09-15-2016 Watervliet Schools Superintendent and staff sing praises of custodians as school opens; H

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.”

Fifth Grade Panthers participate in 9/11 Ceremony

 Joe Allen, principal at Watervliet North Elementary, told the board that fifth grade students participated in a 9/11 ceremony at Veterans Park in downtown Watervliet on Friday. “It was an eye-opening experience for the kids,” Allen shared, as veterans relayed stories of their service to the youngsters.

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)

New Teachers introduced to Board Members

 The board members were introduced to five of the district’s new hires for the 2016-17 school year.  Joining the W-A-Y program is Alecia Hickman. She will teach one hour of math at the high school and then spend the balance of her day in the W-A-Y building. Hickman is a 2016 graduate of Western Michigan University and will be teaching algebra. She is also the middle school cross country coach.  Bryan Arbut is also a 2016 Western Michigan University graduate. He received his accounting degree from Michigan State and worked in the business world before earning his teaching credentials. He will join the high school’s English and yearbook departments.  Anna Layer will join the high school as a special education paraprofessional. She has experience with math and science as well.  Winnie Staffen, after teaching at Lawrence middle and high schools, has become part of the Watervliet High School family. She will teach in the special education department. Staffen is certified as a director of Special Education and is an alumnus of Calvin College and Western Michigan College.  Having taught for six years at Constantine High School, Colby Tein is now a Panther.  She graduated from Grand Valley State University and Michigan State University and will teach English at the high school.  Nicole O’Toole was offered a probationary teaching contract Monday night. She taught biology and science classes in Indiana for four years. She will teach biology at the high school. O’Toole graduated from Grand Valley State University.

Two teachers tender resignations

 Aaron Toothman and Dane Gallagher tendered their resignations, which the board accepted on Monday.   Toothman, a middle school science teacher, worked in the Watervliet school district for 12 years.   Gallagher taught science at the high school for one year. He also coached wrestling.  Toothman and Gallagher accepted new positions in different school districts.  In other news, the board approved the W-A-Y program’s seat time waiver, which gives permission for the district “to perform academic growth activities to occur outside of the traditional school setting.” The waiver means that kids in the W-A-Y program are not required to complete a typical school day but they must achieve all standards that brick and mortar schools require for graduation.  Policy #8260 regarding bullying was approved to include the phrase “cyber bullying.” According to Schooley, adding the words “cyber bullying” to the current policy makes the verbiage compliant with the state as well as makes the district compliant with its own handbook.  Board Trustee Matt Clay volunteered to represent Watervliet as the delegate nomination to the Michigan Association of School Boards.  Clay will assist MASB with establishing policy and rules which will provide direction to school boards throughout the State of Michigan.  The board also approved paying $2,909.794.34 in General Fund Expenses for August. Of that total, $304,417.05 was related to payroll.  Additionally, $18,621.20 was paid to Lakeshore Interiors for new furnishings. Technology improvements, including white boards, necessitated payments of $87,028.14 and $63,465.00.  A monthly construction cost of $1,926,744.28 was paid to Miller-Davis, the contractors of Phase 2 construction work.  GMB, the architecture firm handling Phase 2 construction, was paid $15,000.   A new plow for the maintenance department’s truck was approved in the amount of $5,836.00.  The next regular board meeting will be held Monday, October 10 at 6 p.m.

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.  The Fire Prevention Parade begins at 1 p.m. on Saturday, October 15, immediately followed by the Safety Jamboree at the band practice field which is located at the east end of Hartford Middle School. Kids can enjoy free popcorn and slushies, a bouncy house, fingerprinting sponsored by the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office, and spraying water with the Fire Department. The Lions Club will sponsor free eye exams and Air Care will be landing, weather permitting. Senior Services of Van Buren County sponsors monthly food trucks  Senior Services of Van Buren County Assistant Director Diane Rigozzi addressed township officials to promote awareness of the activities and services provided to Van Buren County seniors, 66 of those served living in the Hartford area.  With the help of Feeding America for Senior Services, SSVBC sponsors monthly first-come first-serve food trucks from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. that provide food to low-income seniors in need. Each senior household must bring their own bags and boxes and will receive 25 pounds of food items including fresh fruits and vegetables, bread, potatoes, peppers and/or onions and drinks.  The trucks alternate between Hartford, Paw Paw and South Haven. The Paw Paw Lions Club will host the food truck on Wednesday, October 12 at 59050 Co Rd 665, South Haven hosts on Thursday, November 17 at the Senior Center on 76th Street, and the Hartford United Methodist Church hosts on Wednesday, December 7 at 425 Main Street.   The three main senior centers in Van Buren County are Hartford, South Haven and Paw Paw. Offerings include Pickleball, Euchre, Bingo, Bible study, group meals, monthly suppers, and day and extended trips, such as a night out at the casino or a day at the fair. Come enjoy special events, dances and holiday parties, games, arts and crafts, computer classes and a host of other fun activities to pass an enjoyable day and meet new friends. Please note that senior activities may vary depending on location, but SSVBC welcomes those age 60 and over to visit all centers to join in the fun.  The SSVBC also invites seniors to lunch on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays at 12:30 p.m. Lunches cost $3.00 on Mondays and Tuesdays, and Friday lunches are FREE.  The SSVBC will host the Soup and Salad Fundraiser Dinner on Friday, September 23 from 5 to 7 p.m. at Freshwater, located at 600 Michigan Avenue in Paw Paw. The dinner features a variety of soups, fresh salads, bread and dessert, and all proceeds go to the Friends for Seniors Campaign. Donations will be gladly accepted.  SSVBC also offers Care Watch, In-home Care, Information and Assistance, Ride Easy and mental health assistance. Go to www.seniorservices-vbc.org for more information on these services.  In closing, Miss Rigozzi explained that SSVBC is funded by a millage that covers all of Van Buren County and said that, “We are happy to do what we do and love our jobs. We thank all involved for their support.”  Do not forget to look for the SSVBCs monthly newsletter, The Senior Sentinel, in the Tri-City Record, or keep up to date with events online at www.seniorservices-vbc.org. If you would like to be added to the Hartford Local Events Newsletter please email Emma Sefcik at localevents@hartfordmichigan.com.


 New Life Christian Center would like to invite everyone to the Timmy Louder Memorial 5k on September 24 in honor of our dear friend who passed away last year. Timmy’s parents, Daniel and Judy Louder, have said many times that Timmy never met a stranger because once he met you, you were his friend.  We want to remember Timmy in the best way we know how, with a party! SWMI Racers is helping us to put on a 5k Fun Run/Walk in his memory. The 5k will start at 12 p.m. at New Life Christian Center, 6674 Paw Paw Ave., Coloma.  Registration Fee is $20 through September 23 and $25 for same day registration. Children 14 and under have a $15 registration fee. Pre-registered participants will receive a short sleeve t-shirt. All participants will enjoy refreshments at the finish line and entry into random drawing for door prizes.  Following the 5k, New Life Christian Center will be hosting a Carnival, FREE of charge, open to the community! There will be bounce houses, obstacle courses, carnival games, hot dogs, snow cones, cotton candy, and popcorn. Please join us and help honor one of the greatest young men we have ever known!  Please contact Tiffany Hughes at 269-277-4155 for more information.

Teen Challenge

 Central Assembly of God is holding a Teen Challenge coming up on Sunday, September 25 at 10:30 a.m. Hear firsthand accounts on addictions broken, families healed, and hope restored.  The church is located at 6801 Ryno Road, Coloma.  There will be a cookout following the service, all are welcome.

Paranormal Night at Hartford Public Library

 The Friends of the Hartford Library is sponsoring a paranormal night at the library on Saturday, September 24 beginning at 7:30 p.m. The program is conducted by the Southern Michigan Paranormal group. Learn about the places they have visited and their experiences.  They will investigate the library building. The Hartford Public Library is one of the few remaining buildings built in the late 1800s. Space is limited and tickets are $20 each. It will be a long evening. Proceeds from the evening help to fund the children’s programs.

Matter of Balance class offered

 Region IV Area Agency on Aging will offer the Matter of Balance class at the St. Joseph-Lincoln Senior Center, beginning September 26.  Matter of Balance – Managing Concerns about Falls, is a program designed to reduce the fear of falling and increase activity levels among older adults. Classes are held for four weeks and each class is two hours in length. The classes are led by a trained facilitator.  Classes are scheduled to meet every Monday and Wednesday at the St. Joseph-Lincoln Senior Center, 3271 Lincoln Avenue, St. Joseph. The classes will be held September 26 through October 19, from 1:00 to 3:00 pm.  Cost for the class is FREE. Donations are gratefully accepted.  To register for the class, call Mary Ann at (269) 429-7768.


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