Coloma and Watervliet riverfront communities will advance clean up funds to speed up project

Paw Paw River clearing subject of Watervliet Township Board meeting

By Annette Christie

 On the heels of a press release out of Lansing announcing funding for the Paw Paw River clean up, The Watervliet Township Board discussed options for how to move the project along a little quicker.  Supervisor Dan Hutchins said that the leadership of the four communities involved including them, have talked it over and verbally consented to fronting the money that would be coming from the state’s October budget.  Hutchins said that he and Watervliet City Mayor Dave Brinker, Coloma Township Supervisor Ken Parrigin, and Coloma City Mayor Jim Polashak have been very active in discussions on what they could do to help with their piece of a Paw Paw River project that starts in Paw Paw and reaches the Benton Harbor/St. Joseph area.  While the funding announced was in the amount of $100,000, Hutchins said that it will be divided evenly among all of the municipalities involved and will equate to about $6,000 each for the locals (Watervliet City and Township and Coloma City and Township).  The project scope, which has been worked on locally for years, is to make the Paw Paw River navigable for its entirety. All of the local units have approved resolutions in support. A group of individuals and municipal leaders had been meeting including leaders in Hartford, Watervliet, Coloma, Hagar, Benton Harbor and St. Joseph.  In the press release from State Representatives Al Pscholka and Aric Nesbitt’s office they announced that the $100,000 grant will be made available to help clear debris in the Paw Paw River water trail and provide access sites for canoes and kayaks. Pscholka voiced appreciation for Jerry Willmeng of Coloma, Rick Rasmussen of Watervliet and Parrigin for their constant efforts on the project.  The grant, which will be awarded through the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, provides funding through the Southwest Michigan Planning Commission to the local communities. Making the Paw Paw River navigable creates just one more attraction for the Watervliet-Coloma area, establishing itself as a destination place for canoes and kayaks. “This is a huge asset for our community,” Hutchins said. The 62-mile water trail begins in Waverly Township in Van Buren County and flows through Berrien County converging with the St. Joseph River just above its mouth at Benton Harbor.  The Paw Paw River offers a scenic view to kayakers or canoeists through heavily wooded areas. Currently there are 22 access points where paddlers can get on the river, including the Maple Lake Dam, the Paw Paw River campground, and Watervliet’s Hays Park.  Access points are also available in Benton Harbor-St. Joseph near the Harbor Shores development.  “This project really ties it all together,” said Pscholka. “Downed trees in the Coloma-Watervliet area have been an issue for years, and by working together – state government, local government, river advocacy groups, and planners, we are going to get the job done.”   Rick Rasmussen, contacted after the meeting said that the Watervliet-Coloma area (3.3 mile section of the river) has four things to its advantage that he is not aware of for the other areas along the Paw Paw River: access point(s); property ownership support; a good volunteer base; and donations. With that, Rasmussen said, this area could be the blueprint for the other 60 miles.  Rasmussen is pretty certain that this area could get the project started without any taxpayer funding.  When asked about the costs to clear the river, Rasmussen said that while they are seeking estimates to open the river, it will only be when a company actually gets in there and starts it, that they will be able to pinpoint a true cost.  In other business, Hutchins informed the board that a meeting was held with the school and the city regarding the establishment of a School Resource Officer position that will possibly be funded by all three entities.  Hutchins said this is still in the very preliminary stages with no guarantee that it will even work.  Some preliminary funding was discussed with it being shared between the three, however, at this time, discussions will not be moving forward without a budgetary commitment from the city.   Hutchins said personally that he is very supportive of it, but that there has to be a plan in place to make it work.  Bambrick added that conceptually, she liked the idea.  The board also approved changing the August meeting to August 22 (the 4th Monday) at 7:00 p.m.  to accommodate the board’s schedule.

Watervliet set to celebrate 4th of July

By Kristy Noack

 Watervliet’s 4th of July schedule is out and the two-day celebration is chock full of exciting events. The committee overseeing the celebration is chaired by Rochelle Ulleg of Robert Michael Salon and Amy Loshbough of the Tri-City Record. The two – along with many volunteers – have joined forces to create a weekend of fun just in time for the 4th.  The action begins with the Gene Bednarowski Cherry 5k run and walk on Saturday, July 2. Onsite registration occurs at 6:45 a.m. at North Elementary School located at 287 Baldwin.  A children’s fun run begins at 7:30 a.m. and is followed by the 5k at 8:00 a.m. The course returns to the wildly popular Paw Paw Lake route. Last year, due to construction at the elementary, the route was relocated to the high school.  Swing by the Watervliet Fire Department from 7:00 a.m. until 11:00 a.m. for a wonderful pancake breakfast. Proceeds from the breakfast will be used to benefit the fire department.  Beginning at 10:00 a.m. the Kids Zone is open for business! Located behind Robert Michael Salon and G. W. Jones Bank on Church Street, the parking lot will be filled with games for kids, sweets in the form of cotton candy and snow cones, inflatables, and even a face painter!  The 13th annual 4th of July Car Show Honoring our Veterans will take place from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at Arclight Brewery.  The car show will be the place to be to check out old Fords and Chevys. Vick Kinzler and Les Fairbanks do an incredible job chairing the event.  The monies raised are donated back

GETTING READY…for the celebration are WBA volunteers, from the left, Tom Gear, Rochelle Ulleg and Amy Loshbough

to veterans groups in the area. There’s no better way to show your American pride than to take care of our veterans, and here’s your chance.  The Little Miss and Mr. Firecracker contest will be held at 11:00 a.m. on the Main Stage, located in downtown Watervliet across from Hawsgville Saloon.  Currently, 18 youngsters will vie for the titles of Little Miss and Mr. Voting boxes are out at Robert Michael Salon, Frosty Boy, B&B Outlet, and Hardings in Coloma. Stop in and vote today for your little sparkler; voting ends at noon on July 1.  The North Berrien Historical Society has teamed up with the Watervliet District Library to provide a patriotic pinwheel craft. The library, located at 333 North Main Street, is offering the free craft from 11:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m.  While you are there, purchase a legacy brick for $75 to honor someone special. The bricks are being sold to help offset the costs of the new library park. Library staff will be on hand during the festival to answer any questions you may have about the park renovation and will have order forms on hand.  Veterans Park in downtown will be rededicated in a noon ceremony featuring Watervliet’s VFW Post 6803. The park has new landscaping and lighting for the flag poles. Stop by to show your support of our local veterans, as the park is a peaceful place to honor those who served our nation.  Also at noon on Saturday, the Tri-County Champion Force Cheer will headline the Main Stage. At 1:00 p.m. the fabulous 4th of July parade will set off from a new staging area at the old paper mill site across from Hays Park.  With 28 confirmed entries – and more expected – you won’t want to miss the parade. Event organizers are expecting large turnout this year. Floats, marching units, and other entries have already signed up.  Once the parade passes by, don’t pack up and head home. Immediately following the last entry, ZAP!, a high energy band that plays classic and progressive rock, takes the stage at the city parking lot just north of B&B Outlet.  You’ll be on your feet dancing to this energetic band.  At 3:00 p.m., the Power Wheels Mudd Run will throw a little dirt at the former Watervliet High School property downtown. Dave Stasiak, owner of the Kidds in the Mudd Off Road Park in Bloomingdale, has put together a series of exhibitions of power wheels and 4×4 quad races that will provide lots of “Ooohs” and “Aaahs” and “No way!”  Amy Loshbough said, “Dave is going above and beyond to help this festival” by providing a new thrilling event. In addition to the 3:00 p.m. show, there will be a 5:00 p.m. quad race and 7:30 p.m. exhibition.  Head back to the Main Stage at 2:20 p.m. for cardio drumming with Healthy to the Core. Stick around for the 4:00 p.m. CPR demonstration and 4:30 p.m. Zumba class with first responders and police. That will be arresting exercise for sure!  Back at the stage north of B&B Outlet, 7 Reasons, a rock band originally formed in California, will have you moving and grooving to the music. They play at 4:30 p.m.  Back on the Main Stage, the Us Band will rock your world beginning at 5:30 p.m. The Pat Benatar tribute band will give it their best shot to have you singing and dancing to the beat.  Darling Down takes the stage north of B&B Outlet at 6:00 p.m. This rock band features guitar riffs like no other and will have you cheering in delight.  Hays Park will be the hot spot at 6:30 p.m. Not only will former Tiger All-Star and Cy Young award winner Denny McClain be on hand to sign autographs, but your own hometown Hooterville Hitters will take the field in a vintage baseball game against the House of David Echoes.  The Hitters are still looking for a few more players. Email Kristy Noack at today if you are interested in playing.  McClain will also have a booth featuring baseball memorabilia for sale during the festival.  At 8:00 p.m. the Main Stage will feature Freshwater Band, while over at the stage north of B&B, Hybrid Pro Wrestling will take to the ring. The wrestling event will feature action-packed matches, so don’t miss this!  Evangelist Will Jones will take over the Main Stage at 9:00 p.m. Grab a seat and listen to his ministry.  Be sure to sport your red, white, and blue as the always impressive fireworks launch at 10:30 p.m. The best seat in the house will be at Hays Park.  The Watervliet Rec Council will have the concession stand open, so you can sit back with a cool drink and pay tribute to our great nation.  Fabulous fourth action continues on Sunday with the Watervliet Airport breakfast from 7:00 a.m. until noon. Aircraft will be flying in throughout the day (weather permitting, of course), so stick around and keep your eyes on the sky and runway.  A community worship service will be held at 11:00 a.m. at the Main Stage. The service will feature five different denominations as well as the River of Life Praise and Worship team providing the music.  Head back to the airport after the worship service for the ping pong ball drop. Kids of all ages lay claim to the runway, or should I say funway?  A plane load of ping pong balls drop from the sky and kids careen to pick them up. Each ping pong offers a different prize and is sponsored by a local business or group.  The much loved duck race will happen at 2:00 p.m. at Mill Creek in Flaherty Park. The little rubber ducks are dumped in the creek and they wind their way to glory.  If your ducks hits the tunnel first, you win $1,000. Thirty cash prizes are awarded, but you have to have a ticket!  Get yours now at B&B Outlet, Tri-County Computers, Randy’s Service in Watervliet, Tri-City Record, Saylors Pizza, Sidetrack Café, Flower Basket, Watervliet Hardware, Hawgsville Saloon, Panthers Grill, Robert Michael Salon, Whairhouse, Watervliet District Library, or any Watervliet Rec Council member.   The grand finale event of the weekend will be the tug-o’-war between the Watervliet and Coloma fire departments. Who has enough muscle to claim the victory? Stick around town to find out.  Rochelle Ulleg said, “I am beyond ecstatic with all that we have planned. We have packed Saturday with so many fun-filled events, from one end of town to the other. Make sure you plan on spending the entire day in downtown Watervliet.”  Ulleg is seeking volunteers for the kid zone. Email her at if you are able to help.  With so much to see and do next weekend in Watervliet, your dance card should be pretty full. Be sure to celebrate our city, state, and nation by showing your red, white and blue and supporting the 4th of July festival.

Mr. Fix It named Top Pop

By Annette Christie

 In her letter to the editor, the author called her father wonderful and amazing, a coach and a builder, and someone who could fix anything. Most importantly though, this daughter who nominated her father for the Tri City Record “Top Pop” Award for 2016, said that he is generous and caring.  Bainbridge Township man John Yetzke was given the honor following the nominating letter by his daughter, Heather Yetzke Metz.   He and his wife Marge have lived in Bainbridge since 1976.  They chose the rural area of Bainbridge Township to raise their two children, Heather and her brother Chad.   John is one of five brothers and grew up not far from here in St. Joseph.

2016 TOP POP WINNER… John Yetzke (seated) was awarded the Tri City Record Top Pop Award for 2016. He is surrounded by his children and grandchildren (Heather Yetzke Metz, Chad Yetzke, and Heath-er’s boys Jack and Xander). He spent his Father’s Day doing what he loves most, spending time with family, including those pictured, his son-n-law John Metz and his wife Marge Yetzke.

His father is still alive and resides in Texas.  He and Marge have been married almost 46 years.   While being a good father was his top priority, he managed to also have a 32-year career at Whirlpool.  Upon his retirement from there, he became a staple at the Watervliet Hardware Store and took a stab at public service as Bainbridge Township Trustee.  He will be running for office again in the fall.   In his free time, John enjoys hunting and fishing. The love for fishing is something he shared with his children.    Chad commented, “I enjoy fishing with my Dad.”  Heather also spoke fondly of fishing with her dad.  “She is my perch fisherman,” John said smiling.    Heather wrote in her letter, “I would like to nominate my dad, John Yetzke, as Top Pop.  He has not only been a wonderful father to my brother and me, he is an amazing Papa to my two boys. Growing up, my dad was my softball coach, my brother’s baseball coach, he helped build sets in high school productions and even into college he built us lofts for our dorm room.   He has also helped me re-do three different homes I have owned as an adult and my brother’s house. I still swear my dad can build/fix anything.  He is not only Mr. Fix-It, he is just plain generous and caring. I always remember one Easter from when I was a kid. We had done something different and gone out to eat instead of a meal at home. There was lamb on the menu and I insisted I wanted to get that because  I had read somewhere that it was traditional Easter dinner. Well, it was gross. It tasted like old dust. My sweet dad saw how gross I thought it was and traded plates with me and pretended to like it. Years later, I learned that was not the case. This same wonderful man still takes care of his very grown daughter and son.  The last two years my dad has driven me to chemotherapy treatments and sat with me and many times, just watched me sleep.  On days when my mom drives me up, dad stays home and plays with my boys. He has taught them to pick raspberries, taken them morel mushroom hunting, and for rides on his four wheeler. I could not ask for a better dad for my brother and I. I am so happy is able to be a part of my sons’ lives as well.”  Just as important as all the things he does for them, John notes that being with the family is one of the best parts of being a father.  “So far, they’ve been pretty good to me,” John states.  His wife Marge added, “He’s got good kids.”   Their Father’s Day was spent with each other, enjoying a good meal, nothing fancy, just being together.  John’s advice to fathers is to spend as much time with your kids as you can because you never know when something might happen and they might not be here anymore, or you might not.   John received gifts from area merchants for winning the Top Pop Contest. These include: a ten $1 instant lottery tickets from Harding’s, Hartford; a gift certificate for pizza from DiMaggio’s, Coloma; a $30 gift certificate from Silverstone Gardens, Watervliet; a $50 coupon from Cortez Flooring, Watervliet; a foursome package, four golfers for 18 holes, power cart included (valued at $148, transferrable) from Lake Cora Hills Golf Club, Paw Paw; a great gift from R&H Petroleum (Shell), Watervliet; a $10 gift certificate from Watervliet Hardware, Watervliet.


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