06-04-2020 Watervliet City to seek MDOT funds to help cover expenses for road repairs on local stree

THESE KUTE KIDS ARE… Marley Alsup (10 years old) and her brother, 2-year-old Bneshi Alsup. The proud parents of these siblings are Samantha and Skyler Alsup of Eau Claire. Marley and Bneshi’s loving grandparents are James Nigro of Watervliet and Kerri Cobb of Coloma. Marley attends Watervliet Public Schools.


Watervliet City to seek MDOT funds to help cover expenses for road repairs on local streets

By Annette Christie The Watervliet City Commission held a special meeting on Thursday, May 28, 2020 in order to approve applying for MDOT funding. The application for MDOT Category B funding, which is designated for villages or small cities with a population of 10,000 or less, was due by June 1. Sam Leach with Wightman and Associates told the City Commission that this funding source was established at the end of 2018 and the duration of the funding is unknown. It is intended for smaller projects that collaborate with water and sewer for example, a local street that has poor surface and poor water main conditions due to a pipe too small. The maximum grant is $250,000 with a 50% minimum cash match. Any road construction work other than regular maintenance is eligible. Wightman and Associates presented two estimates to the City Commission for their consideration, one for Elm Street and one for Walnut Street and Gunn Street. The Elm Street total estimated project costs is $554,900 and would involve replacing 1,200 feet of existing four-inch water main and reconstructing Elm from Pleasant Street to 1st Street. The four-inch water main will be replaced with eight-inch ductile iron including hydrants. Elm Street will be fully reconstructed to a 26-foot wide cross-section consisting of 12-inch sand subbase, eight-inch aggregate base, and four inches of hot mix asphalt. Sidewalk and signage will be replaced and sidewalk ramps will be upgraded to ADA compliance. The city could receive a grant in the amount of $117,000 with the remainder coming out of the local streets and the water fund. The Walnut Street and Gunn Street improvements would involve replacing 850 feet of existing four-inch water main, adding storm sewer, and reconstruction of Gunn Street and Walnut Street from Butternut to Lewis streets. The four-inch water main will be replaced with eight-inch ductile iron including hydrants. Where storm sewer currently exists on Gunn Street, it will be replaced with 12-inch and new 12-inch storm sewer will be installed on Walnut Street. Walnut and Gunn streets will be fully reconstructed to a 26-foot wide cross-section consisting of 12-inch sand subbase, eight-inch aggregate base, and four inches of hot mix asphalt. Sidewalk and signage will also be replaced. This estimated project cost is $506,100 with anticipated MDOT grant funding of $128,500. The balance would be paid by the local streets and water funds. City Manager Tyler Dotson made the recommendation to only pursue one project; however, he wanted to present both options to the City Commission as both projects were worthwhile. “We could have requested funds (up to $250K max.) and thus done both projects using Category B funding (if awarded), however, from a financial perspective I do not believe it would have been in the City’s best interest at this time,” Dotson said. The City Commission chose to proceed with the Elm Street project. Mayor Brinker, who resides on Elm, abstained from the vote which was otherwise unanimous. Commissioner Whitney was absent. The project will recognize the completion of multiple improvements simultaneously, taking advantage of large-scale cost savings while limiting neighborhood disruptions. It is expected that the City could be notified in mid-July 2020. If awarded, the funding would be available as of October 1, 2020 with a 2021 completion date. “This project, if awarded, will allow the city to realize $117,000 in MDOT Category B funding while also taking advantage of economies of scale to address several areas of need as laid out by the City’s City-Wide Asset Management Plan (CAMP). This project is a textbook example of maximizing taxpayer dollars to accomplish several areas of need simultaneously. Our work over the past two years made this project an all-around win for the City, as it will see the installation of new water main (4-in. to 8-in.), new asphalt (street), new sidewalks, and the maintenance of 27 water connections as part of EGLE’s requirements in relation to the new lead & copper rules,” Dotson said.

BUILDING COLLAPSE IN DOWNTOWN HARTFORD… The iconic Gleason Building at the northwest corner of Main and Center streets dates back to 1895 as one of the original buildings that became the downtown business district, home to several businesses in its heyday including Abraham’s Store, Hubbard’s Store and the Masonic Lodge. The later decades have seen the ill-maintained structure largely vacant and ultimately collapsing between noon and 1:00 p.m. last Thursday, May 28. First Responders from Hartford, Lawrence, and the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department arrived quickly to secure the area while using the services of Great Lakes Drone to search the upper floor for potential victims. City Commissioner Frank Dockter was stopped at the light when the building facade gave way. “Thank God nobody was hurt,” said Dockter who pointed out that just 24 hours later a planned Seniors Send-Off cavalcade would have routed the cars of Hartford’s Class of 2020 along Main, which would have undoubtedly attracted spectators on that corner. City officials are working with a demolition firm to take the rest of the structure down, while the adjacent part of Center Street remains closed. (TCR photo by Jon Bisnett)


Sticking to budget can boost your emergency fund

During the coronavirus pandemic, our health concerns – for ourselves and our loved ones – have been at the top of our minds. But financial worries have been there, too, both for people whose employment has been affected and for investors anxious about the volatile financial markets. And one aspect of every individual’s total financial picture has become quite clear – the importance of an emergency fund. In normal times, it’s a good idea for you to keep three to six months’ worth of living expenses in a liquid, low-risk account. Having an emergency fund available can help you cope with those large, unexpected costs, such as a major car repair or a costly medical bill. Furthermore, if you have an adequate emergency fund, you won’t have to dip into your long-term investments to pay for short-term needs. These investment vehicles, such as your IRA and 401(k), are designed for your retirement, so the more you can leave them intact, the more assets you’re likely to have when you retire. And because they are intended for your retirement, they typically come with disincentives, including taxes and penalties, if you do tap into them early. (However, as part of the economic stimulus legislation known as the CARES Act, individuals can now take up to $100,000 from their 401(k) plans and IRAs without paying the 10% penalty that typically applies to investors younger than 59-1/2. If you take this type of withdrawal, you have up to three years to pay the taxes and, if you want, replace the funds, beyond the usual caps on annual contributions.) Of course, life is expensive, so it’s not always easy to put away money in a fund that you aren’t going to use for your normal cash flow. That’s why it’s so important to establish a budget and stick to it. When developing such a budget, you may find ways to cut down on your spending, freeing up money that could be used to build your emergency fund. There are different ways to establish a budget, but they all typically involve identifying your income and expenses and separating your needs and wants. You can find various online budgeting tools to help you get started, but, ultimately, it’s up to you to make your budget work. Nonetheless, you may be pleasantly surprised at how painless it is to follow a budget. For example, if you’ve budgeted a certain amount for food each month, you’ll need to avoid going to the grocery store several times a week, just to pick up “a few things” – because it doesn’t really take that many visits for those few things to add up to hundreds of dollars. You’ll be much better off limiting your trips to the grocery, making a list of the items you’ll need and adhering to these lists. After doing this for a few months, see how much you’ve saved – it may be much more than you’d expect. Besides using these savings to strengthen your emergency fund, you could also deploy them toward longer-term investments designed to help you reach other objectives, such as retirement. Saving money is always a good idea, and when you use your savings to build an emergency fund, you can help yourself prepare for the unexpected and make progress toward your long-term goals. This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor. Edward Jones, Member SIPC

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