09-22-2016 Good Samaritan Law expansion; PARKing Day a Success; Coloma Twp. gets legal opinion; new

PARKING DAY FUN IN DOWNTOWN WATERVLIET… The down-town of Watervliet was bustling Friday evening as city businesses participated in PARKing Day. In spite of MDOT’s refusal to issue permits for the planned event, merchants, city residents, and visitors alike took part. Here, Jorden Parker of Wightman & Associates speaks with an interested party about Watervliet, its strengths, and its weaknesses.

Good Samaritan Law expanding

By Annette Christie

The Michigan State House of Representatives took action today, September 20, 2016, to pass an expansion to the current Good Samaritan Law. The law is linked to Mason Mizwicki of Watervliet.     Representative Al Pscholka worked with Watervliet’s Lori Mizwicki to pass legislation that would provide protection for an individual under the age of 21, calling 911 for help when someone needed medical attention due to prescription drug use.  The effort was driven by Mizwicki with Pscholka due to the New Year’s Eve death of her 16 year-old son Mason.  He died from a prescription drug overdose while other teenagers who were present, did not call for help for fear of getting in trouble.   The expansion of the law that was passed in December of 2015 would remove the age limit and would be for anyone suffering from an overdose of all controlled substances.  The bi-partisan House Bill 5649 was introduced by Pscholka and Representative Sam Singh of East Lansing.  In the first go around in the House, it passed almost unanimously, one representative voted no.  When presented before the Senate, a few minor tweaks were made before approval…

ALL HAIL THE KING AND QUEEN… Nominees for Hartford’s Homecoming King and Queen are pictured (from the left): Alberto Ibarra-Victoria, Sierra Swearengin, Samuel Shank, Mariah Costner, Sarah Rice, Carmen Calvillo, Jake Griffith, Rosa Delgado, Luke Birkhead, Sandra Perez and Hunter Ackerman. Not pictured is Ricky Austin.

PARKing Day in

Watervliet a success

 If you noticed people milling on the sidewalks, enjoying a hot dog, or creating a masquerade mask with glitter and paint on Friday, September 16, you witnessed a fun, important event in the city of Watervliet. Downtown merchants, visitors, and city residents alike participated in Watervliet’s second annual PARKing Day.  This year Wightman & Associates, six Watervliet businesses, along with New Hope Community Church and the Watervliet District Library, helped to bring small parks to our downtown sidewalks.  In case you missed it, the festivities were held from 3 to 6 p.m. along Main Street.  Next year, based on the success this year, we expect         even more businesses to make spaces in front of their stores…

Coloma Township Board gets legal opinion on Court ruling; attorney says County will never be able to use

the gun range again

By Annette Christie

Coloma Township Attorney Scott Dienes was on hand at their September 14 meeting to inform the township’s board of the recent Michigan Court of Appeals ruling and what it means.  Coloma Township sued Berrien County over the use of a training facility/shooting range located on Angling Road in the township.   Dienes said that he was pleased to announce that the Township won the litigation against the County.  He said the case was actually argued before the Court of Appeals in December of last year and they have been waiting for the ruling for a long time.   Dienes provided the four-page opinion to the board. As it was a 2-1 ruling, he also provided the dissenting opinion.  Dienes explained that the premise to this saga is two powers at odds, one being the county’s authority under the County Commissioner Act to site county buildings; the other being township authority to regulate land use. The County Commissioner Act provides authority  if the county wants to site a jail, hospital, or a courthouse like building, and items around the building that are needed to get to the building like sidewalks, driveways, etc.  “Now we fast forward to this litigation and remember, the County bounced around a bit, shooting at the (Coloma) Rod and Gun Club, we got a judgment against that (and) then the County moved back to the landfill location and did so by siting a building on that property, noting that the building they sited and the shooting is ancillary to that building,” Dienes said.  While Berrien County Circuit Court Judge John Dewane agreed, the Court of Appeals did not. Dienes implied that between the township’s own ordinances in place and this court ruling, the county will not ever be able to train and shoot at those ranges again.  Also as a result he said the township may be able to regain some expenses related to the litigation such as filing fees, and administrative fees…

Watervliet District Library appoints Sharon Crotser-Toy to be new Director

By Angela Stair

  The Watervliet District Library Board, headed by President Mary Tatter, has been looking for someone to replace long time Director Lois Hartman.  Hartman retired from the library after 22 years of service to the community.   Sharon Crotser-Toy will take her position as Director of the Watervliet District Library on Friday, September 23.  She is looking forward to the position and all the possibilities it offers.  “The staff seems very committed and dedicated and I would like to support some of their ideas, as they seem very good.  I would like to give us time to figure out where to go forward from here.”   Married to Art Toy, who is self-employed and owns the business Four Elements Energy, they live in rural Lawrence with their 12 year old daughter, Jian.  They also have a grown son Jeremiah, who is married with two children.  Toy is an expert in renewable energy and serves as both a consultant and an installer…

Coloma Schools put Strategic Plan to work

By Annette Christie

Evidence was presented at the Monday, September 12 Coloma School Board of the recently adopted district-wide strategic plan at work.  Superintendent Peter Bush told the board that T-shirts bearing the logo “Comet Pride” were provided to all staff members on opening day of the new school year.  The School Board was presented theirs as well at the board meeting.  Bush said that every other Friday will be “Comet Pride” Day in the district when staff and students will be encouraged to wear their Comet logo items.  Students will be encouraged to obtain shirts with Comet logos on them.  The PTA is discussing the possibility of purchasing t-shirts for all students K-5.  Bush said that they are working on a way to afford them for the junior high and high school students as well so that every student could at least have one article displaying their Comet Pride.   Donations by businesses and community leaders will be accepted…

Police Reports

By Annette Christie

The Hartford Police Department would like any help with identifying any of the  four individuals who broke into the Hartford Speedway early Thursday morning (Wednesday night). If anybody has any information, please contact the Hartford Police at 269-621-3225 or go to http://www.cityofhartfordmi.org/police.htm and tell us what you know in the silent observer. Thank you!

Gun toting motorcyclist ends run in Coloma

   A motorcyclist who allegedly shot a gun at a semi over an incident on I-94 ended up getting arrested once he was stopped near Coloma.   Officers from Lincoln Township Police Department responded to the 24-mile marker of eastbound I-94 on Friday, September 16 to investigate an apparent road rage incident involving the two vehicles.  Allen Shotko, 45, of Cedar Springs, Michigan told officers that he had been driving his 2015 Freightliner semi-truck and trailer through the eastbound construction zone when he encountered a motorcyclist who became very angry and subsequently pulled a pistol from his coat and shot at Shotko.  This occurred as both vehicles were traveling down the highway.  A bullet hole was located in the truck’s radiator causing damage to the vehicle; however, Shotko was not injured…

Bainbridge Twp board hears LMC millage proposal

By Angela Stair

Bainbridge Township Board of Trustees held their monthly meeting on Monday, September 12.  Barbara Craig from Lake Michigan College (LMC) addressed the Board with information on the Capitol Millage Proposal they will put before the public in the November 8 election.  Craig described the Capital Millage Proposal as a millage of 0.48 for ten years that would be a cost to property owners with a $50,000 taxable value ($100,000 market value) of $2 per month, or $24 per year.  LMC has never had a capital millage before and their last increase was in 1996 (0.25 mills).  Their current millage is 1.78 mills, which is the 24th lowest of 28 Michigan community colleges.  The millage proposal is to support making safety and security improvements at all three of the campuses located at South Haven, Benton Harbor and Niles.  The millage would also support the modernization of classrooms and technology and equipment upgrades.  The third area of support would be to student success centers and facility upgrades.  The first and main campus located in Benton Harbor still has its original carpet and shows the wear with the many feet that have passed over it…

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