07-11-2019 Manager has kudos for Watervliet Independence Celebration; Mayor asks to reinstate commit

FUTURE SAILORS… Instructor Elena Proos, with interns Abby Deuter and Ava Heimgartner, teaching the Basic lessons on rigging an Opti Sailboat.


Manager has kudos for Watervliet Independence Celebration; Mayor asks to reinstate committees to work with manager on projects

By Annette Christie

Just following a 3-day Independence Day Festival, Watervliet City Manager Tyler Dotson applauded those that made the festival the success that it was. “I’d like to give a shout out to the WBA (Watervliet Business Association) and the volunteers for the planning and work involved in the festival. Chief Sutherland and the police department, Jeff Allen and his team at Public Works, and Fire Chief Dan Jones and the Fire Department for all the planning for the festival and keeping up with day to day functions at the same time. I’m really proud and impressed,” Dotson said.

City Mayor Dave Brinker said there was a need to discuss Commissioner Committees once again. Brinker said that this time was different as it is not because they were without a city manager and they needed the committees to run the various areas of city business. The need now, Brinker said, was to work with the City Manager on the things that he wants to accomplish and he wants to do. Meetings of the committees will be called as needed by Dotson.

Dotson told the Commission at their regular meeting on July 2, that the committee involvement would be more along the lines of helping him plan for what the future of the City of Watervliet looks like. “The importance of the committees is that the vision and the goals need to come from this body not me. The committees will be used to do research and offer recommendations to the City Commission,” Dotson said. “I would like to think that you would seek opinions from staff, but you would drive the goals, not the staff,” Dotson added. Currently the Finance Committee is the only one in place.

In putting people in the places needed, the City Commission appointed Mike Noack to the vacancy on the Planning Commission. He is a resident of the city and is a contractor. Dotson said, “It is my belief that his familiarity with general building standards, practices, and procedures, would be a welcomed addition to the Planning Commission.”

Property purchase

In line with more future planning for the City, Watervliet DDA members Tom Gear and Kristi Noack along with Dotson met with a realtor to discuss the purchase of property at 390 N. Main Street. This was following action by the DDA. Dotson told the City Commission that there are a lot of ideas for what can be put on the property which adjoins the city parking lot next to the liquor store. Dotson said there is not a specific use identified as of yet for the property. “We don’t want to seclude it to one potential use. I am very confident in this group that they will see what it can be.”

Kristi Noack, DDA Chairperson, told the Commission that this is their first major project and they do have a plan in place that follows up from work already done by a Steering Committee. “I feel good that we are going to start and finish this project,” Noack said. While the DDA approved the purchase of the property, any real property purchase has to go to the City Commission for approval. Commissioners Deah Muth and Bill Whitney seemed concerned that if the city purchases another piece of property that it won’t be taken care of. Dotson affirmed, “I do feel comfortable with this purchase and the city’s ability to maintain it.”

Costs for spring clean-up & police department equipment

Dotson spoke to recent spring clean-up that was held city wide. This year the city offered dump passes to residents vs. bringing in a dumpster and organizing additional curbside pick-up. Dotson said he would like a committee to talk about this. Residents on 86 properties came in to pick up dump passes which cost the city $22.40 each for a total of $3,194.12. Dotson said some commissioners have concerns about this option versus how it was done last year and that is what the committee will talk about.

The City Commission approved a Police Department purchase for a car camera, microphone, and for storage of data. The equipment will be put into the School Resource Officer vehicle. The funding will come out of the School Resource Officer fund. Dotson said that at a recent meeting with Watervliet Township officials, they could not stop raving about the officer. Dotson said, “This puts the vehicle in compliance with all other vehicles in the fleet and our policies.” The purchase of $3,608 in equipment was approved.

Parks and Recreation plan

The city discussed the city’s Parks and Recreation plan which needs to be updated. The previous plan was done along with Watervliet Township; however, the township chose to do their own plan this go around. A parks plan is needed for a municipality that may want to apply for state or federal grants. It has to be done every five years. While the City’s engineering firm, Wightman & Associates provided a quote, some of the City Commissioners thought it best to price out other firms. “Regardless of whether we use Wightman or not, we need to do the plan,” Dotson said. The deadline for the plan is January.

On one last thing, Dotson said that he has had a discussion with Coloma Township officials regarding the City’s interest in establishing a dog park in the city. According to what Dotson was told by Coloma Township officials, the township has all of the equipment that they would give to Watervliet for the purposes of creating that park. Dotson told the Commission that this will require some research and he will bring it back to them in the future.

Paw Paw Lake sailors and museum staff share expertise with sailing class members

Thanks to the Paw Paw Lake Community Sailing Foundation, area residents and visitors might have noticed more sailboats than powerboats on Paw Paw Lake this week. Each year the Foundation has two fun-filled weeks of sailing lessons. “By offering Basic, Intermediate, Advanced, and Adult classes the Foundation is attempting to make our programs inclusive to all”, said Sailing Foundation President, Jeff Phillips. Over the next week, the Foundation will have taught nearly 40 students in their classes. Over the last two years, the North Berrien Historical Museum has collaborated with the Sailing Foundation to offer a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Camp. This STEM Camp ran from July 8-11 from 1–3 p.m. “This is a great opportunity for the Museum and the Foundation to work together for a common cause, to teach kids about the legacy of Paw Paw Lake through STEM”, stated Museum Executive Director and Foundation Vice-President, Jack Greve. The STEM Camp had a total of eight students eager to learn about where the wind comes from, what floats their boat, how pulleys work, and how to construct a boat. The sailing classes will continue next week from 9 a.m. to noon but will not include the STEM Camp. The Foundation would like to thank the community for their support and encourages any future sailor to email Communitysailingppl@gmail.com for information about taking sailing classes next summer.

THEY ARE BACK! A crowd of a dozen or so people was already waiting when Vince DiMaggio unlocked the door at 6:30 the evening of July 5, 2019, for the first time in four months since an early morning fire idled the family pizzeria. Within an hour of the unannounced reopening, the line extended around the block, with some folks waiting two hours for a table. None the matter as the patient customers came from near and far, just happy to see the iconic family eatery back up and running. (TCR photo by Jon Bisnett)


DiMaggio’s Pizza ‘n Burgers is back in business

By Jon Bisnett After a forced 4-month prime season closure due to an extensive electrical fire in the wee hours of February 20, Hagar’s iconic pizza maker is back in business, thanks to team of workers and incredible customer support. At 6:30 p.m. on July the 5th, owner Vince DiMaggio unlocked the door for the first time in months. With no formal advertising a crowd was already forming. “Within the 1st hour we were running almost a 2-hour wait on pizzas thanks to the overwhelming response from our loyal customers,” say DiMaggio. “The line eventually extended around the block, looking like one of those Black Friday sales,” Vince chuckled. And those customers have kept on coming ever since according to DiMaggio. Vince and his wife Arlene are thankful for the work done by all the contractors who restored the family business in record time. The build took just 36 days once demolition was completed. “The Midwest Construction Group was amazing… sometimes 20 guys were working all at once… Boelcke Heating, Ibid County Electric, they all worked non-stop to get us back up and running,” said Vince.

The DiMaggios salute their loyal employees as well, not one single employee was lost during the 4-month hiatus, not to mention the total restocking time they all spent. Several staffers have been on the crew for over 30 years, with one at an impressive 38 years of service. Vince noted details such as per liquor laws, every single bottle of beer, wine and liquor that survived the fire had to be destroyed. “It killed me to smash a 12-year-old bottle of perfectly good Scotch,” he laughed, “…but that’s the law.” So, for area residents and visitors ready for some family recipe Italian cooking, head on out to Lake Michigan Beach. Don’t be in hurry, as odds are, there will be a bit of a wait. It is a sure thing that a very grateful Vince and Arlene DiMaggio will welcome their customers and plan to do so for many years to come.

Coloma has a safe Fourth of July, Ploice Chief asks council to draft fireworks law

By Nancy Albright

Coloma Chief of Police Wes Smigielski and North Berrien Fire Rescue Chief Mike Maddox reported at the Coloma City Commission meeting on Monday, July 8 that there were no incidents involving fireworks during this year’s Fourth of July celebration.

Chief Smigielski requested that the council draft a Fireworks Ordinance in the event there is a fireworks incident in the future, to which Commissioner Jason Hicks and Julie Smith of the Ordinance Committee agreed to discuss and address at the next commission meeting.

New firefighters join Coloma force

Chief Maddox welcomed Paul Grenon Sr., Kelsey Warman and Johnathan Bullock to the North Berrien Fire Department. Grenon is a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps and comes to the fire department from Berrien County Courts where he is currently serving as a bailiff. Grenon will attend Firefighter I and II training this fall. Warman and Bullock are Coloma residents and will be assigned to NBFR Station 1.

Maddox also reported that the new Ford F-250 utility pickup truck purchased for $31,978 has arrived and being outfitted with emergency lighting and radio equipment by HS Fleet Services before being put into service.

Hole-in-One

The North Berrien Community Development and Coloma Watervliet Area Chamber of Commerce will hold its 16th Annual Community Golf Mixer on Friday, August 9 at 9:00 a.m. at the Paw Lake Golf Club, 4548 Forest Beach Rd., Watervliet.

The event is a four-person scramble and costs $60 per person, which includes a continental breakfast, lunch, cart and green fees. Breakfast and registration begin at 8:00 a.m. Mulligans, String, a raffle and prize money will accompany the outing. The first-place team will be awarded $400, second place $240, third place $100, and the Combined Insurance Agency is sponsoring a $10,000 Hole-in-One contest.

The organization is currently seeking raffle prize donations, and hole sponsors for $150 per hole, or other contributions. For more information and to RSVP call Chana Kniebes, (269) 757-2457 or chana@coloma-watervliet.org by August 1. Spectrum Health Lakeland is the major corporate sponsor of the mixer.

In other news

City Clerk Martha Darling read a letter from Bob Spaulding and Pat Randall-Spaulding commending Commissioner Marsha Hammond for leading the Randall Park renovation, and to the city council, Coloma Township, volunteers and all involved in the project. “Glenn, who was part of Coloma city government for more than 50 years, would have been proud and extremely pleased of all the hard work and dedication to the park, which serves as a place for Coloma residents to play and relax.”

The council approved an annual raise for city employees in the amount to 2.5%, which will include new treasurer Rachel Edwards when her 90-day provisionary probation period ends in mid-July.

Also approved was the request of Jim and Gloria Frazier to split a parcel of land they own on N. Paw Paw Street and partition a second parcel to sell under the current tax code, which would incur no cost to the city.

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