05-28-2020 Hartford seniors will graduate with a bang Friday night, parade and fireworks will follo

TAPS ACROSS AMERICA… Brad and daughter Alyson Wendzel are pictured playing taps in their backyard on Memorial Day. The national grassroots campaign to play “Taps Across America” at 3 p.m. was in response to the widespread cancellation of traditional Memorial Day observances due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Hartford seniors will graduate with a bang Friday night, parade and fireworks will follow virtual graduation on Facebook

By Jon Bisnett

As the first of the Tri-City schools to graduate, the Hartford Senior Class of 2020 will definitely see a unique spin on traditional commencement pomp and circumstance including fireworks.

Hartford High School administration made the hard decision weeks ago to proceed with graduation on its originally scheduled date of May 29, 2020 as a virtual graduation in reaction to the COVID-19 restrictions. Although some folks found this an initially unpopular call; with several additional embellishments that have since been added, the non-traditional celebration should prove to be a memorable backdrop to honor the accomplishments of the Class of 2020.

Hartford administrators started with a personal visit to each and every senior’s home to deliver a custom Class of 2020 yard sign.

Facebook Live ceremony on Friday

Hartford’s Virtual Graduation Ceremony will be Live on Facebook at 7:00 p.m., Friday, May 29. The entire Hartford community is to join in a Senior Send-Off salute. At 8:45 p.m., after the graduates gather in their respective vehicles at the Hartford Bible Church, the seniors will take a processional drive down Red Arrow Highway, turn left on N. Center Street, then a right on School Street, and ending in the Middle School parking lot. Seniors are encouraged to wear their cap and gown and decorate their cars for the procession.

This provides an opportunity for well-wishers in the community to join in celebrating the Class of 2020. Immediately following the Senior Send-Off will be a fireworks show, with one shell fired for each member of the class, leading up to the grand finale.

Important to note is, only seniors may park in the Middle School lot to view the show launched from the softball field at 9:15 p.m. Additional community members may park in the High School lot.

For the evening to be a total success, social distancing guidelines must be maintained. Both the Hartford Police Department and Fire Department with assist in supervising the event.

MONUMENT BACK HOME IN COLOMA… Workers from St. Joe Monument installed the newly refurbished Vietnam War Memorial at the recently renovated Baker Park in Coloma. The names of eight Coloma veterans who lost their lives in Vietnam are memorialized on the stone first dedicated in Baker Park on April 21, 1990. Those eight are also being honored with banners on Main Street that will fly in good weather in 2020 and be hung again for the rededication of the stone in 2021. Renovations to Coloma’s Baker Park on Main Street include a circle of cement that holds the refurbished Vietnam War Memorial, and a new lighting system. Also in Baker Park, the WWII memorial that was installed in the 1940s still stands, and is flanked by memorials honoring those who served in the Gulf War and Desert Storm. In addition to the existing Vietnam POW/MIA flag and the American flag, new flags now stand on the south side of the park. The rededication of the Vietnam War monument will take place on Memorial Day 2021 to honor those who lost their lives during the conflict. (Photo courtesy of Marsha Hammond)

CHS announces it’s Top Ten Seniors; Parade of Senior Class of 2020 is this Friday night, graduation set for June 12

On Thursday night, May 21, 2020, Coloma School Superintendent Dave Ehlers announced via social media that a graduation ceremony is being planned to occur on Friday, June 12, 2020 at 7:00 p.m. with the full details of the event to be determined.

Ehlers, standing in the parking lot of Coloma High School announced that the ceremony would be drive-in style with each graduate being allowed one vehicle and one parking spot. The early plans include having a big stage set up at the light pole with a projector screen and the capability of listening to the ceremony on an FM transmitter, so that all participants can remain in their cars. Cars will be lined up 10 in a row to allow for all 110 graduates to attend.

“We will get the seniors across the stage in some way,” Ehlers said noting that that was the most important thing.

The school will arrange for photos to be taken on the stage with each graduate and then will be made available to the families at no cost. They are still tweaking the plans but Ehlers said he hopes to make it work. The district is working in conjunction with the Berrien County Health Department and the Coloma Township Police Department on the plans to make sure they would be considered compliant to the Governor’s order.

Graduate Parade planned

The Coloma Seniors Graduation Parade is being organized by parents. It will be at 7:00 p.m., this Friday, May 29, 2020. All graduates are encouraged to participate and are encouraged to wear their cap and gown, and to decorate their cars.

Any car that will be in the parade should meet at the Coloma Harding’s at 6:30 p.m. Organizers are asking that the parade contain only graduates and that everyone else should participate by populating the parade route. The parade will start at Harding’s and will travel through Coloma, turning onto Red Arrow Highway and driving by the high school.

Organizers are asking that the community still maintains social distancing while cheering on the Class of 2020 Graduates.

Coloma Schools Top 10 in Class of 2020

Coloma High School Principal Mike Churchill announced last week the names of the Top 10 in the Class of 2020. Much different than any other year, Churchill and Superintendent Dave Ehlers made their way around the area to congratulate them and deliver the caps and gowns to the top of the class.

Just last Thursday, Ehlers announced that the graduation will be held Friday, June 12, 2020 at 7:00 p.m. at the high school parking lot. The Top 10 will be honored there as well. Their names are as follows: Alice Askren, Nicholas Eastman, Morgan Hosbein, Ian Ishmael, Megan Koenigshof, Megan Neubecker, Brenna Prescott, Marissa Sherburn, Isabelle Stevens, and Emma Vandermolen.

Due to the Governor’s Stay at Home Order, school administrators had to forgo the annual dinner with family, where the Top 10 are honored.

Governor extends shelter in place order through June 12; Lakeland offers antibody test

By Jon Bisnett

Michigan’s controversial Governor Gretchen Whitmer has taken yet another step in her phased reopening of the Michigan economy, this time reopening retail businesses and automobile dealerships statewide by appointment effective on the Tuesday following Memorial Day; while Executive Order 2020-100 extends the shelter-in-place order by another two weeks, through June 12, in effect a complete contradiction.

Executive order 2020-96 to reopen retail businesses and auto dealerships by appointment only statewide on Tuesday, May 26, the latest component of the Michigan Safe Start plan. The order also lifts the requirement that health care providers delay some nonessential medical, dental, and veterinary procedures statewide beginning on Friday, May 29. The governor also signed a separate order, Executive Order 2020-97, updating a prior rule on workplace safety for outpatient health-care facilities, now forced to adopt strict protocols to prevent further infection.

Small gatherings of 10 people or less may start immediately, practicing social distancing of course.

A record 100 Executive Orders from Whitmer’s pen have Michiganders heads spinning. No other governor in the nation has come close to this number of official directives, notably including those with domain over other recognized hot-spots like New York and Chicago.

Northern Michigan bars and restaurants are now allowed to reopen limited to a capacity of 50%. However, many restaurant owners report difficulty in finding workers, who make more on unemployment than they would on the job, coupled with issues in attempting to get inventory to stock their kitchens, since suppliers have throttled down their operations during the shutdown. Several have opted to remain closed at this time as a result.

You still can’t get a haircut, see a movie or sit down in a restaurant with a real plate and silverware. Hair salons, theaters, dine-in restaurants, libraries, gyms, private campgrounds and casinos and are still locked down until May 28, with DNR owned Campgrounds shut down until June 21.

More Michigan cancellations

It’s getting easier to say what festivals and events are still on, rather than list the hundreds of cancellations statewide. Muskegon joined the list this week in dumping plans for its annual Coast Guard Festival that normally brings thousands of visitors to the city. Most all other SW Michigan summer events have already deferred to 2021.

Across the state

At least we don’t live in Midland, as we residents of high ground send our thoughts and prayers to the victims of the catastrophic flooding.

As if that weren’t enough, some 70 residents of Grayling near M-72 were evacuated as firefighters took on a 100-acre wildfire earlier in the week. The blaze was extinguished with no injuries, nor loss of life or property.

Frustration continues to build among many small businesses, hair salons, bars and restaurants, especially those near the Indiana state line. Impatient Michiganders, that have grown tired of the slow rollout of the Whitmer reopening plan, are taking their spendable income across the line into the Hoosier State for everything from hair, nails, dining and entertainment in a fully open marketplace of retail establishments.

“This is lost revenue we can’t ever recoup,” said one local business owner. “It’s adding insult to injury, after being shut down for a month and now watching our customers go elsewhere because we’re not allowed to open. I really can’t blame them.”

As graduation season is now upon us, there is most definitely a quiet insurrection to the Governor’s order. Speaking with local caterers we found that more than a few families have every intention of celebrating their student’s graduation with a traditional open house / party. It remains to be seen if law enforcement will follow the trail of balloons to enforce the less than 10 order or cite participants.

Local bright spots

Word is out that Four Winds Casino Resorts has begun notifying employees of a planned June 15 reopening date. Chief Operating Officer Frank Freedman addressed the staff in a communication last week, saying to expect some changes, including shift intake health screenings, the wearing of face masks and the possibility of limited guest services based on best practices at the onset.

A social media post from the Sunset Drive-In in Hartford shows a tentative date of June 13 to open for the season, pending ongoing developments of the virus. Thanks to COVID-19, nationwide interest has been recently rekindled in some 300 drive-in theaters still operating across the country.

Based on the Governor’s most recent actions, it would appear that one can expect the next major steps of the COVID recovery to come in that second week of June.


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