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09-26-2019 Hartford City hopes to sell 9 acres to multi-million dollar cannabusiness operation; Hall

MACI RAE FUNDRAISER NEXT SUNDAY! It is extremely difficult to comprehend that this smiling face afflicted with Stage 4 Neuroblastoma, a childhood cancer that has devastated the world of Maci and parents Lindsey (Drake) Rosen and her husband Justin. Now residing in Berrien Springs, Lindsey is a 2009 Hartford grad with a tremendous contingent of friends and family in the Hartford area hosting a Spaghetti Dinner Fundraiser next Sunday, Oct. 6 at Hartford High School from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. in the Hartford High School Cafeteria. The event will feature a 50/50 Raffle, Bake Sale and Silent Auction to support the Rosens on their lengthy road to Maci’s recovery from this challenge no family should ever have to endure. Please attend to support this beautiful little girl and her parents as they battle through the most difficult time a young family could face! Tickets available at the door; Adults $6.00, Kids $3.00.

Hartford City hopes to sell 9 acres to multi-million dollar cannabusiness operation

By Jon Bisnett Hartford City Commissioners formally approved a notice of intent to sell the city-owned nine-acre piece of vacant property located west of Marion Avenue for the amount of $75,000 in a tentative agreement with medical marijuana growing company at their September 23 regular business meeting. Great Lakes Grow proposes developing the currently vacant lot into a $7 million growing and processing facility, pending State licensing approval. The state of the art grow and processing operation encompassing the need for three Class C Licenses to produce 4,500 plants. Further promising preferential local hiring and construction services, Great Lakes has stated the intention to create and fund a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation to supplement the city’s police and fire services.

City Manager Yemi Akinwale said the formal sale agreement will be presented to the City Commission at a later date. Commissioners have touted the benefit potential to the city by virtue of not only application and permit fees, but also the added tax revenue from the property with a significant building added to a long-time vacant parcel. To be clear, the proposed GLG business model will grow and process medical marijuana in a secure building which features both air and water recycling via the most modern indoor cultivation methods. No dispensary sales to medical marijuana card holders will take place at the site under the intended use. Hartford’s first provisioning center (dispensary) is on track to open this fall. Med+Leaf is in the final stages of construction, slated to open October 1 at their location of 309 West Main Street.

A headline in another local publication recently announced the city expanded to allow 26 licenses for medical marijuana business. Although mathematically correct, one can be mislead without knowing that GLG will stack three grow licenses and one processing license. Med+Leaf occupies one for provisioning, while another business proposes a dispensary and multi-tiered grow operation on land split from the Hartford Speedway property. Yet another concern has expressed interest in a provisioning center to be located at the former Hoekzema Ford building on West Main. Technically 26 licenses would be distributed among four separate business entities, the largest of which with no public access.

Hartford’s initial medical marijuana ordinance of November 2017 permitted only one of each license category. The revised ordinance now allows five Class A (500 plants) growing licenses, three Class B (1,000 plants) growing licenses and five Class C (1,500 plants) growing licenses. The ordinance additionally allows five processing facilities, two secure transporters, four dispensaries and two test lab safety compliance facilities. The expansion of the ordinance was unanimously approved just a week ago at the September workshop meeting.

By local comparison, the City of Bangor now has two dispensaries, Breedsville has one, while Watervliet Township is currently reviewing request for special use permits for two dispensaries, both to be located north of 1-94, just south of the city limits.

Communications Incumbent Dennis Goss has chosen not to file again for office, leaving an open seat for Commissioner in the upcoming November election. Goss originally went into office as a write-in candidate. His replacement apparently will be subject to the same process with a declaration deadline of October 25. Should no write-in applicants declare, the council will then be obligated to appoint a commissioner to serve until the next election in 2020.

Guests/Public comment Emily Hickmont, of the Van Buren County Conservation District office made her annual visit to update commissioners on activities in the area. Minutes & Reports archived Departmental Reports for August and minutes from the September 16 Workshop and August 26 Business Meeting were approved and archived.

New business Acting on a request from Hartford Harding’s Market/ Bonna Vanderlyn, the city will relinquish ownership of an odd 8’ x 12’ parcel adjoining the south perimeter of Harding’s parking lot that was a remnant of the old city hall and fire station site several decades ago. Unanimous approval was given to a request from the Hartford Lions Club to partner on the annual lighting of Ely Park for the holidays in the amount of $1,000. Addressing a request from Med+Leaf, it has been discovered that 24-hours real time offsite storage of 60 days of video surveillance requirements for a medical marijuana dispensary is impossible due to limited Internet bandwith in the City’s infrastructure. Rather than revise the ordinance City Manager Yemi Akinwale stated the city will waive the 60-day requirement back to 30 days until such time as the infrastructure provides the higher bandwith.

Resolutions and Amendments Approval was given for Resolution 2019-010 regarding Penalty Fees and Interest for Failure to File a Property Transfer Affidavit. Having no further business, Mayor Rick Hall adjourned the meeting at 7:45 p.m.

30 YEARS OF SERVICE… Coloma Mayor Pro-Tem Marsha Hammond presents Coloma Department of Public Works Supervisor Rod Burkholder with an award from the American Wastewater Association honoring his lifetime membership and 30 years of dedicated service. “You have always kept our licenses current and you are a good steward of our water system,” said Hammond. “Clean water is serious business around here and we’re lucky to have you.” (TCR photo by Nancy Albright)

Halloween fun planned for Coloma Saturday, October 26 in Baker Park

By Nancy Albright Get busy with those costumes and enjoy an afternoon of Halloween fun on Saturday, October 26 from 3:00–5:00 p.m. at Baker Park in Coloma. Vehicles decorated by businesses and community groups will hand out candy during the annual Halloween in the Park Trunk-or-Treat event, and folks can enjoy music by Tom Gear and games organized by Freshwater Church. The Lions Club will serve up 1,000 hotdogs, and there will be popcorn, juice, apples, and lots and lots of candy. To round out the festivities there will be a Pumpkin Derby at noon, with pumpkin weigh-in at 11:00 a.m., and a costume parade beginning at the fire station at 3:00 p.m. Call Lion Brian Smith at (269) 468-4153 for derby registration and kit purchase. Note that Trunk-or-Treat replaces merchant trick or treat in downtown Coloma, and Coloma City and Township Trick-or-Treat is on Thursday, October 31 from 5:00–7:00 p.m. Call for Trunk-or-Treat sponsors Last year’s event topped previous years and organizers are asking area businesses, community groups and individuals to donate candy and funds, and to decorate vehicles to make this year’s event the biggest yet. Contributors will be listed on a sponsor board and emcee Tom Gear will announce sponsors between songs throughout the day. Those who decorate vehicles are asked to bring at least 2,000 pieces of candy and keep it festive with fun decorations and costumes. Trunk-or-Treat is organized by North Berrien Community Development and the Coloma Township Police Department. Mayor Polashak thanked the NBDC for their hard work to make the event a success. “You do a wonderful job and we thank you for that.” For more information and to donate funds and candy to help provide treats for the kids, call Chana Kniebes at (269) 757-2457 or email If you would like to donate by mail, make checks payable to North Berrien Community Development and mail to P.O. Box 1028, Coloma MI 49038.

News from the Wastewater Plant At the September 23 monthly meeting of the Coloma City Commission, the Commissioners approved Articles of Incorporation deeming the wastewater plant its own authority to alleviate the bond issue. The plant cannot borrow needed funds as stipulated by the 50-year contract, signed in 1970, that expires in 2020. The plant now has a revenue stream and the move to incorporate provides the institution with the ability to pay bills without having to acquire permission from the four municipalities the plant serves to borrow money. There will be no changes to water service. In other news Commissioner Fred Reeves requested that the new School Resource Officer, Dan Stuglik, report to the city at its regular meetings now that he is settling into his role at Coloma Community Schools.

REMEMBERING THE FALLEN… Hartford Fire Fighter & Medical First Responder Paul Chappell represented the HFD at the annual Grand Rapids Memorial Stair Climb held at Fifth 3rd Ballpark in Grand Rapids. Chappell, a graduate of Hartford High School, joined hundreds of other Southwestern Michigan firefighters wearing full turn-out gear while climbing the equivalent of 100 stories in memory of those who gave up their lives in the service of others during the terrorist attack on the twin towers of the World Trade Center on 9/11. Paul personally collected donations in the amount of $175, adding to the total of over $10,000 raised at the September 11 event. Son of Van Buren County Commissioner Mike Chappell and Marissa Chappell, Paul is currently a Chemistry Research Assistant at Grand Valley State University, studying Biochemistry/Pre-Med and spent this most recent summer in Washington D.C. serving as intern under Fred Upton in the U.S. House of Representatives. Paul spent the previous year as a volunteer in the Emergency Room of the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital and is currently involved in a project studying depression and suicide among firefighters and first responders.

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