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12-13-2018 Jarpe named Interim Superintendent for Watervliet Schools; Barchett honored for 14 years

2019 MISS HARTFORD and her court were crowned Sunday afternoon at the Hartford High School auditorium. The court includes (from the left): Miss Congeniality Cecilia Perales, 2nd Runner-up Piper Reinhardt, Miss Hartford Brynn Duffy; and 1st Runner-up Mikenzie Chambers. (TCR photo by Annette Christie)

Jarpe named Interim Superintendent for Watervliet Schools; Barchett honored for 14 years of service

By Kristy Noack

The Monday, December 10 Watervliet Public Schools Board of Education meeting proved bittersweet as the district welcomed a new interim superintendent and said goodbye to a longtime board member.

The board formally contracted with Dr. John Jarpe to become the district’s interim superintendent. Jarpe will replace Kevin Schooley, who leaves the district after accepting an offer for the position of superintendent at South Haven Area Schools.

INTERIM SUPERINTENDENT FOR WATERVLIET… The Watervliet Public Schools Board of Education formally contracted with Dr. John Jarpe during Monday’s meeting to become interim superintendent of the district beginning Monday, December 17. (TCR photo by Kristy Noack)

Dr. Jarpe mostly recently led the Brandywine Community Schools as superintendent for 10 years, retiring in June of 2017. He spent 19 years as a principal and special education teacher at St. Joseph Public Schools (MI) and was an adjunct faculty member at Western Michigan University from 1998 to 2008.

Jarpe graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in history.  He received his Master of Arts in Education from Wayne State University. Jarpe earned his doctorate in educational leadership from Western Michigan University.

Following the unanimous vote to appoint Jarpe as the interim superintendent, with a contracted period of December to June 30, 2019, board president Bill Spaulding said, “He will lead us for the foreseeable future as we begin the search for a new superintendent.”

Jarpe said, “I’ve lived [in the area] for a long time. I grew up in Niles. I’ve known Watervliet as straight forward, hardworking people, my kind of people.”

Jarpe retired from Brandywine in 2017 following 44 years in the education field. “I had grandkids growing up,” he shared, explaining why he retired. Upon hearing of the opening at Watervliet, Jarpe said, “The more I thought about it, the more I felt it would be a good fit.”

The board previously interviewed Dave Waaso and Jarpe last week before extending an offer to Jarpe. Spaulding referred to both candidates as “highly skilled superintendents.”

Schooley commented, “I’ve known John for many years. He is a student-centered superintendent, which I think is huge. I have a lot of respect for John, and he’s going to do a good job.”

Spaulding said, “His experience with curriculum, his experience working with a similar sized district,” were key points of interest for the board members.  “We need somebody to keep us on the track of excellence on which we’ve become accustomed.”

Schooley led Watervliet for eight years as superintendent after accepting the position in 2010. Prior to being appointed to that role, he was the principal at North Elementary for 12 years.  Schooley will finish the semester at Watervliet and will begin helming SHAS January 2, 2019.

Schooley noted, “I am excited but with that there is a bittersweet-ness to this closing process.  You can’t just turn off 21 years of relationships with kids, teachers, parents, and everyone else.”

Of Schooley, Spaulding stated, “He led this district to a decade of accomplishment.” Schooley will be honored at the January 14 Watervliet school board meeting which will begin at 6:00 p.m. in the middle/ high school media center. The meeting is open to the public and well-wishers are encouraged to attend to bid farewell to Schooley.

Barchett bids adieu

Fourteen-year board member Marilyn Barchett bid adieu to her fellow board members and the Watervliet administration Monday evening as she attended her last meeting. Barchett opted to not run in the November school board election. She is leaving the board to pursue additional volunteer opportunities.

MR. HARTFORD AND COURT… Four young men who participated in the Mr. Hartford contest are all a part of this year’s Hartford court. From the left: Mr. Nice Guy Noah Wade; 2nd Runner-up Evan Parker; Mr. Hartford Xavier Salina; and 1st Runner-up Alexander Lehnert. (TCR photo by Annette Christie)

Barchett was presented with a plaque from Spaulding on behalf of the other board members.

Spaulding said, “Marilyn’s never been one to dominate in the discussions. When Marilyn spoke, we listened. She was always the calm, steady voice of reason.”

Schooley addressed Barchett directly, sharing, “Marilyn, you have always been a very positive contributor to the board, to me, to the administration.”

What a W-A-Y

Dave Kindt, administrator of Watervliet’s W-A-Y program provided an update to the board as part of the meeting’s curriculum spotlight.

Kindt advised that 14 students are eligible for graduation in December and “attendance is increasing.”

Kindt shared a video featuring the top 10 reasons non-traditional students should attend the W-A-Y program.

The program features an online, project based learning environment in which students complete courses at their pace. The program has attracted students from River Valley, St. Joseph, Coloma, South Haven, and Dowagiac and districts in between.

Kindt said, “You can offer any kind of program but it comes down to the people,” assisting the students.

The December graduation ceremony will be held on Wednesday the 19th at 6:30 p.m.

Approvals aplenty

During Monday’s meeting, the board approved November General Fund expenses of $1,299,175.87. That General Fund number included $829,769.61 for payroll expenses.

The board also approved an amendment to the 2018-19 General Fund budget.

The original budget for the year was adopted in June of the 2018. Schooley advised changes that impact the budget numbers had occurred including a higher than expected student enrollment tally.

The board unanimously approved amending the budget to show revenue of $14,910,047 and expenditures of $14,767,881.

There were 26 board policies updates, one new board policy, two replacement policies, and two rescinded policies that required approval of a first reading. All four motions were approved.

Additionally, the board approved a second reading of policy 3120.4 Employment of Substitutes. In accordance with Michigan Department of Education’s policy revision, Schooley recommended the district allow individuals with 60 college credit hours to work in the district as a substitute teacher. The policy mirrors the state’s policy and was accepted.

Hometown Holiday Happenings

Breakfast with Santa

Santa will be at the FOP this Saturday to have breakfast with the children of our community. He will be there from 9 to 11 a.m.

The cost of breakfast is $6 per person, and children 12 and under eats for free.

Coloma FOP #147 is located at 3470 Angling Road.

Santa is coming to Coloma

On Wednesday, December 19 Santa will be traveling to Coloma to visit with children and find out what is on their Christmas list.

Everyone planning on bringing children to see Santa need to be at the Coloma Township Hall, 4919 Paw Paw Lake Road between 6 and 8 p.m. Be sure to bring along a camera to capture the moment.

Visitors will be able to enjoy hot cocoa and cookies.

Tri-City Record Giving Tree, a way to help those in need this Christmas

Turn gifts in by Wednesday

What is the Giving Tree? It is a Christmas tree in the Tri-City Record office at 138 N. Main Street in Watervliet that will be loaded with hanging tags. Each of those tags will have a gift request written on it for a child in need. We are asking readers to stop by and select a tag or two off of the tree, then go out and buy the item listed on the tag. Return the new item, unwrapped with the tag by Wednesday, December 19. Tri-City Angel helpers will then wrap the gifts and deliver them to the families prior to Christmas.

Please join in giving a local child a little hope this Christmas. Please join in giving a hand up to a family that is struggling. Please join in showing that love and kindness do still exist, especially in the Tri-City Area.

A challenge this Christmas season is to take a moment to do something nice for someone else. It can be as small as holding a door for someone while out shopping, smiling at someone passed on the street, or taking cookies to a neighbor. Whatever the case may be spread some kindness. Be surprised at how it will not only make someone else’s day, but will also put a smile on your face too!

VFW Post 1137 annual Needy Family program

Watervliet VFW Post 1137 located at 8777 Red Arrow Hwy in Watervliet is accepting donations to their annual Needy Family program to assist six families in the Coloma, Hartford and Watervliet area for the Christmas season.

Anyone wishing to make a donation of canned goods, non-perishable food items or a monetary gift please call Corky Openneer at 463-7544 to arrange for pick-up or delivery.

Collections are needed in time for a December 22 delivery. Any assistance is greatly appreciated.

WHS Student Council Food Drive for the Holidays

The Watervliet High School Student Council is sponsoring a food drive to stock a local food pantry for the holidays!

On Thursday, Dec. 13 residents are encouraged to bring five canned or non-perishable food items to the JV basketball games and get in free. Junior Varsity Girls and Boys Basketball games against Gobles are held in the high school gym at 5:30 and 7:00 p.m.

Items being suggested include canned goods, boxed cake mixes and baking items, cereal, granola bars, etc.

There is still time to enter & vote for Watervliet’s Best Lighted House

Watervliet’s Best Lighted House contest is sponsored by the City of Watervliet. It runs until December 15, 2018.

To enter, participants must post a photo and/or video of their Christmas display on the Watervliet’s Best Lighted House Facebook event page. Then send the street address via Facebook Messenger to Katie Ann Muth so authenticity can be verified. Please do NOT post the address with the photo.

Entries can be made any time until Dec. 15.

Once the entry has been posted, then share the event and photo with all your Facebook friends. Be sure to “invite” friends and ask them to vote for your house on the event page. The three photos with the most “likes” and “shares” total will be eligible to win. At midnight on Dec. 15 “Likes and Shares” will be counted on the event page ONLY. Prizes for this contest are 1st place: $100 cash courtesy of State Farm agent Karla Smothers; 2nd place: $50 B&B Grocery gift card; and 3rd place: $20 cash courtesy of Moo’s Place.

RSVP on the event page as “going” so that more information can be seen and contestants’ entries can be viewed.

Best Way Disposal Toy Drive ends Monday

This year Best Way Disposal is facilitating a toy drive to benefit our local children in the foster care system in Berrien County. They would love for our community and their customers to join them in spreading Christmas cheer!

Please drop off new, unwrapped toys and gifts for infants through teens at their drop box located at the 7901 Dan Smith Rd. office.

The Toy Drive ends on Monday, Dec. 17.

Christmas special services at Coloma UMC

Blue Christmas Dec. 16 at 7:00 p.m.

This service is especially for those not experiencing a “Merry” Christmas for whatever reason.

Children’s Christmas Pageant Dec. 23 at 10:00 a.m.

A wonderful opportunity for kids of all ages to participate in the story of the birth of Jesus!

(No lines to learn-assemble at 9:30 am to prepare.)

Christmas Eve Candlelight Service Dec. 24 at 8:00 p.m.

Love Feast Dec. 30 at 10:00 a.m.

(Hymn Sing)

All are welcome to join in celebrating the birth of Jesus!

Coloma United Methodist Church is located at 144 S. Church Street. Call 269-468-6062 for more information.

Christmas Eve Candlelight Communion Service

Watervliet Free Methodist Church is the place to be Christmas Eve for Candlelight Communion. They will share in music, an Advent reading, a Christmas message from Pastor Brian Hall and communion by candlelight. It’s a perfect night for the whole family to celebrate the birth of Jesus our Savior.

Christmas Eve is Monday, December 24 with the service at 6:00 p.m. The public is encouraged to attend.

Watervliet Free Methodist Church is located at 7734 Paw Paw Avenue. Call 269-463-8280 for more information.

Coloma City Council considering marijuana dispensaries

By Nancy Albright

On December 10 the Coloma City Council debated whether or not to allow marijuana businesses to set up operations in town amidst a chorus of voices in favor of the proposal.

Michigan is now one of 33 U.S. states that have chosen to legalize recreational marijuana for citizens 21 and over – the first in the Midwest – and Coloma is now facing the question of whether or not to opt out before the law takes effect in December of 2019.

Many audience members in attendance agreed that allowing a dispensary in town would create needed jobs, and bring people and tax revenue to the community.

Mark Smith, owner of the Green Door dispensary in Bangor, stated that he currently employees 12 staff members at his provision center, and his grow operation will employ another 25. Jobs start at $15/hour.

Smith stated that Coloma residents unable to obtain marijuana locally for medical use will patronize his business or others like it in surrounding communities. Audience member Aaron Stern stated, “We want to engage in this new part of the economy. If we opt out the money will go somewhere else.”

“This is no cash cow,” said Mayor Polashak. “It will be from two to five years before we would see tax revenue. It won’t be passed on to anyone but the state.”

Coloma native Charlena Berry is a consultant for Cannabis Business Growth, a professional firm that helps start-ups in the U.S., Canada and Zimbabwe operate a legally compliant and licensed cannabis business. She explained that there is the potential for $44 million in tax revenue, 10% of which will benefit communities in job creation and overall economic stimulation.

Applicants can expect to pay up to $5,000 in fees and businesses will be required to pay monthly sales tax to the state, which Lansing will distribute to those that opt in.

Commissioner Fred Reeves explained that the policies regulating the sale of recreational marijuana could take up to four years to implement. “There are many variables, including how sales revenue will be split between states and counties.”

Hartford Public School teacher Valerie Owen stated, “We are talking to students about the legality of recreational marijuana and stressing that it will be available only to those 21 and up.” Her belief is that a common misconception about marijuana is that it is a bad thing. “We need to look at it from a different perspective.” According to Owen there has been a 6% increase in property taxes and a 6% decrease in drug-related deaths. “There are tangible benefits and I think that without thoroughly researching whether or not this is good for the community is biased and unfair.”

Berry said, “This is not a matter of if. It’s a matter of when. Prohibition is over. I believe that business owners will be responsible because they want to earn your respect.”

Smith agreed. “We are inspected by the state fire marshal, and state and federal authorities. We are required to show our financial records for purposes of transparency.” In addition to helping boost the local economy, Smith has contributed funds to help build a new playground in Bangor and fund the Bangor fireworks display.

Berry explained that each applicant is required to state how much revenue they are willing to commit to the city, it could be anywhere from 1 – 3%, and that this is something that can be included in the ordinance if the council decides to opt in.

In response to Commissioner Jason Hicks’ question about states losing federal funding, Berry assured him there are none to date. Hicks thanked the audience for taking the time to express their interest. “I’m very much in support of this.”

Berry traveled from out of state to attend the meeting. “I encourage you to consider opting in sooner rather than later and I’m here to help. I would love to see my hometown embrace this to their benefit.”

Several commissioners agreed that they would like to have more information before making a decision. Commissioner Julie Smith accepted Berry’s offer to provide the council with sample ordinances. “This has been very eye-opening and I’m interested in looking into this.” Smith invited the council to visit his facility to help them make up their mind.

Mayor Polashak concluded the discussion by committing to forming a committee of council members to look into the advantages and disadvantages of opting in.

City supports motion to proceed with sewer repair

In other news, Commissioner of Department Works Marsha Hammond informed the council that a damaged sewer line under the railroad trestle that runs over the Paw Paw River could potentially cause a massive derailment if the bridge collapses, and the cost to the city will be $94,625. The council supported the motion to proceed with the permit required to complete the repair.

Hammond also reported that the Coloma Masonic Lodge would like to contribute funds for new park benches at Randall Park, which is named after former Coloma Mayor Randall.

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