FOUNDATION SCHOLARSHIPS… Hartford Foundation President Scott Smith and Immediate Past Pres-ident Garry Unrath had the pleasure of awarding a record total of $16,500 in local scho-larships to the Class of 2016 at the May 24th Senior Awards Night. Recipients: pictured (from the left): front – Natalle Light, Matt Kemp, Olivia Scherer, Middle – Makaela Gardner, Erin Genereaux, Alex-andrea Morales. Back – Presi-dent Smith, Tia Thomas, Ciera Goble, Joe Cleary, Annabelle Hernadez, Brittany Edge, Jade Mellon, and Past President Un-rath. Since its inception in 1998 the Foundation has provided over $85,000 in local scholar-ships thanks to generous support from a long list of sponsors and patrons that may be seen on the new Foundation website; www.hartfordfoundationgives.org .
Medley in the Park downtown Coloma June 11
By Christina Gelder
This Saturday, June 11, Coloma will welcome several different musical group to the stage in Baker Park and kick off the summer season. Formerly known as BBQ, Blues and Cruise this event has been changed to Medley in the Park and will feature several different musicians and food options. The car show will be held from 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. and it is sure to draw a big crowd. Classic vehicles will be lining Paw Paw Avenue and there will be recorded music until the live music starts. Live music will begin at noon at the stage in Baker Park. Groups this year include Keith Scott, ZAP!, Rum Boogie, Slim Gypsy Baggage and the Brian Randall Band. They are scheduled to play until about 9:30 p.m. so folks can come and go as their schedules allow. Food options this year will include Panther’s Grill, Piggin’and Grinnin’, and Big Al’s Chicago Hot Dogs. Freshwater Church will have popcorn available and DW Hammond will do desserts as always. This is the 6th year that community businesses and groups have come together to sponsor this free, family friendly, alcohol free event. For those planning on coming into enjoy the music and food it is encouraged to bring a chair or blanket to sit on. Rain date is Sunday, June 12.
Public hearings held on Paw Paw Lake Restoration; Extended special assessment being sought
By Annette Christie
With the five-year mark approaching on a special assessment district to fund the clean-up of Paw Paw Lake, the Paw Paw Lake Restoration Advisory Committee have been meeting monthly to determine the best options for future lake restoration. The results of those meetings and the plan for the future of Paw Paw Lake was presented at a Public Hearing held on Saturday morning at Watervliet High School. Both the Watervliet Township Board and the Coloma Township Board were present. The Paw Paw Lake Restoration Committee consists of Bryan Duffield, Jim Fulton, and Norma Somers from Coloma Township and Joe Stepich, Bob Wallace, and Mary Spessard from Watervliet Township. The committee worked again with Spicer Group and GEI Consultants of Michigan to create the action needed to continue the clean-up of Paw Paw Lake and to maintain it. In 2012 when the work from the first special assessment began, the main issue was invasive weeds, mainly Eurasian milfoil and pondweed. In addition, a pilot aeration system was tried in the north lobe of the lake to create a more oxygenated lake. The aeration began for a portion of 2013 and again in 2014 and 2015. For 2016, the plan is not to operate the aeration system, and evaluate the condition at the end of the season by testing oxygen and phosphorus levels. The plan going forward would be to not only continue to fight the invasive plants but invasive animals as well such as zebra mussels. There are numerous cases in the Great Lakes region where invasive species such as zebra mussels and Eurasian milfoil have upset the natural balance of the aquatic communities resulting in poorer fishing opportunities, a decreased abundance of fish prey, and decreased recreational opportunities. The goal is to improve the overall water quality of the lake and the clarity. Members of the Lake Improvement Committee have received numerous complaints and concerns with respect to algae blooms, decreased visibility and nuisance smells across the lake. By addressing the previous mentioned objectives and taking action, the fisheries, wildlife, recreational and aesthetic values of the lake should improve. Larry Protasiewicz with Spicer Group described the plan going forward as multi-dimensional and includes the continuation of the current aquatic nuisance weed management program. In addition, the use of the aeration program will be assessed and improvements would be made as needed including trying new aeration technologies if needed. While the 2nd public hearing being held on Saturday, June 25 at Coloma High School will provide an overall cost and per lot assessment, an estimate was provided. William Fahey of Fahey, Schultz, Burzych & Rhodes went over the payment criteria and estimated project figures. Fahey said that all buildable parcels in Coloma and Watervliet Townships that have direct access via frontage along Paw Paw Lake or that have indirect access via deeded or dedicated lake or canal access to Paw Paw Lake or that have access via boat piers or boat slips along Paw Paw Lake are considered one unit. Off-lake properties with deeded, dedicated or purchased lake access via a dock, boat slip, etc. (e.g. condos, Natures Cove, golf course properties, Pokagon Heights) are considered one unit. Developed lakefront properties with adjacent, undeveloped lots under common ownership are considered one unit. Off-lake properties with shared access via a park or non-buildable property are considered .1 unit. Marinas are considered 2 units for eight slips or less with 2 more units for each additional 8 slips or less. Estimated cost per unit for the next special assessment is $212 per year. As a part of the public comment portion, Fahey said that he had received two letters of objection. Pre-written questions were written from those attending seeking answers. One resident asked a question as to whether or not the Paw Paw Lake Foundation and Paw Paw Lake Foundation were to be paid funds from the assessments. Paw Paw Lake Restoration Committee member Joe Stepich said that there have been funds already paid out to not only those two organizations but to the two townships as well (Watervliet and Coloma). The funds paid to those organizations are for directly related costs that they had already paid for. Fahey did note that there is approximately $100,000 remaining from the first assessment and that those funds will either be refunded to residents or credited to their future assessment. Questions were asked to the specifics of how the experts were going to address the overall quality of the lake. As to human behavior affecting the lake condition, they hope that education will help that. As to the green film/slime that remains a problem, they expect that a different chemical treatment can remedy that. As for the algae blooms that one gentlemen said is worse than it has ever been, the specialists said they are working on that and are researching exactly what is the main cause for them and the best treatment. Financing the special assessment was another area that received a lot of comments or questions. One lady wanted to know why the businesses in Watervliet and Coloma weren’t paying into the improvements of Paw Paw Lake that in essence provide a lot of their business. Fahey said that the way that a special assessment district is determined is for those that receive the primary benefit from the benefit being derived. “That would be those that live on and have deeded access to Paw Paw Lake,” Fahey said adding, “We can not legally add them to the Special Assessment District.” A question was raised regarding the time frame for this continued improvement of Paw Paw Lake. Fahey said that at this time they do not have a set time limit. “If it is going to be discontinued, one or both of the townships could end the special assessment. There is a provision that every four years, the township boards will look at it and allow an opportunity for the public to provide input,” Fahey said. One resident asked why the person who owns a 150’ lot on Paw Paw Lake pays the same as a 20’ lot owner. Fahey answered that this was a policy issue that the township boards decided on. He added, “Both those lots have the same access.” One area of concern was the launch ramps and the lack of charges for those people using the ramps to put their boats in Paw Paw Lake. Watervliet Township Supervisor Dan Hutchins stated that those launch ramps are owned by the Department of Natural Resources and they have asked them about charging and were told no. Stepich added that they are looking at a consideration for installing boat wash stations at those ramps with signage asking the public to use them but too many questions remain on the subject at this time. The next public hearing will be held at Coloma High School on Saturday, June 25 at 10:00 a.m. Comments or questions can also be sent to the Paw Paw Lake Restoration Advisory Committee, P.O. Box 563, Watervliet, MI 49098.