10-24-2019 State Farm opens office in Watervliet; Hartford vetted two new cannabusiness; City of Wat

State Farm opens office in Watervliet

By Teresa Smithers In this age of the internet, one of the best things of living in a small town is that face-to-face neighborly contact as you conduct business. A firm handshake. A friendly smile. Greg Hoover has opened a State Farm Insurance office in the old G.W. Jones Bank building in Watervliet to offer just that kind of insurance service. Not just that, of course. State Farm also offers the latest in internet technology. One of the handiest is offering their “proof of insurance” as a phone app, which rescues many a heavy-footed driver from having to search nervously through their glove compartment. Besides handy apps, Greg Hoover states that it is his goal for the Watervliet office to be a one-stop shop for a full range of insurance services. “Everyone already knows we offer auto and home insurance,” Hoover stated. “Our auto’s been #1 in the country since 1942; home’s been #1 since 1964. But what many don’t know is that we specialize in mortgages.” State Farm has recently gone into partnership with Rocket Mortgage to cut the time to obtain a mortgage to as little as 30 days. Life and retirement planning is another service they offer at the Watervliet office. They also deal with Medicare supplemental insurance plans C and F. And in the unhappy instance that someone receives a death benefit check, Greg always hand delivers them. Like insurance, there are just some things that are best done in person.

Greg Hoover has led a State Farm office in Constantine since 2008. The Watervliet office will be run in conjunction with that. Although Greg will only be in town part-time, he will be available at any time (Saturdays and evenings, too) by appointment. The office will be open full-time, Monday-Friday, 9-5, with a fully-licensed and professional staff. Stop by and see them; welcome this “good neighbor” to the neighborhood.

THIS KUTE KID IS… two-year-old McKenzie Smith. In love with that sweet smile are her parents Brian & Sarah Smith of Coloma.

Hartford vetted two new cannabusiness licensees for in the City

The Hartford City Commission voted unanimously to expand the ordinance governing medical marijuana related businesses in the city in September. Now two new cannabusiness concerns have applied for licenses.

City Manager Yemi Akinwale reports at the Hartford City Commission workshop on Monday, Oct. 21 that applications for provisioning centers have been received from Lake Life Farms for a facility to be located on a parcel of the Hartford Speedway property on Prospect Street and a second application from Bloomhill LLC proposing a provisioning center to be located at 325 West Main, the site of the former Krenek Ford Dealership. Both applications failed initial review and have been returned to the applicants for missing information at this time.

Med+Leaf, the city’s first dispensary applicant, will open to the public on Saturday, Nov. 9 located adjacent to Family Dollar at 309 West Main.


Van Buren County Commissioner Mike Chappell reported on his recent trip to Washington D.C. The county budget for 2019-2020 is approved including the purchase of four additional squad cars for the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department.


The city still has an open seat for Commissioner in the upcoming November election. Write-in candidates have a filing deadline of 4:00 p.m. October 25.

Police Report

Chief Tressa Beltran presented a written report detailing activity of 744 duty hours with 18 foot-patrol hours which included 122 complaints for the month of September, resulting in 12 arrests including five felonies.

CITIZENS RECOGNIZED… Hartford Police Chief Tressa Beltran presented awards to Hartford’s Chris Duncombe (right), and Niles City Police Dispatcher Amanda Kowalk (center) for their assistance leading to the arrest of an offender exposing himself at the Hartford Shell gas station. Duncombe was able to catch a partial out of state license plate and the resulting HPD BOLO (be on the lookout) caught the attention of Kowalk down in Niles, as Berrien County had experienced similar complaints. Through their joint efforts the car was tracked to Enterprise Rent a Car and the subject, 38-year-old Eldred Lee Thomas of Kalamazoo was apprehended. Beltran adds “if you see something… Say something!” The HPD truly appreciates any and all help in keeping our community safe. (TCR photo by Jon Bisnett)

Beltran also recognized Christine Duncombe and Amanda Kowalk with awards for their efforts in aiding the department in apprehending a man suspected of public indecency at the Hartford Shell station.

Ordinance Officer Report

A written report from Ordinance Officer Jim Coleman noted seven property inspections for the month of August. Blight postings for the month totaled 34 violations resulting in 34 follow-ups. Nineteen grass height violations and subsequent follow-ups also took place.

Fire Report

Chief Rob Harting was on hand to report the department responded to 56 calls in the month of September, including 32 Rescue/ Medical Calls and seven building fires. High winds caused three instances of downed power lines.

Calls are up well over 551, year to date and will easily surpass the 2018 total of 552 calls.

Fire Prevention Week events included the first Lighted Truck Parade along with programs presented at the elementary school, followed by a record-breaking pancake breakfast at the station which generated over $1,500 in donations that will fund the HFD’s youth safety programs.

A fully-certified firefighter recently moved back into the area and has been hired, bringing the squad to a total of 22 including four cadets.

HFD will host its 2nd Annual Halloween Spooktacular event at the station from 5-8 on Halloween night.

Public Works

Superintendent Dan Staunton was present to answer questions on his written report noting general maintenance tasks and preparation for brush and leaf pickup. Two water turn-offs and two turn-ons took place for the month. The city pumped 6.009 million gallons for the month.

Wastewater Treatment Plant

Plant Operator Tom Strand filed a written report indicating that all State of Michigan reports for the month have been filed along with routine maintenance tasks and quarterly samples taken and submitted for testing.

Treasurer’s Report

Treasurer Pam Shultz presented a written report for the month in the amount of $111,540.62.

City Manager’s Report

City Manager Yemi Akinwale reported good news from the Casino Revenue Sharing Board with an increase of 4% in distributions for the 2018 fiscal year, providing the city a share amounting to $93,007.03.

Updating the demolition of properties at 32 & 34 West Main, Akinwale reports further delay is due to slow movement from Consumers Energy to disconnect natural gas service from the sites.

Painting of 1 West Main Street is complete with the use of DDA funds.

In regard to the certification process for Redevelopment Ready Community status, Akinwale reports it is now incumbent upon the city to create a 6-year Capital Improvement Plan. The required Public Participation and Asset management plans have already been submitted.

Old business

The Council heard first reading of a further amendment to the Marijuana Ordinance in regard to off-site surveillance video as the