Archived Story

Recreation board formalized

Published 10:05pm Monday, August 20, 2012


By 5-2 votes, Niles Charter Township Monday night established a recreation board and adopted proposed Nov. 6 ballot language for renewing Berrien County sheriff police protection of one mill for four years.

A mill of property tax raises $363,165 the first year.

The township also approved the commercial exemption certificate for MacAllister Machinery, rehabilitating the former Wickes Lumber, 2147 S. 11th St., by Oct. 15. Initially, there will be 10 of 20 jobs created.

MacAllister utilized 25 construction jobs during rehabilitation of the building Wickes vacated in 2003.

MacAllister, affiliated with Caterpillar, provides equipment to construction projects on a rental basis. This will be its first location in Michigan.

“The incentive freezes existing taxable value of the building,” according to Shelley Klug, executive director of Southwestern Michigan Economic Growth Alliance.


Recreation board


Supervisor Jim Kidwell and Trustee August Kuehn voted against formalizing a recreation board.

“If (the part-time elected park board) had its own millage, it would be different,” Clerk Marge Durm-Hiatt said, “but they just have the money the township board gives,” which is $5,000.

Township attorney John Lohrstorfer of Kalamazoo reviewed the matter.

The township board intends to serve in that capacity.

“I’m not sure this clarifies anything,” Kuehn said. “It might be something for the next board to take a look at.”

“I agree,” Kidwell said. “I don’t think we should muddy the water until a new board comes on.”

Treasurer James Ringler said, “Parks is an everyday operation, especially during the summer, for which the township board oversees an $80,000 budge. This establishes who has control.”

Kidwell, a Niles police officer, opposed millage language specifying Berrien County Sheriff’s Department as “burdening the new board coming in. I have no qualms with the sheriff’s department. They’re a great bunch of people and have done an outstanding job since I’ve been in office. But it should just be for police protection to see what other contracts might be out there. That’s good business.”

Sheriff Paul Bailey attended the meeting.

Ringler, Durm-Hiatt, Richard Noble, Richard Cooper and Gary Conover voted yes for the recreation board. The township maintains a half-dozen parks.


Engagement letter


The board voted 4-1 for an agreement with Foster, Swift, Collins and Smith, a Grand Rapids law firm, to continue representing the township in a civil suit.

Insurance covered the first $25,000 but continued costs will be borne by taxpayers. Ringler and Durm-Hiatt abstained as parties to the litigation. Kidwell voted no.

The township switched internet and phone service from AT&T to Comcast for savings of at least $116 a month and faster service.

Durm-Hiatt read an email from a Michigan Supreme Court Justice Information System employee who was a guest at Holiday Inn Express and Suites Aug. 14 when it was evacuated for a dryer fire. She visited Niles to work with the court and was impressed by the fire department’s prompt response.


  • Kevin Tonkin

    Disolve the elected Park Commission as it has been, and always will be, an advisory board to the township board when no revenue is provided for directly by the taxpayers. We definatley do NOT need two park (aka recreation) boards!

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