08-08-2019 Watervliet City Manager’s contract extended; L.H. Piggott & Girls Farm celebrates 70

60TH ANNIVERSARY… Eugene “Gene” and Carol O’Riley celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary at their residence in Hartford on July 20, 2019 with family. They were married June 6, 1959 in Watervliet. Family members attending included the couple’s children Teresa O’Riley, Wyoming MI and Jeff (Amy) O’Riley, Watervliet; grandchildren Jen (Brad) Behnke, Kimberly WI, Katie O’Riley (Doug Grosjean), Detroit, and Leesa O’Riley, Watervliet; great-grandchildren Kenzi Behnke and Phoenix Grosjean; and niece Debbie (Darren) Smith, Warren MI.

Watervliet City Manager’s contract extended

By Annette Christie Watervliet City Mayor Dave Brinker moved around the action items on the agenda at the Watervliet City Commission meeting on Tuesday, August 6, perhaps to save the best for last. Brinker told the commission that the action item was about the City Manager and his contract. Tyler Dotson has been with the city for a little over a year and was into the second year of his original contract, much the way that the commission has done all of the city manager contracts. Brinker said that Dotson sat down with the Personnel Committee (Duane Cobb, Jennifer Helms, and Brinker) shortly after his first year was up. Brinker stated, “I think most of the commission and I really like this guy and the things he is doing is fantastic.” The Personnel Committee concurred and said that they made a recommendation to extend his contract another year. Cobb told the commission that Dotson has a lot of energy and foresight and has kept the city in harmony better than any of the recent city managers. “He has been consistent in his philosophy, has been a good leader to the staff, and keeps everyone focused on the task,” Cobb said. Cobb explained the changes in the new contract that now expires in 2021; that being a salary of $67,500 and some slight changes to the verbiage. The city commission unanimously approved the contract extension (with the exception of Commissioner Whitney who was absent).

Dog park update In the follow up City Manager Report, Dotson told commissioners that a proposed dog park in the city has been put on hold until they can do further research. Dotson is working on the Dog Park with the Parks and Recreation Committee (commissioners Muth, Whitney, and Bumstead). Dotson said they are looking over the equipment that will be donated to the city, what the increased cost could be to maintain it, and possible locations that would fit best within the city. Planning Commission numbers reduced At the recommendation of Dotson, the city commission voted to reduce the number of members to five that make up the Planning Commission. Dotson explained that it is within the powers of the city commission to establish the number of members in its Planning Commission, and since they had expanded it in 2017, there have been problems with maintaining the established 7-member board. The low response from any interested new members, an inability to achieve a quorum at various meeting times, and the lack of experienced and knowledgeable candidates were the main reasons for the recommended change.

AT&T permit extended The city commission also approved an extension to a permit with AT&T. The permit is required by the state to receive funds from the Local Community Stabilization Authority. The contract was set to expire at the end of July and AT&T asked for an extension to the Metro Act Right of Way Permit. The act states that a provider using or seeking to use public rights-of-way in a metropolitan area for its telecommunication facilities must obtain a permit from the municipality where the facilities are located. Dotson told the commission that last year the city received approximately $73,982 for the permit.

Wightman and Associates report Dotson and the team from Wightman and Associates updated the city commission on the preliminary inflow and infiltration evaluation of the sewer system, the traffic asset management plan, the community engagement plan, and an updated asset management plan timeline. Wightman’s Andrew Rudd said that the initial phase of the overall evaluation of the inflow and infiltration looks at the city’s system wide wastewater flow and compares the actual volume to what should be expected from the individual sanitary meter service areas. Once the base sanitary flow is determined, the clean water entering the sanitary system from rain events (inflow) and ground water (infiltration) can be estimated. Rudd said they found that meters one and two had significantly increased flow and that will be the area they will focus on. The long term goal is to identify where and how the inflow and infiltration is entering the system and implement a cost effective solution to address it. Wightman’s Patrick Schwyn reviewed the traffic asset management plan that looked at road conditions within the city. Schwyn said that they evaluated the current local roads, analyzed the data, and from that can provide an array of fix recommendations and the forecast for the future. The current road conditions are evaluated using a Pacer rating of 8-10 being good, 5-7 being fair, and 1-4 being considered poor. Based on the results, the city has an average 3.9 rating. This is actually above the Berrien County average of 3.8. Schwyn explained the funding needed to fix and repair the roads and also to maintain them in the best interests of the city’s future. Wightman’s Frank LaPierre updated the City Commission on the Asset Management Plan and the timeline. He told them that they have made a lot of progress on the asset management plan. They will be working on the downtown vision area to which the city commission will be updated near year’s end along with the USDA loan process. Community Engagement Plan Dotson reviewed the Community Engagement Plan. The plan is to identify and utilize ways to better communicate with the city’s residents to keep them informed. Multiple facets of communication will be used to include social media, quarterly water billing, and the website. The commissioners adopted a budget that includes funds for the re-vamping of the website this year.