09-08-2016 Keeler Twp. renews cleanup assessments for Little and Big Crooked lakes; VB Conservation

4-H STRAIGHT SHOOTERS KIDS… accompanied by four leaders went to State shoot Au-gust 6, 2016 at the Centerline Gun Club just past Battle Creek. Front row (from the left) are RJ Sinnett, Darlene Mattson, Maggie Avery and leader Julie Holtsclaw. Back row (from the left) are leaders John Andrasi, Herman Mattson and Keith Kreiger. All three of the kids had a great time. It was RJ’s and Maggie’s first time, they already want to go back!

Keeler Twp renews Lake Cleanup Assessment

By Annette Christie

The Keeler Township Board approved a renewal of a special assessment district for the Big and Little Crooked Lakes.  The renewal for the lake management program will be for the 2017 through the 2021 seasons.    In a proposal provided by PLM Lake and Land Management, they detailed the three focuses of the program; control of exotic plant species, monitoring water quality, and monitoring the aquatic plant community.    PLM stated that both Big Crooked and Little Crooked lakes have responded well to treatment in the last 10 years.  They stated that the 2006 Sonar application was very successful with the primary management of Eurasian watermilfoil and curly-leaf pondweed and the ongoing spot treatments as needed.  For the next phase of this lake management plan, PLM proposes a series of spot treatments as needed but have figured in a complete lake treatment if necessary in 2018.    During the public hearing portion of the meeting, prior to the vote of the board, two people spoke in opposition of the lake management plan, two submitted letters of opposition, and two people spoke in support of the plan.  One in opposition stated, “It’s just the wrong thing to do,” while one in support stated, “Since 1980, if we were not doing what we are doing, we would lose the lake.”    The estimated cost for the treatments of Big Crooked is $45,445 to $54,765 depending on the extent of the treatment needed.  The estimated cost for the treatment of Little Crooked Lake is $44,395 to $53,275.   Following that approval, the board was asked to consider an additional amount to another special assessment district, one for Keeler Lake.  Bob Steinmetz, Keeler Lake Property Owners Association, asked the Keeler Township Board to add 10% to their Special Assessment #3, due to the ending of Special Assessment #2.  Steinmetz told the board that the estimated costs for calendar year 2016 will be $23,660.  While the special assessment district produces approximately $14,000, this year they were able to cover the extra due to a remainder from special assessment #2.  Next year, however, Steinmetz reminded the board that that assessment will be gone.     Supervisor Bill Kays explained to the board that they do have the authority to add up to 10% to the cost of an assessment without extra public hearings and notices; they do not usually do that.  Kays told Steinmetz that they would address it at next month’s meeting and requested that he or someone on behalf of the association be present at the meeting.    In other business, the board approved further improvements to the township hall.  Though they had previously approved flooring and carpet replacement at last month’s meeting, the cost of the project was misunderstood and turned out to be higher than the approved amount.  Clerk Carl Davis obtained another estimate.  The board approved a bid of $7,190.32 from Benson.  This was half of the other bid the township received.   They also approved a roofing bid of $16,465 to replace the shingles on the township hall roof.  This compares to two other bids of $28,000 and $20,700.   The board approved awarding the project to Dave and Sons Construction.    The board also approved moving forward with court action if necessary to get some property owners to clean up their property.  Kays asked the board for the authority to work with the township attorney and get the process started for either getting the property owner to clean it up or allow the township to and then to put the cost on the owner’s tax bill.    The board also heard a complaint from a lake property owner regarding the people at a rental property nearby and the amount of bother and danger that involved them over the Labor Day weekend.  The lady, who has been a permanent resident of the county since 2007, told the board they were encroaching on their property, their lake use, driving jet skis and boats erratically and fast, and allowing animals to run around unleashed.  Van Buren County Sheriff Deputy Ray Hochsprung told the complainant that he would follow up with the Van Buren County Marine Division and the Van Buren County Sheriff.  Kays told the resident that she should document the dog problem and then contact Van Buren County Animal Control to handle that.

Van Buren Conservation District offers Fall Farm Field Day: “Is Your Soil Healthy?”

 The Van Buren Conservation District will host a Fall Farm Field Day on Wednesday, September 14 from 5:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. at Louis Buiskool’s farm in Paw Paw. The event, titled “Is Your Soil Healthy?” will offer demonstrations and tours of fields using different management practices. Attendees will learn about the benefits of no-till, diversifying crop rotations and planting cover crops early.  Soil health demonstrations will be led by an agronomist and a soil scientist from the Indiana Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS). NRCS will also help growers identify features in the field to help determine if they are improving soil health on their farm. Participants will be able to examine a root pit to see the benefits of no-till and cover crops normally hidden below the ground. Other topics will include spring cover crop management, emergency spill response, cost share programs for growers and more.  Soil health is the capacity of a soil to sustain plant and animal productivity while maintaining or enhancing water and air quality, and supporting human health and habitation. Soil health can be improved on farms by reducing tillage, adding cover crops and diversifying crop rotations. Enhancing soil health can increase profits by boosting crop yields, reducing compaction and potentially reducing nutrient and chemical inputs in the long run.  “Soil health is such a hot topic right now, and we’re working with a lot of growers to improve the soil on their farms,” said Conservation Technician Colleen Forestieri of the Van Buren Conservation District. “We want to give farmers the opportunity to learn what other growers are doing to build soil health and how they can measure it on their own farm.”  The event will be held at the Louis Buiskool’s Farm, located at 39384 72nd Ave., in Paw Paw, MI. A free dinner will be provided to attendees. This project has been funded in part through Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s Nonpoint Source Program by the United States Environmental Protection Agency. Other partners and sponsors include Green Valley Ag., Crop Production Services, La Crosse Seed, Goetz Irrigation and Wyckoff Hybrids. People interested in attending are asked to RSVP for this free event by calling the Van Buren Conservation District at (269) 657-4030 x 5 or registering online at www.VanBurenCD.org.  The mission of the Van Buren Conservation District is to promote the conservation of natural resources through partnerships and by providing public education, demonstrations and technical assistance while working together for future generations.


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