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08-20-2020 While Michigan coronavirus cases plateau MHSAA says football’s a no; Coloma police contra

VOLUNTEERS NEEDED… The new library appears to be in quiet expectation of the delivery of some 35,000 books next week. Volunteers will carry boxes of books from the library on Franklin Street to the new library on Tuesday, August 25.

While Michigan coronavirus cases plateau MHSAA says football’s a no

By Jon Bisnett

Michigan’s COVID-19 case count has shown a welcomed flattening of the curve as of late after posting a daily new case of over 1,100 on Aug. 13 to just well under 500 only a week later. Given some push-pull for testing and reporting inconsistencies, the latest data is a positive note, while 19 states are reporting an increase in their counts.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced a plan late last week that will provide more than four million masks to people of Michigan. The initiative, jointly funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, will send more than 2.5 million masks to Detroit, low-income schools and some COVID-19 testing sites and the remainder throughout the state to areas identified as where they are needed the most.

Reacting to the most recent data from Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC), which oversees the state’s prison system, a new Executive Order from the Governor mandates that incarcerated people be tested for COVID-19 upon entry to, transfer, and release from prisons, jails, and juvenile detention facilities. MDOC has identified 435 active COVID-19 cases, its largest spike since the spring.

MHSAA news

As many had been predicting, the Michigan High School Athletic Association made the last-minute call to cancel the fall high school football season with the intent of moving to March of 2021 with a limited schedule, shortening the regular season from the usual nine games.

“At the end of the day, we did everything we could to find a path forward for football this fall,” MHSAA executive director Mark Uyl said. “There is just too much uncertainty and too many unknowns to play football this fall.”

Coming on the heels of the NCAA’s most widely watched and attended conferences canceling all fall sports, the MHSAA still has yet to rule on soccer, tennis, cross-country and volleyball. A green-light is expected for cross-country and tennis, identified as low-risk, while volleyball and soccer are likely to be sacked due to the indoor nature of volleyball and player to player contact of soccer. Golf, swimming and diving are also considered as low-risk among the districts that offer those sports. A decision is expected this week.

Federal COVID relief

The new round of COVID support remains stalled on Capitol Hill, as legislators turn their focus towards pre-election issues with the United States Post Office, leaving thousands in limbo over expanded unemployment benefits and eviction protection among many concerns. The GOP is said to be presenting a new slimmed-down bill which includes unemployment supplements and small-business assistance.

Back to School

Tri-City Area schools submitted their detailed reopening plans to the Michigan Department of Education last week, the nuance of which can be found on their individual websites, having been already communicated to their district stakeholders.

Just last Saturday, the Michigan Legislature finalized a package of bills, HB5911, HB5912 and HB5913. The legislation finalizes guidelines for statewide school districts already planning to restart using either online-only, in-person or blended instruction. But many educators and district administrators around the state object to what they call “rushed” last-minute legislation, concerned it creates more paperwork while offering no flexibility on days and hours for students. Additionally, the measure creates even more funding uncertainty for districts already bracing for cuts due to the state’s projected budget shortfall.

Secondary schools

Last Monday was the first day of classes for both Olivet and Hope College as the first two colleges here in Michigan.

The University of Notre Dame suspended in-person classes just eight days into fall semester after 146 students and a staff member tested positive for COVID-19.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill said on Monday that it would move entirely online after 177 students and staff tested positive for the virus. Michigan State University joined the list of colleges announcing it will begin the fall semester by going to online-only classes, just hours before the TCR went to print.

Coloma police contract okayed

By Annette Christie At their Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2020 Coloma Township Board meeting, they approved a renewal of the union contract with their police officers. Police Chief Wes Smigielski presented the contract to the board for approval. Smigielski said that for the most part the contract was the same with the exception of a few minor things. The contract term, which is expiring next month, will move from April to March and October to September. There will be a 3% increase in wages for the first two years and a wage re-opener in 2022, when Smigielski will sit down with the board and the union to negotiate. Some staffing changes have been made and are pleasing to Smigielski who said, “Things are progressing really well.” He noted that he has expectations and goals for the officers and doesn’t expect any problems with the officers fulfilling those. The only other modification in the contract is required “Right-to-Work” verbiage that is now required. In other business during the virtual meeting due to COVID-19, the board authorized funding for an upgraded and updated phone system for the township hall.

Hartford Public Library set for move to new home at Arthur and Bonna Vanderlyn Community Center

By Anna Layer Roughly 35,000 books are about to be moving across town in Hartford. Stephanie Daniels, Director of the Hartford Public Library, explained that the library will be closed from August 19 through September 2 in order to make the massive transition happen. From the library’s current location at 15 South Franklin Street, it’s just four blocks east to the new address of 12 Church Street, but the move will take some time. They are seeking volunteers who might want to assist with the move to the new location. Helpers would need to be available on Tuesday, Aug. 25 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., able to lift twenty pounds or more and handle steps while carrying boxes of books. Anyone interested should contact the Hartford Public Library at (269) 621-3408.

Arthur and Bonna Vanderlyn Community Center Hartford Public Library’s new building is dubbed the Arthur and Bonna Vanderlyn Community Center. Bonna Vanderlyn, who passed away in May of this year, was a lifelong Hartford resident and the owner of Harding’s Friendly Market in Hartford. The new community center bearing her name is slated to have new adjustable library shelving for the library collection, fifteen public access computers, carpeting and flooring throughout the interior, meeting room furniture and media board, early literacy computers for the children’s room, a security system and fire alarm system, wired computer tables and charging stations, and a high speed color printer/scanner. CPM Construction, tasked with building the new community center, boasts that the project has been completed five weeks ahead of schedule during the pandemic. Patrons of the Hartford Public Library are eagerly awaiting access to the new building. The Sheffey family is no exception. According to Ciara Sheffey, a sixth grader at Hartford Middle School, “It looks amazing from the outside and it will be so nice inside, it will definitely have been worth the wait of watching it come to life and open for use. I can’t wait to see all the books in there!” Her younger brother, Jude Sheffey, a third grade student at Redwood Elementary expressed appreciation as well. “It’s so exciting having something new in town because everything is so old.” Their parents, Rob and Shannon Sheffey have driven them around the new site several times in anticipation of it opening. Shannon, a frequent visitor at the existing location, thinks the new building “will provide lots more opportunities for community programs, not to mention expanding the collection and the technology as well.” Acknowledging the history of the old library location, Shannon continued, “I love the old library building but this expansion will definitely be great for our community, especially our kiddos.”

Existing library building for sale The building currently housing the library collection is listed for sale at $145,000. Additionally, the library is saying goodbye to items that will not be needed at the new location. A closeout sale including bookcases, desks, and other items is planned for Wednesday, Aug. 26 from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. and Aug. 27 and 28 from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. There are also boxes of free books on the porch at the current library location on Franklin Street.

Library Director Daniels said, “We’ll have updated hours and we’ll announce a grand opening event for sometime in September.” During the transitional period, the library drop box will be moved to the new location at Church Street and patrons can drop off their books there if they wish. Patrons can also hold onto their books until the new location is opened for service and will not incur fines during the period of closure.

Hartford Schools receive board’s approval of District Return to Learn plan

By Jon Bisnett The Hartford School Board continues under the safety of a virtual protocol for its August 10 meeting. Personnel The board approved the hiring of Cassidy Rupley for the position of 2nd Grade Teacher at Redwood Elementary. Business In other business, the board had a first reading of new Title IX Policy 2266, along with deletion of Policy 5517.02. Rick Vawter, Policy Committee Chair, discussed why the committee chose to use a Thrun Law Firm policy rather than the educational consulting firm, Neola. The board gave final approval of the District Return to Learn plan. A special thank you was extended, acknowledging all the members of the Stakeholder Committee that worked to develop the district plan: Chris Quist, Bess Hodges, Missy (Weber) Vagts, Jane Lovell, Ken Mohney, Chris Boot, Nicole Nelson, Auana Kuehnle, Araya Stillson, Lisa McKeeby, Stacey Blocker, Nick Blackmer, Rob Sheffey, Marc Clauser, Angie Glover, Brad Geesaman, Lisa Johnson, and Fidel Mireles. Board President Mike Banic echoed his personal appreciation for all the work everyone is putting in to safely bring Hartford students and staff back to school. Approval was given for Trustee Ginny Rice to take CBA 109, towards earning her Level I Board Certification.

Superintendent’s Report Superintendent Andy Hubbard began his report by extending special recognition to Ally Sinclair, Rob Sheffey, and Stephanie Hallgren for all of their work in communicating with Hartford Public Schools staff and parents and managing the district social media, website, and all call system. Hubbard went on to recognize Curriculum Director Brad Geesaman for all his work in making the Hartford Virtual Academy an option for district students preferring an online alternative at this time.

The superintendent recognized district building administrators for hitting the ground running on their first week back; forming committees and holding meetings to work out their building plans under the new COVID-19 protocols. Virtual Academy registration deadline to apply was August 17. Transportation registration deadline for parents to sign up for their students to ride the bus was also August 17.


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