BERRIEN SPRINGS — Last week’s showing of the “Our Town: Berrien Springs” documentary on WNIT public television got mixed reviews at Tuesday’s Berrien Springs Village Council meeting.
While Village President Milt Richter said he received a lot of positive comments with people thinking it was well done, others questioned the focus taken in the documentary and said they were disappointed. Village officials worked with WNIT for several months and agreed to pay $2,500 for advertising on the station.
“Was the program supposed to be a history of the area or something to bring people to Berrien Springs?” Council Trustee Jack Davis asked.
“Both,” Richter said. “It was their idea to talk to people more than businesses.”
Trustee Lonna Johnson thought the documentary makers “missed a lot,” including not mentioning the St. Joseph River or interviewing a charter river boat captain.
“They talked about Pennellwood, which has been out of business for 12 years,” Davis added. “But they didn’t talk about Shamrock Park, the Blossomland Learning Center, the public safety building or the schools’ hearing impaired program.”
Richter said the village can focus on some of the things people felt were left out in the commercial spots they’ve paid for. For example, he said the village can focus on the river, including the fall and spring salmon runs, in a commercial.
Council members heard a presentation on one new project that wasn’t featured in the documentary: the upcoming opening of the Andreasen Center for Wellness at Andrews. Andrews Wellness Director Dominique Gummelt reported on the university’s ongoing wellness efforts, as well as goals for the new center.
The center is expected to open Sept. 30 and be open to both students and community members. The 72,000 square foot facility will have a holistic approach to health and feature space for strength and fitness classes, a large whirlpool, a saltwater pool and infrared and sun rooms, she said.
In action at the meeting, council members continued to have questions about a proposed contract with American Electric Power to replace streetlights, as well as two tree trimming contracts. Those three items were tabled at last week’s council meeting and will be addressed again at the Sept. 16 meeting.
With the AEP contract, council members said they want to know whether the village will actually save money by having AEP do the streetlights all at once, rather than replacing them as they go out.
They said that the proposed contract has AEP paying for all the costs of changing out the new lights to be LED rather than sodium or mercury vapor but also keeping all the cost savings. “Let’s get some more facts,” Richter said as they postponed action indefinitely.
The tree trimming questions revolve around whether the village has enough money in the budget to not only trim and cut down trees but also replace them with new trees. Council members want the village’s policy to be replacing every tree cut down with two new trees.
The council did approve work on a new sign at the wastewater treatment plant. There had been debate last week on whether or not it was too costly. Members decided to go ahead with the work which will replace the vinyl lettering on the sign with long lasting aluminum lettering at a cost of $4,975.
Council members also approved a new three-year extension of the village’s trash hauling contract with Republic Services. Residents won’t see any price increase this year but will see a 3 percent price increase in the second and third years of the contract.