12-12-2019 Dangerous intersection in Coloma under scrutiny; Senators urge emergency declaration over

Dangerous intersection in Coloma under scrutiny

By Nancy Albright The Baker Street alley between Coletta’s Closet and the Subway Sandwich Shop is posing a safety issue for Coloma. Denise Donohoe, owner of Coletta’s Closet and If the Shoe Fits, owns 80% of the street and Subway owner Jordan Hurst owns the remaining 20%. There is currently a stop sign and a no left turn sign at the intersection of Baker and Paw Paw Street, but according to the business owners and Police Chief Wes Smigielski the majority of drivers don’t stop at the sign and many make the left turn, putting pedestrians and drivers on Paw Paw Street in harm’s way. Ultimately, Donohoe and Hurst are responsible for making the decision on whether to remove the stop sign. The Chief recommended removing the sign and blocking the alley, and Commissioner Jason Hicks suggested blocking off both ends of Baker Street because the turn onto Baker from Federal Court is also dangerous. Another option is to install a three-way stop at the corner of Baker and Federal and block off Baker at Paw Paw Street. Commissioner Fred Reeves pointed out that since the property belongs to Donohoe and Hurst the city is not responsible for maintenance, including plowing, and suggested that they sell the property to the city. Mayor Pro-Tem Marsha Hammond concluded the discussion at the December 9 meeting of the Coloma City Commission by leaving the decision up to Donohoe and Hurst. Celebrations and Santa The Coloma Watervliet Area Chamber of Commerce has a busy day planned for Thursday, Dec. 19. Santa will be at Coloma Township Hall from 6:00–8:00 p.m. and there will be cookie decorating, barrel train rides, cocoa, and candy canes. The Thrifty Phoenix at 7139 Red Arrow Hwy. in Watervliet will hold a Grand Reopening and Ribbon Cutting at 11:00 a.m. and will serve juice and cookies. There will be a Grand Reopening at the Subway Sandwich Shop, 152 N. Paw Paw St. in Coloma, at 10:00 a.m. Owner Jordan Hurst is offering a free fountain drink with the purchase of any 6” sandwich during the event and WIRX Radio will give away 20 free Christmas sweatshirts at 6:30 p.m. Hurst told the council that the restaurant scored 100% on inspection three months running and that sales are up 44% from the previous owner’s sales. Corporate has put his request to franchise a Subway in Watervliet on hold, but Hurst is hoping for good news in the next month or so. Harold Bragg commended the Coloma Public Library on the Christmas decorations and invited residents to visit and enjoy the holiday cheer. In other news Public Works has finished leaf pickup for the season and the plows and salt spreaders are ready to roll. Chief Smigielski reported that overnight parking rules are now in effect and that 16 tickets have been issued so far. The Chief also reminded residents that holiday parking passes will not be granted if city streets need to be plowed. The Water Advisory Board of Coloma City and Township is working to remedy inconsistencies in the current agreement. Marsha Hammond said that the last meeting went well and the committee is working hard to clarify the agreement so they can move forward to continue providing clean water to residents.

Senators urge emergency declaration over beach erosion

Members of the state Senate sent a letter to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2019 urging the governor to declare a state of emergency for the entire Lake Michigan shoreline because of the increasing problem of beach erosion, said Sen. Kim LaSata, who co-signed the letter. “High water levels and erosion have led to significant damage to both privately and publicly owned property along the lakeshore,” senators said in the letter. “Homes have fallen into the lake, tremendous damage has been done at state and county parks, roads have been closed, and businesses have had to close or have been severely affected.” According to the state Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy, beach erosion is a natural process that occurs from the wearing away of the shoreline by forces moving sand and soil from one area to another; waves, water levels, rain, wind, groundwater, frost and human activity all contribute to eroding shorelines. The department indicates shoreline erosion rates may be as high as 17 feet per year. In requesting an emergency declaration, the lawmakers said additional resources could be made available to address the impact of the erosion, as well as enable state government to petition federal authorities for assistance. “Constituents have been left to literally pick up the pieces of what was once their homes, businesses and infrastructure,” the letter concluded. “We are hopeful you will agree with our request and act both quickly and cooperatively with your federal counterparts to free up resources to those affected.” Last month LaSata sent a letter to Whitmer urging the governor to direct state government to engage with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to find an expedient and quick solution to the erosion problem. Michigan has about 3,300 miles of Great Lakes coastline, the longest freshwater coastline in the United States.

Coloma School Board considers land sale

By Annette Christie Coloma School Superintendent Dave Ehlers told the Coloma School Board at their December 9 meeting, that it was discovered that the school district did in fact own four acres at 4470 Pier Rd. that once was joined with Pier School. There were some evidence of real estate transactions that may have occurred earlier in giving back the school that once was given to the district by a family; however, the property was separate. Ehlers said that a gentleman has bought Pier School and is interested in purchasing the property. Ehlers said the district has owned it since 1954. He asked the board for approval to hire a real estate agent to handle the property sale, which they agreed to. Emergency Plan finalized To put it on paper what the emergency plan is for the district was finalized also by the school board. Ehlers said that the plan was reviewed twice by two different law enforcement agencies. He said that he expects to do some more updates over the summer in conjunction with School Resource Officer Dan Stuglik. Sinking Fund bills approved The school board approved two payments in connection with Sinking Fund projects. Ehlers explained that the payment to MOSS was for some labor costs associated with the installation of security cameras, in the amount of $11,746.10. The bill for Tower-Pinkster was for architectural services in the amount of $9,197.50. School Improvement Plan Ehlers and Ben Rimes, Director of Technology, provided a School Improvement Plan Update. Rimes informed the board that one of the things that is different about school improvement, in the past it was very compliance driven, with defined documentation and timeframes, etc. The State is now trying to change to a concept of continuous school improvement with inquiries like, what do we want them to know, how do we know when they get there, how do we respond when they get there, what do we do when they don’t. He said they now look at four buckets of data: perception, academic test scores, demographic behavior, and socio-economic status. To gather perception data to determine what is working, the district will survey staff, students, and parents. Rimes presented the staff survey compilation data although he noted that they did not get as many to participate as they would have liked. The results showed: Over 62% actually sees an impact daily; over 62% understand what is expected of them; over 68% believe that their strengths are being utilized; over 70% would recommend the district to others; over 87% are proud to be a part of the school district; and over 90% of the staff noted that they are giving their best when they are work. In a compilation of areas to improve the results were as follows: Over 56% have a clear understanding of school goals; over 56% are well informed about what is happening; over 53% believe they have good communications in their buildings; and over 53% feel that leaders know what they are doing with respect to instructional leadership. Rimes noted that some of the guiding questions moving forward are ‘Why was there such a low participation in the survey?; Was it the time of year?; Why didn’t more support staff fill it out?; and Why do people feel the way they do, both positive and negative?’ Rimes said, “This is just a little bit of what is going on. This is the start of the conversation.” Ehlers commented that part of the issue is staff felt that in the past nothing has been done with survey information that was collected and they didn’t want it to be a waste of time, therefore, they did not take the time to do the survey. Regular updates on school improvement will be provided to the board as the process moves forward.

H.R. 3 means fewer cures for patients, Fred Upton says

U.S. Rep. Fred Upton spoke at a leadership press conference to discuss his opposition to H.R. 3, the Lower Drug Costs Now Act, and his support for the bipartisan alternative, H.R. 19, the Lower Costs, More Cures Act. As the author of the historic 21st Century Cures Act, Upton expressed his concerns with how H.R. 3 would stifle innovation, leading to fewer life-saving cures and drugs. Upton remarked, “Well this week marks the third anniversary of the enactment of 21st Century Cures that President Obama signed. The bill of course passed the House 392-26, strongly bipartisan in both the House and Senate. One of the main focal points of what it did was expedite the approval of drugs and devices, and now three years later we’ve seen some tremendous successes. “I was with a young girl last week in a wheelchair who has SMA, that’s spinal muscular atrophy, its often fatal for young children. She had been on a drug just barely for 15 days and already she was getting muscle, she was able to move her head back and forth for the first time in more than a decade. “Last week, I met with some folks that we’re very excited about. A new stage 3/ stage 4 pancreatic cancer drug that has been enormously successful in the first number of trials and, because of Cures, if it is successful, could be the first drug that actually deals with this and gets to market years faster than perhaps it otherwise would have. “We’ve seen some success on the Alzheimer’s drugs, last week in USA today, the headline, ‘Autism Research Takes a Step Forward.’ All of these happen because of what we did on 21st Century Cures. “The Democratic bill, H.R. 3, would stifle the innovation, and whether it’s the CEA or the CBO, they all talk about drugs that will not likely make it to market for years, slower than it otherwise would have. “Our substitute would continue the innovation surge we have seen because of 21st Century Cures and be able to find the cures for the diseases that really impact every family that’s there, which is one of the reason why H.R. 19 is an important substitute that we would like to see be able to be offered, and debated, and voted on instead of H.R. 3, which really has no chance of either getting through the Senate or ever reaching the President’s desk and therefore denying Americans the research and ability to find cures for these diseases.”

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