08-10-2017 Watervliet City Commission approves multiple improvement expenses; 14 area of Main Street

Watervliet City Commission approves multiple improvement expenses; 14 area of Main Street sidewalks on the list

By Annette Christie

The Watervliet City Commission approved several improvements city wide for the betterment of their residents and the infrastructure at their Tuesday, August 8 meeting.  While they approved many, there were some that did not quite receive enough yes votes to move forward, for now anyway.

City Manager Michael Uskiewicz presented concrete bids from C and H Concrete and Fisher Construction for concrete repairs on the Main Street sidewalks, at Flaherty Park, and at Hays Park.  The total bids were $15,040 from C and H and $15,400 from Fisher.  There are 14 areas of Main Street sidewalk that will be repaired with the goal being to diminish the trip hazards.   Uskiewicz said that there has been five falls that City Hall knows about already due to some problems with the sidewalks.   “We have some trip hazards that are vital and need addressed,” Uskiewicz said.  The work at Flaherty Park is for 100 feet of boardwalk that the city is replacing annually.   The work at Hays Park is to replace the current walkways to the kayak launch from rock to cement.  Mayor Dave Brinker brought up the grant that paid for the handicap access to that ramp and asked Uskiewicz to make sure that the grade that they are planning is what is deemed necessary according to the grant.  “I believe that grade is correct for handicap accessibility,” Brinker said.

A question was raised about only having two bids for the concrete work and Uskiewicz said they tried to get additional bids but the companies they approached were too busy to provide one.  After verifying the funding, the commissioners approved the bid from C and H Concrete.

Commissioners also approved a concrete repair to well house #1 from C and H Concrete.  The work includes blocking up two windows and adding to the existing footings to make them stronger. The quote was in the amount of $5,478 and the City Commission approved it unanimously.

In their efforts to spruce up the façade of City Hall it was discovered that two windows upstairs are cracked.  While there are other windows that do need to be replaced eventually the City Manager recommended that these cracked windows be replaced now.  He obtained a bid from Midwest Glass in the amount of $2,250.  The funds would come out of the building and grounds line and Uskiewicz said that they would need to do a budget amendment from his line to provide enough.   The motion carried to replace those two windows.

Tree work was approved for Hays Park.  Uskiewicz and Public Works Director Jeff Allen did a survey of the park and found 13 dead trees, some of which could cause damage to structures if they were to come down.   He obtained a quote from Willie Nearn Jr. and recommended to the City Commission that they authorize up to $4,400 for Nearn to come in and take the trees down and cut up the wood.  Public Works would then remove the wood and put it out by the Public Works building for the residents to come and get first come first serve.    Uskiewicz said it comes out at $338 per tree to have them cut down and cut up. He confirmed that there are funds this year in the budget to proceed.  The City Commission approved the quote.

Uskiewicz presented a quote to repair a manhole cover on Riverside Street that is not being held in place properly.  The quote from Balkema Excavating to install the proper containment for the cover was $5,765.   Uskiewicz said the funds were available in major streets.  The City Commission approved the quote.

A list of streets in need of repair and recommended by the Public Works Director were presented.  The quotes supplied were to “chip and seal” the Hays Park entrance, E. St. Joseph Street, Shepard Place, Forest Park, E. Parsons, W. Parsons, Paw Paw Avenue and Sutherland for a total of $37,800.  The quote was obtained from the Berrien County Road Commission.  The funding would be shared between local streets ($12,600) and major streets ($25,200).   The hang up seemed to be the division between the Commissioners on whether they wanted the stones or not.  Commissioner Rick Kinzler asked about a different process that would include a thick coating on top of the road but without the stone.   Commissioner Larry Hehl agreed that he would like staff to look at the price without the gravel but still doing the care and maintenance needed.  Uskiewicz pointed out that this work that they would be approving would be tying into other roads that they have already done with the chip and seal.    Commissioners voted the repairs down with four no votes.  Staff will obtain the quotes for the other type of repair and bring it back to the City Commission.

Fire Truck

Watervliet Fire Chief Dan Jones was on hand to discuss a resolution approving an installment purchase agreement for a new fire truck.   Jones said that the finance agreement was for the purchase of their next scheduled replacement vehicle, a pumper tanker.  Jones said that the bank is requesting verification from the city and the township despite the Fire Board already having that authority.

Jones said this is the next truck in our replacement program.  It will be a year before they actually have it on site and ready for use. Commissioner Duane Cobb asked if the fire department coordinates purchases with all other neighboring agencies so that they are not all ending up at the fire with the same kinds of vehicle, needing another.   Jones confirmed that they do. The new pumper tanker will be replacing a couple vehicles including a back up pumper, rescue pumper, and a tanker.  While they may not be actually getting rid of it, they will be taking the older vehicles out of priority order for responding to calls.  He said one of the older vehicles is for sale.

Jones estimated that the new vehicle will run about $500,000. He stated that the one for sale could get around $100,000.  Jones said of the purchase, “If we pay up front for the vehicle we get a substantial discount and we are obtaining an interest only loan until the truck is delivered.  After the first year the interest rate is 2.69%.”

A glitch in the wording of the resolution resulted in it being voted down in the first go around.  Jones left the meeting and returned with an attorney approved corrected resolution which then was approved unanimously.


During public comments Mallory Brown asked the City Commission to reconsider the ordinance amendment that would allow chickens in the city limits.  The City Commission voted it down last month.  Brown was there on behalf of her father. “It is extremely disappointing that it was voted down,” Brown said.

Despite her public comments, written comments, and a letter from Watervliet Charter Township asking the City Commission to rethink the ordinance amendment, no action was taken on the requests.

Brinker told Brown, “For the nine years I’ve been here, we have re-addressed this and it’s always no. If the Commission wanted to, they could take another look at it or maybe hold a public hearing.”

Planning Commission

Seeking to boost up the Planning Commission, the City Commission opted to add three members.  Cindy Muth, Eric Hollaway, and Mallory Brown were added to the Planning Commission.  This now makes a Planning Commission of seven members.  Commissioner Deah Muth abstained from the vote due to relation being appointed.

ROYALTY CONTESTANTS… for the 2017 Berrien County Youth Fair King & Queen are pictured (from the left): Ryder Zielke, Amber Fleisher, Kennedy Mel-ton, Lillian Jillson, Serena Sommer, and Ben Myers. The King and Queen will be crowned this Friday evening. The royal couple will preside over all the fair events.

Glad-Peach Festival celebrates a successful 50th year

By Christina Gelder

By all accounts the 50th Glad-Peach Festival was a success. Glad-Peach President, Jody Davis, said that it was “a wonderful year.” She said that there were stellar crowds; lots of people attended the different events. For many, it seemed like a record. The pit spit was the biggest ever and there was lots of crowd participation.

2017 FESTIVAL ROYALTY… After a super close race, the winners of the Glad-Peach Prince and Princess contest are pictured (from the left): 2nd Runner-up Emily Hansen, 1st Runner-up Ariyana Perry, Princess Lainie White, Prince John Dahlquist Jr., 1st Runner-up Austin Martin, and 2nd Runner-up Tyler Thomson.

Davis also said that the board had worked hard to find new attractions and they were very pleased with how they turned out. Cirque Amongus was a huge hit and drew a crowd for all of their shows.

Community support is a big deal to the festival and Davis is grateful for everyone who came out or supported the festival is any way. She was pleased to recognize “wonderful people who are instrumental in the community,” referring to the various honors and awards given out by the festival committee.

It may have started and ended on a rather wet note but all-in-all it was a great year. Davis promises they are planning on making it bigger and better for next year.

Run, Walk, Bike Events

Without a doubt one of the biggest events of the Glad-Peach Festival is the Run/Walk/Bike races. With a dedicated group of organizers and volunteers the 5k and 10k events are successful every year. The race has 43 sponsors and 130 volunteers making it a true community effort. Some key sponsors were Honor Credit Union, Elete Electrolyte, Pepsi, Coloma Pizza Hut, Harding’s Friendly Market, Fruit Acres and Watervliet Burger King.