09-15-2016 Gun Range use by Sheriff Deputies stopped; Coloma City Commission hears of dumpster wars;

PATRIOT DAY REMEMBRANCE... lead by the Watervliet VFW and the North Berrien Military Rites Team, the heroes of the 9-11-01 terrorist attack and local first responders were saluted on Friday, September 9 at Veterans Park in downtown Watervliet. Also participating were more than 100 North School 5th graders who lead the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance. Also participating in the service was singer Nancy Leeks, Pastor Ed Richcreek and City Commissioner Dan Hummel. The program was organized by the VFW with Commander Corky Openneer as MC. (TCR photo by Karl Bayer)

PATRIOT DAY REMEMBRANCE… lead by the Watervliet VFW and the North Berrien Military Rites Team, the heroes of the 9-11-01 terrorist attack and local first responders were saluted on Friday, September 9 at Veterans Park in downtown Watervliet. Also participating were more than 100 North School 5th graders who lead the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance. Also participating in the service was singer Nancy Leeks, Pastor Ed Richcreek and City Commissioner Dan Hummel. The program was organized by the VFW with Commander Corky Openneer as MC. (TCR photo by Karl Bayer)


Michigan Court of Appeals overturns Training Facility ruling that allowed shooting

  Berrien County Sheriff’s deputies training at a shooting range on Angling Road in Coloma Township has once again been halted following a September 6, 2016 ruling from the State of Michigan Court of Appeals. This follows a long standing battle in the courts pitting Coloma Charter Township and a group of business people and residents of the nearby area against Berrien County following their construction and use of shooting ranges used for the purposes of training police officers.   Berrien County built and established a training facility in 2005 for the purpose of providing a place for Berrien County Sheriff’s Department members to obtain the required annual training with firearms.  They did so without obtaining local permitting through the township, citing the County Commissioner Act.    A group of local citizens took the case all the way to the Michigan Supreme Court where in 2008 it was ordered that the facility be closed down and that Berrien County should have sought local approval.  The Supreme Court ruled that while the county had the authority under the act to construct a building without local zoning approval, it did not extend to the outside activities of shooting at the four shooting ranges.  Without success, Berrien County applied for a special land use permit through Coloma Township in 2010 and after many years, was not approved.  Sheriff’s Department officials trained at the Coloma Rod and Gun Club in the meantime.     In the fall of 2013, Berrien County erected a three-sided building on the end of one of the ranges.  The building houses the shooters while they are training.  They then began training once again out of this building.     Efforts gained energy again in the court system by Coloma Township and the group of private citizens that took Berrien County to court previously, to stop Berrien County again.   In October 2014, then Berrien County Trial Court Judge John Dewane (since retired) issued an opinion which allowed the Berrien County Sheriff and his deputies to use one shooting range for training. That order modified a 2008 permanent injunction that prevented shooting at any of the ranges at the facility.  It was discovered through the new court filings that Dewane had actually issued the permanent injunction in 2008 following the Supreme Court ruling. County officials who may or may not have been in those positions in 2008 but were in 2013, were not aware of the permanent injunction and once they were, shooting from the shooting building ceased once again.   In January 2014, Dewane approved limited firearms training from the shooting building, partially modifying the 2008 permanent injunction. The request by Coloma Township to declare that the 2013 shooting building violated the township zoning ordinance was denied by Dewane.   Dewane declared in his ruling that the structure put up was a county building with its purpose being to house the shooters so they can shoot out into the ranges and that does fall under the authorities described in the County Commissioner Act. ...

Interim City Manager working at top notch pace to  improve Watervliet City

By Annette Christie

Watervliet City Interim Manager Bill Hodge showed once again just how active he has been with his “to do” list given upon being selected for the short term assignment which will end November 19.  The regular meeting on Tuesday, September 13 lasted over two hours as Hodge and the City Commission continued working on ways to make the operations at City Hall run smoother.   In his City Manager’s report Hodge noted the following job tasks that he is working on:   Operational: Visited various city facilities; Reviewed non-operative, obsolete or non-functional vehicles and equipment city wide. He will provide a complete list to the City Commission in hopes of getting approval to dispose of; identified areas of the city that are in disrepair or need of maintenance including the Flaherty Park boardwalk, the overhead door at the remote site, the Hays Park fencing, and road cuts.   Personnel: Police Department completed their full time replacement and hired a new part time officer; Received a letter of interest from a current city employee for the full time Public Works position, interviewed the individual and offered the position pending City Commission approval; Established a City Manager job description and worked with Clerk to get the position posted in as many places as possible; Beginning the process and procedure to advertise for the office staff beginning October 1, 2016.

Local kids bring home BCYF ribbons & trophies…

LAST YEAR AT BCYF… is 20 year old Jessica Dibble. This was her first time showing a hog and she won reserve champion lightweight barrow and placed 6th in senior showmanship. Jessica also showed her horse (Bernie) this year. Showing in saddle seat she received 5th in halter, 6th in equitation, and 5th in pleasure.

LAST YEAR AT BCYF… is 20 year old Jessica Dibble. This was her first time showing a hog and she won reserve champion lightweight barrow and placed 6th in senior showmanship. Jessica also showed her horse (Bernie) this year. Showing in saddle seat she received 5th in halter, 6th in equitation, and 5th in pleasure.


KAMERON BULTEMA… entered a Lego exhibit in the 2016 Berrien County Youth Fair of the Titanic for which he was awarded a Champion ribbon. It was built free-form and not from a kit. He had the split in it where the ship broke in half but it is not visible in the photo. Kameron is 11 years old and is a sixth grader at Watervliet Middle School. He is the son of Cindy Bultema and Keith Bultema. Kameron also received Reserve Champion in the flower barn with a wild flower arrangement

KAMERON BULTEMA… entered a Lego exhibit in the 2016 Berrien County Youth Fair of the Titanic for which he was awarded a Champion ribbon. It was built free-form and not from a kit. He had the split in it where the ship broke in half but it is not visible in the photo. Kameron is 11 years old and is a sixth grader at Watervliet Middle School. He is the son of Cindy Bultema and Keith Bultema. Kameron also received Reserve Champion in the flower barn with a wild flower arrangement


Watervliet Schools Superintendent and Staff sing praises of Custodians as school opens on time

By Kristy Noack

 Superintendent Kevin Schooley as well as building principals and Maintenance and Transportation Director Mark Isbrecht publicly complimented the work performed by the district’s custodians as students returned to school amid construction.  Schooley stated the opening of the schools on September 6 “was a unique start. Our custodian staff, under Mark (Isbrecht)’s direction and leadership, was great. I wouldn’t trade that group for anyone.  They made it easier for the teachers (to return to work).”  Isbrecht echoed Schooley, saying, “The custodian staff worked Saturday and Sunday of Labor Day weekend to get buildings ready.”  Phase 2 construction work continues at both the middle and high schools. Punch lists are being created at the middle school. The majority of the work still in progress is at the high school.  On September 13, the cafeteria will undergo an inspection, and the new high school entrance canopy is scheduled to be completely intact next week.  Schooley advised audience members that an updated construction schedule will be posted on the district’s website. Just visit watervlietps.org to view the document.  As for continuing construction progress occurring during the school day, Schooley said, “I wouldn’t call it ideal. But, in a very short time we’ll have an excellent learning environment for our students and an excellent teaching environment for our teachers.”  …

NEW PANTHERS IN THE CLASSROOMS… The Watervliet Board of Education members were introduced to new staff members during Monday’s meeting. New teachers include (from the left): Winnie Staffen, Colby Tein, Nicole O’Toole, Bryan Arbut, and Alecia Hickman. Anna Layer was not available for the photo. (TCR photo by Kristy Noack)

NEW PANTHERS IN THE CLASSROOMS… The Watervliet Board of Education members were introduced to new staff members during Monday’s meeting. New teachers include (from the left): Winnie Staffen, Colby Tein, Nicole O’Toole, Bryan Arbut, and Alecia Hickman. Anna Layer was not available for the photo. (TCR photo by Kristy Noack)


Hagar Twp. considers kayak launch on Paw Paw River 

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Hagar Township is contemplating an addition to its parks system in the form of a Kayak Launch to be located on an otherwise unused parcel of township land located along the Paw Paw River. Township Supervisor Izzy DiMaggio brought the concept before the Downtown Development Authority seeing an opportunity for development of an additional source of tourism especially in light of the recent multi-community efforts to clean up the Paw Paw River for small watercraft navigation.  Though only in the conceptual stage and pending a funding source at this time, the potential future park may serve to include paved parking, restrooms, a gazebo, picnic area and boardwalk access over existing wetlands to provide direct access the river for a kayak launch as shown in the preliminary site plan prepared by the team at Abonmarche Consultants.

Hartford Fire Prevention Week begins October 9

By Nancy Albright

At the Hartford Township Hall meeting on September 8, Hartford Fire Chief Robbie Harting reminded officials that Fire Prevention Week is from October 9 through October 15 and that the Fire Department will hold a Pancake Breakfast from 7 a.m. to noon on Sunday, October 9 at the firehouse, located at 436 E. Main Street.  Sponsored by the Hartford Fire Department, donations the community wishes to make will be used to support Fire Prevention Week activities, purchase fire prevention tools, and provide Hartford Public School students with items such as hats and coloring books to help kids learn about the importance of fire safety.

PARKing Day in Watervliet

By Kristy Noack

Downtown Watervliet will be bustling Friday, September 16 as business owners transform parking spaces along Main Street into mini parks and areas of recreation.  PARKing Day was created in 2005 in San Francisco with the intent to bring awareness to the lack of green space in that city. From there, the idea took off and is celebrated every third Friday in September in cities across the world.  Watervliet first participated in PARKing day last year. With the help of Wightman and Associates of Benton Harbor, this year’s event will be bigger and better.

PANTHER SLANT… Water-vliet’s Zack Pickens moves the ball up the field during first quarter action against Coloma Friday night. Trailing Pickens is Coloma’s Trystan Skaggs. Wa-tervliet topped the Comets 66-26. (TCR photo by Kristy Noack)

PANTHER SLANT… Water-vliet’s Zack Pickens moves the ball up the field during first quarter action against Coloma Friday night. Trailing Pickens is Coloma’s Trystan Skaggs. Wa-tervliet topped the Comets 66-26. (TCR photo by Kristy Noack)


Watervliet roughs up Comets in football rivalry

 Watervliet went into Friday’s game at rival and Southwestern Athletic Conference opponent Coloma with a 1-1 record, seeking a victory after losing 51-30 the week before to Schoolcraft. Coloma, on the other hand, was looking to break their 0-2 winless streak with their first victory of the season. In the end, it was Watervliet domination in both the run and pass games that gave them the 66-26 victory over the Comets. Watervliet scored 52 unanswered points in the contest and scored on their first three possessions. With the rain alternating between mist and downpour, the Panthers crossed the end zone the first time with a quarterback Cam Rendo pass to Tyler Brant for a quick six.  The two point conversion was good, and Watervliet led 8-0. From there, the Panthers would hit the end zone six more times before the Comets responded. The first quarter also saw three more receiving touchdowns and one more successful two point conversion. The score at the end of one was Watervliet 28, Coloma 0. The second quarter continued in the same vein: three more touchdowns by Watervliet with all three two point conversion attempts being successful. Coloma got on the board late in the second quarter on an eight yard run by quarterback Zach Goodline. Coloma’s own conversion failed, and the score stood 52-6.

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