Hagar Twp. moves forward on technology enhancements
By Jon Bisnett Included in 2019-2020 Budget, Hagar officials are moving ahead with G.I.S. mapping of the township cemeteries as presented by Wightman and Associates. The Geographic Information System would digitize aging paper documentation to combine with digital mapping and database functionality to create a permanent computerized record of existing burials, open plots and unsold lots. The system could eventually be available via the web and even handheld devices to aid visitors in locating graves of loved ones. Trustee Andy Ulleg sees this move as just the beginning of what he envisions as an eventual elimination of the old paper zoning maps and would be of great help to at a point have the whole township mapped to the benefit of the Planning Commission when it comes to zoning. In addition, the ad-hoc committee reviewing proposals for a revision of the township website has seen proposals from five vendors. With most providing a 2-page synopsis of their proposals, the committee is recommending to begin negotiations with “Revise”. Revise submitted a 52-page detailed proposal to now be reviewed by the Hagar Trustees for expected action at the August regular meeting. The committee further commented that Revise showed exceptional experience in web development for governmental entities. Supervisor’s Report Supervisor Izzy DiMaggio had just two items to present. The first being “food for thought” to the board regarding the potential purchase of a digital radar speed system for the township. DiMaggio suggested the device could serve as a deterrent for speeding motorists with systems ranging in price from roughly $2,800 to $3,400, some with capabilities of 5-day battery operation or solar power. Depending on the system chosen, functionality can be as simple as readout only or more sophisticated units that can store data of traffic activity. No action was taken, In the matter of the Hampton/Coloma Road Drain, DiMaggio updated the cost of the project to be estimated at roughly $500,000. The DDA has given an informal impression that they may contribute as much as $350,000 to the project, leaving the 28 parcels of private land concerned with an approximate per-parcel cost of around $4,500 each, which may be paid out over time. Clerk’s Report Clerk Sarah Rodriguez was out of town, but forwarded Pride Care Ambulance activity for the prior month with 13 Priority I calls at 10:40 and 13 Priority II runs averaging 14:00. A total of 26 calls were run in the township during the month of June with an average response of 12:30. Fire Report Bill Otte reported the North Berrien Joint Fire Department responded to 30 calls during the month of June with 11 runs in Hagar Township, 15 in Coloma Charter Township, three in the City of Coloma and one Mutual Aid. Otte also made notice of the addition of a new probationary firefighter and two more in the application process. Building Inspector Butch Kelley issued 11 building permits for June for a total of $121,550. Kelly asked the board to take action on a demolition ordered property with a totally non-responsive owner located at 4286 Red Arrow Highway. The board supported Kelly to move forward with the legal process to take the building down. Parks Beth Raiser reports that the township parks are busy and do have some great useable beach at Hagar Park, despite high lake levels throughout the region. Roadside Park shoreline is slightly comprised by recent storm activity but still is attracting crowds. Raiser reminds visitors that Hagar parks close at 11:00 p.m. with no exceptions. Recent reports of a couple of motor homes staying overnight prompted Raiser to remind all that by ordinance, there are no overnight stays allowed at any of the Hagar Park sites. New business Under new business Supervisor DiMaggio presented the resignation of Bill Otte from his seat on the Board of Review, to allow him to take his new position on the Fire Board. The board subsequently accepted the resignation and appointed Gary Lyle to serve the unexpired Board of Review term through December 2021.
Police Report Coloma woman’s sentencing delayed
By Annette Christie A 33-year-old Coloma woman that was to be sentenced this week for her role in the death of a Canadian woman has had her sentencing delayed due to new information about a previous conviction. Amber Garton, 33, had pleaded no contest in April to operating while intoxicated causing death. On September 9, 2018, Garton was driving a Ford Mustang on eastbound I-94 near the 33-mile marker when she struck a Toyota minivan in the rear at approximately 3:16 a.m. Arriving officers/deputies located an unconscious and unresponsive female, later identified as Erum Nazir of Ontario, Canada. Life saving efforts were made by first responders, however, Nazir was transported to Lakeland Hospital where she was pronounced deceased. Her injuries were unknown but suspected as internal injuries from the rollover/ejection crash. Officers/Deputies made contact with Garton and detected intoxicants coming from Garton’s person. They conducted field sobriety tests which indicated that Garton had the presence of alcohol in her system. At the scene she blew a .18 on a preliminary breath test. She was transported to Lakeland Hospital where a subsequent blood draw was taken that showed her blood alcohol level was .19. Witness statements indicated Garton was traveling at speeds in excess of the posted limit. Published reports stated that accident reconstruction and the module in the Ford Mustang showed that Garton was traveling at 111 mile per hour when she slammed into the minivan. Based on the marks on the road, she never braked. In her plea of no contest to operating while intoxicated causing death, she could have faced up to 15 years in prison. The minimum sentence could be approximately 43 months. A no contest plea is treated the same as a guilty plea in sentencing but cannot be used against a person if civil litigation is to occur. Published reports stated that the Prosecutor’s office and Garton’s attorney told Berrien County Trial Court Judge Gary Bruce that they recently learned that Garton had a prior drunk driving conviction in another county that did not show up when her record was pulled. While it is possible that she may consider withdrawing her plea, the lawyers will now have until July 29 to file any motions with the Court including a motion to withdraw.