Foundation seeks to support Watervliet Public Schools with “I’m in For Twenty” Campaign
By Joshua Coffin
The Watervliet Public Schools Foundation for Excellence met for their inaugural public meeting on the morning of Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020. The foundation’s meeting was held as a teleconference and informed the public of their mission to support Watervliet Public Schools. Board members Barry Nilson, Barb Schofield, Rebecca Yazel, Angelene Conkin, and Watervliet Superintendent Ric Seager all attended and presented at Tuesday’s meeting. The foundation’s central purpose is to provide the means for improvements within the classrooms of Watervliet, such as giving grants to teachers or other projects for internal school developments. It was founded in January of 2019 when founding members adopted a set of bylaws and elected a board of directors and officers. Later that year, it officially became a nonprofit with the state of Michigan, and since then became a government recognized charitable organization. The Watervliet Public Schools Foundation for Excellence is the second of its kind in the Tri-City area and joins the Hartford Public Schools Foundation for Quality Education in local foundations supporting its schools.
Their current campaign, “I’m in for Twenty,” is the foundation’s response to help Watervliet schools during the global pandemic. The goal of the campaign is to have 1,000 people donate $20 to the foundation, thus raising $20,000 for school improvements, particularly in providing Internet connections to students and teachers in need. All donations are tax deductible. As COVID-19 has caused many recent school closures, the foundation is primarily focused on providing funds for mobile hotspots for a number of students’ and teachers’ Internet usage as some of Watervliet’s schools make the switch to virtual learning for the second time this year. The need of these mobile hotspots comes from a lack of accessible Internet for a portion of the school district, both teachers and students alike. The school system has already purchased over 200 units this year for distribution to households and has already spent $27,000 in the purchases and service fees at this time. Without these hotspots, many students would not have access to the same level of education as their peers that have access to the Internet. At the time of the meeting, the Watervliet middle and high schools are in virtual learning, though the time may come where the district would fully close and the need for the hotspot devices would only increase. “This is a desperate time for us in terms of being able to provide Internet for our students when they are relying on that to be able to engage with us,” said Ric Seager. Seager mentioned that there are 34 students in Watervliet Public Schools that had intended to enroll this year but they have been unable to contact them. “What we’re trying to do is … keep our kids connected. Ultimately, that’s what this is about. Keep our kids plugged into school, plugged into the support systems that are here in the community for them. Plugged into people that want to educate them and talk to them and help them overcome the challenges they’re facing. That’s what we’re trying to do,” he said. As we currently live in a subset in the age of the Internet where many of our connections are required due to a global pandemic, The Watervliet Public Schools Foundation for Excellence is working persistently to make the education process a bit brighter for the students and teachers working through these times and to make a better future for the schools.
To join the “I’m in for Twenty” campaign and for more information regarding the foundation, visit wps-foundation.org.
They can also be found at their Facebook page: facebook.com/Watervliet-Public-Schools-Foundation-for-Excellence-112095164040648.
Hartford Township appoints Board of Review members
By Anna Layer
Thursday night, Nov. 12, at their regular meeting the Hartford Township Board agreed to appoint Randy Kime, Bob Kilborn and Doug Meachum to the Board of Review, each for a two-year term beginning on January 1, 2021. The board also agreed to appoint Jason Meachum as an alternate for the same two-year term.
The Hartford Township Board of Review is a local committee within the township of Hartford to hear and receive appeals from township taxpayers when annual assessments disputes occur. Board of Review members and alternates have to attend at least one training session during the course of the term. The Michigan Township Association will offer the online training in smaller increments.
Road Commission updates
Van Buren County Road Commission provided an update from The Southwestern Council of County Road Commissions, which is informing local counties that the monarch butterfly may be put on the endangered species list and could potentially impact future local road projects.
New Sheriff’s Department vehicle
Township Supervisor Ron Sefcik provided clarification regarding a new vehicle for the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department. Sefcik explained, “We are not responsible for that vehicle. The confusion I believe came in, the original deputy and sheriff’s vehicle was an expense that went to the revenue sharing board and was paid for with Tier 1 revenue sharing funds. But we have no responsibility for the vehicle. I followed that up with a telephone call with Dan Abbott, and he concurred we don’t have any.”
Mobile park tax delinquencies
During open discussion amongst the board, it was reported that one of the mobile home parks has not been paying the $3 per mobile home per month that the state requires the township to collect. Letters have been sent to the mobile home park operators with appropriate billing, which hasn’t been paid properly in the last couple of years. If they fail to pay by December 15, the township is required by law to file a motion in court which could result in a misdemeanor charge. The township’s desire is to avoid this by receiving payment in full for the back taxes.
Special meeting scheduled
The township has scheduled a hybrid special meeting for Nov. 18 at 7:00 p.m. with attorneys Kaufman and Seeber regarding PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances). Bids for snow removal will also be reviewed and possibly accepted during this meeting.