05-25-2017 Watervliet City Budget approved for next year; $1,035,455 revenues versus $936,365 expend

Watervliet City Budget approved for next year; $1,035,455 revenues versus $936,365 expenditures

By Annette Christie

The Watervliet City Commission finalized their 2017-2018 budget at their May 23 meeting.  City Manager Michael Uskiewicz presented the budget for the commission to approve.  A budget workshop was held last month.

Uskiewicz presented a budget that accounted for several budget issues that occurred over the last year including union issues for Public Works employees, the implementation of the School Resource Officer program, the Skate Park Maintenance agreement, and several staff adjustments.  “The budget as presented covers activities of the City of Watervliet to provide the level of service that meets the needs of the citizens in a cost effective manner,” Uskiewicz said.

The budget presented reflects the general fund’s proposed revenues of $1,035,455 with expenditures of $936,365; Major Street Fund revenues of $126,700 and expenditures of $121,385; Local Street Fund revenues of $63,200 with expenditures of $56,560; and minor surpluses in the sewer and water fund.

The vote to approve the budget was not unanimous.  With Commissioner Duane Cobb absent, the budget was approved but with the “no” votes from Commissioner Larry Hehl and Mayor Dave Brinker.  Hehl said he doesn’t believe that the numbers in the budget jive with the historical record.  He said that if the budget was based on historical record, it would not have the additional revenue numbers as shown.  In addition, Hehl said he would like to have seen a different strategy used that would allow for setting aside funds for future development and matching grant funds. Brinker chose not to comment as to why he voted no.

Uskiewicz commented that over the past few years several different methods have been used to put together the budget.  This being the first time that he has done the City of Watervliet’s budget it may be that modifications in the accounting style were used but he said he did not tap fund balances.  “My first priority was addressing the needs of the commission,” Uskiewicz said.

In the budget overview Uskiewicz refers to some suggestions that came out of the workshops including applying for grants.  He plans to apply for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Trust Fund Grant next spring for parks improvements including new playground equipment and a restroom facility.

The city commission authorized the selection of Jeff Allen as the     Department of Public Works Director.   The position was created in April by the commission. Uskiewicz had previously gone to the Personnel Committee and sought unanimous support for the appointment.  The position will start at $45,000 with a performance review after six months.  “I believe he will do a wonderful job. He takes great pride in his city,” Uskiewicz said of Allen.

Allen has worked for the City of Watervliet for thirteen years cumulatively.  He has worked under the direction of four different Public Works Department directors.  He received several letters of recommendation.

In other business, the city commission decided to reduce their meeting schedule to only one a month for the summer months.  Beginning next month, they will only meet on the 2nd Tuesday of the month at 6:30 p.m.

Coloma Glad-Peach Festival turns 50 this Aug. 3-6

By Christina Gelder

This is an exciting year for the Glad-Peach Festival in Coloma as it turns 50! The board of directors, event chairpersons and other volunteers are fully committed to presenting an awesome weekend for everyone. They are hard at work to ensure that the festival is once again a resounding success.

All of the same cornerstone events are slated for their usual spots. Friday, August 4 will host the opening ceremonies and youth parade. Saturday, August 5 starts early with the 5K and 10K Run/Walk/Bike races, followed by the parade early afternoon to fireworks late in the evening. Sunday, August 6 wraps up the fun with the car show as the big draw.

There will also be some new events and fun twists. Former traditions brought back to life in celebration of a community that is still going strong. Brochures will soon be available at local merchants but until then here are some details to get a jump on planning a great weekend.

Before it was the Glad-Peach Festival it was just the Gladiolus Festival and gladiolus were prevalent in the area. Still a part of the Coloma fabric, the festival will be bringing back a Gladiolus Contest. The contest will be judged the week before the festival and will have three distinct categories, amateur, professional and garden. There are different prizes in each category and plenty of opportunity to show off green thumbs and win. More details can be found on applications at City Hall. If you haven’t yet planted any gladiolus you might still be able to get some going if you hurry. DeGroot generously donated 5000 gladiolus bulbs that will be seen growing throughout the city in the coming months.

The Community Spirit Award is a way in which the festival can thank and honor people for their contributions around the city. For many years, Don and Dee Schultz have been responsible for the fireworks that help make the festival complete. Don passed away late in 2016 so this year Dee will be receiving the award on behalf of them both. She will be riding in the parade with Sieg Freitag who donates his property to set off the fireworks every year.

Saturday morning will be a busy one at the Run/Walk/Bike events. Each year these races draw in participants from many different cities and states. The theme for this year’s events will be officially announced in July but organizer Marty Quigley expects with the increased focus on health in the area it should be bigger and better than ever.

Coloma’s Got Talent is a new part of the festival line up. Nancy Perry is spearheading what is sure to be an amazing showcase of Coloma’s finest. This event will have auditions in July and then those chosen will perform onstage during the festival. There are more details on the festival’s website but interested parties should keep in mind that registration is due on June 28.

Sunday morning is still a very busy time for the festival. The car show is once again being organized by John Demis and John Rutz. They were pleased with how well everything went last year so they will be repeating many of the same features. Cars can register from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m., awards will end the show at 2:00 p.m. The registration fee is $15 per vehicle and they welcome any antique or modern car. The first 100 registrants will receive two food passes for lunch.

The local pastors in the area are planning a special community worship service. This year they have asked the winner of the History Channel’s popular reality series Alone to come and speak. Dave McIntrye was able to live off the land for 66 days when he won the season he was a part of. The service starts at 11:00 a.m. and will also have music from several different churches.

In addition to official Glad-Peach events there are other opportunities to enjoy the Coloma community throughout the weekend. For many years now the Sons of the American Legion at Coloma Post #362 have held a steak fry at the post. This is a fund-raising event for them as they support veterans and the community. Their party will involve serving food on Friday and Saturday evenings along with music, beer, and raffles. The actual steak fry will take place on Saturday evening beginning at 4:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m., or the steaks run out, whichever is sooner.

North Berrien Historical Museum will also be open for tours throughout the weekend. They will be participating in the parade and will have a tent downtown but would welcome visitors to explore their wonderful exhibits at the museum on the west edge of the city.

With so many amazing opportunities the first weekend in August is sure to be fun-filled and action packed for all of the Glad-Peach attendees. More information can be found at Coloma City Hall, on the festival website http://www.colomapeachfest.com/, or in the brochures with a full schedule in local businesses once they are distributed.

Coloma changes focus of popular music festival

By Christina Gelder Seven years ago, then Coloma Township Police Chief Randy Pompey, with the help of oth-ers, spear headed creating the Coloma BBQ and Blues Festiv-al. That quickly turned into the BBQ, Blues & Cruise when a car show was added. Held in the middle of June every year there was music and cars and food. Last year the planning commit-tee decided to take a slightly different focus and called the event Medley in the Park; still very similar, but with less focus on just BBQ and blues. There were several different food ven-dors as well as bands perform-ing in Baker Park. This year the event continues to evolve. The family focused day will be called Music in the Park and is moving to the fall season. Scheduled to be held on Satur-day, September 16, organizer Chana Kniebes of the Coloma Watervliet Area Chamber of Commerce says that they were looking for a fall event and felt like in June they were compet-ing with graduation parties, weddings, softball tournaments, and hot weather. They are hop-ing that by changing the season they will draw a bigger crowd in. The festival will still be music inspired and Kniebes says the live music will likely start in Baker Park at 5:00 p.m. The event committee is hoping for a car show as well and also seek-ing fall themed craft, anti-que/vintage vendors.

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