10-25-18 Chili Hop at Watervliet Airport had great participation on an inviting fall day; Watervliet

THEY ARE #1… Hartford boys’ varsity soccer squad scored a championship trophy after winning districts last week. The Indians defeated Holland Black River 3-0, Bloomingdale 3-1, and Covert 5-1 for the title win. See the Press Box on Pages 12-14 for all the local sports!


Chili Hop at Watervliet Airport had great participation on an inviting fall day

By Nancy Miller

The Chili Hop 2018 5K and Chili Luncheon held in conjunction with the Fly-In at Watervliet Airport on Sunday, Oct. 21 all was a great success!

More than 30 aircraft showed up including WWII aircraft, home builts, an ultralight, and a helicopter graced the skies over Watervliet.

There was such a great turn out for the Chili Luncheon they sold out of chili shortly before 3:00 p.m.

CHILI HOP 5K…EAA President Hank Miller (left) dressed as Land Shark is shown here with the 1st Place male runner John Heimbuch of Baroda. The 5K was held at the Watervliet Airport on Sunday.


The 5K had 32 runners/walkers participate. EAA 585 President Hank Miller dressed as a Land Shark and escorted runners/walkers to “fly” across the finish line. John Heimbuch of Baroda is the 1st Place Male Runner and Michele Carey of South Bend is the 1st Place Female Runner. First Place finishers in the walking race are David Scheuer, Branch Manager of Coloma Honor Credit Union and resident of Coloma for males and Coloma resident Gwen Doneruse for the females.

Sponsors of Chili Hop 5K are as follows: Honor Credit Union of Coloma, Quality Marathon of Benton Harbor, Shell Gas Station of Watervliet, Vail Rubber Works of St. Joseph, Nutrien Ag Solutions of Benton Harbor, Forest Beach Home, Inc. of Watervliet, Moo’s Place of Coloma, Noffke Family Farms of Coloma, Tom Smith Tractor and Tire Center of Watervliet, Dr. Kasewurm’s Professional Hearing Services of St. Joseph, Altech Engineering Inc. of Benton Harbor, Portage Foot Clinic of South Bend, Infinity Junction LLC of Watervliet, High Flyers RC Club of Watervliet, Red Arrow Automotive of Watervliet, Moss Chiropractic of Coloma, Watervliet Hardware, Kraklau’s Repair Services of Watervliet.

CHILI HOP FLY-IN… This aerial shot of the Watervliet Airport shows some of the more than 30 aircraft that were at the airport Sunday, Oct. 21 for this annual event.


Special thanks to SWMI RACERS for race direction, Tri-City Record for promotion, Lazer Graphics for shirts, Morlock and Girls for apples and cider, and to the following organizations for door prizes: Silverbrook Gardens, Tri-County Computer Services, TJ’s Sports Bar, B&B Outlet and JD’s Marina.

Watervliet City Commission considers asset management plan

By Annette Christie

The Watervliet City Commission continued the discussion about the Stormwater, Asset Management & Wastewater (SAW) Grant project results and an asset management plan that could take them well into the future for city residents at their October 23, 2018 workshop.

Wightman Associate Frank Lapeer, manager of the SAW grant, Wightman Engineer Alan Smaka, and Tom Traciak from Umbaugh provided an education and choices for the City Commission to consider as they talk about their infrastructure.

Lapeer said the primary objective of the SAW Grant was to assess inventory, make conditional assessments, establish the level of service, evaluate the criticality of the systems, and to develop a capital improvement plan. Traciak provided the commission with an analysis of their finances and options for them to make improvements for the future.

With an asset management plan in place, the city can go from being a fix it when it breaks scenario into a more proactive system.

From a financial standpoint, Traciak first suggested looking at what kind of increases in rates it would take to do capital improvements. The figures for the operating expenditures included what the city is currently paying for treatment costs. Traciak said that just to maintain where they are now they would have to put in place a 5% increase per year ongoing.  With approximately a 6% increase per year, the city could possibly undertake a $3 million bond issue which could allow the city to actually go in and complete the infrastructure improvements once and for all.  Once improvements are made, costs should go down, and ultimately that savings would be passed down to the residents.  The bond issue recommended by Traciak was through the USDA for a 40-year low interest loan. “The USDA is a really good program,” Traciak said.

Smaka suggested that some preliminary engineering work would be required by the loan program anyway and then with that, they may actually decrease the amount that they would have to take out in the loan. The payment for that engineering work could be rolled into the bond issue. Smaka estimated that it could be between $50,000 and $100,000 and could take 6-8 months.  Smaka pointed out that Asset Management Planning is the dynamic process that never ends. “If you don’t plan it, you’ll never do it,” Smaka said.

City Manager Tyler Dotson stressed the importance of planning for the future.  “I can’t stress enough that we need to plan for the city’s future and I would encourage the commission to take that element very serious.”

Any formal action by the City Commission would take place at the regular City Commission meetings held on the second Tuesday of every month at 6:30 p.m.  Workshops are held on the 4th Tuesday of every month at 6:30 p.m.

EARLY MORNING PEP… The Coloma Comet students and faculty, including the football team, band, and cheerleading squad, gathered at the high school at 5:30 a.m. for a special Football Friday that was televised live on TV station WNDU out of South Bend. It was an early prelude to the Comets rivalry game with Watervliet later that night, which resulted in a Coloma victory, 52-36 and put them in the playoffs. See the game report in this week’s Press Box on Page 12.


Hartford City results of Hartford Stormwater, Asset Management & Wastewater (SAW) Grant Program

By Jon Bisnett

Hartford City Commissioners spent over an hour of their October 23 business meeting listening to a detailed presentation from a trio of infrastructure and finance experts lead by Wightman and Associates Frank Lapeer.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality made the multi-million dollar grants available to help communities develop an asset management program for stormwater and wastewater collection systems.  An asset management program will allow a community to plan for future capital improvement projects, identify critical assets and recognize problem areas before they become emergencies.

For well over a year the city has been inundated with environmental contractor trucks performing video inspections of over 14 miles of city sanitary and stormwater sewer at the same time creating GPS mapping of the entire system. In addition to the physical inspection SAW inspects the books by performing an in-depth audit with respect to management of existing operational expenses, effects of inflation and recommendations as to properly funding priority-based current outstanding repair needs, projected “wear & tear” replacements and cost of living adjusted repair and maintenance budget extending over the next 20 years.

Cutting through the complexities of the in-depth report the following points came to light. As a whole the system was graded as “fair or better” describing the physical nature of miles of pipe running through the city and township. The study notes video evidence of everything from non-consequential cracks and holes in the plumbing to areas of failure with significantly more pressing needs. No catastrophic concerns were noted, but several faults were recommended as priorities in the next five years.

City of Hartford rates for Sanitary Sewer were described by the study as well below those of neighboring and similar sized communities throughout Michigan. With a normal range of $35-$55 per month for comparison, the Hartford rate of $26.02, (last adjusted in 2004,) is significantly lower than other comparable.

While local users of the utility may enjoy the lower sewer rates than other surrounding communities, the in-depth audit revealed the long-term consequences of the sub-par utility bills.

The audit revealed that the sewer funds have consistently matched revenue with operational expenses, meaning from a business standpoint the system runs “in the black.” Presenters noted that it is not uncommon to find communities that run at a deficit, which is not the case in Hartford. Wightman recognized the fact that any time Public Works Director Dan Staunton’s local crew can affect repairs, the cost is less to the city than that of outside contractors and may well be a factor in the fiscally balanced system.

The 20-year operational forecast uncovers a flaw in the books, whereby the equity from current rate collections equals roughly half of that projected to be needed to keep the system operational over the next two decades. Assuming these industry professionals’ numbers are correct, the required funds will come from one of two sources: an increase in rates or the acquisition of bond debt to cover any shortcoming. The United States Department of Agriculture makes low-interest loans available for such projects, but as the Wightman team recommended there is no substitute for a cash reserve to meet the need. The study presented a scenario wherein a 15% rate increase, plus an additional small percentage for cost of living adjustment that could provide the cash funds over a period of years.

(A 15% increase would roughly equate to $5 or $6 to the average household.)

In any case the presentation was just that, a presentation of the results. No action was taken by the commissioners except to absorb the information and ask questions.

It is now incumbent of the City Council to file an action plan with the state by November 30 as to how they plan to address future funding of the system.

Guests

Bill Mears of Pride Care Ambulance visited to update the council on call activity for August with eight Priority I events running 7:28; six PII at 8:06 and 4 PIIIs timed at 11:12.

Mears went on to report that Pride is now actively recruiting EMTs in Indiana and Illinois. Pride recently hired four new paramedics locally and proudly announced that Pride Care sent two units to aid the hurricane-stricken Carolina coast, staffed by three salaried office personnel.

Design Consultant Judy Loomis presented a proposal for holiday decorations on Main Street. No action was taken on the $1,350 bid, pending review of the prior year’s expense.

Communications

Trick or Treat hours will be 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. on October 31.

November Council Meetings to be combined on November 19.

December Council Meetings to be combined on December 17.

Reports from the 10/15 Workshop

Police Report

Chief Tressa Beltran presented a written report detailing activity of 720 duty hours with 10 hours of foot patrol. A total of 107 complaints were handled in the month of September, resulting in 10 arrests with four felonies.

Ordinance Officer Report

A written report from Ordinance Officer Jim Coleman listed six property inspections for the prior month. Blight postings for the month totaled 35 violations resulting in 35 follow-ups, as part of the stepped-up anti-blight campaign. Sixteen grass violations and a matching number of follow-ups also occurred.

Fire Report

Chief Rob Harting reported the Hartford Joint Fire Department had a comparably quiet month responding to 38 calls in the month of September, including 27 Rescue/Medical Calls, two Motor Vehicle Accidents and one Structure Fire. Average response time was 6:33.

Ambulance Report

Pride Care Ambulance reported a total of 13 calls in the month of September. Ten Priority I calls had an average response of just 7:11 minutes and three Priority II calls response time 8:53 for an overall average response time of 7:34 for the total of 13 trips.

Public Works

Superintendent Dan Staunton submitted a written report detailing typical summer tasks of mowing and general maintenance. Church Street paving is complete along with other pavement cuts throughout the city. The city pumped 5.672 million gallons of water for the month.

Wastewater Treatment Plant

Plant Operator Tom Strand submitted a written report that all State of Michigan reports for the month have been filed. Interim PFAS report is under review by the DEQ before it can be formally submitted.

Treasurer’s Report

Treasurer Pam Shultz presented a written report for the month of September with expenses in the amount of $231,793.73, nothing remarkable.

City Manager’s Report

Annual Casino Revenue Sharing came in at $855,778.39 which is roughly 3% lower than 2017 of which the city’s share is $89,856.73 used for local streets and other equipment needs.

The Planning Commission has given its blessing to two pending projects. 325 West Main will make improvements to the existing building to accommodate additional business at the property and 520 South Center Street will rehab apartments and add additional amenities to the site.

PFAS testing results have come back from the DEQ finding NO detectable levels in the city water supply.

Demolition of 5 South Haver Street is pending asbestos remediation and will commence shortly.

Minutes & Reports

Minutes from October 15 Workshop and September 24 Business sessions were approved and archived along with September 2018 Departmental Reports.

Old business

Holiday decorating contract was awarded to Judy Loomis of Fifty-two Sixty Designs for City Hall and Main Street in the amount of up to $1,000.

Mayor Rick Hall noted the troublesome property at 410 South Center Street cited for extreme blight is completely cleaned up without the need of any additional legal action or any need for Public Works to engage. The cleanup was finally completed by the property owner.

Having no further business, Mayor Hall adjourned the meeting in 9:02 p.m. with the council next slated for the monthly business session on Monday, November 19.

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