06-21-2018 Coloma Township Board learns permit needed on dog park; Planning Commission will hold a h

Coloma Township Board learns permit needed on dog park; Planning Commission will hold a hearing

By Annette Christie A plan by a local Girl Scout to build a dog park in Coloma Township has hit another snag. Caleigh Dahn was on hand to update the Coloma Township Board at their Wednesday, June 13 meeting on how the dog park was coming that they had previously approved. The original plan was presented to them earlier in 2018 as Dahn described that she would do the leg work and put in the effort to raise money for turning a portion of the Washington School Park to include a dog park. She spoke with pride, as she should, about the quarter auction held, grant received, and donations from both the Watervliet and Coloma Schools for picnic tables and benches. Dahn raised over the $10,000 goal and presented t-shirts to the board at their meeting bearing the name “Amicus Dog Park.” Dahn said that trees have been planted and the dirt has been brought in. A fence will be put in place and the final touches will be completed by the August 5 Grand Opening at 2:00 p.m.

IN PROGRESS… Work has begun by volunteers on what will be Amicus Dog Park located in Coloma Township. The dog park is the brainchild of Girl Scout Caleigh Dahn as she works toward her Gold Star Award. A grand opening is scheduled for August 2 at 2:00 p.m. (TCR photo by Annette Christie)

Dahn’s efforts have not gone without controversy. The month after she made her initial presentation and received approval by the Coloma Township Board, individuals associated with the baseball and softball organization that plays on fields located within the same park were on hand with questions and complaints. By the April meeting, the two parties had come to an agreeable solution. At their meeting this month was the mother of a concerned citizen who could not be present. Roxanne Daugherty said her daughter Misty Weaver-Ketchum lives next door to the proposed park and was never notified of the plan. She said that her daughter’s life will be very difficult without a privacy fence between her property and the dog park. She said that if her daughter would have been asked she would have asked for it to not be up against her property. One township official said that a road would separate the dog park from the property being discussed but still, Supervisor Ken Parrigin told Daugherty that he would look into it. Daugherty continued to go on about the concern for parvo, unleashed animals, waste, etc. She made a statement about dogs that come to the park and don’t have their proper shots and the risk for disease. Dahn interjected that parents have the same risk when they take their children to a playground where they may play with other children that do not have immunizations. In response to the waste, Dahn said she is providing 2,000 dog waste baggies to get the project started and there will be trash cans on site. It was during the Planning Commission update that Jim Fulton told the board that because the park is in a residential zone, the township board must request a special land use permit and a public hearing must be held. Fulton said all the residents would then get notice and be allowed to speak. Ultimately the township board would be the body approving the special land use permit. Fulton said he is unsure whether there was ever a permit issued for the ball fields that have been on the property for years, nor did the township seek a special land use permit for it when they assumed the property from the school district.

Board approves Planning Commission recommendations In other Planning Commission related news, the Township Board confirmed a recommendation from the Planning Commission for two different situations. One approval was for weekly rentals being allowed for property located at 5358 Paw Paw Lake Road. Greg Rood told the board that he has purchased the cottages at that location and returned them to their 1974 charm. He has made many improvements to the property. He has had requests from residents in the area for weekly rentals for their family members coming in town to visit. The other approval was for an equine rehab center on Mountain Road, in the old Pride Care building. Tammy Kettlehut told the board that this would be the first equine rehabilitation center in Michigan. With every state around us hosting large horse shows, she expects this to be a go to place for large animals needing rehabilitation. She said that animals that are recovering from surgery now have to go to Kentucky or New York, as those are the closest. Kelly Drain After a lengthy discussion between Berrien County Drain Commissioner Christopher Quattrin and residents plagued with water problems due to the Kelly Drain, the Coloma Township Board approved a resolution that will put the long needed repairs in the process. Quattrin said he was made aware of the problem from people having some flooding and the Public Works Department in the township having trouble. Quattrin ordered that an inspection and scoping be completed to give an idea of what was happening. “People need an education to not put yard garbage and leaves in a drain, it causes an obstruction,” Quattrin said. Quattrin explained that by statute he only had the authority to expend $5,000 per mile in any one year for the maintenance of a drain, and any excess to that must be approved by the governing body if they will be affected by more than 20% of the total cost. The expected costs as presented by Quattrin were in the amount of $40,000 including the work of contractor B & Z, engineering, financing and a contingency amount. Papers presented by Quattrin showed that there were 270 properties in the project that will pay for the three-year assessment. All of the residents present at the meeting, that spoke, spoke in favor of fixing the problem.

SHOVELS IN HAND… Team members from Lakeland Hospital, Watervliet along with the Lakeland Health Foundation’s Board of Directors and members of the Paw Paw Lake Rotary Club broke ground June 8 on the $365,000 renovation project to the PARCOURSE – a walking/running track. The track is utilized by therapists and their rehabilitation patients, local athletic teams, physical education classes at Watervliet Middle and High Schools, older adults from a nearby apartment complex and other community members. The renovations will feature two quarter-mile asphalt loops along with various stations featuring professional grade exercise equipment. Renovations are expected to be completed in several stages by the end of 2020.

Coloma Schools plan for summer projects; Next year budget in works

By Annette Christie While this school year is in the books, the Coloma School District is preparing for their summer programs as presented at the monthly Board meeting on Monday, June 11. The district offers summer migrant, summer reading, and summer meals programs. The K-3 student summer reading program is sponsored in part from “Kids Read Now”, a program that provides books to every K-3 student in the district for free. The program is grant funded. Each K-3 student goes through a selection list to pick out the books they would like to read over the summer. The first three books are sent home with the students at the end of the year. For every book that they complete, they are sent another one in the mail. The purpose of the program is to help prevent the summer slide as students may not be engaged in learning during the summer months, it helps to improve reading skills and comprehension, and it gets the parents involved as well. According to the Kids Read Now website, 86% of educators recommend the program. The free summer meals program is offered to all children 18 years of age and under or for persons up to 26 years old who are enrolled in an educational program for the mentally or physically disabled. Both breakfast and lunch will be served at the Coloma Intermediate School from June 21 through August 3. Breakfast is served from 8:00 – 8:45 a.m. and lunch is served from 11:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. To get more information about the program contact Shelley Mazigian at (269) 468-2598 or email smazigian@ccs.coloma.org. The funding is through the federal government. 2018-2019 Budget Director of Business Services Sara Ashley updated the board on the current and upcoming budget. The board has an Annual Budget Hearing scheduled for June 25, 2018 at 7:00 p.m. Ashley said the current budget is about where it was expected to be. “We still have a little bit of work to do on that,” Ashley said. For the 2018-2019 budget, the early projections are that they are down $1.1 million in revenues and expenses have been reduced by $952,000. She said the decreases in revenue are due to grant decreases and enrollment decreases. Administration have calculated the per pupil foundation allowance to be decreased by 70 students. This year the district had to account for a drop of 98 students from the fall to the spring count. Superintendent Pete Bush said, “We could budget down like 95 students if we were being ultra conservative.” Bush said that the decrease was from families leaving the area, some even leaving the state. They could account for a loss of 49 students from migrant students alone. Bush said they were not alone in the decrease of migrant students. “Some schools are down hundreds,” Bush said. Bush said he will not over project the number of students they will receive the allowance for to balance the budget. They do have other projected revenues that could happen but not sure enough they would want to include or count on them. By the budget hearing they plan to reflect a projected balanced budget and will aim and doing so all while maintaining a 10% fund balance. The board does plan to ask voters to renew their non-homestead operating millage and to adjust for the Headlee rollback in November. It will be for four more years.


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