03-28-2019 No need for weed says Hartford Twp.; Watervliet Library Garden Park readies for spring;


FIREFIGHTERS HONORED… Hartford Fire Department Annual Awards Banquet recently honored Captain Mike Chappell (upper left) for his 20 years of service to the department. Brandon Bodary (upper center) was recognized as the Most Improved Firefighter, while Steven Fry (upper right) was awarded Fire Fighter of the Year for 2018. Scott Weberg (bottom left) and Kevin Reed (bottom right) received plaques from Chief Robbie Harting honoring an outstanding 35 years of service to the community.



No need for weed says Hartford Twp.

By Jon Bisnett Hartford Township joins a growing number of local municipalities as they voted unanimously to opt out of the Michigan regulatory and taxation of marijuana act, effectively banning any recreational marijuana related business in the township at their regular March meeting on Thursday the 14th. The decision follows a prior stance to opt out of medical marijuana operations one year ago. Although the vote of the trustees stands in direct opposition to township voters who supported Proposal 1, which legalized recreational marijuana statewide, the stumbling processing and vetting of the state licensing board has given many communities reason enough to opt out until the regulatory board can get the process under control. That combined with Governor Gretchen Witmer’s firing of the current board, Hartford Township may revisit the issue down the road with the option available to opt back in should the state get the licensing and enforcement issues resolved. At the same time, Supervisor Ron Sefcik pointed out that the growing of hemp for industrial purposes is protected by the Farm Act and is something the township can do nothing about. The utilitarian strain of the marijuana plant used in many commercial applications still retains roughly 10% THC, Tetrahydrocannabinol, one of over 100 cannabinoids identified in cannabis. THC is the principal psychoactive ingredient of the plant. Commonly known as “ditch weed”, the plant has little chemical comparison to the potency of the medical and recreational versions that have undergone decades of selective breeding to enhance its properties. In any case propagation of hemp is literally no different than growing field corn as far as the powers of the township are concerned.

Sheriff’s Department Van Buren County Sheriff Deputy Daniel Rowse reported logging 1,350 miles with 23 traffic stops, nine property inspections, seven criminal complaints, 10 misdemeanor arrests and three citations. VBC Sheriff Dan Abbott visited along with Undersheriff Chad Hunt as they are making their way around the county to visit the various municipalities in their charge.

Ambulance Bill Mears of Pride Care Ambulance visited to report 10 Priority 1 calls averaging 8:27, nine Priority 2 calls at 9:02 and four Priority 3 runs at 11:4, with a total of 23 runs averaging 9:15. An annual open house is in the works to be held at the Dowagiac location in April on a date yet to be determined, featuring demonstrations the newest equipment added to the Pride Care fleet. Finance Bills were approved in the amount of $28,539.59 with nothing remarkable. Fire Department Hartford Fire Department Chief Rob Harting was on hand to report another busy month with 21 calls in the township. Of those calls there were three downed power lines in the township and 13 medical calls combined. Firefighter Ryan Fleming just became certified as a Medical First Responder giving HFD a total of 13. A new cadet from Hartford High School is reported to be doing well with the program presented at the Van Buren Skills Center in Lawrence and is on track to become a new member of the HFD team.

County Commission Commissioner Mike Chappell announced the new Van Buren Public Transit Red Arrow Loop, now offering transportation in the City of Hartford on Thursdays and Fridays from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. The route is an experiment to assess needs, says Chappell, who went on to say that the route may possibly be expanded or perhaps terminated depending on what level of participation is achieved.

New business The appointment of Mike Banic to the Planning Commission was unanimously approved. Trustee Kurt Dowd will continue as the township board representative. Supervisor Sefcik will continue as the township board representative to the Road Committee. A township board representative is still needed for the Board of Appeals, to be determined in April. It is assumed that Ellen Friday wishes to continue as representative to the Library Board. Open board discussion Further discussion noted a need to update the Ordinance Book. Copy is needed for the newsletter slated to go out with the upcoming tax bills. A draft of the new Wrecking Yard Ordinance will be presented in April.

Hartford Township issues free landfill passes Hartford Township residents can take advantage of a free pass to Orchard Hill Landfill offered by the Township to aid in spring cleanup simply by visiting the Township Hall after April 1. Passes are valid for the entire month of May 2019 only. Maximum load size is 3 yards. One pass per household; proof of residency is required.

Coloma on the road to city improvements; eyes rental inspections for commercial

and residential properties

By Nancy Albright Spring has sprung and plans to revitalize Randall Park and resurface city streets are in the works according to the City Commission meeting on Monday, March 25. Commissioner Marsha Hammond received approval to apply for a grant in the amount of $119,252.00 from the MDOT Transportation Economic Development Fund Program B which, if granted, the city plans to use to resurface Park Street and S. West Street Hammond also reported that upgrades to Randall Park are moving forward and the master plan is out for review. The Department of Public Works is scheduled to begin the preliminary work on April 1 that is needed in order to mulch and apply sealant to all the wooden structures in the park. The council agreed to display the construction banner in the park to promote awareness of the project and possibly recruit volunteers. “We met with Coloma High School students and they are going to build benches and a bike rack,” said Hammond. “We will be asking for more volunteers once we know what we need help with. We are excited the project is moving along.”

Rental inspections on the way The City of Coloma is working to forge an official agreement with the fire department to conduct commercial and residential building inspections, which the State of Michigan requires every three years. The city is also in the process of renewing City Rental Inspector Butch Kelly’s contract. Kelly’s office will conduct residential inspections and Fire Chief Bob Adams has agreed to inspect commercial buildings. Electrical, mechanical and plumbing inspections constitute 85% of the cost, and permits are paid to the city each month. Inspection costs are split between the city and township. As the financial discussion progressed, Commissioner Julie Smith informed the council that the State of Michigan conducts inspections at no cost. The commission will revisit the issue at the next city council meeting on April 8. St. Patrick’s celebration a success Community Development Coordinator for the Coloma Watervliet Area Chamber of Commerce, Chana Kniebes, thanked all who were involved in the 2019 St. Patrick’s Day celebration. “The Department of Public Works did a great job, and Sieg Freitag did an awesome job creating a covered area for the judges.” There were 198 5K runners, 40 parade entries, 48 at the scavenger hunt and countless people at the book sale. “We were surprised and amazed at how many people came out for the day and are looking forward to next year.”

Charitable organization seeks license The council approved a request made by HOPE Resources for Charitable Gaming Licenses to apply for an operations license to set up shop in the City of Coloma. The organization allows non-profits to raise funds through bingo, raffles and the sale of charity game tickets, which are regulated through the Michigan Charitable Gaming Division. The State of Michigan requires that the request be approved by the city council to obtain the proper charitable operation qualifications necessary to apply for the license.

City approves February finances Coloma Deputy Clerk/ Treasurer Rosann Clements reminded the council that the annual audit will cover expenses through February 2019. Clements will retire on April 26. Rachel Edwards will take over on April 1. The council approved the 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 budgets, and February expenses in the amount of $119,239.90: $86,347.40 for accounts payable and $32,892.50 for payroll. Mayor Jim Polashak invited residents who are interested in seeing expense detail to visit City Hall anytime during business hours. Commissioner Linda Freitag reminded residents that the next Fire Board meeting will take place at Fire Station #2 on Tuesday, April 2, 2019, 7:00 p.m.

Watervliet Library Garden Park readies for spring

The Library’s Gardens are beginning their seasonal transition from winter to spring. This is a good opportunity to share the importance of best management practices and describe the library’s garden care plan.

The gardens have overwintered holding all their foliage, providing not only esthetic winter interest, but more importantly a food source and habitat for wildlife and insects. It is an “Island of Refuge” for creatures great and small, appealing to the eye and environmentally beneficial. As the gardens are trimmed this spring visitors will notice that the foliage is mulched and left in the garden. This weathered foliage, rich in organic matter and nutrients will serve as natural mulch, retaining moisture and enriching the soil for the upcoming season. This management practice eliminates the need for wood mulch and synthetic fertilizers, creating a healthier ecosystem.