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07-26-2018 Park opening getting closer as construction continues; County Commissioners coming to Wat

Park opening getting closer as construction continues; County Commissioners coming to Watervliet to view progress

By Annette Christie

The development of a new county park coming to the northern part of Berrien County is well underway. The contractor has been on the site, located on the east side of M-140 in the City of Watervliet, since spring and has been proceeding according to schedule.  A grand opening of the Paw Paw River County Park is scheduled for the month of August.

HERE COMES THE BRIDGE… The 90-foot center span of the bridge over the Paw Paw River in Watervliet was lowered into place by a giant boom Wednesday morning. Workmen are pictured guiding it into place. The bridge joins the new Paw Paw River County Park to the island in the river. (TCR photo by Karl Bayer)

The park development includes approximately 3.5 acres with one mile of Paw Paw River frontage and is directly across the river from Hays Park.  The plans for the park include improvements to the river frontage, mature trees, birding, fishing, a scenic walking trail on the island and other recreational opportunities.  Just this week the pedestrian bridge to the island was being installed.

The park will connect Watervliet directly to the St. Joseph River and Lake Michigan on the designated Paw Paw River Water Trail.  This location will be a trailhead for the water trail with an ADA kayak launch that is already installed, hard surface walkways, a parking area, security lighting, trash and recycle bins and bench seating which will enhance recreational opportunities for the region.  Viewing decks will enhance the walking trails on the island.

The estimated cost, $646,321, is being funded through multiple sources which began with Berrien County receiving a grant in the amount of $296,000 from the State of Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund.  A generous $25,000 donation from the “Friends of Paw Paw River County Park” was given to display the community’s support of the project. Berrien County will be funding the balance of the project through their endowment fund and general fund budgets. This is the first county park in the northern part of the county.

Berrien County Commissioner Jon Hinkelman who represents Watervliet City and a portion of Watervliet Township said, “We are very excited for the area and we look forward to the park being completed.  I believe the park will be tremendously utilized and the Parks Department will look at making enhancements as necessary to build on an already good thing.”

Future enhancements, dependent upon use and funding, could include a restroom facility, bait and tackle concession, a fish cleaning station, a water spray pad, and a playground.

Berrien County Board of Commissioners bringing night meeting to Watervliet

The Berrien County Board of Commissioners will be coming to the community of Watervliet for their August 2, 2018 night meeting. The meeting will be held at the Watervliet Fire Station at 6:00 p.m. The meeting is open to the public. The board has seven night meetings scheduled this year with the next two being on September 6 and October 4.

The regular schedule for the Board of Commissioners meetings are weekly on Thursday mornings. Their Committee of the Whole meeting is held at 8:30 a.m. and provides a forum for providing information to the Board as a whole; however, the board does not take any formal action at that meeting. The three committees of the board (Administration, Finance, and Personnel and Human Services) follow the Committee of the Whole meeting. Their regular Board of Commissioners meeting is held at 10:30 a.m. With the exception of the night meetings, the Board meetings are held at the Berrien County Administration Center, 701 Main St., in St. Joseph.

Prior to their meeting on August 2, the Board will be able to see firsthand the progress of the park, as they convene at the construction site for a tour.

Soulard’s opens in Coloma this Thursday with special offerings for Glad-Peach time

By Maryann Worl Taylor and Matt Prestidge, graduates of Watervliet High School, are very proud to announce the opening of their bakery “Soulard’s” at 126 N. Church St. in Coloma. Soulard’s originated with family, dreams, hard work, and many hours of dedication. Taylor is a generational baker. Her initial skills and love of baking were learned in the kitchen with her grandmother, Valerie Soulard and great-grandmother, Goldie Soulard, daughter-in-law to Edwarde Soulard. Edwarde Soulard, a famous French chef, was brought to the Drake Hotel in Chicago when it opened in 1920. Many of his creations have been handed down to Taylor who will incorporate them into her products.

BAKERY OPENS… The Tri-City Area welcomes a new business to town. Owners Taylor (Soulard) Prestidge and husband Matt Prestidge are pictured here by signage marking the new business. Soulard’s, a bakery and coffee shop, will open on Thursday, July 26 at 126 N. Church Street in Coloma, Michigan. Hours are: Wednesday to Friday 7:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 7 a.m. – 3 p.m. They are closed on Monday and Tuesday. (TCR photo by Maryann Worl)

Matt grew up cooking. His family previously owned the Waffle House in Watervliet and cooking became a natural pastime of his along with carpentry. Matt, with family assistance, renovated the building at 126 N. Church Street. His vision became a beautiful creation with an inviting atmosphere. Matt will be making grab and go breakfast sandwiches and burritos to compliment the breakfast treats and muffins made by Taylor. Breakfast (or any meal) is not complete without a cup of coffee. Soulard’s will feature the Higher Grounds Brand of coffee from Traverse City Michigan. Taylor states her family loves this coffee which is organic and farmer focused. The coffee beans are handpicked to prevent damage to the coffee plants and to produce high quality beans. If a latte is the drink choice, Taylor and Matt invite visitors to try one with milk, from the Oberweiss Dairy of Chicago, used in their products. Taylor says, “What goes into the final product makes the quality of the product better.” Oberweiss milk comes in glass bottles, and while it may not have a long shelf life, Taylor feels it has extra flavor. Taylor asked, “Have you tried a Bubble Tea?” Bubble Tea has flavor burst bubbles that explode when a person drinks it. A Bubble Tea would go great with one of Matt’s “Box Specials” for Glad-Peach Festival, August 2 – 5. This lunch box will feature Matt’s Peach Pulled Pork BBQ sandwich, chips and of course, a Soulard Cookie! Peach Pie will also be available to purchase. Take the opportunity to talk to this young couple about the business venture they are embarking on and hearing the excitement and love of baking and cooking they want to share with others. A vision that began with custom made cakes out of their home has grown. A service offered at Soulard’s is a special order cake to represent a special occasion. Check out some of Taylor’s creations on their Facebook page. Soulard’s will be opening to the public on Thursday, July 26, 2018. Their hours are Wednesday to Friday 7:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Saturday & Sunday 7 a.m. – 3 p.m. They are closed on Monday and Tuesday.

City of Hartford anti-blight campaign nets multiple offenders; PNC to leave city

By Jon Bisnett “We will get this city cleaned up…” says Hartford Mayor Rick Hall. “We’ve got over two pages of violations with a couple in court right now and the rest coming due in the middle of August,” touted Hall in reference to the stepped-up campaign to eliminate blight within the city. “If these people don’t show up for their hearing, a bench warrant is then issued. Contempt of court charges are filed, the fines increase and they still have to clean up the blight. We’ll get this done… it just takes some time” Mayor Hall then announced at the Monday, July 23 meeting of the City Commission that PNC Bank has informed the city that the Hartford branch will permanently cease operations in mid-October. The announcement immediately prompted concern from Commissioner Terry Tibbs, “They will continue to maintain the property I would hope… we must hold them to that.” Hall said he hoped the city can help PNC find a buyer for the building, but made it clear that the city has no formal interest in the property. “It’s up to them to ultimately find a buyer,” said Hall who went on to say PNC will leave behind an ATM in the city.

KEY TO THE CITY… Hartford Mayor Rick Hall welcomed Miss Hartford 2018 Angela Saldana at the July 23 meeting of the City Commission, presenting her with the honorary key to the city celebrating her reign as the community ambassador to Blossomtime. (TCR photo by Jon Bisnett)

Hall indicated that he had been assured by Chemical Bank, the city’s only remaining financial institution that they are prepared to accept an influx of new customers that choose to leave PNC, whose nearest branch will then be located 15 minutes away in Paw Paw. Guests Interim Director Diane Rigozzi of Van Buren Senior Services visited to thank the city for their support and remind voters that both the renewal and new senior millage are on the August ballot for the city. (Hartford Township refused to place the two measures on their ballot, stating poor quality of overpriced meal services and the inability to document any township residents receiving services.) Rigozzi quoted servicing just 56 clients in the city in 2011 and in six years had grown that number to 161 in 2017. The non-profit group just installed their 100th mobility ramp at no cost to the Van Buren County recipient. Candidate for 26th District State Senate, Don Wickstra, also made a campaign stop. The 65-year-old retired dentist from Hamilton is competing with Bob Genetski and Lawton’s Aric Nesbitt for the office vacated by the term-limited Tonya Schuitmaker.

Communications Local officials meeting with State Representative Beth Griffin – July 30 at VBISD Conference Center; Nominating petitions for the available City Commission seats are due August 7; 2017-18 City Audit is set to begin August 27.

Approval & Archive The Council approved and archived the meeting minutes: June 25 Business Meeting and the July 16 Workshop. Departmental reports from the month of June 2018 were unanimously approved and placed on file.

Other business City Manager Yemi Akinwale outlined street work for Church and Prospect streets. All city parking lots were sealed and striped in the last few weeks. Resolution 2018-007 – Temporary Road Closure for Special Events from Van Buren Road Commission was unanimously approved. Having no further business, Mayor Hall adjourned the meeting at 7:58 p.m.

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