior awards night will be held May 16. The spring band concert, during which senior band students will be recognized, is on the calendar for May 22. The spring choir concert will be held May 24; senior choral performers will be recognized. Caps and gowns will be distributed to graduating seniors on May 24. Members of the Class of 2018 will spend their last day at high school on May 25. They will attend school for two hours then don their caps and gowns for a campus tour. Wednesday, May 30 brings about the seniors’ baccalaureate, with a picnic and graduation rehearsal to follow on May 3