06-20-19 Watervliet Township approves ordinance that allows medical marijuana facilities; Hartford m

GETTING THEIR DUCKS IN ROW… was the task last week for Duck Race “Duckmasters” to get the plastic ducks cleaned, renumbered and sorted for the exciting Duck Race scheduled as part of the Watervliet Independence Weekend Celebration, set for June 28-30. See the complete schedule and “Firecracker” contestants photos on Page 6.


Watervliet Township approves ordinance that allows medical marijuana facilities

By Annette Christie The Watervliet Township Board once and for all approved the final Medical Marihuana Facilities Ordinance at their Monday, June 17 meeting. The subject, which has been on the agenda for many months, makes it possible for medical marijuana facilities to make their home in Watervliet Charter Township. Applications will be available on August 1, 2019 and will be processed as a Special Land Use permit. The permit application will go to the Planning Commission, whereby they will hold a public hearing, and then provide their recommendation/denial to the Township Board for final action. Prior to the vote, Supervisor Dan Hutchins expressed his concern, “It is just amazing to me the lack of involvement, hearing very little from the community.” For the many meetings that have been held, all with public comments at least once, if not twice, and yet only a handful of people have spoken on the subject. Hutchins also expressed once again that there were a couple things he was not very happy with but that he will support it as written. Hutchins offered the board another opportunity to speak on the subject, and all remained silent. The ordinance passed unanimously. The ordinance providing regulations for the operations of medical marijuana facilities in the township, allows for not more than six growers, not more than three processors, not more than four provisioning centers, and no limit on the number of safety compliance facilities and secure transporters. A grow facility and a processor may co-locate at the same location. All growers and processors must be located within the industrial zoning district. All provisioning centers, safety compliance facilities, and secure transporters must be within the commercial zoning district. Provisioning Centers must be located a minimum of 100 feet from residential zoning or an actual current residence and must be located a minimum of 500 feet from a school, playground, park, licensed day care center, or a place of worship. While the board approved medical marijuana, they opted out of recreational marijuana, following the second reading of that ordinance. With the majority of voters in the State of Michigan being in favor of recreational marijuana becoming legal, it is up to the State of Michigan to now put the rules and regulations in place, regarding that subject. Based on the advice of their attorney, the township considered opting out of allowing recreational marijuana facilities in the township, at least for now. The Prohibition of Recreational Marihuana Establishments Ordinance came about following advice of the township’s attorney. Hutchins said, “There is just not enough information available yet with the rules still being discussed, and the laws are still being written.” The ordinance prohibits all recreational marijuana establishments within the township and identifies violations and penalties for those that do not abide by it. “Any person who disobeys, neglects or refuses to comply with any provision of this ordinance, or who causes, allows, or consents to any of the same shall be deemed to be responsible for the violation of this ordinance,” the ordinance states, adding, “A violation of this ordinance is a municipal civil infraction, for which the fines shall not be less than $100 nor more than $500 at the discretion of the Court.”

River signage support approved The board re-visited a request from the Southwest Michigan Planning Commission for the Paw Paw River Water Trail contribution. The Planning Commission has requested $500 from the Watervliet Township Board in the effort to install signage along the Paw Paw River Water Trail. This is a continuation of efforts to increase usage of the river by enhancing its appeal and to make it safer. Trustee Joe Stepich said the signage would be along the river noting mile markers, landmarks, launches, etc. It could be especially useful if a kayaker gets in trouble on the water and needs to get help to his or her location. The request is for 2019, however, it is unknown if there will be additional requests in the future. Other neighboring river communities are being asked to support the effort as well. The board approved the request following their discussion.

Hartford medical marijuana dispensary slated for Oct., following final approval

By Jon Bisnett Med+Leaf cleared the final hurdle of state licensing approval at the end of May paving the way for the first medical marijuana dispensary to be open in the City of Hartford this fall. It has been a journey for the family-based company that began with the licensing process almost immediately following the adoption of the city ordinance in November of 2017, which was and still is the only Tri-City governing body to adopt a medical marijuana facilities ordinance. The leased property, adjacent to the Family Dollar store, located at 309 W. Main Street will now be remodeled into a secure storefront to house the business. It has a target opening date of October 1 according to investor Doug Von Koenig. The City Commission had previously approved the Med+Leaf application in June of last year, giving the company a year to get state licensing. A 90-day extension was granted by the local commissioners in March when protracted state processing led only to an initial denial of the application. Med+Leaf restructured the ownership of its Limited Liability Corporation to satisfy the state rather than face a lengthy appeal process which resulted in the approval now in hand. The company had originally planned on locating at the former MacKinder Law Office at 11 West Main, but after a protracted round of debate on measuring methods within the city’s ordinance, it was ultimately deemed that that property was located too near a church to qualify. Alex Von Koenig will run day to day store operations when the store is up and running. City Police, Fire and Planning Commission are all onboard, pending a final post construction walk-through. From the very start of the application process Doug Von Koenig has stated “We seek to be a good neighbor of the local businesses and provide service to those who seek our medicinal products.” Come October, the Von Koenigs will have the opportunity to put that mantra into practice. Currently Michigan has some 220,000 holders of medical marijuana cards with roughly 3,000 in Berrien County, 1,000 in Cass and another 2,000 in Van Buren. The only other nearby dispensary is located in Bangor. The Green Door opened in early 2018 and has operated without incident per local officials. Although rebuffed in a recent attempt to pursue a location in Watervliet. At the time of this approval, Hartford is the only one of the Tri-Cities with an ordinance allowing cannabis related business, with only one in each license category of dispensary, grow, processing, safety compliance and transportation. In any case Med+Leaf will open this fall and perhaps prove to be the test case for what may or may not dispel misconceptions and perhaps lead to local expansion of the growing cannabis business community.

Coloma Twp. park upgrades continue

By Annette Christie The Coloma Township Board learned of more park improvements slated for their township parks at their June 12 meeting, just as soon as funding is available. Coloma Township Parks and Recreation Chairman Tony Bertuca reported that the perimeter fencing is up at Washington Park and work on the walking track continues. The track had about 70 cracks that needed repair for safety purposes. The track was originally installed by the school when they owned the property years ago. Eventually the track will need to be re-done completely but it is good for now. Bertuca said that the AEP lease for the property by the river is final and they have been working on cleaning up that area for canoes and kayaks. In the future, the Parks Committee would like to look at adding bathrooms to Washington Park, possibly individual bathrooms to include handicapped accessible. The parking lot will need to be resealed as well down the road. Bertuca said that they continue to get requests for pickleball courts and they are looking into the cost involved in that. Other business Trustee Bryan Duffield reported from the Cemetery Committee that there are new signs that have been installed. He informed the board that they have received complaints about flowers being stolen again this year. “It is extremely difficult to stop,” Duffield said. They have let the police department know that it has been a problem and maybe they can keep an eye out for it. During public comments a neighbor near Harding’s complained about the loud noise that comes from either blowers or fans or something. She said it is so bad at times that she has to wear noise cancelling headphones in her own home. Supervisor Ken Parrigin said that as long as they meet the noise ordinance there isn’t anything really that the township can do about it. Parrigin did ask the Police Chief to look into it. “If it is against any of the legalities then maybe we can do something,” Parrigin said.

WBA Independence Weekend Celebration, June 28-30, has something for everyone

By Annette Christie

The Watervliet Independence Day Weekend Celebration will be held June 28, 29, and 30, 2019 with offerings for everyone.

The Watervliet Business Association has been hard at work ironing out all the details for the weekend of fun. They will be bringing the carnival back and promise that it will be bigger and better. Also new this year: Amish Village in Flaherty Park; Kid Zone Independence Station at Library Park; 3 on 3 Basketball Tournament; History of Watervliet movie; Paw Paw River Jeep Club exhibit; and live music featuring “Chip & Dolly” Shadows of the Night, Hawaiian Rolls, Big Ben & the Burly Boys, and Deep Fried Pickle Project.

The festivities will begin at 3:00 p.m. on Friday, June 28, 2019 when the carnival opens, bigger and better than ever. At 4:00 p.m. the Watervliet Airport 40C Fly-In opens along with a camp-in that will last all weekend.

The Family Drive-In movie is returning on Friday night at dusk and is showing “Bumble Bee”. It will be at the old papermill property on M-140 across from Hays Park. Free Wesco popcorn will be available. Organizers will be doing bug treatment at the property to help eliminate the mosquitoes that presented a problem last year.

Friday night will also see the Elkhart Garden Tractor Pull returning from last year. The tractors will be firing up at 6:00 p.m. Don’t forget to grab some grub from Sidetrack Restaurant or Saylor’s Pizza and watch the pulls on Pleasant Street.

Youth Parade, Golf Cart Parade, Grand Parade

Festival goers will have an opportunity to attend many parades during the weekend.

On Friday night at 5:30 p.m., the kids will be the stars of the show for the Youth Parade. The parade line up will take place on Pleasant Street.

The Decorated Golf Cart Parade will begin at the North School at 7:30 p.m. and will end at the Main Stage. Judging will take place at the school and the winning golf cart will win a $50 cash prize. Last year’s Decorated Golf Cart winners Loretta Hutchins and Judy Phillipi will be heading up this event this year and will be making the winner selection along with Chief Dan Jones of the WFD.

On Saturday at 1:00 p.m., the July 4th Grand Parade will take place. Staging will be on the old high school property at the corner of M-140 and St. Joseph Street (Red Arrow Hwy) and will travel north on Main Street towards Arclight Brewery. Co-chairing the Grand Parade are Sherri Ulleg and Rochelle Ulleg. Those interested in participating in the parade should contact the chairpersons: Sherri Ulleg, (269) 487-6690 or email sherriulleg@gmail.com; Rochelle Ulleg may be contacted at Robert Michael Salon & Spa, 324 N. Main St., Watervliet.

Independence Day Royalty

Baby crowns and toddler banners will be handed out to the Independence Day royalty to be crowned during the holiday festival.

Those selected as 2019 Little Red, White & Blue (ages 18 months – 3 years) and Baby Independence (ages 0 – 18 months) will be crowned on Friday night at 6:00 p.m. following the kiddie parade.

Little Miss & Mr. Firecracker will be crowned on Saturday prior to the Grand Parade. Contestants for this contest are 5 or 6 years old and from the community of Watervliet. The crowning for Little Miss & Mr. Firecracker will be at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday at the Main Stage.

The chair people are Elizabeth Eggert (269-313-4712) or Kassie Thomas (269-277-1618).

The Independence Day Royalty contests are a fundraiser for the Watervliet Business Association. Voting is $1 per vote and can be cast at area locations including: Arclight Brewery, B&B Grocery Discount Outlet, Coloma Harding’s, JW Morlock & Girls Fruit Stand, and Frosty Boy.

Gene Bednarowski 5K Cherry Run and Walk

The Gene Bednarowski 5k Cherry run and walk will be held at 8:00 a.m. at North School, 287 W. Baldwin Avenue in Watervliet. Race day sign-ups begin at 6:45 a.m. or sign up online at www.runsignup.com/Race/MI/Watervliet/GeneBednarowski5kCherryRun.

Watervliet Fire Department Pancake Breakfast & Airport steak fry

Between 7:00 and 11:00 on Saturday morning, the Watervliet Fire Department will be hosting their annual delicious pancake/sausage breakfast which is used to raise funds for many good causes in the community.

When breakfast has worn off be sure to attend the Watervliet Airport steak-fry from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. to fuel back up.

Amish Village at Flaherty Park

A local Amish Community will be spending Saturday in Watervliet during the Watervliet Independence Day Celebration from 9:00 a.m to 10:00 p.m. in Flaherty Park. They will have activities planned including bonnet making, cooking and baking, singing and quilting. Genuine Amish produced goods might also be available for purchase. Stop by and welcome our new neighbors!

Wrestling, Baseball, and Basketball

Independence Pro Wrestling presents Freedom Fights 2019 at the Watervliet Independence Day Celebration. There will be two free events that will include a #1 Contender Contract Ladder Match, a Michiana Championship Re-Match, and a Women’s Championship Match. The two events will be held Friday at 9:00 p.m. and Saturday at 6:00 p.m., both at the Main Stage.

Newly added to the festival this year is the Chill Zone Misting station located on Church Street north of the railroad tracks. The WBA along with the help of the Watervliet Fire Department are hoping to keep the festival goers cool throughout the day on Saturday.

The All American 3 on 3 Basketball Tournament will be held on Church Street starting at 10 a.m. on Saturday. There is a $25 registration fee which includes a T-shirt. Those interested may contact Chairman Scott Hobson at (269) 944-9120.

The Hooterville Hitters take the field against the Paw Paw River Cats at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at Hays Park. Stop by for some vintage base ball action.

Arclight Brewery hosting several festival events

Much of the fun during the Independence Day Weekend Celebration can be found at Arclight Brewery.

The 16th Annual 4th of July Car Show Honoring our Veterans will be held on Saturday from 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. One hundred percent of the $10 registration fee goes to the Battle Creek Veterans Administration Hospital to support veterans. The show is open to all antique, classic, modified, special interest, cars, trucks and motorcycles. There will be dash plaques, door prizes, and awards. For more information, contact (269) 463-5260 or email lessue52@comcast.net.

The Beer and Bags Tournament starts at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday and is being chaired by Deven Schultz and Jim Butler. The cost is $25 per team. Pre-registration can be done with Deven Schultz or at the Tri-City Record Office. Teams may also register onsite the day of the event. The winning team wins two tickets to the U of M vs. MSU football game at the Big House in Ann Arbor.

Top-notch entertainment on Main Stage

Friday – Music with “Chip & Doll” Shadows of the Night (Pat Benatar Tribute Band) at 7 p.m.

Saturday – From 4 to 5 p.m., Hawaiian Rolls will be on the Main Stage to entertain.

This year visitors can find music before and after the fireworks featuring Big Ben and the Burly Boys on the Main Stage. The show will provide a soulful mix of rock, pop and blues through the decades with special guests Ben Loshbough and James Sonnentag. They will begin at 9:00 p.m., pause for the fireworks, and begin again at 11:00 p.m.

Sunday – Following the Duck Race at Flaherty Park, music will be provided by the Deep Fried Pickle Project at 3:00 p.m. The committee would like to invite everyone to plan a picnic lunch and stick around after the duck race for the show.

Other activities

The carnival will open on Saturday at 8:00 a.m. Between 10 a.m. and 2:00 p.m., kids should visit the Kid Zone Independence Station (Library Park) for fun and activities and train rides. Free Train rides through the new Independence Station will give kids a new experience traveling the preplanned route punching their ticket, with free popcorn and some gifts. The Kid Zone will also have a new attraction “Monkey’s in Motion” along with the ever popular inflatables.

Between 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m., the North Berrien Historical Museum will be hosting the “History of Watervliet” movie in the old bank building on Main Street. It will run continuously during that time frame.

Freshwater Church from Coloma will be offering the Foam Pit. This year’s foam pit will be bigger and better, divided in two sections for a more age appropriate space. The WBA will also have goggles on hand for purchase!

Following the July 4th Grand Parade, visitors should head on down to the old paper mill property across from Hays Park for the Paw Paw River Jeep Club exhibit at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday. Then for evening entertainment this location will feature the 4×4 Mudd Run from 4:00 until 7:00 p.m. Watch as trucks, quads and power wheels kick some mudd, and battle for first and second place trophies!

The highlight of the day will be the Fireworks display at Hays Park at dusk on Saturday.

Sunday will bring the Watervliet Airport Breakfast and Fly-In, a community worship gathering, and the ping pong ball drop.

The Annual Duck Race will be held on Mill Creek in Flaherty Park at 2:00 p.m. Duck tickets can be purchased at area businesses and will be available throughout the event up until Sunday. This is another one of the fundraisers for the event.

The Watervliet Business Association has a Facebook page that has all of the entry and contact information available. For the full schedule of events visit their Facebook page or Page 6 this week in the Tri-City Record. The full calendar is also posted outside of City Hall and at area businesses.

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