By Jon Bisnett
Hagar Township Supervisor Izzy DiMaggio didn’t “sugar coat” any of the consultant’s findings in regard to operations of the North Berrien Joint Fire District which was made public at a joint meeting also including Coloma City and Township, on Tuesday, June 7. While acknowledging a dedicated staff of both Board Members and fire Fighters, the report went on to point out a series of issues of inconsistent leadership within the Board and the Chief position, lack of training, identity issues, morale, chain of command and undermining gossip mongers within the community. Referring to an Executive Summary of the in-depth report DiMaggio charged his fellow Board members that “…next month. (July,) we need to make some decisions…” Those decisions will include to accept the recommendation for a full-time Chief and if so how to go about hiring one. An outside firm has been suggested, as the NBJFD track record has been a “revolving door” of Chiefs as of late. “The us against them has to stop,” continued DiMaggio in regard to the Hagar Station 2 and Coloma City Station 1.” The report suggests better Fire Board leadership can be accomplished by adding the 2 Township Supervisors and Mayor of Coloma City. Such change would require a revision of the Township Constitution. In any case the Fire Board has work to do itself, in becoming properly trained in the ways of leadership and a full understanding of proper chain of command within the department. Along with further recommendations to institute currently non-existent retail and rental fire inspections lack the consultants were quick to point out obvious presence of a n active group of “coffee shop gossips” as detractors having a negative effect on department morale and recruitment. In conclusion DiMaggio reiterated to his board, “Enough is enough… We will take action at our July meeting. Be informed and be ready to vote.”
County Commissioner Bill Smith spoke that the new Berrien County Animal Control Facility is fully operational and plans to open later this week with an open house for the public expected to be offered shortly. In regard to the Paw Paw River Trail initiative, Smith alluded to recent conversations with State Representative Al Pscholka that as of yet unrevealed, but substantial amount of funding from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources is nearing the Governor’s desk. Like a couple schoolboys with a secret, both DiMaggio and Smith smiled wryly in saying that pending this infusion of funding it may very well be possible that a clear, small-craft navigable path from Watervliet to Coloma could be completed yet this summer. Also visiting was Becky Faultersack representing the North Berrien Historical Society. As it celebrates a 50 year Anniversary in 2016, the society currently is exhibiting a collection of antique radios on loan from a local individual. Several events are scheduled to celebrate the 50 years including an Open House scheduled for July 19. A program featuring the story of the Interurban train will be coming next.
Supervisor Izzy DiMaggio was pleased to announce that the Michigan Township Association, the Michigan Municipal League and the State Bar Association have all chosen to file briefs in their own effort to engage with the Hagar Township lawsuit brought by the Klepacki family in regard to a drowning that occurred in 2011. The additional litigants have joined the fight since the matter will have far reaching effects to any Michigan municipality that maintains public beaches or water access. DiMaggio noted a reschedule date for the Downtown Development Association for the July meeting, now moved to the 14th. Izzy further stated that in view of the Paw Paw River cleanup project gaining momentum, he would ask that the DDA pursue a grant to develop the Township property on Coloma Road into an improved access point on the Paw Paw River. A canoe launch and parking lot would be the first priorities.
Treasurer Marlene Davis presented May expenses in the amount of $28,104.13 with nothing remarkable Davis reminded residents that Summer tax bills will go in the mail July 1.
Sheriff’s Department Report
The Berrien County Sheriff’s Department was represented by Lt. Bob Mazurek revealed 47 complaints in the month of April, with 13 tickets issued and no arrests. Mazurek alerted residents to a recent rash of breaking and entering of vehicles at Hagar Park had been reported in recent weeks following Memorial Day.
Clerk Ian Haight reported eight calls for Pride Care Ambulance with an average response time of 10:22 for May. Haight presented 6 bids have come in for the Heating and Air Conditioning overhaul at the hall. The Board unanimously approved the bid from BER Refrigeration in the amount of $16,917.31. Ian again reminded that the August 2 Primary will reflect a change in State law eliminating straight ticket voting. An operational millage renewal for Hagar School will appear on the ballot.
Fire Board member Dave Gould reported with 12 runs in the month of May with five in Hagar, six in Coloma Township, one in Coloma City and two on the highway. May expenses for the department were $14,518.97. Fiscal year 2015-16 Budget was amended and approved. The replacement tanker bids have still not returned. Gould expressed frustration that the process has taken an inordinate amount of time and perhaps will require an outside party to expedite the purchase. Bo was awarded the bid for work to redo the parking lot at Station 1 in the amount of $59,638. Flags were placed on graves of fallen firefighters at area cemeteries for Memorial Day. The Auxiliary will conduct a Quarter Auction fundraiser at Station 1 on October 6. NBJFB meets next on July 5, at Station 1.
Building Inspectors Report
Inspector Butch Kelley reported nine permits for $77,600 for the prior month. Kelley said he expects to see permits pulled for a new home to be constructed in Hagar next month. The disposition of the aging township owned storage building located at Lakeshore Cemetery was discussed with a consensus that Kelley would secure bids for siding and roofing to preserve the otherwise sound structure for potential future use.
Parks & Recreation
Parks Director Deb Kavanaugh had reported last month delaying the opening of operations at all Hagar parks, except the baseball fields, due to marginal weather in May which apparently turned into a communications snafu with the vendor resulting in no Porta Pottis in place at the beach parks over the Memorial Day Weekend. Deb apologized sincerely to any that may have been inconvenienced and assured all that the parks are now fully equipped and operating in fine shape. Mother Nature however not only started off the 2016 beach season with a chill back in May but according to Kavanaugh has robbed Hagar of its beaches as seasonal Lake Michigan levels have precluded any and all sand castle development for the time being. The Twin City Prospects arrangement for maintenance of the township baseball fields in exchange for semi-exclusive use is going great according to Kavanaugh, saving the Parks Department $3,600 annually mowing and putting some life back into the previously unused Township property. Kavanaugh has chosen not to seek reelection this November, but has left the door open for possible committee work in some aspect of service to the community.
Supervisor DiMaggio reminded the board that there is an opportunity on the November ballot to seek restitution of the Headlee Amendment rollback. The drop from 1.0 mill to .632 negative affects the Township to the tune of roughly $60,000 in general fund revenue, which is equal to what the township has typically spent on road repairs over the past several years. The matter will be taken up again in July.
In terms of road concerns, one could say that “the squeaky wheel got the grease,” or in this case actually got chloride, as an obviously irritated John Riccione brought a passionate complaint of an immediate need for chloride chemical dust control application to Lynch Road where he resides. For years the township annually provided two applications of the dust control measure and somewhere in the last couple of years had stepped back to only one which is simply not adequate according to Riccione. DiMaggio noted some 10 plus miles of gravel roads in the township all get chloride, the question being how often. Following additional gallery input a motion was brought forth and subsequently approved to instruct the Berrien County Road commission to apply chloride twice a season to the townships unpaved roads. Trustee Andy Ulleg spoke in regard to his position on the Planning Commission noting the Special Hearing in regard to the former Vitale’s Market property located on M-63 has been postponed to some paperwork irregularities on the part of those filing the application for rezoning three lots from Residential to Commercial. The Commission will hear the request now on July 5 and The Township Board will receive its recommendation prior to the July 11 regular meeting. Having no further business Supervisor DiMaggio adjourned the meeting at 8:12 p.m. The Board meets next 7:00 p.m. Monday, July 11.
MEDLEY IN THE PARK CAR SHOW WINNERS… The proud winners at the Coloma Community Car Show, held in conjunction with Medley in the Park, are pictured here with their trophies. From left are Tim McKie, Fred Mannino, organizer Braden Bertuca, Ed Bowen, and Rich Luther. It was another terrific year as the weather was beautiful and they had about 30 vehicles enter.
Medley in the Park a success for Coloma
By Christina Gelder
The weather was beautiful on Saturday, June 11 for Coloma’s Medley in the Park, even if it was a bit hot. Folks could definitely be found sitting in the shade as they listened to the various bands but all in all the event turned out wonderfully. The car show was actually run as a senior project for 17-year-old Braden Bertuca, son of the normal organizer Tony Bertuca. It was the 4th year for this show and Bertuca reported 30 cars entered the contest. Four trophies were given out after three judges made their way through the crowd and deliberated on what vehicles were the best of show. First place went to Ed Bowen of Watervliet for his 1947 Chevy Stylemaster. Second was awarded to Fred Mannino of Coloma for his 1957 Chevy Bellaire. Third went to Rich and Alice Luther of Coloma with their 1972 Chevy Malibu. Another trophy was given out as “Braden’s Choice” since he organized the event. His pick was a 1974 Chevy Corvette owned by Tim McKie also of Coloma. According to Chana Kniebes of the North Berrien Community Development everyone seemed to really enjoy having a day to hear several different musical genres. She thanked all who came out in the heat and said they are looking forward to an even better event next year.
Senior Services Hartford Senior Activity
Hartford United Methodist Church, 425 E. Main St., Hartford.
Buy lunch Monday OR Tuesday
for $3.00, eat for
FREE on Friday
On Monday, June 20, lunch will be at 12:30 p.m., euchre and bingo at 1:30 p.m. On Tuesday, June 21, we open at 10:30 a.m. for coffee and conversation, lunch will be at 12:30 p.m., computers, exercise/cards, euchre and knitting at 1:00 p.m. On Friday, June 24, euchre tournament at 10 a.m., coffee hour at 10:30 a.m., lunch will be at 12:30 p.m., cards, euchre at 1 p.m., and knitting, crocheting and needlework at 1:30 p.m. All seniors, age 60 and older, residing in Van Buren County are eligible to participate in these programs and activities. Rides are available through Van Buren Public Transit with no less than 24-hour advance notice at 269-427-7921.