The South Haven Tribune is a total market coverage newspaper in southwestern Michigan, delivered weekly to 13,500 homes and businesses in northwestern Van Buren County and southwestern Allegan County. The Tribune is owned by Paxton Media Group and is affiliated with The Herald-Palladium.
This Just in...
'Blood Red' lunar eclipse - first one of 2014
The South Haven area was shrouded in clouds early this morning for the 'blood red' lunar eclipse, but Sheryl Kaptur of South Haven managed to capture these images. The top image shows the moon just prior to the eclipse. The one directly above shows part of the eclipse, A lunar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes directly behind the Earth into its umbra. This can occur only when the Sun, Earth, and Moon are aligned exactly, or very closely so, with the Earth in the middle.
Bangor DPW director announces retirement
By BECKY KARK
Editor and general manager
BANGOR — After 40 years with Bangor's Department of Public Works, Steve Lowder is calling it quits, but some people aren't too happy about it.
Lowder submitted his retirement notice April 4 to City Manager Ryan Fellows. He will continue to work as DPW director until a new person is hired.
“I have enjoyed my many years of serving the City of Bangor and I look forward to helping the city successfully transition to a new director of public works,” he wrote.
The letter seemed amiable enough, but two people who attended Monday's City Council meeting claim Lowder was forced to retire.
“This is hypocrisy, why don't you call it what it is?” asked a man who identified himself as Tony.
Another man, Brian Rouse, agreed. “I've known Steve the majority of my life. I've never seen him turn down work.”
Several city council members, however, disagreed with the two men.
“Forty years speaks for itself,” said council member Fred Hicks. “I don't know if I agree with us being hypocrites.”
“Forty years is a very long time for any one to be in a position,” said council member Lynne Farmer. “We appreciate Steve as our DPW director and assistant fire chief.”
But another council member hinted that there may have been friction between Lowder and city administrators over the past several years. Fellows is the fourth city manager the town has had since 2011.
“Maybe it wasn't all his (Lowder's) fault, maybe it was management's fault,” said council member Renee Doroh.
Whatever his reason for retirement, Lowder isn't talking about it. “I really can't say,” he said in a phone interview, Tuesday.
City Manager Ryan Fellows said he wasn't aware of Lowder's intentions to retire until after he received his resignation letter.
When asked if he had reprimanded Lowder, Fellows said, “there's nothing in writing. People make choices.”
Fellows went on to say, “I thank Mr. Lowder for his years of service and appreciate his willingness for a smooth transition.”
Grand Junction man charged with aggravated assault of a police officer
A 19-year-old Grand Junction man faces several criminal charges after allegedly spitting on a sheriff's deputy and using a cigarette to burn a police sergeant.
Van Buren County Sheriff's Department arrested Eric Thomas Murphree for aggravated assault of a police officer, resisting and obstruction of a police officer, simple assault and minor in possession of alcohol. He was arraigned Monday in Van Buren District Court where the magistrate set his bond at $25,000.
The charges stem from a complaint deputies received, Sunday, of a possible assault in progress in the 00700 block of 67th Street, in Geneva Township.
Murphree allegedly was arguing with and physically assaulting a 39-year-old man from the South Haven area. When law enforcement officers tried to arrest Murphree he allegedly became combative. During the struggle, a South Haven Police Department sergeant was burnt by a cigarette Murphree had. When Murphree was later escorted to the police cruiser he spit on a deputy's face.
The victim was treated on the scene for his injuries. Murphree was treated at South Haven Hospital for injuries.
Wild Chef Japanese Steakhouse re-opens
A Holland restaurant that voluntarily closed its doors after patrons reported flu-like symptoms is now open.
The Ottawa County Department of Public Health allowed Wild Chef Japanese Steakhouse to reopen on Monday.
The restaurant voluntarily closed Tuesday, April 1 after numerous reports of illness were received by health department from customers who dined at the establishment. Approximately 300 people reported symptoms consistent with norovirus, according to the health department. The health department confirmed that norovirus was indeed the pathogen that affected patrons.
Wild Chef Japanese Steakhouse has met the following health department requirements:
Cleaned and disinfected all equipment, floors, walls, and ceilings.
Developed new written policies and procedures and provided staff training on proper hand washing, glove use, food preparation practices, and reporting of illness
Discarded all prepared foods from the establishment
All staff completed a food handlers training program and passed the exam.
Humane Society celebrates National Volunteer Week
Al-Van Humane Society plans to celebrate National Volunteer Week by highlighting all the volunteer opportunities that provide comfort, care and compassion to the local homeless pet population while they wait to be adopted.
“We want to thank those that currently volunteer for our organization by holding a special event on Saturday, April 12 for our active volunteers, and to showcase each day some of the wonderful ways that people can help the homeless pets through service as a volunteer to Al-Van Humane Society,” stated humane society Executive Director Will Anzenberger.
National Volunteer Week, April 6-12, is about taking action and encouraging individuals and their respective communities to be at the center of social change- discovering and actively demonstrating their collective power to foster positive transformation.
“Whether it is fostering an animal awaiting a chance at adoption, assisting with our mobile adoption events (“Meet & Greets”), or applying creative skills like photography to promote our shelter animals’ best side, our volunteers provide an invaluable service to our organization and to our mission,” added Anzenberger. “This National Volunteer Week reminds us to take a brief moment out of our hectic schedule to truly thank those that tirelessly give to our organization on behalf of the animals.”
About National Volunteer Week – The event was established in 1974 and has grown each year with thousands of volunteer projects and special events scheduled throughout the week.
Survey shows state residents favor cherry over blueberry as Michigan's official fruit
By BECKY KARK
Editor and general manager
Michigan legislators have yet to decide whether the cherry or blueberry should be the state's official fruit, but a survey conducted by a marketing group could sway their opinion.
Marketing Resource Group of Lansing surveyed voters throughout the state in March and discovered that two-thirds of them think the cherry should rule.
The results, released today, didn't surprise Dave Doyle of Marketing Resource Group. “We kind of expected Southwest Michigan voters to be for the blueberry and the rest of the state for cherries,” he said.
The marketing group decided to survey Michigan residents after hearing State Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker, R-Lawton, had introduced a bill to make the blueberry the state's official fruit. Her bill followed on the heels of a similar one by Sen. Rebekah Warren (D) touting the cherry. A senate committee heard testimony from the two sides in early March but did not make any decisions.
“We read about it and figured it would be a fun and interesting subject of a survey,” Doyle said when asked why Marketing Resource Group decided to poll people.
“Six hundred likely voters were randomly selected throughout the state between March 24-28,” Doyle said of the telephone survey. “If 10 percent of Southwest Michigan voters voted in an election, than 10 percent were called in Southwest Michigan.”
The news is bound to come as a disappointment to the contingency from southwest Michigan who traveled to Lansing in early March to promote the merits of the blueberry.
Local blueberry growers, Blueberry Store owners and students from St. Basil Catholic School and Baseline Middle School spent a half-hour telling legislators why they favor the blue fruit, while students from the east side of the state lobbied for the cherry.
The local students argued that Michigan is one of the largest producers of blueberries in the nation and that blueberries are grown on 21,500 acres spread across 600 farms, many of which are located along the lakeshore in Southwest Michigan. They also pointed out that blueberry production funnels $187.7 million into the state's economy each year and provides 3,000 jobs.
“The kids did a fabulous job,” St. Basil School Principal Jeanne Arbanas said. “Even the cherry side. You have to give them some credit. They've been wanting the cherry for years so they had been at it for sometime. But I thought we had a great showing.”
Each side left the senate committee with some food for thought:
“If this doesn't get out of committee it will be the pits,” cherry promoters said.
Blueberry lovers took a different tack, reminding legislators that blueberries are native to North America, while cherries are native to China.
“You can't forget that,” Arbanas said.
Canine unit sniffs out suspect hiding in a barrel
Hiding from police in a 55-gallon barrel didn't pan out for a Hartford area woman.
A Van Buren County Sheriff's Department canine unit found 29-year-old Tiffani Ann Johnson-Oliver hiding in the barrel Saturday afternoon after she led a deputy on a high-speed chase.
Deputies began to pursue Oliver after she left a gas station in Hartford at a high rate of speed. A deputy tried to stop her 1995 white Cadillac, but Oliver kept trying to elude him for several miles. She went through stop signs and was driving recklessly before going off the road into an orchard and cornfield near the intersection of 34th Avenue and 66th Street in Bangor Township. She then fled her vehicle on foot and attempted to hide in the barrel. Deputies deployed a canine unit that tracked them to the barrel where the suspect was trying to hide.
She was arrested for fleeing and eluding and an outstanding bench warrant.
Covert Township Police, Hartford Police, Michigan State Police and Bangor Police departments assisted.
Man escapes serious injuries after falling asleep while driving on M-40 Highway
A Lawton man is lucky to be alive after a farm post smashed through his windshield, Thursday.
The 18-year-old had been driving north on M-40 Highway in Porter Township when he fell asleep, according to a Van Buren County Sheriff's Department news release. His vehicle traveled across the center line and went into a farm field for about 100 yards. It then hit the farm post and re-entered the roadway.
When deputies and emergency personnel arrived at the scene they found the injured man, and the post, which had stopped inches from his body. The man was taken to Bronson Methodist Hospital in Kalamazoo for non-life-threatening injuries. He was cited for careless driving. Neither alcohol, drugs nor speeding were factors in the accident.
Stomach illnesses in Ottawa County linked to Holland restaurant
HOLLAND – Ottawa County Department of Public Health (OCDPH) has received an increase of gastrointestinal illness reports this week from residents. Wild Chef Japanese Steakhouse Grill and Bar in Holland Township voluntarily closed Tuesday after being notified that a number of dining customers had reported gastrointestinal illnesses to the health department. OCDPH has conducted a full inspection and the investigation is still in process. So far, health officials have identified more than 100 gastrointestinal illness cases related to dining at Wild Chef. The restaurant owner and staff have been cooperative with the health department. Health officials are ensuring proper disinfecting procedures have been completed before scheduling a re-open date. OCDPH wants to ensure health and safety for residents and that restaurants are successful establishments. OCDPH is waiting on lab results to determine which pathogen is associated with the Wild Chef incident. Currently, no other dining establishments have been identified as having an outbreak.
Gastrointestinal illness symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, cramping and low-grade fever. If you are currently experiencing any of these symptoms, please remain at home at least 24 hours after symptoms subside. If you or anyone you know has dined at Wild Chef between Thursday, March 27 and Tuesday, April 1, regardless of experiencing symptoms or not, take a moment to complete the OCDPH online questionnaire at www.surveymonkey.com/s/wildchefto help aid the investigation.
Area municipalities receive nearly $1 million to shore up winter road maintenance budgets
Municipalities in southwest Allegan and northwest Van Buren counties received nearly $1 million today to help restore road maintenance budgets that were depleted by Michigan's cold, snowy winter.
The funding is part of $100 million the Michigan legislature recently approved for winter road maintenance.
"These funds are badly needed by counties, cities and villages to compensate for the extraordinarily high costs of plowing, salting and filling potholes this past winter," said State Transportation Director Kirk T. Steudle. "We are all extremely appreciative of the governor's and legislature's understanding of the toll this brutal winter has taken on road budgets."
The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) allocated the one-time appropriation of $100 million according to the Public Act 51 of 1951 road funding formula, meaning MDOT received $39.1 million, counties $39.1 million, and cities and villages $21.8 million.
The Act 51 formula is complex. How much a county, city or village receives in funding through Act 51 depends on several factors, including road mileage and population. Counties, cities and villages receiving the funds must use the money for winter maintenance costs, and not for things such as administration, overhead or other indirect costs.
Here is a breakdown of what local municipalities received:
Lawrence man dies in single-vehicle accident
An autopsy is scheduled today for a 42-year-old Lawrence man, who died in a traffic accident on Interstate 94 Wednesday afternoon.
Frederick Neil Alburtus died at the scene of the crash, which occurred shortly before 3 p.m. near the 48 mile marker in Hartford Township.
Witnesses told Michigan State Police troopers they noticed Alburtus driving erratically prior to the crash. Police said Alburtus lost control of his pick-up truck. It went off the right side of the road and rolled over. He was not wearing a seatbelt.
Police say alcohol does not appear to be a factor in the crash. The autopsy will be performed at Spectrum Butterworth Hospital.
Sure sign of spring
It's no April Fool's joke. After a harsh, cold winter, snow drops are shown, Monday, blooming in a yard in Grand Junction. (photo by Kim Roe-Kester)
Nesbitt plans local office hours today
Area residents can meet with State Rep. Aric Nesbitt today at several town halls throughout Van Buren County. Nesbitt, R-Lawton, has scheduled several in-district office hours at the following locations:
• Covert Township Hall, 73943 Lake St., noon-1 p.m.
• Julia's at the Pavilion, 561 Huron St., South Haven, 2-3 p.m.
• Railroad Cafe, 555 Railroad St., Bangor, 4-5 p.m.
Gobles area man air-lifted to Bronson following ATV accident
UPDATE: Glen W. Sutton, 69, died Monday at Bronson Methodist Hospital in Kalamazoo, shortly after being air-lifted there. Police released his name Tuesday.
A 69-year-old Gobles area man was air-lifted to Bronson Methodist Hospital today after suffering head and neck injuries in an ATV accident.
The incident occurred shortly before 10 a.m. in a corn field in the 12000 block of M-40 Highway in Bloomingdale Township, according to a Van Buren County Sheriff's report.
When deputies arrived they found the victim unconscious, not breathing and bleeding from the head. A deputy began CPR until personnel from Life EMS and Pine Grove Fire Rescue arrived to take over medical treatment.
A friend of the victim, who was riding a separate ATV when the accident occurred, told deputies that the Gobles man was traveling eastbound in a cornfield when his hat began to come off. The man tried to retrieve the hat, but in doing so accidentally hit the throttle of his ATV. The ATV lost control and went onto two wheels. The man fell from the vehicle and struck his head on the ground. The victim's friend called 911. At this time the condition of the victim is not known.
Penny slot machine yields huge dividends for St. Joseph resident
Playing the penny slots has paid off in a big way for a St. Joseph man.
The lucky guy won a $509,036 jackpot, Saturday, playing “The Lord of the Rings — The Fellowship” penny slot machine at Four Winds Casino in New Buffalo.
Other jackpots won recently at the Four Winds casino follow:
• Feb. 14 — $211,698
• June 2013 — $1,038,265
• January 2013 — $744,966
J&B Landing employees. who helped salvage the Wilhelm Baum this past weekend. are shown standing next to the historic tugboat, which is now dry-docked at the company's marine facilities on Dyckman Avenue in South Haven.
South Haven marine contractor salvages historic Wilhelm Baum
By BECKY KARK
Editor and general manager
The old saying. “Don't give up the ship.” certainly applies to the crew that salvaged the historic Wilhelm Baum tugboat this past Saturday.
“It took three days. We had a hard time bringing it up,” said Barney Pero, owner of J&B Landing, which undertook the task of getting the submerged tug out of the Black River in South Haven.
The 91-year-old tug lay submerged for a month in icy water at the Michigan Maritime Museum dock before J&B workers could rescue it.
“It had taken in a lot of water,” Pero said of the 25-ton tugboat owned by Jim and Sheral Bradley of South Haven.
Workers began the arduous task Thursday, battling freezing temperature and wind gusts. The task proved tough.
“The weather was miserable,” Bradley said.
While bystanders watched, J&B employees tried unsuccessfully on Thursday, Friday and Saturday morning to lift the vessel.
“You couldn't lift the whole tug out of the water, it was just too heavy,” Pero said. Workers then devised a plan to lift the back part of the tug onto a barge, which allowed them to successfully pump out some of the water. They then were able to lift the front part of the tug onto another barge and drain the rest of the water out of the craft.
Surprisingly, once the water was out of the Wilhelm Baum late Saturday afternoon, it floated on its own.
“It came up and wasn't leaking water at all,” Bradley said. “I think Barney and his boys did a wonderful job. I was very pleased nobody got injured.”
Just why the Wilhelm Baum sank on Feb. 23, still remains somewhat of a mystery.
“The Coast Guard didn't find anything obvious,” Pero said.
“We do not know why it sank,” said Bradley, who has owned the Wilhelm Baum since the mid 1970s. “There's not many clues to the mystery.”
Pero ventured one guess. “It's possible with all of the ice and snow we had it weighed down the boat and it started to take on water, but that's just a guess.”
Despite sinking, the tugboat showed very few signs of damage, which pleased Bradley. However, its electronic components were ruined.
“It had sonar, a remote-operated vehicle for underwater videos, things like that,” said Bradley who used the tug for shipwreck searches and as a rescue boat when he volunteered with the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary.
“That's a major deal,” he said regarding the loss of the electronic devices. “Most of it was handmade by me and took a long time to make. It can't be readily replaced.”
At this point, Bradley said he is not sure yet whether the tug will go back in the water.
I'm not sure where we're going to next,” he said.
The Wilhelm Baum was built in 1923 for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and used on the St. Mary's River. At that time it was called the Captain Canfield. When Bradley bought it he changed the tug's name to Wilhelm Baum, in honor of a South Haven resident of the same name, who had served as Lt. Commander of the U.S.S. Swordfish submarine during World War II.
Bradley and his wife Sheral spent the next three decades using the tugboat for search and rescue operations for the Coast Guard Auxiliary in South Haven.
“I'd say 1,200 to 1,500 people were assisted in the 30 years the tug was used by the auxiliary,” Bradley said. For the past nine years, Bradley used the boat for his diving expeditions.
“My wife (Sheral) and I were very active in the the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary in South Haven,” Bradley said. “The Wilhelm Baum was involved in many rescues. I'd say 1,200 to 1,500 people were assisted in the 30 years the tug was used by the auxiliary.”
Bradley bought the Wilhelm Baum in the early 1970s. At that time the tug was known as the Captain Canfield. It had been built in Baltimore, Md. For the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and used on the St. Mary's River. It then was sold to several private interests before Bradley bought it.
“I didn't like the name,” he said when asked why the tug was given another moniker. “I chose the name Wilhelm Baum, because he was a local navy hero.” Baum had served as Lt. Commander of the U.S.S. Swordfish submarine during World War II. The Swordfish was the first United States sub to sink a Japanese ship during the war.
After three decades of plying the Black River and Lake Michigan for the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, the Bradleys retired. For the past nine years, the Wilhelm Baum has been used for recreational purposes and for Bradley's shipwreck searches.
The country music trio, Lady Antebellum, is shown.
Lady Antebellum, Joe Nichols to perform at Allegan County Fair
Allegan County Fair promotors are giving country music lovers something to cheer about with the addition of Lady Antebellum and Joe Nichols to the fair's concert lineup.
Tickets will go on sale Friday at 10 a.m. for the Sept. 7th concert, featuring both Lady A and Nichols.
Tickets can be purchased online at www.allegancountyfair.com or at the fair box office, by calling 1888-673-6501.
Lady Antebellum is riding on the success of its latest No. 1 hit, “Compass,” from the band's “Golden Deluxe Edition.” Since forming in 2006, the trio of Hillary Scott, Charles Kelley and Dave Haywood has earned seven Grammy Awards and dozens of other awards, including their most recent ones — Duo/Group Artist of the Year and Best Single by a Duo/Group from the American Country Awards in 2013.
Lady Antebellum's hit singles include “Our Kind of Love, “Need You Now,” “I Run to You,” “American Honey,” and “Downtown.”
Nichols, who also is enjoying popularity on the country music charts, recently released his latest album, “Crickets.” The single, “Sunny and 75” was certified gold earlier this year.
Hit other hits include “Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off,” “She Only Smokes When She Drinks,” “It Ain't No Crime,” “The Impossible,” “I'll Wait for You,” and “If Nobody Believed in You.”
UPDATE: The Wilhelm Baum was salvaged from the Black River late Saturday afternoon by workers from J&B Landing in South Haven. The difficult operation took three days. Barney Pero and his crew had to use several barges and other pieces of equipment to pump water out of the submerged tug and lift it out of the river, where it had been submerged for a month.
A slow go...
Workers are at the Michigan Maritime Museum docks in South Haven today trying to salvage the historic Wilhelm Baum tugboat, which sank Feb. 23. The tug was not able to be raised earlier, due to ice that had built up on the Black River. The photo shows workers using a barge and crane in an attempt to pull the tug out of the water. It was not immediately known what caused the tug to sink. The Wilhelm Baum was built in 1923 and is owned by Jim Bradley of South Haven. For 30 years, the tug was used by the South Haven Coast Guard Auxiliary to rescue boats on Lake Michigan. For the past nine years, the Wilhelm Baum has been used for recreational purposes and for Bradley's shipwreck searches. (Photo by Becky Kark)
Palisades ends maintenance outage
COVERT — It's full speed ahead for Palisades Nuclear Power Plant.
After nearly a two-month-long refueling and maintenance outage, the plant resumed operation on Sunday.
The return to service follows a Nuclear Regulatory Commission safety review that indicates Palisades is safe to operate.
During the outage, workers discovered a piece of metal wedged tightly within the plant's reactor vessel. Workers also found flaws in 17 of the plant's 45 control rod drive mechanism housings.
Plant officials decided to replace all of the control rod drive housings
The NRC conducted reviews of the two issues and determined that review and determined that the metal will not impact the reactor vessel or the fuel within the vessel.
“In the unlikely vent of any impact to the fuel or the vessel, the plant has instrumentation that will alert them to the existence of foreign material within the fuel plenum,” the review stated. “In addition, plant operators are trained and are aware of immediate actions necessary to mitigate the event before it poses a significant safety concern either to the plant or to the public.”
The review also pointed out that the rod drive housings that were replaced are designed differently and are more resistant to developing the type of flaws that were found in the original housings.
The review went on to say that plant officials conducted destructive testing of four of the housings identified with flaws. Their results were reviewed by the NRC which stated the housings' structural integrity was not comprised while the plant was operating.
Their assertion was reiterated by Palisades spokesperson Lindsey Rose: “There was no leakage associated with any of the housings and there was no risk to the health and safety of the public or employees,” she said.
Workers from Martin J. Construction of Coopersville pour and smooth cement for a portion of Phoenix Street near Kalamazoo Street in downtown South Haven. Paving of the new road is expected to continue this week. The paving project is part of the reconstruction of Phoenix from Broadway to Kalamazoo Street. The project includes new water and sewer lines, new sidewalks, areas for outdoor cafes and gathering areas, landscaping and free wi-fi service for internet users. The project began in September 2013, and is expected to be finished sometime in May.
It ain't over until it's over
Colder-than-normal temperatures expected to continue this winter
This winter is shaping up to become at least the fifth coldest one on record in Michigan, according to a report issued by Michigan State University Extension's Department of Geography.
And even though today's 45-degree temperatures give reason to hope winter's cold, icy weather will soon depart, don't expect normal temperatures anytime soon.
“(The outlook) calls for a continuation of below-normal mean temperatures state and region-wide for March 10-14 and March 16-20,” Jeff Andresen, co-author of the winter weather update, stated.
A deep, upper-air troughing pattern persisted across eastern North America during late February into early March, leading to a continuation of severe winter conditions across Michigan and the Great Lakes region. One of the Arctic-origin air masses associated with the pattern led to extreme cold conditions on March 2 and 3, with minimum temperatures falling to the -15 to -30 degree Fahrenheit range, which were among the coldest readings observed so far this winter and, according to Michigan State University Extension experts, may have resulted in cold injury to overwintering vegetation above the snowline.
Extension experts blame blame the cold Arctic weather for the below-normal temperatures this winter. Since January, five major Arctic air mass “events” have occurred in Michigan: Jan. 3-8; Jan. 27-29; Feb. 11-12; Feb. 27-28 and March 2-3.
In addition to the cold temperatures, the state has experienced heavier-than-normal snowfall this winter. Some areas of Michigan have experienced more than 250 inches of snow since January. South Haven area's snowfall has been estimated at 140 inches or more since November, when the snow started to fall in earnest.
The prolonged cold temperatures have allowed the development of an unusually deep snow pack continuing across the state. South Haven area's snow pack is estimated between 9.5-20 inches.
$100 million in additional funds for road maintenance
Van Buren County could receive an additional $486,000 for road maintenance projects this year if the state legislature approves more funding.
Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker announced that additional road funding is included in a supplemental appropriations bill passed by the Senate last week.
Of the $100 million for roads included in the bill, which still needs the approval of the House of Representatives, Kalamazoo and Van Buren counties would receive approximately $1.9 million for local projects.
“This winter has been exceptionally harsh and our roads have taken a beating. As some of the ice has started to thaw, we have been left with a mess of potholes,” said Schuitmaker, R-Lawton. “This money will help address some of the most pressing maintenance needs.”
Kalamazoo County would receive $838,000 with an additional $594,000 split between cities, townships and villages. Van Buren County would receive $377,000 with an additional $109,000 going to local municipalities.
The funding is designated for special winter road maintenance, which includes snow and ice removal, pot hole patching, crack sealing, emergency repairs and bridge maintenance. This one-time funding cannot be used on capital projects like reconstruction or resurfacing.
“As the Legislature continues working toward a long-term funding solution, we need to direct the resources we have available to fix the worst problems,” Schuitmaker said.
Approximately 40 percent of the money would be allocated to state trunkline funds with the remaining 60 percent distributed to counties, cities and villages. Funding would be allocated to counties, cities and villages according to the same formula used to distribute funding from the Michigan Transportation Fund.
The supplemental appropriations bill, Senate Bill 608, passed the Senate and is now awaiting action in the Michigan House Appropriations Committee.
Photo by Troy Kaptur
Historic tugboat sinks
By BECKY KARK
Editor and general manager
A piece of South Haven's maritime history may become a thing of the past.
Sometime on Sunday morning, the historic Wilhelm Baum tugboat partially sank while docked at the Michigan Maritime Museum's docks on the Black River.
“I was at the dock at 8 a.m. on Sunday and everything was fine. Then five hours later that all changed,” said the Baum's owner, Jim Bradley, regarding the tug's sinking. “We don't really know what happened.”
As of today, the tug still remains partially sunk in the icy water.
“It has to come out of there,” said Bradley, who hopes to salvage the historic tug that was built in 1923. “Most likely a crane will be used on a barge to lift it out and then we can pump it out, but that can't happen until this ice melts.”
The thick ice surrounding much of the docks along the Black River may have played a role in the tug's sinking, but Bradley is not convinced that's the case.
“We had been there the day before and chopped the ice. It (the tug) was floating freely,” he said.
When the tug is hauled from the river, it will be costly to repair. “There's going to be a lot of water damage, There was a lot of electronic equipment on it,” Bradley said, referring to the sonar and scanning devices used when the tug went on rescue missions.
“My wife (Sheral) and I were very active in the the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary in South Haven,” Bradley said. “The Wilhelm Baum was involved in many rescues. I'd say 1,200 to 1,500 people were assisted in the 30 years the tug was used by the auxiliary.”
Bradley bought the Wilhelm Baum in the early 1970s. Then the tug was known as the Captain Canfield. It had been built in Baltimore, Md. for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and used on the St. Mary's River. It then was sold to several private interests before Bradley bought it.
“I didn't like the name,” he said when asked why the tug was given another moniker. “I chose the name Wilhelm Baum, because he was a local navy hero,” who, Bradley said, had served on a submarine during World War II.
After three decades of involvement with the Coast Guard Auxiliary, the Bradleys decided to give themselves and their tugboat a rest. For the past nine years, the Wilhelm Baum has been used for recreational purposes and for Bradley's shipwreck searches.
Drivers told to stay off roads in northwest Allegan County
Due to poor weather conditions, motorists are urged to avoid driving on roads in northwest Allegan County. Wind gusts of 40 miles an hour has resulted in limited visibility on roadways.
“Deputies and troopers are responding to numerous crashes, several involving injuries,” said Capt. Frank Baker of the Allegan County Sheriff's department. “Visibility is zero in many places. Stay off the roads on the northwest side of Allegan County until the wind subsides.”
Several roadways have been closed on 58th Street between 136th Avenue and 138th Avenue and 147th Avenue and 40th Street.
Six people injured in 40-car pileup
Six adults dealt with injuries in a 40-car pileup on Interstate 94, Monday.
Weather played a major role in the pileup that occurred shortly after 5 p.m. in the eastbound lane of the highway, between Paw Paw and Lawrence.
Four of the adults were taken to nearby hospitals, their exact injuries were not immediately known, according to a news release issued by Van Buren County Sheriff's department.
The pileup began when a semi lost control, causing a chain reaction.
Poor visibility and weather conditions played a major role along with drivers driving too fast for the conditions, according to Sgt. Dan Abbott.
The National Weather Service had issued a weather advisory earlier in the day on Monday, warning of snow accumulations of 4-6 inches. The snow began to fall very heavily right around 4:30 p.m. making driving treacherous for people going home from work.
The highway was shut down completely for several hours, due to the difficulty in removing the vehicles.
Deputies were assisted by the Michigan State Police, Paw Paw Police Department, Paw Paw Fire Department, Lawrence Fire Department, Van Buren Emergency Services, Lawton Fire Department, and Decatur Fire Department.
Winter advisory issued
Southwestern Michigan is under a winter advisory until 4 a.m. Tuesday.
The National Weather Service predicts four to six inches will fall from now until the advisory ends. Some areas may see more snow.
Snowfall rates of half-an-inch to one-inch per hour may occur between 3 p.m. and 9 p.m.
Motorists headed home this afternoon are warned to drive carefully due to snow-covered roads and poor visibility.
Man goes on the rampage, assaults four people
A 24-year-old man from Watervliet faces multiple charges after allegedly assaulting four people, including his sister. this past weekend.
The incident was reported to Van Buren County Sheriff's deputies at 3:41 a.m., Saturday, at a residence in the 58000 block of Springdale Drive, Hartford Township.
Deputies say the suspect, who had been drinking, entered the residence uninvited. He assaulted the four victims and damaged several items in the home and a vehicle that belonged to one of the victims.
The victims included the suspect's ex-girlfriend, a 30-year-old woman from Hartford; the suspect's sister, a 19-year-old Bangor area woman; the suspect's girlfriend, 25, of the Watervliet area; and a 31-year-old man from the Watervliet area, who is the boyfriend of the suspect's sister.
The suspect was charged with malicious destruction of property over $1,000; three counts of domestic violence; and assault and battery. He was taken to jail and his bond has been set at $50,000.
For $1 you can get a smooch on Valentine's Day from Dexter the French Bulldog during the "Come and Get Your Love" event at the Al-Van Humane Society. The fundraiser is one of several activities planned during Responsible Pet Owners Month.
Smooch with a pooch
French bulldog's 'Kissing Booth' one of the fundraiser Al-Van Humane Society plans for Valentine's Day
By KIM INGALLS
For the Tribune
Instead of giving a box of chocolates this Valentine's Day, why not give your loved one a big ol' sloppy kiss?
You can do just that on Valentine's Day when Al-Van Humane Society hosts a rather unique fundraiser. Dexter the French Bulldog will spread the love from 11 a.m.-3 p.m., Feb. 14, at his “Frenchie Kissing Booth” during the society's “Come and Get Your Love” fundraiser.
"Let's just say he gives big kisses," laughs Al-Van's Executive Director Will Anzenberger. "Dexter is rescued from a national French bulldog rescue group and has acid reflux, so he is very, very lean. He is 3-1/2 years old, and pretty much goes everywhere with me."
The humane society suggests a $1 per kiss donation. There will also be Valentine's Day treats available for participants.
"Come and Get Your Love" is one of several events planned by the shelter during February, which is dubbed Responsible Pet Owners Month.
"Even with all the snow on the ground, love is truly in the air when it comes to companion animals at Al-Van during the month of February,” Anzenberger said. “Whether it is offering reduced adoption fees, partaking in some Valentine’s Day fun at the shelter, or providing tips on how to be a responsible pet owner, our shelter wants to help strengthen the human-animal bond anyway possible during this special month.”
One of the month-long events is "Two Hearts." Until Feb. 28, anyone who adopts one adult cat can have the adoption fees waived if they adopt a second adult cat or kitten. Anzenberger said there are close to 60 felines at the shelter right now.
Until Feb. 16, supporters can send their favorite Al-Van adoptable animal a Valentine donation of $14 during "My Funny Valentine." The donations will be applied to the animal's adoption fee. Any donation that exceeds the fee will be applied toward spay/neuter costs.
Parents and teachers can continue to show the love by encouraging their children and students to create Valentine's Day cards for their favorite shelter canine or cat. Each card will be displayed in the shelter lobby next to the photo of the animal. The funniest cards will be posted on the shelter's Facebook page.
Throughout the month, the humane society will also feature tips and suggestions on its Facebook Page about responsible pet ownership.
Al-Van Humane Society was founded in 1968 as a non-profit animal welfare organization dedicated to providing emergency food and shelter for homeless pets. It is an independent and private, 501c3 non-profit organization. In 2012, the Michigan Pet Fund Alliance awarded Al-Van the Most Improved Open Admission Shelter.
Al-Van Humane Society is at 73303 8th Ave., east of Blue Star Highway. For more information, call (269) 637-5062 or visit the website, www.al-van.org.
Mounting snow piles on Phoenix Street concern city officials
If you have to travel along Phoenix Street early Friday morning, South Haven city officials ask that you find an alternative route, if possible.
Starting at 2 a.m., Department of Public Works road crews will remove excess snow that has piled up on the sides of the road.
“We've had so much snow it's gotten to the point where we can't do anything more with sidewalks because of snow piling up,” said Roger Huff, DPW director. “It's starting to roll back into the streets.”
Workers began removing the snow at 2 a.m. Thursday and will finish up early Friday morning.
They're working early both days to avoid the need for lane closures and to allow equipment operators to move more freely. There's typically less traffic on the roadway, as well, during early morning hours.
Once the snow is removed it will be trucked to an open space near Black River Park where the city has been depositing snow this winter. That area is beginning to be filled up with snow mounds that have been removed from city parking lots, but Huff said he anticipates the area will still be able to hold more snow for the remainder of this winter season.
A South Haven city street department employee uses a snow blower today to clear snow and slush off of sidewalks on Eagle Street, downtown.
South Haven area residents woke up to more snow this morning after Ol' Man Winter dumped another 4-5 inches.
Many area schools remained open, but the snow made driving slippery for many motorists trying to get to work. Municipal road crow crews were hampered by the snow, which continued to fall until approximately 11 a.m. Plowing, however, began in earnest afterwards.
Snowfall is expected to diminish today and tomorrow, with about an inch predicted for each day. But temperatures will remain cold, according to the National Weather Service. The agency predicts temps will fall to around 11 degrees tonight with wind chill values as low as -4. On Thursday, the thermometer reading is expected to hover around 10 degrees with wind chills as low as -8. Thursday night, the temperature will drop to 5 degrees with wind chills of -13. The low temps continue Friday with a high of 16 and a low of 9.
Meijer seeks applicants for South Haven store
Meijer has put the word out that it wants job applicants for its new store in South Haven.
“Winter may be in full-force, but Meijer is thinking summer with the grand opening of its new super center,” said Meijer Public Relations Manager Joe Hirschmugl.
Meijer plans to employ 270 people at the South Haven store and gas station. The gas station is expected to open in April. The store will then open in May. Positions available include clerks, cake decorators, customer service representatives, cashiers, receiving, and meat cutters. Starting pay will be based on experience level and specific skills.
Area residents interested in applying should do so online at http://jobs.meijer.com/newstore
Meijer officials will then conduct phone interviews during the next few weeks. Afterwards, selected candidates will be contacted to schedule face-to-face interviews.
Meijer, a Grand Rapids, Mich.-based retailer, operates 204 super centers and grocery stores throughout Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky.
Winter weather takes its toll on Red Cross blood supply
The American Red Cross needs blood and platelet donors to help restock its blood supply for February. Severe winter weather throughout January across much of the country forced the cancellation of about 770 Red Cross blood drives, resulting in more than 25,000 uncollected blood and platelet donations, according to Jim Flickema, CEO of the Red Cross Great Lakes Blood Services Region.
“Blood products were distributed to hospitals as quickly as the donations came in,” Flickema said. “The extraordinary number of cancellations in January was the equivalent of the Red Cross having to shut down its national operations for more than an entire day.”
On average, the Red Cross must collect about 15,000 units of blood every day for patients at approximately 2,700 hospitals and transfusion centers across the country. With additional winter weather already forecast for parts of the country in the next week or two, all blood types are currently needed to ensure a sufficient blood supply is available for patients.
There is an urgent need for blood types O positive, O negative, A negative and B negative. Eligible donors with these blood types are strongly encouraged to make an appointment to give in the coming days.
Platelets, a key clotting component of blood often needed by cancer patients, must be transfused within five days of donation, so donations are constantly needed. Red blood cells, the oxygen carrying component of blood, are the most widely transfused blood product and must be transfused within 42 days.
Here is a list of upcoming Red Cross and Michigan Blood Bank blood drives in Van Buren County:
Woman returns home
A Bloomingdale Township woman, who was reported missing last week, has returned home, safe and sound.
Gabrielle Bianca Himmelein, 19, came back to her residence Sunday, Van Buren County Sheriff's Department reported. Deputies said she came home on her own free will and no foul play took place while she was gone.
Himmelein's family members reported her missing on Jan. 28, after she failed to return home the evening of Jan. 27.
Suspects take $10,000 worth of electrical tools, copper wiring from storage area
Police are on the lookout for suspects who allegedly made off with $10,000 worth of electrical tools and copper wiring from an electrical contractor sometime Thursday evening.
Van Buren County Sheriff's deputies were dispatched today to the storage lot for Newkirk Electric Associates, at the corner of M-43 and M-40 highways in Waverly Township.
They were told two utility trucks and a large storage trailer had been broken into and that electrical tools and other equipment, including large spools of copper wire, had been taken.
Deputies say the suspects drove snowmobiles on Trail 59 of the Van Buren County trail system, parked in a small wooded area, walked on foot and pried open the locks on the vehicles and trailer. The suspects then fled eastbound on Trail 59 on snowmobiles.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Van Buren County Sheriff's office, 269-657-3101, Silent Observer, 866-774-2345, or Crime Stoppers, 1-800-342-7867.
Gabrielle Bianca Himmelein is shown in the photo, above.
Bloomingdale Twp. woman reported missing
Police seek the public's assistance in locating a Bloomingdale Township woman who never returned home this past Monday. Gabrielle Bianca Himmelein, 19, left her home at 7:15 p.m. Monday after telling family members she was going out for the evening. When she did not return home on Tuesday, family members called Van Buren County Sheriff's office to report Himmelein missing. She does not have a vehicle nor cell phone. She is described as 5'7,” 110 pounds and was last seen waring frayed blue jeans, a red and black striped sweater, grey boots and a brown puff waist-length jacket with the words, “Baby Phat” in gold letters on the left front side. She was also carrying a pink and purple purse with a shoulder strap. If anyone has seen her they are asked to call the sheriff's office at 269-657-3101, Crime Stoppers, 1-800-342-7867, Silent Observer, 269-343-2100 or local police departments.
BBB: If the phone rings once, think twice before returning the call
The Better Business Bureau of Western Michigan warns of two scams that could end up costing area residents money.
Scammers from the Caribbean countries of Grenada and Dominica are using a phone-call scheme that involves use of area codes 473 and 767. Phones of people who receive the calls only ring once. The scammers hope when people see the missed call they will call the number back, but that's when consumers get hit with the charges.
While the phone numbers appear to be in the United States, the number dialed is actually an international number with a share of the revenue going to the operator of the number. Consumers are tricked into dialing these international phone numbers, which results in substantial long-distance charges, according to Phil Catlett, president and CEO of the Western Michigan BBB. Because the same laws do not apply to international calls, it makes these areas ideal for scammers who wish to target U.S. citizens.
"Don't call back a number you do not know if they don't leave a message that makes sense to you,” Catlett warns. “If a caller uses the 473, 767, or any other area code you do not recognize, do not call it back. Instead contact the operator to verify where the caller's area code originates from."
The second scam involves home computers. This scheme works in the following way: A caller asks for the computer user in the home. When the conversation begins, the caller says they have information indicating that the computer is not working correctly. They ask if the computer owners has been experiencing problems with slow speed or other issues.
“If you get into this conversation, they will guide you to allow them to take control of your computer via the internet so they can fix the problem,” Catlett said. “If you allow it, they may install malware on your computer. Malware might permit hackers to learn passwords, steal your computer identity, access personal and financial accounts, and more.”
PC Speedy is the supposed "company" calling West Michigan residents lately, however these types of companies change names frequently, Catlett warns. “Remember, it is the premise of the call not just the company name that you want to be wary of....Never give control of your computer to a stranger on the internet or over the phone."
A Van Buren County Road Commission snowplow driver clears snow in near white-out conditions, Monday. Road crews have cleared many major roadways, however, roads remain snow-covered and slippery due to the extreme cold temperatures. (Photo by Kelly Weber)
Wind chill warning issued until 7 a.m. Wednesday
Blowing and drifting snow has diminished somewhat from winter's latest Arctic blast, but South Haven area residents are still dealing with frigid, single-digit temperatures.
The thermometer is not expected to go above 5 degrees today. Coupled with winds of 20 miles per hour, wind chills could dip to -20 degrees, according to the National Weather Service, which has issued a wind weather advisory until 7 p.m. tonight and a wind chill warning until 7 a.m. Wednesday.
Area schools remain closed today along with Allegan County courts, South Haven City Hall and Bangor City Hall.
The closures have been issued because of the cold weather and blowing and drifting snow that has made roadways hazardous.
Area police agencies spent much of Monday responding to accidents, including one on Interstate 94 near Hartford that involved four semi-trucks and a car. Closer to home, an accident at 5 p.m. Monday closed the southbound lane of Interstate 196 near South Haven for 1-1/2 hours.
The accident involved three semis, a Michigan Department of Transportation snow plow and several cars. It occurred when one of the semis lost control on the slippery highway near mile marker 18 and hit the plow truck. A second semi then rear-ended the first semi causing a chain reaction of rear-end collisions.
No one was injured in the accident, according to South Haven Police, however, two of the semis left the scene of the accident.
The hazardous road conditions and limited visibility on Monday, prompted Allegan, Berrien, Cass and Van Buren county sheriff's departments to ask people to stay off the roads.
Slippery, ice-covered roads remain today, due to the extreme cold weather that prevents municipal snow plows from using de-icing agents on roadways.
Temperatures are expected to warm up to the mid-20s by Thursday, however, snow is expected to continue through the end of the week, with an inch or so of accumulation predicted each day.
Motorists urged to stay off roads in Allegan County
Allegan County Sheriff's Office is urging area residents to stay off roadways today, due to severe winter weather that has made driving hazardous.
The county has received 8 to 15 inches of snow today. The heavy snowfall, combined with blowing and drifting, has made driving hazardous, and in some areas roads are impassible, according to Capt. Frank Baker.
“The current weather conditions pose a serious danger to travelers who may be involved in an accident or slide off,” Baker said. “Emergency personnel are responding; however, they could be delayed by the weather conditions or handling other calls for service.
As of 2 p.m. today, all county offices will be closed including the courts. Court proceedings that have been cancelled due to weather will be rescheduled and all parties will receive notice of the new date and time. In addition, Community Mental Health will also be closing. Anyone experiencing a mental health related crisis and needs immediate support should call 1.800.795.6617 or 1.888.354.0596.
Allegan County residents can call the Public Safety Information Line at 269-686-4570 or check the County website at www.allegancounty.org to find out if offices will remain closed before leaving for work or seeking county services.
Linda Olson, who lives on Superior Street in South Haven, joins many area residents who are clearing their driveways today after last night's snowfall.
Another blast of Arctic air whips through the South Haven area
January is shaping up to be the winter of our discontent. Area residents woke up today to more snow, wind and frigid temperatures.
Area schools closed today after the latest blast of Arctic air blew into southwest Michigan, and many people found it hard to get to work with drifting snow that partially has closed rural roadways.
This newest snowfall and gusting wind comes on the heels of this past weekend's wintery blast, when winds of 40 miles per hour and 5-6 inches of snow came through the area.
Van Buren County Sheriff's Department urged motorists to stay off the roads, Saturday, because snowplows were having great difficulty keeping roads clear. A number of vehicles were left stranded on roads that had become impassable due to drifting snow.
Temperatures today and tomorrow are expected to remain in the single digits.
State police: Be prepared for another round of extreme cold
With another round of arctic temperatures expected to impact the entire state until early next week, the Michigan State Police, Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division (MSP/EMHSD) is encouraging Michigan citizens and visitors to be extra cautious when going out in the extreme cold.
“As we saw a couple of weeks ago, these frigid temperatures can be potentially life-threatening,” said Capt. Chris A. Kelenske, Deputy State Director of Emergency Management and Homeland Security and commander of the MSP/EMHSD. “Everyone should be prepared for all possible hazards if they head out. That means bundling up and placing emergency preparedness kits in vehicles with extra blankets and high-energy foods.”
The National Weather Service is forecasting statewide bitterly cold temperatures and wind chills below zero degrees possibly until Wednesday, Jan. 29. Along the Lake Michigan shoreline, a winter storm will produce blizzard-like conditions with high winds and blowing snow through tonight. The public is encouraged to monitor local news media for up-to-date weather reports.
To stay safe during cold weather:
• Stay indoors if possible. If you must go outside, wear protective gear—such as hats, mittens and gloves—in addition to a warm coat. Always protect your lungs with a scarf.
• Watch for signs of frostbite, which include loss of feeling or pale appearance of fingers, toes or face.
• Watch for signs of hypothermia, which include uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, drowsiness and exhaustion.
• Understand the hazards of wind chill. As wind speed increases, heat is carried away from a person's body more rapidly and could lead to severe hypothermia.
• Remove clothing if it gets damp or wet. Wet clothing can make you more prone to hypothermia.
• Weather-proof doors and windows to trap heat inside your home.
• Check heating units. Poorly operating or damaged heating units can release carbon monoxide gas. Test carbon monoxide detectors for proper operation and battery life.
• Check on family, friends and neighbors who are at risk and may need additional assistance.
• Watch pets closely and keep them indoors when possible. Animals can suffer from hypothermia, frostbite and other cold weather injuries.
• Check and restock your emergency preparedness kit. If you don't have a kit, make one.
• Minimize travel. If travel is necessary, keep a full tank of gas and an emergency preparedness kit in your vehicle. Put warm clothing—such as gloves, blankets and hats—in your kit in case you become stranded.
In addition to being prepared for the extremely cold weather, the MSP/EMHSD reminds motorists to take extra precautions when stopping and driving in the winter weather.
Remember to do all of your braking before the turn is made and take proper line of travel through the turn to reduce the potential for a skid to occur. If your car begins to skid, let off the throttle and brakes and use a quick hand-over-hand steering technique to turn the front tires in the direction you want to go.
“A vehicle’s handling capability is drastically reduced in winter weather, so take it slow on ice and snow,” Kelenske said. “Be sure to leave enough distance between you and the vehicle in front of you. Always keep your focus on the road and avoid cell phone use while driving.”
Safe winter driving tips:
• Check the weather before leaving for a destination. If the weather forecast looks dangerous, reschedule or postpone the driving trip.
• Keep tires at the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended pressure and routinely check tire pressure during cold weather.
• Keep windshield solvent at full strength and make sure the reservoir is full, and keep new wiper blades on front and rear wipers, if so equipped.
• Wash your vehicle for better visibility to other drivers, and remove ice and snow from all lights, windows and the license plate before driving.
• Periodically check all lights and replace when necessary.
• Have your vehicle inspected by a mechanic before making long-distance trips.
• Keep an emergency preparedness kit in your vehicle (e.g., a hand-crank flashlight and radio, cell phone charger, windshield scraper, emergency contact list, blanket, "Help" signs, jumper cables, tow strap, fire extinguisher, cat litter or sand for better tire traction, shovels, flares, first aid kit, bottled water and non-perishable, high-energy foods).
Police and fire department building renovations complete
South Haven Police Department has returned to its permanent location at 90 Blue Star Highway after operating from a temporary location at the former Michigan State Police Post, 720 Lagrange. The temporary space was arranged to facilitate a $2.7 million renovation at the police/fire complex at 90 Blue Star Hwy. The project is now complete and serves as the location for both the South Haven Police Department and the South Haven Area Emergency Services The project was designed by Abonmarche, an engineering and consulting firm.
Allegan County Sheriff's deputies responded to an accident on Interstate 196 in Ganges Township, Wednesday, that involved three semi-trucks and two cars.
Allegan, Van Buren counties under winter storm warning; blizzard conditions predicted Friday evening
This weekend will be a good time to stay put — cabin fever or not.
Old Man Winter has paid another visit to South Haven, dropping 4-6 snow in the last 24 hours, and it's gonna get worse, according to the National Weather Service.
Allegan and Van Buren counties continue to be under a winter storm warning with an additional 3-6 inches snow through early afternoon. Then the wind chill advisory kicks in at 7 p.m. and will last until 1 p.m. Friday. Wind chills of 20 below zero or worse are expected.
Friday evening 4 more inches of snow is predicted to drop on the area, bringing wind gusts of 40 miles per hour. The wind will create blizzard conditions. Saturday, the high winds will continue with 1-3 inches of new snow.
The rapid snowfall has created near white-out conditions for many motorists at various times within the past 24 hours. Police report many slide-offs, and a crash that involved three semi-trucks, Wednesday afternoon, on Interstate 196 in Ganges Township.
Police had to shut down the highway for several hours. The crash occurred around 5:30 p.m. when a semi-truck struck the rear of another semi-truck.
“The resulting crash involved three semi-trucks and two passenger cars,” said Capt. Frank Baker of the Allegan County Sheriff's Department. “The cab of one truck was knocked off the frame. Both southbound lanes of the freeway were blocked by the jackknifed trucks. Traffic was rerouted off the freeway until the crash scene was cleared.”
Police continue to warn motorists about the slippery, snow-covered roads and highways. Michigan State Police is advising motorists to use extreme caution on Interstate 94 and the US 31 bypass.
Whiteout conditions are reported from Bridgman south to the Indiana state line, creating many slide offs and traffic crashes. Police are asking motorists to avoid that portion of the highway.
Health department reports higher-than-normal number of flu cases; One confirmed death from the flu
By BECKY KARK
Editor and general manager
A confirmed influenza death in Van Buren County has prompted Van Buren/Cass District Health Department to remind area residents to get their flu shots.
“That is unfortunate,” said Sue Bailey, a nurse for the health department in Hartford, regarding the person who died from the flu. Several other flu-related deaths have been reported in Kent and Kalamazoo counties as well in the past week.
Influenza activity is on the rise both nationwide and in all regions of Michigan, according to a news release from the Michigan Public Health Department. Since the end of December, public health officials have noticed an increase in patients of all ages being admitted to hospital for serious influenza disease.
"Flu has already come to Michigan this season, causing an unusually high number of severe cases and hospitalizations for this time of year," said Dr. Matthew Davis, Chief Medical Executive with the state health department. “Even though flu already came to Michigan in December, we expect this is just the beginning of the flu season that will likely last for the next few months. That means that now is the best time for Michiganders to get vaccinated against flu - from ages 6 months on up."
This year's predominant flu strain — the 2009 H1N1 virus — affects more young adults and middle-age adults than other flu strains, health officials have noted.
But even with all the warnings issued by health department officials, only 40 percent of Michigan residents get flu shots. According to Michigan's immunization registry, only 9 percent of residents ages 18-24 and 11 percent of residents between 25-49 received flu vaccine in 2012-13. Michigan lags behind U.S. estimates for flu vaccine coverage in every age group and ranks 42nd in the nation for flu vaccine coverage.
Van Buren/Cass health department held its flu clinics in October and November, but it's not too late for people to get vaccinated, according to Bailey. “We're already into the flu season, but people still have time to get a flu shot,” she said. Flu shots are available from health-care providers and from pharmacies.
“Going to a pharmacy that offers flu vaccinations is probably the most expeditious way,” she said. “People should do so quickly, however, because it takes 10-14 days for the flu vaccine to be effective in preventing the flu.”
74-year-old man arrested for home invasion
A 74-year-old man, who helped himself to an acquaintance's pocket full of money, has been arrested.
Van Buren County Sheriff's deputies report the man broke into the victim's home in the 51000 block of County Road 681 in Lawrence and stole money repeatedly from the victim's pants pocket.
The victim first noticed $120 stolen from his pants the weekend of Jan. 11-12. He then noticed $400 taken several days later. The victim then set up a camera system, and left $55 in his pants. When he woke the next morning, Jan. 18, he found $15 missing. When looking at the surveillance camera it showed the suspect entering through a kitchen door and looking through the victim's wallet.
The suspect was later arrested at his home at 58839 48th Ave., in Lawrence, and charged with home invasion first degree.
Photo by Kelly Weber
The rapid melting of two feet of snow in the last week and unseasonably warm weather over the past few days has caused ice to break up on the Black River. This picture of the river was taken on 8th Avenue near 68th Street in Geneva Township.
National Weather Service issues hazardous weather outlook
It looks like January's brief thaw will be coming to an end in the South Haven area.
The National Weather Service has issued a hazardous weather outlook for the remainder of this week.
Approximately 4-5 inches of snowfall is predicted to fall in the area over the next several days, bringing with it colder temperatures and wind gusts as high as 34 miles per hour.
The snowfall is expected to begin this afternoon. Temperatures will fall overnight to the low 20s and by Wednesday morning show showers are expected to continue with gusting winds that could cause blowing and drifting of snow.
The rapid melting of last week's snowstorm, which dropped two feet of snow on the area, has caused rivers to rise and ice to break up on the Black River and other streams. The National Service warns that this week's weather will cause an elevated risk for ice break and and ice jams throughout the week.
Felon arrested for unregistered handgun
A couple walking down a rural road ended up being arrested Saturday afternoon after the man was found in possession of an unregistered handgun.
Van Buren County Sheriff's deputies responded to a domestic assault complaint in the 66000 block of 8th Ave. in Geneva Township and encountered a 38-year-old South Haven man, and a 36-year-old South Haven woman walking down the roadway. Both denied that an assault took place. However, in talking to the two, police found that man to be in possession of a .22-caliber revolver. One round of ammunition was missing. The man told police he had fired off one round at his residence prior to going outside. He also said he was taking the fun to a friend's house to show him he weapon.
The gun, however, was unregistered and the man is a felon with an extensive criminal history, according to the sheriff's report.
The man was arrested for a felon in possession of a firearm, and possession of an unregistered handgun. The woman was arrested for marijuana possession. Both were taken to Van Buren County Jail.
Now that the worst of this week's snowstorm is over, area residents, such as Charles Ouellette and Jon Olsen, are starting to become a bit more lighthearted about the weather. These two friends are standing next to an igloo they made from all the snow that fell earlier this week. The igloo is located at 321 Michigan Ave., South Haven. When they finish the igloo they plan to put a couch in it and “chill.” Photo by Tara Wilkinson.
Two state police vehicles hit on I-94 while responding to accidents
It's dangerous to be a Michigan State trooper on Interstate 94 during harsh winter weather..
State police say two trooper vehicles have been struck on the interstate in the past two days while responding to traffic crashes that occurred due to treacherous winter weather conditions.
Lt. Dale Hinz of the Paw Paw state police post is asking motorists to slow down and use extreme caution on I-94, particularly between Paw Paw and Benton Harbor.
“The freeway has become extremely icy in this area and because of the extreme cold,” Hinz said.
Police say they expect slippery roadway conditions to continue until there is a significant increase in temperature and melting agents are once again effective.
NOTE: The South Haven Tribune office will be closed today due to inclement weather.
Winter storm dumps more than a foot of snow on South Haven area
South Haven area residents woke up today to more snowfall and frigid temperatures that will continue to drop as the day goes on.
This weekend's snowstorm began Saturday, dropping more than a foot of snow on the South Haven area.
Many public institutions are closed today, due to the inclement weather, including South Haven City Hall, South Haven Department of Public Works, Van Buren County courts and governmental agencies and Hope College, which has canceled classes through Wednesday.
A winter storm warning is in effect for Van Buren County until 8 a.m., Tuesday. Temperatures, with wind chills, are expected to drop to as low as -45 degree this evening. The area could receive 3-7 more inches of snow.
Roads are snow-covered and slippery. Winds are expected to gust to 35 miles per hour or more today and this evening, creating near blizzard-like conditions, according to WWMT-TV. People are urged to stay indoors as much as possible.
Group of teens will ring in the new year Asian style
By KIM INGALLS
For the Tribune
They may be American, but this group of students from South Haven likes all things Asian and to celebrate their love of the Orient, they'll host an Asian Cultural Festival.
The event, created by South Haven Memorial Library's Teen Asian Culture Club, is scheduled Thursday-Friday, Jan. 2-3 at South Haven Memorial Library, 314 Broadway. The festival will last from 11 a.m.-7 p.m., Thursday, and 11 a.m.-5:30 p.m., Friday, in the library's community room.
The club was formerly called the Japanese Culture Club, but chose to broaden its horizons this year.
"We decided to change our name because we wanted to expand to other areas in Asia and not just solely be about Japan," member Ashley Blair explained. "So our upcoming event is kind of a debut fundraiser for our new club."
Focusing on China, Korea and Japan, the festival will feature movies, performances, poetry reading, and of course, Asian food.
“As for food we will be having Chinese, Korean, and Japanese desserts, tea, and coffee," Blair said. "Some of the foods we are serving are steamed Chinese longevity buns, Korean Strawberry Satang which is similar to candied apples, and Taiyaki which is a fish-shaped filled pancake."
While there is no charge to attend the fundraiser, there is a small charge for food and beverages. Donations are also welcome.
"We're hoping to raise enough money to send to the people in the Philippines (who suffered a typhoon in November) and also to take field trips to Asian-related conventions and events," Blair said.
Field trips are an important component of the club, according to Blair.
"Our mission is to bring more than just Asian culture to South Haven but to bring the Asian experience to people that may not know much about different cultures,” she said. “We want to educate the community of South Haven and enlighten them with new, unique things."
There's no place like jail for Christmas
A man who thought he was entering his own home Christmas morning ended up going to Allegan County jail.
The incident occurred at approximately 2:30 a.m. on Dec. 25 when a woman called 911 to report that someone had broken into her home in Lee Township. The woman heard her alarm go off and someone forcing open the front door of the home. She locked herself and her daughter in a back bathroom. She then heard the kitchen door slam and the suspect attempting to get into the bathroom saying he didn't know where he was at.
The man left before deputies arrived, however, he was located down the street. He told deputies he thought he was at his own home. He was arrested for breaking into the woman's home and possession of marijuana.
Police identify group suspected of breaking into 40-50 vehicles
South Haven police plan to seek criminal charges against a group of teens and young adults believed to be responsible for dozens of vehicle break-ins over the past six months.
“Additional interviews will be conducted before charges are sought from the prosecutor's office,” Police Chief Tom Martin wrote in a news release, issued today. “Numerous felony charges are expected.”
Vehicles that were broken into were located in the city of South Haven and South Haven Township. Some were locked, however many weren't. The suspects damaged a number of vehicles trying to break into them, according to Sgt. Kyle Griffith. Police would not say what was taken from vehicles.
Police were able to crack the case when patrolling one early morning and noticing several suspicious subjects. “They stopped and talked with them and were able to gather information,” Griffith said.
The group of five to six suspects is from the South Haven area. Police estimate they broke into 40-50 vehicles.
Gas prices creep up for holidays
After dipping below the $3 mark on Dec. 19, gas prices shot up 30 cents this week in the South Haven area, averaging $3.27.
The uptick in price follows what's going on across Michigan, according to GasBuddy.com, which tracks gasoline prices throughout the United States.
The average retail gasoline prices in Michigan rose 13.1 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $3.24 per gallon for unleaded fuel, according to GasBuddy's daily survey of 4,913 gas outlets in Michigan. This compares with the national average that has increased 2.2 cents per gallon in the last week to $3.23 per gallon.
"Motorists hitting the road for Christmas travel are cringing as gasoline prices have picked up with the best now behind us," said GasBuddy.com Senior Petroleum Analyst Patrick DeHaan. "While prices will advance, I don't expect it to last too long - January and February generally also feature relatively low gasoline prices. And while motorists aren't looking forward to the higher prices, they may take some solace in our expectation that gasoline prices in 2014 should average lower than they will after 2013 is complete. Make no mistake - gas prices will see volatility, and there will be times when motorists will experience "motion sickness" at the pump, but that shouldn't discount that Americans will be able to spend less on a yearly basis in 2014 than they did this year," DeHaan said.
Group receives federal grant to extend bike path
By BECKY KARK
Editor and general manager
An organization that hopes to build a 20-mile bike trail between South Haven and Saugatuck received a timely gift for the start of 2014.
Friends of the Blue Star Trail has qualified for a $335,000 federal grant to begin construction of a two-mile section of the path from North Shore Drive north along Blue Star Highway.
“It will be off-road, completely separate from the road,” said James Van Buren, a board member for Friends of the Blue Star Trail. Allegan County Road Commission plans to oversee construction of the paved path, which will be located along the west side of the road.
To receive the grant, the Friends group had to raise $140,000 in matching funds.
“We raised the money in approximately five months,” Van Buren said.
The grant comes from money provided through the federal Department of Transportation, which awards funds for transportation projects that reduce congestion and improve air quality.
Friends of the Blue Star Trail hopes construction of the two-mile section will begin in the spring of 2014. In the meantime, they will pursue other grant funds through the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
The non-profit trail group formed in 2009 to create an off-road bike path along Blue Star Highway. Since that time, it has been working with area municipalities to make the trail a reality.
The group's first project came about in 2011 when the Michigan Department of Transportation created a one-third-mile section of the path from Baseline Road to North Shore Drive. Another section in Douglas was completed earlier this year.
Grant funding and private donations will be crucial to the completion of the 20-mile trail, however. The entire project is estimated to cost $5.4 million with $1.1 million coming from private funds. The Friends group hopes to complete the trail by 2018.
For more information on the Friends and how to contribute, visit www.fotbst.org
Al-Van Humane Society director steps down; New one hired
Al-Van Humane Society will get a new director in 2014, following the retirement of current Executive Director Cathy Thaler.
Will Anzenberger, former development director for the Kauai Humane Society in Hawaii, will take the helm of the local humane society Jan. 3, according to a news release from Al-Van Humane Society.
Thaler's last day will be Jan. 10. She approached the board in September with her wishes to retire, agreeing to stay until a replacement could be found. She has served as executive director since 2011 and also served on Al-Van's Board of Directors for 15 years, including terms as president from 2003-2005 and vice president from 2006-2011.
“Al-Van is near and dear to my heart,” Thaler said. “Although I am stepping down as executive director, I will continue to support this amazing organization and its loving and caring staff in any way I can.”
Thaler will be missed according to Kelly Elvin, board treasurer and past president. "Cathy's hard work, compassion, and dedication have helped so many animals in our community get a second chance at finding a loving home. Our shelter staff, volunteers and board members are very proud of what Al-Van has accomplished under Cathy's leadership and look forward to continuing her good work,” Elvin said.
Anzenberger said he's looking forward to his new job.
“I am excited to be working with the Al-Van Humane Society staff, volunteers, and board in building upon the recent achievements of the organization,” he said. “While there is hard work ahead in achieving the best outcomes for the animals of Allegan and Van Buren counties, knowing there is an engaged, committed board of directors, a supportive community and a dedicated staff will make my job much easier.”
Anzenberger holds a bachelor of arts degree from Boston College and a law degree and master of business administration degree from the University of Wisconsin. Over the years he has worked with a number of animal welfare organizations. He served as a consultant with the Santa Cruz SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) and was director of law and advocacy for the San Francisco SPCA.
“Will brings to Al-Van a demonstrated ability to build strong relationships with co-workers, volunteers and the community. He is a creative, energetic and forward-thinking director with significant experience in fundraising and business management,” stated Al-Van Board President Lisa Galdikas.
Unleaded gasoline prices dip below $3 per gallon – barely
It may not be much, but for the first time in months, gasoline prices in the South Haven area have dipped below $3 a gallon.
Several gas stations are showing prices of $2.98 and $2.99 this morning for regular unleaded fuel. Village Xpress is showing $2.98 per gallon, while Broadway Marathon, Broadway Shell and Murphy USA are displaying $2.99 per gallon.
The news doesn't surprise analysts at GasBuddy.com, which tracks fuel prices at more than 140,000 gasoline stations in the United States and Canada.
Earlier this week, GasBuddy reported that fuel prices have been trending down for the past several weeks.
“Another downward trend in gasoline prices has emerged as motorists hit the roads in the last full week before Christmas," said GasBuddy.com Senior Petroleum Analyst Patrick DeHaan. "Historically, this is about the time of year that gasoline prices hit their yearly lows, but this time around, I have more optimism that prices may move even lower in the next few weeks.”
As of Dec. 15, the average retail gasoline prices in Michigan fell 8.4 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $3.12, according to GasBuddy's daily survey of 4,913 gas outlets in Michigan. That compared with the national average that fell 2.4 cents per gallon in the last week to $3.21/g, according to gasoline price website GasBuddy.com.
Including the change in gas prices in Michigan during the past week, prices on Dec. 15 were 10.2 cents per gallon lower than the same day one year ago and 13.5 cents per gallon lower than a month ago. The national average increased 0.7 cents per gallon during the last month and stood at 3.8 cents per gallon lower than the same day one year ago.
Bangor city council hires new city manager
By BECKY KARK
Editor and general manager
BANGOR — After a two-month search Bangor has a new city manager.
Ryan Fellows, 36, of New Buffalo accepted a two-year contract, Monday, to become the chief administrator for the town.
He will be paid $59,900 annually and begins his new duties Jan. 2. He replaces Larry Nielsen, who has served as interim manager Since Sept. 16. Nielsen's last day will be Dec. 31. He will then return full-time to Paw Paw as its village manager.
“Ryan was chosen for his background and his knowledge,” Bangor Mayor Nick Householder said, referring to Fellows' seven years of experience serving as assistant city manager of New Buffalo, in Berrien County. “He's familiar with smaller cities, Downtown Development Authorities, recreation, budgets. He will be a good fit here.”
Fellows was unanimously selected Dec. 8 by Bangor City Council members from a list of five finalists, including Bangor Treasurer Lisa Imus; Daniel Bishop, Albion city manager; Gary Bluschke, office administrator for the Berrien County prosecutors office; and Mark Honeysett, Constantine village manager.
“I'm looking forward to serving this community,” Fellows said. “It has a lot of potential. I think the riverfront is beautiful and not every town has a historic train depot. I like the dynamics of being halfway between Lake Michigan and Kalamazoo,” he said referring to Bangor's location and the potential it could have for economic development.
While serving as assistant city manager in New Buffalo, Fellows has worn several different hats. He has been the city's assistant zoning administrator, interim city clerk, harbor maintenance administrator, and has been involved in grant writing, ordinance writing, storm water project coordination, budgeting, parks and recreation, internet resources management, and public relations.
Prior to that he was a data services coordinator for Practical Political Consulting for three years and was an intern for the Michigan Senate and the City of Mason where he worked with the election coordinator and the economic development coordinator. He has a bachelor's degree in political science from Grand Valley State University and plans to pursue a master's degree in public administration from Western Michigan University.
Trimming the tree turns ugly for family
A mom's supposed favoritism of one son over another ended in the arrest of a 33-year-old man in Casco Township this past weekend.
Allegan County central dispatch received a call at 1:56 a.m.,, Saturday, but no one appeared to be the line. The dispatcher heard yelling and screaming in the background and a woman screaming, “You are hurting me.”
Deputies arrived to the home in the 6600 block of 111th Avenue and fond that the 33-year-old suspect had punched his 58-year-old mother in the face four or five times.
Family members had been decorating a Christmas tree when the suspect, who had been drinking alcohol, became angered, according to the sheriff's report. He noticed an ornament that had his brother's name on it, but did not see any ornaments with his name. He became upset, pushed his way past the others and attacked his mother, striking her several times in the face.
She suffered a bloody nose, swollen eye and swollen lip. The suspect, who had minor injuries to his knuckles and hands, was arrested for domestic violence and taken to Allegan County Jail.
Geneva man goes out of control, shoots his own dresser; Flees from police
A 22-year-old Geneva Township man faces several criminal charges after firing a gun in his parent's home and then fleeing from police.
The incident began at 5 p.m., Thursday, when the man's parents, who live in the 67000 block of 8th Avenue in Geneva Township, called 911 to report their son was intoxicated and out of control.
The parents went on to report their son had discharged a shotgun several times in the home. As deputies investigated the incident the son got in his grandfather's car and left the scene.
Deputies located the suspect vehicle in the 07000 block of County Road 687. When talking with the suspect, they were told he had been drinking vodka and taking prescription medications. The suspect told deputies he had become upset with his father and went into his bedroom. He began yelling and went to his closet and got a .20-gauge shotgun and shot his dresser three times. The shotgun slugs penetrated through the dresser and exited out the rear wall of the mobile home. The suspect, knowing that the police had been called, fled the scene in his grandfather’s vehicle.
No one was harmed in the incident, and the shotgun was recovered at the scene.
The suspect was arrested for possession and use of a firearm while under the influence of alcohol/drugs and operating a motor vehicle while under the influence. The report will be sent to the prosecutor's office for possible other charges.
Man's thirst for free beer squelched
A thirst for free beer landed an Allegan County man in jail this past week. Allegan County Sheriff's Department received a complaint, Dec. 7, from a Lee Township business that the man had taken two 25-ounce cans of beer. When searching the man, deputies found that he had more cans of beer hidden in his clothing. Deputies investigated and found that those beers were taken from another Lee Township business. When the manager of the second business reviewed his surveillance video, he saw the suspect conceal and steal the other cans of beer. The shoplifting suspect was arrested for larceny and for an outstanding warrant for violating his parole.
Police label threat not 'credible'
Apparently, Lake Michigan College students will be safe to return to classes on Monday.
Michigan State Police say that an alleged threat — that prompted college officials to close all LMC campuses today — was not credible. The alleged threat was reportedly made by an employee who was dismissed on Thursday.
“Detectives from the Michigan State Police made contact with the suspect and determined no specific, credible threat was made. LMC was not mentioned in any threat. No arrest was made,” a Michigan State Police news release, just released, states.
Lake Michigan College closed all of its campuses in Southwest Michigan between 11 a.m.-noon today after college officials were made aware of the alleged threats.
Alleged threats prompt evacuation of LMC campuses
Lake Michigan College's South Haven campus, as well as all of the other college campuses operated by LMC, are closed following an evacuation of the buildings earlier today.
Students, staff and children who attended the South Haven campus and the Kidz Zone preschool were told to leave the building and grounds between 11 a.m. and noon, according to a security guard. Parents of the children were called and came to the college to take their children home, while students and staff got into their vehicles and left the premises at 125 Veterans Blvd. According to the security guard the evacuation at the South Haven campus went smoothly without incident.
Laura Kraklau, director of marketing services for LMC, said the evacuations occurred due to a “possible threat” that was made. But she would not comment further.
Reportedly, a maintenance worker at the Napier Avenue campus in Benton Township had been fired Thursday and called a friend in Chicago to say he was upset over his dismissal and apparently made threats, according to WSBT-TV in South Bend. Worried, the friend called police in Benton Harbor. As a precaution, college officials decided to close the campuses.
Michigan State Police are investigating the alleged threats.
LMC South Haven campus evacuated
Lake Michigan College's South Haven campus is expected to remain closed until at least Monday following an evacuation of the building earlier today.
Students, staff and children who attended the college's Kidz Zone preschool were told to leave the building and grounds between 11 a.m. and noon, according to a security guard. Parents of the children were called and came to the college to take their children home, while students and staff got into their vehicles and left the premises at 125 Veterans Blvd.
College and police have not yet issued any comment as to why the evacuation took place, however, the evacuation went smoothly, according to the security guard who was interviewed. As we receive more information, we will update this story.
Geneva woman faces felony drug charges
A Geneva Township woman faces multiple criminal charges after trying to flee from police during a domestic violence incident.
Bethany Murk, 48, was arraigned Thursday in Seventh District Court for possession of marijuana second offense; possession of analogues (Vicadin); resisting and obstructing police; two counts of domestic violence; and a contempt of court warrant from district court, according to a Van Buren County Sheriff's Department news release. Her bond was set at $4,000 and she was told not to have contact with the victims. She later posted bond and was released form Van Buren County Jail.
Deputies and Bangor Police officers were dispatched to a home in the 61000 block of County Road 380 at 11:45 p.m., Wednesday.
The two victims of the alleged domestic violence were interviewed. Police then talked with Murk, who was in a separate part of the home. They found bags of marijuana, loose marijuana and drug paraphernalia in Murk's portion of the residence. Although Murk showed them a medical marijuana patient card and caregiver card, police say they were either expired or not verified.
While deputies checked on the status of the cards and waiting for the suspect to get dressed, she attempted to run through the house and out the front door, but was apprehended and arrested. Deputies discovered additional contraband and marijuana on her person at the Van Buren County Jail.
In all, police seized 11.8 ounces of marijuana, 81 Valium/Diazepam pills, and drug paraphernalia including two bongs and two marijuana pipes.
Five compete for Bangor city manager position
By KIM INGALLS
For the Tribune
Bangor City Council is inching closer to finding a new city manager.
Two former Bangor city manager candidates are among the current five finalists city council members plan to interview Saturday.
Lisa Imus, current city treasurer, and Ryan Fellows, New Buffalo assistant city manager, had applied for the job in May, however former Benton Harbor city manager Rich Marsh was chosen, while Imus settled for the open treasurer's position. But, when Marsh resigned in September to become city manager of Inkster, near Detroit, council members once again were on the hunt for an administrator to lead the city.
Imus and Fellows will be joined by three other finalists — Daniel Bishop, Albion city manager; Gary Bluschke, office administrator for the Berrien County prosecutors office; and Mark Honeysett, Constantine village manager.
The interviews will begin at 1 p.m., Saturday, at city hall, 257 W. Monroe St.
Larry Nielsen, who has been interim city manager in Bangor for the past two months, has been coordinating the manager search.
Nielsen told city council members Monday that he felt each of the candidates has relevant backgrounds and would be a good fit for the city.
First responders honored for rescuing dog
South Haven Area Emergency Services will receive an award after first responders rescued a large dog that had fallen through the ice on a pond earlier this week.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, commonly referred to as PETA, announced today that it will give South Haven Emergency Services its Compassionate Responders Award.
The rescue occurred shortly before noon on Sunday, when a hunter called 911 to say that a large dog had fallen through the ice on a pond near 8th Avenue in Geneva Township.
When the rescuers arrived, the dog, who was about 150 feet from shore, was struggling and crying out for help. Members of the crew put on ice-rescue suits, crawled along the ice to the dog's location, and pulled the exhausted animal to safety before wrapping him in a thermal blanket. He was later reunited with his family and is doing fine. According to news reports, the dog had broken free from his chain or other type of tether and ventured about a mile before becoming trapped.
"Thanks to the dedication and know-how of South Haven Area Emergency Services, what could have spelled tragedy for a terrified dog had a happy ending," says PETA Senior Vice President Daphna Nachminovitch. "South Haven area residents should be proud of their first responders, who are prepared to protect and serve both human residents and their beloved animal companions."
South Haven Area Emergency Services will receive a framed certificate, a letter of recognition, and a box of vegan chocolates.
UPDATE: Ricky Dean Navarre was located out-of-state, unharmed, shortly after noon, today, according to the Muskegon Chronicle.
State Police ask for help in locating missing man
Michigan State Police requests the public's help in finding a West Michigan man who went missing two days ago. Ricky Dean Navarre of Twin Lake (east of Muskegon) went to work Monday morning, but never returned home, according to a news release issued by the Michigan State Police Grand Haven detachment.
He is described as a 48-year-old white male white male, 48, 175 pounds, with grey hair. He was last seen driving his white-colored 2012 Ford Super Duty Crew pickup with the license plate of OLKA9, an Army veteran plate. The vehicle also has a State of Alaska license plate attached to the front (orange with blue characters).
Area residents who have information regarding Navarre's whereabouts are asked to contact the Michigan State Police Rockford Post at: (616) 866-4411 or the Michigan State Police Grand Haven Detachment (Trooper Hartman or D/Sgt. Poulson) at (616) 842-9318.
Popular South Haven artist remembered for his paintings, and his friendliness
By BECKY KARK
Editor and general manager
Many people in South Haven have a watercolor painting or print created by local artist Steve French.
Many also have fond memories of seeing and talking with the popular painter at local art shows.
But the friendly, outgoing artist will no longer be creating the signature paintings he has become known for throughout West Michigan, as well as other states and countries.
French died at his home this past Saturday after suffering from an illness. He was 60.
News of his death shocked the community. More than 60 people have already expressed their condolences on the website of Filbrandt Family Funeral Home, which is handling funeral arrangements.
“Few get to be immortal,” wrote Barry Shanley of South Haven and former news director for WWMT-TV in Kalamazoo. “But, Steve's special style in his life's work hangs in abundance all around the world and is viewed and enjoyed many times a day. Continuously. And will be. And so much of it about the small town we share.”
French created watercolor paintings depicting what South Haven is known for — it's lighthouse, blueberries, and the natural, wooded settings that surround the town. His paintings were chosen for Tulip Time festival posters in Holland, South Haven's National Blueberry Festival and Fennville's Goose Festival. Fenn Valley Winery commissioned his artwork for a label on one of its wines, and the South Haven Tribune commissioned French to paint its masthead.
Shanley became acquainted with French when the artist purchased acreage that Shanley owned.
“He purchased the 15-acres of land I owned after he bought his five acres adjoining it. He told me he used the sites he saw on those acres to paint.”
Over the years, French developed a unique style that many outdoor lovers enjoyed seeing in paintings that depicted birds, deer, flowers and lakes.
“His paintings captured Lake Michigan in ways few other artists have mastered, and his art will live on forever,” wrote Linda Stieve as part of her condolence.
In the past several years, French branched out to creating abstract watercolor paintings, which also proved popular with buyers.
“So sad for our community to lose such a talented men,” wrote Jan Leksich of Victoria Resort in South Haven. “I have some of his paintings in my dining room and guests always remark about how unique and beautiful they are.”
A visitation for French is scheduled from 2:30-5 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 4 at Filbrandt Family Funeral Home. A funeral service will follow at 5 p.m. A memorial dinner will take place afterwards at the Moose Lodge in South Haven.
This large dog that had fallen through the ice, Sunday, on a pond in Geneva Township is shown after rescuers from South Haven Area Emergency Services went out into the icy water and brought it safely to shore.
Dog saved after it falls through the ice
A large dog was rescued Sunday by South Haven Area Emergency Services.
Emergency rescuers received a call at 11:33 a.m. that a dog had fall through the ice on a pond on 8th Avenue in Geneva Township. A hunter noticed the dog in the water and called 911.
When rescuers arrived, they saw the dog struggling in the water about 150 feet from shore. Rescue workers put on ice-water suits and brought the dog back to shore.
“The rescue took about 11 minutes to perform once rescuers were on scene,” said Ron Wise, fire chief. “Rescuers had to break their way through the ice to reach the dog.”
Once the dog was brought to safety, it was wrapped in a thermal blanket to keep it warm. It then was taken to Van Buren County Animal Control and later reunited with its owner, who lived nearby.
South Haven Area Emergency Services warns area residents to stay off the ice, because it is still too weak to support animals or humans.
“The coming warm weather this week will only make it worse,” Wise said.
Two people injured in head-on crash
Slippery road conditions helped contribute to a head-on collision that occurred Sunday in Geneva Township.
A 52-year-old Lacota man suffered a leg fracture in the accident, while a 42-year-old Bangor area man was treated for minor hand injuries for what could have been a serious collision.
The crash was reported to Van Buren County Sheriff's department at 12:15 p.m. on 62nd Street, south of county Road 384.
Deputies reported that the Lacota man was headed north on 62nd Street in a 1993 Dodge Dakota, while the Bangor area man was going south in a 1996 GMC Yukon. The Yukon went out of control and drove into the oncoming lane hitting the Dakota head-on.
The Bangor area man was cited for driving too fast for road conditions.