Watervliet City Manager in full gear; Mayor voting privileges re-instated
By: Annette Christie
With two weeks under his belt as Watervliet City Manager, Bill Hodge presented his work to the City Commission at their Tuesday, August 23 meeting. Up first was the resolution passed by the citizens of Watervliet which allows the Mayor to have voting privileges. Hodge told the City Commission that he has been comparing the charter to ordinances and reviewing past minutes of meetings. Through his research, he found that around 1985, the City Commission at the time had enacted in a direction that the sole power of managing the city was in the hands of the Mayor. Hodge found that in 1986, a proposition was put before the citizens of Watervliet asking whether the Mayor should have voting rights, along with the commission, on all matters that require a vote. That proposition passed with 219 yes votes and 119 no votes. The City Commission recognized that proposition officially with a motion that passed unanimously. The City Commission approved a contract with Hodge as the Acting City Manager through November 19. He will be paid $30 an hour with a maximum of 20 hours per week. This comes about following the resignation of LaGrow Consulting which was formally accepted by the City Commission at their August 9 meeting. Following the City Commission acceptance of the letter, they voted to pay out the contract minus six days in which neither Cindy LaGrow nor Emilie Sarratore were available. The City Commission then authorized payment to LaGrow Consulting for the remainder of their contract. While the final invoice from them was for the full month of August, in the motion to pay the invoice, the City Commission deducted the amount totaling the six days, based upon their previous motion. As one of the first tasks assigned to Hodge, he presented an organizational chart to the City Commission which provides a clear picture of the city’s structure. Hodge identified that the top of the chart are the citizens of Watervliet; followed by the Mayor as the facilitator of meetings, general spokesperson for the City, and signature authority; and the City Commission. Hodge drew out the DBA and the Planning Commission from the City Commission, showing a link to building that relationship between them. Hodge suggested that the organization chart provides the tool for the chain of command that employees should follow. The commission voted to adopt the organization chart. Commissioner Duane Cobb voted no. Police Chief Tim Sutherland asked the commission to consider appointing Patrolman Bruce McKamey to fill a vacant full time position within the department. McKamey had been a part time officer previously with a focus on ordinance enforcement. He also asked them to hire another part time officer to fill two shifts that are currently vacant. Sutherland told the commission that he and the previous city manager held interviews and that Dennis Franklin would fit well for the 16 hours that still need to be filled. Franklin has six years’ experience with the Eau Claire Police Department. The City Commission approved the request. The department has three full time officers including the Chief and four part time officers. The department provides 24/7 police coverage. With the resignation of a full time Public Works employee, the City Commission was asked to authorize the filling of that vacancy. Public Works Superintendent Mark Bolin worked with Hodge on getting the position advertised. Bolin asked that the position be filled with another full time employee and someone with skills. They have received some applicants. The City Commission did authorize filling that position. Hodge and the City Commission had some discussion regarding policies and procedures for the filling of vacancies and what is required with regards to posting. He will continue to look into that and if there is not any, they will write some to put in place. Hodge asked the City Commission for the authority to hire a cleaning company for City Hall and the Public Works Department. Under the previous management, office staff was utilized for that duty. Hodge said that he is confident that office staff will have enough to do without adding cleaning duties to their list of responsibilities. He would like a company to come in twice a week with a heavy cleaning on Saturday and a mid-week as well. The City Commission authorized moving forward with that. With the November election quickly approaching, the City needs to find someone authorized to run the election. Although City Clerk Dena Yow has returned to the City of Watervliet, she had already committed to Watervliet Township to run their election. Hodge sought out ideas from various municipalities but did not find anyone that could do that for the city. There is a training coming up in September and Office Clerk II, Krystal Bartel has agreed to go. The City Commission authorized her for that training and to pay her mileage, lodging, and food expenses in connection with that training. To provide for some extra hands where needed around the City, such as in parks and public works, Hodge negotiated with Berrien County Sheriff Paul Bailey to provide a jail work crew to come out for a few days and work. The City Commission authorized four days of a jail work crew. Hodge also had other discussion items up for the Commission to make them aware of what might be coming up for action in the near future. He is in the process of re-instituting the purchase order system and will be putting a writing policy and procedure in place for that use. He has created a service request form to be used when complaints or concerns are brought to the attention of City Hall. This will be distributed to the appropriate department for action with a master file being kept in the office. Hodge said he would like to see a three-day turnaround on these. To help keep City Hall looking kept up and maintained, Hodge asked the City Commission for approval to have the carpets cleaned, the windows cleaned inside and out, and for the approval to purchase shelving units for the basement storage area at City Hall. Hodge said currently there are boxes being stored on the ground in the basement. The City Commission approved those expenditures, estimated at approximately $800.
Berrien County Youth Fair comes to soggy end
KYRA KRIEGER… 9, of Coloma won 3rd place for her show rabbit and 5th place in the rabbit costume contest. Kyra attends Lake Michigan Catholic Schools. She is the daughter of Valerie and Christian Krieger. (TCR photo by Annette Christie)
CELINA KLIMKIEWICZ… 15, is a sophomore attending Watervliet High School. She received a Champion trophy for her Tom Turkey and a Grand Champion Overall. She is the daughter of Jeff and Nicole Klimkiewicz. The whole family did well with their poultry: Skylar took 2nd, Casey took 3rd, Keyona took 6th, and Sabrina took 7th. It was Sunnybrooke Farms in Berrien Springs that purchased all five of the turkeys. The grand champion market turkey sold for $250. It was noted that Sunnybrooke purchased multiple turkeys only to turn around and donate them to needy people.
By Annette Christie
The Berrien County Youth Fair ended on Sunday with exhibit pick-up, ending just as it began, in the rain. Rain plagued the fair on three of the six days with Monday and Saturday being the worst. While it did rain Friday during the day, it cleared up for fair goers on Friday night. The grandstand shows were also affected by th
MIKEY FEE… 10, of Watervliet, received Overall Grand Champion for Obedience in Dog Showing at the Berrien County Youth Fair. He is shown with the dog, Gus, and his team instructor Erika Priebe. The son of Eric and Lara Fee, he is a fifth grade student at Watervliet North Elementary. Mikey belongs to the 4-H group “Best Friends” and he has been showing for four years.
e weather. Monday night’s tractor pulls and the Diesel Domination show for Saturday night had to be canceled. Ticket holders were offered refunds. A repeat show of Bullmania was added on Saturday night to provide some kind of grandstand entertainment. Fair Director Karen Klug reported that attendance, as expected, was down this year. Compared to attendance of 125,000 in 2015, gate attendance dropped to 108,000 this year. It is uncertain yet how the lower attendance and cancelled grandstand shows will affect the fair’s bottom line. Volunteers though have already started moving forward to next year, which will be the 72nd running of the Berrien County Youth Fair. It will be held August 14-19, 2017.
KATHLEEN KRIEGER… 13, of Coloma won Reserve Grand Champion in painting (two chipmunks right above her) and Reserve Champion for her wooden bowl. Besides these two entries, she also showed rabbits, entered the rabbit costume contest, entered wood burning and a fern. In the spirit of the Olympics, Kathleen portrayed soccer player Ali Krieger and dressed her rabbit up as Hope Solo, goalie for the U.S. Soccer team. She is the daughter of Valerie and Christian Krieger. (TCR photo by Annette Christie)