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Coloma City Commissioners announce splash pad will be named after longtime Coloma volunteer Norma J. Somers

Emotions ran high during the May 13, 2024 meeting at Coloma City Hall, where it was revealed that the upcoming splash pad at Randall Park will bear the name of well-known community figure Norma Jean Somers. Somers, a remarkable figure in the community, left a lasting impact through her extensive volunteer work. The announcement came just four days after the 24th anniversary of the installation of playground equipment at Randall Park.

The splash pad concept was first introduced in the city’s 2021 master plan, with a projected cost between $165,000 and $200,000. Since the launch of fundraising activities in March 2023, the community has rallied together, hosting fundraising events and has had 10 local organizations generously contribute to the cause.


Architect rendering of Norma Jean Somers Splash Pad

“This is a dream come true. We never thought that in just over a year, we would be this far along. We are very proud and grateful,” said Coloma City Mayor Marsha Hammond.

To date, the city has collected $131,000 of that goal, none of which has come from tax revenue. The official name of the splash pad will be the Norma Jean Somers Splash Pad at Randall Park.

Somers’s husband, Doug Somers, daughter, Laura Somers-Ginter, and additional members of the Somers family attended the meeting where Somers-Ginter spoke on their behalf.

HONORING WELL-KNOWN COMMUNITY MEMBER… Laura Somers-Ginter, daughter of Norma Jean Somers, and Coloma Commissioner Jamie Balkin stand before the board of commissioners and city hall meeting attendees on May 13, 2024 to discuss details about the upcoming Norma Jean Somers Splash Pad in Randall Park. (TCR photo by Samantha Smith)

“We have found an amazing way to honor and memorialize my mom’s impact and legacy in our community,” she said. “Her efforts to include everyone and better everything she touched was evident to all those around her. We couldn’t think of a more fitting way to honor her, and we are also pleased and excited to have secured the naming rights in honor of our beloved mother, wife, and grandmother.

“I wanted to give so much thanks to the city of Coloma,” Somers-Ginter continued. “To all of you and everyone in the community that has helped raise money for the splash pad, I think it’s fantastic and my mother would really love it. I can’t think of a better way to honor her. Our family is so grateful.”

Remembering Norma J Somers

Somers’s passing last year at age 75 was a great loss. She served on the Coloma School Board for 20 years and the Watervliet Hospital Board for 25 years, demonstrating her commitment to the Tri-City Area in leadership roles, including School Board President and Hospital Board President. Additionally, she was an integral part in passing a bond for the construction of the Coloma Public Library and was a leader in the Paw Paw Lake Restoration Project.

“She loved to be involved,” said Somers-Ginter in a separate interview. “She was passionate about volunteering and being involved in something bigger than herself. My parents knew that when they first moved here that this was a life-long community that they were going to live in, and I think she just wanted to be involved and better her community.”

Known as a social butterfly, she was a very active Paw Paw Lake Yacht Club member. Additionally, she played a significant part in remodeling and rebranding the Parcourse fitness circuit in Watervliet. Norma and Doug also helped build the playground equipment at Randall Park in 1999, where Doug led the procurement of all materials needed for the construction.

Future fundraising efforts

The commission also thanked the Leonard Fund during the meeting, which launched the initial fundraising efforts, and North Berrien Community Development for serving as the fiduciary for the project. Currently, the community is around $35,000 away from its goal and plans to have fundraisers throughout the summer, hoping to break ground later this fall.

As a part of the effort, the Somers family will be hosting two fundraisers in the coming months, including a brunch for family and friends in June, which has already sold out and raised nearly $17,000, as well as, a community-wide fundraiser later this summer at the Paw Paw Lake Yacht Club. Coloma City Commissioners are also in talks with other community organizations about hosting fundraisers soon. If the community exceeds the goal, the additional funds would go to additional water features, landscaping, and maintenance.

What equipment will be a part of the splash pad has not been discussed much among the commissioners and their chosen manufacturer of splash pad equipment, Vortex Aquatic Structures. However, Somers-Ginter said that the commissioners have requested to incorporate purple, Norma’s favorite color, into the design.

The significance of a name

Somers-Ginter later explained that her family first heard about the splash pad last spring, and it was Doug’s idea to approach the city about naming it in memory of Norma.

“We were trying to figure out a way to honor her memory within the community. My dad said, ‘I think I am going to donate to the splash pad in honor of your mom.’ He said it would be cool if we could do something with the naming, and it snowballed from there. My dad and I met with the city, and we kicked off the discussion,” she said.

Everyone in attendance at the meeting agreed that there is no one better to receive this honor than Somers.

“There’s no one more deserving or honorable that we could name this after. She was involved in so many things—from the school to the hospital to the library,” said Commissioner Jamie Balkin.

City officials were thrilled with the idea but still remembered the Randall family. According to Pat Spaulding, daughter of Coloma’s longest serving mayor and Randall Park namesake, Glenn A. Randall, Mayor Hammond reached out to Spaulding for her blessing and reassured her that the splash pad would be a positive addition to Randall Park, but the name of the park itself would never be changed.

Spaulding said that her father would be proud of what the city is doing and would be pleased to have the splash pad named in honor of Norma for her years of community service. She added that it is a positive addition to what Mayor Randall called “the welcome to Coloma”.

Community reflects on Somers’s impact

In addition to the commissioners’ and the Spaulding’s reflections, former Coloma Schools teacher and library board president, Harold Bragg presented a flag in Norma’s honor to the board of commissioners.

“We knew her, and we wept, and we’re still sad about her passing, so we want this to be in her honor,” he said.

A modest woman, Somers-Ginter said that her mother wasn’t much for the spotlight but would have been 100 percent involved with the fundraising efforts and would enjoy seeing the impact she has made.

Those who knew Norma would agree that she was caring, friendly, positive, and, most importantly, inclusive.

Mayor Hammond concluded the meeting by thanking the Somers and Randall families.

Anyone interested in donating to the Norma Jean Somers Splash Pad or would like fundraising information, contact City Hall at 269-468-6606 or go to https://givebutter.com/MPN60P.

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