2019 MISS AND MR. COLOMA CONTESTANTS… Pictured (from the left): Mr. Contestants (standing) – William Church and Zack Lake; Miss Contestants (seated) – Narelle Hickman, Emily Greenman, Amber Street, Samantha Scott and Cassidy Dryer. The pageant will be held on Saturday, January 5, 2019 in the Coloma High School Auditorium beginning at 6:00 p.m. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door. For tickets or more information, contact Barb Stroder at (269) 468-3731. (Photos courtesy of Toney Hart-Wilson)
MORE COLOMA ROYALTY CONTESTANTS… (From the left): Mr. Contestants (standing) – David Hiler and Sin’Cere Taylor; Miss Contestants (seated) – Alexia Saucedo, Kivi Costigan, Skylar Hicker, Caroline Miota and Emma Young. Please help us by wishing all of these young ladies and gentlemen “Good Luck!”
Hartford School Board updates Code of Ethics
By Jon Bisnett Policy Chairman Mike Banic introduced the board to the first reading of several updates to policy specifically in the area of board ethics at the November 15 business meeting. Banic addressed the areas of public comments made by board members, social media posts and a reminder that the president is by policy the only official voice of the board. Further Banic outlined the proper protocol whereby if a board member were to speak out on any given issue, it is appropriate to disclaim the statement as a personal opinion, not that of the board. Summing up the lengthy documentation for review, Banic reminded that a board member is obligated to wear “One hat… not a parent hat, but their board hat.” Organization meeting The date was set for the 2019 organizational meeting to be 7:00 p.m. Thursday, January 10 at Hartford Public Schools Central Office. Talk also took place to consider formally moving future meetings from Thursday to Monday for the purpose of avoiding conflicts that occasionally occur with Van Buren Intermediate School District events. No action was taken at this time.
Red Arrow property Superintendent Andy Hubbard reviewed changes to the purchase as recommended by the district’s legal counsel. Board members were eager to make the transaction move forward and saw no reason for concern with any of the requests from legal counsel of the Hartford District Library. Unanimous approval followed, paving the way for the Library to finalize the purchase. King Media Following the detailed presentation of the prior week, the board held discussion as to the proposal of marketing services from King Media. “It’s a lot of money… I was really surprised that it came in double what I had guessed it would be…” said Rick Vawter. Mike Banic said, “For what they charge, we could hire a full-time person to do the job.” Jason Meachum voiced the opinion that perhaps the market research component by itself would be of most benefit to the district, while Lisa Johnson expressed frustration in saying that “All the best schools that are moving forward are using this, a marketing service, even Bangor has a marketing person… we’ve spent over a year talking about this.” Vawter pointed out that there is no clear goal as to what the board’s expectations are at this time. The subject will be revisited. At the very least a second bidder must be considered per state law.
Middle School trip Teacher Jennifer Stubbs sought approval for an 8th graders trip to Washington D.C. May 19 through the 23rd; 30 students are already signed up. Unanimous approval was given by the board.
Technology Tech guru Rob Sheffey briefly outlined a work in progress which will result in installation of HD television monitors at each of the three campus locations. Placed in high-traffic public locations, the programming of the screens would be controlled by the building secretaries to promote upcoming events, student achievement and other items of interest. Questions arose as to bilingual considerations which Sheffey said can be handled by the secretaries who program the information.
District communications Redwood Elementary Principal Ed Dickenson and Middle School Principal Ken Mohney jointly presented the communications efforts within their buildings. Both campuses maintain social media pages, newsletters and direct calls to home when warranted. Redwood publishes 90% of the outgoing information in bi-lingual fashion referring to “families” rather than parents recognizing the non-traditional family unit where grandparents serve as the student’s guardian. Middle School students have the additional tools of the Power School Portal, Student of the Week and after-school extended learning opportunity. Speaking for the High School in the absence of Principal Dave Janicki, Kim deBoom detailed a new Adopt a Classroom program in which high school athletes promote reading in the lesser grades by visiting the classrooms on a regular basis to serve as role models. In her role as District Information Coordinator deBoom commented that the Power School Portal continues to be a significant resource for students and parents alike. Utilization was just 52% in 2016, grew to 59% the following year and is now at 80% of all MS and HS students.
Bilingual Coordinator deBoom shared that most recent statistics put the student body at currently 52% Hispanic, noting translations are already in place for report cards, emergency announcements, take home letters at all buildings, and the counseling office. The decision that remains is whether to also publish the hardcopy district newsletter as a Spanish version.
Curriculum Curriculum Director Brad Geesaman reported, describing the work of ongoing processes with the District Improvement Team including sessions scheduled for December, February and April. In addition, a student survey is collecting data from the students themselves to seek their responses on how they perceive the instruction they are provided.
North Berrien Historical Museum hosts daytime kids program on birds, Thursday, January 3 Spread your wings and fly on over to the North Berrien Historical Museum during midwinter break for a fun-filled afternoon program about birds. Learn all about our feathered friends who live in Michigan and what they do for the winter from a Sarett Nature Center naturalist, meet a live barred owl, and make a pinecone bird feeder to put out for the birds in your backyard. This free program takes place on Thursday, January 3 from 1:00-2:30 p.m. and is intended for children ages 6-12 as well as their families. All inquiries can be directed to the museum at (269) 468-3330 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Watervliet City approves radar devices for cop cars; Limits access to Hays Park in winter
By Annette Christie The Watervliet City Commission began their December 11 meeting with compliments for the successful Small Business Saturday and the Hometown Christmas events recently held. DDA Chairman Bob Becker reported that area retailers noted record sales for the Saturday after Thanksgiving event. Becker thanked the City Manager and the Public Works department for the lights and all the efforts put forth to decorate the City. Becker, who said they had 13 retailers participate, anticipates that this is the beginning of an ongoing successful tradition. Many praises were also given for the Hometown Christmas event held the first weekend of December. Police Department news At the request of the Police Chief the City Commission authorized the purchase of two Stalker Patrol radar devices. Chief Sutherland said that when he started back in 2015, none of the City’s fleet had working radars. He was able to obtain some older devices from the Berrien County Sheriff; however, Sutherland said those are outdated and failing. The budget for this year did include the funds for the purchase of the two new devices that will cost $2,994 and include all the miscellaneous equipment and come with a warranty. Sutherland said he expects that they should last 12-15 years. City Manager recommendations City Manager Tyler Dotson brought a request forward to purchase road salt from the Berrien County Road Department. Dotson said that the City generally gets it from the State of Michigan, however, due to the limited supply and number of suppliers this year they missed the window to purchase. The purchase request was for 100 tons which is about what they get every year at a cost of $8,382. Dotson said they have put the mechanisms in place so that it won’t be missed next year. Dotson announced that due to lower than expected medical costs, the City’s health insurance carrier, Blue Cross Blue Shield had issued a rebate check in the amount of $2,352.78 to the city. This rebate is to be divided 80% to the City, and 20% to the employees that had participated in the health insurance program in 2017 and were still employed with the city. After discussion, it was determined that the employees’ portion would be deducted off of their insurance payment in the last check of the year. Following the passage of Proposal 1, which legalizes recreational marijuana in the State of Michigan, Dotson recommended that some of the city’s policies and/or employee handbook sections may need to be changed to address that. Dotson presented Employee Handbook section 9.6 that addresses substance abuse. He recommended to the commission that language changes should be made to include the term marijuana which formally outlines that under no circumstances are employees permitted to work while under the influence of marijuana. Dotson said that the position is similar to the current policies that relate to alcohol. He said that the City’s Attorney reviewed the changes and found them to be sufficient. Dotson told the City Commission that Eric Holloway had resigned from the Planning Commission due to work constraints. The City approved a motion to accept Mr. Hollaway’s resignation. Dotson will work with the Planning Commission to fill that vacant seat. Hays Park winter access A discussion was held about the winter access to Hays Park. While city leaders want to make their parks available during all seasons, maintaining the plowing necessary for all vehicle types to drive into Hays Park is very costly and time consuming. Dotson said he understands that some of the city’s youth like to do some sledding, and while they want that to be available, they have to consider the cost. Following discussions with Public Works and the Police Chief, Dotson recommended that the M-140 access to Hays Park should remain closed during the winter, however, residents and visitors could still access it from the top portion entrance access. Residents could access it by using East Parsons to Baldwin. The city would plow the large parking area at that entrance but would block vehicles from entering into the park. They would also include signage to make people aware. Sutherland concurred that it was a better way to handle it. “It is safer and makes more sense,” Sutherland said. The City Commission agreed as well and provided direction to have Dotson move forward. City Manager report In Dotson’s City Manager report he led with a shout out to city staff. Dotson said that the State of Michigan selected Watervliet to be audited for their election. Dotson said, “We passed with flying colors.” While there was one small item that will need to be looked at, Dotson said it was minor and said that Clerk Christa Townsend did an awesome job. “It really backs up the integrity of our election,” Dotson said. A discovery at the end of November that State Revenue Sharing reports were needed for the approaching December 1 deadline showed just how well City Hall staffers handle pressure. Dotson said that a bad email address was the reason why requests for the documents did not get to the proper person. Once the requirement was identified Dotson said, in one day Melanie Marvin was able to pound out the reports they needed and got them in by the December 1 deadline. Dotson reported $11,000 in revenue sharing was saved due to her extra work. He added that they have corrected the proper notifications so that this does not happen again. Dotson also said Jeff Allen, Mike Good and Dylan Lynch with the Public Works Department did a great job putting up all the Christmas lights. “They put in a lot of time and extra effort,” Dotson said. He added his appreciation to the DDA for their donation of the lights and new garland for the beautification of the city. Mayor Brinker closed the meeting by thanking Commissioners Rick Kinzler and Larry Hehl for their service to the residents of the City. Their terms end at the end of this year. January will see the addition of Michael Bumstead and Jennifer Helms to the Watervliet City Commission.
90 children benefit from Sister Lakes Lions Christmas distribution The Sister Lakes Lions Club distributed toys, clothing and 30 baskets of food to needy families in the area just in time for Christmas. “This year is as big as ever,” said Lion Club President, Judy Pullins. “There are 90 children in the 30 families. The baskets contained canned goods, flour, sugar, potatoes, bread, fruit, cereal, eggs, milk, candy and, of course, the traditional turkey. There were lots of toys, too.” Each basket had over $60 worth of food. The distribution of food baskets and toys has been a local Lions Club service for over 40 years. Bill Everett, co-chairman of the project, said, “This undertaking would not be possible without the strong support of local merchants, businesses, the staff at the Sister Lakes School and the public in general. It’s one of the most rewarding things we do.”