ON THE FARM… State Representative Pauline Wendzel with her Grandpa Alton Wendzel on the family farm recently.
Early apple varieties estimated to be ready at end of August
Michigan’s much-anticipated apple crop is right on schedule, and growers are ready to harvest the delicious fruit for consumer to enjoy. “Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, so many events and traditions have been canceled. But nature doesn’t get canceled,” said Diane Smith, executive director of the Michigan Apple Committee. “Michigan’s apple growers have continued to work through the crisis and apples continue to grow. Right now they are ripening on trees and will be ready for consumers to enjoy in just a few short weeks.” Early varieties, like Paula Red and Ginger Gold are estimated to be ready for harvest around Aug. 25 and 27, respectively. America’s most-produced variety, the Gala, looks to be coming off trees around Sept. 8. Honeycrisp is estimated to be ready for harvest around Sept. 18. A full schedule of estimated harvest dates can be viewed at MichiganApples.com. “There is always a great deal of excitement around apple harvest time, and this year is no exception,” said Smith. “In fact, consumers are more interested than ever in providing fresh, healthy foods for their families, as staying healthy and well has been top-of-mind over the past several months.”
Consumers can find information about the health benefits of apples, as well as recipes and healthy meal plans at MichiganApples.com/Healthy-Living. “Apples are literally a symbol of health. They have numerous health benefits, and they can be eaten fresh or incorporated into recipes,” said Smith. “Michigan’s apple growers continue to be dedicated to providing safe, quality fruit throughout the COVID-19 crisis, while taking great care to keep their workers and operations safe as well.” An official estimate of the size of Michigan’s apple crop will be released on Aug. 21, as part of the USApple Outlook Virtual Conference. Michigan Apple growers harvest an average of approximately 25 million bushels of apples each year. There are more than 14.9 million apple trees in commercial production, covering 34,500 acres on 775 family-run farms in Michigan.
Hartford Township focused on health and safety
By Anna Layer Healthy and safety are top priorities for Hartford Township as members of the Hartford Township Board approved the purchase of an attorney facilitated Zoom subscription and an automated external defibrillator (AED) at their in-person meeting on Thursday, Aug. 13. Including the board, there were only eight people total present at the meeting where the board discussed the Zoom decision. Concerns about the ability to conduct in-person meetings continue with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, especially if Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer happened to roll back the state to phase three.
Purchase of Zoom subscription and AED Township Supervisor Ron Sefcik explained how the Zoom subscription would be facilitated by the township’s attorneys. “In meeting with our attorneys on a different matter, I learned that they have the Zoom subscription and they offer a service that for fifty dollars per meeting, they will host the meeting and we will enter in as guests, if you want to call it that, to the meeting. We would download Zoom and get an email notification with a link to click to get in there or a telephone number to call. We’ll need to post this information on our website, and in essence, the attorney that handles this is the gatekeeper. We are under a period right now where if we’re meeting indoors it’s ten people or less. We have eight today. If we had more than ten, we’d be meeting outside. We’re starting to get into September, October, I think it’d be a good option for us to have, and we might not use it all the time. A number of townships are using it as a hybrid, combining the digital meeting format with regular meetings, so there’s a number of options.” The purchase of an AED was something the township had previously discussed, and Supervisor Sefcik explained, “I got a quote from a couple of companies and then I talked with [Hartford Fire Department] Chief Harting. Along with this, one of the quotes I had they were offering training on the device, but talking with the fire department chief, they can do this for us.” The board’s vote decided to purchase the life-saving machine for $1,875.
Van Buren County Road Commission The Van Buren County Road Commission reported that residents of Hartford Township would be seeing seal coating operations beginning this week depending on the weather, as well as roadside mowing. Tree and storm cleanup is on the agenda as well. Van Buren Country Road Commission member Rick Boze also advised that Hartford residents who regularly travel to Paw Paw on Red Arrow Highway are going to see construction starting soon. “If you’re going to be heading to Paw Paw and need to go Red Arrow Highway for the next couple of weeks, they’re going to be repaving. It’s called a mill and fill where they’ll take the top two inches off and re-put it back down. They be working on that… so you might want to steer clear of that. It’s a commonly used road for everybody. It’s the back way that people go to Kalamazoo, so you might want to steer clear of that for the next couple of weeks,” Boze explained.
Van Buren County Sheriff Chad Hunt, a Van Buren County Sherriff’s Deputy, reported 1,699 miles traveled for the month of July. This included twenty-five traffic stops resulting in twenty-two verbal warnings. There was only one crash. There were ten criminal complaints. Only two citations were issued. There was one criminal sexual conduct complaint resulting in an ongoing investigation. Blight ordinance enforcement saw four citations written. Deputy Hunt reported that they assisted other departments thirteen times and made seven misdemeanor arrests and four felony arrests. They are still dealing with more blight issues, but the courts are ninety days out on blight enforcement right now. Deputy Hunt further explained how the COVID pandemic has impacted blight enforcement, “It’s a slow, slow process this year in getting blight enforcement, everybody’s in the same boat. The courts aren’t going to budge on the ninety days for the citation. The normal citation is ten days, and these are ninety days out before they even look at them.”
Hartford Fire Department Steve Starner, Hartford Township Treasurer, delivered the Hartford Fire Department (HFD) report for the month of July. He reported the fire department had seventy-seven calls for service, which is a record. Thirty-one of those were in the township. With the beginning of a budget year HFD started doing all the mandatory tests; ladders, Jaws of Life and will be doing physicals toward the end of September for everybody, which is required. Starner continued, “And of course, we hope everybody knows that the millage passed for the fire department so we’re good for another four years to collect from that. The county’s 9-1-1 proposal passed which is going to be a great benefit to us particularly because they’re going to replace the tower out at the fairgrounds so they can put a better antenna and stuff on there and that will help us communications wise with the fire department. Last I knew they were going to start doing some construction as soon as they could possibly get it going.”
Pride Care Ambulance Correspondence from Jessica Sutter, Director of Communications for Pride Care Ambulance, details that Pride Care responded to thirty-two calls for service in Hartford Township in July. Jessica’s report includes an average response time for all thirty-two calls to be nine minutes and thirteen seconds; however, there were two calls with extended response times due to GPS failure. Sutter explains, “We have identified the failure and have asked our IT department to investigate and repair the issue.” Sutter also reports that there was one additional call with an extended response time, “due to distance. The crew took the correct route and did not report any further incidents.”
Open discussion Clerk Julie Sweet presented a request to the board from former Hartford Police Chief Ramon Beltran. “Ramon Beltran called wanting to know if we would be willing to sell grave spaces to him and Tressa at a discount since they were in law enforcement. I told him that I did not have the authority to do that, but that I would bring it to the board. However, I’m bringing it you and I’ve done some looking and as you all know, we can’t do anything without a statute that allows us to do that, and there is no statute that will allow us to do that. I’ve looked because you know it would be nice if that was something we could do, but there’s no statute that says we can do that.” Cemetery plots for property owners in Hartford Township are $300, while the fee for non-residents is $900. The board conceded that their hands were tied and the fee schedule would stay the same. The next Hartford Township Meeting will take place on September 10 at 7:30 p.m.
Upton applauds passage of Water Resources Development Act
U.S. Rep. Fred Upton commended the U.S. House of Representatives for its unanimous passage of H.R. 7575, the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2020, vital legislation that will support southwest Michigan’s water infrastructure. As part of the bill, Upton was able to successfully include three key priorities: Authorization of the construction of the Brandon Road Lock and Dam system; language urging the completion of the Great Lakes Coastal Resiliency study and expanding the study to assess the impact of record high lake levels; and language encouraging the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to provide beach nourishment to the shoreline and affected beaches south of the New Buffalo Harbor. “The WRDA passage provides southwest Michigan with a huge victory, addressing a number of issues that have been a priority for our region for years,” Upton said. “It advances protections for our Great Lakes, keeps invasive species like Asian Carp out, and takes necessary steps to address the erosion and record lake levels. Bordering Lake Michigan, we simply have one of the most beautiful districts in the country. And the entire Great Lakes region is a national treasure. It is so important to ensure our 5,200-mile coastline is protected because of the four million people who call the coastline home, the 60 commercial harbors that create incredible economic activity, and the billions of dollars generated from tourism.”