06-15-2017 North Berrien Fire Board scheduled special meeting to select chief; Watervliet city puts

North Berrien Fire Board scheduled special meeting to select chief

By Annette Christie

Coloma Township Supervisor Ken Parrigin, along with being on the fire board and the Interview Committee for the Fire Chief position, said that a special meeting of the fire board was scheduled for Wednesday, June 14 for the purpose of agreeing on the hiring of a Fire Chief. The position has been vacant since the end of 2015.

Parrigin and the Interview Committee met on Tuesday, June 13 for approximately two hours and decided to offer the position to the interviewed candidate that came in second in the voting round. Michael Mattix that came in second was spoken to by the Interview Committee on Tuesday and is still interested and wanting the job according to Parrigin.   Mattix has been with the City of Dowagiac Fire Department for 32 years.  He is currently a captain with the department and its Operations Officer.

This past March the Interview Committee wrapped up a very thoughtful and invested process to determine the top three candidates for the position that would be interviewed in public.  Dennis O’Halloran of Berwyn, Illinois and Bob Adams, currently with the North Berrien Fire Rescue Department were interviewed along with Mattix.  Adams has spent the last 28 years serving the residents in the North Berrien Fire district.  He has received instrumental training through the department and is currently a lieutenant with the department.

Following the voting, O’Halloran was offered the job; however, he turned the position down during the negotiation stage.

Once he turned it down, it was left to the fire board to determine what to do next.  At last month’s fire board meeting, they discussed several options including allowing the consultant to put forth some interim chief names, to go back to candidate #2 and offer the position, or to continue as it is going with two captains sharing administrative duties.

Parrigin said that the Interview Committee should go back to the drawing board and then bring back a   recommendation to the fire board.  The selection committee is made up of Parrigin, Coloma City Mayor Jim Polashak, Coloma Township resident Bob Howell, Hagar Township resident Deb Frank, Coloma City resident Bill Moser, and Fire Department Captain Todd Bohle.

At their meeting last week, the board considered two options: an interim chief put forth by the consultant out of Illinois or to hire Coloma Township Police Chief Jason Roe to be an interim “Administrative” Fire Chief until one is selected. The board agreed to let the Interview Committee review it. The Interview Committee is made up of Deb Frank, Todd Bohle, Ken Parrigin, Jim Polashak, Bob Howell, and Bill Moser.

Results from the Wednesday meeting were not available at press time.

COLOMA LIONESS CLUB… has donated $500.00 to the Coloma Public Library for large print books. Accepting the check from Club Secretary Debbie Friday (right) is Assistant Library Director Faith Wolbers (left). Large print books written by popular authors continue to grow in demand.


Award winning author to visit Covert Library

 On Wednesday, June 21 award winning author Valerie van Heest will visit the Van Buren District Library Covert Branch Library to talk about her book, Fatal Crossing: The Mysterious Disappearance of NWA Flight 2501 and the Quest for Answers.

The discussion of van Heest’s sixth book will take place at 6:30 p.m. at the library located at 33805 M-140 in Covert.

Valerie van Heest is also an underwater explorer and a member of the Women’s Divers Hall of Fame, and has been honored for her work in promoting and preserving Michigan maritime history.

Fatal Crossing describes the disappearance of Northwest Airlines Flight 2501, 67 years ago, on June 23, 1950 over Lake Michigan. The crash occurred near South Haven, and all 58 passengers aboard the flight, perished.

At the time, it was the worst commercial aviation disaster in the country, the wreck was never located and the cause of the crash was never determined. Shredded human remains washed up on the shores of West Michigan, and served as the evidence of the crash.

Nationally acclaimed author and explorer Clive Cussler, of the National Underwater Marine Agency teamed up with van Heest to solve the mystery of where the ill-fated Flight 2501 was located.

In addition to sharing her findings on her search for the wreck, van Heest will also sign a copy of the book for attendees.

Please contact the VBDL Covert Branch Library at 269-764-1298 for any questions about this event.

Watervliet city puts budget in place,  with two no votes

By Annette Christie

The Watervliet City Commission made their upcoming budget official on Tuesday night at their regular meeting. The commissioners passed the resolution approving the 2017-2018 budget.

The budget passed will not require that any changes be made to the total mills levied in the city which is currently at: General Fund, 16.9389, Police Fund 3.0000, Library 1.0000, Fire Fund 2.0000, and the Historical Museum at .2500. It is anticipated that there will be $1,035,455 in revenues of the general fund and $1,006,736 in expenses.  The total budget overall including major streets, local streets, cemetery, downtown development, capital, sewer fund, and water fund is $2,540,697 in revenues and $2,498,281 in expenses.  The vote was not unanimous with Commissioner Larry Hehl and Mayor Dave Brinker voting no. Commissioner Bill Whitney was absent.   Hehl said last month at the budget review that 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.

The city commission also amended the 2016-2017 budget as is required prior to the end of June.

The Ordinance Enforcement Report showed that there were several residents that received violation notices due to tall grass.  As a part of the ordinance, the commission voted to increase the rental inspections to $45.  Clerk Dena Yow said the Watervliet Township Board is expected to complete an ordinance change increasing the fee as well at their upcoming meeting.

City Manager Michael Uskiewicz is working on filling a few staff positions as well as board positions.  The part-time treasurer and the general laborer for Public Works are currently on the posting and will continue. In the mean time, the city commission voted to place Deah Muth in the position for the interim treasurer with the upcoming summer tax bills going out.  The commission approved the interim appointment for 90 days.  Muth said she will stay on to work with the new person once the position is filled.  She will not be applying for the position.

The Planning Commission is also down one member.  Some discussion was held about increasing the board membership from five to seven.  At this time they will focus on the one vacancy.  Applications are being accepted.

North Berrien Historical Museum kicks off 2017 photo contest with “Photography 101” program

 This summer the North Berrien Photography Contest invites submissions of original photographs that capture the distinctive character of our area. Eligible photographs must depict a location in North Berrien County, which includes Coloma and Watervliet cities and Hagar, Bainbridge, Coloma, and Watervliet townships. Winners will be selected from three age groups: Youth (age 17 and under), Adults (18-64), and Seniors (age 65 and older).

Winning photographs and honorable mentions will appear in a public exhibit at the North Berrien Historical Museum in September 2017. Winning photographers will be awarded a local gift certificate courtesy of the Coloma-Watervliet Area Chamber of Commerce, $25 cash courtesy of the Twin City Camera Club, and a 1-year membership to the North Berrien Historical Museum.

To obtain an official entry form and rules, contact or visit the North Berrien Historical Museum in Coloma. The final deadline to postmark or hand-deliver submissions to the museum is Friday, August 25, 2017. Complete submissions will include the entry form, a brief photograph description, and the photo entry printed on 8- by 10-inch photo paper.

The 2017 North Berrien Photography Contest is co-sponsored by the North Berrien Historical Museum, the Coloma-Watervliet Area Chamber of Commerce and the Twin City Camera Club.

Do you want to participate in the photo contest but you do not have a lot of photography experience? The North Berrien Historical Museum is hosting a free introductory photography session on June 22, 2017, at 7:00 p.m. Ted Post, treasurer of the Twin City Camera Club, will be at the North Berrien Historical Museum to share tips and techniques on how to take good photos and answer photography related questions. No photography experience is required. Feel free to bring your camera along with you!

For more information about the North Berrien Photography Contest or to request an official entry form and rules, contact the North Berrien Historical Museum at (269) 468-3330 or kristen@northberrienhistory.org.

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