06-04-2020 Class of 2020 begins graduation traditions with parade through their; Governor rescinds s

COLOMA SENIORS CELEBRATED… Excited friends and family members shared signs supporting their 2020 graduates in the Coloma Graduation Parade held Friday night May 29, the original night for graduation; however it was changed due to the Governor’s Executive Order. (TCR photo by Annette Christie)


A GRADUATION TO REMEMBER… Hartford High’s Class of 2020 became the 137th graduating class of Hartford Public Schools last Friday night, May 29, the first among Tri-City schools, via a virtual online ceremony followed by a Senior Send-Off cavalcade ending at the school for a fireworks show to commemorate the event. Seventy shells, one representing each member of the class, shot skyward leading to the grand finale (see photo below). Nothing could stop these unflappable seniors of 2020 from enjoying their special moment in time; not even when a building collapsed the day before along their planned route. The event drew high praise from students, parents and townsfolk alike. Rest assured the unique circumstances of the Class of 2020 will make for many stories to tell at their class reunions yet to come. (TCR photos by Jon Bisnett)


COLOMA ROYALTY TAKES PART IN A DIFFERENT PARADE… Due to social distancing requirement laid out by Governor Gretchen Whitmer, for the nation’s health crisis, the Annual Glad-Peach Festival which would normally be held in August and hosted by the local royalty, was canceled. Miss Coloma Lilly Trapp (top) and Mr. Coloma Ian Ishmael (bottom) were able to participate in a different Coloma community parade Friday night for the Class of 2020 graduates. The traditional graduation ceremony originally scheduled for May 29 also had to be re-arranged to accommodate social distancing guidelines and will be held in a drive-in style arrangement at the school on Friday, June 12. (TCR photos by Annette Christie)


SENIOR SIGNS… bearing the names of all the 2020 graduates from Watervliet High School greeted a parade last Friday night in honor of those individuals. A row of family members and spectators also greeted them, horns honking, screams of congratulations, and applause as they entered the grounds of the school for their traditional last day visit. (TCR photo by Annette Christie)


A LITTLE SENIOR HUMOR… Watervliet High School graduates Nicholas Polaskey (waving) and Curtis White (right) rode in the graduation parade on Friday, May 29 in a pickup with window lettering reading “IDK [I Don’t Know] HOW”. (TCR photo by Annette Christie)


Each Hartford High School Grad was greeted by their own fireworks


Governor rescinds shelter in place order, moves state to Phase 4 of recovery plan from Covid-19 pandemic, restaurants and campgrounds included

By Jon Bisnett Governor Gretchen Whitmer has withdrawn the state’s stay-at-home order on Monday June 1, in what her office calls Phase 4 of the Michigan Safe Start Plan. All Michigan bars and restaurants across the entire state may reopen at 50% capacity as of June 8. Whitmer said several restrictions remain in place and cautions Michiganders to wear masks in enclosed public spaces while also maintaining social distancing of at least six feet. Businesses including gyms, hair salons, barber shops, indoor theaters and casinos remain closed by order, though many tribal casinos that are not under state jurisdiction have already begun reopening. Campgrounds were locked down until May 28, with DNR owned campgrounds shut down until June 21. Once again small businesses have expressed frustration that anyone can now visit the dentist, but not get a haircut. Restaurant owners say they are trying to remain positive, but for many the 50% capacity rule fails to fit the math of their business model. Some may never recover from the shutdown as will be seen in the coming weeks. In Executive order 2020-109 issued just a few days prior, Whitmer extended safety guidelines as follows: Customers who can medically tolerate a face covering must wear one when entering a grocery store or pharmacy. Grocery stores and pharmacies must allocate at least two hours per week of shopping time for vulnerable populations. If an employee tests positive for COVID-19, the business must notify other employees without infringing on private health information.

More high-profile cancellations Organizers canceled the Boston Marathon on Thursday for the first time in its history, ending a 124-year run that had persisted through two World Wars, even another pandemic. The race which draws a typical field of 30,000 had been postponed to Sept. 14, and is now replaced by a virtual event wherein runners will verify that they ran the 26.2 miles on their own. City of Chicago special summer events have been canceled through Labor Day Sept. 7. Cancellations include the ever-popular Taste of Chicago, the Chicago Air and Water Show, Chicago Jazz Festival, Chicago Blues Festival, as well as all summer programming at the Chicago Riverwalk and in Millennium Park. Across the state NASCAR plans to visit the Irish Hills of Brooklyn, August 8 & 9, as the Cup Series comes to Michigan International Speedway. It is unlikely that fans will be permitted. Look for further announcements from NASCAR as the event approaches.

Locally The Van Buren Youth Fair Board of Directors has made the exceedingly difficult decision to cancel the in-person fair scheduled for July 20-25, with Cass and Berrien still hoping to continue at this time. Watervliet’s St. Joseph Catholic Church has resumed Mass schedules. Many area churches are returning to limited live services while also offering livestreaming for those not comfortable with traditional meeting fellowship at this time. Hartford Lions Club Concerts in the Park are starting June 18 opening with 50s & 60s music of Past Time. Concerts continue Thursdays at Ely Park through Aug 27. Four Winds Casino Resorts are working on plans to reopen with an unofficial date of June 15. Schools What follows is an excerpt from a joint communication from Van Buren Intermediate Jeff Mills, undersigned by all 11 Van Buren County Public School Superintendents. “As we continue to monitor the pandemic path and receive guidance from the local health department, CDC and the Governor’s office, we want to assure you that the safety and health of staff, students and families are a top priority.

For the past two weeks, a group of more than 200 educators, community members and others have been meeting to provide guidance and direction on how we safely open schools this fall. As you can imagine, until a vaccination is found for the COVID-19 virus we have to prepare for many different scenarios. The possibilities being discussed are: In-person, face-to-face instruction with proper precautions and safety measures; remote/distance learning using technology and other means; a combination of in-person, face-to-face instruction and remote/distance learning. To the extent that remote/distance learning continues to be part of the instructional delivery model, we anticipate a more robust program with student participation, engagement, and assessment expectations more closely resembling that of traditional, in-person school. As we continue to map out the future delivery of education for all of our students, please continue to monitor your school district’s website for updates. Plans will be nimble in order to adapt to changing circumstances.”

Hartford’s Andy Hubbard says, “We have a great county-wide dialogue going, but it still all hinges on further direction from the State as to what may be required for fall. At this point all we can do is remain liquid to adjust our resources to offer the best possible environment for learning while balancing optimal safety for our students and staff. All that to done with what is predicted to be a significantly lower budget due to cuts in the State Education Fund.” Expanded testing Testing for COVID-19 is becoming more readily available all over the state. Contact your local Health Department or your family physician for resources.

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