06-27-2019 Mother Nature expected to cooperate with Watervliet Independence Day Celebration; recent

Mother Nature expected to cooperate with Watervliet Independence Day Celebration; recent rains causing some events to re-locate

By Annette Christie

Mother Nature is expected to cooperate with Watervliet’s Independence Day festival although the possibility of rain is showing in the forecast.  The Weather Channel currently shows morning showers on Friday and a 30% chance of rain on Saturday. The temperatures are expected to be in the eighties providing a nice back drop to the holiday celebration being held June 28, 29, and 30, 2019.

CHOO CHOO… Plan to bring the kids out Saturday to Independence Station at Library Park in the FREE Kid Zone at the annual Watervliet Independence Day Celebration this weekend. The Kid Zone will be open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday with free train rides, popcorn and gift for every kid that rides the train. This year’s train will have a specific route that will take the train down the old tracks next to Sidetrack Café. Also in the Kid Zone will a giant bounce house, and new this year also Monkey’s N Motion attraction. Pictured painting Independence Station is Children’s Director at Watervliet Library Kati Burtchett. (TCR photo by Amy Loshbough)

The loads of rainfall, however, that have plagued the area have caused one of the events and others to possibly be impacted. Watervliet Airport Manager Bob Lohr said that the runway is not in a good condition for planes coming in for the fly-in. The ping pong ball drop scheduled for Sunday at 1:00 p.m. has been moved to the old papermill property across the street from Hays Park.  The plan now is to have a powered parachute release the ping pong balls, weather permitting.  The Annual Steak-Fry and Pancake Breakfast being held at the Airport are still scheduled as of now.  The steak fry is Saturday 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and the pancake breakfast is Sunday 7:00 a.m. – noon.

The Watervliet Business Association has been hard at work ironing out all the details for the weekend of fun. The festival will begin at 3:00 p.m. on Friday, June 28, 2019 when the carnival opens, bigger and better than ever.

While the waters of Mill Creek, home to the Duck Race at Flaherty Park being held on Sunday at 2:00 p.m., are high the Public Works Department will do all they can to pull that off.

Flaherty Park will also be the location of a new attraction this year, an Amish Village experience.  From 10:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m., Amish families will be in the park to share examples of their day to day life including cooking, wood working, and quilting, among other things.

Other new events at this year’s festival include Independence Station at Kid Zone in Library Park (Saturday, 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.); 3 on 3 Basketball Tournament (on Church Street, starting at 10:00 a.m.); History of Watervliet movie (located at the old bank building in the lobby continuous showings from 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.); Paw Paw River Jeep Club exhibit (old papermill property at 2:00 p.m.).

The Paw Paw River Jeep Club is a Jeep community founded in Southwest Michigan. They get together to share stories, organize trips and connect with fellow Jeepers. The club has over 180 members.

The Family Drive-In movie is returning on Friday night at dusk and is “Bumble Bee”. It will be at the old papermill property.  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.

In addition to all the new events many of past year attractions return.

Top-notch entertainment with live music

The festival offers top notch entertainment this year on the Main Stage.  On Friday evening it is music with “Chip & Dolly” Shadows of the Night (Pat Benatar Tribute Band).

This year visitors can find music on Saturday 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.

On Sunday, following the Duck Race at Flaherty Park, music will be provided by the Deep Fried Pickle Project at 3:00 p.m.

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 you can find it in the Tri-City Record.  The full calendar is also posted outside of City Hall and at area businesses.

Hartford Commissioners considering expansion of cannabis business ordinance

By Jon Bisnett

The City of Hartford approved an ordinance back in November of 2017 to allow marijuana related businesses to operate within the city. Now almost two years later, the commissioners are considering an expansion of the ordinance parameters following multiple requests by provisioning center concerns.

The ordinance was originally written and approved to permit only one in each of State of Michigan’s recognized license category of dispensary, grow, processing, safety compliance and transportation. As the rapidly growing cannabis business community develops statewide, it has become apparent that the original concept may be too narrow, based on application requests.

Med+Leaf, a family business based out of Stevensville, was the city’s first and only dispensary applicant and after a protracted time of settling a location, complicated by a state office that processed licensing at a snail’s pace, is slated to open their provisioning center at 309 W. Main around October 1.

In 2018 Hartford Speedway owner Tim Dibble announced a potential lease for a marijuana grow operation to occupy some idle acreage at the track site. Since that time the lessee has failed to proceed with the process. However just a week ago Dibble again addressed the commissioners along with a cannabis business consultant who has a client interested in placing a dispensary at the Prospect Street site, that is if the city would consider amending the ordinance to allow more than one provision center.

A third request was just presented at the June 24 business meeting by Robert Piziali of Piziali & Associates to consider a broadening of the ordinance to permit a dispensary at 325 W. Main. Most will recall the address was the former home of Krenek Ford immediately west of the railroad crossing. Piziali represents a client currently operating in Jackson with several other sites around the state in process including Lansing, Battle Creek and Muskegon with what he described as a well-financed client with no issues whatsoever in terms of funding. Some sites include a vertical operation of grow, processing and dispensary.

Despite the prevailing negative attitudes towards cannabis business expressed by many local southwest Michigan governments, the Hartford commissioners remained open-minded in what brief initial discussion followed the request. Mayor Rick Hall commented that from his perspective, “We need to take a look at this… my concern would be that we want any new business to be successful and I wonder just what expectations would be for how more than one dispensary would attract enough customers to be viable.”

According to Michigan data, while the State currently has around 220,000 holders of medical marijuana cards, roughly 6,000 of those patients are located in Berrien, Cass and Van Buren counties. Industry promoters claim it is not uncommon for clients to drive as much as two hours to purchase medical marijuana and combined with access to I-94 only one mile away, multiple locations in the city would all be able to flourish. Industry experts predict that following the passage of Proposal One and the recreational licensing that will follow, a new era of cannabis tourism will grow to be as common as wine and brewery tours. The State of Michigan has stated that the first recreational sales licenses will go to existing provisioning centers that choose to apply.

Hall again commented that the council needs to take a real solid look at the ordinance and if they should decide to expand the number of dispensaries, perhaps a lottery might be in order to provide a fair and equitable opportunity to any additional applicants. “We’re going to do this right,” said Hall, referring to issues that arose due to some vague legal interpretations of the ordinance that served to delay the original Med+Leaf application.

In any case, the City of Hartford appears to be open-minded in recognizing that the cannabis business is a rapidly emerging trend that could provide a much-valued tax revenue for a community that has failed to attract any significant new business tax revenue for decades.

Minutes & Reports archived

In other business, Departmental Reports from May and minutes from the May Combined Workshop/Business meeting and June Workshop Meeting were approved and archived.

Old business

Discussion of marijuana business ordinance was deferred to the July workshop.

New business

Mayor Hall appointed commissioners John Miller and Frank Dockter to screen applicants by July 17 for the open seat on the Fire Board following the retirement of Bob Walker.

Unanimous approval was given for Fiscal Year End Budget Adjustments.

A bid from Hungerford-Nichols CPAs in an amount not to exceed $20,500 was approved for the 2018/19 financial audit.

A show-cause hearing is scheduled in Van Buren County Court in the matter of a repeat blight offender located at 40 Marion Avenue. Mayor Hall commented that they now have to let the judge decide and the city would issue no additional tickets or actions until the court renders a decision.


 Resolution 2019-007 – was approved amending the City’s Water Rates.

Having no further business, Mayor Hall adjourned the meeting at 8:02 p.m.