10-19-2017 Coloma Township Board gets legal opinion on Court ruling;

GREAT CATCH… Panther Bryant Kieft snags a pass that adds to his impressive stats and helped to break a 14-14 tie with Schoolcraft last Friday. Coach Jeremy Andrews said the catch in the picture did go for a first down near the end of the second quarter. It led to the next play which was a long TD pass to Trent Boone to give us the halftime lead. Andrews added, to this point Bryant has 42 catches for 1,211 yards (28 yds./catch, 151 yds. receiving/game) and 13 TD receptions. He has also rushed for 156 yards on 24 carries (6.5 yards/rush) and six TDs. He has also converted 11 two-point conver-sions (7 receiving, 4 rushing) on the season. In addition he also leads the team in tackles (67), tackles for loss (9) and sacks (6). He is only the third receiver in school history to eclipse 1,000 yards receiving for a single season (Travis Bolin – 2011, Tyler Brant – 2016). He currently sits 161 yards off Travis Bolin’s record of 1,372 yards receiving for a season (done in 12 games during the 2011 season). (Sarah Brant photo) See more sports in the Press Box on Page 12-14.

Coloma Township Board gets legal opinion on Court ruling

By Annette Christie

Coloma Township Board Attorney Scott Dienes updated the Coloma Township Board at their October 11 meeting on the ongoing court battle with Berrien County over the use of a training facility and practice ranges located on Angling Rd. in the township. Dienes reaffirmed that the Supreme Court ruled that they would consider hearing from the sides involved in the subject.  Recently the court decided that they would grant the county a leave which means they will consider the case.

Dienes told the board that on November 21 the Berrien County brief is due and their response would be due on December 26. Dienes told the board that oral arguments would take place eventually on the case of a Sheriff’s Training Facility/Shooting Range vs. the township and some residents which has been in litigation since 2008.  As Dienes laid out the timeline, Coloma Township Trustee Bryan Duffield asked when they finish next summer, does that end this? Dienes responded that he would have suggested that it would have been done in 2008, but they have been made to suffer through the Rod and Gun Club litigation, and then they (the county) built effectively a lean to and made them go to court again, “Now we have been in litigation for 9 years in,” Dienes said.

Dienes told the board that the composition of the Supreme Court today includes only one of the judges that heard the case originally, and that is Chief Justice Stephen Markman.  He suggested that some in the Supreme Court would take the stand that if the county wants the ability to forego the local zoning, they should do that with the legislators. He pointed out that the decision in 2008 was a unanimous decision in their favor.

Sarah Jollay, who pointed out that she is one of the original parties to the original lawsuit stated, “It is not nor has it ever been my intention to back down.” She told the board that several entities would be providing briefs to the Supreme Court on their behalf.  She commented, “I am a huge supporter of law enforcement but this has always been about how we choose to run townships and how you run your business.”

Ultimately, the board gave concurrence to continue the legal battle against Berrien County.

Bergman Drain

Berrien County Drain Commissioner Christopher Quattrin was on hand to discuss the Bergman Drain. Quattrin said the drain was established in 1939 and the last time it was cleaned out was 1989. He said the problem lies in the eastern branch of the drain that has caused the road to flood and farmers to lose portions of their crop.

Quattrin said that when the drain was originally looked at the contractor thought that it was an easy fix. However, further investigation determined that the tile has completely failed and washed out and there is a large amount of erosion in the drain. Quattrin said, “A tree grew up right in the middle of the culvert.”

New efforts to repair drains have officials looking at how they can use the environment to help solve the problems and keep the cost down. The Drain Commissioner’s Office can only spend $5,000 per mile per year for maintenance on a drain.  This particular drain is two miles meaning they can do up to $10,000 in maintenance.  Quattrin explained the process of getting a drain fixed over the standard allowable maintenance expense.  He said that their office has to go to the township (who has a 20% stake) and they have to approve going above the $5,000 per mile. The next step would be an emergency order followed by a petition project where the municipalities or land owners can petition for work to be done.

Estimates of the project repairs are at $55,000 with a $10,000 contingency.  Quattrin said the drain roll was done a long time ago, and about 29 people on the drain roll.  This concerned Quattrin because he wants to make sure the costs that are spread out to all of those on the drain roll are palatable.  The township gave the go ahead to move