11-24-2016 Watervliet Twp. given update on Lane Automotive state grant projections; “Bill” Hodge swo
COLOMA JUNIOR HIGH’S 38TH ANNUAL TURKEY TROT… is a mile long run/walk. All 6th grade students participate in the trot for a health/PE grade. It is optional for 7th and 8th graders. The goal is to promote healthy living while enjoying the surroundings and maybe even win a turkey, chicken or Cornish hen. The winners in 6th grade that took home the birds are: Brodie McQuillan, Sklar Wolfe, Kaleb Smith-Mwewe, Hannah Grenon, Camryn Brown and Brianna Loomis. 7th grade winners are: Ashton Allmon, Ethan Vander-molen, Jake Ickes, Ava Genovese, Taylor Brown and Chloe Williams. 8th grade winners are: Shane Sher-burn, Noah Schwanke, Cody Palgen, Abby Vandermolen, Grace Whitaker and Maurissa LaGrow.
Watervliet Twp. given update on Lane Automotive state grant projections; Lane Automotice invested
$17 million and created 41 jobs so far in expansion
By Annette Christie
The Watervliet Township Board held a public hearing at their Monday, November 21 meeting to get an update on the Lane Automotive CDBG Grant. Cindy LaGrow, Economic Development Consultant and Certified Grant Administrator reminded the Board and the public that the State of Michigan and Watervliet Township helped make the grant available in 2014. Lane promised a large invested expansion and the creation of 138 jobs over a period of time. LaGrow reported that as of August they have created 41 jobs and invested over $17 million dollars. They employ 259 employees so far, and per the grant agreement they pay their employees at least $18 an hour, however, LaGrow said the average wage is $23.15 per hour.
Lane Automotive has spent $908,000 in training of the new 41 employees, training costs of which $633,344 will be reimbursed because they have met all of the milestones so far. Lane will continue to invest more funds and will create 51 more jobs by August 2017 to complete all the requirements. LaGrow said another public hearing will be held at the conclusion of that milestone. Clerk Patt Bambrick confirmed that the Township has now received reimbursement for all costs incurred. LaGrow reminded the Board that they were in competition with the State of Tennessee for this project but with the help of the State of Michigan’s grant program and Watervliet Township’s partnership, Lane Automotive invested in this area and its residents. There were no questions by either the Board or the public during the public hearing.
With the completion of the public hearing the Township had some documentation that had to be approved to comply with what is required of them by the grant. Because the CDBG covers Fair Housing, the Township had to put a Fair Housing Ordinance in place. At this time the first reading of the ordinance was held. The Board also updated their procurement policy and equal opportunity employment policy to be more in line with what was required by the State. The Board also approved an ADA self evaluation sheet. The State of Michigan will be coming into Township Hall in December to review the grant file and to ensure compliance.
Use of Township Hall
During the communication portion of the meeting, Bambrick shared a letter from the Paw Paw Lake Association requesting the use of the Township Hall to hold their monthly meetings. The meetings are held on a Saturday morning. The Board concurred with the request.
Berrien County Board of Commissioners
County Commissioners Jon Hinkelman (representing Watervliet Township south of M-140) and Bill Smith (representing Watervliet Township north of M-140) provided an update of activities at the county level. They reminded the Township that they are seeking input from municipalities on a proposed amendment to the Berrien County Animal Control Ordinance. Smith said that a public hearing would be held on December 15 at the Board of Commissioners’ meeting at 10:30 a.m. It was noted that the fiscal year 2017 budget is done and 22 jobs have been added, nine of which are in the new Public Defender Department. Smith said a year ago the County was spending $500,000 for contracted indigent defense contracts and next year it will go up to $1 million. Smith said that it was discovered that some contracted indigent defense attorneys would not go to the jail to meet with clients and thus some inmates who could have been bonded out were not.
Smith noted that the County should be hearing about the results of a $300,000 grant application for Watervliet County Park around the beginning of December.
Hinkelman asked the Township Board to please read over the animal control ordinance amendments and if they have any concerns to bring it to the County’s attention. “We want as much feedback as we can,” Hinkelman said. He added that some of the additional jobs being incorporated into next year’s budget were as a result of a security review of county facilities and that more people were needed in more places. “Those added positions will be permanent,” Hinkelman said. He said of the new Chief Public Defender Carl McPherson, “He is a great young talent and will be a good addition to County staff.” Hinkelman also announced that the current Berrien County Health Director Mike Mortimore was leaving and with his departure, the Board of Commissioners has selected Nicole Britten to fill that upcoming vacancy. Hinkelman said Britten currently works at the Health Department. She was awarded the position, interviewed very well, and is real sharp.
Supervisor Dan Hutchins commented to Smith that he has done a great job for North Berrien County, adding that he has been solid behind Watervliet Township on several projects. Smith’s term expires at the end of 2016. Dave Vollrath won in the August primary and will replace Smith.
Medic 1 Board Chairman Pete Sinclair informed the Board that a six-month study now provides some solid data on some new dispatch priorities that were put in place earlier this year. The new protocol changed what emergency lights and sirens would be used when an ambulance responds to a call, depending on the priority level. Sinclair said that that move received much criticism on social media sites. Sinclair stated that following the study, it turns out that Medic 1 reduced their Priority 1 responses almost in half, but that patient outcomes have not changed. He said that it will be looked at again in the next six months.
Hutchins noted that the building lease agreement with Medic 1 is up for renewal in 2017. He asked Sinclair to speak to the director so they could begin talks to continue that relationship. Hutchins said this has nothing to do with Medic 1 being the ambulance provider for the Township but just the lease of the building. Not speaking on behalf of the Board, Hutchins said, “We want to keep you.”
Watervliet Township resident Kevin Cole was on the agenda so that he could address the Board. Cole was given an ordinance violation on a vehicle that is properly plated and kept in the proper place at his residence. He questioned why he would be getting a violation when there have been multi-year violations with his neighbor which do not appear to be getting any better. Hutchins agreed that there is a multi-year file on the neighbor’s house, but told Cole that the Township has been to court and it is in their hands. Hutchins invited Cole to come up to Township Hall to look over the file on the neighbor’s house and to discuss the violation that he received with the ordinance enforcement officer and Hutchins. While Hutchins could not comment on the sentence that the neighbor received, Treasurer Tom Scheid said that the neighbor was sentenced to six months’ probation. Cole thanked the Board for their time and Hutchins confirmed that Cole had his cell number so he could contact him at any time.
Rental Registration Ordinance
While Ordinance #75, Rental Registration and Inspection, was on the agenda for action, Hutchins asked that it be delayed. He said that he had changes that he wanted to talk to the Zoning Administrator about and he had not had time to do that yet. Hutchins asked for a delay until next month’s meeting. Scheid asked whether properties were inspected yearly but Hutchins said he was not sure. He said he would have the Zoning Administrator at the next meeting to answer specific questions if needed. Residents pay a fee to register their property with the Township and then a yearly renewal going forward. Hutchins said one of the snags they are running into is that all of the licenses expire at the same time. He estimated there are 400 rentals between the City and the Township (the City contracts with the Township for this service).
Hutchins said that the City of Watervliet has reached out to the Township for an opportunity to share in the funding of a remodeled Skate Park, located in Hays Park. Hutchins told the Board that he, Bambrick, and Scheid have discussed this and it is their feeling that more information needs to be obtained before the Township could consider such a donation (Bambrick guessed between $15 – $20,000). Hutchins noted that the Skate Park was made possible by a grant and $150,000 is at risk if they (the City) do not fix and reopen the Skate Park. Hutchins said the City has an estimate of $70,000 and have dedicated $50,000.
In other business, Scheid complimented Dan Hutchins and Mike Pflugradt for their efforts in the Township wide leaf pickup.
The next Township Board meeting is December 19.
“Bill” Hodge sworn in as new Bainbridge Twp. Supervisor
By Angela Stair
William “Bill” Hodge was elected to fill the supervisor seat of Bainbridge Township. Former Supervisor Jerry Jollay retired his position this year. Hodge will take the reins from Jollay on Monday November 28 at noon.