05-16-2019 Coloma Commission hires School Resource Officer, approval mirrored by Twp.;

READING POSTER WINNERS… Watervliet North School had sixty-four entries in the “Read Now: Read Forever” poster contest to celebrate Children’s Book Week. Students and staff from North Elementary voted. The top ten posters were then sent to some middle school and high school art students for final voting. Pictured (from the left) in first place was Mackenzie Birmele, second place Riley Smith, tied for third place was the trio of Mia Woodson, Alex Sipe and Emily Campos (not pictured), and McKaylen Laws. The award for best use of mixed media went to London Krieger. Thanks to all who entered, the posters were fantastic. Also, North School thanks all the guest readers that helped make Children’s Book Week such a great week.

Coloma Commission hires School Resource Officer, approval mirrored by Twp.

By Nancy Albright At the May 13 meeting of the Coloma City Council, commissioners approved the contract for Coloma Community Schools’ new School Resource Officer Dan Stuglik, which will take effect in the 2019-2020 school year. Coloma Police Chief Wes Smigielski said, “This is a great step toward bridging the gap between juveniles and the police.” The chief explained that today’s youth have been brainwashed by social media and that it perpetrates crime. Having a school resource officer will help desensitize students to having policemen in the classroom and help build relationships between the kids and the cops. “When you build relationships with students and can call each other by name, that is a positive form of crime prevention.” Stuglik, a former resource officer for Benton Harbor Area Schools, comes to Coloma fully trained, and will complete additional training to combat the effects of social media on kids. Stuglik, a former corporal with the Benton Harbor Police Department overseeing eight officers, is certified in crime prevention, as well as environmental design, which consists of lighting and landscaping around the schools and the interior of buildings to help prevent crimes from occurring in and around school grounds. He is trained as a teacher, trainer and mentor, and plans to partner with elementary through high school students to create a mentoring program that will offer after school activities such as art and other service interests. He will also hold an annual event where students will be recognized for acts of valor. This year’s award recipient goes to a high school student that stood up for a child from another school district that was being bullied during a field trip. Coloma Township will cover the cost of the position and the school district will pay an additional $30,000, so no financial burden will fall on the city. Coloma Fire Chief Mike Mattix commended the City Council on approving the School Resource Officer contract. “There is a similar program at Dowagiac Union Schools that has been in effect for the last seven years and it really works. I give a big shout out to Wes and Dave and the city for making this happen in our school district.” See Page 6 for photo.

Police report Chief Smigielski reported that $1,200 worth of merchandise stolen from the Digital Vapor Den has been recovered and that four people have been arrested for the burglary. Two have confessed and two will do time in the county jail. Two others––juveniles––have been arraigned. The Coloma Police Department, with help from Michigan State Police, successfully apprehended a carjacker in Benton Harbor that stole a car from the Speedway gas station in Coloma. The victim’s vehicle was recovered. The chief warns people not to leave their cars running, and to be vigilant at all times. Berrien County transportation system Berrien County Commissioner Dave Vollrath reported that the Berrien County Board of Commissioners is making progress on the quest for countywide bus service. The BOC has proposed that the county allocate funds to operate a pilot program over a period of two years to be overseen by a Berrien County Transportation Advisory Committee consisting of representatives from Niles, Buchanan and Benton Harbor, which currently has local bus service, and from the communities the system would serve going forward, in order to gain buy-in from residents to help obtain countywide funding. The program would require initial operational funding from the county and, realistically, the program would be feasible for two years without securing new funding in the form of a possible millage in the amount of $1.5 million, which according to Vollrath, the BOC is not confident would pass at the present time. The proposed plan may result in a reduced level of current Berrien Bus contract service, and initially, “would not address the lack of service in the St. Joseph/Benton Harbor urbanized area.” The plan would also not address transfers, additional fares, and coordination of trips between multiple providers. The cost to the county for the pilot program would be $100,000, which according to Vollrath, would come from the county budget. Local communities would pay no money and the riders would pay the fares. The BOC agrees that the pilot program is the best option before committing a large sum of money to the project. Coloma resident Bill Smith requested that the City Council poll Coloma residents to see who would utilize the bus system. “We’re putting the cart before the horse here. I will get behind this and work for a millage if people want it.” Department of Public Works Mayor Pro-Tem Marsha Hammond told those assembled that Quality Asphalt plans to repair Park Street after the gas company has completed underground work and that the city is doing its best to patch the street until the repairs can take place. The roof cab on the city’s 2007 Ford salt truck has rusted through and “will soon be a convertible” if not repaired. The council approved the repairs by Leroy’s Body Shop in the amount of $2,932.62. Hammond also reported that the revitalization of Randall Park is progressing despite recent inclement weather. The effort may stretch into next year as the committee discovers small projects that must be done to complete the rehab. New seats for swings have been ordered, the crumbling walking paths have been removed, mulch will be laid as soon as the weather allows, and the committee is looking into seating for the new picnic tables that have been installed under the pavilion. “We continue to receive marvelous support from the community,” said Hammond. Menasha has donated $2,000; Duffield Pastrick $250; Annette and Don Postelli $200; and Julie and Bill Hammond $100. The Watervliet council of the Knights of Columbus plans to donate $500, and the Masons will help fund handicap access for kids if the committee decides to proceed with that idea. The city also approved the distribution of poppies May 23 – 25 by Coloma American Legion Post 362.