07-27-2017 Hartford Board of Ed appoints new Middle School Principal; Board member objects, says low

Hartford Board of Ed appoints new Middle School Principal; Board member objects, says low test scores needs stronger academic leadership

By Nancy Albright

On July 20 the Hartford Board of Education voted to approve Ken Mohney as Hartford Middle School Principal beginning in the 2017-2018 school year.

Mohney, who was chosen from a pool of four candidates, comes from the Mattawan Public School District where he was Athletic Director for 18 years. According to Hartford Public Schools Superintendent Andy Hubbard, Mohney has administrative experience, is a well-organized individual and “well-liked by his peers.”

All but Board Secretary Jason Meacham voted to appoint Mohney. In a written statement provided to the Tri-City Record after Thursday evening’s meeting Meacham stated, “Hartford Middle School has persistently low test scores and the climate between staff and administration is poor. In my opinion, what we don’t need is another athletic director. With this approval Hartford will have four ADs in its district. Administration has missed the boat by not surfacing an academic-based individual who has experience leading a building.” Meachum told the newspaper that he challenged the board to review its policies on how criteria are established for new hires.

Board approves additional hires

Students will encounter other new faces at the start of the 2017-2018 school year as well. Derek Clements will join HPS as the new High School and Middle School Band Director, and Alyson Wendzel will serve as part-time Choir Director.

Clements, who will replace High School Band Director Aaron Mirakovits, was Band Director, Choir teacher and Literacy Coach at Engadine Consolidated Schools. Andy Hubbard said of outgoing director Mirakovits, “Aaron has rejuvenated the program at HPS during his four-year tenure and increased the number of students that participated in the program.” Wendzel, who graduated from Western Michigan University with a B.A. in K-12 Music Education, is the current director of the Lakeland Healing Harmonies Choir and completed her internship at Jenison Public Schools.

The board also welcomed Lisa Goodson as the new High School Guidance Secretary. Goodson is a member of the Hartford community and has three children that attend Hartford Public Schools.

The board approved the resignation of Middle School Language Arts teacher Kristine Kerr, who has been with the district for two years. Hubbard told the assembly, “She will be missed.”

School lunch prices increase

Breakfast and lunch prices will see a small increase in the 2017-2018 school year. Elementary breakfast prices are now set at $1.35 and Elementary and Secondary lunch prices at $2.65. Milk will cost 50 cents.

Strategic Plan enters year 2

HPS Technology Director Rob Sheffey reported to the board that the ongoing plan to upgrade HPS technology is underway and he will present the detailed Technical Infrastructure Plan at the September meeting.

The technical integration plan is moving forward however. The new HPS website is up and running, PCs in the high school and middle school computer labs have been replaced, and grades 2-5 have a 1:1 iPad ratio.

Sheffey recommended that the school purchase Chromebooks for each high school student, which can stay with each student throughout their four years in school. The cost is high, but using a Google-based platform can help save money because homework can be processed online without ever printing anything.

Curriculum Director Brad Geesaman then explained Understanding by Design to the board, the new curriculum mapping system which is currently in Phase 1. The Google-based system provides uniform templates that K-12th grade teachers will use to document their instructional curriculums. Using Google Drive facilitates collaboration between staff at all grade levels because the documents are accessible to everyone. Teachers will be able to edit only their own curriculums, but other teachers are invited to view their work in order to generate ideas to better prepare their students to meet requirements for advancement to the next grade level. Teachers can also customize current curriculums to meet and exceed academic standards for each grade level.

Redwood construction on schedule

Superintendent Hubbard informed the board that the Redwood Elementary School construction project is on schedule, and that K-2 will be moved into the new classroom additions on the north side of the building in mid-August.

Board approves teacher’s contract

The board voted to approve the Hartford Education Association’s teacher’s contract for a three-year period. Year one will see no salary increases, but teachers will see raises in years two and three.

New pastor at Plymouth Congregational Church

 Sunday, July 30, Plymouth Congregational Church located at 123 First Street in Watervliet will celebrate and welcome new pastor, Larry Easton and his wife Sandy. Easton has been assistant pastor and as of March 1 became the permanent minister. He and his wife are residents of Coloma.

The congregation will also welcome new members Lillian and Paul Homer.

Also on Sunday the church will showcase the newly redecorated Fireside Room and pastor’s office. New carpet, drapes and paint were funded by the church and memorial fund.

A fellowship luncheon will follow the 11 o’clock morning worship service. The public is invited to meet, greet and eat on Sunday, July 30.

City of Coloma meets briefly; approves added funds for road work

By Christina Gelder

It was a brief meeting at the Coloma City Hall when the City Commission met on Monday, July 24. They did vote on several public works related expenses. Commissioner Marsha Hammond shared that the big Caterpillar front-end loader needs repairs to its bucket. This machine is used heavily during the winter months to move snow. The estimate on the repairs came to $5877.51 and was approved.

During the June 26 meeting of the commission a motion was made and approved to accept bids on needed road repairs. The bid for N. West Street for $17,600 was approved from Marvin Street to Wilson Road. Commissioner Hammond said on Monday that the repairs actually need to be done from Morrison Street to Wilson. This adds an additional $7,000 to the bid, the change was approved.

Shout-out to Bob Howell

Commissioner Hammond shared that the city’s lift truck in broken so Bob Howell brought his truck in to help hang the Glad-Peach Festival banner in Baker Park.

Glad-Peach Festival update

The city is also gearing up for the 2017 Glad-Peach Festival. Scheduled for the first weekend in August, it is almost here. President Jody Davis and Past President of the Glad-Peach Board Julie Pupedis were on hand at the meeting in case there were any questions concerning the festival. This year events will be laid out differently due to lack of availability of a couple key properties. One key change is that a full carnival will be in place on the parking lot off of Logan Street (behind The Friendly Tavern).

Lakeland Hospital Watervliet Auxiliary sponsoring blood drive August 14

 On Monday, August 14 Michigan Blood will be conducting a blood drive at Lakeland Hospital, Watervliet. This event will run from 1 – 6 p.m. in Classroom C and is sponsored by the hospital auxiliary. Persons must be at least 18 years old to donate.

PACE of Southwest Michigan welcomes new medical director

 PACE (Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly) of Southwest Michigan (PACESWMI) welcomed new Medical Director, Erika Nearpass, D.O. on Monday, July 24.

“We are proud to welcome Dr. Nearpass to our organization and we look forward to her leadership in helping seniors in Berrien, Cass and Van Buren counties maintain their independence,” said Therese Saggau, Executive Director of PACE of Southwest Michigan. “Dr. Nearpass’ strong passion for caring for the geriatric population is certain to make positive contributions to the care of our participants.”

Founded in 2012 by community partners who identified a need for home-based, long-term care services in southwestern Michigan, PACESWMI serves adults over 55 who have long-term medical conditions. PACE coordinates and provides all needed preventive, primary, acute and long-term care services so older adults can continue living at home in the community they love. The PACE program is part of a nationwide model of care that began in 1971.

“Our participants and their families are consistently happy with the care and services they receive,” Saggau said. “With our care, participants experience less deterioration in physical functioning, better health status and quality of life, and lower rates of ER visits and hospitalizations.”

Said Dr. Nearpass, “I will be a part of every aspect of the care our participants receive. I am impressed with the multidisciplinary model of PACE and how it helps to prevent areas of missed opportunities to improve the patient’s overall health and quality of life.”

Dr. Nearpass received her Bachelor of Science degree in Biochemistry from Andrews University, Berrien Springs, Michigan. She then received her Doctorate in Osteopathic Medicine from the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine in Lewisburg, West Virginia and went on to complete her Internal Medicine Residency at Lakeland Regional Hospital, St. Joseph, Michigan.


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