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Watervliet Charter Township calls on community; letters of need

The Watervliet Charter Township Board of Trustees met on Monday, Feb. 20, 7 p.m. at the Township Hall.

Public letters of need

The township trustees are in the process of working on the broadband expansion, as much of Michigan is; they are looking for community input in the form of a letter to the township that states that the community member has a need for broadband internet. Many needs may revolve around the necessity for connection to virtual programming in schools; secondary and collegiate levels both have begun to utilize the virtual service in everyday programming.

Virtual options are becoming routinely available in many aspects of life, even the in the medical field. With Corewell Health Lakeland of Berrien County, there are many providers offering video visit options. These utilize the telephone and an internet-video call via a secured internet provided service. This would be near impossible to do without significant internet within a home or better than the average cellular reception in this part of the county.

With these things in mind the trustees are looking to the community to share their individual needs and contribute to the evidence that Watervliet Charter Township has a significant need for broadband internet access and expansion. Residents can write a letter and mail it to the Watervliet Charter Township Hall, 4959 M-140 Watervliet, MI 49098; or they could email Watervliet Charter Township Clerk, Patt Bambrick at pbambrick@comcast.net or Watervliet Charter Township Supervisor Joe Stepich at jstepich@comcast.net.

It is important these letters detail the needs someone’s household has and any limitations from not having access at this time.

The township trustees also moved forward with a resolution that recommits the previously pledged American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds are used toward the expansion of the broadband within Watervliet Charter Township, and largely Berrien County. After the recent survey was conducted, the findings listed between 128 and 142 existing properties without access to broadband services; many of which fall somewhere in relation to County Line, John Goff, and Blatchford roads.

The recommitment is due largely to the fact that this landmark project from the state has been a “moving target” and as they are making progress forward it is developing over time to have different facets that need to be addressed. This most recent “target” involves the Internet Service Providers (ISPs) bidding out the areas which they will be expanding service into. This means the townships waiting for the information about funding are now waiting on another step in the process, and potentially a new direction that the funding will need to flow. But that next step waits to be seen.

County Bond Project

Community Development Director, Dan Fette gave a presentation to the board on the Proposed County Bond Project. Director Fette was there to request an Initiating Resolution from Watervliet Charter Township as one of four municipalities that needed to agree to initiate the project.

The project is being bid out now. There will be firm numbers in the near future and the Department of Public Works, who will be spearheading the project, plans to have the construction taking place this summer. The project discussion mentioned the storage at the water treatment facility needing updates and expansion, as well as the sludge tanks and other Paw Paw Lake Water projects of that nature.

The resolution was required from Watervliet Charter Township, Watervliet City, Coloma Charter Township, and Coloma City. In the resolution the township is requesting assistance and pledges responsibility to one-quarter of the project. Directory Fette said they feel like the bond will be reasonably paid off over the next three years. The trustees granted the resolution of initiation unanimously.

Public Safety Reports

Berrien County Sheriff’s Deputy Justin Goff gave the January police report to the board; after the rough weather in December, January has seen a pleasant direct result of the nicer weather. The township trustees were happy to hear the low numbers.

There was discussion around the new funding within the school district to supply another Student Resource Officer position. This brings with it the expectation that there will be a need for another vehicle on the school grounds for the second officer. The township is investigating the current assets that they have and will be deciding how to move forward in regards to that after they receive more information from the county about the recently decommissioned police vehicles within the township.

Watervliet Charter Township Monthly Board Meeting

The next meeting will be held on Monday, March 20, 7 p.m. Meetings are held at the Watervliet Charter Township Hall. Regular meetings are held on the third Monday of the month.

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