07-13-2017 Judge asks to remember how they lived; Memorial Walk and Candlelight Vigil held for Joe

Judge asks to remember how they lived; Memorial Walk and Candlelight Vigil held for

Joe Zangaro and Ron Kienzle on one year mark

By Annette Christie

As community members, co-workers, family, and friends of Joe Zangaro and Ron Kienzle gathered to honor their memory on the one-year anniversary of their deaths, it was their lives that Berrien County Chief Judge Gary Bruce asked those in attendance to remember.

Bruce borrowed a poem called “The Dash” written by Linda Ellis that had been used previously at another memorial service honoring the pair at the national level:

“I read of a man who stood to speak at the funeral of a friend. He referred to the dates on her tombstone from the beginning… to the end.

He noted that first came the date of her birth and spoke of the following date with tears, but he said what mattered most of all was the dash between those years. For that dash represents all the time that she spent alive on earth… and now only those who loved her know what that little line is worth.

For it matters not, how much we own; the cars… the house… the cash. What matters is how we live and love and how we spend our dash. So think about this long and hard… are there things you’d like to change? For you never know how much time is left.

If we could just slow down enough to consider what’s true and real, and always try to understand the way other people feel. And be less quick to anger, and show appreciation more and love the people in our lives like we’ve never loved before.

If we treat each other with respect, and more often wear a smile… remembering that this special dash might only last a little while. So, when your eulogy is being read with your life’s actions to rehash… would you be proud of the things they say about how you spend your dash.”

Bruce encouraged those in attendance to remember Joe and Ron, remember their service and their sacrifice, but most importantly to remember how they lived.  He shared many stories about Joe and Ron, sometimes referring to their different traits but expressed how both had such a dedication and love for their families.

BERRIEN COUNTY HONOR GUARD… takes their place behind the Law Enforcement Memorial at Lake Bluff Park in St. Joseph prior to the start of a memorial ceremony honoring Joseph Zangaro and Ronald Kienzle. (TCR photo by Annette Christie

Bruce acknowledged those that helped on July 11, 2016 when a jail inmate who was in the Berrien County Courthouse for a court hearing was able to get the gun away from the Berrien County Sheriff’s Deputy that was with him and ultimately killed Ron Kienzle and Joe Zangaro.  The deputy and a citizen were also shot that day. The inmate, Larry Gordon was killed by court bailiffs. “Our world was rocked,” Bruce said.

He added that for the most part, their jobs in the courthouse are pretty much pretty mundane. “But on July 11, 2016, our lives were forever changed,” Bruce said.

Bruce said of the courthouse staff that they knew they had to go   on and they did it. “We had to serve the public just like Joe and Ron did everyday but without them by our sides,” Bruce said.

He thanked the community for their wonderful support that they showed when it happened and again on this night, one year later.

The Blossomland Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #100 hosted the event along with Berrien County Strong. The walk began at the Berrien County Courthouse and ended at the Law Enforcement Memorial on Lake Bluff Park in St. Joseph.  This was a duplicate of the walk that was held last year on July 12, just one day after the shooting.

Today, the monument now bears the names of Joe and Ron with their end of watch date being July 11, 2016.

Joe Zangaro was the head of Courthouse Security.  He had retired from the Michigan State Police as Post Commander of the Bridgman Post. He had worked for Berrien County   since 2004. Kienzle, a bailiff, had retired as a sergeant from the Benton Charter Township Police Department after serving in the United States Army.  He has worked for Berrien County since 2005.

Coloma City Commissioners OK signs for Paw Paw River access; City office staff to receive pay increases

By Christina Gelder

Rick Rasmussen and Jerry Willmeng of the Friends of the Paw Paw River were on hand at the Monday, July 10 meeting of the Coloma City Commission to ask for permission to hang two signs. These signs would show residents and visitors the best spot to access the river in Coloma.

Behind Wesco is where the river is best accessed but it is not the most obvious spot and signs would bring awareness. They would hang one near the street and another on the river side. This would not be an expense to the Coloma but the commission did need to approve it.

Rasmussen also mentioned a possible portable toilet there in the future. Commissioner Jason Hicks asked if there should be a light down at the access for safety. He also questioned police patrol and garbage containers. Rasmussen said they were all excellent questions that would be addressed at the group’s next meeting.

The signs were approved.

If you see something, say something

Lieutenant Wes Smigielski of the Coloma Township Police Department was on hand for the police report and asked that everyone remember to say something if they see something. Especially at night, he said, the officer on duty cannot be everywhere at once. If a resident sees something that doesn’t seem right they should call the police, even if they wish to be anonymous.

Recently 10 cars were broken into in the Coloma Heights subdivision. Unfortunately, one of them had a gun in it that was stolen. Lt. Smigielski also reminded everyone that if they are carrying legal firearms they should be locked in the house and not in an unlocked vehicle.

Glad-Peach traffic and parking clarified

Tony Bertuca, owner of Hub Central 185 in downtown Coloma, attended the meeting because he is upset over the lack of access to his restaurant during the Glad-Peach Festival. Bertuca claims to have lost 48% of his normal business during the festival last year.

Mayor Jim Polashak with the help of Public Works Supervisor Rod Burkholder clarified that the road is open until the official start of the festival on Friday evening. The barricades go up early and there is no through traffic but local traffic to the businesses is allowed to go around the barricades and park. There should be plenty of time for morning customers to access the café.

Neighborhood fence dispute

Jeff Coffel, of 221 South West Street, attended the meeting for help with a neighbor problem. He says his neighbor erected a large fence that goes right through a building. Since the fence was put up she has not maintained anything on his side of the fence but has posted no trespassing signs and called the police if he has anything too close to it.

Coffel has lived in his home for over 20 years and does not know exactly where the property line is. He does not want to pay to have a survey done but was told by the commission and the police that it would be the only way to get it straightened out. Until the police know exactly where the property line is they will remain neutral on the situation.

Other business

Several hanging baskets have been stolen from Coloma Cemetery. The police are working on the issue.

Karla Smothers of Chemical Bank recently resigned from the Coloma DDA due to a change in her position so Mayor Polashak nominated Kandyce Hayes to take her place. Hayes also works at Chemical Bank and it was approved.

There was a clerical error according to Mayor Polashak and he was under the impression the city’s office staff was approved to receive raises when they approved one for Public Works Supervisor Rod Burkholder. Apparently, that was not officially done so the vote was taken Monday night and approved. The increase will be the same as Burkholder’s.

A payment of $32,360.83 was approved to be paid to MDOT. This is a lingering bill from the E. St. Joseph Street project. It was also approved to pay $17,985.20 for the completion of a project on Timber Drive. This is where a sewer pipe was collapsing and it was able to be fixed with a fabric that stiffens and lines the pipe. Mayor Polashak is anxious to see how this method works saying it could save the city thousands of dollars long term.

PAW PAW LAKE LIFE… The ninth Paw Paw Lake Triathlon went off without a hitch Satur-day morning in perfect weather conditions as over 100 participants swam, biked, and ran their way to the finish line at the Paw Paw Lake Yacht Club.              (TCR photo by Kristy Noack)

Interest kindled in Hagar’s idled APL site

By Jon Bisnett

Hagar Supervisor Izzy DiMaggio told residents in attendance at the July regular Hagar Township Board meeting that a preliminary contact has been made by a commercial entity who has shown interest in purchasing the former APL Logistics site located at 4412 Coloma Road. The massive 400,000 square foot building used for warehousing and distribution closed its doors in early 2016 displacing some 50 full-time workers many of which traced back decades to the former Michigan Fruit Canners, home of the “Thank You Brand” product line.

DiMaggio explained the inquiry came to his attention via the Cornerstone Alliance. The unidentified interested party would use the facility for a “processing plant” which would require massive amounts of high pressure water supply prompting discussions with Coloma and Watervliet officials as to what it would take to extend water and sewer which currently terminates roughly a mile from the APL complex.

DiMaggio encouraged residents to “keep your fingers crossed” that a solution may be found to attract the new business to the site both restoring operations to provide local employment and restore a significant return of revenue to the Hagar tax role.


County Commissioner Dave Vollrath visited briefly with little to report as the Berrien County Commission had deferred it’s July meeting schedule in light of the 4th of July holiday.

County Drain Commissioner Chris Quattrin visited to answer questions in regard to the Thompson Drain Project. The repairs needed to restore the drain to full functionality are projected to be in the area of $15,000 which by law requires a supporting resolution by the township to empower the Drain Commission to proceed with the work which is then billed and assed to the property owners in the drain district. Approval of the board followed. Work is expected to be completed yet this year.

Supervisor’s Report

Supervisor DiMaggio presented the renewal franchise agreement from Comcast for a 10-year agreement to provide cable television and broadband internet service to the township. The new agreement mirrors the prior contract with Comcast and was approved by the board.

Reporting from the DDA, DiMaggio described a very positive meeting with a Department of Natural Resources representative who toured the site of the proposed Paw Paw River Kayak Launch on Coloma Road. A decision on the grant application is expected in December, but the DNR warned that in 2016 it received grant requests totaling some $80 million worth of projects and awarded just $40 million, based on availability of funds in the DNR budget.

In other news from the DDA, a purchase of an available parcel on Coloma Road is under consideration for potential recreational use. In addition the DDA is looking at the possibility of installing walkways to access community recreational sites.

North Berrien Joint Fire Report

Supervisor DiMaggio reported that the fire board reversed its prior position and has now offered the open Fire Chief post to the number two finalist of the original search process. A verbal agreement already in place has now gone into a formal contract negotiation with Mike Maddox, former captain with the Dowagiac Fire Department. It is hopeful that details will be wrapped up sometime in August. The department has operated under direction of its captains for over a year following the departure of former Chief Bob Ruff.

Treasurer’s Report

Bills for the month of June in the amount of $29,633.42 were presented by Treasurer Marlene Davis, with nothing remarkable, were approved unanimously.

Building Inspector

Butch Kelly reported seven new permits for $48,152. Kelley spoke positively on the cleanup work being done at the former A-1 Auto Salvage site. New owner Larry Arny is redeveloping the parcel and seeks a conditional rezoning from Ag to C1 Commercial. Arny wishes to proceed with a retail establishment selling golf carts and used cars. Neighbors have been queried and fully support the efforts, as does the Hagar Planning Commission. The Hagar Board followed with a unanimous roll-call vote approving the resolution for the conditional zoning change.

Parks Department

Beth Raiser reported a litany of maintenance issues at the township’s four parks, mostly in the way of trees either fallen or overgrown in need of trimming. Lake levels remain high virtually covering what used to be usable beach at Hagar Park.

Seeking some resolution the board approved bids for tree work in the amount of $2,100 to A-1 Tree Service for removal of trees at Roadside Park. Low bid was also awarded to Charlie Weeden Inc. to remove the concrete divider at the entrance to Hagar Park.

Old business

Supervisor Izzy DiMaggio presented a proposal for a formal bid and purchasing procedure to the board for the township for a third time, with mixed results. Board opinions ran from “no need at all” to the addition of further detailed criteria to the process. “We just need to get a system down in writing to assure our residents that our process not only provides completely transparency, but also guarantees a fair and equitable system to get the best value out of each dollar we spend on their behalf…” said DiMaggio. “We must have a consistent protocol to be fair with our potential contractors as well.”

DiMaggio’s proposal outlines four categories as follows: Purchases >$5,000 – Minimum 2 bids plus Post in Herald Palladium & Tri-City Record; Purchases $500 to $5,000 – Minimum 2 bids; Sub $500 purchases – No bid requirement; Emergency Services – As required to prevent further loss or damage.

The board struggled with bid opening rules among other topics and found itself unprepared to vote after numerous edits to the proposal.

Following discussion, the board recommends DiMaggio update the proposal edits and return for a vote at the August township meeting.

Responding to complaints at the prior month’s meeting by Lynch Road residents seeking to have their road paved, DiMaggio presented a detailed breakdown of the quote from the Berrien County Road Commission which totaled $290,000 for the 1-mile stretch from Eamon to Pier Road. It is now incumbent on the 17 property owners that make up the neighborhood to define what assessment they would be willing to commit to the improvement project at which point the township will consider its potential financial role and inquire with BCRC as to what contribution, if any, may be available on their part.

DiMaggio cautioned that Hagar has 19 miles of unpaved roads and whatever action the township takes in this matter, would serve as precedent and must then be prepared to provide the same support for those residing on the remaining unpaved 18 miles.

New business

Dale Davis sought and received approval for $500 of military grave markers for replacements needed at the township cemeteries.

Having no other business DiMaggio then adjourned the board with the next regular monthly meeting of the township board to be held 7:00 p.m. Monday, August 14.


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