03-15-2018 Watervliet City Commission supports Paw Paw River maintenance; no city trash pickup this

Watervliet City Commission supports Paw Paw River maintenance; no city trash pickup this year, free dump passes instead for residents

By Annette Christie Rick Rasmussen spoke to the Watervliet City Commission at their Tuesday, March 13 meeting on behalf of the Friends of the Paw Paw River. Rasmussen said that now, after private and public contributions put toward cleaning out Paw Paw River of debris and returning it to a navigable waterway, area communities need to look to the future and onto maintaining the river to this condition. Rasmussen said he is asking the two townships and the two cities to budget for the maintenance of the river for the future. He said he is looking for $5,000 from each community. He said that a committee will probably be formed with representatives from each municipality that will get together to discuss their objective. Rasmussen said that Coloma Township has voted to support the activity with $5,000. City Manager Michael Uskiewicz said that he had plugged that number in the budget but wanted City Commission action to secure it. The City Commission voted unanimously to support it.

South Watervliet Drain

Berrien County Drain Commissioner Christopher Quattrin, along with legal and engineering representatives discussed the South Watervliet Drain project. Quattrin said that when he took over office from the previous Drain Commissioner he had several legacy projects that were handed over to him and the South Watervliet Drain was one of them. When he met with the city’s engineer, Alan Smaka of Wightman & Associates, he challenged him to create a sustainable solution. After surveying neighbors and discussing several options, they came up with the idea that will solve the water problem and add value to the neighborhood. Quattrin said that to divert the water would entail a much larger pipe size and lots of permitting. The two alternatives for the water problem would be to convey the water downstream to Mill Creek by upsizing the downstream piping or to capture, retain, and slowly release the water. With the second alternative, there could be a one to two million dollar savings.  The idea would be for the city to abandon Park St. and then to use that space to capture, retain, and slowly release the water. Besides the residential neighbors, there is also Watervliet South School and St. Joseph Catholic Church. In order to put this alternative in place, the neighbors would have to authorize easements. The Watervliet School Board authorized easements at this month’s meeting and the legal and engineering representatives are working with the Catholic Church for an easement as well. With the project being handled this way, it saves money by eliminating the cost of road care and maintenance for the city, the pipes don’t have to undergo a significant upsizing, and the extra permitting is not needed. The City Commission voted to authorize the Mayor to proceed with paperwork involved in the project with regard to the street abandonment. Drainage Resolution – authorizes Mayor to convey an easement in a portion of Park Street to the South Watervliet Drainage District for the purposes necessary and related to draining for public use. Michael Uskiewicz said they are getting favorable signals from the Catholic Church. With the easements granted.

Ballot initiative

North Berrien Historical Museum representatives were on hand to discuss a request for a millage renewal. Four years ago, a millage renewal was put before voters and passed but is set to expire. They are asking the Watervliet City Commission to put a millage renewal proposal on the August 2018 ballot. The renewal request is for .25 mills, for the years 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021. If passed by voters it would raise an estimated $6,800 in the first year. In the past, the millage was collected in Watervliet Township and City, Coloma Township and City, Bainbridge Township, and Hagar Township. The North Berrien Historical Society was organized in 1966. In May of 1992 the museum opened. Their home is in Coloma Township on five acres and in five buildings. There are over 200 members in the North Berrien Historical Society. The first millage supporting their efforts was passed in 2006. They are planning a Watervliet Paper Mill Reunion on Saturday, July 14 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. on the site of the old paper mill.

Spring clean-up

Commissioners voted on the annual spring clean-up for May. The City-wide rummage sales will be held on May 17-18-19. A discussion was held debating a dumpster rental and trash pick-up by Public Works vs. offering dump passes to city residents. In a vote of 3 to 2, the City Commission voted to offer dump passes to their residents and will forego the dumpster rental and trash pick-up by Public Works.

Bainbridge Twp. budget hearing, $411,520 in projected revenue

By Annette Christie Bainbridge Township officials held their annual budget hearing as a part of their regular meeting held Monday, March 12. The 2018-2019 budget is projected at $411,520 in revenues and $411,340 in expenses. Other budget activity included the authorization of a transfer of $20,000 from fund balance to capital outlay for future use. In general business the board discussed a ballot initiative requested by the North Berrien Historical Society. They were seeking to have a millage renewal put on the August ballot for .25 mills for four years. Some discussion was held but additional   information was needed before the board would move forward with the approval. Supervisor Bill Hodge said it is expected that the board will vote on it at their April meeting. Various monthly reports were filed with the township including the following: Sister Lakes Fire Department had a total of nine calls in the month of January with four being for Bainbridge Township. Their average response time was 11.6 minutes with an average of eight responding. For the month of February, Sister Lakes Fire responded to eight calls with four being in Bainbridge Township. Their average response time was nine minutes with an average of six responding. In February, Pride Care Ambulance responded to six priority one calls with an average response time of 8:50 minutes; 17 priority two calls with an average response time of 8:51 minutes. There was also a priority three call with a response time of 8:22 minutes.

North Berrien Historical Museum St. Patrick’s Day Scavenger Hunt for kids March 17

The North Berrien Historical Museum is excited to join in Coloma’s St. Patrick’s Day activities for the second year. From 2:30-4:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 17 the museum is inviting families to bring their children to participate in an Irish theme scavenger hunt around the museum in search of the hidden pot of gold. In their quest for the hidden treasure, participants will also learn about Irish-American history! There will be light refreshments to follow. This free program is designed for kids 6-12. No RSVP is required. North Berrien Historical Museum is located at 300 Coloma Avenue in Coloma. For questions, contact the museum at (269) 468-3330 or kristen@northberrienhistory.org. Watervliet District Library’s Garden Park expert offers advice and info. For those who have noticed that the Library Garden was not trimmed in the fall here is why: First and foremost it is for plant health. Leaving the season’s growth intact has two major advantages: As plants prepare for winter they utilize the nutrients from their foliage for next season’s energy. Think of it as free fertilizer! Second advantage is lingering foliage on ornamental grasses and perennials help capture snow cover to insulate their crowns from cold winter temperatures. Many beneficial insects will overwinter in this cover, and birds will feed on seed heads left behind. The winter interest they create as the snow begins to fall is a bonus, giving something to admire and remember that spring blooms will return! Spring cleanup starts early for ornamental grasses. Trimming takes place in late February through early March before they begin to grow. Unlike traditional methods of neatly removing all previous season’s trimmings and then discarding them, remnants of trimmings and seed heads can be found left behind. This organic matter is rich in nutrients to improve the soil and allows seedlings to spread throughout the garden to develop their own plant communities, all the while providing food for the birds. Think of it as a win-win! Still in its youth, the Library Garden Park has already begun seeding and creating its own plant communities with itself. It is the library’s hope community members will visit and enjoy its beauty and progress! For questions about the plants or their gardening practices, stop by the Watervliet District Library and drop questions in “The Garden Box” in the lobby.

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