Coloma to crack down on handicapped parking offenders… “It’s just not right”
By Nancy Albright On December 17, the Coloma City Council agreed to address the issue of residents illegally parking in spaces designated for handicapped drivers. According to Commissioner Fred Reeves, there are several establishments in town, including the Subway sandwich shop on Paw Paw Lake Road, where drivers with no handicap permits habitually park their cars illegally while conducting business. Commissioner Reeves suggested increasing penalties from $25 per ticket to align with the State of Michigan statute, which may include fines as high as $500 and up to 30 days in jail. “It’s just not right. These spaces are designated handicapped for a reason and we need to better enforce the law,” said Reeves.
Remedying semi traffic on Badt Drive Commissioner of Public Works Marsha Hammond informed the council that the No Semi Traffic sign at the corner of Badt Drive and West Street continues to be ineffective. A nearby stop sign has been replaced eight times in the last six weeks and a street sign was recently knocked down. Hammond stated that GPS systems are sending drivers through Coloma to Menasha Packaging and Amhawk Steel, and suggested writing letters to both companies to voice the city’s concern. The council discussed the possibility of replacing the No Semi Traffic sign with a larger one, as well as installing a camera at the site and imposing fines on drivers who violate the no semi traffic rule.
Council forms marijuana committee Mayor Polashak announced that the City Council has formed a committee to investigate the advantages and disadvantages of allowing medical marijuana dispensaries to operate in Coloma. The decision to form the committee was made at the December 10 council meeting at the request of residents who debated the financial benefits these types of businesses could potentially bring to the area.
Winter tax deadline extended A reminder that the deadline for paying winter taxes has been extended to February 28, 2019 at 4:00 p.m. Taxes paid after the deadline will be subject to penalty.
Coloma Township Interim Police Chief announced; Dog Park fund-raiser planned
Interim Chief Wesley Smigielski
By Annette Christie With the retirement of Coloma Township Police Chief Jason Roe in November, the Coloma Township Board has named Wesley Smigielski as the Interim Police Chief for the upcoming months. He has been with the department for four years and was a Lieutenant. Prior to his service in Coloma Township, he worked for the City of Benton Harbor. Smigielski expressed interest in the full-time permanent position. During his update to the board at their monthly meeting on December 12 he informed them that the township is now in compliance with the LEIN system requirements and that all violations have been fixed. Dog Park update Girl Scout Caleigh Dahn addressed the board on the status of her Gold Award Amicus Dog Park Project which is being constructed at the township’s Washington School Park. The final work on the project has been delayed until spring. Dahn said that she would need an additional $3,000 for the remainder of what was needed. She announced that a vendor fair is being planned for February 2, 2019 at the FOP #147 hall on Angling Road, in the township. The event, scheduled from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m., will feature vendors and crafters. Those interested should contact Deb Schiefer at Deb.Schiefer@hotmail.com. The hope is to raise the remainder needed for completion. Dahn will now be working with the Parks Committee led by Rory Bell. Other business A Coloma Township resident complained to the board about his sewer bill which he said he did not receive and now has increased by late fees. The resident did not debate the charges for the actual service, just the late fees, given that he never received his bill. The board approved his request to waive the late fees. In other business, the board updated the appointments to the Brownfield Authority. The board now consists of Bob Howell, Sheila Hickmont, Manni Walgram, Mikki Swisher and Laura Baumeister. The township does have one property on Red Arrow Highway that is Brownfield property.
All is calm – All is bright as Hagar Twp. closes the year
By Jon Bisnett Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus in Hagar as the end of 2018 finds the township with a glowing annual audit and healthy surplus equity, a significant grant to build a kayak launch, an increase in new home construction and the resurrection of an idled property that should prove to be the largest single employer in the township. Supervisor Izzy DiMaggio described the events at the monthly Hagar Township board meeting on Monday, Dec. 10 in retrospect as being “truly blessed” with several positive indicators that will carry into the new year.
Guests County Commissioner Dave Vollrath visited, reporting more questions than answers regarding the recent passage of Proposal 1 at the county level. As the local municipalities sort it all out, Vollrath was clear in saying that Berrien County employees will still be subject to the same drug testing policies as before the new law was in acted. Sheriff’s Department report In a report delivered by Deputy Brandon Crosby of the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department, Hagar Township experienced a total of 34 complaints for the month of October, with six tickets issued and four arrests.
Supervisor’s report Supervisor Izzy DiMaggio began with thanks for the volunteers who installed downtown holiday decorations. He continued with the list of reappointments to the Board of Review. Bill Otte, Owen Daley, Deb Frank with Lee LaBay are slated for the board. DiMaggio mentioned the 2019 budget is in process and seeks public input. One item under consideration is township staff and election worker compensation, last revised in 2004. The annual township meeting at the Berrien County Road Department is scheduled for Wednesday, Dec. 12. Clerk’s report Clerk Sarah Rodriguez reported Pride Care Ambulance activity for October with seven Priority I calls at 10:25, 20 Priority II runs averaging 10:52 and a Priority II transport at 17:41. Treasurer’s report Treasurer Marlene Davis presented expenses for the prior month in the amount of $49,361.33 with nothing remarkable. Davis noted extended hours on December 31 for those wishing to pay property taxes before the New Year. Parks and Recreation Beth Raiser finds the township’s parks fairly quiet at the close of the year. She reports tree removal work at Hagar Park complete. Bids from Anchor Signs for Hagar and Roadside replacement signage came in at $1,600 as the sole bidder. Fire report DiMaggio reported the North Berrien Joint Fire Department responded to 18 calls during the month of November with six fire runs in Hagar Township. The annual budget should be ready late January or early February. The department is launching new incident reporting software in the 1st quarter of 2019.
Building Inspector’s report Butch Kelley was happy to report five new building permits totaling $858,165 including a new home start and a 1,375 square foot addition to another. At the same time a much less jolly Kelley is making his list and checking it twice in preparation to address a list of non-complaint properties in the township’s ongoing anti-blight campaign to be released in January. Old business Treasurer Marlene Davis reports that three quotes are now in for a revision of the township website. She expects to select a vendor shortly after the new year. Trustee Andy Ulleg reports the Planning Commission will be conducting a special public hearing in regard to special use for a newly proposed wedding and party venue in the township. Further, Ulleg says the Planning Commission is seeking advice from Williams & Works consulting firm to better educate themselves as to the pros and cons of the effects of Proposal 1 and what course of action would be most prudent in the township which voted its approval for recreational marijuana with a 58% margin last November. New business Only one item appeared under new business, tentative scheduling of the township’s annual meeting and public budget hearing. Supervisor DiMaggio suggested either March 9 or 16, to be formally scheduled at the January regular meeting. Having no other business Supervisor DiMaggio adjourned the meeting at 8:33 p.m. The Board meets next after the New Year holiday.