AND THEY’RE OFF! You’d never know it was a sunny but chilly 49 degrees at Saturday’s Annual Hartford Easter Egg Hunt last Saturday. Several hundred kids combed Ely Park for their share of over 5,500 eggs carefully filled with candy treats and coins by perennial sponsor, the Van Buren County Sportsman’s Club. Inset: (from the left) brothers, Simon and Huxley Tackett of Lawrence show off their collection of eggs including a couple of tie-dyed eggs 2-year old Simon was particularly proud of. (TCR photo by Jon Bisnett)
Watervliet Township reviews Planning Commission’s medical marijuana ordinance
By Annette Christie
The Watervliet Charter Township Board previewed and discussed the Planning Commission’s recommended medical marijuana ordinance at their April 15, 2019 meeting. This followed two public hearings, one for the Planning Commission and one for the Township Board. There were only three people in the audience and none of them felt the need to address the board.
Two written comments were read into the record, one in favor and one against the township allowing medical marijuana facilities in the township.
There was some question over the posting of the meetings but Attorney Jessica Fette told the officials that the public hearings scheduled were voluntary and thus there was no posting issue.
Clerk Patt Bambrick read the letter from Zoning Administrator Bob Lohr which stated that after conducting a special meeting with a public hearing on Tuesday, March 26, 2019, the Planning Commission voted unanimously to recommend adoption of a medical marijuana facilities ordinance.
The ordinance provides regulations for the operations of medical marijuana facilities in the township. The ordinance allows for not more than six growers, not more than three processors, not more than four provisioning centers, and no limit on the number of safety compliance facilities and secure transporters.
A grow facility and a processor may co-locate at the same location. All growers and processors must be located within the industrial zoning district. All provisioning centers, safety compliance facilities, and secure transporters must be within the commercial zoning district. All of the facilities, no matter what kind, must obtain a special land use permit.
Provisioning centers must be located a minimum of 100 feet from residential zoning or an actual current residence and must be located a minimum of 500 feet from a school, playground, park, licensed day care center, or a place of worship. The ordinance provides for the process of applying to the township for such places of business.
The discussion with the township board was not in depth aside from Supervisor Dan Hutchins declaring that if the ordinance allows for a facility in the strip mall, contiguous to residential property, then he was not supporting it. He said that there were multiple locations on Red Arrow Highway also that the township could have a facility within 100 feet of a residential location.
Trustee Bob Wallace asked if township officials have heard from anyone in that subdivision near the strip mall that Hutchins was referring to and Hutchins said no, not yet. In fact, Hutchins has noted several times that he is surprised that they have not heard more from the citizens of the township since December 2018 when they (the board) voted to opt in to medical marijuana. Since that time there have been pretty consistent discussions on the topic at the Planning Commission and the Township Board meetings without much in the way of public input. One more public hearing is being held on Saturday, April 27, 2019 at 10:00 a.m.
There was some discussion about having or not having the Planning Commission at the Public Hearing on that date and Trustee Joe Stepich said he didn’t think the meeting needed to be a joint meeting between the Township Board and the Planning Commission. Without support, it was determined that the public hearing will not be a joint meeting.
Following the vote on December 5, 2018 where the township board voted unanimously to opt in, or permit licensed medical marijuana facilities within the jurisdictional boundaries of the township, they instructed the Township’s Planning Commission to study and research the matter and draft a medical marijuana facilities ordinance that would permit certain types of facilities in certain zoning districts within the township and impose certain restrictions and conditions controlling their operation.
After several meetings and exhaustive research which included visits and on-site inspections of existing facilities in other municipalities, the Planning Commission fulfilled that request by drafting the medical marijuana facilities ordinance that they feel strikes a balance of permitting the free enterprise of those investing in those operations and protecting the interests of the residents of Watervliet Township.
At the conclusion of last month’s regular township board meeting, Hutchins commented that he is not aware of any comments by the public either for or against and he fears that when the official action is taken, it will be then that members of the public will question why, but at that point, it will be too late. He wanted to make sure that the public had plenty of opportunities to comment either way to both the Planning Commission as well the Township Board which included daytime hearings, nighttime hearings, and even the final one as noted on Saturday, April 27.
All individuals with an interest are encouraged to attend and participate in this legislative process. If they have any questions or comments prior to the meeting, they can mail any correspondence to the Township Hall or phone the Township’s Zoning Department at (269) 463-5113.
Landfill passes for township residents are now available at Township Hall. One pass per household is allowed and can be used during the month of May. The pass is good for one visit.
Stepich, who also sits on the Paw Paw Lake Improvement Committee, said that the group had their first meeting on the first Tuesday of April. Revenues for the Special Assessment District total $90,476 from Coloma Township and $97,195 from Watervliet Township for the 2018 winter taxes. The current fund balance is $295,704. Stepich said that they expect expenses for this upcoming summer season to be approximately $129,130.
Road and parks improvements slated for Coloma Township
By Annette Christie
Coloma Township officials discussed road and parks improvements at their Wednesday, April 10 meeting.
Following a meeting with the Berrien County Road Department, the township has the list of the 2019 road projects. The following local roads will have improvements this summer: Carmody Road 1.02 miles from Carter Road to Park Road; Atherton Drive .33 miles from Coloma Road to Boyer Road; Van Road .99 miles from Becht Road to N. Coloma Road; Little Paw Paw Lake Road 2.51 miles from Interlochen Road to Clymer Road; Ryno Road .75 miles from Angling Road to Hennessey Road; Wilson Road 1.28 miles from Bundy Road to the city/township line; Douglas Road .19 miles from Paw Paw Lake Road to the end; Beach Street .30 miles from Paw Paw Lake Road to Paw Paw Lake Road; Walnut Street .17 miles from Paw Paw Lake Road to Paw Paw Lake Road; and Carmody Road .68 miles from Hennessey Road to the pavement joint.
In addition, the County Road Department will be doing the following federal/ primary road projects: Red Arrow Highway from Boyer Road to the city/township line and from N. I-196/Red Arrow Hwy. to Boyer Road; and N. Coloma Road from Hagar Shore to 48th and from Hagar Shore to Paw Paw Lake Road.
Tony Bertuca, Chairperson of the Parks and Recreation Committee provided an update on the work the committee is doing to improve Washington Park. Following the update from last month, Bertuca provided an estimate to fence the park along the DeGroot property which came in around $31,500.
Bertuca told the township board that he felt that they could get a better price for the same quality fencing and job, but asked the board to approve it up to that amount so as to not delay it any further. He described it as being back around the pond for safety and to keep visitors in the park and out of the neighbors’ property.
In addition, Bertuca asked to have some trees removed in conjunction with the fencing project. The estimate for the tree removal was $4,000.
The board approved the expense but Treasurer Jim Fulton asked Bertuca if the committee could try to provide plans for improvements for the budgeting process in the future along with details on the funding purposes.
Trustee Bryan Duffield who also sits on the Parks Committee said that they have a couple of other maintenance items that will need to be done and noted that they inherited some problems when the township acquired the property from the Coloma School District. Both Bertuca and Duffield noted that they will need a little bit of money to get it up to par but that the goal would be to make it as maintenance free as they can.
Duffield gave a report on the recent meeting held by the Paw Paw Lake Improvement Committee that includes representatives from Watervliet Township as well. He said the Special Assessment District has about $295,000 in reserve and they expect to spend approximately $130,000 during the upcoming summer season. He said they have removed all of the aeration equipment and have installed fish habitats.
“The lake has made tremendous progress over the last three years,” Duffield said. They continue to monitor things affecting the lake’s condition like input from the Branch and Derby Drain, the increase in the presence of zebra mussels, and a new invasive species called Starry Stonewort. Duffield said the algae were found near the boat launch.
In an update from last month, Police Chief Wes Smigielski said that he is continuing the work with the Coloma Schools superintendent on the idea of having a school resource officer in the district and the community. He said he hopes to have contracts ready for the School Board and the Township Board to approve in May.
Coloma Lions Easter Egg Hunt at 11 a.m.; FOP breakfast at 9 a.m. Saturday
Saturday, April 20 beginning at 11 a.m. is the annual Coloma Lions Easter Egg Hunt. It is being held at the Coloma FOP Lodge’s four baseball field, with different age groups.
The Coloma Lions Club, assisted by the Coloma LEO Club, Coloma queens, Coloma Lioness Club and North Berrien Fire and Rescue in putting out over 4,000 eggs with about 300 prizes. In addition, the Coloma FOP will be having an Easter Breakfast with the Easter Bunny starting at 9 a.m.
Coloma FOP Lodge #147 is located at 3470 Angling Road.
Annual Lion’s Easter Egg Hunt at Hays Park, Saturday at 11 a.m.
The annual Watervliet Lion’s Easter Egg Hunt will be held at Hays Park on M-140 in Watervliet on Saturday with an 11 a.m. start.
Children age 0-10 years are invited to participate. They will be divided by age: 0-3, 4-5, 6-7-8, and 9-10. No baskets will be allowed on the field except for the 0-3 age group.
Coloma United Methodist Easter Celebrations
The public is invited to join the congregation of Coloma United Methodist Church in this Easter season of reflection and celebration.
April 18 there is a Holy Thursday Service at 7 p.m. at St. Paul’s United Church of Christ, 1650 N. Bainbridge Center Rd. in Watervliet.
April 19 is Good Friday and a service will be held at 7 p.m. at Riverside United Methodist Church, 4401 Fikes Rd. in Riverside.
Easter Sunday, April 21, a Sunrise Service will be held at 7:15 a.m. at Coloma United Methodist Church followed by a Coffee Fellowship. A 10 a.m. Easter Service celebration will also be held at Coloma UMC on Easter Sunday.
Any questions, please call the church office at 269-468-6062.
Ladies Good Friday breakfast in Hartford
Hartford United Methodist Women invite all area ladies to join them for their annual Good Friday breakfast and program on April 19 at 9:30 a.m. The church is located at 425 E. Main Street. Reservations are not needed and there is no cost. Donations will be accepted.
Good Friday service at Plymouth Congregational Church
All are welcome to Plymouth Congregational Church in Watervliet for a Good Friday service remembering our Lord Jesus Christ’s willing sacrifice for each of us.
The service will be at 6 p.m. on Friday, April 19, and is open to the community. The church is located at the corner of First Street and Red Arrow Highway.
Easter Sunday schedule for Watervliet Free Methodist Church
Easter Sunday, April 21 will begin with a SONrise Service at 8:45 a.m. Special music will be provided by Lonnie and Rebecca Hoyt. Breakfast will follow at 9:30 a.m. The Hoyts will also participate during Morning Worship at 10:30 a.m. as celebration of The Risen Christ continues.
Everyone is invited to attend services and activities at Watervliet Free Methodist Church for the Easter season and throughout the year.
Watervliet Free Methodist Church is located at 7734 Paw Paw Avenue, Watervliet. Call the church office (269) 463-8280 or visit them at www.wfmchurch.org for information. You can also find them on Facebook.
Freshwater Community Church Easter Egg Hunt on Easter morning
Sunday, April 21 at 10:00 a.m. the Freshwater Community Church is having an Easter Egg Hunt at Coloma Middle School following an 8:00 a.m. sunrise service. Everyone is invited. There will be lots of great prizes!
New Day Church Easter Service
Pastor Scott T. Saylor of New Day Church, 416 W. Pleasant St. in Watervliet is conducting an Easter morning service on Sunday, April 21 at 11 a.m. They will have a youth egg hunt immediately following the service. The service is open to the public.
Easter services at Salem Lutheran Church
During Holy Week, Salem Lutheran Church will have services on Thursday and Friday, April 18 and 19, at 6:00 p.m., and Easter service will be Sunday, April 21 at 10:00 a.m.
Salem Lutheran Church is located at 275 Marvin Street in Coloma. The church phone number is (269) 468-6567.
Coloma American Legion Lenten Fish Fry
Friday, April 19 is the final Lenten Fish Fry for 2019 at the Coloma American Legion Post 362 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Fish dinners include au gratin potatoes, green beans, coleslaw, bread and coffee and cost $10 each. All you can eat fish dinners are $13. Children ages 4 to 12 are $5 each and children 3 and younger eat for free.
Takeouts are available by calling 269-468-5501. Coloma American Legion Post 362 is located at 351 E. St. Joseph St. in Coloma.
Easter Bunny’s Hartford stop draws hundreds
By Jon Bisnett
Despite a major chill in the air, a huge crowd of well over 300 kids made their way to Ely Park on Saturday, April 13 for the Annual Easter Egg Hunt, sponsored by the Van Buren County Sportsman’s Club.
It was a breezy 40 degrees as the youngsters began lining up for the 1:00 p.m. start of the gathering of parents, kids and their Easter baskets ready to grab up their share of the brightly colored eggs literally covering the ground of Ely Park.
The history of the Hartford Egg Hunt goes all the way back to the mid-1950s when the now defunct Hartford American Legion Post actually boiled and painstakingly hand-dyed real eggs for the kids. The two-piece plastic egg came along in the late 60s as did the Sportsman’s Club who each year pack candy and coins by hand into well in excess of 5,000 colorful shells.
Sportsman’s Club members coordinate the candy chaos and provide all the labor, but organizers are quick to thank the dozens of local businesses for donations that truly make the event possible each year. Harding’s Market of Hartford, Miller Thermometer Company, Richter Insurance, Mann Metal, Seth Griffin DDS, and the Hair Forum all donated to the 2019 event.
The event goes by quickly as the volunteers had all their supplies completely packed and loaded in less than thirty minutes, looking forward to doing it all again next year.
The Sportsman’s Club reminds all kids and parents of their Annual Fishing Rodeo, held at the clubhouse just north of the city limits on Center Street in late June each year. Kids 17 and under are welcome to come enjoy a totally free fun day of fishing, food and prizes.