Hagar aids Monte Package expansion with tax help
By Jon Bisnett
Monte Package Company of 3752 Riverside Road is expanding its Riverside headquarters with a 3,600 square foot addition to its shipping and receiving area. Thanks in part to the approval of a tax abatement granted by Hagar Township presented by the Cornerstone Alliance on Monte’s behalf as reported during the November 13 meeting of the Hagar Township board.
As Berrien County’s lead economic development agency Cathy Tilley noted this is the fourth such tax abatement for expansion in the township over the last decade. Prior projects have allowed Coloma Frozen Foods, SPI Molding and a prior expansion of Monte Package Company to take place with a tax levered cost advantage to develop these businesses and create additional jobs.
Tony Monte described the planned $140,000 construction investment that will create two additional jobs at the Riverside site.
“Monte Package is a proven long-standing, successful manufacturer,” said Cornerstone CEO Greg Vaughn. “We are grateful to Hagar Township for their help with this project and further promoting business growth that will continue to make our region competitive.”
Hagar Supervisor Izzy DiMaggio said, “Monte has been a truly outstanding corporate citizen for Hagar Township. Without them, we might not have our Children’s Park plus they donated the land our Public Safety Building now occupies. Their expansion supports the Township mission to attract light manufacturing and business expansion in properly zoned areas. It has been a pleasure working with the Cornerstone Alliance and Monte Package Company on this project.”
“We are excited about our 92nd year of growth here in Riverside and as we move into our 93rd year of serving the agriculture industry, the expansion aids us in staying in Hagar Township which we consider vital to our employees, customers and the company as a whole,” said company spokesman Tony Monte.
Monte Package Company offers the largest line of containers and picking accessories to the produce industry in the United States. In addition to the Riverside headquarters it has distribution centers in Benton Harbor, Michigan and Boynton Beach and Lakeland, Florida.
The new head of the North Berrien Joint Fire Department, Chief Mike Maddix, made his first official visit before the Hagar Township Board.
Maddix comes from a 32-year career as a firefighter in Dowagiac. A lifelong southwestern Michigan resident, he just recently moved to the Coloma area. During his time in Dowagiac Maddix spent 19 of those years as a Fire Captain for the city. He is a State Certified Instructor and also has extensive experience in a unique discipline of working as a Juvenile Instructor dealing with troubled youth who start fires.
Maddix spoke of his move to the NBJFD position, saying, “It really wasn’t much of a transition at all. The existing captains had things running smoothly.”
The new chief stressed the point that “his door is always open.” Maddix divides his office time between the two stations and welcomes input from residents.
Supervisor DiMaggio began by thanking the Tri-City Record for its in-depth, ongoing coverage while showing a clipping urging residents to comment in regard to repurposing the vacant baseball fields. DiMaggio was disappointed to say that not one response had been received.
DiMaggio also noted some conversation with Cindy LaGrow of LaGrow Consulting in regard to a tool and die business that will be moving soon to occupy the vacant Dover Metals building on M-63. The site has been vacant since 2012.
Annual Township audit was formally accepted with an unqualified opinion. It shows $1.4 million in the Unrestricted General Fund with the Township remaining debt-free and an equity position of 277%; roughly 24 months operating capital.
The Township has three unbuildable lots that have come into its’ possession located at 5611 Ontario and 5931 Harding. The Township will contact adjacent property owners to determine their level of interest, with the hopes of returning these lots to the tax role.
Also, the board failed to find a mutual understanding of budget amendments recommended by Supervisor DiMaggio in the wake of a letter from the State of Michigan regarding best practices of the township budget procedures of approval prior to exceeding line item expenditures.
Clerk Sarah Cook reported on activity of Pride Care Ambulance with seven Priority I calls in October, average response time of 08:32 minutes. Fifteen Priority II calls took place in September with an average response time of 11:40 minutes.
Marlene Davis reported 60 days’ worth of activity in light of her absence at the prior monthly meeting.
September expenses for the township were in the amount of $49,686.72 with notable charges in excess of $15,000 to the Berrien County Road Commission for chloride treatment to the township’s unpaved roadways.
October bills posted significantly less at just $35,161.15.
North Berrien Joint Fire Report
Supervisor DiMaggio reported NBJFD had 18 calls in the month of October including two in Hagar, nine in Coloma Township, three in City of Coloma, plus a highway call and a mutual aid.
Parks Director Beth Raiser reports operations for the year are shutting down at the end of the month. Unless unusually warm weather occurs, she is deferring power washing and staining of wooden walkways to 2018.
Butch Kelly reported only 13 permits yet they totaled over $240,000. Kelly reports the redeveloped property soon to be occupied by Dollar General on M-63 is humming with activity. Vertical steel is up. Construction managers have told Kelley the store will take only 12 weeks to build from start to finish.
Carpeting will soon be replaced at the hall by Modern Tile of Kalamazoo, an approved bid of $10,153.76. Moving of furniture and equipment will be done by Doubleday in an amount not to exceed $1,500. The new commercial carpet will be installed as non-traditional squares; essentially carpet tiles which allow for spot replacement in the event of damage or an indelible satin.
The board approved concrete work presented by Township Infrastructure Specialist Dale Davis which entailed a list of several fixes needed around the Hall, with a bid in the amount of $2,270 from Charlie Weeden Inc.
Discussion continued regarding the merits of switching to a RF-based digital keyless entry system with no decision.
Trustee Andy Ulleg noted a pending rezoning request for a mixed use parcel on North M-63 at the site of the former fruit stand near the intersection of Hagar Shore Road. The owner has expressed interest in developing a bistro on the two adjacent properties which is currently zoned half commercial and half residential.
Having no other business DiMaggio then adjourned the board at 8:35 p.m. wishing all a blessed Thanksgiving holiday, with the next regular monthly meeting of the Township Board to be held 7:00 p.m. Monday, December 11.