11-28-2019 Watervliet zoning board to meet on church application

GALA-T-INN GOES OVER THE TOP FOR ST. JUDE’S KIDS! Owner Ken Jones (left) proudly presents Alliance Beverage Representative Randy Harmon a check in the amount of $2,020.67 as Gala T’s contribution to the Alliance/ Coor’s Light “Celebrate for a Cause” promotion in support of the renowned St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Jones credits his 15 employees for gently hammering his patrons into purchasing a pumpkin pin-up tag with their donation throughout the month of October. According to Harmon, many of his accounts in more affluent markets typically come up with only a few hundred dollars, while the “velvet hammer” applied in the tiny town of Hartford brought spectacular results. Once the ball or should we say pumpkin got rolling, Ken Jones committed to personally matching donations up to $500. As a world renown leading children’s hospital, St. Jude treats the toughest childhood cancers and pediatric diseases, with the simple promise that families never receive a bill for treatment, travel, housing or food. The cost to operate St Jude’s is in excess of a billion dollars annually. Learn more or contribute by visiting www.stjude.org. (TCR photo by Jon Bisnett)

Watervliet zoning board to meet on church application

By Annette Christie

The Watervliet City Commission, which also serves as the Zoning Board of Appeals will hold a meeting on December 3, 2019 at 6:00 p.m. just prior to their regular meeting. The only agenda item will be the consideration for parking arrangements for a church asking for a special land use permit for a building on Main Street.

Freshwater Church would like to purchase a building on Main Street for the purposes of providing their church home as well as a future community center. The Planning Commission has been considering their special land use permit, which would allow for the church, however, the parking issue has been passed onto the Zoning Board of Appeals for consideration by the Planning Commission.

City Manager Tyler Dotson has said that with the permit request comes a lot of things to consider including the use of the building and the parking, and so the need exists to establish proper parking levels as it relates to the special land use permit.

At the last City Commission meeting where it was again mentioned, two members of the church spoke during public comments. They emphasized that they really want to move the process along so that needed improvements to the building could be made before winter. They reminded the City Commission that the church service is held on Sunday for a few hours only. For the rest of the time, however, they do hope to have the building open for the community’s use. The building at 115 N. Main St. is in need of some repairs and updates.

The Watervliet City Planning Commission was the first to discuss the special land use permit when they were greeted by the enthusiastic church congregation at their Monday, August 26 meeting.

Pastor Justin VanFerrari with the Freshwater Community Church told the Commission that Freshwater Community Church started in Coloma in 2010. Over the past nine years they have been meeting in the Coloma Middle School building. They are seeking to move into the property at 115 N. Main St. and to convert it into a community center and church where their congregation meets on Sundays.

“We want to love people, strengthen families and bring hope to the next generation. It’s these three focus areas that have helped us determine what exactly we are looking for in a building,” VanFerrari said.

He told the Commission that the structure they are interested in purchasing has both large and small spaces that will allow for multi-purpose usage. Currently they have about 75 adults and 25 kids in their congregation and the building will allow for the anticipated growth. VanFerrari said that they anticipate about $170,000 in renovations that will be done in phases. Up first would be a new roof, an update to the exterior of the building and then focusing on the smaller side before the larger side.

Congregation member Brian Smith whose family re-located to be near their church prefaced that the church will help people to come to the area and stay in the area. He grew up in Kalamazoo and came to this area through employment. Since originally coming here, he and his wife have moved once but determined that for their family it was best to live where they go to church. “We came here because of the church which is community centered and family centered,” Smith said.

At the last City Commission meeting, when Dotson announced that the ZBA meeting would be held, City Commissioner Luke Strunk asked that along with providing parking details that the City Commission ask the Planning Commission to have a special meeting instead of making the applicants wait until the end of December for what could be the final determination of the permit request. Dotson said he would not recommend anything hurried or rushed as the special land use permit stays with the property forever.

Strunk asked that the Planning Commission schedule a special meeting following the Zoning Board of Appeals so that a potential resolution could be made sooner. “I hate to drag this out any longer for these guys,” Strunk said.

Coloma seeks funding for new rescue equipment

By Nancy Albright

As reported in the Coloma City Commission meeting on Monday, Nov. 25, Coloma is upgrading emergency equipment on land and water in a big way. The North Berrien Fire Rescue Board approved the purchase of a Wolf’s Marine Package for $5,360 in the event of river rescue that includes a boat with inflatable ribs, throw ropes, life jackets, water-activated strobe lights, and a motor and trailer. The Bohle family contributed $435 in honor of deceased Coloma Fire Captain Todd Bohle.

The board is taking bids to purchase a new fire truck in 2020–21 to replace the current truck that has been in use since 1991. The rescue operation is considering a vehicle at an approximate cost of $670,000, which, according to Chief Mike Mattix, is in line with industry numbers. The truck will last for 20 years with regular maintenance, and serviceable equipment from the current truck like hoses will be preserved for use on the new vehicle.

The Michigan Public Safety Communication System handles rescue radio communications and is transitioning to an 800 MHz frequency spectrum that will require municipalities to purchase new pagers and mobile and portable radios at considerable cost. Additionally, if municipalities do not remove VHF equipment from state towers by the end of 2020, MPSCS will penalize each municipality $1,000 per month until the equipment is removed.

To fully equip the fleet, which serves the City of Coloma, and Coloma and Hagar Townships, the rescue needs 30 new pagers, and 24 portable and six mobile radio units. The County 911 Center has proposed a fifty-fifty match for the $21,000 price tag on the pagers and will allow the municipality to pay its half in two increments of $5,175 over the course of two years; half due up front. The cost of the radios is $16,000.

The fire department also plans to purchase new extrication equipment, as the tools they now use are obsolete because the metal used in new cars shatters Coloma’s thirty-five-year-old cutting blades. Coloma plans to purchase the equipment from Amkus of Valparaiso, Ind.—suppliers to NASCAR and Indy car crash rescue teams. A purchase price of $54,000 will net the department two sets of three tools—a cutter, a spreader, and a combo cutter-spreader. The units are battery powered, and the pump and fluids are built into the tools, eliminating the need for hose and pump connections, and making the equipment easier to use. The cost includes two DeWalt rechargeable 6-volt batteries and two chargers per tool.

Denied funding for two years running through the Berrien County Fire Chief Association’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program to aid in the purchase, the Fire Board is considering a proposed capital purchase program to avoid asking the municipalities to pay for the new equipment. The board is also researching the possibility of financing the cost through the current fund balance.

Shop Small this Saturday

This Saturday, November 30 is Small Business Saturday in Coloma. Shop Small is a national campaign sponsored by American Express to promote shopping locally. The Coloma DDA paid for a full-page ad in the Tri-City Record to advertise the event, and Mayor Pro-Tem Marsha Hammond is delivering information to local businesses. Hammond said she hopes the event is successful and will continue to grow every year.

The council approved Christmas bonuses in the amount of $125 for all city employees. Bonuses are in the form of gift certificates that can be used at Coloma businesses to help promote the event.

Mayor approves city appointments

Mayor Jim Polashak has made the following appointments for 2020: Public Works–Kent Churchill, Julie Smith, Chair Marsha Hammond; Administrative–Kent Churchill, Linda Freitag, Chair Martha Darling; Finance–Linda Freitag, Kent Churchill, Chair Jason Hicks; Ordinance–Kent Churchill, Fred Reeves, Chair Julie Smith; Police–Linda Freitag, Jason Hicks, Chair Fred Reeves; Fire Board–Linda Freitag; Water Service Advisory Board–Marsha Hammond and Fred Reeves; Cemetery Board–Julie Smith and Chair Bobie Minor; Sewer Board–Martha Darling and Marsha Hammond; and Mayor Pro-Tem, Marsha Hammond.

In other news

City bills for November were approved, as were revisions to the Blight Ordinance as discussed at the Public Meeting held in October. Copies of the bills and ordinances are available at City Hall.

The city will purchase a commercial paper shredder in the amount of $279 and will hire a recycling service at an annual cost of $80 to pick up paper, corrugated cardboard, and plastic each month.

Commissioners also approved raising Public Works’ part-time employee Stephen Kolenko’s rate of pay to $12 per hour.

Maintenance is currently being performed on Coloma’s Well 1, and city leaf pickup has resumed but is subject to weather. Residents can purchase rain-resistant compostable bags for leaf disposal at True Value for a reasonable cost.

A reminder to residents that City Hall will be closed on Thanksgiving Day, and Public Works will be on call in case of snow or other emergencies. Happy Thanksgiving!

Tri-City Record Thanksgiving Turkey winners for 2019 announced

There were 16 winners in the annual Tri-City Record Thanksgiving free turkey drawing sponsored by area businesses. Approximately 300 turkey coupons were turned into these sponsoring businesses, in hopes of winning a Thanksgiving turkey. The drawing sponsors notified the winners on Monday, November 25, to come by the business and pick up their turkey. Here are the sponsors and winners (please note the names are spelled as given on the coupons). Winners from Hartford: B. Blocker (Coloma Motorsports); Raul Galvan (Richter Insurance) and Myra Weberg (Calvin Funeral Home). Winners from Watervliet: Ronald Stineman (Centsible Heating); L.K. Davis (DiMaggio’s); Dawn Winnell (Four Seasons); Jackie Ballard (Hartford Harding’s); Tom Colman (Watervliet Pharmacy) and Bruce Kibler (Lifestyle Chiropractic). Winners from Coloma: Ernie Crowder (Tri-County Computers); Bill Whitney (Watervliet Hardware) and Avon Stowers (Tri-City Record). Other winners are Carol Ackerman of Bridgman (B&B Grocery), Stacy Davis (Brews 2 Me), Rich Rose (Don Young Insurance) and Kathleen Walter of Benton Harbor (Scotts Auto Sales).

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