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12-31-2020 City of Hartford makes pandemic adjustments; Prince named Lieutenant of the Police Dept.

North Berrien Historical Museum counts the votes and declares 3 winners in tree decorating contest

The North Berrien Historical Museum would like to thank the community for their willingness to interact with the Museum online. This year, the Museum’s annual Holiday Open House event was one that would not have been possible with current COVID-19 restrictions. Instead of canceling the Holiday event, it was reinvented as the I’ll Be Home for Holiday Open House event!

This event included three pre-recorded videos from Mr. & Mrs. Claus, over 25 sponsored historical posts on Facebook, the creation of a Holiday activity booklet designed for 3rd and 4th graders that was printed and delivered to local students, and a Holiday Tree Contest that had 422 total votes.

“The interest online has been astounding,” says Jack Greve, Executive Director & Curator of the Museum. “We engaged with over 26,000 Facebook users in December, had an increase in online sales, donations and memberships, and received many words of encouragement from the community.”

With this event now wrapped up, the 422 votes in the Tree Contest were tallied; here are the results! With 46 total votes, Debbie Friday took 3rd place with her tree Upside Down Kind of Year. In 2nd place, Grinchmas created by the McKee/Cook Family with 62 votes. With a narrow margin of only five votes, Healthy to the Core took 1st place with their Tree of Health entry receiving 67 votes.

This event would have not been possible without the generous support from the following: Coloma/St. Joseph KOA Holiday, Coloma Motor Sports, Easy Street Inn, Darlene Getz DDS, Duffield & Pastrick Family Funeral Home & Cremation, Flaugh Insurance Agency, Harding’s Friendly Market, Linear Electric, Future Construction, H&R Block, Insurance Management Service, John’s Glass & Windows, Jollay Orchards, Monte Package Company, and Watervliet Hardware.

First Place

Second Place

Third Place

City of Hartford makes pandemic adjustments including Board of Review procedures; Prince named Lieutenant of the Police Dept.

By Anna Layer

On Monday, Dec. 21, the Hartford City Council took several actions aimed at conducting city business through the COVID-19 pandemic. The council agreed to a new policy regarding use of city issued electronic devices, and each member of the council has been provided with a device that will allow them to participate in electronic meetings if and when they occur. Additionally, the council passed a resolution to allow for electronic meetings to be held by all City of Hartford, as well as to permit council members to join meetings remotely.

Another pandemic related decision was a resolution allowing residents of the City of Hartford to communicate by letter if they wish to make an appeal with the Board of Review. Said communications would have a deadline coinciding with the last date that the Board of Review would be meeting, and though these meetings are typically held in March the exact dates have not been set yet. The city council also agreed to a set of guidelines for the Board of Review to implement when considering poverty exemption appeals. Applications for poverty exemptions must be filed after January 1, 2021, but at least one day prior to the last day for the Board of Review.

Police Union contract approved, Prince named Lieutenant

The City of Hartford reached an agreement with the police union that will be in effect for five years, and is retroactive to July. The contract recognizes seniority of police officers, and permits them to claim twelve hours for holidays because they work in twelve hour shifts. Police will receive an annual 2% wage increase for the life of the contract, and their life insurance was increased to $30,000 from $15,000.

Officer Mike Prince has been appointed to Lieutenant effective January 1, 2021. Lieutenant Prince is an experienced officer and fills the vacancy created when Chief Tressa Beltran stepped into her current leadership role. Lieutenant Prince is enthusiastic about the change, stating, “I’m happy to get this promotion. With reserve time, I have spent 40 years in law enforcement. I have a lot to learn about the administrative side, but I am looking forward to those challenges and still working on the road so I can teach these young guys what I know and continue working with the public.”

Financial updates

The city is currently undergoing an audit of the 2019/2020 financial records by Hungerford Nichols, a CPA firm from Grand Rapids.

The Pokagon Hartford Area Revenue Sharing Board met on October 7, 2020 for distribution of Casino Revenue from the 2019 fiscal year. The City of Hartford’s distribution share was $72,412.86 which was down from $93,007.03, the 2018 distribution.

In the past, when demolition was required for blighted tax-reverted properties within the City of Hartford, Van Buren County has shared the cost of the demolition. Recently, Van Buren County has declined to share these costs citing the Michigan Supreme Court’s decision in Rafaeli vs. Oakland. The decision in Rafaeli vs. Oakland was unanimous, and found it unconstitutional if counties collect surplus proceeds from the sale of foreclosed properties without compensating the former property. The city has asked their legal counsel for guidance and is currently exploring other avenues of alleviating some of the cost for demolition of these properties.

The City of Hartford is also considering an update to their employment benefits coverage that would allow city employees to receive cash compensation in lieu of health insurance. If approved, the employees that are eligible for coverage under a spouse’s health insurance plan could receive the recommended amount of $300 a month in lieu of health insurance. Paying employees a monthly cash amount in lieu of paying for their health insurance would ultimately save the city thousands of dollars if employees decide to opt in for the agreement.

The next regular meeting for the City of Hartford will take place on Jan. 25, 2021, at 7:30 p.m.



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