08-02-2018 Former Hartford Township Sexton found guilty in embezzlement case; Lady Comets State Cha

Grand City Show Skiers to perform on Paw Paw Lake this Sunday Once again, Paw Paw Lake Yacht Club is host to the Grand City Show Skiers for an annual water ski show held on Paw Paw Lake. The show can be viewed from boats or the Yacht Club located at 5099 Shoreview Dr. in Coloma beginning at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 5. Founded in 1978 as the West Michigan Water Ski Association, Grand City Show Skiers is excited to be celebrating their 40th anniversary of bringing a love of show skiing to crowds throughout the state of Michigan. In those 40 years, Grand City has held an annual tradition of skiing on New Year’s Day, hosted and lead waterski clinics for the disabled and blind, won their first Michigan State Show Championship in 1993, and won Division 2 National Championships in 2010. Grand City is very proud of their 40-year history of performing and teaching show skiing to both the very young, and the young at heart. The team ranges in age from 8 to 78 years old. This team loves the sport of show skiing and looks forward to bringing that passion to audiences and new skiers for many more years to come. The public is invited to view the show from the Yacht Club. Hot dogs, brats, chips and drinks will be available at the club from 1:30 to 3:00 p.m., donations accepted. Cocktails and beer will be available for purchase from the club bar.


Former Hartford Township Sexton found guilty in embezzlement case

By Jon Bisnett A jury of 10 women and two men deliberated for several hours last Tuesday and all day Wednesday finally returning a guilty verdict late Thursday evening in the case of Gerrie Lee Heskett, 62, of Hartford with a conviction on one count of embezzlement by a public official over $50. The trial began in the Paw Paw courtroom of Judge Kathleen Brickley on Monday July 16 with the prosecutor’s office seeking one count of embezzlement between $50,000 and $100,000 and one count of embezzlement by a public official over $50. Hartford Township first contacted the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department in fall 2016 with suspicions that led to an investigation in January of 2017 of missing funds, mostly cash transactions that were the responsibility of Heskett. The period spanned January 2011 through December 2016. Township officials discharged Heskett, the Township’s only full-time employee, in late 2016 when discrepancies arose. She had worked as the caretaker for both Hartford Township cemeteries from 1997 to December of 2016. Since discharging Heskett the Township liquidated all maintenance equipment related to her position and now subcontracts the work. All burial purchases and any related charges are now managed internally by the Township Clerk, serving as Cemetery Coordinator using a newly purchased comprehensive software package. Although investigators claim Heskett stole as much as $100,000 during the period from 1997 to 2016, the defense argued what it called discrepancies in the methodology of averaging used in the case. Judge Brickley ruled that the jury may use either calculation in their deliberation, which apparently resulted in a not guilty verdict on a second embezzlement charge. Embezzlement by a public official over $50 is a felony which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, and typically demanding restitution. Sentencing is expected sometime in September.

Coloma H.S. Principal among finalists for Superintendent post; interviews are Aug. 2 & 3

By Annette Christie The Coloma Community Schools Board of Education is moving forward in the selection of a new superintendent. Eighteen educators initially applied for the position, one of which is Coloma’s own high school principal, David Ehlers. The board reviewed the applications and has invited four educators to be interviewed including Ehlers. The process has been facilitated by Dave Killips, Regional President of the Michigan Leadership Institute. The interviews will be held on August 2 and August 3. Two interviews will be held each evening, with one scheduled at 5:00 p.m. and one at 6:30 p.m. All interviews will be held in the media center at Coloma Intermediate School, 274 South West Street. The interviews are open to the public and the public is encouraged to attend. The interview schedule is as follows: Thursday, August 2 at 5:00 p.m. – Jerome Sardina, High School Principal in South Haven; Thursday, August 2 at 6:30 p.m. – David Ehlers, High School Principal in Coloma; Friday, August 3 at 5:00 p.m. – Ric Seager, High School Principal in Schoolcraft; Friday, August 3 at 6:30 p.m. – Dr. Ryan Goble, Teaching and Learning Coordinator in Glen Ellyn, Illinois. The opening occurred as current superintendent, Peter Bush, has accepted a similar position with Sparta. Mr. Bush has been with the district for four years. Board President Heidi Ishmael stated, “We were pleased with the number of applicants who demonstrated interest in Coloma. The board understands the importance of this decision and the impact the new superintendent will have on our children, schools and community. We look forward to finding out more about the candidates’ leadership abilities and what each candidate has to offer our schools and community. It is important we move through this process quickly, but thoroughly, in order to have our new superintendent ready to go near the start of the school year.” In the preliminary calendar of events scheduled for the process, those selected for second interviews will be interviewed on August 7, 2018 along with a candidate open house. The details for this have not been finalized, but will be released as soon as that is complete.

Lady Comets