12-26-2019 School News & Calendars; County Parks Plan approved; includes expansion and improve

HARTFORD HIGH SCHOOL… “Students of the Week” for December 16 – 20, 2019 are: (from the left) 9th Grade – Addisyn Smith, student of Matt & Anne Smith; 10th Grade – Tanner Kinchen, student of Jessie & Stacey Kinchen; 11th Grade – Emilie Fillmore, student of Juan & Carmela Fillmore; 12th Grade – Darius Webb, student of Cynthia Conley. Congratulations to these “Students of the Week” and keep up the great work!

County Parks Plan approved; includes expansion and improvements for Paw Paw River County Park

By Annette Christie The Berrien County Board of Commissioners gave their stamp of approval to the newly updated 5-year Parks and Recreation Plan for 2020 – 2024. Berrien County Parks & Recreation Director Brian Bailey presented the plan at a public hearing earlier this month. The Berrien County Parks & Recreation System includes Galien River in New Buffalo; Silver Beach in St. Joseph; Rocky Gap in Benton Harbor; Love Creek in Berrien Center; Historic Courthouse Square in Berrien Springs; Madeline Bertrand in Niles; and Paw Paw River County Park in Watervliet. Several public meetings were held to solicit ideas and gain comments for the development of all goals. The draft plan was available in the public libraries of New Buffalo and Watervliet and was posted on the County website. Of the discussions, improvements to Paw Paw River County Park were suggested including adding a picnic pavilion near the canoe launch, expanded parking lot, vault restrooms, asphalt parking lot, and a playground. The future for the Paw Paw River County Park includes the acquisition of the Enders property. It is expected to add vault toilets, in 2022; permeable parking area and asphalt drive; 2023 bridge to the island, connecting it to the County Park – small picnic shelter near kayak launch with two picnic tables and trash receptacles; acquire 35 additional acres; 2024 underground sprinkler system. Bailey said this of Paw Paw River County Park, “While this park is considered new as it was built in 2018, maintenance remains a high priority for visitor experience. Continued investment in maintenance of infrastructure is a priority for safety, security and the quality of visitor experience. Acquisition of 63 acres of property adjacent to the park across from the island in the park is a priority. Once it is acquired, a bridge connecting the park will allow access over the river. Hard surface trails and overlook decks on the river will provide for fishing and wildlife viewing. Expanding the parking area along with asphalting permeable pavers of parking areas will enhance the visitor experience. The park master plan calls for a picnic shelter, fish cleaning stations, a bait and tackle concession, spray-ground playground, vault restrooms, and modern restrooms. Just last week, the Berrien County Parks Department announced that their grant application for funds to assist with the purchase of the 63-plus acres adjacent to Paw Paw River County Park was recommended by the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund. The acquisition will make more river frontage accessible to the public. With the Governor’s approval, they will be awarded $80,000. The remainder of the purchase price will be paid for with local matching funds. They are hopeful that they can take possession of the property in the summer of 2020.

Winners announced in Watervliet’s Best Lighted House Contest

By Annette Christie The holiday light decorating contest, held annually during the Hometown Christmas Celebration, has determined the winners. The winner of the competition is Sara Corbin, 2638 N. Countyline Road. Her prize was $100 cash. The second place winner is Sara Duris, 530 Paw Paw Ave., Watervliet. She is the winner of a $50 B&B Discount Grocery gift card. Third place winner is Renee Rogalski at 225 Silver Terrace. Rogalski won a $25 DiMaggio’s Gift Certificate. Residents in both the city and township of Watervliet may ente