03-16-2017 Coloma looks forward to public meeting concerning fire chief selection; New Watervliet Ci


Coloma looks forward to public

meeting concerning fire chief selection

By Christina Gelder

Jeff Swanson, of the Complete Design and Solutions Group, was in attendance at the Monday, March 13 meeting of the Coloma City Commission to update the commission on the progress being made in the search for a new full-time fire chief for the North Berrien Fire Rescue (NBFR).

Swanson has been working with all three involved municipalities (Coloma, Coloma Township, and Hagar Township) since December 2016 and he is pleased to announce that they are very close to a final decision. After getting input from the community leaders and residents they designed a job posting and spread a wide net for applicants.

They received 12 applicants which they then put through several more paces including written scenario questions. Slowly through many different interviews and activities the pool was narrowed down to three. The remaining candidates have been announced as Denis O’Halloran a current fire chief in Berwin, Illinois, Bob Adams Sr. a current firefighter for NBFR, and Mike Mattix who is currently a captain on the Dowagiac Fire Department.

These three candidates will be publicly interviewed at a meeting scheduled for Thursday, March 16. They will first go on a tour of the area then the meeting will begin at 5:00 p.m. at the Coloma Township Hall. The meeting will recess for a meet and greet with the community and then resume later in the evening. At that time, community members will be able to give opinions on the candidates.

The intention is for the board to make a motion at the end of the evening to allow the attorney to begin negotiations with the desired candidate.

Mayor Jim Polashak said that he has been very impressed with how these proceeding have gone as well as the level of confidentiality that was maintained. Polashak said that everyone on the boards and committees has acted professionally and it is a testament to the community.

Swanson said that all of the men vying for the position are “excited, energetic and enthusiastic.” He went on to say that “they are looking forward to building a department of excellence.”

Update on E. St. Joseph Street

Department of Public Works Supervisor Rod Burkholder gave a brief update on the ongoing street project. He said that the sewer lines are all complete and the storms drains are still in progress. The storms drains are complete up to Walnut Street so the majority is done. The workers are also laying out the curbs to prepare for concrete. Commissioner Marsha Hammond said that a lot has been accomplished in the two weeks since the work has resumed.

In other news Bob Howell thanked the Coloma Township police officer for his help when a lift station in his mobile home park went down. He said that Bell is “an excellent guy” and he wanted the commission to know how much he appreciated his assistance with the issue.

The commission voted to renew their contract with Plante Moran for their annual audit. It is the same as in previous years.

The city was turned down for the grant they applied to for focus on parks. They have decided not to resubmit the application at this time but to take a year, regroup and submit it again after making some more changes.

90th birthday open house for Rebecca “Madge” Phillipi Rebecca “Madge” Phillipi was born March 10, 1927 in Galien, Michigan. Now 90 years later her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren invite the community to join them in cel-ebrating her birthday. There will be an open house March 25, 2017 from 2:00 to 6:00 p.m. at the Knights of Columbus Hall on Paw Paw Avenue in Watervliet. No gifts please, just come enjoy good food, fellowship, and Madge’s witty remarks.


New Watervliet City Manager reports bad water meters are under warranty

By Annette Christie

The Watervliet City Commission was informed by new City Manager Michael Uskiewicz at their Tuesday, March 14 meeting that warranty should cover the automatic read water meters that have failed.

At last month’s meeting Mayor Dave Brinker had reported that some of the new automatic read water meters that had been installed from 2008 forward were not reading correctly or at all. At that meeting it was discussed that the city should check into whether or not warranty might cover the replacement of those meters. Uskiewicz said that all of the meters that have failed are under warranty and will be replaced by Master Meter, the company who manufactured them. He noted that the company is aware of a battery failure issue with the first generation of the meter style.

The city wide garage sale will be held May 11-13, where city residents can hold the sale without the cost of having to obtain a permit. City wide clean-up dates will be held from May 15-22. This year the Public Works Department will host a dumpster for drop off items during regular business hours. They will also be conducting city wide pickups for trash, curb side.

During public comments, a resident asked about the ordinance enforcement and what the city was doing to clean up blight. The individual asked if they were able to obtain “problem” addresses, could they give them to the ordinance enforcement officer to follow up on. The individual, who rents homes in the city, said that it is difficult to try and make a rental property seem appealing when the house next door has a lot of trash around and doesn’t look nice. The city manager provided the individual with the monthly ordinance enforcement report which identifies which addresses she is already aware of and working on.

Manager goals

With a new manager on board, Brinker would like to see the city commission establish the list of the most important subjects that they would like him to work on. Brinker said since Uskiewicz has been here, he is already heavily involved in seeking grant opportunities from various sources.

Uskiewicz said he would like to meet with each and every one of the commissioners to talk about what they individually see as the most important issues. Brinker said he would rather establish a list of issues or goals and present that to the city commission to give them a starting place.

Uskiewicz has already started working on some revised job descriptions and started to delineate and clarify roles, to assure that City Hall is working as efficient and effective as possible.

Committee structure

Brinker told the city commission that he and Uskiewicz have been discussing how a committee leadership structure would be established if one was put back in place. Brinker noted that they have used committee structures before, mostly when there was no city manager in place; however, he said they have used it with a city manager as well.

Brinker said that from the standpoint of the city manager’s job description, the person in that position can use the committees to help him get the things in his job description done. After working with Uskiewicz, they have developed a committee structure that would not have set meeting dates and times, but could be called if the city manager had things that he needed to be addressed in those particular areas and would give him the opportunity to work with the commissioners. Uskiewicz would call these people together in a meeting to work on things as he needs. All dates called are at the discretion of the city manager and will meet when he seeks them. The committee structure was approved as follows: Personnel – Duane Cobb, Rick Kinzler, Luke Strunk; Finance – Dave Brinker, Deah Muth, Duane Cobb; Water/Sewer/Public Works – Deah Muth, Luke Strunk, Larry Hehl; Parks & Recreation – Bill Whitney, Deah Muth, Larry Hehl; Safety & Ordinance – Bill Whitney, Rick Kinzler, and Larry Hehl.

New county park

Discussions are being held regarding the establishment of what has been referred to as Watervliet County Park. The park is located on the east side of M-140, as part of the Berrien County Brownfield Authority paper mill property clean-up. The 6.5 acres sits across the Paw Paw River from Hays Park and will include access to the island between the two. With a recent grant award given and the project moving forward, finalizing the name is just one more step towards its completion.

Brinker said he was contacted by Berrien County to see how he felt about the name Paw Paw River County Park. This name is more consistent with all of the other parks that the county owns (Galien River County Park, Love Creek County Park, Rocky Gap County Park, Silver Beach County Park, and Madeline Bertrand County Park). Brinker reported to the city commission that he told Berrien County that he had no problem with that name and that he didn’t feel like the city commission would either.

The Berrien County Parks and Recreation Commission will consider making Paw Paw River County Park its official name at their Wednesday, March 15 meeting.

Brinker seeks paper mill property from Brownfield Authority

On behalf of the City of Watervliet, Mayor Dave Brinker wrote a letter to the Berrien County Brownfield Authority in an effort to obtain the old paper mill property located on the west side of M-140.

The letter asks the Brownfield Authority to convey all the property on the west side of M-140 that used to house the Watervliet Papermill, over to the City of Watervliet. He also asks that Berrien County dismiss the $92,000 clean-up debt that would need to be paid back to the Brownfield Authority.

Brinker notes in the letter that the city working with Western Michigan University, now have plans which give them a positive approach and a good road map for development projects that the city would like to proceed forward with during the next year. Brinker said that if the Brownfield agrees to transfer the property to the City of Watervliet that would allow the city to start moving forward on the WMU projects.

In addition, Brinker asks the county for assistance in grant resources while noting that any project that they were to go forward with, would complement what Berrien County is doing on the park project on the east side of M-140. Brinker said that the next Brownfield Authority meeting will be held on April 13 at 1:30 p.m. and that at that meeting, the request will go before them.

Coloma bands earn superior ratings at festival

Last week the Coloma Junior High 7/8th Grade Band and the Coloma High

School Concert Band earned first division (superior) ratings at MSBOA District 6 Band & Orchestra Festival held at Lake Michigan College.

This is the 10th consecutive first division rating for the Coloma HS Band at this festival.

Congratulations to the bands on their outstanding performances!

Coloma High School band & choir fundraiser

On Saturday, March 25, 2017 the band and choir from Coloma High School is holding a fundraiser that includes dinner and entertainment.

The event runs from 5 – 7 p.m. in the high school cafeteria and auditorium. Pulled pork is provided by Charlie’s Piggin’ n’ Grinnin’ and is served with two side entrees, roll, drink and dessert.

Entertainment is provided by the CHS Jazz Band and Jazz Choir performing at 6 p.m.

The cost to attend is $10 per person, advanced sales only, eat in or carry out. Checks should be made payable to Coloma Band with the proceeds benefiting the Coloma Band and Choir programs.

Tickets must be purchased by Monday, March 20, 2017.  For more information or tickets please see your favorite band or choir member or contact Cheryl Thomas (468-2400, ext 15, cthomas@ccs.coloma.org) or Rebecca Selvidge (468-2400, ext 27, rselvidge@ccs.coloma.org).

Coloma Band Boosters invites the public and thanks everyone for their support.

W-A-Y Watervliet High School student inducted into the Na-tional Technical Honor Society Faith Lindemann, a senior at W-A-Y Watervliet High School, was recently inducted into the Van Buren Vocational Technology Center’s National Technical Honor Society. Ac-cording to a representative from the Vocational Technology Center (VBTC), it is very simi-lar to the National Honor Socie-ty but is specific to CTE (Career and Technical Education). Faith met all of the requirements to be eligible and accepted. The minimum grade point of 3.0 must be maintained between her credits at her home school and the VBTC. Faith’s current grade point is 3.49 on a 4.0 scale. The induction was held at 1:00 p.m. on Wednesday, February 8, 2017 at the VBTC. With this honor, Faith is able to apply for NTHS scholarships and participate in community projects. One of the projects selected this year is to renovate the playground equipment at the Bert Goens Learning Center in Paw Paw.  Faith has worked consistently since entering W-A-Y Water-vliet High School in March of 2016. She will graduate this May 18, 2017 in our 9th grad-uation ceremony. Great job Faith! We (W-A-Y staff) are all so proud of you!!


Collaborative and parent coalition of Berrien County hosts diaper drive

The Great Start Collaborative and Parent Coalition of Berrien County is currently hosting its county-wide diaper drive through April 21 in order to collect 25,000 diapers for infants and toddlers in Berrien County.

Many families in Berrien County continue to struggle in this economy and those struggles are having an impact on our youngest citizens.

The Great Start Collaborative and Parent Coalition of Berrien County is in need of help to make sure infants and toddlers in this county are not going without one of their most basic necessities.

Locally, children’s diapers are being collected at Coloma Elementary School and Watervliet South Elementary School.

Coloma’s Community Garden season kick-off meeting, March 21

First Congregational UCC Coloma’s Community Garden project will kick off the season with a meeting on Tuesday, March 21 at 7 p.m. The church is located at the corner of Church and Leedy streets in Coloma.

All people interested in participating with the community garden should attend the meeting or contact the church at 269-468-6261.

The Coloma Community Garden project, as part of its mission, provides fresh produce to the North Berrien Food Pantry during the growing season. Inexperienced growers are welcome as experienced gardeners will provide guidance.

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