05-24-2018 Watervliet Township residents want to keep park off the radar of visitors; Planning Commi

WATERVLIET HIGH SCHOOL is proud to announce their Academic Top 10 students from the graduating Class of 2018. Pictured (from the left) are: Front row – Cianna Quattrin, Heather Frank, Madison Smith, and Kayla Farrow; Back row – Trent Boone, Kelli Elston, Ariana Rowe, Ellie Troyer, Alyssa Hobson, and Ryan Chisek. Of the Top 10, Quattrin, Frank, Farrow, Elston, Rowe, Troyer, Hobson and Chisek also hold the honor of Senior Scholar. Senior Scholar not included in Top 10 is Luis Cervantes.


Watervliet Township residents want to keep park off the radar of visitors

By Annette Christie A petition was part of the discussion at the Watervliet Charter Township Board meeting on Monday, May 21, a petition by a group of approximately 50 residents whose property is near the Woodland Beach Park. Supervisor Dan Hutchins said the board had received a petition circulated by Bob Wallace, who is also a trustee, which states that they do not want the park to be a public park, they want it to be kept private. Wallace stated that was not what the petition said, so Clerk Patt Bambrick read it aloud. “We the undersigned residents of Fairview are totally against Watervliet Charter Township promoting and developing two additional beaches in our neighborhood. We sincerely request that there be no action taken in this manner,” the petition reads. It goes on to cite these reasons, “Township taxpayer monies already support and maintain two existing public beaches. The roads in Fairview are partially one lane and inadequate to handle the current summer residential traffic and our lake homes have already been subject to break-ins and theft by strangers.” The property identified as being owned by Watervliet Charter Township and identified as a public park in official records, was a gift by a private owner with language connected to the gift stating that it should be maintained for public use. The township recently held this discussion about parks when a private owner wanted to buy Pamona Park. The township turned down the offer. Hutchins stated that it was vacant property on Paw Paw Lake right around the corner from Pamona Park. While it is designated for public use, the property has never been identified by a sign. Of the five that the township owns, two are identified. The board determined that perhaps a public hearing should be held to discuss the petitioned request. The board is likely to set that date at their June meeting. The board approved the demolition of a structure located at 3880 N. M-140 as requested by the Berrien County Treasurer. The property was foreclosed on and the treasurer requested municipal approval, as it always does with foreclosed properties, before scheduling a demolition. The board changed the date of their June meeting to accommodate some schedule conflicts. The Watervliet Charter Township Board meeting for June will be on June 11 at 7:00 p.m.

Planning Commission says no to medical marijuana in City of Watervliet

By Annette Christie The Watervliet City Planning Commission heard more comments on the subject of medical marijuana at their May 21 meeting, but only from five individuals. This was a drastic change from the high attendance and long comment period at their April meeting. Those five individuals asked some questions, provided opinions, and just commented to the Planning Commission prior to their vote as to whether or not they would recommend allowing medical marijuana in the city limits. Donna Dell, landlord of five properties in Watervliet said she was concerned about the impact it would have if this was approved. “I’m afraid that we will have trouble getting renters, getting good renters, or selling the property,” Dell said. She said she felt that they were sending a poor message to the kids at school. “We have taught them to stay away from drugs and then you are going to bring this to our city,” she added. Her husband also commented against it. Bob Becker provided a little schooling on the public comment portion of the meeting and informed those in attendance that this was not supposed to be a back and forth or arguing discussion between the commenters and the Planning Commission. He said he obtained an opinion from the Superintendent of Watervliet Public Schools which he read. He said that Kevin Schooley apologized for not being able to make the meeting due to a scheduling conflict and offered that he was not a fan of the facility being on Main Street in Watervliet or any town. Becker said of his own personal feelings, stating, “Personally I think it is a placebo but I’m not a doctor.” Rick Rasmussen said he went from being against it on Main Street, to being OK with it in the middle, to feeling that the problems outweighed the benefits in his final opinion. He said he came to that conclusion after visiting the facility in Bangor, doing some research, talking with people down in Galien, and looking at the program provided by the Michigan Municipal League, “If someone wants it they can drive to Hartford,” Rasmussen said. Dan Conkin, who owns a business in the City of Watervliet, asked about the doctor/facility relationship that is occurring in Bangor at the Green Door (a medical marijuana dispensary) with the doctor office next door. Thomas Wright Jr., a potential partner in and expansion into Watervliet said that this clinic allows potential clients to come there and for a couple hundred bucks, see the doctor and have assistance in completing the application for a Medical Marijuana Card if the doctor deems that they would receive benefit from it. Wright Jr. said, “Everything runs through the State, you can’t fake it,” he said. Conkin questioned the amount of money that the city could bring in if they opted in. City Manager said it could be $100 – $150,000 a year. Planning Commission member Larry Hehl said that the money amount was not determined. Planning Commission Chairperson Joe Engel told those in attendance that they will as a planning commission vote on this, if it passes it will move to the City Commission. Engel said, “I do understand your concerns. I’m only one voice.” Engel said the Planning Commission visited the facility in Bangor, met personnel, and asked questions. He said the mayor of Bangor was there and spoke very highly of the facility. “The Planning Commission has done a lot of research,” Engel said, adding, “We are familiar with what you can or can’t do with the facilities if they were to come to the City of Watervliet,” Engel said. Planning Commission member Luke Strunk made the motion that the Planning Commission recommends to the City Commission that they should opt in for a medical marijuana facility. Strunk and Mallory Brown voted yes with the other four voting no. That information will be passed on to the City Commission. Engel reminded the audience again that the City Commission does not have to follow the recommendation of the Planning Commission.

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Berrien County Treasurer  partnering with financial institutions to launch tax savings accounts

By Annette Christie Five Berrien County, Michigan financial institutions introduced new savings accounts this week to help residents save for their property taxes. Berrien County Treasurer Bret Witkowski approached the local banks and credit unions about the concept of creating a tax savings account much like a Christmas Club account. Witkowski said the accounts will help property owners save for their property tax bills. “When residents are able to pay their property taxes on time, taxpayers end up saving hundreds of thousands of dollars per year,” said Witkowski. Witkowski said the number of people becoming delinquent on their property taxes has increased since the great recession. “Even though our economy has improved, the number of people still delinquent remains just over 10%,” Witkowski said. The new Tax Savings Account is available at Edgewater Bank, United Federal Credit Union, New Buffalo Savings, Honor Credit Union, and 1st Source Bank. Taxpayers interested in setting up a tax savings account should contact the financial institution of their choice.

Coloma Lions Club Challenge Grant  for Amicus Dog Park has been met, presents check for $500 donation

Miss Caleigh Dahn, as part of her Girl Scout Gold Award Project, presented her vision of building the Amicus Dog Park at the former Washington School property. Her goal to create a place for involvement in the Community that would allow a safe place to exercise dogs away from both cars and the Sports Park being developed. She had stated her fund-raising goal was $7,500. As a result of the presentation the Finance Committee of the Coloma Lions Club approved not only a donation but shaped it as a Challenge Grant of up to $500 if Miss Dahn could raise matching individual smaller donations of up to the $500 total. The Lions are pleased to report that Miss Dahn was very successful in reaching the total required which allowed the Coloma Lions Club to present her with the Challenge Grant check for the full $500.

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