05-18-2017 Watervliet Township approves School Resource Officer; Accepts Brownfield property; Non-c

WHS TOP TEN STUDENTS… Watervliet High School is proud to announce the Academic Top 10 students leading the graduat-ing class for 2017. Pictured (from the left): Seated – Tyler Brant, son of Chett & Sarah Brant; Karli McClendon, daughter of David & Kathlene McClendon; Magdalene Lynch, daughter of Greg & Katrina Lynch; Devon Flowers, son of Ryan Flowers and the late Jen Hollomon. Standing – Mikayla Lee, daughter of Mike & Ronda Lee; Cameron Rendo, son of Derrick & Jodene Rendo; Emily Fellows, daughter of Stephen & Lerita Fellows; Jarred Fish, son of Michael & Jeanese Fish; Logan Mizwicki, daughter of Tim Mizwicki & Lori Mizwicki; Brent Simmons, son of Jack & Carla Simmons. Watervliet High School seniors will graduate outside at Panther Stadium (HS gym if bad weather) Friday, June 2 at 6:30 p.m.

Watervliet Township approves School Resource Officer; Accepts Brownfield property

By Annette Christie

After some discussion, the Watervliet Township Board approved the agreement with the Watervliet School District and the City of Watervliet for providing a School Resource Officer.

The program, which has been in discussions since last summer, would place a certified police officer in the school district full-time for the school year.  During the summer months, the officer will provide extra staffing for the city, at a time when it is needed the most.

All three parties are participating in the funding with the school picking up $30,000 and the township and city each providing $20,000.  While the Watervliet Township Board had approved their participation last December, Supervisor Dan Hutchins had publicly spoken about some contingencies that he wanted put in place in order for them to participate.  Hutchins said then that he wanted a three person oversight committee with representation from the city, the township, and the schools; wanted the development of a comprehensive line budget for the resource officer; and wanted the funds to be kept separate from all other municipal funds.  Hutchins also said that he would like to see the program managed by the oversight committee.

Since that time, Hutchins has worked with Superintendent Kevin Schooley and new City Manager Michael Uskiewicz and he told the Watervliet Township Board prior to their vote Monday night that he was satisfied with the agreement and the way the program was going and now felt those things were unnecessary.

Watervliet Township Sheriff’s Deputy Guy Puffer assured the board that Watervliet City Chief Tim Sutherland has worked really hard on this and really wants to make this happen.   The vision for the individual selected for the position is that of someone who is very involved with the school.  Puffer said the individual will be a certified police officer who will seek additional instruction to become a Certified School Resource Officer.  “This will be a normal officer that will be 100% in the school system,” Puffer said.

The motion to approve the 3-year contract was unanimously approved by the board.

Brownfield property

Hutchins told the board that since their last meeting he had been contacted by Berrien County Community Development Director Dan Fette and learned that the Berrien County Brownfield Authority would like to convey all properties they currently own in Watervliet Township to the township and forgo any repayment of expenses.  This property referred to was a part of a large paper mill cleanup project completed many years ago by the Berrien County Brownfield Authority in cooperation with the City of Watervliet and the township.

Hutchins explained that the township would need to complete a baseline environmental assessment (BEA) to protect them given that the properties involved are brownfields.

Alan Smaka with Wightman & Associates was on hand to explain that process.  The township would have to complete a Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment, a Phase 2 Environmental Site Assessment, and the BEA.  He estimated that the cost would be around $14,000 to complete all three studies.

Hutchins explained to the board that with the Brownfield’s similar action to the city, they forgave $93,000 that was owed.  He estimated that it would be closer to a half a million for the township and if the township accepts this transfer of property that would be forgiven for them as well.  The board approved up to $15,000 for all three needed studies to help in finalizing this transaction.

In other business, the board approved the creation of a Public Works Operator/Technician position.  The position will be full-t