By Christina Gelder
It was a somber group of Coloma City Commissioners who met for their meeting on Monday, July 11th. Just hours after the shooting at the Berrien County Courthouse that resulted in the death of three people, they opened their meeting with a moment of silence. Mayor Jim Polashak asked everyone to remain standing following the Pledge of Allegiance. He said that he hopes the wounded recover quickly and may the families of those killed be comforted in their sorrow.
Fire Department Requests an Amendment
Over a year ago the North Berrien Fire Rescue Department came to the city for support in the purchase of a rescue truck. On Monday, they came back to the city to change that ask. Doug Kramer, Todd Bohle and Randy Frank all in leadership at the volunteer department were in attendance at the meeting and were able to present their case. In the past year the leadership and needs of the department have changed and they feel they would be better served to purchase a tanker instead. The current tanker is in rough shape and needing to be repaired. Three quotes were collected with one coming in at $366,000 and two rather competitively at $309,000 and $308,000. The quotes were from Michigan and Wisconsin companies. Their request was that a motion be made to allow them to change the plan and order the tanker not to exceed $315,000. This would give them some flexibility as they study the quotes and make sure they get the best deal for the department. The money being spent on this is from the mileage passed several years ago that is specifically for fire equipment. All three municipalities will be contributing and the City of Coloma’s share will be just shy of $40,000. “We will be good stewards of the money” Kramer assured the commission as the vote was passed. Commissioner Linda Freitag spoke up following the presentation and said that working on the fire board she has a new level of respect for the department and what they are doing. “They are doing a fantastic job” she said. She praised them for working with what they have, trying to stay within budget and not overspend.
New Fire Board Member Needed
Mayor Polashak also shared that a new fire board member is needed to represent the city. He asked any interested city resident to drop off their name, phone number and brief resume to City Hall. The City has two spots on the board and Commissioner Linda Freitag is in the other spot. The additional spot cannot be filled with another commissioner.
Owner of Cutting Corners unhappy with Tree
Chris Sedden, owner of downtown business Cutting Corners, attended the meeting to try and resolve an issue with the tree in front of her business. Sedden claims that the tree is ugly and a big problem for her and her business. She is having a new awning installed and at the very least the tree must be trimmed for the install. Ultimately she is hoping that it will be removed completely. Sedden says that she has received many complaints about the tree over the years. She also struggles to have visibility because of its location directly in front of her store front. Mayor Polashak said that the Downtown Development Authority is the entity that planted and maintains the tress and the issue will be turned over to them. She was invited to attend their upcoming meeting next week. In the meantime, Commissioner Marsh Hammond asked that the Department of Public Works take care of the necessary trimming to allow for her new awning.
Paw Paw River Clean Up
Berrien County Commissioner Bill Smith proudly told the commission that State Representative Al Pscholka had set aside $100,000 in the state budget to assist communities from Paw Paw to Benton Harbor in their efforts in cleaning up the Paw Paw River and creating a water trail. The Coloma Watervliet communities have also been doing some fundraising in order to get a head start in clearing their sections of the river. commissioner Smith announced that Orchard Hill Sanitary Landfill will be matching those raised dollars up to $2000. In other news Chana Kniebes announced that in 2017 they plan to move Medley in the Park to September. They are hoping that by scheduling it in the early fall there will be less major conflicts. The June date has always been a very busy day in the Southwest Michigan area. Clerk Martha Darling asked for approval to hire election workers for the August 2nd election. Workers will be paid $10 an hour for their work and training. Receiving board members will get $25.
Appreciation reception… is being held to honor Coaches John and Laurie Jewell for all of their years of service in the Grace Christian softball program, after they recently announced they are stepping down as softball coaches from Grace. The reception will be held on Sunday, July 24 from 2 to 5 p.m. at the Grace Christian School gymnasium located at 325 N. M-140, Watervliet, MI 49098. A special dedication will be held at 3 p.m. during the reception.
Keeler Township approves Crooked Lakes Assessment District
By Annette Christie
As a special assessment district nears the five-year mark, The Keeler Township Board approved a renewal for a weed control improvement program for the Big and Little Crooked Lakes. Mike Spain, President of the Crooked Lakes Home Owners Association said that the Association has been meeting and are in support of a renewal of the weed control project. Spain commented that the efforts to clean up the lake have been successful, the lakes are healthy, the fisheries are good, and “We want to keep it that way,” Spain said. Andy Tomaszewski with Professional Lake Management, the company that has been working on the cleanup, provided a review of the project. He said they have been on the lake since 2005 and since the initial full lake treatment of SONAR, they have just had to spot treat. He said that while the budget calls for another full treatment of the lakes if it is needed, if they do not need it then the extra amounts collected will be returned to those in the assessment district. That was the case with the assessment that will be expiring soon. Supervisor Bill Kays said that the fund has approximately $51,497 remaining. Public Act 188, which allows for the collection of funds for a special assessment district, specifies that if there are any remaining funds left, only 5% can remain in the funds. Kays recommendation to the Township Board was that they collect the next five years as calculated and once all of the bills are in for this program that is ending, they will refund everything but the 5%. That could potentially mean that the first year of the new assessment would be very little. It will be at the next public hearing, being held on September 6, 2016 that the special assessment roll will be revealed and those in the district will be able to comment on the roll and their individual assessment. Clerk Carl Davis stated that he received five emails in favor of the district. Of those present, one resident spoke specifically in favor of the project and one resident spoke specifically against the project. One individual questioned other options for removing the invasive species, erasian milfoil, and Tomaszewski stated that their company has tried all three options being harvesting, weebles, and chemicals. It has been the practice of Professional Lake Management that the chemical treatment provides the best results for the weed management and control. After the unanimous vote of the township board to approve the special assessment district for 2017-2021, Kays commented that a portion of the district is in Silver Creek Township and that they will be taking similar action.
In other business, the board set an application fee of $700 for those wanting a special use or special land use permit due to the costs of the process. When an application is filed with the township, there are publication costs and a special meeting has to be held that requires payment of per diems for the board members. The board also received for its final review, the Cost Recovery Ordinance that is being re-written. The ordinance will be put into two separate ordinances, one to address things like fires without permits and one to address the recovery of waste materials used for a hazardous waste clean-up. It is expected to be approved at the August meeting. Tom Neary with the Sister Lakes Corridor Improvement Authority asked the public for help with volunteers. Sister Lakes will be hosting the 6th Annual Triatholon and while he normally has enough volunteers, he said they are coming by slowly. He said that this year’s event might have the largest number of participants yet. Those interested in volunteering can contact him at 269-591-0758. The next meeting of the Keeler Township Board will be pushed back a week due to the upcoming primarily election. Their meeting will be held on August 9, 2016 at 7:30 p.m.
Wabano Cubmobile… A gathering of more than 100 Tigers, Wolfs, Bears and Webelos on June 4 at Lane Automotive produced plenty of action and fun during the Wabano Cubmobile 2016 event. Wabano is a district within the Southern Shores Field Service Council which is part of the Boy Scouts of America Michigan Crossroads Council. Nathan Mashman, Unit Serving Executive for the Wabano District, said Scouts helped navigate fellow Scouts across the finish line in the one-seater Cubmobiles. He said they also had the opportunity to participate in a Rain Gutter Regatta; Gaga Pit; Sling Shot Game; STEM activities; and a Robotics Team. Members of the Coloma and Watervliet Fire and Emergency Medical Services department also got in on the action. “This is a great way for our Scouts to get to know each other and participate in activities that are a part of what we do in Scouting to teach leadership and life skills,” Mashman said. “The Cubmobile competition promotes teamwork which is a critical part of our ability to build youth who will be prepared to work through any challenges they are presented with. To learn more about the Scouting program in Michigan or to get involved, please contact Mashman at Nathan.mashman@ scouting.org or visit the MCC website at www.michiganscouting.org.