A Digital Native: Watervliet’s Aaron Nance is 4th in North American NetRiders IT Essentials Competit

NANCE WINS BIG IN COMPUTER COMPETITIONS… Aaron Nance of Watervliet High School and the Van Buren Technology Center holds his award for earning first place in PC Servicing and Troubleshooting at the Business Professionals of America National Leadership Conference. Nance also earned a fourth place finish in NetRiders IT Essentials competition. Nance competed against students from schools in 33 states and four Canadian provinces.

NANCE WINS BIG IN COMPUTER COMPETITIONS… Aaron Nance of Watervliet High School and the Van Buren Technology Center holds his award for earning first place in PC Servicing and Troubleshooting at the Business Professionals of America National Leadership Conference. Nance also earned a fourth place finish in NetRiders IT Essentials competition. Nance competed against students from schools in 33 states and four Canadian provinces.

By Kristy Noack

 Aaron Nance, 18, will be a senior at Watervliet High School this fall and also attends Van Buren Technology Center in Paw Paw. He is a student in the PC Tech and Computer Networking Technologies program. Nance recently won two awards, finishing first in PC Servicing and Troubleshooting and fourth in North America in I.T. Essentials competition. Nance, along with fellow Watervliet student Roberto Rodriquez, traveled to Boston, Massachusetts for the 50th anniversary Business Professionals of America Leadership Conference. To achieve the honor, both Nance and Rodriguez competed in regional and state competitions for the opportunity to represent VBTC and WHS.  A press release issued by VBC explained “there were a variety of activities during the event including 54 individual and team competitions, a dozen open events, a dozen professional development sessions, industry certification tests, full general assemblies and fun extracurricular activities.” Nance won first place in PC Servicing and Trouble Shooting at the conference.  Nance also earned his way to competition among students from 34 states and four Canadian provinces in the 2016 Cisco U.S.A. and Canada NetRiders competition. This competition offered three different Cisco Networking Academy courses in which individuals could compete.  Nance took fourth place overall in the I.T. Essentials competition. This task required participants to build and set up a computer, then connect it to the internet. He earned a $295 CompTIA A+ certification voucher, which can be used by Nance toward certification in computer networking, troubleshooting, or security.  Michigan sent 88 teams to the NetRiders U.S.A. and Canada IT Essentials round one competition on March 3. Nance and fellow Panthers and VBTC students Roberto Rodriguez and Cody McCarthy finished in the top ten and moved on to round two competition, where Nance finished fourth.  Rodriguez took 14th place, while McCarthy finished 25th.  Nance has always had a love of and talent for all things computer related. He shared, “When I was at South [elementary] school I would help teachers set up projectors and computers.”  The fulfillment he receives from rebuilding a computer, solving troubleshooting issues, or working on the sound system in the high school auditorium, gives him a sense of pride in his work.  “I like tinkering with computers and cars. I like rebuilding computers. Just getting something going” gives him “satisfaction in a job well done,” he said.  Superintendent Kevin Schooley is completely at ease with Nance’s ability to help students, staff, and administrators alike. “He’s a digital native,” Schooley said. “I am glad from Watervliet’s perspective he has done a wonderful job at the Vo-Tech. I’m glad we provided a base for him to do what he loves.”  After graduation next spring, Nance hopes to attend Davenport University to eventually become a federal agent specializing in computer forensics and cyber security.  As for Nance’s fourth place finish in the North American competition, Schooley praised Nance saying, “He deserves the recognition.  He’s worked so hard. Genuinely, he is just a nice guy. That, with his skill set, will take him a long way.”  Nance, who hopes to compete in both the BPA National Leadership Conference and NetRiders U.S.A. and Canada competitions next year, is the son of Vera Watson and Ronnie Nance, all of Watervliet.

Watervliet Board of Education sets 2016-17 budget, extends contracts at Monday meeting

By Kristy Noack

 The Watervliet Board of Education met Monday, June 27 for their annual Budget Hearing.  The Board approved a measure that formally stated the district would provide an 80/20 health care insurance premium for WESPA members. The three-year agreement began on July 21, 2014. The motion was made to restate coverage rates as the district has entered into agreements with other employee groups.  Administrative contracts for Brad Coon, high school principal; Dave Armstrong, middle school principal; Ken Dietz, high school athletic director; Carole Fetke, South Elementary principal; David Kindt, the WAY program principal; and Joe Allen, North Elementary school principal were extended through June 30, 2018. The measure passed unanimously.  Superintendent Kevin Schooley evaluated each staff member and recommended the contract extensions.  Coon, Kindt, Armstrong and Dietz received 1% salary increases. Two percent salary increases were given to Allen and Fetke.  Approval was also given to increase the salaries for administrative and non-union staff.  Finance coordinator Dianne Moker received a 1% increase in salary. Mark Isbrecht, Transportation Supervisor and Maintenance Director, was given a 2% increase in his annual salary.  Salaries for June Alton, the food services director, as well as the computer support personnel were increased by larger amounts, 5.7% and 4.46% to meet the threshold required to reach their salary base. The positions were previously using overtime but those regulations change December 1.  An increase of $5,000 was earmarked for the special education director to cover the increased responsibilities of the position, including compliance and program evaluation. Other salaries for non-union staff were increased as well.  Schooley stated, “The recommendations are competitive for the area.” The motion passed unanimously.  Members of the Board approved the extension of Schooley’s contract through June 30, 2019.  Board Vice-President Bill Spaulding said, “We are renewing [Schooley’s] contract as we finalize the results of his evaluation.”  Spaulding advised results should be available by the Board’s next regular meeting which will be July 18.  Discussion was held regarding the 2015-16 General Fund, Capital Projects Fund, Debt Retirement Fund, and School Service Fund budgets.  The Finance committee, comprised of Schooley, Spaulding, Board President Ted Tees, and Board Trustee Tim Lynch, reviewed the information prior to the meeting.  The General Fund Budget was amended to reflect $13,145,586 of revenue and $13,049,690 in expenditures.  The revenue total was $184,000 more than the district projected in December.  For the 2015-16 year, Watervliet was $95,896 “in the black.” According to Schooley, “This is the second year in a row this district has added to the fund equity.”  Dianne Moker said, “I think financially it’s been a sound year.”  The district calculated a loss of 10 students from the 2014-15 year. However, Watervliet only lost nine for 2015-16. On count day, the district totaled 1,442 students.  The amended 2015-16 budgets passed unanimously.  Following the passage of the 2015-16 budgets, opportunity was held for audience members to participate in an open forum to discuss the proposed 2016-17 General Fund Budget. With no public in the audience to comment, the meeting rolled on.  Passing by unanimous vote was the 2016-17 General Fund budget, Capital Projects Fund, Debt Retirement Fund, and School Service Fund Budgets.  The General Fund budget projects a revue of $13,076,640 and expenditures of $13,071.639. The approval levies the non-homestead millage rate at 18 mills.  The district is budgeting 10 fewer students than the 2015-16 school year. It also projects an increase of $120 per pupil in state aid.  The budget reflects one less special education teacher for the upcoming school year. Due to a retirement, the position will not be filled.  Board Trustee Tim Lynch reiterated the sad news that he will not run for the school board in the upcoming election. He encouraged all parties with a vested interest in the Watervliet school district to become involved and learn more about becoming a school board member.  President Ted Tees mentioned that the district is “always looking for qualified candidates to drive busses.” Contact the district for more information.

Stromeyer art exhibit

 Marge Stromeyer, 91, taught a generation to read.  After retiring from 30 years as a first grade teacher in Hartford and Breedsville, Mrs. Stromeyer took up oil painting, specializing in architectural scenes featuring mills, homes, and lighthouses.  This Saturday a retrospective exhibit of her paintings hung on the trees in front of her home on Shafer Lake. Family, friends, passers

Marge Stromeyer, 91, taught for 30 years before taking up painting.

Marge Stromeyer, 91, taught for 30 years before taking up painting.

by and boaters could chat with neighbors while perusing the charming al fresco gallery of her work on this busiest weekend of the lake season. A few of her paintings even found new homes.  Steve and Marge Stromeyer, married 66 years, are both WWII Navy veterans.  Steve was serving on a carrier in the Pacific and Marge was in training at Great Lakes when the war ended.   In addition to Steve’s careers working for the railroad and for Whirlpool and Marge’s teaching, the couple farmed near Bangor and raised 3 children, Sue, Hank, and Pete.  Marge followed in her mother’s and her father’s steps. Her mother was a long time first grade teacher; her father enjoyed painting. Marge and Steve reside now on property formerly owned by her parents, where she played as a child.  Their roots run deep in this corner of SW Michigan.

2016 Coloma Glad Peach Festival Peach Bake-off contest  applications

 The contest for the 2016 Peach Bake-off is on Friday, August 5. Applications can be picked up on July 7 through August 3 at the Coloma City Hall, Honor Credit Union, 133 Badt Dr., Hammond Chocolate and Cup Cakes, 126 N. Paw Paw St. and West Street Station, 210 N. Paw Paw St.  The deadline is August 3 and must be turned into Coloma City Hall by 4 p.m. There will be four categories: cookies/bars, cakes/cupcakes, pies/pastries, and breads/muffins/coffee cakes.  All entries will be accepted from 12noon-1 p.m. August 5 at Hammonds. No late entries will be accepted. Judging begins at 1 p.m.  All winners will be announced at 7:30 p.m. at the Main Stage. Best of show winner will receive a Kitchen aid stand up mixer with all attachments donated by Honor Credit Union.  For more information contact Don Burleson, Chairman at 408-6010.

Paw Paw Lake  Association meets Saturday, July 9

The Paw Paw Lake Association will meet on Saturday, July 9, 2016 at 9:00 a.m. at Watervliet Charter Township Hall.

WHS class of 1970 gathering August 20

 The WHS class of 1970 will be having their first annual get-together on Saturday, August 20, beginning at 6 o’clock p.m. at Hawgsville Saloon in Watervliet.  This is also the same day as the Watervliet 40 Year Club all class reunion, which will be held earlier in the day.  Please help spread the word of our 1970 class gathering. We will be accepting a minimum donation for a pizza and salad bar that will be available.

Fire and Police Reports

By Annette Christie

Burglar caught in progress

  Watervliet Police Chief Tim Sutherland reports that a burglary was halted in the progress of occurring on July 4 in the City of Watervliet. Patrolman Richard Albers was dispatched to a burglary in progress on E. St. Joseph St. in which the suspect had been confronted by the homeowner.  Albers and members of the Pokagon Tribal Police and Coloma Township Police searched the area and the suspect, later identified as Brett Grayam, was located by Albers hiding near the original scene.  Grayam was taken into custody by Albers without incident and was lodged at the Berrien County Jail on charges of burglary and two other outstanding warrants.   Grayam, who had injured himself while breaking into the garage, was treated and released by Medic 1 before being taken to jail.

Extra police presence thwarts bad behavior on July 4

 For the Independence Day holiday weekend, the Berrien County Sheriff’s Office increased the daily patrols at Silver Beach County Park located in the City of St. Joseph.   The stepped up police presence follows violent activity this past Memorial Day and at last year’s July 4th holiday.  These increased patrols consisted of the Berrien County Sheriff’s Office dedicating deputies to exclusively patrol Silver Beach County Park in an attempt to ensure that the citizens of Berrien County and the visitors to Berrien County had a safe and wonderful experience in and around Silver Beach County Park.  During these extra patrols, the deputies worked very closely with personnel from the Berrien County Parks Department and its law enforcement partners from the St. Joseph City Department of Public Safety and the Michigan State Police.  During the extra patrols, the Sheriff’s Office issued 28 citations (24 of which were for the violation of a County Ordinance prohibiting alcoholic beverages on the beach).   The Berrien County Sheriff’s Office also made 15 misdemeanor arrests (five of these arrests were for the possession of marijuana, two were for minor in possession of alcoholic beverages, and one was for operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated).   The Berrien County Sheriff’s Office also responded to 21 calls for service at the park during this Independence Day holiday weekend.  Many of these calls for service were to assist parents in locating their missing children.  All of the missing children were reunited with their parents.    The Berrien County Sheriff’s Office would like to thank the citizens of Berrien County, the visitors of Berrien County, the Berrien County Parks Personnel, its law enforcement partners, as well as the leaders of the State of Michigan and the City of St. Joseph for helping make this holiday weekend experience at Silver Beach County Park a safe and pleasant experience for all who came out to enjoy the wonderful area in and around Silver Beach County Park.

Keeler Township Police Activity

 Van Buren County Sheriff Deputy Ray Hochsprung, who is assigned to Keeler Township, continued the work on 10 ordinance/zoning violations during the month of June.  Five of them are close to being in compliance.   Hochsprung said that for the 17 days he worked in Keeler Township he had 24 complaints, six criminal investigations, one private property accident, four traffic stops, two misdemeanor arrests, and two felony arrests.   Hochsprung performed 85 property checks for the month of June.

Watervliet Township Board approves lake  district fee participation

By Annette Christie

 The Watervliet Township Board held a special meeting on June 27 to approve an “at large assessment” to aid in the funding of the next special assessment district for the cleanup of Paw Paw Lake.  Trustee Joe Stepich made the motion supporting a 5% at large assessment per year for the phase two project. Stephich gave the board an estimation of the assessment, showing the annual lake assessment of $212,587.  The proposed plan is that 5% of the total assessment ($10,643) will be sp