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10-22-2020 Vanderlyn’s legacy celebrated with new charitable endowment; Watervliet Township to take

DEDICATION ON SUNDAY… Scott Smith cuts the ribbon for the new Arthur and Bonna Vanderlyn Com-munity Center and Hartford Public Library. Taking part in the cutting (from the left) are: Sarah Zepik, Ste-phanie Daniels, Patty Schroeder, State Representative Beth Griffin, Mayor Rick Hall, Scott Smith, State Senator Aric Nesbitt, James Jonatzke, Ellen Friday, and Faith Dowd. (Photo courtesy of Hartford Public Schools)

Vanderlyn’s legacy celebrated with new charitable endowment

By Anna Layer

For decades, one of the friendliest faces you could see in the community of Hartford was that of Mrs. Bonna Vanderlyn. Widely known in the community as the owner of Harding’s Friendly Market, Mrs. Vanderlyn lived up to that name and welcomed customers to her store with a smile. In 2000, Mrs. Vanderlyn was named Hartford’s Citizen of the Year for her quiet contributions. Now, twenty years later, she is still posthumously contributing to the community of Hartford.

Scott Smith, Mrs. Vanderlyn’s nephew, remembered Bonna at a traditional memorial service on Sunday, Oct. 18, and the newly opened Arthur and Bonna Vanderlyn Community Center and Hartford Public Library. “Bonna was notorious for charitable giving, and she’s done things that none of us even know about. She did it because she could. She would ask me, ‘Do you think I’ve done enough?’ She gave nearly her entire estate away. The library is amazing legacy for the community from this couple. But she wanted to do more.”

After the memorial service, there was a ribbon cutting ceremony for the new Hartford Public Library, which was made possible through a $1.3 million donation from the Arthur and Bonna Vanderlyn estate. The festivities included some major announcements regarding how the Vanderlyn’s estate would be put to work. While there was already an existing scholarship fund for students of Hartford Public schools, it had initially been funded at $300,000 but $2 million has now been added to this fund, with a goal in mind of being able to award scholarships to as many students as possible each year.

Still, Mrs. Vanderlyn wanted to contribute on a wider scale. Currently, much of her remaining estate is being utilized to create the Arthur and Bonna Vanderlyn Charitable Endowment Fund. This fund, estimated at around $5 million, has several organizations it aims to benefit, including: The American Heart Association, Lesea Family Broadcasting, Stroke Research and Treatment, the Hartford Fire Department, Hartford United Methodist Church, Hartford Lions Club Food Basket Program, Animal Protection Organizations, Disabled American Veterans, and the American Cancer Society, which was especially important to Bonna, having lost Arthur to cancer. Creation of this endowment is an ongoing process, but will clearly benefit the community of Hartford and beyond for a long time. According to Scott Smith, the intention is for this endowment to yield a $300,000 annual return forever.

All things considered, Mrs. Vanderlyn gave away the vast majority of her estate, having set aside in excess of $9 million to do the good things she wanted to see in the world. “Everything she did was to help all of us,” Scott Smith explained. To people who knew Bonna well, this announcement was no big surprise. Tim Hildebrand, Manager of Harding’s Friendly Market, explained, “She just wanted to continue to make sure the giving happened. She didn’t like the publicity, but she loved the town and the town was good to her and she wanted to give back to them.”

For those of us that knew Bonna, the impact she’s had on our lives goes beyond monetary. This reporter was employed at Harding’s Friendly Market in Hartford as a teenager and college student, and saw a store owner who routinely bought her employees dinner, inquired about their grades, and celebrated their successes. How can one forget being asked via store intercom to report to the break room, where the store owner asked you to sit and eat with her?

Bonna showed those around her how to give in ways beyond the pocketbook. Bonna showed people how to give love. Perhaps no one explains Bonna’s legacy better than her longtime friend and employee, Erin Goodson, who said, “It was a very fitting memorial, and the only one missing at the library was her. She wanted to be there for that, and I truly believe that she was, and had the best seat in the house. The library is a beautiful addition to Hartford. It’s a monument to a couple that loved this town. She was a blessing. She brought a beautiful light to this world, and we’re going to keep seeing that for a long time even though we’re going to feel the loss. Imagine the world we would live in if everyone loved their community this way and gave back this way.”

Watervliet Township to take election amid pandemic seriously and safely

By Joshua Coffin

Watervliet Township Board met for their first in person meeting since the COVID-19 outbreak, on Monday, Oct. 19, 2020. Not a single face was left unmasked as the meeting was held in complete proper regulation in response to the virus. The meeting was led by township clerk Patt Bambrick to discuss township matters amid this inharmonious election season.

General State Election

The township is taking the voting process during a global pandemic seriously, following all safety precautions and recommendations and will sanitize voting stations on the day of on a regular basis. It was noted that though masks are required, voting cannot be denied of anyone choosing not wearing one. If one refuses to wear a mask, their temperature could be taken to ensure the safety of all interactions throughout the voting process. Luckily, there were very few mask related issues like this for the primary election in August.

In an election like never before, the township has already issued an estimated 500 ballots as of Monday, whereas normally around 100 are issued around this time. Township Clerk Patt Bambrick stated, “This has been a hard election for township and city personnel, only because there are so many changes and things that are changing so rapidly. And it’s very, very difficult to keep up with them.” Their ongoing effort to make things run as smoothly as possible doesn’t go unnoticed.

Voting made its mark on the Monday meeting as the board discussed the process and common issues that could arise throughout the voting process. A common misconception the board discussed is that if one is voting straight ticket for a certain party, the voter is still able to vote for other parties in specific positions in the various offices. Voting straight ticket assumes all unmarked sections on the ballot, but is overridden for differing selections in specific sections.

The General Election is on November 3, the polls are open from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Requests to have an absentee ballot mailed must be received by the clerk no later than 5 p.m. October 30th and can be requested in person no later than 4:00 p.m. on November 2nd.

Township appreciation

The board received a thank you letter from Mark Malin expressing his gratitude for their efforts in maintaining Paw Paw Lake. “I wanted to write a quick note to thank ALL of you for your ongoing support of Paw Paw Lake,” said Malin’s letter.

Watervliet Fire Department

Controversial actions involving the fire chief was briefly discussed and is continually being addressed by the board and those involved. A resolution is hoped to be found by the end of the month. “It is ongoing, it is going forward … It’s being handled professionally so there’s integrity in the process.” Bambrick said.


The board approved the general ledger account of $2,236,065.67 and CD and Money Markets with $340,035.01 for a total of $2,576,100.68 for the township. Bills for the month of September were also approved with general bills at $190,904.33 and payroll at $26,435.70.

Also at the meeting, Brian Wisneski with Hungerford Nichols presented the results of the township’s 2019-2020 audit, which all went swimmingly. “Overall the township is in excellent condition. It is especially important as you go into this new year with the uncertainties of COVID… you’re going into it with a good strong position,” said Wisneski.

Sewer billing

In an effort to make things more equitable for all parties involved, the township has now enacted a formulaic approach in charging for sewer usage. This new charging system is only for institutional, industrial, and commercial applications, so family applications do not apply. Prior, there was no formula and was said to be more based on guessing what to charge. This new system is said to be more customer friendly.

In addition, sewer charges are to be billed first to the property owner. Though the owner is initially responsible, the responsibility is able to lie on the lessee if the owner notifies the township who the lessee is and that they are now responsible. It was brought to the board’s attention that it might be appropriate to also provide an acknowledgement from the lessee upon these agreements. The board decided that this detail should be in the lease between the lessor and lessee, but will still be considered as the changes progress.

Country grows weary of COVID-19

By Jon Bisnett

President Trump was recently quoted to say Americans are sick and tired of the virus. Many of the most informed voices on the subject agree. Unfortunately, it is also largely agreed that the virus doesn’t care what Americans think as new infections across the country demonstrated an uptick again in new cases.

The state of Michigan finds itself among 40 states that have demonstrated an increase in new cases and\or hospitalizations for COVID-19.

Michiganders now take their marching orders from the Michigan State Department of Health and Human Services and local Health Departments following the Michigan State Supreme Court decision rendering the litany of Executive Orders from the Governor’s Office unconstitutional. It is extremely important that citizens understand the ongoing use of mask and social distancing are still a mandate via MDHHS as the fall weather moves more Michiganders indoors for goods and services.

The good news is that outdoor events with limited attendance as in high school sports have shown to be relatively safe so far, with no significant events of outbreak.

In the case of Michigan schools, MDHHS says that isolated cases that have surfaced in most cases trace back to events unrelated to the school. Residents are cautioned to consider the risk at large indoor events such as church services that are not bound by the current attendance restrictions.

Local effect

Berrien, Cass and Van Buren Health Departments strongly urge to continue virus mitigation by: Wearing a mask when indoors and outdoors when you are unable to keep a six foot distance from others; practicing social distancing by keeping 6 feet or more between you and others; washing or sanitizing your hands frequently; staying home if you are ill or have COVID-19, or other respiratory illness symptoms; take advantage of special hours offered at businesses for high-risk and seniors; those who are at highest risk of the virus should avoid large gatherings in their entirety.

Time is growing short to arrange for absentee voting. One can avoid contact and the predicted long wait times at the polls on November 3rd. Contact your local Clerk’s Office with questions.

National sports

A few bright spots this week include the return of Big Ten football this weekend. The LA Dodgers and Tampa Bay Rays put Game One of Major League Baseball’s World Series in the books following a hit and miss post season riddled with cancellations and reschedules due to the world-wide health pandemic.

On Oct. 30, season two of The Mandalorian comes to Disney+ streaming service. One might just take a cue from this intergalactic good-guy. The Mandalorian always wears his mask.



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