Hartford Board of Education discusses county-wide plan for Balanced Calendar; Curious tale of The To


Halloween Events —Trick or Treat hours and events for the Tri-City Area

By Angie Stair

Due to this year’s October 31 Halloween day falling on a Monday, there are differing times in the Tri-City communities for local Trick or Treating.  Please carefully check your community listed below to note dates and times for Trick or Treat hours or events.

Bainbridge Township

Trick or Treating will be held on Monday, October 31, but the Township does not set hours for the event.

Coloma Charter Township

Trick or Treat hours in the Township are set for Saturday, October 29 from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m.

Coloma City

Trick or Treat hours will be held in the City from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 29.  Halloween in the Park will also be held on Saturday, October 29, from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m.

Hagar Township

Trick or Treating will be held in the Township on Saturday, October 29 from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m.

Hartford Township

Trick or Treating will be held on Monday, October 31, but the Township does not set hours for the event.

Hartford City

Trick or Treating in the City will be held on Monday, October 31 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.  Hartford City Police Officers will be in front of City Hall to check any child’s candy if they wish.  They will also be handing out candy.

Hartford Library

The Library will hand out candy on Monday, October 31, but on Saturday, October 29, the Library will hold a Fall Festival event that children can dress up in their Halloween costumes to attend, play games, and win prizes from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m.

Keeler Township

The Township will hold Trick or Treat hours on Monday, October 31 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.

Watervliet Charter Township

The Township will hold Trick or Treat hours on Monday, October 31 from 5:00 to 7:30 p.m.

Watervliet City

The City will hold Trick or Treat hours on Monday, October 31 from 5:00 to 7:30 p.m.  The traditional Downtown Halloween Costume Sidewalk Parade Trick or Treating will be held on Friday, October 28 from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m.

Watervliet Library

The library will hold Halloween Story Hour geared to 3-5 year olds on Thursday, October 27 at 1:30 p.m.  Children are urged to wear their Halloween costumes.  They will also hand out candy on the Downtown Trick or Treating day.

Halloween Fall Festival at Hartford Public Library

Children and adults are invited to the family fun, annual “Halloween Fall Festival” at the Hartford Public Library.  The event is on Saturday, October 29 from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. Games, prizes, face painting, crafts, food and fun for children all ages.  Costumes are optional but there will be prizes for best costumes. The event is free.

Sarett Nature Center

Celebrate Halloween at Sarett on Friday, October 28 from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. A lighted trail and spookier, dark trail will be available as well as snacks and a craft. Cost is $5 per person (all children must be accompanied by an adult).

Woodland Terrace to host Safe Trick-or-Treat night

The residents at Woodland Terrace of Paw Paw Lake, 6786 Red Arrow Hwy in Coloma are hosting safe trick-or-treating for area youngsters. This annual event will be Saturday, October 29 between 6:00 and 7:00 p.m. All families with children are invited. Come in costume and have an entertaining time for one and all.  For more information, please call 269-468-5800.

Hartford Board of Education discusses county-wide plan for Balanced Calendar

By Nancy Albright

At the October 20 Board of Education meeting, Hartford School Superintendent Andy Hubbard stated that the Van Buren County School District is in discussions regarding the implementation of a Balanced Calendar for all county schools over the next three years.  Districts feel that a 12 week summer is too long, and the ultimate goal of the calendar is a six week summer break. Teachers spend the first few weeks of each new school year reviewing work completed at the end of the previous school year, and long sessions between the holiday, spring and summer breaks tend to increase the rate of disciplinary issues and boredom.  The proposal to the union, which has been approved by a high majority of the 11 Van Buren County school districts, outlines shifting school start and end dates so all schools are on the same annual schedule; nine week sessions with a break in between each term; a two week spring break; and a six week summer. The new structure would include a county-wide Personal Development day for teachers from all districts to take place on Martin Luther King Jr. Day each year, and allow teachers additional time to attend personal development sessions during breaks.  Mr. Hubbard stated that, “the districts feel the new schedule would be best educationally for the kids.” When asked by board member Mike Banic if the proposed schedule would affect the timing of school sports, the board agreed that aligning sports activities among all district teams must be taken into consideration.  When asked how the new schedule would affect the Van Buren County Intermediate School District summer migrant program, Superintendent Hubbard explained that the Hartford program will continue to provide extended-day and after-school sessions until the end of each school year, and work with the VBISD going forward to accommodate programming that now extends into the current summer time frame.

Board of Education approves Phase One of Red Arrow Elementary sale

 The board voted 6-1 to approve implementation of the first phase of the sale of the Red Arrow Elementary school building.  The building will be vacated at the conclusion of the 2017-2018 school year, and Red Arrow students will join students at Woodside. The first phase of the sale is to determine the value of the building. The board agreed to locate a realtor that specializes in the sale of this type of property to help find the appropriate appraisal firm.   Marguerite Davenport, Director of Operations for Holy Family Healthcare in Hartford, addressed the board on behalf of the clinic’s Pediatric Specialist Dr. Don Bouchard, expressing Holy Family’s interest in purchasing the Red Arrow building to expand their operations, and moving forward with discussions regarding the sale.  Holy Family Healthcare provides little-to-no-pay healthcare services to Hartford city and township children, as well as the Kitchen of Grace food pantry and Bea’s Closet clothing distribution program. If Holy Family does acquire the building they plan to expand their community resources to include a library and study space, and provide more educational programs and other special programs for needy kids and families.  Miss Davenport stated that, “If we are fortunate enough to acquire the school, the housing of additional operations under one roof would make it easier for families and individuals to avail themselves of our services.”  The City Council denied a permit in May of this year to construct a building on Hart Street for use as a training facility, voicing concerns about possible decreased property values for residents and increased traffic in the area.

Hartford Schools Transportation Director retires

Mr. Mike Chappell, Hartford Public Schools Transportation Director for the last 23 years, is retiring. Superintendent Hubbard thanked Mr. Chappell for his hard work and dedication on behalf of the board, students and staff.

Curious tale of The Township Traveler

CURIOUS TALE OF THE TOWNSHIP TRAVELER… tells of a shoebox full of untraceable letters and a bundle of cash which leaves Doug and Karen Williams in a quandary as they bid farewell to their benefactor who remains a complete mystery to the Keeler Township couple. (TCR Photo by Jon Bisnett)


By Jon Bisnett

Just in time for Halloween comes a real-life local mystery worthy of the gang from Scooby Do that has left one Keeler Township couple with more questions than answers as to the nature of their secret benefactor. A shoebox full of untraceable letters and small fortune of totally unexpected cash adds to the series of unexplained events.  But there is no need to fear in this case. There are no scary clowns involved, nor headless horseman. Quite frankly the mystery is more akin to an adult version of the Tooth Fairy well-known for placing those quarters under the pillow.  It all began with a single letter delivered via U.S. Mail back in June of 2011. Little did Karen and Doug Williams have any idea that this was the beginning of a mystery that would span the next five years?  The single page letter came in a plain envelope with no return address. Both letter and envelope had been produced on an inkjet printer and typed in ALL CAPS. The unknown addresses Doug & Karen by name as he goes on to explain that their well-kept “Estate” brings him “joy” on his daily drive down CR 687. The writer goes on to describe their modest home as “The perfect example of what a Township residence should be, calling it the showplace of CR 687.” The envelope also contained $20 in cash with instructions to “Keep up the good work and use the enclosed money to treat you to dinner somewhere.” The message concluded “The Township Traveler.” And that was the first of many to come.  Come fall and the Williams receive yet another letter with the same non-malicious forensic countermeasures; (typed on a computer and locally mailed with a stamp.) And again, and again the letters just kept on coming. The “stipend” as the Traveler sometimes described for the cash varied from $15 to $20 on average with one jackpot amount of $100 for Christmas one year.  The Williams now have a shoebox full of the letters. The total stipends amount to over $1,500. And for all that time they have no idea of the identity of The Township Traveler.  Spending a bit of time pouring through the text, this reporter came up with a few assumptions pulled from direct quotes from The Traveler.  The Traveler passes by the residence on a “daily” basis and also indicates residence in Keeler Township by using the phrase “neighbor” often.  Vocabulary use would tend to lend itself to that of someone with a college education. The letters are each unique, yet similar in content, beginning with a small-talk remark regarding the weather or the season; “Can you believe it??? The summer is two-thirds over, going faster and faster and I let the first seven days slip by me before I realized my obligation to the two of you had not been forthcoming.”  Then the residential compliment; “You two continue to create estate magic.” And then the closing; “I’ll be back again in September with another honorarium. Keep up the good work,” signed, “The Township Traveler.”  The Traveler (TT) reveals he does not own a garage himself. TT refers often to Doug’s and Karen’s vintage Corvette as “The little red car,” never as a ‘Vette, yet asks if they do, “The car show scene,” acknowledging the collectible nature of the car. That I find odd.  Let me be totally clear that in all the letters there is NOT a single word of anything one could even remotely describe as weird, creepy, stalker or inappropriate in any way. Eccentric yes, but it is all a lot more similar to that grandparent who slips you five dollars for making the Honor Roll at school, except Doug & Karen earn theirs by impeccable landscaping and a lawn with not a blade of grass out of place!  Again the clues: Well educated –  Excellent vocabulary – Flawless spelling & grammar – Computer literate – Travels CR 687 daily- Resides in Keeler Twp. – Self-described as “eccentric” – Just retired in August or September – Does not know Doug & Karen personally – Moved permanently to Mesa, Arizona.  As oddly as it began came the final letter; “Well, the end of the road came sooner than I expected. I’m permanently moving to Mesa, Arizona at the end of the month so this will be my final gift.”  With no way to ever thank or say goodbye to their secret benefactor, Karen came up with an idea.  She grabbed some poster board and made a sign to place in the yard; “Township Traveler – We hope you enjoy Arizona – We will miss you! – Doug & Karen.”  In the final letter The Traveler says he considered revealing his identity saying, “I debated on whether or not I should reveal my identity, but decided, that would take some of the fun out of the entire experience for me and you.”   And as oddly as it started, it ended. The Township Traveler may indeed never be identified and to what end anyway? Perhaps we can take away the legacy of the Traveler’s spirit as to sharing our appreciation to our neighbors who do their part to make our neighborhoods an attractive and welcome environment for all concerned. Yes, I think that’s it.

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