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.