05-16-2019 Hartford water wells could be tested for contaminants from Du-Wel Metal site; Caretaker w

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY… Maxine Mock (middle), of St. Joseph, spent her Mother’s Day with daughters Valeri (right) and Cheryl (left) after receiving the news that she received the 2019 Tri-City Record Best Mom title. (TCR photo by Annette Christie)

Hartford water wells could be tested for contaminants from Du-Wel Metal site

PFAS concerns in Hartford prompt Town Hall Wednesday

By Jon Bisnett

A town hall meeting was scheduled for 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday, May 15 at the Hartford Federated Church on Red Arrow Highway following the release of a communication from the state. The area formerly occupied by the Du-Wel Metal Products site on Heywood Street in Hartford is among an estimated 192 other sites in Michigan with suspected PFAS contamination.

Local authorities were notified on Wednesday, May 8 of the findings in test wells according to State Rep. Beth Griffin. Griffin said that residents of both the City of Hartford and Hartford Township will receive contact from the Michigan Department of Energy, Great Lakes and the Environment (DEGLE) as a precautionary step. DEGLE is testing 50 properties north of 60th Avenue along 65th Street past Red Arrow Highway as a precaution. While test results are pending bottled water is being offered to affected residents at the Hartford Fire Department on E. Main Street. Water is available from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday.

Hartford municipal water and wells for all Van Buren County schools have been tested and are PFAS-free, officials say.

According to state Rep. Beth Griffin, “No contamination at residential wells has been found, but specific residential wells will be tested immediately as a precautionary step.”

Griffin further commented, “I have been in contact with state, county, city and township officials, and, while early results show contamination is minimal, we will be taking proactive measures to ensure the safety of residents’ drinking water. As we learn more about this situation I will be helping to distribute resources and information, as it becomes available. PFAS contamination has been found across the state, and I will continue to work with my colleagues at the state level to pursue long-term solutions to protect the drinking water in our households.”

The discovery was made at the former Du-Wel Metal Products plating facility in the City of Hartford as a part of Michigan’s ongoing efforts to track down PFAS contamination, DEGLE officials stated. Because federal guidelines previously required the use of PFAS during the chrome plating process, plating facilities have become a common source of PFAS contamination.

According to information found on Michigan.gov, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a large group of man-made chemicals that include perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS). PFAS have been used globally during the past century in manufacturing, firefighting and thousands of common household and other consumer products. These chemicals are persistent in the environment and in the human body – meaning they don’t break down and they can accumulate over time. In recent years, experts have become increasingly concerned by the potential effects of high concentrations of PFAS on human health.

Testing was scheduled to begin in and around the former plating facility on May 10.

If residents are using any of the wells being tested, they will be contacted either by phone or in-person by DEGLE’s contractor, Global Remediation Technologies, Inc. Residents with wells in the testing areas can pick up bottled water supplies immediately at the Hartford Fire Department. Residents can find out if they are in the testing area by calling the Environmental Assistance Center at 1-800-662-9278.

Residents may also access additional information on PFAS in Michigan at Michigan.gov/PFASresponse

Caretaker wins “Best Mom”

By Annette Christie Maxine Mock has always taken care of others needs before her own and for that, her daughters Valeri and Cheryl wanted her to win the Tri-City Record Best Mom contest for 2019. The letter nominating her, written by her daughter Valeri with input from Cheryl speaks to that caregiving nature, but Maxine minimizes it to “Most moms do that”. Maxine grew up in the Benton Harbor area, graduating from Benton Harbor High School. She married at age 19 and was married to her husband for 62 years before he took ill. She and her husband built a house on the river in St. Joseph and they lived there for many years before re-locating to another home in St. Joseph. She has had many jobs, but really enjoyed food tasking at Meijer. Her family has now grown to her two daughters, Valeri of Watervliet and Cheryl of Okemos, six grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. In raising her own children, Maxine says she taught them to be kind to other people, do the best at whatever they do, and to work hard. Daughter Cheryl says, “She leads by example.” A caregiver by nature, Maxine has always taken care of others before herself. Most of her friends don’t drive so she drives for them, getting them to events, the senior center, and appointments. She has served as a Sunday School teacher and donates regularly to the Smile Train, a non-profit organization and charity providing corrective surgery for children with cleft lips and palates. Her advice to new moms is simple, “Just love them and do what comes natural.” Maxine was very surprised and excited to receive her new title on Mother’s Day, as she planned to spend it with her family, and exclaimed, “This is the best honor ever.” Valeri’s nominating letter read as follows: I believe that my mom, Maxine Mock, is the best mother anyone could ever have. She has always been by my side when I’ve needed her, like when I have been sick or needed extra help with the kids while I was working. She is more than willing to drop everything she is doing to drive from St. Joe to help me with anything I could every need. She has spent more than her fair share of time as a caretaker, taking care of her mother, sister, husband, children and grandchildren, often sacrificing her own wants and needs. She is very generous to anyone and everyone. She not only donates monthly to the Smile Train, but also her time while driving friends to the Senior Center and other events. For many years she taught Sunday School at St. Peter’s United Church of Christ. When her grandchildren were younger, she and my dad always made time to spend with them, especially during summer vacation. She regularly spends play time with her great-grandchildren. Even now, her home is always open to anyone who would come to visit and there is always something to eat. Valeri Garland, Watervliet

In addition to a dozen red roses from Tri-City Record, Maxine will be receiving many prizes on behalf of local sponsoring merchants: The Flower Basket, Silverstone Gardens, Crystal Springs Florist, Hartford Harding’s, The Country Store at the Watervliet Fruit Exchange, and Mattson’s House of Decor.

COLOMA HIGH SCHOOL is proud to announce their Top Ten Seniors for the Class of 2019. Pictured are (from the left) Back row: Adiel Granados, Brandon Schmidt, Mackenzie Ecker, Cassidy Dryer, Jarod Martin, Carson Clark; Front row: Lindsey Robinson, Tanya Perea, Hannah Mathis, and Mackenzie Grant. Commencement for Coloma seniors will be held on Friday, May 31 beginning at 7 p.m.

Watervliet school board approves men’s varsity soccer; confirms June 7 as last day of school

By Kristy Noack

The first item on Monday’s Watervliet Public Schools Board of Education meeting agenda on May 13 under “Business” kicked off a great moment for the district, and soccer players and fans alike.

Following a thorough explanation by Watervliet High School athletic director Ken Dietz, the board unanimously approved the addition of men’s soccer as a varsity sport for the 2019-20 school year.

Dietz, along with high school principal Brad Coon and interim superintendent Dr. John Jarpe, were part of a committee that reviewed the process, timeline, and needs that creating the new varsity sport would entail for the school. In April, Dietz presented the board with a recommendation to add the fall sport. He appeared in front of the board again with additional information regarding equipment costs, potential scheduling opportunities, and playing facility locations.

“My goal was to get a sprinkle of [junior varsity] schools. As I went to find game, not a lot of schools offered games at the JV level. I didn’t want to wait.” Rather than creating a JV team, Dietz recommended the varsity program be established.

“I tried to build a schedule that would be favorable to our kids,” Dietz commented. He was able to schedule 14 games and added, “I think the quality opponents we have will be challenging.”

The Michigan High School Athletic Association sets 18 as the number of contests varsity soccer teams can participate during the regular season.

A PASSION FOR WELDING… Sydney Ellison, a senior at Watervliet High School, took center stage at Monday’s Board of Education meeting as she gave a presentation on finding and pursuing a career focused on her passion of welding. Ellison will continue her education at Lake Michigan College this fall after graduating from WHS. (TCR photo by Kristy Noack)

Four of the games on the fall schedule were secured when Dietz learned the Gobles’ school district would not be able to field a varsity soccer team this fall. “I picked up [those contests],” Dietz commented.

Tom Isbrecht, who is actively involved in Region 613 AYSO which serves Coloma, Hartford, and Watervliet, was also in attendance at Monday’s meeting. Isbrecht has been a vocal supporter of creating a varsity soccer sport in the Watervliet school district. He was one of the first people who also supported the creation of the middle school soccer club as well.

Isbrecht identified 25 to 28 kids who would be interested in playing soccer as a Panther this fall. “With the quality of players we have, we’ll hold our own” on the field. He viewed the first season “as a learning experience. [The athletes] can compete with some of these teams.” Other teams, he stressed, would be a competitive challenge for the newly formed sport. “When you play against a Hartford varsity soccer team, you’re going to learn some things,” Isbrecht shared.

Dietz identified some initial costs that would need to be paid for by the school to kick off the sport, specifically uniforms, balls, goals, and officiating fees. He ball parked the initial cost for the first year around $11,000.

One challenge facing Dietz is how often the Panthers can host soccer contests. In the fall the football/soccer field is utilized by the high school band. Freshman football has the field on Wednesdays, while JV has Thursdays booked, and varsity takes the field on Fridays. “We’re limited when we can do games, but we’ll figure it out,” Dietz said.

Following the unanimous board vote in favor of starting the varsity men’s soccer sport in the fall, Dietz said, “Good decision.”

The varsity coaching position will be posted for any interested candidates once the board sets a salary.

New curriculum approved for English Language Arts

Susan Toothman, curriculum director for the district, advised the board that the English Language Arts curriculum used by the schools is out of date and in need of replacement.

Toothman shared the current curriculum predates Common Core. A team was created to review the curriculum and provided a comprehensive needs assessment. The team recommended a new curriculum, in part, because test scores were decreasing while teaching staff was spending more time trying to locate resources to bridge the gap between what the school had versus what was needed to be successful.

Teachers provided feedback on a number of possible curriculum options. They also provided recommendations which were shared with Acting Superintendent Jarpe as well as the new superintendent, Ric Seager. Seager will assume the superintendent position on July 1.

The curriculum will be used district wide in K-12 classrooms. Toothman described the new curriculum as being “the most urgent update needed.”

Senior Final Projects in the curriculum spotlight

Colby Tein, an English teacher at the high school, was on hand with senior Sydney Ellison to discuss Senior Final Projects.

Ellison shared with the board the process of determining what her life’s passion is, how it can affect her career, and various methods of creating a career plan.

Ellison, a first-year welder, explained to the board that the Briggs Meyers personality testing confirmed that her passion for welding would also be a great career fit for her. “I feel like I’m making a difference,” she said. She provided the board with salary expectations, job market growth, and her plan following graduation.

Ellison will attend Lake Michigan College to pursue her welding career. “I love smell of burning metal,” she said as she smiled.

Tein encouraged all her students to find what passion drives them and align their life’s work to that.

End of school year field trips receive approval

Kindergarten students at South Elementary School will head to Potawatomi Zoo in South Bend, Indiana on May 29. South School principal Carole Fetke advised the board that the school received a grant from the zoo that will cover the admission fees for the students as well as 25 chaperones. Additionally, $100 of the grant will be used to pay toward transportation.

The fourth-graders at North School also received approval for their year-end field trip. One hundred students and 30 adults will head to Shedd Aquarium in Chicago on May 29. The students have held several fundraisers in an effort to help cover the cost of the trip.

BRESA items receive support

The Board of Education approved a motion to support the 2019-20 Berrien RESA General Fund operating budget. The resolution was approved to be submitted to the secretary of BRESA’s board of education.

The superintendent of Watervliet Public Schools was selected by the board to serve on the 2019 BRESA electoral body. That board elects members to the BRESA board of education. Susan Toothman was selected as an alternate representative.

High school seniors participate in final high school activities

Panther seniors have their calendars marked in what will be a fun-filled last half of May.

Senior awards night was held Wednesday, May 15. The spring choir concert is scheduled for May 23 at 7:00 p.m.

High school commencement will be held Friday, May 31 at 6:30 p.m.

During Monday’s meeting, the board and superintendent confirmed the final day of the 2018-19 school year will be Friday, June 7.


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