04-12-2018 Judge rules evidence supports embezzlement trial for former Hartford Township sexton;

70TH ANNIVERSARY… Kenneth and Margaret Woodward celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary on Tuesday, April 10, 2018. They were married in 1948 at Salem Lutheran Church in Coloma. They lived in Coloma for much of their lives, but are now currently residing in Palmetto, FL. Their family includes sons Gregg Woodward of Coloma, Dan Woodward of Palmetto, FL, four grandchildren, and nine great-grandchildren. Cards of congratulations will reach them at 8610 28th Ave E, Palmetto, FL 34221.

Judge rules evidence supports embezzlement trial for former Hartford Township sexton

By Jon Bisnett Judge Arthur Clarke has ruled that enough evidence exists for the former Hartford Township cemetery sexton to go to trial. That ruling came last week out of the Van Buren County District Court in South Haven. Clarke previously heard arguments and testimony at South Haven District Court on Thursday, March 15 leading to his recent ruling. Gerrie Lee Heskett, 61, of Hartford was originally arraigned back on June 14, 2017 on a charge of embezzlement of between $50,000 and $100,000. The investigation revealed an alleged $65,000 called into question over a period dating from 2011 to 2016. Heskett was employed as cemetery sexton for Hartford Township since 1997. Hartford Township’s Board first alerted the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department in the fall 2016 who then launched an investigation in January of 2017 into alleged missing funds, mostly cash transactions that were the responsibility of Heskett. The period involved spanned January 2011 through December 2016. The investigation report was turned over to the Van Buren County Prosecutor’s Office, which ultimately authorized the embezzlement charge. Hartford Township officials discharged Heskett in late 2016 when discrepancies arose. Judge Clarke supports requests by the prosecution in that Heskett be bound over for trial on two counts; embezzlement of money or property valued at between $50,000 and $100,000 (a felony) which carries a penalty of jail time of up to 15 years and a fine of $25,000 or 3 times the value of the money or property, whichever is greater, and a second count of Embezzlement by a Public Official, also a felony. Trial date has yet to be determined.

K-9 team joins Lakeland Health

Lakeland Health is pleased to welcome a new team of certified K-9 security officers — Bruce Modigell, a retired police officer with more than 20 years of experience in law enforcement, and Inez, a two-year-old female German shepherd from Hungary.

N.B. Historical Museum hosts “History of Blossomtime” Tuesday, April 17

On Tuesday, April 17 at 7:00 p.m. the North Berrien Historical Museum will host “The History of Blossomtime,” presented by Anna Abdelnour, President of Blossomtime Festival Inc. As early as 1891 local area business interests took a proactive role in attracting visitors to Southwest Michigan with their promotion in the Chicago market. With the Graham and Morton Steamship Company offering special rates, hundreds of visitors made the lake crossing by boat to enjoy the orchard tours. Influenced by a growing agricultural industry, in 1906 Rev. W.J. Cady of the First Congregational Church in Benton Harbor was the first to urge his parishioners to drive through the orchards and view the fruit blossoms. Cady termed them “symbols of life renewed” and his sermon is credited with the birth of the Blossomtime Festival. The Blossomtime Festival is the oldest and largest multi-community festival in the State of Michigan. Anna Abdelnour will share how this springtime tradition got its start! No RSVP is required for this free program. The North Berrien Historical Museum is located at 300 Coloma Ave. in Coloma, across from Coloma High School. For questions, contact the museum at (269) 468-3330 or at info@northberrienhistory.org.

Hartford High School National Honor Society members are guest speakers at Paw Paw Lake Rotary Meeting

ROTARY GUESTS… Hartford National Honor Society (NHS) members were guest speakers at the Paw Paw Lake Rotary meeting. Pictured (from the left) are Jordan Ness, Acting Rotary President; students Bobby Johnson, Elly Valdes, Olivia Ziemer, Trey Ackerman, and Abigail Garcia; NHS advisor Mrs. Heidi Macias; and Penny Moss, Rotary Program Chair. To be eligible for the NHS a student needs a 3.4 GPA, be involved with the community by working on community service projects, and write an essay on why they want to be in NHS. The school faculty chooses who is accepted into the group. There are 26 active members. The NHS is led by Mrs. Heidi Macias, teacher at Hartford High School. One project the NHS is involved in is pumpkin carving with the students of Bert Goens Learning Center, which is part of the Van Buren Intermediate School District. They also do several fund-raising events such as a Giving Tree, popcorn and candy sales, Mom to Mom sale, and Jail & Bail fundraisers. These events raise money to take approximately 28 children from Redwood Elementary School, in Hartford, Christmas shopping. They raise approximately $150 per child. The children buy shoes, boots, coats and clothes. They also do a “Lock-In” with students where they play games, have tournaments and scavenger hunts. Plus, many more fun events that builds teamwork and leadership skills. Paw Paw Lake Rotary meets Wednesday’s at 12 Noon at Lakeland Hospital, Watervliet.

Free classes on Catholicism at St. Joseph Catholic Church

Are you searching for deeper meaning in your life? Were you baptized Catholic but never really learned about the Catholic faith? Did you attend Catholic school but graduated then never came back? Have you heard bad press which helped you form a negative opinion? Are you a Catholic, practicing or not who just wants to learn about the faith? If any of these are your situation or perhaps you’re just curious and have questions, please join them at 6:00 p.m. on Monday, April 16 at St. Joseph Catholic Church Parish Administration building, 157 Lucinda Lane in Watervliet for a 2-hour open forum on Catholicism. These classes are held every third Monday of the month. Please stop by for an informative class, new information is presented every month.

Salem Lutheran Preschool registration now open

Registration for the 2018-19 school year is now open at Salem Lutheran Preschool, Coloma. Classes are available for 3 and 4 year olds. Their goal is to prepare children for further education with a play-based learning environment. In keeping with the philosophy of training the whole child, their program offers activities to promote intellectual development, emergent reading, social, physical and emotional development. Please visit their Facebook page for photos of fun. For more information or a registration packet stop by the church office at 275 Marvin St. or call 269-468-6567.


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