10-08-2020 South Watervliet Drain Project to start this week; State Supreme Court rules against Gov.

NOW SHOWING…The Coloma landmark downtown movie theater LOMA opens this week after being closed for eight months due to the Covid Pandemic. Manager Rodney Lynch made it official by lettering the classic marque. Lynch noted the closure wasn’r entirely wasted with deep cleaning of the three movie screening rooms, concessions and restrooms. (TCR photo by Amy Loshbough)

South Watervliet Drain Project to start this week

City addressing other areas of need simultaneously; thousands of dollars saved

(Press Release) The Berrien County Drain Commissioners office has informed the City that the South Watervliet Drain Project (SWDP) is scheduled to start the week of Oct. 5, 2020. The project will improve the overall drainage network within the drainage district and will also consist of water main and water service improvements. The majority of these infrastructure improvements will take place along West Division Street, Lucinda Lane, Silver Terrace, Summit Drive, South Pleasant Street, and Park Street.

The project was initiated due to the need for drainage improvements within the district. The existing storm sewer infrastructure within this area is significantly undersized, dilapidated, and obsolete. As such, the City filed a petition for maintenance and improvements with the Berrien County Drain Commissioners office to address the growing stress on the initial 1920 course of the drain. In total, the project is estimated to repair or replace 5,700 feet of storm sewer, storm water detention, 3,700 feet of ditching, 1,800 feet of sidewalk and ADA ramps, 1.25 miles of roadway replacement, and restoration within the drainage district.

In addition to storm sewer and roadway improvements, approximately 3,800 feet of water main improvements and associated water service replacements will be included within the project. Included in these improvements are the replacement of undersized water mains as well as mandated water service replacements where lead services or galvanized previously connected to lead services have been identified as mandated by the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, & Energy (EGLE).

When discussing the project and the innovative approach to maximize the mobilization of equipment, reduce overall engineering costs, and limit inconvenience for the public, Watervliet City Manager Tyler Dotson stated that “this project will save tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars as well as several thousands of dollars from our water fund.” He went on to say that “working with the Berrien County Drain Commissioner has allowed us to use one contractor and address maintenance needs in not only our storm sewer system, but our roads, sidewalks, and water system. All in all, this is a huge win for our community and the residents who live within the district. They’ve been dealing with these drainage issues for a while and we’ve really maximized our resources and improvements here.”

In total, the project is estimated to bring nearly $2.2M worth of infrastructure improvements with the City (municipality) paying nearly $720K from revenue sharing funds via. MDOT’s Act 51 funding program and the City’s sewer fund. Additionally, the City is spending just under $400K from its water fund to pay for the aforementioned water line/service replacements. Outside of direct City funding, the project is being funded through various assessments to Watervliet Charter Township, Berrien County, the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), and residents within the drainage district. These assessments were calculated by the Drain Commissioners office.

The project is scheduled to be completed by June 2021 but according to Dotson, the City is actively planning future infrastructure projects using the newly completed CityWide Asset Management Program (CAMP) and was recently awarded a $117K grant from the State of Michigan for a project to be completed late next summer on Elm Street.

State Supreme Court rules against Gov. Whitmer’s COVID-19 State of Emergency extension

By Jon Bisnett

The Michigan State Supreme Court ruled last Friday [Oct. 2, 2020], that Governor Gretchen Whitmer lacked authority after April 30, 2020 to declare a “state of emergency.” The court ruled 4-3 that Whitmer’s decision to declare a state of emergency without approval from state legislators was unconstitutional, citing the 1976 Emergency Management Act, which states that “after 28 days, the governor shall issue an executive order … declaring the state of disaster terminated” or request an extension. The court’s decision in-effect strikes down her orders to extend a coronavirus-related state of emergency past April 30 without legislative approval.