07-16-2020 Hartford Twp. considers format for holding meetings; declines property acquisition; Haga







WMS selects Jerry Goodman Honor Award recipients

Jerry Goodman was the Watervliet Middle School counselor for 17 years. He passed away in 2005 after a hard-fought battle with cancer. During his years at WMS he was always available for students and spent many hours helping students with social, behavioral, and academic issues. Jerry was a firm believer in Asset Building, a program promoting positive values, positive identity, a commitment to learning, and the empowerment of students. The Jerry Goodman Honor Award has been established in memory of Mr. Goodman to recognize an 8th grade male student and female student who best reflect the characteristics that he encouraged in students throughout his career. For the Class of 2024, Abigail Lomoro and Jacob Schaefer are the winners of the Jerry Goodman Honor Award. Criteria for selecting the Jerry Goodman Honor Award recipients are high academics or the improvement of academics, high personal character, community service or giving of one’s self, variety of extra-curricular participation, and citizenship. The entire WMS staff votes for the 8th Grade Jerry Goodman Honor Award.


ROB DELANEY MATH AWARD… The Delaney Math award is given to the most deserving Watervliet Middle School math students in 7th grade each year. The 7th grade teachers nominate the students based on math skill, class participation, and academic success. The recipients for 2019-2020 school year are Courtney Van Lente and Lucas Isbrecht.





Hartford Twp. considers format for holding meetings; declines property acquisition

By Anna Layer The Hartford Township Board agreed to consider subscribing to ZOOM for future meetings at their Thursday night meeting on July 9. The Board also voted to decline an offer from Van Buren County Treasurer to purchase property that is in default on taxes. Additionally the board also voted to keep Hartford Township hall open for Election related business only on upcoming election days, August 4 and November 3.

According to Township Supervisor Ron Sefcik, the possibility of holding township meetings via ZOOM in the future would be a backup plan. “It would be for all essential township meetings in the event that another executive order to suspend activities that are not necessary to sustain or protect life is put in place again,” Sefcik explained. The Hartford Township Board will vote on the subscription at their next meeting. The Van Buren County Treasurer offered to sell property that is in tax default to the township. The property in question is located in Springdale Manor, east of town, and the board did not wish to acquire it. A full list of property tax information can be found on the Van Buren County Treasurer’s website through a link that allows searches by address, name, and parcel number. Upcoming elections There are two upcoming election dates: the Primary on August 4 and the General Election on November 3, Hartford Township Hall will not conduct non-election related business on those days. Polls are open from 7:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. on election days. Information regarding voter registration and absentee ballots can be found at the Hartford Township website by clicking on the “Voting” tab. Road work Other actions taken by the Hartford Township Board at this meeting include approval for grinding work on the Maple Hill Cemetery drives in the amount of $7,900.00. The board also voted for approval of project #497.3476: Hot Sealcoat covering 10.85 miles and seven different roads, using Township Funds in the amount of $92,397.50 combined with County Millage Allocation of $92,397.50, for a total of $184,795.00, as well as approval of project #497.3477: Extra Hotmix in the amount of $10,000.00. The Board also approved project #497.3472: Boom Mowing, using $1,000.00 in Road Commission funds and $4,000.00 of Township Funds, but voted to decline project #497.3488: Deberming in the amount of $32,550.00. This Deberming project would have included the same 10.85 miles that will receive the Hot Sealcoat work. Other business The Hartford Township Board will not be joining the National Prescription Opiate Litigation by consensus. Hartford Township Treasurer Steve Starner provided an update regarding CARES hazard pay reimbursement, stating that they do not qualify for the program. Township Supervisor Ron Sefcik suggested that board members explore the website for Safebuilt Company as a possibility of using them for building inspections. Fire Department report An update from the Hartford Fire Department report included 51 calls for the month of June. There were sixteen calls for Pride Care EMS for Hartford Township for the month of June, including one call with an extended response time due to a failure of a GPS tracking system in the emergency response vehicle. Jessica Sutter of Pride Care states in writing, “We have identified the failure and have asked our IT department to investigate and repair the issue.” The average response time reported by Pride Care for all calls for the month of June was nine minutes and twenty-four seconds. The next regular meeting for the Hartford Township Board will be August 13 at 7:30 p.m.

Hagar Township Zooms June business; vacant positions filled

By Jon Bisnett Continuing on the recommended safety of virtual meetings, the Hagar Township Board conducted a June 8 business meeting including the hiring of Maintenance and Ordinance personnel. Maintenance Supervisor The board moved to hire Andrew Steinbrook from a field of three candidates, filling the vacant position of Township Maintenance Supervisor on a 90-day trial basis at a rate of $16-$18, phone and mileage allowance in addition to the Township’s standard 10% retirement. The part-time post will work closely with the Director of Parks and answer to the Township Clerk. Hagar currently maintains three cemeteries, four parks, the hall and public safety building plus the new kayak launch, with contracted services in most cases.

Ordinance Enforcement Officer The board moved to fill the void created by the resignation of Ordinance Enforcement George Schemenauer by hiring Bill Tucker. Tucker, a retired deputy, will work a schedule of 15-20 hours as needed at a rate of $25 per hour, and report directly to Building Inspector Butch Kelly. Parks Hagar officials voted unanimously to engage Pride Portable Services as the only fully qualified bidder for vault toilet and portable restroom service and ongoing cleaning. Parks Director Deb Franks reports some word of concern regarding the new kayak launch as to the high degree of difficulty for those who choose to navigate down river from the site. Considered to be “expert” caliber waters, the river offers no respite until the Benton Harbor basin. Frank plans to create signage to caution paddlers, while hoping to spread the word that a more leisurely experience can be enjoyed by putting in at Bundy Road and using Hagar as an extraction point.

Treasurer Treasurer Susan Herrmann presented monthly bills in the amount of $57,426.60 for June, subsequently approved. Also noted was the receipt of the expected $300,000 payment from the Department of Natural Resources completing the payments of the kayak launch project. Herrmann also presented amendments to the 2019 Budget which amounted to a $105,000 surplus.

Reopen preparedness Documentation has been prepared as subject to State guidelines, including plexiglass shields from Doubleday at an installed cost of $1,825, for windowed offices to facilitate the reopening of the Township Hall. Technology The board approved the purchase of a portable projector and screen for the hall to facilitate presentations, in the amount of $1,033 from Doubleday. Additional approval was provided for eight copies of the Michigan Townships Association Redbook at a cost of $52 each. Road Department The township has contracted with the Berrien County Roads Department for application of 11,000 gallons of chloride treatment to be applied to roughly six miles of gravel roads in the community. The budget has planned for two applications.

Fire truck purchase The board tabled any decision on approval of North Berrien Joint Fire Department Rescue pumper truck purchase commitment. The issue stems from what was expected to be a truck in the general neighborhood of $670,000. Returned bids came in exceeding $741,000 with unfavorable payment terms.

Coloma Schools hosting town hall meeting to talk

school start-up

By Annette Christie The Coloma School Board held their organizational meeting on Monday, July 13 at 7:00 p.m., available by phone for the public. Their calendar for the 2020-2021 school year looks like all board meetings will be held on the second Monday of the month at 7:00 p.m. Superintendent Dave Ehlers told the board that the return to school plan is still in the works as Ehlers consults with other school districts and RESA for some consistent plans. “There are a certain amount of the things we all want to agree to,” Ehlers said. The district will be hosting a virtual town hall meeting once all the plans are finalized so all the players can talk. A piece that the districts are waiting on is guidance from the Health Department. From them schools will get instruction and guidance on what to do should there be a positive test, etc. The district did finalize the purchase of some mobile hot spots. One of the things learned in the surveying of families once all the kids were sent home in March of this year, was that some of the district’s families were lacking internet access. Internet access is a very important piece if they have to continue with a remote learning plan. The student liaison to the School Board, a recent new program, now has a vacancy due to the graduation of last year’s student liaison. Interested students should complete the online application. Ehlers said he would like to have a School Board member to sit in on that interview. Once again the Coloma Community will play host to the Berrien Community Foundation’s Backpack giveaway. Ehlers was contacted by Berrien Community Foundation personnel and connected on the use of the parking lot and the media center to store supplies and to have the space for stuffing envelopes. “We are so thankful for that partnership for our kids,” Ehlers said. Communication on the date will be provided upon notice. Improvements on facilities and grounds continue during this summer season including roof replacement, drainage upgrades, Alwood gym painting, and crack filling of parking lots.

Coloma Twp. approves continuation of Special

Assessment District

By Annette Christie The Coloma Charter Township Board approved the continuation of the Paw Paw Lake Special Assessment District at their Wednesday, July 8, 2020 meeting. Both township boards of Watervliet Charter and Coloma Charter townships had previously held a public hearing (virtually) on the subject June 27, 2020 at 10:00 a.m. The work to address invasive problems within Paw Paw Lake and to create a plan to improve it began in 2012 and has been renewed every four years since. Every four years, during the month of June of a presidential election year, the public has an opportunity to be heard on the subject, in addition to obtaining updates on the quality of the lake and the continued efforts to keep it in good condition. The estimated combined cost to continue is approximately $212,857.14. The 2020 lake improvement plan includes the continuation of work implemented in the 2012 and 2016 plans and adds several new projects to further address sediment and nutrient input into the lake. Tackling that will be important to continue to improve the overall quality of the water the lake receives and the overall environment of the lake. The goals are to maintain and control invasive and nuisance species; improve overall water quality and water clarity by halting and/ or reversing lake degradation; and improving fisheries, wildlife, recreational and aesthetic values of the lake. Additional plan goals are to provide educational outreach and measure the success. The action plan will expand to focus on further reducing the sediment and nutrient input into the lake and to maintain the lake in its current state. The action items are ambitious, long-term and costly in total, however, they are critical for taking the next steps toward the overall lake quality improvement to be done by continuing the weed management, water quality monitoring, algae monitoring and control, identification and response to new invasive species and monitoring on the Branch & Derby Drain. It is expected that Watervliet Charter Township will use the same approach in passing a resolution of support at their upcoming meeting. In other business the board announced that they will hold a public hearing at next month’s meeting, August 12, 2020, to hear about the parks plan.

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