06-29-2017 Paw Paw River Water Trail becomes reality; Senior services of Van Buren County

VAN BUREN YOUTH FAIR ROYALTY… chosen at a con-test held June 11, at the Lawton Community Center. A total of 20 area youth took part in the contest. Selected as this year’s royalty are back row (from the left): Duke Owen Hamre, of Lawrence, a member of the Almena Happy Helpers/Farm Friends & Family; Prince Ethan Oh, of Paw Paw, a member of the Almena Happy Helpers 4-H Club; King Dylan Percival, of Bloomingdale, exhibiting in Open Class; and Queen Megan Miller of Paw Paw, a member of the Porter Busy Fingers 4-H Club. Front row (from the left): Duchess Reagan Martin of Mat-tawan, a member of the Almena Happy Helpers 4-H Club, and Princess Anna Glomski, a member of the Young Explorers 4-H Club. The 2017 Van Buren Youth Fair is being held Monday, July 17 through Saturday July 22. Visit the fair website at www.vanburenyouthfair.com for a schedule of events and other information.

Paw Paw River Water Trail becomes reality

 After decades of talking and planning and hoping, the Paw Paw River Water Trail (PPRWT) is finally a reality.  Marcy Hamilton, senior planner with Southwest Michigan Planning Commission, today announced the opening of newly cleared segments of the paddle trail in Paw Paw, Lawrence, Hartford, Watervliet and Coloma.

“Segments of the trail are ready to paddle at all of our primary public access sites. Each of these towns now has a three to four mile segment of the river trail open that should be suitable for beginners,” said Hamilton, “and for people wanting to do a longer paddle, soon there will be 19 continuous miles of the trail open all the way from Hartford to Bundy Road west of Coloma.”

Having the support of the municipalities along the Paw Paw River was critical in getting this project funded and initiated.  Their support moving forward will be needed to maintain and promote the trail once it is fully established. Hamilton also specifically thanked Two Rivers Coalition (TRC) for providing volunteer feet on the ground (paddles in the water) to help make the water trail project successful.

Kevin Haight, President of Two Rivers Coalition, explained why that group became involved. “Although we are an environmental organization and not a paddle group,” said Haight, “the mission of TRC is to promote appreciation and protection for our freshwater resources in the watersheds of Southwest Michigan. We have an amazing natural resource here in the Paw Paw River floodplain. We realize that the best way to teach people to value this beautiful river and its unique wildlife habitat is to get them out paddling and seeing it firsthand.”

Meanwhile, work continues to clear a paddle pathway on other sections of the river. The goal is to be able to provide extended trip options to the already available short trips near Paw Paw, Lawrence, Hartford, Watervliet, Coloma and Benton Harbor.  Hamilton said that even though the water trail is officially 68 miles long and extends from the Village of Paw Paw all the way to the river’s confluence with the St. Joseph River in Benton Harbor, there are still some sections that are extremely difficult because of their remoteness and large numbers of fallen trees. She estimates that 30 miles of the river trail is currently open and predicts that number will rise substantially by the end of the summer. Eventually, the water trail will have its own website with information for paddlers to plan their trips, including maps of primary public access sites and secondary bridge crossing access locations. But for the time being, the most up-to-date source of information is the Facebook page for Paw Paw River Water Trail, www.facebook.com/PawPawRiverWaterTrail.

EDITORS  NOTE: Watervliet resident Rick Rasmussen was instrumental in organizing a group of Coloma and Watervliet citizens that raised $6,500 last year to begin river clean up between Watervliet and Coloma.

The “Friends of the Paw Paw River” spent $4,000 of the donated funds for four days of river clean up, removing numerous log jams to open the river from Watervliet and Coloma.

Meanwhile the resulting publicity of the proposed river clean up by the group prompted then State Representative Al Pscholka to get $100,000 in state funds allocated for the river clean up.

Senior services of Van Buren County

Hartford United Methodist Church, 425 E. Main Street

Monday, July 3, Coffee & Conversation, 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.; LUNCH served at 12:30 p.m.; Cards, 1:00 p.m.; Bingo, 1:15 p.m.; Knitting, Crocheting & Quilting, 1:30 p.m.

Tuesday, July 4 CLOSED; have a Happy 4th of July!

Friday, July 7, Coffee & Conversation, 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.; Tai Chi, 11:30 a.m.; LUNCH served at 12:30 p.m.; Cards/Euchre, 1:30 p.m.

Pickleball Clinic in Paw Paw

A Pickleball clinic will be held outdoors at the Paw Paw Middle School Tennis Courts for three days in July. The dates for the clinic will be Thursday, July 6 & 13 and Tuesday, July 11 from 9 a.m.-11 a.m. weather permitting. All are welcomed to join in whether you are new to the game or just want to learn some new techniques. A Pickleball Ambassador will be on hand to answer your entire Pickleball questions! Outdoor balls will be available along with paddles.

Focus on Tennis in Paw Paw

More players are needed and welcomed for rousing games of tennis! Please bring a tennis racket to the Paw Paw Middle School Tennis Courts (located next to the football field) each Tuesday morning at 9 a.m. for fun, sun and exercise. Questions please give Noreen a call at 269-271-0596.

All seniors, age 60 and older, residing in Van Buren County are eligible to participate in these programs and activities.

Any questions or comments, please contact Senior Services Paw Paw office at 269-655-8000. Rides are available through Van Buren Public Transit with no less than 24-hour advance notice at (269) 427-7921.


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