05-17-2018 A Grand Mom, indeed! Sharon Elston is the Record’s Best Mom for 2018; Watervliet City Cle

Watervliet City Clerk gives final Report

By Annette Christie

Watervliet City Clerk Dena Yow gave her final “Clerk’s Report” at the City Commission meeting held May 9, 2018. In addition, the Commission discussed possible rate increases for water and sewer usage.

COLOMA HIGH SCHOOL is proud to announce the Academic Top 10 students leading the graduating class for 2018. Pictured (from the left) are: Matthew Davis, Kayla Yore, Morgan Wagner, Skylar Crisenbery, Sky Hempel, Kelly Walter, Divine Parker, Julia Sternaman, Brianna Wright, and Caleb Dahlke.


Yow has given her notice with her final day being May 18. When she was given the floor she said that the office personnel worked very hard in the office.  “It is a very fast paced office,” Yow said.  She said they answer a lot of assessor questions and zoning questions.

Yow said the election held just a day before went very well.  “We had 93 voters and I am very proud of the city residents for embracing the new election equipment.” She complimented the team that worked the election and said that there were no problems with the audit done when the ballots were turned into the County Clerk’s Office.

Yow wrote in her letter that she appreciated the opportunity that they have given her and she wished the City of Watervliet continued growth and success.  The City Commission regretfully accepted her resignation.

Citizen Bob Becker spoke on the clerk leaving during the public comments portion, pointed out the number of city managers and clerks that the City has had over a short number of years.  He reminded them that continuity is important.

Commissioner Bill Whitney Jr. asked the City Commission to consider looking at a different meter for the water system.  The city currently has a number of new meters that need to be installed and many have had incorrect readings.  Whitney said he would like to look at another brand that other municipalities have been using and are having good luck with.  He requested that it be looked at by the Sewer/Water Committee.

The City Wide Rummage Sale will be held May 17-19.  Staff member Melanie Marvin said she will be putting together a map showing where they all are as that is a common request.  In addition, dump passes are available at City Hall.  They are available to all city residents through the month of May.

Resolution approved to submit request for flooding emergency funds

The City Commission approved a resolution authorizing the submission of State of Emergency funds request for the recent flooding that occurred county-wide in February.  City Manager Michael Uskiewicz said that the City of Watervliet sustained severe losses of major proportions brought on by the flood event.  “The City received flood damage to both city parks as a result of receiving several feet of rushing flood water causing loss of property and severe damage to facilities,” the resolution stated.  The dollar amount being submitted to the State of Michigan is in the amount of $28,611.26.  The damages include lost picnic tables, damaged walk way and damage to the floating dock.  While the City Manager has submitted some of the repairs to the insurance company they will not cover the floating dock. Uskiewicz obtained a quote to repair the floating dock in the amount of $3,800.  The City Commission approved the repairs to the dock.  The dock was purchased with grant funds.

City Manager provides 2018-2019 Budget

Following a review and acceptance of the 2018/2019 budget by the City Finance Committee, the budget was presented by the City Manager.  Uskiewicz said, “I am very comfortable with this budget. We have been accomplishing a great deal.”

Uskiewicz told the Commission that the budget is balanced.  He urged the Commission to consider an increase in the water and sewer services for the residents.  “We have not had annual cost of living adjustments to account for the increased costs that are levied on us. So, in essence, we have not effectively planned for the future needs of the utility systems,” Uskiewicz stated in his memo to the Commission.

Thus the Finance Committee has asked that a 6% rate increase for ready-to-serve charges in both the water and sewer system. In addition, Uskiewicz added to the budget a 10% increase for the water and sewer usage charges.

Other items included in the budget are an addition to the sidewalk at Flaherty Park, window replacement at City Hall, painting in the Clerk’s office, new lights in the City Commission Chambers and the Clerk’s office, and a v-plow for the 2014 Ford F-150.

Commissioner Hehl seemed concerned that not enough funding was being set aside for capital projects.  “We are gonna set here next year and not have the money for them,” Hehl said.  Hehl and Brinker voted no on the budget, however, it passed with Cobb, Muth, Kinzler, Whitney, and Strunk voting yes.

Uskiewicz also asked the Commission to approve a quit claim deed for the property at 356 N. Main St.  The property is in need of repair and the current owner is not capable of funding any further attempts to restore. There is some interest in the property by the adjacent property owner.  With the quit claim deed going through, the DDA would pay the outstanding taxes and the adjacent property owner could proceed with purchase and improvements.

Ten win highest scholastic honors in Coloma High School Graduating Class

Principal David Ehlers has announced the top honor students for Coloma High School for the Class of 2018. Following the tradition of many years at Coloma High School, all top honor students are equally recognized. Eight girls and two boys are Coloma’s high-ranking scholastic students for their four years of senior high school work, Principal Ehlers announced. They are: Matthew Davis, Julia Sternaman, Divine Parker, Skylar Crisenbery, Kelly Walter, Kayla Yore, Sky Hempel, Morgan Wagner, Caleb Dahlke, and Brianna Wright. All of these young people have achieved a high standard of academic accomplishments, as well as maintaining excellent citizenship and attendance records, the principal noted. He pointed out that there is no limit to the number of students who may earn honor recognition if they meet scholastic standards set by the school. Ehlers emphasized that no distinction as to the rank is made among those who are in the honor group. Matthew Davis is the son of Scott and Melissa Davis. Matthew’s extra-curricular activities include National Honor Society, Academic Challenge, Football, Concert and Marching Band. Matthew plans on attending Adrian College. Julia Sternaman is the daughter of John and Kim Sternaman. Julia’s extra-curricular activities include National Honor Society, Basketball, Softball, Cross Country, and Band. Julia plans on attending the University of Michigan. Divine Parker is the daughter of Preston and Tracy Parker. Divine’s extra-curricular activities include National Honor Society, Track and Field, and Yearbook. Divine plans for college are undecided. Skylar Crisenbery is the daughter of Jason and Brenda Crisenbery. Skylar’s extra-curricular activities include National Honor Society, Student Council, and Softball. Skylar plans on attending Alma College. Kelly Walter is the daughter of David and Lisa Walter. Kelly’s extra-curricular activities include National Honor Society and Volleyball. Kelly plans on attending Lake Superior State University. Kayla Yore is the daughter of Douglas and Susan Yore. Kayla’s extra-curricular activities include National Honor Society, Softball, Volleyball, and Basketball. Kayla plans on attending Kalamazoo Valley Community College. Sky Hempel is the daughter of Jeff Hempel and Tonya Hewitt. Sky’s extra-curricular activities include National Honor Society, Jazz Band, Robotics, and Academic Challenge. Sky plans on attending Michigan Technological University. Morgan Wagner is the daughter of Ron Wagner and Chris Fox. Morgan’s extra-curricular activities include National Honor Society, Softball, Volleyball, and Basketball. Morgan plans on attending Grand Valley State University. Caleb Dahlke is the son of David and Shanel Dahlke. Caleb’s extra-curricular activities include National Honor Society, Robotics, Golf, Academic Challenge, Jazz and Marching Band. Caleb plans on attending Lake Michigan College. Brianna Wright is the daughter of Stephanie Wright. Brianna’s extra-curricular activities include National Honor Society, Academic Challenge, Student Council, Robotics, and Art Club. Brianna plans on attending the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor.

A Grand Mom, indeed! Sharon Elston is the Record’s Best Mom for 2018

By Kristy Noack After spending just a few minutes with Sharon Elston, you have a clear picture of why she was selected as the winner of this year’s Tri-City Record Best Mom contest.

GRAND MOM… Sharon Elston of Hagar Shore is surrounded by members of her family Sunday after being selected as the Tri-City Record Best Mom. Elston was nominated by her granddaughter Erica Shafer who stands to Elston’s right. (TCR photo by Kristy Noack)


Elston spent Mother’s Day surrounded by Earl, her husband of 56 years, and some of her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. As she watched them talking to each other, laughing at one another, and sharing stories, she giggled, her eyes sparkled, and she was filled with love. Upon receiving the news that her granddaughter’s entry into the Best Mom contest was selected as the winner and receiving a bouquet of beautiful red roses from the Flower Basket in Watervliet, Elston’s eyes welled up and her breath caught, “I just can’t believe it! I love family.

“I read [the letter]. I got very emotional. I knew we were close but we never talked about what we do and what they did,” Elston explained referencing taking in her four grandchildren and the kids moving in. “And here comes the tears!” she exclaimed. Sharon Coffel was born and raised in Benton Harbor. She met her husband Earl Elston in 1959. Two months before she turned 18, in 1961, Coffel and Elston were married. The Elstons had three children: daughters Sheila and Tamara, and son Mike. The children became teen-agers, then adults, and then moved out on their own. Then came the grandchildren, eight in all. Four of those grandkids, including Shafer, moved in with and were raised by the Elstons. The Elstons were named legal guardians, and the child-raising began for the second time. There really was “no question” about taking in their four grandkids, Sharon explained. “I told them, ‘I’m glad I’m here for you. Grandma’s gotten older and we’re gonna need to work together on this,’” she said, explaining her approach on welcoming the kids home. “I was the disciplinarian,” Sharon states. “I told them, ‘You may never grow up to love me, but you will grow up to respect me.’” Earl, sitting nearby, said, “She’s the boss!” Sharon grins and said, “That’s the first time I’ve heard that!” The two smile at each other, as family members dot the front yard. Erica Shafer submitted the letter that nominated her grandmother. “She deserved it. She had all of us here. She worked full-time. She was already done raising her family. She stood right by me,” Shafer stated, referencing her own pregnancy at a young age. Sharon Elston continues to work 33 hours a week in private home care, a position she has held for decades. You could say she’s a natural born caretaker. “I enjoy it. I get the feeling of accomplishment [when I help others].” The Elstons raised their grandchildren, who have since moved out. Some of the grandkids have started their own families, which mean the Elstons have nine members of another generation – their great-grandchildren. Earl and Sharon are now – officially – empty nesters, a title with which Sharon struggles. She loves being surrounded by family, hearing the back door slam shut when someone comes to visit. She likes being a listening ear for anyone in the family when they have a problem or concern. “We’re a very close family,” she said. “I’m happy when the house is full. Being happy, being contented is the best part of being a mom and grandma and great-grandma.”

Sharon, who enjoys canning and attends Grandparents’ Night, and Earl, formerly a long haul trucker, spend their time going to flea markets and yard sales. They belong to tractor clubs. They have traveled throughout the United States. But, their favorite place is among their extended family. Sharon Elston paused, looked around at the love surrounding her, and said, “My family is my life.”

Following is Shafer’s letter to the Tri-City Record: The “Best Mom” I’d like to nominate is my grandmother, Sharon Elston. She is the most absolutely amazing woman I’ve ever known. After raising her own three kids she took in my brothers and me and raised us at a time when she and my grandpa should have been enjoying themselves. Every year she made sure the four of us had school clothes, school supplies, lunch money and whatever we needed even when she had to struggle to do so. Even now she always makes sure her grandkids and great-grandkids have everything they may need. Even though she has her health problems she still goes to work every day as an in-home caregiver because she loves helping others any way she can. My grandmother constantly puts everyone above herself so I feel she deserves this to show her how much we all love her and appreciate everything she does. She is the backbone of our family and I look up to her in every way. Erica Shafer

Contest prizes and sponsors In addition to a dozen red roses from Tri-City Record, Sharon received gifts from area merchants for winning the Best Mom Contest. These include: a special gift from the Country Store at Watervliet Fruit Exchange, Watervliet; gift certificate for pizza from DiMaggios, Coloma; a special gift from the Flower Basket, Watervliet; a hanging planter from Mattson’s House of Decor, Coloma; $30 gift certificate from Crystal Springs Garden Center, Benton Harbor; $25 gift certificate from Grapevine Nursery, Coloma; $15 gift certificate from Hartford Harding’s and a free homemade pie from Bob’s Barn Farm Market & Bakery, Coloma.

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