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11-29-18 Coloma Township Police Chief retires; Dog Park delayed until spring; Miss Watervliet 2019 C

MISS WATERVLIET 2019 CONTESTANTS… (from the left) Seated – Brenna Langston, Morgan Muenchow, Emma Kraklau, Mikalah Clay, and Lindsay Adams; Standing – Hannah Yerington, Emma Yazel, Elaine Koshar, Brooklyn DuMont, Carlye Peters, and Natalie Wesaw. The pageant will be held Sunday, Jan. 6, 2019 in the Watervliet High School auditorium.

Coloma Township Police Chief retires; Dog Park delayed until spring

By Annette Christie Coloma Township Police Chief Jason Roe announced at the November Coloma Township Board meeting on Nov. 14 that he would be retiring Nov. 23. Roe has provided police protection in Coloma Township and the neighboring communities for the entirety of his career, 17 years in all. Supervisor Ken Parrigin thanked him for his service and the board applauded him. Following the retirement from Coloma Township, Roe will be joining the Berrien County Sheriff’s Office, to continue providing service to the citizens of the county. Following the meeting Parrigin said the search for the new chief was on hold at that point.

Dog Park: “Let’s get it right this time” Girl Scout Caleigh Dahn addressed the board in an attempt to tie up some loose ends on her Gold Award Amicus Dog Park project being constructed at the township’s Washington School Park. The project was approved by the township early this year, was put on hold, was recommended by approval by the Planning Commission, was approved by the township board again, but was once again delayed in September. At that meeting she learned that township officials and/or staff had determined that the fence was not the proper material, that the top soil was not properly placed and was insufficient, and that a site plan had to be prepared and presented. With the project still incomplete, Dahn sought an amicable solution in an effort to finalize it. Dahn informed the board that she had worked with the Township Assessor to develop the new site plan to the standards provided by the Planning Commission. With thanks to Mr. Pudell and Big C Lumber, she was able to get a refund for the previously purchased and partially installed residential grade fencing materials and would be able to purchase the commercial grade fencing at cost. In order to change the fencing materials however, Dahn said that she would need an additional $3,000 for the remainder of what was needed. The board decided to send her back to the Parks Committee (Trustees Bryan Duffield and Jerry Willmeng and citizen Tony Bertuca) for anything further and they will bring it to the full board if necessary. Coloma Township Treasurer Jim Fulton, who sits on the Planning Commission, commented, “The Parks Committee should work with her and then they will come back to the board.” Parrigin added, “Let’s get it right this time.” At this rate, they estimated that it would be spring before this could possibly open.

Audit receives best opinion option Joe Verlin of Gabridge & Co., auditor for the township, provided their report. They received an unmodified opinion which is the best opinion they can get. He noted that they had about a year and a half of expenses sitting in fund balance. Some discussion was held about the township’s pension liability.

North Berrien Fire Rescue Department report North Berrien Fire Chief Michael Mattix reports that there were 22 calls for service in the month of October, three of which were in Coloma Township. Their new fire truck (4160) is now in service. The staff did have the opportunity to do some training with a live burn recently along with other neighboring departments. In all, they were able to train on six fires within the one session. The department submitted a new AFG grant. Last year’s attempt was turned down. They are seeking the grant in the amount of $149,000 to purchase and upgrade vehicle extrication tools which will require a 5% match. The Chief told the board that they have implemented a Cadet 16+ program which will provide education and opportunity for those interested in fire service. If a cadet is successful and starts at 16, they should be able to become firefighters once they turn 18. The department is working with the Van Buren Vocational Training program and the local CTE programs.

Other business The township board finalized appointments for board vacancies. Bob Howell was appointed to the Water Advisory Committee and Jerry Willmeng on Sewer Board. County Commissioner Dave Vollrath and Parrigin met with Drain Commissioner Christopher Quattrin, in response to a petition by some residents to fix some flooding issues between the two lakes that they were dealing with. Parrigin said they may have found a cheaper solution and they will keep the residents updated. There was some discussion about the Paw Paw Lake levels and the court order that determines the numbers for depth, one for the winter and one for the summer. During public comment Natalie Johnson inquired about what the township was doing to solve the issues with security in the police department amongst the remaining township employees. Township officials were told previously by Roe that they would be in violation if they didn’t change the configuration of the office to provide tight security for the confidential documents and information that the police department staff deal with. Roe had suggested that a wall dividing the office in two, with the police department’s area being completely secure would solve the situation. Parrigin told Johnson that it was being handled. Following the meeting he stated that the answer for now was to move the office staff from the police department to an area that could be secure and to secure their files in the basement. The long term solution was not identified.

Ticket sales announced for Miss Watervliet pageant

As pageant season is now upon us, Blossomtime’s theme “America the Places You’ll Go” showcases the many wonders across our great nation. The 2019 Watervliet Pageant Organization is pleased to announce their theme, “Sweet Home Alabama” where spectators will experience southern hospitality and charm at its finest. This year’s pageant is slated for Sunday, January 6, 2019 at 3:00 pm; doors will open at 2:00. Tickets may be purchased for $20.00 each on Saturday, Dec. 8 and Dec. 15, from 10:00 a.m. to noon in the auditorium lobby. Eleven young women will be vying for the title of Miss Watervliet 2019.

Watervliet Twp. to take a closer look at marijuana options; schedules two special meetings

By Annette Christie The Watervliet Township Board discussed their options regarding marijuana at their November 19 meeting. With the legalization of medical marijuana a while back and the recent passage of a recreational marijuana proposal, the township needs to determine whether they would opt in or opt out of allowing either of those types of marijuana businesses and to what extent. The proposal authorizes and legalizes the possession, use and cultivation of marijuana products by individuals who are at least 21 years of age and older; and commercial sales of marijuana through state-licensed retailers. This proposal allows individuals 21 and older to purchase, possess and use marijuana and marijuana-infused edibles, and grow up to 12 marijuana plants for personal consumption. A part of the proposal allows municipalities to ban or restrict its use. Voters in Berrien County approved the proposal with 33,193 yays and 28,857 nays. Watervliet Township voters made up 626 of the yays. Watervliet Township Supervisor Dan Hutchins said that those voters have spoken and the township needs to make a decision. A special meeting is scheduled for December 5 at 3:00 p.m. and will be held jointly with the Planning Commission to discuss the subject. In other business the board received the first draft of the master plan that was revised by the Planning Commission. They will hold a special meeting on November 28 at 3:00 p.m. to discuss that further. In addition, the budget will be on the agenda as well.

Pancake Breakfast fund-raiser set for Amish School There will be a Pancake Breakfast on Saturday, Dec. 8 from 7 to 10 a.m. to benefit the local Amish School. The public is invited to attend this event. The Pancake Breakfast is being held at the new Township Town Hall in Lawrence, the former Lions Club at 411 N. Paw Paw Street. Menu for the morning is pancakes, sausage, bacon, scrambled eggs, orange juice, donuts and coffee. All donations will be appreciated.

Cookie Walk planned  to benefit Lory’s Place The Lory’s Place Crew will hold a cookie walk on Friday, Dec. 7, beginning at 4:30 p.m. until supplies last. The event will take place in downtown St. Joseph on the corner of State and Broad streets at the Puzzlemental Escape Room Adventures storefront. The holiday treats are $5 per dozen and will include festive cookies, dessert bars, and other baked goods. Proceeds from the sale will support the programs and services of Lory’s Place, a grief healing and education center of Caring Circle. Lory’s Place provides tools to help children and adults cope with death, begin the healing process, and ultimately adjust to the new normal of life in the healthiest way possible. There is no charge for the services that Lory’s Place provides. The Lory’s Place Crew is a group of volunteers who support the Center’s mission and services. For more information about the Cookie Walk or about the programs and services provided by Lory’s Place, visit

Weight loss options topic of free seminar The Lakeland Comprehensive Weight Loss Center is offering a free seminar titled, “Lose Weight…Find Health.” The seminar will take place on Wednesday, Dec. 19 from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. in the Frederick S. Upton Education Center at Lakeland Medical Center, located at 1234 Napier Avenue. Bariatric surgeons Jill Gorsuch, DO, and Michael Schuhknecht, DO, will discuss programs available for losing weight and maintaining a healthy weight for years to come. For more information or to register for the seminar, call (269) 927-5361.

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