HONORED FOR SERVICE… Hartford Fire Department Captain Mike Chappell (left) and Chief Rob Harting (right) present the Distinguished Service Award to Department Chaplin Pastor Ryan Wenburg following a dinner to celebrate the award on Sunday, September 9. The inscription applauds Pastor Ryan’s “Generous commitment of time, support and inspiration to the members of the department.” Captain Chappell commended the invaluable service provided to the firefighters who are all better equipped to handle the tough times that are an unfortunate hazard of their job thanks to the counseling of Chaplin Ryan since he came onboard in 2017.
Watervliet alumni want possible Township park to be named after deceased classmates
By Annette Christie
Friends and classmates of two individuals from Watervliet are seeking to have a piece of land that could be turned into a park, named after them. Lacey Krohn and Chasity Kling, both former students at Watervliet, attended the Watervliet Charter Township Board meeting on Monday, September 17, 2018 to ask the board for their consideration.
Krohn spoke of Jonathan Lambrecht and Lee Smith, both friends of hers and Klings, that passed away very young. They would like to have Lambrecht and Smith memorialized by the naming of a future park to the Jonathan / Lee Memorial Park.
Prior to Krohn speaking, Supervisor Dan Hutchins said that he was aware that the request was coming regarding a piece of property exceeding 30 acres that the township obtained through the Berrien County Brownfield Authority. Hutchins said he was surprised to learn that when they were receiving this property back from the county that it included the piece of property being mentioned. He said he was not sure quite yet if the property was already in the township’s name but was sure that there has not been any discussion on the township’s part with what to do with it. The property being discussed is close to Harper Avenue.
Krohn noted that Lambrecht was a kid that everyone looked up to and was the kind of kid that would stick up for someone being picked on. He died in 2000 following an accidental shooting. Lambrecht was soon to be freshman at Watervliet High School at the time of the shooting. Only a mere 11 months and 11 days later, Smith, who was a soon to be sophomore at Watervliet High School had a diving accident which paralyzed him. He passed away December 2003. She described Lee as being much like Jonathan.
Treasurer Tom Scheid said that the request puts the township in an uncomfortable position because we all know people that have lost children, “I don’t mean it to sound mean,” Scheid said.
An audience member suggested that perhaps they just call it a Memorial Park and then family and friends can add the names of their youth on plaques for those that have passed away.
Hutchins said that they would consider the request when they entered discussions about how to use that property, most likely at budget time.
Audit reveals favorable report
The Watervliet Township Board received a favorable audit report from auditor Hungerford Nichols (they merged with Gerber & Co., the previous auditors). The financial position of the township has resulted in an unmodified opinion, the best they can be given.
While the township as a whole is in excellent financial condition, Auditor Brian Wisneski noted that he does have a concern about the township’s Sewer Fund that the expenses are compounding much faster than the revenues. Hutchins told Wisneski that they have already approved a rate increase over the next three years to help equal that out.
Wastewater Treatment Plant
Trustee Joe Stepich, who also sits on the Paw Paw Lake Wastewater Treatment Plant Board, noted that the plant currently is in violation with the DEQ due to the levels of mercury. Stepich said that it is because three of the four municipalities have recently done cleaning and flushing of their sewers lines. Stepich said that the DEQ has been understanding and is working with them.
He also said that the last time this was done was four years ago. Stepich said that in the future they will schedule them so they are not all happening at the same time.
Replacement approved for Chief Building Official
The township approved a contract with their new Chief Building Official Troy Gano. He is replacing Tom Baldwin and came with his recommendation. He is also the chief building official for St. Joseph Township. Like Baldwin, Gano will be paid with a portion of the fees collected. The duties are the same and the percentages are the same.
Dry hydrant funding
Stepich asked the board for an increase in the amount of funds they put forth in the dry hydrant installation program around Paw Paw Lake.
The Paw Paw Lake Association has allocated $500 towards each new hydrant and Stepich made a request that the township increase their portion to $500 as well. He explained that the funding for the remainder of the dry hydrants will be put in the budget for the fire department and they will approve approximately three a year until they reach their desired number. They are hoping for 6-10 hydrants on the Watervliet side of the lake.
Stepich said a number of people have expressed interest in having one by their home, but then they found out they have to raise the money for it and weren’t as excited.
With the promised funds of the Paw Paw Lake Association, the Watervliet Township Board, and the Watervliet Fire Department, it is hoped the project should be done to benefit all the residents on the lake. Stepich said that the hydrants could cost about $3,000 – $5,000 each to install. They will be focusing on road ends and fire lanes as opposed to installing them on individual properties.
A dry hydrant is a non pressurized system that includes a PVC pipe put down in the ground and into Paw Paw Lake. It will include a hydrant connection at the street. A pumper tanker can connect to that hydrant, suck up water into the tank on the truck, and then go to the fire. By having hydrants around the lake, firefighters will have a lot more opportunities to fill up the tanker with less distance to travel, thus more time spent on fighting the fire. Stepich said the dry hydrants will also assist with rates being reduced by most insurance carriers to reflect a 10-20% savings. The motion received unanimous support from the board.
The next Watervliet Township Board meeting will be held on October 15 at 7:00 p.m.
By Annette Christie
Woman killed in crash with patrol car
A 69-year-old Stevensville woman died as a result of a two-car accident involving a patrol car on Sunday afternoon. Sherry Lynn Temple was the driver of a Lincoln passenger car that was traveling westbound on Territorial Road at approximately 3:27 p.m. Investigators have determined that Temple failed to stop at the intersection of Territorial Road and M-140 and drove into the path of a Pokagon Tribal Police Department Ford Utility that was heading southbound on M-140.
The Pokagon Tribal patrol unit was responding code to a priority call of a domestic violence incident in Silver Creek Township. Investigators have been able to confirm that the emergency lights and siren were activated on the patrol vehicle prior to the crash occurring.
The Pokagon Tribal Officers were identified as the driver, Gustavo Pop-Monroy and the passenger Earl Holbrook. Pop-Monroy, 45, suffered a laceration to his left hand and a broken left forearm. He was treated and released late Sunday night from Lakeland Hospital in St. Joseph. Holbrook, 35, was transported from the scene by Memorial Med Flight to Memorial Hospital in South Bend, Indiana. He suffered a head injury along with a partially severed left ear and appears to have a broken bone behind his ear. He is currently in stable condition.
Evidence at the scene indicates that all individuals involved were wearing their seatbelts at the time of the crash. There is no evidence that weather conditions or any vision obstruction played a part in the crash. It does remain under investigation.
Multiple police and fire agencies assisted at the scene including the Berrien County Sheriff’s Office, Pokagon Tribal Police Department, Michigan State Police, Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office, Covert Township Police Department, Watervliet City Police Department, Coloma Township Police Department, Berrien County Sheriff’s Office Traffic Crash Unit, Sister Lakes Fire Department, Keeler Township Fire Department, Pride Care Ambulance, Memorial Med Flight out of South Bend, Indiana, and the Berrien County Medical Examiner’s Office.
Bicyclist loses life in hit and run
The Berrien County 911 Dispatch Center received a call of a hit and run injury accident on September 15, 2018 at approximately 4:12 p.m. Witnesses reported observing a small Ford SUV strike a bicyclist on Pokagon Road near Jones Road in Berrien Township.
Sgt. Ryan Sullivan reports that deputies responded, and soon confirmed that the bicyclist was deceased at the scene.
A witness and his young son had collected a vehicle description and plate registration number of the suspect vehicle. This information aided in promptly dispatching deputies to the address of the registered owner in Niles.
Deputies with the Berrien County Sheriff’s Niles Township Patrol Division intercepted the suspect, and suspect vehicle. The 23-year-old Niles woman that was driving the suspect vehicle was subsequently arrested for operating a vehicle while intoxicated causing death and leaving the scene of a fatal accident. Preliminary results indicate that the driver’s blood alcohol content was more than three times the legal limit.
Agencies assisting include the Berrien County Sheriff Offices, Berrien Springs/Oronoko Township Police Department, Michigan State Police, Eau Claire Fire Department, and SMCAS Ambulance Service.
The name of the driver is being withheld pending her arraignment.
The deceased bicyclist was later identified as 32-year-old Todd Harrington of Berrien Springs, Michigan.
Sailing championship at Paw Paw Lake a success
Paw Paw Lake Yacht Club hosted the Great Lakes Star Sailboat Championship recently – the Blue Star Regatta. The Star sailboat is a One-Design, 22-foot boat built for speed. Paw Paw Lake has had a Star Fleet since 1932. Twelve boats registered for the Regatta consisting of seven individual races over three days, September 7-9. The weather was challenging with gusty winds measured up to 35 mph. The direction of the wind allowed a 1.5-mile race across the longest portion of Paw Paw Lake. Conditions tested the sailors and their boats. Several boats had to drop out because of broken spars or rigg
GREAT LAKES STAR SAILBOAT CHAMPIONSHIP… Pictured is the start of the three-day event, Blue Star Regatta, hosted by the Paw Paw Lake Yacht Club.
ing, but all the two-man teams loved surfing at high speed down the lake. Sailors came from as far away as Colorado and Rhode Island. The Blue Star trophy has an ornate silver design topped with a gold cup and is about the size of the Stanley Cup. It was designed by Tiffany Company in the 1930s. Champion Paw Paw Lake Star Fleet members, Philip Upton, Stuart and Gordon Bell, and Gene McCarthy, have their names on the trophy. The award ceremony took place on Sunday, September 9, at the Paw Paw Lake Yacht Club. The Blue Star trophy was presented to Gregory Smith and T.C. Belco of the Gull Lake Star Fleet. Their boat was unbeatable with first place finishes in all seven races! The Annual Paw Paw Lake Open Trophy was won by Smith and Belco as well. Gregory Smith, age 66, also took home the master’s (over 50 yrs of age) award. This prize was a painting of two Star boats vying for the World Championship. PPLYC member and renowned 90-year-old sailor Gene McCarthy received a special painting showing his first Star sailboat going so fast it produced a rooster tail. He is the oldest Star sailor still competing. The painting is on display at Paw Paw Lake Yacht Club. Both paintings were done by multi-talented Star sailor Gill Cole from Springfield, Illinois. A large number of volunteers made the Regatta a great success including multiple PPLYC members hosting the sailors and race officials. Lois Phillips organized excellent social events, gifts for all competitors and a sold-out dinner at the Yacht Club Saturday night. Many businesses graciously sponsored the Regatta including: Coloma Motor Sports, JD’s Marina, Watervliet Coin Laundry, Watervliet Hardware, Trident Dock and Dredge, KTD Storage of Coloma, Quantum Sails, and James and Williams Jewelers of Berwyn, Illinois. PPLYC welcomes new members and hosts sailing lessons during the summer for area youth and adults.
Township approves dog park with conditions; Bob Howell appointed to Coloma Township Board
By Annette Christie
It was not without a long discussion and a little debate that the Coloma Township Board once again approved the Amicus Dog Park at their Wednesday, September 12 meeting. This time, however, it was with conditions based on the recommendation that came from their Planning Commission.
The Planning Commission held a public hearing on August 21 and voted 5 – 1 to approve the request to erect a dog park with the following recommendations: Erect a privacy on the north side of the park property (length to be determined); hours, days and months of operation and closed during baseball tournaments; maintenance schedule and access road grading; the size of the park; Planning Commission will conduct an annual review of the park and report to the Township Board any issues with the park and recommend renewed approval of the park.
Township Treasurer Jim Fulton, who also serves as a Planning Commission member, reviewed their decision stating that they decided that a privacy fence would be a good thing to have between the property owner that neighbors the dog park and the park; he commented that they didn’t have a site plan, and they didn’t have any measurements.
Maintenance Supervisor Rory Bell introduced to the township board at the meeting that another thing the township might want to consider is the type of fencing used to house the dog park. He commented that while he was out at Washington Park mowing, he noticed that some of the posts that were put in place as part of the fencing did not appear to be holding up, some even bending. It was Bell’s suggestion that residential grade posts were used that should have been commercial as well as a lot more cement should have been put in the holes. Bell told the board, “This is gonna become a maintenance issue.”
Fulton questioned the elevation on the dog park. Bell said they (the developers) have been told from the beginning that it wasn’t enough top soil. Caleigh said she had researched it and was told by people that there was enough top soil. Bell then added that he mowed it today and there are still a lot of rocks. Caleigh noted that after they put the grass seed in, they were going to water it but were told to cease and desist. One individual noted that it might take another 50-60 more yards of top soil to make it at least level or crowned a little when one more member of the Planning Commission, Bob Howell stated, “I’ll offer what I have.”
Trustee Bryan Duffield stated that he kind of feels responsible on their end, as a member of the parks committee. The Parks Committee met with Caleigh Dahn before it was introduced to the township for approval. “Why we didn’t ask more questions? I don’t know why we didn’t think to ask more question,” Duffield said adding, “I don’t feel that it is all this young lady’s fault.”
Supervisor Ken Parrigin said he would have Rory work with the young lady and that maybe the $1,000 that she was going to donate for maintenance could go into upgrading the posts. By the end of the discussion Caleigh had Rory Bell helping her with the fencing, Bob Howell helping her with the additional top soil needed, and Jim Fulton helping her with the site plan that was required.
Parrigin told the board that they needed some direction. With that, Fulton made the motion to approve the dog park contingent on the specifications listed by the Planning Commission. Somewhere in the midst of the motion to approve it Roxanne Daugherty was able to make comments to the board in regards to a letter about an accommodation for a disability. Mikki Swisher, a Planning Commissioner also in the audience that night, stated that the Planning Commission gave her what she wanted and that was the privacy fence. Some back and forth claims were made about who said what and when and ultimately Fulton changed the motion to take out the requirement for the privacy fence if she (Daugherty) doesn’t want it. The motion was approved unanimously.
On Monday of this week, Caleigh posted on the “Amicus Dog Park GS Gold Award Project” Facebook page: As of today, the site plan has been completed, the top soil has been donated and will be arriving shortly, and the fencing is in the process of being replaced. “Thank you to those who have stepped up to assist with these contingencies.”
Other park discussion
Bell announced to the board that they have added eight new pieces of playground equipment to Washington Park with a value of about $100,000 that was all donated. He asked that a thank you letter be sent to St. Joe Catholic Church.
Parrigin said that it was necessary to take applications from Coloma Township residents interested in filling the remainder of the term left vacant as a result of the resignation of Matt Moser. He said they had five individuals apply.
Clerk Sandy Kraemer said that all of the applicants were very impressive and that it was a hard decision to select the person to fill the term which expires in November 2020. The board chose Bob Howell and commented that he has some experience on their other boards and they felt he was most qualified.
Parrigin said they appreciate all of the interest in the position and noted that it is getting harder and harder to get individuals involved. He encouraged those that applied to think about it again at election time.
Howell has been a resident of Coloma Township for six years (this time), but has owned businesses and property in the township for 30 years. He serves on the Planning Commission, the Tax Review Board, and served on the Fire Chief Search Committee. He and his wife have two daughters.
Building a wall
Chief of Police Jason Roe addressed the board about the need to build a wall between administration and the police department to separate the offices and to keep the Criminal Justice Information as it should be, confidential and protected.
Roe said that the federal agency that establishes the policies and protocols for the Law Enforcement Information Network (LEIN) system and how it is used and who has access to it have been tightening up and he would expect to be cited for the lack of security.
Roe told the board he addressed the office set-up with two of his predecessors; however, it has still not been addressed. “Our current set up is a violation,” Roe said.
Parrigin said that he would like to talk to someone about these continuous changes and demands adding, “It will never stop.” Fulton said, “I don’t want a wall.”
Roe responded, “I don’t want one either but I also want to follow the requirements of the law.” He added, “A wall is the most economic and simple way to do it. It needs to be sight and sound proof.”
Discussion continued between the board and Roe without a decision on how to address the problem. Roe told the board that they will be audited again before Christmas; they will have 30 days to respond, and 90 days to mitigate it.
Coloma School District administrators in full force with addition of two new building principals; other staff vacancies are yet to be filled
By Annette Christie The Coloma School District administration team is now in full force. At the Monday, September 10 meeting it was announced that Mike Churchill had been hired to fill the vacancy of the high school principal. That vacancy occurred when Dave Ehlers was promoted to Superintendent. Churchill is not new to the Coloma School District. He has served in the role of teacher and coach, and before that he was a student. A graduate of Coloma High School, he and his wife and their three children live in the community of
Coloma. Churchill is currently the Dowagiac Union School Assistant Principal at their high school where he has been since 2014. Also new to the administrative team is Karra Hafer, Intermediate School Principal and Special Education Supervisor. Hafer, native to Southwest Michigan attended Lakeshore High School and currently resides in St. Joseph with her daughter.
She has worked in the department of corrections and had a background in psychology, having graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in that field. Upon receiving her teaching certification, she had worked as a Para Pro, a substitute teacher, a contract teacher and a high school teacher. She is dually certified in Special Education and Administration. “I am very excited to be here, things are going well,” Hafer said following the first week of school. She commented that the administrative team has been very supportive and she has established a collaborative team approach with her well-seasoned 5th grade team and her pretty new 4th grade team.
Principals’ Reports All of the school principals reported that the back-to-school activities were well attended by students and families and that the first week of school went pretty well. Ehlers reminded the school board that homecoming festivities were right around the corner. Junior High Principal Wendy Tremblay said that there was an open house held before school started with 52% of families attending. She said that the class schedules and lockers with combinations were available at the open house and that may have attributed to the high turnout. A Chrome Book camp was held to teach the skills for how to care for the Chrome Book and included the expectations for their care. Tremblay said that all students started this week taking home the Chrome Books. They are continuing with a positive behavior initiative, explaining those common expectations and rewards for kids doing great things. Hafer said that the Intermediate School had a really good first week. Teachers are implementing strategies from Capturing Kids Hearts and social contracts. The Elementary School is welcoming a couple new faces in their teaching staff. Principal John Klein said that they are commenting on the positive culture here at Coloma. He said the Kids Read Now, summer reading program, K-3, is finishing up. Students in the program could get up to nine books throughout the summer if they did the whole program. In all, the students involved have read 1,070 books since June. He said that 52 students completed the challenge.
Other business Ehlers said that the preliminary enrollment figures in the district shows that it is trending down but the numbers are up from what was budgeted. The new logo for the “Comet Pride” program was designed by one of the art teachers. Ehlers said people should start seeing them very soon. While all of the administrative staff slots have been filled there are still several other staff vacancies that need to be filled. Job openings are posted on the district’s website. The board approved funding the installation of new scoreboards for the high school gym. The funds for the scoreboards themselves were donated by the Athletic Boosters, Chemical Bank, and through the Color Run event. The School Board also authorized advisors for the Junior High Robotics, Junior High Yearbook, and Coloma Intermediate Robotics as paid positions. After a trial period it has been determined that there is sufficient interest in the clubs for the advisors to receive supplemental pay. The October meeting for the Coloma School Board has been changed to Monday, October 15 at 7:00 p.m.