BRIDGMAN — Members of the Bridgman City Council and Lake Charter Township Board received updates on a variety of local matters during a March 29 joint meeting.
Bridgman Public Schools Superintendent Shane Peters said “we are now in week 29 of in-person instruction,” adding that Berrien County is one of the few where all school districts made the decision to bring kids back face-to-face since last August.
“It’s been no easy task, but we’ve done it and we’ve done it safely,” Peters said.
He said all of the stakeholders involved in the Bridgman Public Schools have done a great job in ensuring that “our kids could come back to the classroom and not only have an academic environment, but … the school district is meeting their social and emotional needs as well.”
In response to a question Peters said about 12 percent of the district’s students are engaged in remote learning, down from around 20 percent in the fall.
He said there will be a graduation ceremony for the Class of 2021 “rain or shine” at 1 p.m. June 6, adding that they will try to do a prom as well.
Peters said the Bridgman Foundation for Educational Excellence Golf Outing at Lost Dunes is scheduled for May 10, adding that as of the morning of March 29 more than 80 golfers were signed up for the 100-plus person event.
“So we’re well on our way to having a full house again this year,” he said. “That’s a great fund-raiser that the Foundation does that directly benefits our staff and students.”
He said high school sports have been going strong, with a spring band and choir concert also planned.
Peters said he believes video-casting events will continue past the pandemic.
He said the school district’s food service department has probably provided close to 300,000 meals to families in the community since March 2020.
“They have worked tirelessly week after week getting meals ready for families who are in need of food, students who have been isolated or quarantined because of COVID-19.”
He said the district will be providing an Easter meal including ham, potatoes and rolls for 386 people this week and a spring break meal.
Peters said the Bridgman Aquatic Center, closed since March 13, 2020, will re-open on April 3 with limited hours and capacity.
He said federal COVID money has helped the district deal with the expenses of the pandemic.
Peters said 76 percent of the Bridgman Public Schools staff has received two doses of the Moderna vaccine, and a large percentage will be considered fully vaccinated on April 2.
Also addressing the joint meeting was Bridgman Public Library executive Director Dennis Krebs.
He said no appointments will be necessary to visit the library starting in April 5.
“We will continue to offer curbside service in the afternoon,” he added.
Krebs said the summer reading programs will feature more outdoor and virtual programming.
He said the presence of a social work intern from Western Michigan University at the library will return.
Arthur Havlicek, president/ceo of the Southwest Michigan Regional Chamber (which is affiliated with the Greater Bridgman Area Chamber and Growth Alliance), talked about the possibility of creating a “social district” in downtown Bridgman as a way to drive support to restaurants, wineries, breweries and other businesses.
Havlicek said social district areas can be designated by a local unit of government where consumers can purchase alcoholic beverages from qualified licensees within the district, leave that licensee’s premises, and consume the beverage in one of the district’s designated “common areas.”
A lengthy discussion about how such a system could be implemented along Lake Street in Bridgman (including the parking lot around City Hall) followed. Approvals at both the local and state levels are part of the process.
Lake Charter Township Supervisor John Gast said the Township Park will officially open on April 1, adding that there was a lot of activity in the offseason parking area by disc golfers and walkers.
The Bridgman City Council agreed to seek a Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund grant for Toth Park improvements.
Bridgman City Manager Juan Ganum said groundbreaking for the Casey’s General Store to be built along Red Arrow Highway at Rambo Road is expected in about a month.
He said there currently are 52 works of art by Reed Middle School students on display along Lake Street.
And Ganum said the Bridgman Open Air Market is slated to begin its 2021 season on Sunday, May 16, in the Edgewater Bank parking lot. He said up to 70 vendors are expected.
Members of both municipal boards discussed forming an ad-hoc exploratory committee to jointly address shoreline protection in Bridgman and Lake Township and ultimately make recommendations on the issue.