KYRA KRIEGER of Coloma won several champion awards and trophies at the Berrien County Youth Fair last week. She received three Champion awards, one Reserve Champion award, a trophy for her turtle topiary dish garden, and a trophy for her Fair Theme Arrangement (Country Nights and Carnival Lights). The 12-year-old is the daughter of Christian and Valerie Krieger. She will be entering the 8th grade at Lake Michigan Catholic School. Krieger also showed homemade jams, photography, show rabbits (all placing 4th or higher) and flowers.
ANNAH HART, 15, of Watervliet won the Intermediate Champion Showman and overall Champion Swine Showman at the fair last week. In addition, she won the Champion Lightweight Gilt and Reserve Champion Market Gilt. She is the daughter of Grant and Wendy Hart.
City of Hartford welcomes new housing developer, rebuffs Doranne Greene PILOT
By Jon Bisnett
At the Monday, August 19 meeting the Hartford City Commission again heard from WODA representative Craig Patterson in regard to a PILOT and Municipal Services Agreement for the Doranne Greene property in the city.
WODA wants a Payment In Lieu Of Taxes arrangement with the city to avoid ongoing tax tribunal battles over property appraisal methods used by the city. The city, guided by legal counsel of Harold Schuitmaker, will grant the PILOT for 2020, but only if WODA will pull out the two current cases in the court.
WODA, who has prevailed in past cases, is unwilling to stop the process, citing the amount they feel they were overcharged in the past. They first proposed a PILOT in 2009 that was refused by the city. The city is unwilling to grant the PILOT, citing what it calls “unfair practices” by WODA, unless the cases are dropped. And there’s the rub. With neither side willing to budge on the issue, litigation in the State Tax Tribunal will continue with a winner take all situation at stake and plenty of billable hours for the litigators.
WODA woes aside, the city also heard a presentation from Brooks Architects who spoke on behalf of Bob Dhanda seeking a rezoning of property located at 430 North Center Street for the purpose of developing a 7-building apartment complex. The parcel is currently zoned single-family residential. The Hartford Planning Commission has also heard and recommended the request be approved. The 2-story multi-family development was described as primarily market-rate 1,000 square foot apartments renting the range of $800-$1,000 with perhaps some future subsided housing as well. Dhanda is fully prepared to move on the project, but was unable to offer a time frame pending the commission vote on the zoning exception at the business session next week.
When queried by Commissioner Terry Tibbs, “Are we gonna’ have tax trouble with these people too?” Mayor Rick Hall quickly responded, “We’re not gonna’ let that happen again…” without explanation.
Potential incumbent Dennis Doss chose not to file a petition for office, leaving an open seat for Commissioner in the upcoming November election. Goss went into office as a write-in candidate. His replacement will be subject to the same process.
City Hall will close September 2 in observance of Labor Day.
Chief Tressa Beltran presented a written report detailing activity of 744 duty hours with 15 foot-patrol hours which included 127 complaints for the month of July, resulting in eight arrests including four felonies.
Ordinance Officer Report
A written report from Ordinance Officer Jim Coleman noted nine property inspections for the month of July. Blight postings for the month totaled 40 violations resulting in 40 follow-ups. Seventeen grass height violations and subsequent follow-ups also took place.
Chief Rob Harting was on hand to report the department responded to 57 calls in the month of July, including 43 Rescue/ Medical Calls and three structure fires.
Calls are up over 400, year to date and continue to eclipse 2018 totals.
The HFD recently acquired new AT&T Priority Service Cell Phones which have override priority over regular customer calls during an emergency. With the addition of a push-to-talk feature, Chief Harting looks to have more efficient communications during time-sensitive crisis events.
The Fire Board appointed Chad Hunt as vice chair and Helen Sullivan will replace Hunt as treasurer.
Pride Care Ambulance forwarded a written report of nine Priority I calls at 7:41 and a Priority II at 10:53 and two Priority III runs at 7:44 for an overall average response time of 9:08.
Superintendent Dan Staunton was present to answer questions on his written report noting mostly mowing and various general maintenance tasks along with cold-patching of streets. Two water turn-offs and one turn-on took place for the month. The city pumped 6.246 million gallons for the month.
Wastewater Treatment Plant
Plant Operator Tom Strand filed a written report indicating that all State of Michigan reports for the month have been filed along with routine maintenance tasks with nothing remarkable.
Treasurer Pam Shultz presented a written report for the month in the amount of $113,804.76, noting the purchase of a new zero-turn mower with mulch kit and replacement blades for $14,122.13.
City Manager’s Report
City Manager Yemi Akinwale reported the roof issues at City Hall have been completed including cleaning of drains and detailed inspection and sealing of any possible seam separations for well under $2,000.
Seal coating of both Olds Avenue and 60th Avenue was completed on July 25 with a life-expectancy of five years.
Update on 32 & 34 West Main demolition: Testing and abatement is complete and waiting on official clearance from EGLE to begin demolition.
It was noted in the July commission meeting that a 64-page document of emergency rules in regard to recreational marijuana has been released by the Michigan Marijuana Regulatory Agency. Akinwale had planned to review the rules with city legal counsel and bring a recommendation to the commissioners next month. No report was requested or forthcoming.
Further, the Mayor’s committee charged with reviewing and making recommendation in August as to possibly increasing the allotted number of Medical Marijuana Dispensaries allowed in the city ordinance, neither met nor reported.
On a less-tasking matter, the Mayor’s committee did make decisions on appointees to the Library Board, that being Anne Burch, and Chris Portello was appointed to serve on the Fire Board.
Commissioner Frank Dockter demanded to know what is happening with the sub-standard property at 1 West Main. Akinwale claims the owners have stated September 12 as their date to repaint the building.
An unnamed representative from Great Lakes Growing spoke regarding a letter of intent they had submitted regarding city-owned property on Marion Street with their desire to acquire the parcel for the purpose of marijuana growing. Promising a $5-million construction, preferential hiring of local Hartford residents and creation of a 501c designation with up to a million dollars annually to help fund the city’s emergency services, GLG also seeks an exception to the existing ordinance. They are looking for no less than three Class C Growers Licenses, intending to grow 4,500 plants to service provisioning centers around the state. GLG joins an ever-growing list of cannabusiness concerns that have approached the city since the local Medical Marijuana Ordinance was approved two years ago; none of which have come to fruition with the singular exception of Med+Leaf.
Alex VonKoenig reports Med+Leaf is on target for October 1 opening with framing and ductwork completed. Security systems are next to be installed. VonKoenig was happy to offer pre-opening tours to any of the commissioners who wished to see the new facility in progress.
Since no committee recommendations have been forthcoming as of late, the standing ordinance allows for only one of each licensing category: Provisioning, processing, testing, transportation and grow. The specifically narrow license offerings in the ordinance was originally derived and proposed by the City Manager’s work with City Counsel Schuitmaker. As the cannabis business model continues to develop throughout the state, it may well prove that the ordinance may need additional flexibility that was not a consideration at the time of adoption.
LYLA CURRENT, 7, of Coloma did very well at the Berrien County Youth Fair. She is shown with her many rabbits and ribbons to prove it. She won first place Lion Head Rabbit – buck; first place Lion Head Rabbit – doe; Best of Breed male Lion Head; fourth place Jersey Wooly – doe; fifth place Jersey Wooly – doe; third place junior showman. She is the daughter of Rebecca Atherton and Garth Current.
100+ volunteers to Impact
MASON CURRENT of Coloma won a Champion award with his fancy pigeon; Reserve Champion rare breed pigeon; and Champion Call Duck. In addition, he won Reserve Champion over all for ducks. He is the son of Garth Current and Rebecca Atherton and Dana Current.
Watervliet set for success this Friday, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. Student-Athletes look to make a difference in the community
After weeks of planning, Impact Watervliet looks to make a lasting impact on the Watervliet Community for years to come. The student-athlete day of community impact announced by City Manager Tyler Dotson, and Watervliet High School Athletic Director Ken Dietz, looks to make a positive difference in public spaces throughout the city. According to Dotson, student-athletes, coaches, and city staff will tackle some much needed painting and light repair work throughout the city. “All signs point to a great day of impact,” says Dotson. “The supplies have been purchased and our plan of attack is only a few tweaks away from being set. In Hays Park we’re hoping to re-paint the dugouts, concession stand, support structures and a few of the walls on the west side of the park. In Flaherty Park we’re going to re-stain the bridge over Mill Creek and the stairs from Church Street into the park. We’re going to re-paint the manholes and a few other small structures and will also lay some top soil in parts of the disc golf course. Additionally, we’re hoping to re-paint the decorative light poles downtown and get started on a few fall and winter street decorations that we’ve been discussing since the new holiday lights were installed last year,” Dotson continued. The project is expected to draw well over a hundred total volunteers and staff, including: student-athletes, coaches, city staff, the local school resource officer, and a few other local stakeholders. Members from the cheer, cross country, football, soccer, and volleyball teams will make up the large majority of volunteers. The city had funds budgeted for various projects but the size and scope of this project have definitely stretched that portion of the budget according to Dotson. He stated that the Watervliet Downtown Development Authority (DDA) was very supportive of the project and put $1,000 towards the supplies and that other local stakeholders have pledged support as well. Matt Clancy of Sherwin-Williams St. Joseph was integral in assisting the City get the right supplies at a fraction of the cost as well as a few local businesses and organizations in town. Local contractor Travis Becht assisted Public Works Supervisor Jeff Allen, on securing the right supplies and quantities for the project. “This has all come together fairly quickly,” according to Dotson. “But it’s refreshing and exciting to see the city, athletic department, and local businesses/ organizations working together through various fashions to make this a reality. We really couldn’t ask for better volunteers than our own student-athletes. These kids have proven success in their own right, now we get to realize their hard work every day on our daily commutes through town and in our parks.” The event will take place on Friday, August 23 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. throughout the city’s parks and downtown area. Questions can be directed to Watervliet City Hall at 269-463-6769.
Coloma Schools ready for new school year, classes begin Tuesday, September 3; special orientation events slated the week before
RYAN CHISEK, 19, of Watervliet received Champion Fryer Market Chickens and Grand Champion Market Chickens during fair week. The son of Chris and Shelley Chisek, he is attending Western Michigan University majoring in Engineering. He is a graduate of Watervliet High School.
By Annette Christie The Coloma Schools Board of Education was informed at their meeting on August 12, 2019 that all the schools are ready for the start of the new school year on September 3. Their new staff will report August 22 & 23, followed by all staff reporting on Monday, Aug. 26.
Freshman orientation will be held on Monday, Aug. 26 at 6:30 p.m., followed by sixth grade orientation on Tuesday, Aug. 27 at 6:00 p.m.
The K-5 open house and ice cream social will be held on Wednesday, Aug. 28 with the elementary time being from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. and the intermediate from 6:00 – 7:00 p.m. The Intermediate School will follow up with a Back to School Night for parents only on Tuesday, Sept. 17.
New security camera system Ben Rimes, the technology specialist in the district provided an overview of the new security camera systems that are in place in all schools. He showed where they are all placed in the schools and how they will monitor them.
He told the board he expects some tweaking to occur once there are students in the buildings. Rimes expressed he was very impressed with the product and the company that did the installation. The district was able to install the security cameras and the system due to a grant award from the Michigan State Police. Other business Board President Heidi Ishmael commended Sarah Glisson and the National Honor Society students for all of their work with the Berrien Community Foundation backpack give away recently held in the district. Ishmael said she was there the day that the backpacks were given away and witnessed firsthand all the good things going on with vaccinations, food pantry, and other needed items being available for the families in the community. She also acknowledged Susan Matheny with the Community Foundation that organized everything on her end. She said that the left over backpacks will be given to the schools to distribute as they see a need. The board approved an agreement with Lakeland for their athletic training program. They also approved the contract with the Coloma Education Association for the term of 2019-2022.