08-20-2020 Hagar Township posts record absentee vote; Grace Christian School to open with full-time

THIS KUTE KID IS… Aidan O’Neill at 3 years old, appropriately nicknamed “Red” for his telltale hair color. Aiden’s proud parents are Antonio and Bailey O’Neill from Hartford. His siblings are baby brother Ashton and the twins, Aubrey & Austin. Grandparents to the O’Neill siblings are Danny and Amanda Costner (Hartford), Cecil and Angela Jackson (Watervliet) and Judi Nail also of Watervliet.


Hagar Township posts record absentee vote

By Jon Bisnett Following a continued best practice of virtual meetings, Hagar Township Board conducted its August regular business on Monday the 10th with a fairly light agenda.

Election Clerk Sarah Rodriguez reports a record number of Absentee Ballots for the August 4th Primary Election, with 528 requests. Of those, 449 absent voter ballots were returned which when combined with walk-in voters resulted in a 31.4% voter turnout; considered strong for a primary ballot. The clerk complimented all the election workers and the patience shown by the township voters as they worked through new COVID-19 protocols providing a safe environment for all. Treasurer Treasurer Susan Herrmann presented monthly bills in the amount of $34,578.86 with nothing remarkable. One hundred and four landfill passes have been redeemed at a cost to the township of $5,300. Those passes were good through Aug. 1; $2,200 remains in the budget for fall passes. Herrmann gave a quick report on general budget expenses for the most recent quarter with observations that Elections, Postage/Printing, Mechanical and Ordinances are all on a projected pace to exceed their line item amounts. By that same token, amounts budgeted for Mileage and Education have gone generally unused due to cancellations of training and the Michigan Association of Townships annual meeting providing a surplus to easily compensate budget amendments as may be required in the coming months. Addressing concerns over State Revenue Sharing, Herrmann said the July check represented 7% reduction from 2019, with expectations of a further drop for the following year due to negative effects of the virus limiting sales tax from businesses that have been operating well below the norm in revenue.

Ordinances The agenda items slated to deal with amending the current ordinance in regard to Litter/Debris, Noxious Weeds and Unlicensed Trailers was removed and will first go to the Planning Commission before returning to the board. Parks Parks Trustee Deb Frank reports working closely with Ken Bates, the township’s new Maintenance Person in creating a list of tasks, wants and needs throughout the parks. Frank expects to come back to the board next month with a list of small tools needed for the maintenance position along with signage proposals and costs to replace a stolen barbecue grill and replacement of two damaged trash cans. Frank shared her difficulty in getting bids for tree removal at Hagar Park, as tree services are still busy with the recent storm. It was decided to formally post the bid which would then satisfy the township’s purchasing rules if no others bid in light of only one bid received so far. MDOT or not is the question Frank will pursue in regard to a guardrail at Hagar Park that was seriously damaged by an automobile. It is unclear who owns the guardrail and if the township’s insurance will engage or if it is a matter for the Michigan Department of Transportation, as M-63 is a state highway.

Blight enforcement Building Inspector Butch Kelly was granted approval to proceed with demolition bids for several properties identified as vacant and non-compliant located at 4386 Red Arrow Highway, 5851 Red Arrow Highway, 6071 M-63 and 3935 Central Avenue. All the above property owners have been cited and legally notified with no response.

Cemetery storm damage Supervisor Izzy DiMaggio complimented the work done by Dave’s Tree Service in terms of cleaning up the storm damage at Lakeshore Cemetery. The township will bear a $1,000 deductible with insurance picking up the balance of the $11,000 work. Other business Susan Herrmann was unanimously appointed to fill the vacancy on the Board of Review with a 3-year term through March 31, 2023. The Riverside DDA will meet Monday, Aug. 17 at the Kayak Park Pavilion seeking to fill its positions for the coming term. Mark Toncray and Mark LeMoine have agreed to reappointment of a 4-year term through March of 2024, while letters of interest have been received from Kay Ohst and Joanie Bedunah for two of the three remaining trustee vacancies. Planning Commission Trustee Andy Ulleg briefly reported the commission is working on the Master Plan along with a Recreational Marijuana Ordinance and Short/Long-Term Rental Properties. With no further business, Supervisor DiMaggio adjourned the virtual session at 8:17 p.m.

Grace Christian School to open with full-time face-to-face instruction: An excellent option for families

Excellence, family focused, and Christian foundation is how Grace Christian School (GCS) principal, Robin McBride, describes her school. GCS, located in Watervliet, is excited to announce its plans for five day a week in-person classes beginning August 24. In addition to in-person classes, the school is offering online learning options as well as guided home-school resources for families who do not yet feel comfortable returning to school in-person. Teachers will be working hard to ensure student success in each of these settings. The GCS staff has been meeting throughout the summer in preparation for the opening. Outdoor classrooms have been set up to allow students fresh air and a break from masks. Because of smaller class sizes, students in classrooms are able to socially distance. The school will comply with guidelines set forth by the governor’s Back-to-School Roadmap to ensure the safety of staff and students. GCS is the only non-denominational Christian school in the tri-county area serving Berrien, Cass and Van Buren counties. The school’s mission statement is, “Inspiring students to impact the world for Jesus Christ through an excellent educational experience from a Biblical worldview.” It seeks to foster servant leaders who will have a heart to serve and bless their communities and the academic skills to build a bright future. For more information, or to schedule a tour, please contact the school office at 269-463-5545.

What does an unplanned career transition mean for you?

The COVID-19 pandemic has unsettled the country’s employment picture for months and will likely continue to do so for a while. However, the nature and terminology of this disruption varies greatly among individuals – some have seen their jobs disappear, others have been “furloughed” and still others have been offered an early retirement. If you’re in this final group – those either offered, or feeling forced to accept, an early retirement, how should you respond? Try to look at your situation holistically, rather than strictly in a short-term manner. Consider these four areas: Retirement – What does retirement really look like to you? Are you ready to fully retire or would you like to work part time? Are you confident that you can work somewhere else for a few years before retiring on your own terms? If you’re not certain you can work elsewhere, how can you adjust your desired retirement lifestyle – what you planned to do, where you hoped to live, etc. – to meet your new reality? Income – Just how financially affected you’ll be from an early retirement depends on several factors: How much you’ve already saved and invested, whether you’re married and have a working spouse, whether you’ve paid off your mortgage, and so on. In any case, though, you’ll need to answer several questions, including these: Do I need to start taking withdrawals from my IRA and 401(k)? If so, how much can I afford to take out each year without running the risk of outliving my resources? Should I adjust my current investment mix? If I haven’t yet started collecting Social Security, should I do so now, or can I afford to wait until my monthly payments will be bigger? Are there any other sources of income I can leverage? You may want to work with a financial professional to address these and other key income-related issues. Insurance – If you received health insurance through your employer, an early retirement could present you with a dilemma, especially if you’re not quite old enough for Medicare. You might be eligible for COBRA, which provides ex-employees and their dependents the option of continued health insurance for potentially up to 36 months, but this coverage can be expensive. As an alternative, you might be able to negotiate an extended severance package, which could provide you with health insurance for several months. Or, you might be able to get on the health insurance plan of your working spouse. Legacy –Many people want to take care of their family while they’re alive – and leave something behind when they’re gone. If you take an early retirement, you might lose your employer’s group life insurance. Of course, if this plan was not sufficient, you may have already supplemented it with your own policy, but, if you haven’t, you may need to shop around for some coverage, particularly if you have children still at home. You also may want to take this opportunity to review your key financial accounts to make sure your beneficiary designations still accurately reflect your wishes. Going through an unplanned career transition is certainly challenging. But looking closely at the four areas described above, and making the appropriate moves, may help you reduce some of the stress and can put you in a better position to start the next phase of your life. This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor. Edward Jones, Member SIPC

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