10-13-2016 Following interviews and a week of thought; No decision on Watervliet City Manager; Spagh
Walter & Eleanor Klug
Spaghetti Dinner Benefit planned for 8 year old Hartford girl. On Friday, October 14, 2016 from 4:00-7:00 p.m. Amy’s Angels will host a Spaghetti Dinner Benefit for 8 year old Zoe Phillips of Hartford. Zoe is a 3rd grader at Woodside Elementary and is the daughter of Jason Phillips and Augustina Contreras. In August of 2016 Zoe was diagnosed with a rare childhood cancer called Rhabdomyosarcoma. Her treatment will include Chemo, radiation and a surgery. The Spaghetti Dinner will be in the Hartford High School Cafeteria. A $6.00 donation will be taken at the door, children 5 years and younger will be $3.00. Dinner will include Spaghetti, salad and garlic bread; take out dinners will be available. A silent auction, bake sale and a 50/50 raffle will also take place. All proceeds from this benefit will go to Zoe and her family. The public is invited. Please come out in support of #TeamZoe.
Klugs celebrate 70th wedding anniversary
Walter and Eleanor Klug of Coloma will observe their 70th wedding anniversary October 13, 2016. Walter and the former Eleanor Wendzel were married October 13, 1946 in Coloma. Their children are Joyce (John) Froehlich of Niles, Elaine (Ken) Gaynor of Watervliet, and Marlene Moscardelli of Stevensville. They also have five grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. Klug is a retired building contractor. He served as a Corporal in the armed services and was a machinist on an American air base in France. Klug was assigned to the 302nd Transport Wings 27th Air Transport Group. He has two battle stars for his participation in the campaigns of Northern France and Germany. Mrs. Klug was a homemaker. She was employed at the Fidelity Building in Benton Harbor and was a bookkeeper for the family business.
Following interviews and a week of thought, no decision on Watervliet City Manager
By Annette Christie
The Watervliet City Commission has deferred a decision on selecting a city manager until further discussions are held with its interim manager, Bill Hodge. The Commission took the action at their regular meeting, Tuesday, October 11. The Commission is split on selecting one of three candidates recently interviewed and offering Hodge the job. Last Tuesday, October 4, a special meeting was held to interview three candidates for the position of City Manager of Watervliet. The City Commission interviewed Daniel Antosik, Kevin Gillette, and Heath Kaplan. Antosik, from Adrian, is a recent Wayne State graduate with a masters in public administration. He recently interned with the City of Royal Oak, a suburb of Detroit and was also an intern for the Michigan Municipal League. Kevin Gillette served as the City Manager in Watervliet from 2006-2007 and has also served as the manager for the Village of Cassopolis. He holds a degree in public administration and a secondary teaching certificate. Heath Kaplan holds a Master’s Degree in Public Administration. He is currently doing consulting and temporary work, which he has been doing since he left his management position with the City of Poplar Bluff in Missouri. He was in that position for a year. He has also served as a Finance Director for Muskegon County (2010-2014), City Manager for Crandall, Texas (2008-2010), and an Assistant Manager/Finance Director for the City of Wayland (2006-2008). Between the years of 2004-2006, he lists professional services for three different villages, an interim position with a city and an intern position for a city. During the discussion following the interviews, Mayor Dave Brinker said he would look for a motion to select the City Manager at their next regular scheduled meeting (being the meeting held October 11). However, a conversation was also held by some of the Commissioners over the possibility of hiring Interim City Manager Bill Hodge as the permanent City Manager. Brinker confirmed that he had had some conversations with Hodge and if he was able to be the Bainbridge Township Supervisor and this, he thought he might consider it. Hodge won the primary for that position and faces no opposition in November. He is scheduled to take office November 20, which is why his contract with the City of Watervliet was in effect until November 19. Commissioner Dan Hummel went so far as to make a motion that they offer Bill Hodge to be the permanent city manager. The motion was supported by Commissioner Rick Kinzler. However, because taking action was not on the agenda of that special meeting, Hummel removed his motion from the table. Schofield said she was not opposed to having a conversation with Hodge about the position. Other Commissioners were not so quick to make the conclusion that Hodge was their man. Muth said she wanted someone who was all theirs. Commissioner Duane Cobb added that he did not want to share the City Manager with anyone else. After all that, the agenda for the Tuesday, October 11 meeting did not even have the hiring of City Manager on it. Cobb actually amended the agenda to have it added under “unfinished business.” Cobb’s question was where they were at with the selection of City Manager. Brinker said basically where they were at was that a conversation was held between him, Schofield, Hummel and Hodge. Brinker said Hodge has an interest in the position but wanted a couple more days to think about it, which Brinker said should have been around tonight. Hodge commented that he would let the Commission know by Thursday. Commissioner Muth asked if they were going to have second interviews on any of the candidates and Cobb asked if that was a possibility. Brinker said that it could happen if the City Commission wanted to do that. At this point the three candidates that were interviewed have not been contacted by the City. Brinker said that if Hodge was interested then they should consider having an interview with him. Hummel commented they could re-post the job but Muth added that she felt that they had good candidates the last time around. Actually they had that discussion following the interviews where Muth, Marvin, and Schofield suggested a preference toward one or two of the candidates. While the full City Commission did the interviews with the three candidates, it was actually suggested that the Personnel Committee make a decision about second interviews. Brinker agreed with that and asked if that could happen. Either way, the City Commission did set a special meeting next Tuesday, October 18 at 6:30 p.m. for either second interviews, interviews, or possibly a decision on the City Manager. Following a third or possibly fourth consideration, the City Commission finally approved a Golf Cart Ordinance. The ordinance defines under what conditions a person may operate a golf cart on city roads within the City of Watervliet. At the last consideration, Hodge said he would take the ordinance to get a legal review and would report back. Hodge said that a city attorney has reviewed the ordinance and has given their approval. Muth said her concern was that the City would be held liable and Hodge said they will not be based upon the legal findings. Brinker noted that the ordinance will be published in the Tri-City Record. It is declared effective 21 days after its adoption. Hodge brought a water billing issue to the Commission’s attention. Hodge said that the water bill for the Tri-County Head Start building needed an adjustment. Hodge did a ton of research and found that the meter readings got a little out of whack, the bills got a little out of whack, and the problem and the fixes, despite a changed meter in June of 2016, were never correlated and therefore, they never stuck. The number of gallons of usage was just not possible over the period that was researched by Hodge; he found that they had been overcharged by $4,523.34. The City Commission authorized giving a refund to the school. “This will get it right,” Hodge said adding, “Between Public Works and water billing it will be good.” The City Commission approved a bid from Quality Paving for approximately seven road cut repairs. Hodge told the City Commission that he was confident that the bid of $4,200 was a competitive price. Hodge said the funds will come out of Local Streets. Leaf Pick Up will be held between October 31 and November 4. The south side of the city will be on Monday and Tuesday, and the north side of the city will be on Wednesday and Thursday. It was noted that Silverstone Gardens donated the mums that are planted along Main Street. Kristy and Mike Noack planted them and the DDA will take care of watering them. Brinker said that Mr. and Mrs. Dell planted flowers outside of City Hall, he thanked them for that and said he will be watering them. Luke Strunk, Planning Commission Chairman, said that their meeting will be October 24 at 7:00 p.m. The City Commission then went into closed session for union negotiations.
Good Samaritan Law expanding; signed by Governor Snyder
MOM, AUNT ON HAND FOR SIGNING OF GOOD SAMARITAN EXTENSION… Rep. Pscholka says Mason’s legacy will be lives saved. Gov. Rick Snyder signed legislation sponsored by State Rep. Al Pscholka that extends the lifesaving reach of the Good Samaritan law offering limited immunity to those who call first responders to report a drug overdose. The original law, Public Act 220 of 2015, was introduced after Mason Mizwicki, a Watervliet teenager, fatally overdosed on drugs because his friends were afraid of prosecution if they called police to report the overdose. Mason’s mother Lori Mizwicki (right) and his aunt, Brandi Huyser (left), who advocated for the bill, attended the ceremonial signing today. The new laws, Public Acts 307-308 of 2016, extend limited immunity to people of all ages.
By Annette Christie
A law pushed forward that has connections to a local family, was signed by Michigan Governor Rick Snyder last Thursday, October 6. Snyder signed an expanded form of the Good Samaritan legislation. With the passage of the law, Michiganders of all ages can seek medical assistance for themselves or others without the fear of prosecution in the case of a potential drug overdose. “The addiction epidemic in our state continues to claim too many lives and now, Michiganders can seek help before more unnecessary deaths occur,” Snyder said. “This legislation is another powerful tool in the efforts to fight prescription drug and opioid abuse across our state.” House Bills 5649 and 5650, sponsored by State Reps. Al Pscholka and Sam Singh, respectively, extend Michigan’s Good Samaritan exemption to all ages when seeking medical attention for a drug overdose. The bill expands a 2015 law signed by Snyder exempting individuals under age 21 from prosecution from drug-related charges when seeking medical aid for themselves or someone else. This effort was a recommendation of the Michigan Prescription Drug and Opioid Abuse Task Force led by Lt. Gov. Brian Calley. The bills are now Public Acts 307-308 of 2016. The Michigan State House of Representatives had passed the expansion of the Good Samaritan Law on September 20, 2016. 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 removes the age limit and would be for anyone suffering from an overdose of all controlled substances, not just prescription drugs. Pscholka said that since his original bill was passed in December 2015, it has been effective. “This is a common sense piece of legislation. We know that this has saved lives,” Pscholka said. Rep. Singh added, “Research shows that the most common reason for not seeking medical attention for a drug overdose is fear of police involvement or arrest. The current law has been effective and appreciated by law enforcement, the courts and certainly by individuals struggling with addiction. We now have the opportunity to expand the law to help save someone’s life regardless of age or substance.” Pscholka said that the original bill was just a starting point motivated by Mason’s story. However, even at the time of its original introduction, some Representatives thought that it did not go far enough. Singh was one of those individuals and thus joined Pscholka on the expansion. Pscholka said they wanted to take the legislation in steps and worked with law enforcement, prosecutors, and judges to ensure that they were working in the right direction for all. “There is only a handful of bills that we vote on that are literally a matter of life and death, and this was certainly one of them,” Pscholka said adding, “we will make sure that Mason’s legacy will not be in his death but in the lives that are saved because of this legislation.” While a strong supporter and advocate for the passage of the original bill and this expansion, Lori Mizwicki has always said that passage of the law was not intended to or should be seen as condoning prescription drug, heroin, or any other kind of drug use, but rather giving kids a chance to help their friend if they are in trouble. The number of drug overdose deaths in Michigan has been steadily increasing and kill more of our teens than traffic accidents. Thirty-seven other states have enacted some form of Good Samaritan legislation.
Coloma to research better options for street lights
By Christina Gelder
Rocky Bertuca came to the Monday, October 10 meeting of the Coloma City Commission to ask that the City change over the street lights to a more economical bulb. He says that the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) has been paying the electric bill for two years and very little has been done in that time to make the situation better. “There are a lot more energy efficient options,” said Bertuca. He is suggesting a compact florescent which promises to give more light for less cost and is a lighter burden on poles. According to Bertuca, it takes about $75 in materials and a half hour of work to change over a light. He says that Watervliet and Hartford have already done so and he estimates the savings on electricity to be about $12,000 a year. Commissioner Marsha Hammond said that the Department of Public Works has already transitioned several lights to LED. While Bertuca wondered why the bill was still high and argued that LED cannot give off enough light. Mayor Jim Polashak also said that there has been recent research about lighting and a connection to cancer. He says that the commission should take that into account as they decide what to do. He has asked that public works research costs and options.
An invasive species in Coloma
Coloma resident Alice Mow attended Monday’s meeting to spread awareness about an invasive species that is present in Coloma, including in her yard. Japanese Knotwood is a plant that was originally imported from Japan and used as an ornamental bush. It has since begun to cause problems in other local communities such as St. Joseph. The plant grows up to 15 feet every year and spreads by root. Efforts to dig, cut, and burn the plant out simply stimulates more growth. The roots are so strong that they can break through concrete. It can be chemically removed but that is tricky and must be done with care. For more information, the Michigan State University extension has a fact sheet online. www.misin.msu.edu/facts/detail.php?id=25.
Road construction on East St. Joseph Street
Commissioner Marsha Hammond gave an update on the major road construction happening on E. St. Joseph St. (Red Arrow Highway). This project is being done by MDOT because it is being paid for with grant money so the City does not have much say over the timeline. The start date was Monday, October 3 and the completion date is set to be May 21, 2017. It is not supposed to be closed that entire time though. They will try to keep it open to local traffic at all times and detoured for through traffic. Everything depends heavily on the weather. It was mentioned that they are finding a lot of infrastructure that there was no record of, water lines that have been long abandoned but still exist. Hopefully the base of the street will be in place before winter.
Fire Board subcommittee
The North Berrien Fire Rescue Board has created a subcommittee to work with their consultant to hire another fulltime chief for the department. Mayor Polashak will serve on that committee but also asked that the commission approve Bill Moser to represent the city with him. Mayor Polashak said that he would like Moser to be on the committee because of his experience as a firefighter as well as with the fire board.