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12-5-2019 Hartford agrees to PILOT & Municipal Services Agreement; 7 West Hair Design Grand Op

HONORS BAND… Coloma Band students (from the left) Morgan Gruss, Rachael Arnold, and Kayleen Dahlke were selected to participate in the Olivet College Honors Band on November 8, 2019.

MEYER ALL-STAR BAND… Coloma Band student Alice Askren was selected by Meyer Music to represent Coloma in a special event. The Meyer Music All-Star Band performed on November 16, 2019 at Hastings High School.

Hartford agrees to PILOT & Municipal Services Agreement

By Jon Bisnett

Hartford City Commissioners on Monday, November 18 voted to accept a pair of resolutions in regard to ongoing tax appraisal issues with the WODA development company, owners of the Dorrane Greene housing development. A Payment In Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) along with a Municipal Services Agreement were approved following another round of litigation at the State of Michigan Tax Tribunal at which WODA again prevailed as they have in the past attempts of property valuation debate.

An annual payment of $35,000 plus 3% of actual rent collected will be paid to the city instead of a traditional property tax bill.

“It’s the best we can do…” commented Mayor Rick Hall in response to Commissioner Terry Tibbs muttering “… a bunch of crooks.” Tibbs and Commissioner Hellen Sullivan protested the measure, both voting in opposition; offering no alternative solution. Sullivan resides in the development.


Board of Review – Dec. 10 – 1:00 p.m.; December 16 combines council workshop and business sessions due to the holiday; City Hall closed Nov. 28 & 29 for Thanksgiving; 18th Annual Lighted Christmas Parade – Dec. 14 – 6:00 p.m.


County Commissioner Mike Chappell brought news of the purchase of three new county vehicles – replacement for the county work crew bus, not to exceed $39,000; a vehicle not to exceed $25,000 for the Detective Unit and another for Narcotics Officers, also not to exceed $25,000.

Commissioners approved a contract with Southwest Michigan Behavioral Health for $30,000 for services to the Drug Treatment Court.

Commissioners accepted a U.S. Department of Justice grant in the amount of $750,000 over the next 3 years to benefit the Adult Recovery Court, allowing the department to acquire a full-time dedicated metal health caseworker.

Property owner Lori Cross visited the council to pursue the possibility of the city annexing the family parcel located in the township just south of I-94. Cross has been approached by the Green Door provisioning center in Bangor in regard to developing a medical marijuana provisioning and grow facility on the property. After being rebuffed by the township, Cross is hoping the city may consider annexation, since the city has already approved the required ordinance to permit such an operation. With more questions than answers, Mayor Hall said the council will review the matter.

Police Report

Chief Tressa Beltran presented a written report detailing activity of 744 duty hours with 14 foot-patrol hours which included 94 complaints for the month of October, resulting in seven arrests including four felonies.

Beltran also reminded that donation boxes will be out for the annual “Shop with a Cop” toy drive.

Ordinance Officer Report

A written report from Ordinance Officer Jim Coleman noted eight property inspections for the month of October. Blight postings for the month totaled 25 violations resulting in 25 follow-ups. Three grass height violations and subsequent follow-ups also took place.

Fire Report

Chief Rob Harting was on hand to report the department responded to 58 calls in the month of October, including 47 Rescue/ Medical calls and one building fire.

Calls are up year to date and will easily surpass the prior annual total of 552 calls.

HFD’s 2nd Annual Halloween Spooktacular event was a great success with over 300 kids in attendance.

Ambulance Report

Pride Care Ambulance forwarded a written report of 15 Priority I calls at 8:10, three Priority II at 9:31 and three Priority III runs at 12:55 for an overall average response time of 9:02.

Public Works

Superintendent Dan Staunton’s written report noting general maintenance tasks with brush pickup complete and leaf pickup in process. One water turn-off and one turn-on took place for the month. The city pumped 5.427 million gallons for the month.

Wastewater Treatment Plant

Plant Operator Tom Strand filed a written report indicating that all State of Michigan reports for the month have been filed along with routine maintenance tasks. Average flow was reported at .165 million gallons per day. A repair to the effluent sampler was also noted.

Treasurer’s Report

Treasurer Pam Shultz presented a written report for the month of October in the amount of $93,104.07.

City Manager’s Report

City Manager Yemi Akinwale began by reminding of the importance of the upcoming census and noted that data derived from the poll will be used for the next 10 years, amounting to millions of dollars in revenue sharing and grant opportunities.

Paving of Olds Street between N. Center and N. Haver is now complete.

Updating the demolition of properties at 32 & 34 West Main, Akinwale reports Consumers Energy has disconnected natural gas service from the sites. The contractor is now looking at spring due to early onset of winter weather.

Application for a medical marijuana provisioning center located at 325 West Main by Bloomhill LLC has passed muster with the city’s Planning Commission who in turn has recommended approval by the City Commission. The application is now under legal review and expected to come before the council next month.

New business

Comcast representative Geoff Schneider was on hand to answer questions as the commission was set to renew the Comcast Franchise Agreement. Commissioner Tibbs immediately commented that, “Your customer service is terrible… it’s the worst…” Commissioner Frank Dockter joined Tibbs complaining that, “When I call, I end up getting some foreigner I can’t understand…” Schneider calmly responded that it is his job to serve as the liaison for the city and Comcast and would be happy to address any specific issues privately.

Schneider went on to explain that all primary customer service is handled here in the U.S. and only under extreme call volume are calls outsourced. He further reminded Dockter directly that just because a customer service person has an accent, it would be inappropriate to assume the call has been forwarded to a foreign country.

The agreement was renewed with Tibbs voting in opposition.

Med+Leaf owner Doug Von Koenig took the floor first reporting on their first week in business. Over 120 people visited the medical marijuana provisioning center located at 103 West Main during the roughly 4-1/2 days they were open. Von Koenig touched on availability of discount programs including buyer-loyalty, veterans, and a “Shop Hartford” promotion.

To the point Von Koenig presented several talking points in regard to his wishes to expand his license to include recreational sales. The State of Michigan will begin issuing Over-21 Recreational Sales licenses on December 1 to established medical provisioning centers who apply within a municipality who has not opted out of recreational sales.

The city of Hartford voted to opt out as did 79% of Michigan municipalities, pending promulgation of rules from the state. Rules are now in place. Von Koenig hopes the city will reconsider their position.

Recreational purchases will see a 10% excise tax, 15% of that tax goes into a statewide pool that will be divided equally among participating municipalities.

Commissioner John Miller spoke to say, “I have always supported both medical and recreational marijuana from the start…” Further touting the economic benefits Miller reiterated that, “We said we would look at this again when rules were out. The rules are in place. We need to look at this.” Dockter commented, “I think you’ll find you’ll have a hard time getting recreational marijuana passed in this town.”

Dockter’s statement flies in the face of Hartford voters that already stated when they approved Proposal 1 (Over-21 Recreational Marijuana Sales) in November of 2018 by a wide margin 368 yes to 245 no. The measure also was approved by Township voters, albeit a narrower margin 474-420. The statewide margin was 60% in favor.

When reminded the council just recently voted to expand its ordinance to increase total number of medical provisioning and grow licenses in terms of potential revenue, Tibbs quickly jumped in to say, “I never supported any expansion…” While true, Tibbs was not present for the unanimous vote to expand medical facilities, opting to email his opinion while on vacation.

Von Koenig summarized by explaining that this is a rapidly evolving business. He further rationalizes that companies that had previously expressed interest in coming to Hartford will in all likelihood look elsewhere where both medical and recreational facilities are welcomed.

In any case the council will review the recreational question with any potential action coming in the first quarter of 2020 at the soonest.

THESE KUTE KIDS… On Saturday, Nov. 8, the Nilson kids got together for a Family Reunion. Pictured (from the left): Barry Nilson of Hartford; Wendy Russell of Greensburg, Indiana; Linda Nilson of Kalamazoo; Christine Miller of Brisbane, Australia; and Allen Nilson of Watervliet. They are the kids of the late John and Eileen Nilson. The family operated Nilson’s Body Shop on Red Arrow Highway for nearly 35 years. All are Watervliet High School grads. At the celebration, they were joined by their children and grandchildren. They were also joined by decreased brother David’s family. It was a very special and fun day!

Community Soup  & Salad Supper Friday, Dec. 6

A Community Soup & Salad Supper will be held from 5-6 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 6, at the North Berrien Senior Center, 6648 Ryno Road in Coloma. The menu includes soup, salad, bread, dessert and beverage. The public is invited. Cost for adults is $5; $3 for children up to 12 years of age; and free for children under three. Proceeds go to the H.O.P.E. Resources Food Pantry in Coloma. This month’s supper is hosted by North Berrien Senior Center.

GRAND OPENING… Dianne Mabus (left) and Jan Summerford welcome everyone to 7 West Hair Design, 7 West Main Street, Hartford. Celebrate their grand opening through Dec. 12, and enter a drawing to win a beautiful large gift basket. (TCR photo by Teresa Smithers)

7 West Hair Design Grand Opening in Hartford

By Teresa Smithers Lifetime friends and hair stylists, Dianne (Stow) Mabus and Jan Summerford, have partnered together to open 7 West Hair Design in Hartford. An extended grand opening celebration began on Black Friday, Nov. 29, when everyone is invited to come by the salon and sign-up for the giant gift basket being given away in a drawing on Thursday, December 12. Dianne began her hair styling career in the building next to their present site. Upon her marriage, she moved to St. Louis, Missouri, where she ran a shop for 30-plus years before returning home. She is also a substitute teacher. Jan styled hair with Pat at the Hair Forum for many years, coincidentally in the same building that Dianne had worked in previously. Together, these two former Hartford High School students have years of experience. The 7 West Hair Design salon offers hair styling, coloring/perms, and barber cuts for the entire family. They specialize in updos for proms and weddings. Dianne and Jan will travel to wedding sites. Also, face and back waxing services are available. Walk-ins are welcome. Hours are: Tues/Wed: 10-4; Thurs/Fri: 9-5; Sat: 9-3; open evenings by appointment. Their phone number is 314-920-2073. The site at 7 West Main Street has been thoroughly renovated in industrial style, with lots of light coming in the new windows in the front and ample parking in the back.

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