Construction on Pucker Street Dam resumes

NILES — Visitors to Losensky Park will have continued access to the park through the spring and summer, but will see more construction activity beginning again on the Pucker Street Dam. The Pucker Street Dam removal process hit pause as COVID-19 impacted operational procedures of the main contracting company.

The halt spanned two weeks as contracting company, Millbocker and Sons, took time to ensure personal protection equipment was made available to its workers and to do further training.

Work on the dam removal site resumed on April 20. The roughly $12 million dam removal will allow the Dowagiac River to flow freely to the Saint Joseph River watershed, about two miles from the Pucker Street Dam. The city had been informed about seven years ago that it had the option to repair, stabilize or remove the dam. The dam was originally constructed in 1928. It includes five gates, which to this day, had to be opened manually. All but one gate was able to be opened, but the original purpose of the dam, to produce electric power, has long been out of use.

Residents can expect some changes to access in the river in May.

“The best news is that we’re doing construction,” said Suzannah Deneau, a Wightman engineer on the site. “We’re looking to start the middle of May, where we are actually going to start drawing down the river.”

The plan to begin moving the river away from Michigan 51 and restoring the banks of the river from erosion, 6 inches at a time, will close off a section of the river.

“The river will be closed from Arthur Dodd to Losensky Park to any boaters and kayakers,” Deneau said. She expects the closure to begin mid-May. “There will be signs going up in Arthur Dodd. The next section, I believe, is pretty rough anyway. We will keep it closed to protect everyone.”

Arthur Dodd Memorial Park is upstream from Losensky Park, and will have signs installed warning recreationists as the project progresses.

Another change that visitors to Losensky Park may witness is the presence of more downed trees. The trees were taken down earlier in the spring season.

“This whole project is actually under the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service,” said Jeff Dunlap, utilities manager for the city of Niles. “They’re our biggest grant contributor, so we’re under their umbrella. In this case, it becomes having it be managed to federal standards. So, all the trees had to be cut down by the end of March because of the Indiana long-eared bat, or we would have to do bat surveys.”

Cutting the trees down before the rest of the work began was a decision to keep the process moving.

“We can only work on the river from May to the end of September,” Dunlap said.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources extended the window in response to delays in the process due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Millbock and Sons will also be keeping its construction equipment at the site, but will be leaving parking available for visitors to the park.

Edwardsburg

Monday Evening club adds plaque to celebratory marker

Cassopolis

MEC annexes back into the village limits

Edwardsburg

Edwardsburg residents open Mosquito Joe franchise

Dowagiac

Dowagiac Union Schools Board of Education votes to start year with distance learning

Education

Niles superintendent hosts outdoor, active meeting to discuss back to school concerns

Berrien County

Vikings assemble backpacks for students

Dowagiac

Dowagiac resident named 2021 Cass County Miss Agriculture USA Queen

Berrien County

Girls on the Run Southwest Michigan to host virtual short film festival Aug. 19

News

Niles nonprofit works to keep evictions out of courts

Berrien County

Berrien County Sheriff’s Office launches internal investigation into video incident

News

Whitmer signs executive directive recognizing, addressing racism as a public health crisis

Berrien County

Gov. Whitmer approves $28 million in outdoor recreation development and acquisition grants

Berrien County

Arrest, use of force streamed on Facebook Live involved Berrien County deputy

Business

Dowagiac Chamber of Commerce unveils upcoming Same Day Rewards Program

Dowagiac

Renovation work begins on Dowagiac’s China Garden

Berrien County

Berrien, Cass County unofficial election results

Berrien County

Motorcyclist seriously injured in collision with pickup truck

Berrien County

Berrien County services work to connect homeless to housing

Dowagiac

DUS seeks board member

Brandywine Education

Brandywine reviews reopening plan

Buchanan

Tin Shop Theatre to host outdoor production of ‘Into the Woods’

Dowagiac

Under The Harvest Moon Festival canceled due to COVID-19 pandemic

News

Niles Township appoints acting fire chief, introduces new fire code

Berrien County

Plastic surgeon to discuss cosmetic, reconstructive procedures