03-30-2017 Coloma Township seeking $400,000 parks grant for former Washington School Site; Hartford

Coloma Township seeking $400,000 parks grant for former Washington School Site; will match it with  $100,000 of own funds

By Annette Christie

The Coloma Township Board is taking another shot at a parks grant to make improvements at Coloma Township Park by the site of the demolished Washington School.  The township is seeking a grant in the amount of $400,000 and if received, they will be prepared to add the 25% match of $100,000.

Rob Pirsein of Midwest Civil Engineers said that the plan being submitted to the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund Grant shows the following improvements: Upgrade baseball fields, bleachers, dugouts, and field work; add new asphalt parking areas with gravel bicycle and walking paths that will tie into the Paw Paw Lake Trail, two new pickleball courts, new restroom and covered pavilion facility, new playground equipment, a new basketball court and picnic tables; spruce up the landscaping; and create an environment that is ADA accessible.

The ultimate plan is that the walking and bike trail will have an extension down Becht Road to an existing trail on Paw Paw Lake Road.

Pirsein has been working with a grant coordinator at the state level and hopes that they will be able to score better on this year’s grant application.  Last year the township scored 220, ultimately increasing it by another 80 with the three-week intervention period.  That was still not enough to receive grant funds.  Pirsein said if they could get their points up to about 400, they stand a good chance of winning the grant.

With the public hearing that was held March 22, the township board then passed a resolution supporting the grant application.  Pirsein said the deadline for the application is April 1.  He reminded the board that once the state receives the grant application, they do come out, look at the proposed project and allow a three-week intervention time to add to the grant application, with the ultimate goal of boosting the application score.

The final determination on the grant would be expected in the fall of 2017 with the funds being awarded in the spring of 2018.

Hartford Foundation annual auction breaks all records; new scholasrship announced

By Jon Bisnett

FORMIDABLE FUNDRAISERS… The Hartford Public Schools Foundation for Quality Education Board is all smiles following the stellar success of the 15th Annual Dinner Auction event, raising well over $50,000 to the betterment of Hartford Public Schools. Pictured (from the left): Trustee Mark Kellogg, Immediate Past President Garry Unrath, VP Jon Bisnett, Trustee Judy Loomis, President Scott Smith, Secretary Nicole Mea-chum, Trustee Marshall Pomeroy, Trustee Becky Traver, Trustee Doug Williams, Treasurer RoxAnn Isbrecht and VP Mike Woodward. Not pictured Board Representative Kurt Kuehnle and Administration Representative Superintendent Andy Hubbard.


The Hartford Foundation for Quality Education held its 15th Annual Dinner Auction Gala Saturday, March 25 at VFW Post 6248, hosting yet another record crowd while totally shattering all prior fundraising records, raising well in excess of $50,000 for the evening.

“I am absolutely thrilled at the turnout that we had tonight,” beamed Foundation President Scott Smith. During introductions Smith announced an additional scholarship opportunity funded by Foundation Life-Member Bonna Vanderlyn. The Art & Bonna Vanderlyn Scholarship will award in perpetuity annually to a Hartford High School graduate thanks to a $300,000 initial contribution administrated by the Berrien County Foundation. Vanderlyn’s Hartford Harding’s Market reaffirmed its commitment to the Hartford Foundation as a Diamond Annual Sponsor recognized as contributions of $4,000 and up.

New alliance

Standing along with Harding’s is a new partner to further the foundation’s mission. Late last fall a strategic partnership was struck bringing the Four Winds Casino / Pokagon Band of Potawatomi on board as a Diamond Sponsor. In addition to a significant financial contribution Four Winds offered up a special Chef’s Dinner at New Buffalo’s renowned Copper Rock Steak House which debuted as one of the most sought after auction lots of the event. President Smith commented that once the initial details were worked out, Four Winds perspective is all about “What more can we do?” Another new scholarship will premier this spring cementing that relationship with a significant award that is jointly funded by the Pokagon Band, Four Winds and the Hartford Foundation.

VP of Governmental Affairs and Community Relations Scott Brewer stated at the inception of the alliance that he “… recognized the need to resonate the success of the tribe within the community and after due diligence finds the Hartford Foundation the perfect partner to help achieve that goal.”

Foundation Friends

The foundation honored two local luminaries with the “Friend of the Foundation” recognition for their long term support.

President Smith had the pleasure of presenting the awards to Hartford alumni Arlene Ward and Jim Keech. He described Ward as typical Mrs. Hartford who spent her working days right on Main Street and personally attended Hartford High as did all of her children.

Keech who in turn had four children also graduate from Hartford, while he worked right next door in his career as an educator at Watervliet. Keech was a founding father of the foundation, using his artistic talents to create the schoolhouse logo still in use today. Jim also served not only on the foundation but was a school board member for several years.

The duo joins an impressive list of prior “Friends” including Bonna Vanderlyn, Claude Unrath and Larry Blyly.

Passing of the gavel

Past president and event auction chairman Garry Unrath announced his retirement at the conclusion of the evening. “I’m not leaving the foundation by any means, but with retirement at work next year I’m looking forward to a lot less time in Michigan winters,” said Unrath. “I am so honored to have been a part of watching this event grow from a garage sale to such an outstanding event with premium items and a room packed with over 200 people having fun supporting our students.”

What used to be almost exclusively an alumni event is now attracting friends of friends who come just for all the fun!


The foundation can rest for a few months now until they suit up again to partner with the radio stations of Midwest Family Broadcasting to provide the hospitality services for their summer concerts.

In November the foundation team hosts the 50th Annual Hartford Holiday Bazaar.

The Hartford Public Schools Foundation for Quality Education is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation. Proceeds support education related projects in the Hartford School District. Over $200,000 in grants and scholarships have been awarded in the Hartford community since its inception in 1999. Gifts to the fund are tax deductible. For more information on how to get involved or donate to the fund: Visit them online at www.hartfordfoundationgives.org or call (269) 621-7003.

Paw Paw Lake Association ignites dry hydrant project to aid in lakeside fire fighting

By Annette Christie

The Paw Paw Lake Association, in conjunction with neighboring fire departments are sponsoring and coordinating a project to install dry fire hydrants around Paw Paw Lake to improve firefighting capabilities in the lakefront area.

Dry hydrants are a non-pressurized water delivery system that provides a ready source of water for fire departments to use in areas that do not have a pressurized water system.  A dry hydrant eliminates the need for inefficient long-distance water shuttle operations.

A hydrant consists mostly of PVC pipe.  A trench is dug from where the hydrant connection will be located into the lake and then a PVC pipe is placed into the trench, extending in to the lake to a water depth of six feet or so as to be below the winter ice cover.  A filter is connected to the intake to prevent clogging of the line.  At the other end of the line, usually at the roadside, a vertical PVC pipe is attached using elbows which extend upward to approximately three feet above ground.  A coupling and a cap is placed on the end of the pipe.  A fire department tanker or tanker-pumper truck connects to the hydrant and through suction, draws water from the lake which fills the water tank. The tanker then goes to the fire scene where a pumper truck uses the water to fight the fire.

With a dry hydrant near a fire scene, two water tank trucks can provide an uninterrupted supply of water for fighting the fire.  Without a nearby hydrant, the tankers would have to travel a much longer distance to refill the tanks, which could result in an interruption in the water supply so desperately needed.

One of the benefits of having dry hydrants is the insurance benefits. In most states, including Michigan most insurance companies will reduce homeowner insurance premiums if the home is within 1,000 feet of a hydrant. The amount of the insurance reduction may vary, but it could be 10% or more.  Property owners should inquire with their respective insurance companies about what reduction they may get if one is within the required distance.

Operation Dry Hydrant

The Watervliet Fire Department, North Berrien Fire Rescue Department and the Paw Paw Lake Association will select a certified, experienced contractor who will install the hydrants with oversight provided by the fire departments. The maintenance of the hydrants will be the responsibility of the fire departments that will regularly inspect, test, and clean them.

The fire departments have identified locations for the hydrants that should result in every lakefront property being within 1,000 feet of a hydrant if all the hydrants are installed. As much as possible, the hydrants will be located at fire lanes or road ends. If a hydrant must be located on private property, the owner must give consent for the hydrant to be installed.

The cost of material and labor will vary depending on a number of factors, including the length of pipe required and dealing with sea walls or other obstructions. The estimated cost is between $1,000 and $3,000 per hydrant.

Watervliet Charter Township has pledged to pay $250 for each hydrant installed in their township.  Coloma Charter Township has not yet been presented a proposal to contribute.  The Paw Paw Lake Association will contribute $100 for each hydrant.  The remaining costs to install a hydrant will be split equally from the homeowners within the 1,000 foot radius of the hydrant.  If one homeowner refuses to contribute, their cost would have to be picked up by other residents in order for the hydrant to be installed.

The Paw Paw Lake Association will also be assisting in obtaining permission of property owners to install a hydrant at their property; will be assisting in identifying the owners of the property within the 1,000 foot radius of the hydrant location; and will coordinate the installation of the hydrants.

If a property owner wants to have a dry hydrant installed in their area, they should contact the Paw Paw Lake Association to find out where the hydrant nearest them will be located, what other properties are within the hydrant’s range, and to get the approximate cost of the hydrant installation.  The property owner can contact his/her neighbors within the hydrant’s range to obtain their support and help collect contributions and can finalize the installation with the Paw Paw Lake Association once the money has been collected.

Residents can contact the Paw Paw Lake Association by mail at P.O. Box 206, Watervliet, MI 49098; via their website at www.pawpawlakeassociation.org; or on their Facebook page entitled, “Paw Paw Lake Association.”

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