08-24-2017 Watervliet grads capture Eclipse photos 

Watervliet grads capture Eclipse photos 

By Ryan Kibler

Three graduates of Watervliet High School took a trip to Hopkinsville, Kentucky to experience and photograph the 2017 solar eclipse in totality. Joining this science enthusiast were friends, Olivia Thibeault and Troy Burtchett.

We set up at Northwest Baptist Church, which is three-fourths of a mile away from

Pictured # 1


Picture #2


Picture #3


the centerline of the solar eclipse path. This location allowed enjoyment of totality for 4 minutes and 20 seconds, one-fifth of a second off from the maximum possible time.

The sky was almost perfectly cloudless; we could not have asked for better conditions. The actual event was the most surreal experience of my life.

During the partial eclipse, the sunlight dimmed and the temperature dropped like it was becoming night (which was a nice break from the heat). Strangely the color of the light didn’t change like it does at dusk, it only dimmed. During totality the horizon was the colors of a sunset in every direction. It was amazing.

Picture 1 is one of about 900 photos Olivia took 10 seconds apart during the partial eclipse before and after totality. Plans are to stitch these together into a video, but that will take a very long time to do.

Picture 2 was taken during totality. Here the moon is fully obscuring the disk of the sun and it shows the corona extending out. This phase was safe to view with the naked eye, and the image looks exactly the same as it did in real life.

Picture 3 was taken 5-10 seconds after totality using special settings allowing us to capture Baily’s Beads and the diamond ring effect. Baily’s Beads, the isolated purple dots near the bottom edge of the moon, are clusters of sunlight shining through the valleys on the surface of the moon and appear 0-5 seconds before and after totality. The diamond ring effect happens 5-15 seconds before and after totality when the entire edge of the moon is illuminated but just a tiny sliver of the sun is still exposed, making it look like a giant diamond ring in the sky. Olivia was very fortunate to be able to capture both effects in one picture.

All three photos were shot on a Nikon D3300 with a 300mm lens and a custom made solar filter.

We are excited to go to the next total solar eclipse in the United States on April 8, 2024. By then we hope to have better equipment which will allow us to get even crisper pictures of the event.

Olivia is studying photography at Grand Valley State University, Troy is entering the Master’s program in Microbiology at Western Michigan University and I am entering the PhD program in Biological Physics, Structure and Design at the University of Washington in Seattle.

Hartford City and community band together to battle heroin and save lives

By Nancy Albright

Emotions ran high at City Hall on August 21, 2017 as a large crowd of Hartford residents assembled at City Hall to ask the city council to help combat the use and sale of heroin and opioid in Hartford.

CITIZENS HEARD… Hartford resident Jeff Hill shakes hands with Van Buren County Prosecutor Mike Bedford after the Hartford City Council Workshop on Monday, August 21, 2017. Hartford residents gathered to voice their concerns about heroin and opioid addiction, and ask the City Council and Van Buren County to work with the community to combat the use and sale of life-threatening drugs in Hartford.


Spokesperson Stacy Cooper began the dialogue by citing the recent death of a 16-year-old Hartford boy who died of a heroin overdose. Telling the group that she believes promoting community awareness is a good place to start to help fight what she currently feels is a losing battle against drug dealers “wreaking havoc” on the Hartford community.

“Being a narc is a good thing”

Residents are concerned that known dealers are not being taken off the streets of Hartford fast enough. Michigan State Police Paw Paw Post Commander and former narcotics agent Lieutenant Dale Hinz explained that dealers cannot be arrested unless there is probable cause, meaning that they must be caught in the act. He told residents to contact law enforcement when they see a crime being committed. Also, illegal substances confiscated at the time of arrest must be tested and processed by the Michigan State Crime Lab prior to formal charges being filed.

In response to questions regarding known dealers that are yet to be caught Hinz said, “Being a narc is a good thing.” There are two drug teams working in the area, and residents can call the Michigan State Police, the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department and the Hartford Police Department with information about suspected drug activity in their vicinity. Hinz urged residents to report any relevant information to help these law enforcement agencies increase arrests and cut the supply.

Another avenue available to report suspicious activity is a Crime Prevention Card, which can be obtained at the Hartford Police Department. Call (269) 621-3225 for information.

“No arresting our way out of this”

Concern is also running high with respect to addicts. Residents are afraid for known addicts, as well as their children and other members of the community that may be susceptible to drug use.

Hinz explained that addicts cannot be arrested unless they are caught using. “There is no arresting our way out of this. We cannot arrest users into a life of sobriety. They have to want help.” There is an amnesty program in Van Buren County where addicts that are caught using will not be arrested if they agree to treatment, and illegal substances will be taken from them and destroyed.

The Michigan State Police Angel Program is designed to help addicts that want help to take control of their lives and break their addiction to drugs. Addicts that seek help on their own can be placed in a recovery program. The individual must physically walk into a Michigan State Police post on their own and request assistance. The request will be met with a professional substance abuse assessment and intake process to ensure placement in a proper treatment facility. An “Angel” volunteer will support the individual throughout the intake process and provide transportation to the treatment site.

For more information about the program or to become an Angel volunteer visit www.michigan.gov or call Southwest Michigan Behavioral Health at (269) 488-6925.

Van Buren County Drug Treatment Court

Van Buren County Prosecutor Mike Bedford explained that the county operates a Drug Treatment Court that is designed to help addicts convicted of felonies get treatment for addiction. “Breaking drug addiction is proven very difficult to do behind bars. We do everything we can to provide inpatient and outpatient treatment.”

The team combines the professional expertise and experience of Van Buren County Court judges, and the Prosecutor’s Office, Defense Bar Association, Sheriff’s Department, Department of Corrections, Community Mental Health Department and Department of Human Services to help non-violent felons convicted on drug charges break the cycle of addiction.

There is a weekly meeting to track the progress of program participants. Sessions are open and Bedford invited those assembled to attend if they wish to see firsthand how the program works. Drug Treatment Court sessions are held at the Van Buren County Courthouse located at 212 E. Paw Paw Street in Paw Paw, Michigan. Visit www.vbctreatmentcourt.org or call (269) 657-8200 for dates and times.