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08-29-2019 Tri-City schools ready for students Tuesday; Parking issues continue in Coloma; 2019 Ber

GEORGE AND JANET LANE OPEN THE PARCOURSE… (photo above) Surrounded by many of those involved in raising funds for the newly renovated parcourse including on the right Brandi Smith, VP of Philanthropy, and Mark Libs, Fundraising Director, George and Janet Lane, namesake donors, cut the ribbon to officially open the new George and Janet Lane Parcourse at Spectrum Lakeland in Watervliet. The Lanes are longtime Watervliet residents and founders of Lane Automotive in 1964. The Lane family has a long history of philanthropic giving and has generously given to Lakeland Health through the years.

EASY-TO-USE EQUIPMENT… Lakeland’s Head of Physical Therapy Cyndi Forrester (photo on right) demonstrates how easy it is to use of one of the exercise machines along the parcourse, which is arranged into two quarter-mile loops, with eight exercise stations of various levels of difficulty situated along the course. (TCR photos by Teresa Smithers)

Tri-City schools ready for students Tuesday

Staff excited to hit the ground running on opening day

By Jon Bisnett The bell will ring on Tuesday, September 3 as the Tri-City schools open their doors for the 2019-20 school year. Coloma Community Schools plans for 1,300 students Coloma Superintendent Dave Ehlers was busy with staff meetings, so Business Manager Sarah Ashley reported the following for the Coloma District. No new administrators for the Comets this year, but new staff includes one at the high school, one elementary and two at the middle school. Advanced Placement classes are offered in the high school along with an Early Middle College arrangement with Lake Michigan College. Coloma is proud of the CTA (Career Tech) offerings which are touted to be the second largest in the county to provide students training in the skilled trades. Chromebook computers are at a 1 to 1 ratio for all students in grades 1st-12 with kindergarteners receiving tablets for their work. Projecting a 1,300 student enrollment, Ashley echoed the statewide need for bus drivers, but says they have all routes covered for fall. Coloma continues to expand on the mantra of “Inspire to Achieve… Empower for Success.”

Hartford Public Schools new teachers added

Superintendent Andy Hubbard shuffled the administration lineup with Athletic Director Nick Blackmer assuming a dual role as also principal of Hartford’s Alternative Education program. His absence from the classroom adds one new high school teacher, one new middle school teacher, and three new elementary teachers have also joined the team. Redwood Elementary Principal Chris Quist drops the “Interim” from her title and will formally take the reins of the elementary campus. Additionally, the district adds a new Public Relations Communication position to the administrative team. AP classes are expanded to now include English and Physics in addition to prior offerings of Calculus and Literature. Project Lead the Way classes are now extended to the middle school to provide collaborative STEM curriculum for grades 6-12. Capital improvements over the summer include new lockers and carpet at the middle school. Using resources from the leftover bond funds, new LED lighting has been installed in the older section of the Redwood campus. Hubbard touted a new initiative called Daily Five, which will be an unprecedented focus of on-site, ongoing staff training and implementation of literacy teaching skills at the elementary level. Working with Transportation Director Mark Clauser, Hubbard has added a 10-passenger full-size van to the Hartford fleet. The van does not require a CDL operator, thus allowing for smaller teams, such as quiz bowl or robotics, to be driven by their coaches without tying up a regular bus and driver. Like all districts, Hartford still could use an additional driver, but hopes are the new van may ease some stress of scheduling for special events.

Watervliet Public Schools eight new teachers added

Superintendent Ric Seager is in his inaugural year at Watervliet. He welcomes new North School Principal Rachel Kynch along with Curriculum Director Susan Toothman assuming the dual role of Interim High School Principal. Eight new teachers are on board with four at the high school, three middle school and one at the elementary level. Seager explained a new focus on curriculum review with a substantial commitment on the part of the school board, with full annual reviews to put the district on a 6-year cycle to reinforce a standard-based learning model, while incorporating extended learning opportunities for grades K-12. A new varsity boys soccer team joins the stable of Panther Athletics which Seager sees as an opportunity to offer even more student inclusion. Like every other district in the state, Seager would love to see a couple additional bus drivers come aboard, but he complimented veteran Transportation Director Mark Isbrecht for “figuring it out” with all routes covered and ready to roll for opening day. Seager summed up the feeling at Watervliet Public Schools as a “New energy and focus,” saying “The staff is excited and ready to hit the ground running.”

Parking issues continue in Coloma

By Nancy Albright

The Coloma City Council continues to address issues with parking on city streets.

On August 12, Coloma resident Sieg Freitag asked that the council investigate a city parking situation caused by a business owner that has monopolized parking spaces with a dumpster, dump truck and trailer, and placed orange cones around the parking area. Freitag said that the offender is violating a state law designating no overnight parking on a public street.

Rocky Bertuca, owner of Bertuca Contractors, 193 Paw Paw St., told the council on Monday night, Aug. 26, that he has been in business since 1972 and that 35 years ago he gave three parking spots on Logan Street to the city, which needed 75 public parking spaces. Bertuca requested that the city consider reinstating the spaces so he can move heavy equipment in and out of the building. Two garage doors with driveways open onto Logan Street and there is no other entrance to the building large enough to accommodate the equipment.

The council requested that Public Works Supervisor Rod Burkholder review the situation prior to a decision. Mayor Polashak also suggested that a No Left Turn sign be posted at Logan Street. Bertuca was amenable and informed the council that he did not place the orange cones in the spaces.

Water and lights

In May, the feed hose to the chlorine tank on city well #5 developed a pinhole that shorted out the electrical panel. Peerless Midwest replaced the panel at a cost of $7,000, which was covered by insurance. During replacement of the panel, Peerless discovered that the explosion that damaged the electrical panel also harmed the pump. The pump has since been repaired and the well is fully operational. The city expects that insurance will cover the cost of the pump repair as well.

The council also approved compensation in the amount of $55 per meeting for each member of the Water Advisory Board, which meets monthly, to be paid on a quarterly basis.

The city agreed to renew its contract with American Electric Power to maintain Coloma City streetlights currently serviced by AEP. The lights in question light the way to Harding’s Market, 6577 Paw Paw Ave., and many city parking lots. AEP will replace all current bulbs with LED bulbs as required by the State of Michigan. The bulbs will burn brighter and have a longer lifespan.

Blight Ordinance

On August 12, Coloma resident Joyce Williams spoke for a group of 50 citizens voicing their concern about language in the city’s blight ordinance that, as written, indicates that trash receptacles must be kept out of view when not on the curb for pick-up: “Trash receptacles must be removed from view within 24 hours of pick-up service.” Williams pointed out that some people don’t have a garage or other means to completely hide garbage cans.

Ordinance Committee Chair Jason Hicks told Williams that the committee will work with the public to re-word the language. The council will hold a public hearing on Monday, October 14, 7:45 p.m. at City Hall. The notice of public hearing will be mailed to all residents with their October water bill.

CPR training for city

Pride Care Ambulance Service will provide CPR, First Aid and AED Defibrillator training to city employees and Department of Public Works staff at a cost of $25 per hour, a flat fee for the city that covers instructor costs.

The next Fire Board meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, September 3, 2019, 7:00 p.m. at Coloma Fire Station #1, 170 Washington St.

In other business

The Southwest Michigan Planning Commission has marked landing spots, stumps and logs along the Paw Paw River Water Trail to help paddlers determine where they are in the event someone needs to know their location. According to Commissioner Jason Hicks, the location marks are sprayed in bright colors and clearly visible.

Commissioners approved the contract with the Berrien County for Paw Paw Lake Area refunding and improvement project, which plans to pay off a current loan with a bond.

Former Coloma Deputy Clerk/Treasurer Roxann Clements, who retired on April 27 after 23 years of service, will be reinstated as a part-time employee at the rate of pay she received before retirement. The part-time status is effective immediately through the first of the year to guide the new treasurer through the upcoming tax season.

The North Berrien Community Development and Coloma Watervliet Area Chamber of Commerce will hold its annual Halloween celebration on Saturday, October 26 in Randall Park.

CLAYTON ADAMS and his hamster Pika won the blue ribbon in the young junior category for small pocket pets at the Berrien County Youth Fair held Aug. 12–17. Clayton’s parents are Joe and Christin Adams. Clayton’s grandparents are Larry and Leanne Adams of Coloma, Sharon Tyler and Denny Grosse of Niles, and Roy and Diana Davis of Coloma. Clayton said he had fun and would be back next year with another pet. (TCR photo by Dave Vollrath)

RAEGHAN PRESTIDGE, 8, of Coloma took one for the girls as she placed 4th in the Class 4 Pedal Pull, the only girl in the class. She is the daughter of proud parents Matt and Taylor Prestidge.

GRACE CHISEK of Watervliet won 3rd place fryer market chickens at the Berrien County Youth Fair. The 14-year-old attends Watervliet Middle School. She is the daughter of Chris and Shelley Chisek.

NATALIE HART, 13, of Watervliet won first place in the lightweight barrow class with her pig. She is the daughter of Grant and Wendy Hart.

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