Hartford commissioners will not close crossing in trade for repair; mayor critical of fire board
By Jon Bisnett
The Hartford City Commission heard a proposal at the October 16 workshop that would shut down the North Maple Street railroad crossing to facilitate funding for repairs to the problematic North Center Street crossing. Citing public safety concerns the Commission did not support the strategy.
Mike Hnatiuk of West Michigan Railroad acknowledges that the prior owner Pioneer did a poor job of repairs to the N. Center crossing during the recent widening and repaving of the street. However, his firm does not have the capital to complete the fix without help of a state grant to aid in the closing of N. Maple.
MEOW… Despite the cold and rainy weather last Saturday hundreds of local children still dressed up and came to enjoy the Halloween Trunk or Treat in downtown Coloma. Five-year-old Ivy, as bat girl, and her sis-ter Wren Miller were two of them. The event featured games, food, and tons of candy. It was once again sponsored and ex-ecuted by the local businesses and organizations in Coloma. The Coloma Lions Club held their second annual pumpkin derby last Saturday as part of the Trunk or Treat event. It was chilly and rainy but still a fun time for those involved. The club is grateful for all who par-ticipated in any way. Kissemte Smith won the Best Decorated Pumpkin. Other winners include Bruce Owens and Dale Kreitn-er. (TCR photo by Christina Geld-er)
Commissioner John Miller was firm and clear in speaking for the Council by saying, “We understand you’re trying to find a solution, but shame on you if your company failed to perform due diligence on the condition of the track you purchased. Your company’s limited cash flow is not our problem and we are simply not willing to cut off the northwest side of the city as you propose.”
In another matter, Alex Von Koenig and Janel Napier submitted and plead their case for consideration to be first in line to apply for a Provisioning Center License. The partners of Med-Leaf have been faithfully attending meetings and are attempting to buy a building in the city. The couple was rebuffed in their request with the position of the commission that any and all will be accepted and reviewed for their own merit.
In an unexpected addition to the agenda, Mayor Johnson read into record a handwritten letter to the council from himself in regard to his observations as the newest appointee as city representative to the Hartford Joint Fire Board. Johnson has been a member since January of 2017. The mayor characterized the conduct of the fire board as “sloppy and unprofessional” specifically citing budgeting for the assistant chief compensation, lack of job descriptions and procedural issues as to the handling of the recent resignation of the board’s bookkeeper. Johnson claims his questions often go unanswered especially in light of Chairman Steve Starner’s absence due to a medical issue. Johnson went so far as to question the layout of the meeting table.
No action was taken, as the fire board is an autonomous body, appointed by the city and township. In 2015-16 commissioners Dennis Goss and Terry Tibbs took part in a joint committee which reviewed at length and updated the 30-year-old fire agreement between the city, township and fire board. Essentially once the board is appointed, the city and township’s only role is to give their blessing to the annual budget or any purchases in excess of $10,000.
The November City Council workshop and business meetings will be combined on November 20 at 7:30 p.m.
The December City Council workshop and business meetings will be combined on December 18 at 7:30 p.m.
City Manager’s Report
City Manager Yemi Akinwale reported the Revenue Sharing Board proceeds from casino revenue to the city was up 4% at $89,422.92.
Consumers Energy is replacing some 6,000 feet of gas lines within the city limits.
The owner of 1 East Main and his out of town buyer have failed to meet the deadline to present an action plan to the city. The next step is to seek asbestos abatement quotes and then move ahead with demolition quotes.
Treasurer Pam Shultz presented a written report for the month of September in the amount of $43,660.41.
The Hartford Fire Department responded to 34 calls in the month of September, including 21 medical assists, one structure fire, three vehicle accidents, and two mutual aids. Total calls for the year 2017 were 302.
Medic 1 Board Representative Pete Sinclair filed a written report of 38 calls for the month of September with 16 being ambulance calls and 13 were wheelchair transports. An 8:52 average response time for priority 1 calls was noted.
IT’S THE GREAT PUMPKIN… as the Hartford High School National Honor Society Chapter makes its annual visit to the Intermediate School District’s Bert Goens Learning Center in Lawrence to carve pumpkins with the students. HHS Principal Dave Janicki looks on while senior Kendall Ziemer removes the innards to start the carving process. The HHS NHS has been making the fall trip for several years working with students at Van Buren County’s premier special education facility.
Chief Tressa Beltran presented a written report detailing activity of 720 duty hours with 10 foot patrol hours which included 107 complaints for the month of September, resulting in eight arrests including three felonies.
Beltran is looking to fill a spot for a part-time officer.
Ordinance Officer Report
A written report from Ordinance Officer Jim Coleman noted 10 property inspections for the month of September. Blight postings for the month totaled 34 violations resulting in 34 follow-ups.
A written report by Superintendent Dan Staunton noted standard maintenance tasks as his department is ready to begin fall leaf pick-up next week. Two water turn-offs took place with one new service turn-on, five meters read by request while the city pumped 6.24 million gallons for the month.
Wastewater Treatment Plant
A written report from Operator Tom Strand indicated that all State of Michigan reports for the month have been filed. A violation did occur in terms of a high phosphorus level exceeding the 1.5 mg/l standard. Strand reported routine tasks as he continues work with Wightman and Associates to tune the system performance within specifications.
Business Meeting of Oct. 23
September Departmental Reports were approved and archived, along with minutes from October 16 Commission Workshop and September 25 City Business Meeting.
The commission gave its blessing to advertise for a new city ambulance service within the constraints and provisions of the recently revised Request for Proposal.
Senior Services Annual Report was presented by Commissioner Terry Tibbs. Van Buren County Senior Services provided services to 97 different senior citizens of the city during the fiscal year 2016-17. The annual figure reflects a 40% increase over the prior year. Since 2011 over 200 different seniors living in the city has received a variety of services. Some local 275 senior citizens receive the VBCSS newsletter.
Offering a 3-day per week program, the Hartford Senior Center continues to see growth. With outreach and general programs combined 44% of the city’s senior residents have been served.
Commissioners accept the resignation of Rebecca Dill from the Planning Commission and appointed Adolfo Morales Jr. in her stead.
CHILLY PARADE… despite a cold wind an estimated 1,000 youngsters with guardians paraded on Watervliet’s Main Street from 3-5 p.m. for the annual Halloween Sidewalk Costume Parade. Here a crowd of paraders get candy treats from Attorney Dan French. Later the City hosted trick or treating throughout the residential neighborhoods from 5-7 p.m. (TCR photo by Karl Bayer)
2nd Reading and discussion of Proposed Medical Marijuana Ordinance 315-17
Commissioner John Miller took control of the floor to address the issue. Miller spoke at length as to his initially negative gut-reaction to Marijuana related businesses. After his review of the new Michigan law and results in the other 28 states that have approved either medical or recreational use, he feels the council must look at the opportunity to monetize the potential licenses to create new revenue source for the city. “It is legal in the eyes of the state,” said Miller, “and aside from getting a gift in the form of Casino Revenue Sharing, the city has not experienced any significant increase in business revenue in well over a decade. Maybe this is that opportunity.”
It would be incorrect to assume Miller’s position as “pro-medical marijuana,” rather that he admonished his fellow council members to do their homework before the vote and make an informed business decision for the city. No member of the council has formally stated a position pro or con, with the singular exception of Mayor Johnson who has adamantly opposed what he contends is a “gateway drug” from the start.
The Medical Marijuana proposal will come up again along with other general business when the Council next meets in a combined workshop/ business session on Monday, November 20.
Free Community Event Focuses on Managing Diabetes
(ST. JOSEPH) – A free community event will help individuals diagnosed with diabetes, their family, and caregivers learn ways to stay on track. “Managing Diabetes – It’s Not Easy, But It’s Worth It” will take place on Tuesday, November 14, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. at the Center for Outpatient Services, located at 3900 Hollywood Road in St. Joseph.
During the event, participants can discover and sample recipes for healthy eating, get the latest updates on medications, and hear practical tips for managing diabetes. A physical therapist will lead guests through a series of low-impact exercises that can be performed at home. A panel of certified diabetes educators will be available for questions during an “Ask the Experts” panel. For more information and to reserve a spot, call (269) 556-2868 or visit www.lakelandhealth.org/november14<http://www.lakelandhealth.org/november14>