04-12-2018 Berrien County Drain Commissioner attends Bainbridge Township regular board meeting; disc
RIBBON CUTTING CEREMONY… Pictured (from the left): Debbie Becker, Janie Staggers, Joe Austgen, Jennifer Moore, Narelle Hickmon, Prudy Vondran, Patt Bambrick, Tom Scheid, Bob Lohr, and Stacey Legault. With the sign up and the ribbon cut, Back on the Rack Upscale Resale, Consignment & Tuxedo Rental has re-opened in its new location at 7746 Red Arrow Hwy., Watervliet. Many friends, family, and customers along with members of the Women’s Business Center at Cornerstone Alliance and Watervliet Township officials came out for the Grand Re-Opening on April 6 & 7. Days and hours open remain the same: Tue-Fri 10 a.m.–6 p.m.; Sat 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Owner Jennifer Moore is looking forward to showing everyone the newly renovated space, so stop by soon! (Photo by Diane Householder)
Berrien County Drain Commissioner attends Bainbridge Township regular board meeting; discusses two drains in need of work
By Angela Stair Berrien County Drain Commissioner, Chris Quattrin, attended the Bainbridge Township Board of Trustees regular meeting on Monday, April 9. The Commissioner was there to present facts and figures on the Yund/Ellis Drain and get the Township Board to approve a resolution to have the work done. One of the first questions the Board asked was, “Why do we have to pass a resolution to do this?” Commissioner Quattrin explained that it has to be done that way according to the state law. Clerk Patty Hiler-Molter said she does not ever remember having to do that before and asked Board Trustee Don Baiers, who has served the Township for years, if he recalls the Board having to do that. Baiers said he did not. Quattrin said he is new to this position and will be doing stuff differently, but whether they realized or not, the Township has always had to approve the project before it started. Supervisor Bill Hodge asked if they can change their mind or the resolution once it has been approved and the Commissioner said no. Quattrin went on to explain about the benefits of approving a resolution for the drain work. He said they had their engineer look at the Yund/Ellis Drain and assess the work that would need to be done to guide the water that is pooling in the Napier, Empire and Park streets to its natural waterway to drain away. The drain is approximately one mile in length and is made up of culverts and drain pipes. The date the original drain was installed was before 1915. That is over 100 years old. Many of the drain pipes have collapsed and most culverts are shut from brush, natural debris and full-grown trees that have grown up in the culverts over time, closing off the natural flow of the water. The plan is to clear all the culverts and install new line for the length of the drain which will take care of the problem. The estimated cost of the project would be $125,000, and would be shared by the 54 property owners, the Township and the County. Quattrin showed the Board and public a printout of the area he was discussing and spots that had to have special attention. The Board was concerned with approving the resolution without contacting the people that will be affected by it. Supervisor Hodge asked if they could wait to the next meeting to decide on the resolution. Quattrin said they could, but he could not guarantee the price would be the same. He explained that the process for a project was to get the lowest price possible and offer for the Township to approve it. If they do, the project cost is figured and each property owners share is figured out. A letter will be sent to each of the property owners, explaining the project, the total cost, how it is broken down between the municipalities and each person. They then have a 30-day time period after the letter is sent to contact the Drain Commission with their questions and problems. The Commission can also help them figure out how to pay their share with several options they have available. Another possible drawback to waiting, he said, was that if a couple more areas collapse in the drain, it may be designated a disaster that needs immediate attention and the Commission would commence the work immediately and all involved would have to pay the cost of the work anyway, but perhaps at a higher rate. The Board discussed the options and came to the opinion to approve the resolution to have the work done on the Yund/Ellis Drain. Commissioner Quattrin said they would get the letters out as soon as possible. Before the Commissioner could leave, the public and Board said they would like to talk to him about the Daiken/Peters Drain Project. That project is not going forward at this time, because the property owners have petitioned the Drain Commission to have an open public meeting with them; to discuss the cost of the drain. The project is estimated to cost $600,000. Commissioner Quattrin said that project is an example of how the cost could climb when not approved by the Township and the public wants an open meeting. The costs begin to rise with the legal costs, the meeting cost, the drain has to be re-evaluated, and other organizations may get involved. Supervisor Hodge said the estimated cost was so high for the 44 people that it would affect; he could understand why the public insisted on the meeting. He said if the Yund/Ellis Drain had been that high, the Board probably would not have approved it. He would like to know when they can set up a meeting with the Drain Commission and work on the problems. Quattrin said he understood and his secretary is trying to get a meeting set up that would work for everyone. He promised to let them know soon.
Other business The Board approved and passed the resolution to put the North Berrien Historical Society millage renewal request on the August 7, 2018 Primary Election ballet. Supervisor Hodge informed the Board that the alarms and cameras on their security system has been installed and is ready to be used. He asked the Board to decide who would be the one person in charge of checking keys and giving out codes to turn the alarms off when they entered with their key. The Board felt the Supervisor should be the one in charge of the codes and amended the Township Policy Book to reflect their decision.
Coloma Police subject of citizen concerns; City sets spring cleanup dates
By Lynn Mainwaring-Attila Despite the onslaught of winter weather, the promise of spring was apparent at the opening of the Coloma City Commission Meeting April 9. In a light hearted moment, Blossomtime Royalty, including Miss Coloma and First Runner-up to Miss Blossomtime Micah Saxe, addressed a full house. Their goal was to introduce themselves to commissioners and audience members. Southwest Michigan’s Blossomtime celebration honors the promise of a successful farming season. Commissioners were also informed that long-time Tri-City Record employee, Christine Gelder, had given birth to her first born, a healthy baby boy named Nathanial. Gelder had covered the City Commission for about a decade. The entire commission went on record wishing Gelder, “Congratulations and best wishes for the future.” Getting down to business, the Commission fielded concerns involving the police department from community members. Business owner Jim Frazier of Vincent J. Jewelers inquired how many times the alley behind his store was patrolled and if police ever tried to open, what should be, a closed back door. Frazier expressed his concern, in particular, because his business was a jewelry store. Frazier’s concern was peaked after the business became the recipient of a retail robbery just a few months ago. The culprit was apprehended and prosecuted. Police Chief Jason Roe explained his officers were stretched to their limits and patrolling the alleys and store fronts of downtown Coloma were done “as frequently as possible.” In a post meeting conversation Roe also pointed out his officers responded to 3,000 incidents in 2017. He has on staff nine full timers, six patrol officers which limits a police presence at all times in every area of the City and township of Coloma. He said his department would continue diligence within the possibilities of his limited officer pool. In an unrelated matter, resident Harold Bragg inquired as to what diversity training the Coloma Police received, expressing concern and agitation toward Chief Roe for “refusing” to allow him to observe officers in training. Bragg’s remarks degenerated into angry and irrelevant remarks about Chief Roe and the discussion was shut down by Mayor Jim Polashak. In a phone interview, Chief Roe explained diversity training was done with a state approved internet course. All officers are tested and certified after finishing this course. Limited financial resources make this approach feasible for the necessary training. Roe said he had invited Bragg to view the training program, pointing out, his officers, individually, take the training on the time each has available. This makes it impossible to observe a classroom of officers gathered for training. Chief Roe emphasized he had offered to allow Bragg to view the online course. Approvals Preparing for upcoming Primary Election, Commissioners approved placing Resolution #2018-1 on the ballot. This resolution requests a renewal of the .25 mills in support of the North Berrien Historical Society. The commission also approved to increase the pay rate for election workers from $10 an hour to $12. Approval was granted giving Quality Asphalt permission to replace sidewalk disrepair on Harriet Street. The project will cost approximately $2,000. Permission was granted to allow Commissioner Marsha Hammond to seek repair estimated for public works truck #15. The truck broke down a few months ago but will be needed this year.