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Van Buren County Board forms committee to deal with Palisades closing
By ROD SMITH
For the Tribune
PAW PAW — Although many people hope it won't happen, Van Buren County has taken a step to deal with the announced closing of the Palisades nuclear plant in Covert Township.
Commissioners have voted to support the formation of the Joint Economic Committee to develop strategies in dealing with the closing and subsequent loss of 600 jobs.
"It's made up of key staples from the community," Zach Morris, of Kinexus of Kalamazoo, told commissioners. "These are folks we all know."
The committee will also include business leaders, according to Morris.Among them will be representatives from Entergy Nuclear Company, which owns Palisades.
The plant is set to close on Oct. 1, 2018. Officials have said there will be a phase-out of job numbers as some people will be retained to help decommission the plant.
Still, county officials believe there will be approximately a $10 million loss in local tax revenue when that happens "and the loss of innumerable millions of dollars of ancillary revenue to the community in the form of company donations, employee wages, local supplier agreements, contract labor and the like," according to the resolution adopted by the board.
Commissioners have gone on record opposing the plant's closing and have asked the state government to help keep it open. "By forming this (committee) we aren't conceding this (the plant's closing)," Commissioner Paul Schincariol said.
In other matters, the board, this past Tuesday, approved a brownfield plan to clean up an environmentally contaminated site to make way for a new Dollar General store in the village of Paw Paw.
Dollar General is proposing a new store at 711 East Michigan Ave. (Red Arrow Highway) at the site of a 13,000-square-foot former dry cleaning establishment originally built in 1946 and operated as Paw Paw Laundry between 1952 and 2004. The building is now being used for storage, according to paperwork associated with the brownfield agreement. It's just a short distance from the existing Dollar General store at 924 E. Michigan Ave.
Under the plan, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality will loan the county $180,000 toward site cleanup. The county will then loan the money to the developer. It'll be paid back by tax capture. Current owner is Albert Laaksonen of Paw Paw Development LLC, but Midwest V of Spring Lake intends to acquire the property and build the store this summer.
Planning and Economic Development Director Edward VanderVries said 5,000 tons of soil must be removed. "The entire site is considered hazardous," VanderVries said.
The state will spend $1.5 million to remove contaminated soil as deep as 15 feet and truck it to a Detroit-area special landfill. It also will tear down the back side of the building.
Of that soil, 1,000 tons is so contaminated it can't be trucked directly. It has to be treated with a concrete-like chemical at the site to stabilize the contaminants.
"It has to be pre-treated before the hazardous landfill will take it," VanderVries said.
The property is nestled in a residential area and the contamination has migrated, according to VanderVries. But so far samples taken in basements show no air pollution.
The $180,000 is for the developer's portion of the cleanup, which includes tearing down the remainder of the building. The loan will get paid back at about $14,000 annually over a 15-year period, which can be stretched to 30 years. The county will also get about $90,000 for its own brownfield fund.
The Paw Paw Village Council has already approved the project.
LMC chooses new president
BENTON TOWNSHIP – Lake Michigan College has a new president. Board of Trustees voted Friday to select Dr. Trevor Kubatzke to become the next president of Lake Michigan College.
College representatives will begin contract negotiations immediately, and anticipate Kubatzke will be able to begin his term this April. He will directly succeed President Emeritus, Dr. Robert P. Harrison, who will retire after almost 18 years working for the college.
Kubatzke has more than two decades of leadership experience in higher education. He began his community college career at Upper Iowa University in Fayette, Iowa in 1995. He went on to hold a number of leadership roles at Lincoln Land Community College in Springfield, Illinois, including Associate Vice President of Enrollment Services; Interim Chief Information Officer; Assistant Vice President Admissions and Registrar; and Executive Director of the Eastern Region Education Center.
He has worked for Delta College in University Center, Mich. as Vice President for Student and Educational Services, and currently serves as Vice President of Student Services at Milwaukee Area Technical College, where he is responsible for ensuring that the voices of more than 40,000 students on four campuses are heard throughout all leadership levels. In addition to his community college experience, Kubatzke worked as a police officer in West Union, Iowa.
Kubatzke provides community service as a board member for the Hispanic Professionals of Greater Milwaukee, and is a member of the Milwaukee Power Squadron. He has also served on the Taylorville Community School District board and the Illinois School Board Association.
Kubatzke holds a Doctor of Philosophy in Education Administration in Community College Leadership from Walden University, a Master of Science in Education Administration from Missouri State and a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Economics from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville.
LMC received 92 applications for the job, and had narrowed the list down from four initial finalists.
LMC board member, Mary Jo Tomasini, chaired the search committee. “We were blessed to have such a strong pool of candidates to choose from, which really validated LMC’s reputation as a quality institution to be part of. The search process was open and transparent, with community and search committee members, students, staff and faculty contributing almost 200 submissions about who would be the best fit, and why. People have been incredibly thoughtful and dedicated to making our candidates feel welcome during their visits, and helping us make the best decision for LMC,” said Tomasini.
LMC Board Chair, Dr. Michael Lindley, said “Dr. Kubatzke brings a breadth and depth of experience to Lake Michigan College, and he has a sincere passion for student success. He’s knowledgeable about the complexities and culture of a community college like ours, and understands the value of LMC’s interconnectedness with business, K-12 and economic partners. We are confident he is a great fit for our college, and our community.”
South Haven area residents who belong to the recently formed group Progressives United of South Haven (PUSH) took part in a pro-refugee and pro-immigrant rally, Saturday, in front of the U.S. Post Office on Broadway. The group held the rally to show their opposition to President Donald Trump's executive orders to temporarily ban immigrants from entering the country and to erect a wall between Mexico and the United States to prevent illegal immigrants from coming to America.
Bangor man arrested for murder of Hartford man
A 19-year-old Bangor man has been arrested in the murder of a 29-year-old Hartford man this past weekend.
The shooting occurred Friday evening in the Bangor area, according to a news release from the Michigan State Police.
Police arrested the suspect at 9:30 p.m., Saturday on murder and felony firearms charges. He will be arraigned in 7th District Court in South Haven.
Ice carvers plan to create nearly 50 ice sculptures in South Haven during this weekend's Ice Breaker Festival. The above above was taken at the 2016 festival.
Ice Breaker planned this weekend in South Haven
By BECKY KARK
Editor and general manager
Got cabin fever?
Not to worry.
Ice Breaker has just the cure for your wintertime blues.
Now in its 24th year, this year's festival is scheduled Friday-Sunday, Feb. 3-5 in South Haven.
Its two most popular events — the ice carving contest and the chili cook-off — will take place Saturday, Feb. 4 when ice carvers create 50 sculptures out of 23,000 pounds of ice and 26 restaurants and organizations serve more than 1,000 gallons of chili.
“Chili, ice, entertainment, - great ingredients for a great time,” said Kathy Wagaman, executive director for the South Haven Area Chamber of Commerce, the group that organizes the winter festival.
The ice sculpture competition is expected to begin at 8 a.m. with awards for three categories — student, amateur and professional. Carvers will sculpt their creations from 300 and 600-pound blocks with the largest sculpture to be displayed near the South Haven Ice Rink.
“Our Platinum Sponsor – Dr. Mark Sobor, is personally creating a giant lion near the ice rink and he will be using 3,600 pounds of ice…6 large ice blocks,” Wagaman said. “This will be the largest sculpture we have had.”
Once the sculpture is created Saturday, children will be invited to name the lion with the winner receiving a gift certificate and stuffed lion.
“We love this new element and are really excited to see the big sculpture,” Wagaman said.
Not to be outdone by the carvers, chefs and cooks from more than two-dozen restaurants and organizations plan to roll up their sleeves to create their secret chili recipes for people to sample and vote on. Last year's winner, HawksHead Links restaurant, hopes to retain the Chili Con Carne trophy.
Ice Breaker isn't just about chili and ice, however. Organizers are also planning more than a dozen other ways people can have fun during the weekend.
Events include ice skating, indoor children's craft activities, musical entertainment, a 5K run and children's dash, rummage sale, horse-drawn wagon rides and Our Town Player's performance of “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.”
Along with those events, the chamber has come up with a couple of tongue-in-cheek activities — The Snowsuit Fashion competition and the first-ever Cardboard Sled Race.
"We wanted to add options for everyone,” Wagaman said.
The Snowsuit Fashion contest challenges contestants to walk the runway in their favorite snowsuit to win prizes for fun, funky and functional outer wear. Now in its second year, the contest is scheduled at 7 p.m., Friday, Feb. 3 at Brix Corner Oven restaurant, 402 Eagle St.
“It is fun to come and see the fashion show,” Wagaman said. “There's lots of laughs and it's free to enter.”
The other event, the Cardboard Sled Race, is new to this year's Ice Breaker.
“I have seen cardboard sled races done in other locations throughout the country, but not real close by,” Wagaman said. “The race is something we hope families might get involved with. We have a youth category and would love to see families help their kids get involved.”
There's no fee to enter the contest. Participants only need to register online at the chamber website and then design and create a sled made entirely of cardboard and duct tape. Prizes will be awarded for creativity, team spirit and speed. Sleds can be previewed from 11 a.m.-2 p.m., downtown on Saturday, Feb. 4, while the race will take place at 3:30 p.m., Saturday, at the Lighthouse Keeper's sledding hill at the corner of Michigan Avenue and St. Joseph Street, overlooking the city's harbor.
Free shuttle service
People can escape the hassle of parking downtown during the festival by taking advantage of a free shuttle service that will be offered from 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 4 when most of the festival events take place. The shuttle will make continuous stops at the American Legion Post, 129 Michigan Ave.; South Haven City Hall back parking lot on Quaker Street; and the Moose Lodge Family Center, 1025 E. Wells St. The trolley service is sponsored by the American Legion and Moose Family Center.
Spectators listen as President Donald Trump delivers his inaugural address, Friday, in front of the nation's capitol in Washington D.C. (Photo courtesy of State Rep. Mary Whiteford)
Whiteford travels to Washington D.C. to hear President Trump's inaugural address
By BECKY KARK
Editor and general manager
While South Haven area residents tuned in to their TVs and smart phones, Friday, to hear President Donald Trump's inaugural speech, one local family traveled to Washington D.C. to hear him in person.
State Rep. Mary Whiteford, R-Casco Township, her husband, and family members stood in the damp, 40-degree weather to watch Trump sworn in to office and hear his speech.
“It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” she said. The Whitefords were among the estimated 160,000 people who attended the president's inaugural address. The estimate came from the New York Times, who quoted Marcel Altenburg and Keith Still, crowd scientists at Manchester Metropolitan University in Great Britain.
Despite fears of protests and the possibility of violence that was predicted at the site of the inaugural speech, the ceremony remained calm, Whiteford said.
Security was tight, but “everybody was being very polite,” she said. “While we were at there it (the National Mall) was full of really positive people.”
During his speech, Trump espoused nationalism, stressing that America needs to focus on its own people.
In a portion of the full text of Trump's speech that was printed online by CNBC, the President stated, “Americans want great schools for their children, safe neighborhoods for their families and good jobs for themselves...From this day forward, it's going to be only America first, America first. Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs will be made to benefit American workers and American families. We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our product, stealing our companies and destroying our jobs...We will re-enforce old alliances and form new ones and unite the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate completely from the face of the earth.”
Reaction to Trump's inaugural address was mixed throughout the world, according to national media reports, with some foreign leaders denouncing his isolationist viewpoints while others looked forward to working with American governmental leaders.
But Trump's speech struck a chord with Whiteford, who represents Allegan County, which is a Republican stronghold in Michigan.
When asked what she liked about the president's speech, she said, “The biggest thing is pride in America...pride in our work, that we are taking care of educating our children and that people get jobs. It's about time we started thinking about the many issues that we face as a nation.”
Mr. South Haven Josue Garcia and Miss South Haven First Runner-up Maya Insidioso Tucker joined 100 volunteers this morning to pack rice for local food pantries as part of the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Caring in South Haven.
Continuing Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy
Approximately 100 volunteers spent this morning packing two tons of rice into small packages to give to local food banks as part of the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service in South Haven. Youngsters stood alongside adults to package the rice at South Haven High School. Boy Scouts from Troop 188 distributed the rice as well as donated non-perishable canned food products to four area food pantries. South Haven Area Ministerial Alliance organized the Day of Service five years ago to celebrate National Martin Luther King Jr. Day. They did so to commemorate King's legacy of strengthening communities.
High winds cause power outages in Van Buren, Allegan counties
Several thousand residents in Van Buren and Allegan counties lost electrical power Tuesday evening due to the high winds that traveled throughout southwest Michigan.
Power has been restored to many customers as of this morning, however, outages remain in a number of areas.
Consumers Power reported this morning that 1,769 customers in Allegan County are still without power, while 283 in Van Buren are waiting for power to be restored.
“Most of the outages were due to downed wires from tree limbs and trees,” said Roger Morgenstern, senior public information director for Consumers Energy.
Many customers lost power at approximately 5:30 p.m. when wind gusts were reported at approximately 50 miles per hour. Gusts continued to blow throughout the evening, bringing down tree limbs onto lines.
Areas still without power are located in Columbia Township, east of Breedsville and Grand Junction; Lee Township by Oosterhout Lake; Lee Township east of Pullman; Cheshire Township, north of 102nd Avenue; portions of Casco Township near 66th Street; and several areas of Geneva Township by 68th Street and 64th Street.
Crews are out working on lines and removing trees. Power is expected to be restored by 11 p.m. tonight, but could be restored even sooner, according to Morgenstern.
“It looks like most (customers should be restored by 6 p.m.; there may be some areas in Allegan County that won’t be restored until 8 or 9 p.m., Morgenstern said.
Updated restoration times can be found at www.ConsumersEnergy.com/OutageMap
Indiana Michigan Power reported scattered outages throughout its territory.
Approximately 170 customers in southern Covert Township and Bangor Township, near Van Auken Lake were still without power as of this morning.
Midwest Energy Cooperative, which serves southern and eastern Van Buren counties, reported that 2,000 of its customers were without power Tuesday evening in southwest Michigan. As of 4:30 a.m. this morning, 655 customers were still without power.
“Remaining outages are primarily individual and small line outages, and are widespread across the southwest Michigan service territory,” said Patti Nowlin, director of communications and community relations for Midwest. “Heavy wind gusts resulted in a lot of downed trees and power lines.”
Electrical customers served by South Haven Board of Public Utilities were spared the wrath of Tuesday evening's wind storm.
"We dodged the bullet," said Jim Pezzuto, electric department superintendent. He said there were a few problems with power lines but they were quickly resolved.
"We got really lucky," he said.
The 2017 Mr. and Miss South Haven Court is shown. From left: Alayah Till, Miss Entrepreneur; Olivia Patterson, second runner-up; Josue Garcia, Mr. South Haven; Carsen Boyd, Miss South Haven; Maya Insidioso-Tucker, first runner-up; Edward DeLong, Mr. South Haven first runner-up; and Lydia Smith, Miss Congeniality.
Carsen Boyd crowned
Miss South Haven
By BECKY KARK
Editor and general manager
It looks like Carsen Boyd will be following in her older sister Brooke Boyd's footsteps.
Carsen, 17, was crowned Saturday, Jan. 7, as Miss South Haven 2017, while her older sister, Miss South Haven 2014, looked on and congratulated her.
“I'm excited to follow in my sister's footsteps, Carsen Boyd said after the pageant.
Carsen is the daughter of Scott and Holly Boyd of South Haven. A senior at South Haven High School, Carsen is a member of the National Honor Society, varsity basketball team, the Positive School Culture Committee and the Anti-Bullying Committee. She is active in the community, volunteering as a holiday meal server for the Moose Family Lodge, the Devo Smiley Charity Golf Outing, the South Haven Fall Festival and with the Little Lady Rams program as a coach and referee.
After graduating, she plans to study health and business administration in college and plans to become a physician's assistant.
She will be joined on the Miss South Haven 2017 court by Josue Garcia, who was named Mr. South Haven. Garcia, 17, is the son of Artemio and Nereica Leon Garcia and is a senior at South Haven High School, where he is also dual-enrolled at Lake Michigan College. He has been on South Haven's honor roll for the past four years and is also an honor roll student at LMC. Active in school activities, Garcia is a member of the Purple Pride marching band, concert band, pep band and orchestra. He also is a member of the Key Club, president of the Teen Advisory Board and Diversity Club. He also serves as a yearbook editor and is active with his church, Rios De Aguaviva, in Lawrence.
The first runner-up for the Miss South Haven court is Maya Insidioso-Tucker. The 17-year-old South Haven High School junior is the daughter of Nancy Insidioso and Alex Tucker. She is an honor student and earned a varsity letter in soccer her freshman year. She is a member of the the Interact/Rotary Club, the photography club and performed in the school play, “Get Smart.” She also has volunteered with her church youth group at St. Basil Church.
Olivia Patterson was crowned second runner-up. The 17-year-old South Haven High School junior is the daughter of Roberta and Patrick Patterson. She is a member of the Purple Pride Marching Band color guard, the orchestra, choir, and is a manager for the football and wrestling teams. She is active in the community where she has volunteered for the Open Door dinners at First United Methodist Church, the South Haven ice rink and We Care's Festival of Trees. She also served as a sixth-grade camp counselor, an assistant dance teacher and at her church camp summer games. After graduation she plans to attend Grand Valley State University to pursue a double major in athletic training and dance.
The other members of the Miss South Haven court include Edward DeLong, Mr. South Haven first runner-up; Alayah Till, Miss Entrepreneur; and Lydia Smith, Miss Congeniality.
Till, 17, is a junior at South Haven High School. The daughter of Trina Miller and step-dad Nicholas Miller, Till played soccer for three years, is a student government representative and served as a sixth-grade camp counselor. After graduating she plans to attend Michigan State University to become a pediatric oncologist.
Smith is a 17-year-old junior at South Haven High School and the daughter of Todd and Dina Smith. She serves as a timer for swim meets and volunteers as a make-up artist assistant for dramatic arts productions. She also volunteers in the nursery at Calvary Missionary Baptist Church. After graduating she plans to attend Lake Michigan College to earn an associate's degree in diagnostic medical sonography. She then plans to transfer to Western Michigan University and hopes to become an ultrasound technician.
DeLong, 17, is a senior at South Haven High School and the son of Peggy Vasquez and Ken DeLong. He is class president, editor-in-chief of the yearbook, a member of the Positive School committee, vice president of the Youth Advisory Committee and the cross-country and track teams. He was named Homecoming King in 2016 and was named All-Conference honorable mention in track. After graduating, he plans to attend either the University of Michigan or Michigan State University to major in neurobiology with a pre-med focus. Eventually, he hopes to become a pediatric neurologist.
The theme of this year's pageant was “Back to Bedrock,' based on the popular Flintstone's cartoon.
Paul Layendecker, radio personality and director of operations and programming for six Midwest Family Radio Stations, served as emcee. The Miss South Haven pageant chair is Brandie Rainey.
Workers install the new Bronson Healthcare Group sign and take down the old South Haven Health System sign at the entrance what is now Bronson South Haven Hospital. (Photo by Tom Renner)
South Haven Health System is now part of Bronson Healthcare Group and will be called Bronson South Haven Hospital. The merger became a reality Jan. 1 after both healthcare organizations signed a pact in July ratifying the agreement. Voters within South Haven Health System's authority district ratified the decision in November.
Local hospital officials said the affiliation with Bronson will make South Haven Hospital stronger, financially.
As part of the agreement, Bronson will invest $18 million over five years in the hospital. It will also establish a new foundation fund dedicated to philanthropy for the South Haven service area.
Children discover deceased woman near trailer park in Saugatuck Township
Deputies in Allegan County are investigating the death of a woman found deceased, outdoors, in Saugatuck Township.
Allegan County Sheriff's deputies were told, Sunday afternoon, several children saw what appeared to be a deceased individual lying in a playground area near a trailer park. When officers arrived at 2 p.m. they found the body of a 40-year-old woman lying in the snow. The woman appeared to have been dead for some time, according to a news release issued by the sheriff's department.
“An autopsy is scheduled to be performed Tuesday and the results of this examination should assist investigators in determining what occurred,” said Capt. Chris Kuhn in the news release.
The sheriff's office is not releasing further information at this time.
Russell Hiatt and his wife, Mary, center, get ready to cut the ribbon Monday for their new Habitat for Humanity house in South Haven. Shown with them is their daughter Ariel, 3, and volunteers and friends. Entergy, owner of the Palisades nuclear power plant, donated $95,000 for the project. (contributed photo)
Habitat, Entergy help give family a brand new home for the holidays
By ANDREW LERSTEN
HP Staff Writer
Russell Hiatt and his family couldn’t have dreamed of a better Christmas present: a brand-new home with a no-interest loan.
Thanks to the Van Buren County Habitat for Humanity and a generous donation from Entergy, the Hiatt family is getting ready to move into the new house on Green Street in South Haven.
Russell and his wife Mary, accompanied by their daughter Ariel, 3, cut the ribbon on the home Monday, marking its formal dedication.
Entergy, the owner of the Palisades nuclear power plant in Covert, pitched in $95,000 toward the project.
“Owning this home isn’t something we would have been able to do without the help of Entergy and Habitat,” Hiatt said.
“It’s a blessing. We love this home and the area, and we expect to live here for the rest of our lives,” he said.
The home is valued at $143,000 and took a group of two dozen or more volunteers – including the Hiatts – 15 months to build, said Habitat office manager Kitty Fazzini.
Habitat for Humanity donated the parcel for the project.
The closing date is set for Dec. 22, just in time for Christmas, Fazzini said.
“We have a go from the building inspector,” she said. This is the 32nd home built by Habitat for Humanity in Van Buren County. South Haven Area Habitat for Humanity and Eastern Van Buren County Habitat for Humanity merged in 2012, becoming Van Buren County Habitat for Humanity.
Entergy employees also helped build the house and some have also agreed to help the family move from its South Haven apartment into the new house later this month, Fazzini said.
Bryce Reyna-Neumann and Alyssa Heaphy of Decatur are shown with First Lt. Dale Hinz of the Michigan State Police Post in Paw Paw after purchasing their gifts in the annual Shop with a Cop program.
Students holiday shop with cops
By BECKY KARK
Editor and general manager
It's not everyday you do your holiday shopping with police officers, but that's what 30 Van Buren County youngsters did this past week as part of the annual Shop With A Cop program.
Armed with $100 gift cards, South Haven police officers and troopers from the Michigan State Police post in Paw Paw took the children on shopping sprees at Meijer and Walmart stores in South Haven.
Myangel Jeffries of Covert did her shopping with Trooper Kellie Shaffer.
“I got an Easy Baker,” Jeffries said grinning from ear to ear. She also picked out some jewelry, a phone and perfume.
Bryce Reyna-Neumann and Alyssa Heaphy of Decatur were all smiles at the checkout line after making their purchases.
“I got a candle, two cups, a video game, lip stick and a lot of other stuff,” Heaphy said.
Reyna-Neumann even chose gifts for members of his family.
“I got earrings for my sister-in-law and a coffee mug for my dad,” he said.
Reyna-Neumann wasn't alone in purchasing gifts for his family.
“We always encourage them to buy for their families but you don't have to tell them to shop for someone else, they just do it,” First Lt. Dale Hinz, commander of the State Police Paw Paw post, said.
A Meijer associate agreed, saying, “they all do it.”
The Meijer shopping trips occurred on Tuesday, while the trip to Walmart happened on Monday and was preceded by a luncheon buffet courtesy of Vineyard Restaurant.
After the lunch officers transported the children to Walmart in their squad cars with lights activated.
"It was a hit with the children," said South Haven Police Chief Natalie Thompson.
— Kim Ingalls contributed to this story.
Snowy road conditions force schools to close
Thanks to Mother Nature dropping more than a half-foot of snow on the South Haven area, youngsters are enjoying their first snow day of the winter season.
Bangor, Covert, South Haven and St. Basil schools joined a long list of schools throughout Van Buren, Allegan and Kalamazoo counties that closed their doors today due to inclement weather.
The South Haven area missed much of the snow that fell on Southwestern Michigan Thursday and Friday.
But by Saturday, and Sunday, in particular, it was the South Haven area's turn to deal with snowy, slippery conditions.
The South Haven area will get a little respite from snow today, however, Tuesday evening an Arctic blast is supposed to come through, lowering temperatures to the teens during the evening and low 20s during the day on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. There will also be chances of snow showers each of those days.
Government, community leaders react to planned closure of Palisades plant
By BECKY KARK
Editor and general manager
That's the word Covert Township Supervisor Dennis Palgen used when hearing news that the township's largest employer, Palisades Nuclear Power Plant, will be closing in less than two years.
“This would be devastating to this community and school district let alone the (Palisades) employees,” Palgen said.
Palisades, which employs 600 workers, pays an estimated $11 million annually in taxes, making it not only the largest taxpayer in Covert Township, but the largest one in Van Buren County.
The company and its employees also have taken an active role in helping communities in Van Buren County. In 2013, the company reported that Palisades and its workers provide approximately $325,000 in charitable contributions, annually, to the community.
Entergy officials say the planned closure of the plant is due to economic reasons.
When Entergy purchased Palisades from Consumers Energy in 2007, Consumers agreed to purchase electricity from the plant through 2022. But since that time, market conditions have changed substantially, allowing Consumers to purchase electricity from other sources at a cheaper cost which will save its customers money. As a result, Consumers reached an agreement this week to terminate its power purchase agreement with Palisades.
However, before the pact can be terminated and the closure of Palisades to begin, the Michigan Public Service Commission will have to give its approval.
"I'm certain the Michigan Public Service Commission will look at this very closely and examine the implications for the reliability and affordability of electricity in Michigan, as well as protection of the environment,” said Gov. Rick Snyder in a news release.
State Rep. Aric Nesbitt, who represents Van Buren County, wants Entergy to reconsider its plans to close Palisades.
“The announcement by Entergy of the premature closing of the Palisades Nuclear Power Plant is not just a punch in the stomach to the hard-working employees and to our community, but it also puts Michigan's energy future at greater risk,” said State Rep. Nesbitt, R-Lawton, in a news release. “I call on Entergy to reconsider its decision to prematurely close Palisades and work with the state to find a solution to keep Palisades open and producing reliable, emission-free energy.”
Closer to home, South Haven City Manager Brian Dissette stated in a news release, “We are extremely disappointed to hear of today’s (Wednesday's) decision to shutter the Palisades Power Plant in 2018. Many of the Palisades employees live in the South Haven community while many others choose to dine and recreate here.”
Governmental leaders aren't the only ones who are concerned about the possibility of Palisades closing.
“It's devastating news,” said John Marple, treasurer for the South Haven/Van Buren County Convention and Visitors Bureau. “It (Palisades) impacts the entire community. What I fear is the huge loss of good paying jobs with highly skilled people that serve throughout this community in all sorts of endeavors.”
“It's going to hurt us economically, that's for sure,” said Lou Adamson, president of the convention and visitors bureau.
Despite their disappointment, state and local government leaders are grappling with the reality that Palisades might indeed close and are making plans for the economic future of the communities and workers that will be impacted.
"Palisades is a major employer and economic engine for the region, so the continued operation of the plant through 2018 and the proposed community contributions would be vital,” Snyder said, regarding Entergy's commitment to provide $10 million over several years in economic development funding for the Southwest Michigan region. "No matter what the eventual decision is, it is important that we do everything to help the region adapt to a potential future without Palisades. The responsible thing to do is put a plan into action now to help our neighbors in Southwest Michigan prepare for a significant change in their communities.
“I am directing the Michigan Agency for Energy, Michigan Department of Treasury, Michigan Economic Development Corporation, and the Michigan Talent Investment Agency to work with local and private partners to prepare to deliver necessary resources,” Snyder said. “We need to ensure that if this closure occurs, the state is ready to help the employees transition to new opportunities when appropriate. We also will put economic development efforts in place to help the entire region and assist local governments with their transition plans.
Echoing Snyder's sentiments, Dissette said the city plans to work with local and regional economic development agencies to help Palisades employees deal with the pending closure of the plant.
“We will do whatever we can in our power to support the local families who call our community home and assist in their transition to new jobs,” he said. “In partnership with Southwest Michigan First and Kinexus, we will continue to work to attract and welcome new companies to the area.
“While today’s news is difficult, it’s important to remember that we have lost jobs and companies before. As a community, we have rallied together and come back stronger than ever – and I have every reason to expect that will be the case this time as well.”
Palgen also said township officials will also be assessing the impact of the possible loss of the township's largest industrial employer.
“One of my thoughts is whether there's a potential buyer that might buy the plant,” he said.
Entergy announces plans to close Palisades plant in 2018
By TRIBUNE STAFF
That's the word Covert Township Supervisor Dennis Palgen uttered when hearing news that the township's largest employer, Palisades Nuclear Power Plant, will be closing in less than two years.
“This would be devastating to this community and school district let alone the (Palisades) employees,” Palgen said.
Entergy Corp., Palisades' owner, and Consumers Energy, which purchases its electrical power from Palisades, announced today they have agreed to an early termination of their power purchase agreement. At the same time, Entergy announced its plans to shut down the Palisades nuclear power plant by Oct. 1, 2018. However, the agreement between Consumers and Entergy is subject to regulatory approvals.
Palisades officials met with employees this morning to announce the news.
"Entergy recognizes the consequences of a Palisades shutdown for our approximately 600 employees who have run the plant safely and reliably, and for the surrounding community, and we will work closely with both to provide support during the transition," said Leo Denault, Entergy's chairman and chief executive officer, in a news release. "We determined that a shutdown in 2018 is prudent when comparing the transaction to the business risks of continued operation."
"Entergy is committed to treating our employees fairly throughout this process and will assist employees who want to relocate within Entergy or leave the company," said Bill Mohl, president of Entergy Wholesale Commodities, a business unit within Entergy. "Additionally, Consumers Energy has committed to work closely with Entergy as part of its ongoing talent recruitment efforts and will consider potential placement of up to 180 appropriately skilled employees from Palisades into the utility's workforce over time."
The original agreement committed Consumers Energy to purchase nearly all of the power that Palisades generates through April 2022. Under the current plan, and assuming regulatory approval of the request to terminate the power purchase agreement in 2018, Palisades will be refueled as scheduled in the spring of 2017 and operate through the end of the fuel cycle, then permanently shut down on Oct. 1, 2018.
Since first entering into a power purchase agreement in 2007, when Entergy purchased Palisades from Consumers Energy, market conditions have changed substantially, and more economic alternatives are now available to provide reliable power to the region, Entergy officials stated in a news release. The transaction is expected to result in $344 million in savings, $172 million of which is expected to lower Consumers Energy customers' costs over the early termination period from 2018 to 2022, and $172 million of which Consumers Energy will pay to Entergy for early power purchase termination. The early termination payment to Entergy will help assure the plant's transition from operations to decommissioning, maintaining our commitment to meet US Nuclear Regulatory Commission requirements.
To support the community during the transition, Entergy and the Consumers Energy Foundation will provide a total of $10 million over several years in economic development funding for the Southwest Michigan region. The companies will consult with the Council of Michigan Foundations and local stakeholders as it relates to the distribution of these funds. Of the $10 million, the Consumers Energy Foundation will contribute $2 million and Entergy $8 million. The process for reviewing requests for funds and distributing them will be announced later, with a focus on sustainable economic development that will broaden the community's tax base.
South Haven city hall's Christmas tree is illuminated Sunday evening by the season's first snowfall. More snow is predicted to fall in the South Haven area starting late tonight and will continue through Friday. (Photo by Tom Renner)
Winter storm warning issued for Southwest Michigan
The four inches of snow that fell on the South Haven area Sunday may have melted but will soon be replaced by more of the white stuff.
The National Weather Service has issued a storm warning for Southwest Michigan, predicting that 8-10 inches of snow could blanket the South Haven area by Friday.
The warning is in effect from midnight to 4 p.m. Friday and will bring wind gusts up to 30 miles an hour at times. Motorists can expect a slippery snow-covered commute by Thursday morning and may experience near whiteout conditions from time to time, Thursday and Friday.
Motorists are advised to drive with caution and allow more time to get to their destinations.
Santa comes to town
Santa Claus arrived in South Haven, Friday, for the Haven Holiday Parade, downtown. The parade featured two dozen entries representing businesses and organizations. (Photo by Becky Kark)
A gasoline tanker is shown engulfed in flames early this morning after rolling over on the northbound ramp of exit 26 on Interstate 196. Photo courtesy of South Haven Area Emergency Services.
Witnesses pull gasoline tanker driver away from burning wreckage
Witnesses are being credited with saving the driver of a gasoline tanker after his vehicle rolled over and caught fire early this morning.
The accident occurred at 3:15 a.m. on the northbound ramp of exit 26 on Interstate 196.
According to a news release from South Haven Area Emergency Services the tanker rolled over after the driver tried to exit the highway. Truckers and other witnesses, who stopped to help, dragged the driver from the burning wreckage. He was taken to South Haven Health System with non-life-threatening injuries, according to Ron Wise, SHAES fire chief.
“Bystanders saw the driver lying by the cab and dragged him 150 feet away,” Wise said. “They looked back and where he had been laying was on fire. He was one very lucky individual.”
When firefighters arrived at the scene, the tanker was fully engulfed in flames.
The northbound portion of Interstate 196 was closed for several hours while the fire was left to burn out on its own.
“The best thing to do with a gasoline fire is to let it burn,” Wise said. “The amount of water we'd have to use to put it out would push the gasoline further into the ground and makes the cleanup much more expensive.”
As of 9 a.m. one northbound lane of I-196 still remained closed while firefighters and cleanup crews were still at the scene of the wreckage.
Approximately 8,500 gallons of gasoline burned in the blaze or seeped into the ground, according to Wise.
Staff from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality are now at the site assessing how much gasoline went into the soil. The contaminated soil will be removed this week, according to Wise.
SHAES was assisted at the scene by the Michigan Department of Transportation, the Department of Environmental Quality, Allegan Sheriff's Department and South Haven Police Department.
3 South Haven men arrested on drug, gun charges
What started out as a retail fraud complaint has resulted in the arrest of three South Haven men, who now face drug and gun charges.
The arrests occurred after South Haven Police received a report, Friday, Nov. 18 of two men trying to steal liquor from the Meijer store, 1223 Phoenix St.
Officers apprehended the two men in the store parking lot and arrested them for retail fraud. They then observed a third suspect in a vehicle parked outside the store. When officers looked inside the vehicle they found a “substantial amount” of crack cocaine, marijuana and a large amount of currency “consistent with drug sales,” according to a South Haven Police news release.
Officers then obtained search warrants to look through a vehicle and hotel room that the suspects were associated with and found more marijuana, a stolen handgun and an unregistered handgun.
The suspects, who have criminal histories involving prior drug and weapons charges, were taken to Van Buren County Jail on charges of Organized Retail Fraud, possession with intent to deliver marijuana, possession with intent to deliver cocaine, and felony firearm.
The incident is still under investigation.
Former SH administrator announces he's running for mayor in 2017
By BECKY KARK
Editor and general manager
South Haven city residents have until April of 2017 to file as candidates for the city council and mayor's seat, but one person is getting an early start on his election campaign.
Former South Haven Assistant City Manager Paul VandenBosch announced today he will be running for mayor.
“My goal as mayor of the City of South Haven is to be responsive to its citizens,” VandenBosch wrote in a news release. “My top priorities will be to continue the excellent work of street and
utility reconstruction, to support implementation of the rental regulation program, and to focus
the city's efforts on providing quality customer service to its residents and visitors.”
During his 19-year career with the city, VandenBosch assisted in writing the city's master plan, and worked as project manager to develop industrial parks, demolish old industrial sites and repair streets
and utilities. He retired in November 2015 as assistant city manager and harbormaster.
Whoever is elected mayor next November, they will replace Bob Burr, who has reached his term limit. Burr was elected in 2015 to his fourth and final consecutive term as mayor.
Two SH police chief finalists to be interviewed Saturday
South Haven city officials are getting closer to choosing a new police chief to replace Tom Martin, who retired earlier this year.
Two finalists have emerged from a field of 33 applicants — Interim Police Chief Natalie Thompson and Thomas Osterholzer, police chief for the City of Burton, a suburb of Flint with a population of approximately 29,000.
The city's selection committee plans to host public interviews of the two finalists on Saturday morning at South Haven city hall council chambers, 539 Phoenix St.
Osterholzer will be interviewed first from 9-10 a.m. Thompson's interview will follow from 11 a.m.-noon. Cards will be available for the public to submit feedback to the selection committee.
Osterholzer has been employed by the City of Burton for over 25 years. He worked as a patrol officer and detective. He was promoted to patrol sergeant in 1998 and to patrol lieutenant in 2003. He has been chief of police since 2012.
Thompson started her career in law enforcement as a seasonal police officer with the City of South Haven. She has been employed here for over 24 years. She worked as a patrol officer and an undercover officer in SWET. She was promoted to sergeant in 2008 and to deputy chief in 2013. She has been interim chief since February.
A selection committee reviewed the 33 applications and then whittled that number to eight, who were interviewed earlier. They then chose the two finalists.
Man listed in critical condition following crash on I-94
VB deputy injured as well
A 73-year-old man from Kentucky is in critical condition after losing control of his vehicle on Interstate 94 and caused an accident with a Van Buren County Sheriff's deputy's car.
The crash occurred at 3:20 p.m., Sunday, in the eastbound lane of I-94 in Lawrence Township, according to a Michigan State Police report.
The report went on to say the Kentucky man was traveling in the westbound lane of I-94 when he lost control of his pick-up truck and crossed the median. The vehicle became airborne and went into the eastbound lanes. A deputy, who was headed east in the left lane saw the truck coming toward his vehicle. He swerved to avoid a collision with the truck and ended up going into a ditch, suffering minor injuries and damage to his patrol car.
Both the pick-up driver and deputy were taken to Bronson Methodist Hospital. The deputy was later released.
The initial reason for why the pickup driver lost control of his vehicle is unknown at this time. The crash remains under investigation.
A day for honoring veterans
A dozen war veterans were honored today at a Veterans Day ceremony at River Ridge Retirement Village in South Haven. Ten residents and two staff members received certificates from Hospice at Home, for the sacrifices they made to protect America while serving in the U.S. Armed Services. In the photo above, World War II Navy veteran Ed Lee receives his award from Sid Stark from Hospice at Home, an affiliate of Lakeland Health System. Lee served in the Pacific Theater during World War II and went on to serve 20 years in the Navy. He retired as a Lt. Commander. Other Veterans Day ceremonies are taking place today throughout the South Haven and Bangor areas, including a breakfast this morning at Baseline Middle School, a lunch for veterans at North Shore Elementary School, and a Veterans Ceremony at Bangor High School. (Photo by Becky Kark)
Griffin wins 66th District state House seat
A hard-fought race for the State House of Representatives' 6th District seat has ended with Republican Beth Griffin emerging as the winner.
Griffin defeated Democrat Annie Brown 22,024-18,568 to win the seat following Tuesday's election. The district covers Van Buren county and parts of Kalamazoo County.
Griffin thanked the voters for their support.
“I look forward to bringing our message of supporting our job creators, protecting taxpayers, and improving quality of life by working together for a better Michigan,” Griffin said in a written statement.
For Brown, who has spent nearly two years campaigning for the 60th District seat after losing to current State Rep. Aric Nesbitt in 2014, the loss was hard to swallow.
“It’s disappointing to put so much effort into a campaign and come up short, but I respect the will of the voters of the 66th House District,” Brown said. “I’d like to thank everyone who believed in me and worked with me to bring our message to the people of Southwest Michigan. While I won’t be serving as the representative for our district, I will continue to serve my neighbors as an advocate for the hardworking families, students, seniors, veterans and small-business owners in our community.”
Griffin, who currently serves as vice-chair of the Van Buren County Board of Commissioners, will replace Nesbitt, R-Lawton, who has reached his term limit.
Election results for Allegan and Van Buren counties follow:
Van Buren County election results
(winners names in bold)
61 percent voter turnout of 55,441 registered voters
Donald Trump 17,890
Hillary Clinton 13,258
U.S. Representative 6th District
Fred Upton 19,679
Paul Clements 11,326
Lorence Wenke (libertarian) 1,844
Beth Griffin 17,418, Kalamazoo County 4,606
Annie Brown 14,899, Kalamazoo County 3,669
7th District Courthouse
Mike McKay 14,223
Cirilo Martinez 12,464
Michael Bedford 21,943
Daniel Abbott 21,498
Robert Overheul 9,969
Suzie Roehm 16,821
Aaron Mitchell 9,548
Karen Makay 22,699
Register of Deeds
Paul DeYoung 22,742
Joe Parman 22,222
Donald Gilchrist 22,285
County Commission District 1
Gail Patterson-Gladney 2,369
Mel Jessup 2,190
County Commission District 2
Kurt Doroh 2,549
County Commission District 3
Richard Godfrey 3,265
Larry Dolfin 1,432
County Commissioner District 4
Richard Freestone 2,549
South Haven Public Schools
Joe DeGrandchamp 2,912, Allegan votes 688
Doug Ransom 1773, Allegan votes 335
John Frost 1711, Allegan votes 382
South Haven Public Schools partial term
Crystal Davis 1,900 Allegan votes 529
Stuart Price 1,795 Allegan votes 375
Arlington Township Supervisor
Jacque Phillippe 573
Arlington Township Clerk
William Pugsley 581
Arlington Township Treasurer
Phillip Pitts 595
Arlington Township Trustee
Douglas DeLeo 503
Jeff Melvin 419
Bangor Public Schools Board of Education
Dwight Click 1,327
Betsy Finch 1,302
Sarah Gray 1,343
Levon Mock 1,344
Bangor Township Supervisor
Mike Sullins 458
Gary Householder 247
Bangor Township Clerk
Linda Poland 568
Bangor Township Treasurer
Sandra L. Karr 576
Bangor Township Trustees
David Houdek 552
James Karr 504
Bloomingdale Public Schools
William Harrison 1,291
Jamie Walle 1,133
Bloomingdale Township Supervisor
Richard Stone 690
Jim Lisowski 531
Bloomingdale Township Clerk
Linda Stange 964
Bloomingdale Township Treasurer
Jerry Sommerfeld 931
Bloomingdale Township Trustee
William Cain 846
Bernie Miller 890
Bloomingdale Village President
Tom Rock 127
Bloomingdale Village Trustee
Justin Crawford 102
Toni Rankin 112
Breedsville Village President
Paul Griffin 71
Breedsville Village Trustee partial term
Ronda Griffin 62
Steven Rogusta 43
Columbia Township Supervisor
Dean Beckwith 432
Linda Norton 361
Columbia Township Clerk
Stacey Corke 455
Ada Lepore 433
Columbia Township Tresasurer
Karen Gruss 715
Columbia Township Trustee
Kathy Curtis 555
John Huizenga 451
Covert Township Supervisor
Dennis Palgen 764
Covert Township Clerk
Daywi Cook 712
Covert Township Treasurer
Marilyn Rendell 632
Zella Crump 214
Covert Township Trustee
Lonzey Taylor 576
Kenneth Harrington 576
Covert Public Schools Board of Education
(vote tallies were not available for the winners)
Geneva Township Supervisor
Nancy Whaley 1,101
Geneva Township Clerk
Bridgette Gumpert 1,075
Geneva Township Treasurer
Deborah Diekema 1,033
Geneva Township Trustees
Clare Olney 929
David Orr 888
South Haven Township Supervisor
Ross Stein 1,198
South Haven Township Clerk
Brenda Bertorelli 1,127
South Haven Township Treasurer
Hillary Fisher 1,217
South Haven Township Trustee (4 positions)
Mike DeGrandchamp 1,199
Paul Kiry 1,048
Maureen Lewandowski 1,020
David Wiatrowski 1,008
South Haven City drug enforcement renewal
Yes 1,339, Allegan votes, 3
No 722, Allegan votes, 3
South Haven Hospital Authority
Yes 7,829 Allegan 1,170
No 946 Allegan 137
Lake Michigan College capital millage proposal
Allegan County Election Results
Donald Trump 33,812
Hillary Clinton 17,932
U.S. Representative 6th District
Fred Upton 36,089
Paul Clements 15,202
Lorence Wenke 2,294
State Representative 80th District
Mary Whiteford 29,320
John Zndrysiak 12,285
Arnie Davidsons, L, 1,980
Allegan County Prosecutor
Robert Kengis 41,061
Allegan County Sheriff
Frank Baker 36,369
Stephen Young 8,873
Allegan County Clerk
Bob Genetski 41,217
Allegan County Treasurer
Sally Brooks, 41,229
Allegan County Drain Commissioner
Denise Medemar, 40,711
Allegan County Surveyor
Kevin Miedema, 40,625
Allegan County Commission District 5
Tom Jessup 4,335
Casco Township Supervisor
Allan Overhiser, 1,001
Casco Township Clerk
Cheryl Brenner 894
Casco Township Treasurer
Lu Winfrey, 987
Casco Township Trustees
Paul Macyauski 817
Judith Graff 720
Lee Township Supervisor
Scott Owen 651
Lee Township Clerk
Jacquelyn King 663
Lee Township Treasurer
Jessie Lowery 665
Lee Township Trustee
Lisa Galdikas 455
Steppney Black 417
58th District Court Judge
Judy Mulder 1,244
Vrenon Helder 1,174
48th Circuit Court Judge
Margaret Bakker 34,462
Honoring those who gave all
Covert veterans of war along with veterans from surrounding communities helped dedicate the new Covert Township war veterans memorial, Saturday, during a special ceremony.
The new memorial is located in a township park on M-140 Highway across from the township hall. In the top photo from left: Rev. Henry Allen of Gospel Tabernacle Church, U.S. Army veteran David Woody and World War II veteran Marie Nicholas salute during the playing of Taps. In the photo to the right, retired U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sergeant Eugene Maul delivers the keynote speech, while standing next to the new war memorial.
Upcoming Veterans Day ceremonies and events in the South Haven area are listed below
Palisades hosts informational open house Wednesday
Palisades Nuclear Power Plant plans to host an open house this Wednesday, Nov. 9, at the plant's Emergency Operations Facility and Information Center, 330 W. Main St., in Benton Harbor.
The open house will last from 5-7 p.m., and is the second one the plant has held for the public this year.
During the open house, plant officials will discuss the 2013 repair of Palisades' safety injection and refueling water storage tank and lessons staff learned in the process.
Covert grad to play for Santa Cruz Warriors basketball team
A Covert High School basketball star, who went on to a successful college career at Delaware State, is now coming closer to his dream of playing on an NBA team.
Amere May Jr., has been chosen to play with the Santa Cruz Warriors, an NBA Development team, affiliated with the Golden State Warriors.
May landed a spot on the team after he was traded by the Canton Charge, a minor league NBA team affiliated with the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Charge chose May earlier this year in the third-round selection of the 2016 NBA D-League draft, according to a news release issued this week from the Santa Cruz Warriors.
May, a 6-foot, 3-inch guard, graduated from Delaware State in 2015, averaging 21 points, 4.22 rebounds and 2.7 assists in 34 minutes of play during his senior season. He wasn't drafted in the 2015 NBA Draft, but kept busy playing for two international basketball teams, according to Blue Man Hoop sports website. He played 13 games for Ferrocarril Oeste Capital Federal of Argentina, where he averaged 9.9 points, 1.6 rebounds and 1.1 assists, and then made five appearances with the Belfius Mons-Hainaut team in Belgium, averaging six points.
May, who is originally from South Haven, graduated as an All-State basketball player from Covert High School in 2010. During his senior year he averaged 35.8 points per game and led the Bulldogs to the Class D state tournament semifinals.
PHOTO: Amere May Jr. is shown in 2015 playing for Ferrocarril Oeste Capital Federal of Argentina.
Allegan fire chief arraigned on sex-related charges involving a child
A fire chief in Allegan, suspected of engaging in a sexual act with a child, has been arrested and arraigned on several criminal charges.
Troopers from the Michigan State Police arrested Matthew Donald Gillies, 34, following an investigation into his online computer activities.
Gillies, who was promoted as fire chief of Allegan two months ago after serving as deputy fire chief, was arraigned today in the 57th District Court today on charges of Criminal Sexual Conduct Second Degree, Manufacturing Child Sexually Abusive Material, Possession of Child Sexually Abusive Material and two counts of Using a Computer to Commit a Crime.
The incident is believed to have occurred in September 2016 at Gillies’ home in Allegan.
When the fire district board found out about the police investigation, Gillies was suspended, according to regional media reports.
According to the Allegan News, Gillies had served as a firefighter since 2000 when he graduated from Allegan High School and joined the United States Navy aboard the USS Carl Vinson. He served as machine repairman, carpenter and firefighter for the ship’s fire department, the Gold Eagle Flying Squad.
He then joined the Allegan Fire District in 2008, where he served as fire lieutenant, fire inspector and later as engineer. In 2015, he was promoted to deputy chief. In May of this year he was named named interim chief after the post was left vacant with the firing of longtime chief Bruce Hoyer with no explanation.
Halloween trick-or-treat times and events planned today
Area youngsters should have a nice evening tonight to trick-or-treat for Halloween, and there's no shortage of opportunities to do so.
Here is a list of trick or treat times in area towns, as well as other Halloween-related activities for adults and children:
Jim Ollgaard (left) and Ed Appleyard of the Historical Association of South Haven help install brick pavers purchased by people as part of the South Haven Lighthouse restoration fundraising campaign. (Photo by Tom Renner)
Brick pavers installed in honor of lighthouse restoration donors
Approximately 300 personalized brick pavers have been installed at the South Beach walkway to honor donors of the South Haven Lighthouse restoration fundraising campaign.
The pavers were installed this past weekend by volunteers from the Historical Association of South Haven and South Haven Department of Public Works staff.
Three large sections of sidewalk were removed to make way for the pavers, which were purchased by people to help pay for the $300,000 restoration project.
Now that the pavers have been installed, work is underway to erect a large plaque that will commemorate donors who gave over $500 to the lighthouse restoration. The plaque is expected to be installed in the spring of 2017.
The Historical Association, which owns the lighthouse, undertook efforts in 2015 to raise money to restore the historic beacon. The fundraising goal was met in December of 2015. The historical association hired Mihm Enterprises of Hamilton to restore the interior and exterior of the lighthouse. Work was completed earlier this month.
Harvest time fun
Maisie Frusher paints a miniature pumpkin outside of Clementine's restaurant during the Haven Harvest Festival, Saturday, in South Haven. The three-day festival included musical entertainment, children's activities, a pie contest, pumpkin chucking contest, Harvest Costume Ball, Zombie Stroll, and pet costume parade. (Photo by Becky Kark)
Many leaves on trees in southwestern Michigan remain green even though fall color was supposed to peak this week. This photo was taken near a blueberry farm in Bangor. (Photo by Kelly Weber)
Warm days and nights delay the peak season for fall color in SW Michigan
By BECKY KARK
Editor and general manager
South Haven area residents enjoyed unseasonably warm temperatures in the high 70s earlier this week, but fall color enthusiasts are probably wondering when the trees will turn from green to the vibrant hues of red, yellow and orange.
It turns out the warm weather we've been basking in this autumn season has caused a delay in fall color, according to Mark Longstroth, a Michigan State University Extension educator.
“I have been telling everyone it is because we are so warm,” Longstroth said. “Plants use two clues to tell them winter is coming — shorter days and cool temperatures. We have the short days but we have been relatively warm so some plants are changing color and others are waiting for the cool temperatures.”
Fall colors in Southwestern Michigan normally peaks the third weekend in October, which would be this week. But now, meteorologists, such as Mark Torregrossa of Mlive, predict peak fall colors will be delayed until the end of this month.
The lack of color even prompted Pure Michigan to revise its fall color tour information in Southwestern Michigan for visitors and local residents.
“Less than 25 percent of the area’s leaves have changed and peak conditions are about two weeks away,” Pure Michigan posted on its website this past week.
With Halloween looming around the corner and the gales of November looming, will we have fall color display?
“It's hard to predict,” Longstroth said. “A lot depends on the weather as the color changes.”
For leaves to begin changing color, daytime temperatures have to hover in the 50s and nighttime temperatures need to fall into the 30s.
“As the temperatures fall, the chlorophyll production in the leaves falls as well,” Longstroth explained. “As the green pigment fades, the other pigments in the leaves anthocyanins (reds), carotenoids (orange), xanthophylls (yellow) become apparent. Some trees actually make more anthocyanin or carotenoid pigments in response to cool weather. Light frost near freezing would help.”
Luckily be the end of last week, temperatures did begin to fall into the high 50s during the day, but remained in the high 40s at night.
So, it appears fall color enthusiasts will have to wait for Mother Nature to decide how well the leaves will turn.
“The best colors are when we have clear, dry, cool, but not freezing temperatures,” Longstroth said. “Cool weather can stimulate anthocyanin production. Light is necessary to provide the energy for the color change especially if the trees are the type that produce more of the accessory pigments. Cloudy weather makes the colors seem less vibrant. All the rain we have gotten since August means we have plenty of water in the soil and abundant water reduces color development while drought (not extreme, just dry) increase the red anthocyanin production.”
All in all, Longstroth is hopeful Southwestern Michigan residents will be able to enjoy a colorful fall season.
“I am expecting a pretty good fall color show when we get cooler temperatures, unless we have a sudden hard freeze,” he said. “Light frost near freezing would help. A cold hard frost down into the lower 20s would kill most of the leaves and we wouldn’t get much color, just dead brown leaves stuck to the trees.”
Bangor, South Haven advance to semi-final round of district soccer tournaments
Both Bangor and South Haven's soccer teams will advance to the semi-final round of the District tournaments after winning opening games, Monday.
Bangor defeated Saugatuck, 4-1, to advance, while the Rams beat Berrien Springs, 3-1.
The Vikings will now face Lawton, Wednesday, at Hartford in the District 4 tournament, while Hartford is scheduled to play against Covert, which received a bye in the opening round. Lawton made it to the semi-final round after blanking Gobles, 6-0, while Hartford earned a decisive victory over Bloomingdale, 7-1.
Meanwhile, in Dowagiac, South Haven will square off against Fennville at Dowagiac on Wednesday in the District 3 tourney. The other semi-final match will involve Paw Paw and Hopkins. Fennville made it to the semi-final round after edging Coloma, 1-0. In the other opening round bracket, Paw Paw beat Dowagiac, 3-1, while Hopkins shut out Buchanan, 5-0.
The winners of the semi-final games will compete in the championship matches, Friday and Saturday.
Fact or fiction?
Fake political news subject of
Speaker Series lecture
A topic appropriate to this political season will be featured by the South Haven Speakers Series on Thursday, Oct. 20.
“Fake News: 2016” will be presented by A. Brad Schwartz, author of “Broadcast Hysteria: Orson Welles’s War of the Worlds and the Art of Fake News.” Schwartz will discuss the fake news of 2016 and challenge the audience to be aware of the need to fact check what is being said.
The address will be presented at the South Haven campus of Lake Michigan. A pre-presentation with the speaker will begin at 6:45 p.m. The program will start at 7:30 p.m.
Admission is $10. Students are admitted free.
“If you’ve found yourself asking what you can believe, or who you can believe, you aren’t alone,” said Speakers Series board member and program chair Dick Brunvand. “With what seems to be continuous allegations of wrong doing, stories of mythological proportions, and never-ending conspiracy theories, it is almost impossible to discern the truth.”
In reference to the current election cycle, Schwartz says, “everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts.”
Schwartz studied History and Film at the University of Michigan and did his thesis on the 1938 War of the Worlds Broadcast. A product of this research is his book, “Broadcast Hysteria: Orson Welle’s War of the Worlds and the Art of Fake News.” He also co-wrote an episode of the award-winning PBS series American Experience on the War of the Worlds broadcast. He resides in East Lansing.
He is currently working on a dual biography of Al Capone and Eliot Ness with Max Allan Collins, the author of Road to Perdition.
As part of the University of Michigan’s selective screenwriting program, Brad wrote “Open House”, a murder-mystery/comedy short film that premiered at the Traverse City Film Festival in 2013. It has since screened as an official selection of NewFilmmakers Los Angeles and the 2014 Maryland International Film Festival. In 2014, his screenplay “The Wolf” was voted onto “The Hit List,” a catalog of Hollywood’s favorite unproduced spec scripts.
While at the University of Michigan, he earned several awards for writing and scholarship, including the 2013 Kasdan Scholarship in Creative Writing, the 2013 Robert Hayden Humanities Award, the 2012 Arthur Fondiler History Award for Best Thesis (Highest Honors).
The Speakers Series, with the theme “Issues, Innovations and Ideas Shaping Our Lives,” was launched in 2015 to inform citizens by stimulating thought on significant issues of the day through presentations by non-partisan experts not otherwise available to South Haven. The Series is a non-profit organization with an all-volunteer board of directors headed by President Mark Odland.
This will be the final event of the 2016 Series. The committee is currently determining future Series and welcomes suggestions.
The series website is southhavenspeakersseries.org.
A crew from Mihm Enterprises spent Friday morning removing plastic and scaffolding from the outside of South Haven's historic lighthouse to reveal the restored beacon. The lighthouse has been surrounded by scaffolding and shrouded in plastic since early September while workers removed an estimated 10 coats of paint, made repairs and re-painted the lighthouse with approximately 52 gallons of its signature red paint. The $300,000 restoration project was made possible from contributions to a communty-wide "Save the Light" fundraising campaign sponsored by the Historical Association of South Haven. The project was also supported by a $60,000 grant from the Michigan Lighthouse Assistance Program. A formal re-dedication of the lighthouse will take place in the Spring of 2017. (Photo by Tom Renner)
Man allegedly holds Paw Paw Twp. woman captive
PAW PAW — A Battle Creek man faces felony charges after allegedly forcing his way into a home and taking a woman captive.
Troopers from the Michigan State Police say the 22-year-old suspect forcibly entered a residence on 47th Avenue in Paw Paw Township at 3 a.m., Sunday, and physically took a woman captive.
Police say the suspect knew the woman and took her to another residence in Calhoun County where she was kept against her will. Troopers would no release further details about the investigation.
Troopers found the man at 1 a.m., today, in Calhoun County and arrested him for first-degree home invasion and unlawful imprisonment. He was taken to Van Buren County Jail to await arraignment.
His name is not being released pending arraignment.
Deputies warn about roofing scam
A Hartford Township man is out $120 after dealing with an alleged roofing scam.
A homeowner who lives in the 53000 block of County Road 687 called Van Buren County Sheriff's Department this past week after dealing with an alleged roofer, who said minor repairs were needed for the roof.
The homeowner said a man, believed to be in his 60s, pulled up, Sept. 17, in a tan colored Chevy pickup, along with three male occupants, believed to be in their 30s.
The truck had decals on the doors with an unknown name, but “roofing” was part of the decal.
One of the passengers in the truck talked to the homeowner and said he had previously installed a roof on the home years ago and that it was in need of repair. He offered to do the repair and collected $120 from the homeowner. The suspect then asked for a bucket of water and distracted the victim while other occupants of the vehicle allegedly entered the home, according to the sheriff's department news release.
Doors at the home that were previously closed were found open, however nothing was taken, according to the sheriff's report.
The suspect then allegedly faked a seizure. The homeowner asked the suspect's co-workers to help him and they then left without completing the work.
Sign-moving stirs Van Buren judge race
By BECKY KARK
Editor and general manager
PAW PAW — A political candidate puts a sign in a yard only to see it removed the next day, replaced by their opponent's advertisement.
So goes the nature of politics during a busy election season.
“People change their minds,” admits Rene Rodriguez, a 20-year veteran of election campaigns in Southwest Michigan.
But when Rodriguez, who is leading the campaign of Seventh District Court Judge hopeful Cirilo Martinez, heard his candidate's sign had been taken from a field across the street from Paw Paw High School and later dumped in a corn field, he cried foul, claiming two of the people involved were Van Buren County Prosecutor Mike Bedford and Kelly Page, who serves as legal counsel for the Village of Paw Paw.
“Paw Paw high school is very attractive. Political candidates love to put their signs there,” Rodriguez said, regarding the high school's key location on Red Arrow Highway.
Rodriguez said a complaint has been filed with Michigan State Police, who are now investigating the incident that occurred Sunday afternoon. The investigator assigned to the case, Detective 1st Lt. Chuck Christensen, could not be reached for comment as of Tuesday afternoon.
“We are following protocol, as this is a serious matter,” Rodriguez said. “We’ve reached out to legal counsel and have begun the process of filing complaints with the appropriate election offices in Lansing, the attorney general’s office and civil rights departments.”
The sign-stealing incident unfolded when a Paw Paw resident saw a black truck parked on the side of Red Arrow Highway and a man in an orange shirt removing the Martinez sign at 2:30 p.m., Sunday. The witness called the campaign office whose staff told him to turn around and get a photo, according to Rodriguez.
The witness, who was driving into the Village of Paw Paw, turned around on Red Arrow Highway and saw the same black truck, just down the road from the high school where three men were putting up a campaign sign for U.S. Rep. Fred Upton. The witness took a photo, which shows Bedford, Attorney Kelly Page and the man in the orange shirt, who was later identified as Jordan Page, Kelly Page's son.
Rodriguez said when police investigated the complaint they found the large Martinez sign in a cornfield near the high school.
“To think Prosecutor Bedford and Attorney Kelly Page, along with (Jordan Page) were doing this while putting up signs for U.S. Congressmen Fred Upton?” Rodriguez asked in a news release that the campaign released Monday morning.
Kelly Page on Tuesday said his son had every right to take the Rodriguez sign down because the property owner didn't want it on his land.
Page claimed that Boersen Farms of Zeeland owns a number of properties throughout the Paw Paw area. Page, who is backing Martinez's opponent, Mike McKay, knows a real-estate agent who represents Boersen's properties. Page said when he asked the real estate agent if Boersen would allow McKay signs on his properties, he agreed. But (Dennis) Boersen said he didn't want any other political candidate signs on his land.
When Page was asked why his son took down the sign, rather than the real-estate agent or property owner, he said the agent lived too far away and wasn't willing to do so.
But Rodriguez said there's one problem with the Page's actions. — “Mr. Boersen is not the owner of the property,” he claimed. “He might be the farmer who leases it.”
Rodriguez said his campaign received permission Aug. 4 from the owner — whose name Rodriguez wouldn't release — to put up a 4-foot-by-4-foot Martinez sign across the street from the high school.
“I can't give you the (owner's) name because it's an ongoing investigation,” he said. “The sign was up for 44 days. We never received any emails or phone calls to remove the sign. We spoke to the property owner Sept. 19 (one day after the sign was removed). They in no way had any desire to remove the sign.”
As for Bedford's role in the matter, he stated he was in the black truck when the Martinez sign was taken down but said, “I had no role in taking any Cirilo sign down. I was putting Upton signs up with Kelly Page and Jordan Page. I was in charge of that assignment for sure....Campaign signs on Sunday are not part of my prosecutor duties and do not speak in an official capacity from the prosecutors office on this issue.”
A Paw Paw man took a photo, Sunday afternoon, of attorney Kelly Page (left) Van Buren County Prosecutor Mike Bedford (center) and Jordan Page putting up a Fred Upton campaign sign down the street from a Cirilo Martinez sign that was removed by Kelly Page and Jordan Page.
Political campaign accuses prosecutor, attorney of removing Martinez campaign sign
By BECKY KARK
Editor and general manager
PAW PAW – Marilo Martinez's campaign leaders are not happy about the removal of one of his large signs in front of Paw Paw High School and claim Van Buren County Prosecutor Mike Bedford and a Paw Paw attorney took the sign.
Martinez is running for Seventh District Court Judge in Van Buren County and his campaign leader Rene Rodriguez said a police report has been filed for the incident that occurred Sunday afternoon.
Rodriguez said in a news release issued today that a Paw Paw resident saw a black truck parked on the side of Red Arrow Highway and a man in an orange shirt removing the sign. The witness called the campaign office who told him to turn around and get a photo. The witness, who was driving into the Village of Paw Paw, turned around and then saw the same black truck, just down the road from the high school where three men were putting up an Upton campaign sign. The witness took a photo, which shows Bedford, Attorney Kelly Page and the man in the orange shirt, who was later identified as Jordan Page.
Rodriguez said a police report was filed and that later in the day police found the large Martinez sign in a cornfield across from the high school.
“To think Prosecutor Bedford and Attorney Kelly Page, along with (Jordan Page) were doing this while putting up signs for U.S. Congressmen Fred Upton?” Rodriguez asked in his news release.
Kelly Page could not be reached for comment, however, a clerk in his office stated that the farmer, whose property the Martinez sign was on, gave the Pages permission to take the sign down and to put up an Upton sign. The clerk, who would only identify herself as Linda, said the farmer told Page that he did not give permission for the Martinez campaign sign to be put on his property.
Bedford stated in an email today that he was in the black truck when the Martinez sign was taken down but said, “I had no role in taking any Cirilo sign down. I was putting Upton signs up with Kelly Page and Jordan Page. I was in charge of that assignment for sure....Campaign signs on Sunday are not part of my prosecutor duties and do not speak in an official capacity from the prosecutors office on this issue.”
Photo by Don Campbell of the Herald-Palladium
Brent Bogseth confers with his attorney, Rudolph Marcelletti, Thursday, at his trial before Judge Kathleen Brickley at Van Buren County Circuit Court in Paw Paw. Bogseth was accused of killing his wife Kim Bogseth and burying her body.
Jury finds Grand Junction man guilty of killing his wife
By ANDREW LERSTEN
For the Tribune
PAW PAW — A Grand Junction man faces sentencing in November after a jury found him guilty, this past Friday, for murdering his wife.
Brent Bogseth faces life in prison, with no chance of parole, for the death of his wife, Kim. He will be sentenced Nov. 7.
The jury trial in Van Buren Circuit Court lasted two weeks. Jurors returned a guilty verdict shortly after 2 p.m., court officials said.
In the trial, Assistant County Prosecutor Jay Blair said the evidence showed Bogseth killed his wife on Sept. 1, 2015, not long after discovering she was having an affair with a man who lived across the street.
Brent Bogseth told police he last saw his wife, 32, on the morning of Sept. 1, 2015, when he drove her to work in South Haven.
But she never reported to work that day.
Brent Bogseth told police he and his wife were arguing as he drove her to the Admiral Tobacco store in South Haven, and she wanted to get out of the car. He said he dropped her off a couple blocks from the store shortly before 11 a.m.
Kim Bogeth’s naked body was found near the couple’s Columbia Township house in a wooded area on Sept. 9, 2015.
Her body was covered with black plastic bags and some ferns and branches. She sustained head trauma and a skull fracture, possibly from a hammer blow.
The evidence against Bogseth was circumstantial, with no forensic evidence such as blood or DNA linking him to the crime.
But Blair told the jury he believes Bogseth, a maintenance man, used a favorite work hammer to kill his wife. The hammer has never been found.
Bogseth’s employer, Brad Adamson, testified that Bogseth showed up for work on Sept. 1, 2015 at 12:30 p.m.
No one knows where Bogseth was between 11 a.m. at 12:30 p.m. that day, but Blair in his closing arguments said Bogseth had plenty of time to kill his wife during that period.
Last week, police testified that a string of 61 text messages between Brent and Kim Bogseth exchanged the morning of Sept. 1, 2015 had been manually deleted from both their phones before police analyzed the phones.
The missing text messages were exchanged between the couple between 6:36 and 9:24 a.m. that morning. Analysis from the cell phone company confirmed the phone texting activity, police testified.
Police seized both phones on Sept. 7 as part of what was then simply a missing person investigation. Police took Brent Bogseth’s phone as part of the search warrant at the couple’s home, and found Kim Bogseth’s dismantled phone in the back of her husband’s Ford Explorer.
Bogseth had filed for divorce and custody of his son that same week, before Kim Bogseth’s body was found.
Also during the trial, there was testimony from a South Haven coffee house worker that Brent Bogseth asked her to call police and say she was Kim Bogseth, and to say she was OK. She refused and called police, she testified.
Dozens of people march past Paw Paw Middle School Saturday in protest of the Redskins mascot used at the high school. (Photo by Don Campbell)
Protestors refer to Paw Paw Redskins mascot name as the “r-word slur”
By ROD SMITH
For the Tribune
PAW PAW — Chanting "Teach respect not racism" and "People aren't mascots," more than 20 people turned out to protest Paw Paw schools' Redskins mascot Saturday.
On the route from the Paw Paw schools administration building to the amphitheater on the south side of Maple Lake, a small group of women told the culturally-diverse group, "We agree with you." While nearing the amphitheater an elderly man quietly told a police officer, "Kill them" and repeated it. The officer was noncommittal.
Organizer Monica Washington Padula called the Redskins' mascot name, "The r-word slur."
The protest rally took place during the Paw Paw Wine and Harvest Festival. While there were booths set up nearby and people visiting them, most of the festival events and the majority of the crowd were several blocks east.
Julie Dye, another organizer, and a member of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, said the rally came about because of the inaction of the Paw Paw Board of Education to requests to drop the "Redskins" mascot.
"We're frustrated," Dye said. "We haven't been able to accomplish anything with the school board."
Dye grew up in Lawrence and was both an athlete and a member of the marching band. She hated going to Paw Paw games because "everything that went along with it was very hurtful."
The likeness portrayed by the Redskins logo is that of a warlike Hollywood brave, Dye said. "That's not us," she said.
The logo, according to Dye, dates back about 80 years. "We weren't consulted," Dye said. "Nobody gave a damn about what Indians had to say years ago."
Some protest signs read "Redskin means murder." According to Dye, that's because the term originally came from the blood on the bodies of the scalped Native Americans. There were bounty hunters who were paid by the "number of red skins they had," Dye said.
On Aug. 22, the Tribal Council of the Pokagon band, passed a resolution calling the term "offensive, derogatory and demeaning."
"The term 'Redskins' derives from a practice that encouraged genocide against Native Americans," the resolution said.
The resolution encourages eliminating the term for any mascot, name or symbol.
The program in the amphitheater was free-form, with people volunteering to speak. There was apparently only a handful of spectators, some responding to the speakers, many just listening.
Kathy Randall, of Paw Paw, supported the protesters. "People would not like it if they called their team 'The Jews' or any racist name," Randall said.
Adele Walters, also of Paw Paw, brought along a newspaper story about the late Joseph Quigno, a tribal elder. Walters said she went to school with him. "He never felt it was disrespectful," Walters said. She said a recent meeting of graduates voted to support the current mascot with just two or three dissenting.
First responders are shown at the scene of a fatal accident that occurred at 9 a.m. today on Interstate 94 near Paw Paw.
Police identify man killed in crash on Interstate 94
State troopers continue to investigate a fatal crash that occurred Wednesday morning, Sept. 7 on Interstate 94 near Paw Paw.
The crash happened at 9 a.m. on the eastbound lane of the highway near mile marker 62, according to a news release from the Paw Paw Michigan State Police post.
The crash occurred when a westbound van crossed the median and struck a semi head-on in the eastbound lanes.
The driver of the van, Ryan Cramer, 38, of Mattawan, died at the scene while the semi driver, Gregory Jenkins, 32, of Chicago, Ill., was taken to Lakeview Hospital in Paw Paw.
Coloma man faces charges for robbing convenience store
By BECKY KARK
Editor and general manager
A Coloma man faces felony charges for allegedly robbing a convenience store in Dowagiac. He is also believed to be responsible for an armed robbery that occurred at a South Haven store the same evening.
Christopher Baptiste Rhodes, 30, was arraigned Friday in Cass County District Court on two counts of armed robbery, larceny in a building, felony firearm and felon-in-possession of a firearm. Charges stem from an armed robbery that occurred at 10:40 p.m., Aug. 29 at a Marathon station in Dowagiac. Police believe Rhodes also robbed the Quick Stop store in South Haven earlier that evening.
He could be facing additional charges for that robbery, however, as of Friday, charges were not brought against him in Seventh District Court in South Haven.
"At this point I can't say it is or it isn't connected," said Sgt. Kyle Griffith of the South Haven Police Department. Surveillance video from both robberies show a man who looks like the same suspect.
“It's the same guy, looks the same,” said Ravi Singh, who owns the Quick Stop convenience store in South Haven.
The robbery at Quick Stop, 651 Phillips St., occurred at 9:25 p.m., Monday, Aug. 29, while the second one happened a little more than an hour later in Dowagiac. Surveillance camera shots from the two incidents show a man wearing a long-sleeve gray shirt, black jeans and gray shoes. His face was hidden behind a ski mask and black cloth covering.
“All you could see was his eyes,” Singh said.
According to a South Haven Police news release, the suspect pointed a gun at and threatened two customers before then pointing the gun at Singh, demanding money.
“I had two customers at the counter and was turned to get something for them. When I turned around he has the gun pointed straight at them,” Singh said. The suspect then noticed Singh's father standing behind the cash register and pointed the gun at him.
“He escalated toward my dad,” Singh said. “I went right to my dad with my hands in the air. If I panicked he (the suspect) may have done something. I wanted to stay calm.”
The suspect then demanded money from the cash register. “I could have pushed our panic button (for a call to police) but I didn't want to cause any panic or extra movement,” Singh said.
Keeping his right hand up in the air Singh took the cash from the drawer and put it into a bag and gave it to the gunman.
“When he (the suspect) left he said 'if you call the police I'll kill you,'” Singh said.
The suspect made off with $556 from the store.
“Money isn't the issue,” Singh said. “My main concern was for our customers and my dad. That was one heck of a night, but I'm glad everyone went home safe.”
In the 12 years that Singh and his parents have owned the Quick Stop it has never been robbed at gunpoint.
“It's a nice town, we have nice customers,” Singh's father said.
The Dowagiac robbery occurred at 10:41 p.m. when a suspect entered the Marathon Store, 801 Spruce St., and stole money from the clerk and a customer's wallet.
PHOTO: An armed gunman is shown at the Quick Stop store pointing a gun at the owner.
Dowagiac police released this security camera image of an armed robber who struck the Marathon station Monday night at 801 Spruce St. In the photo below, from FOX 17, which obtained it from South Haven Police, the robbery suspect is shown at the Quick Stop store in South Haven.
Man who held up South Haven convenience store believed to be linked to Dowagiac store robbery
By BECKY KARK
Editor and general manager
A man who robbed a South Haven convenience store Monday evening may be the same person who robbed another one in Dowagiac later that night, according to a report from South Haven Police.
The first robbery occurred at 9:25 p.m. at Quick Stop convenience store, 651 Phillips St., in South Haven.
According to a South Haven Police news release, the suspect pointed a gun at and threatened two customers before then pointing the gun at the store owner, demanding money.
The suspect stole $500, according to the store owner and then fled the scene prior to officers' arrival.
At 10:41 p.m. a suspect entered the Marathon Store, 801 Spruce St., in Dowagiac and stole money from the clerk and a customer's wallet.
He is described as a black man, about 6-foot 1-inches, wearing a long-sleeve gray shirt, black jeans and gray shoes. He was wearing some type of black covering on his face and head as well as black gloves.
The Quick Stop store owner, who today saw a surveillance photo of the suspect involved in the Dowagiac robbery, said “that's the same guy.”
The Quick Stop store owner, who was still visibly shook up over the incident this morning, said in the 12 years he and his family have operated the store they have never dealt with an armed robbery. He said he had no problem giving the armed gunman money, but did not like the fact that he had entered the store threatening people.
“This is a nice town, we have nice customers,” he said.
Anyone with information about the robberies is asked to call the South Haven Police Department at 269-637-5151 or 269-657-3101. Or they can call the Dowagiac Police Department at 782-9743 or the Cass County Tip Line at 800-462-9328.
— The Herald-Palladium contributed to this story
South Haven Police take part in
Back to School picnic for kids
South Haven youngsters were treated to food, fun and free backpacks earlier this week at the 18th annual Back to School Picnic at Elkenburg Park. In the photo, above, South Haven police officers make cotton candy for kids to enjoy. The picnic was organized by Resurrection Life Ministry, led by Pastor Joe Wilkins, along with the South Haven Police Department. The police department, South Haven Emergency Services (SHAES), South Haven Department of Public Works, Van Buren County Sheriffs Department, Berrien County Sheriffs Department, and the Michigan State Police all had representatives and equipment on hand for the attendees to see. (Photo courtesy of City of South Haven)
Shelly Hartman, co-owner of True Blue Farms in Grand Junction, looks at some of the damage caused by a tornado that swept through northern Van Buren County Saturday afternoon. (Photo by Becky Kark)
Tornado rips through Bangor, Grand Junction. leaving a trail of damage
By BECKY KARK
Editor and general manager
GRAND JUNCTION — “It was only 30 seconds but it was the longest 30 seconds of my life.”
That's how Shelly Hartman, co-owner of True Blue Farms, described a tornado that swept through northern Van Buren County Saturday afternoon.
The tornado that swept through Bangor and Grand Junction left a line of damage in its wake, but no injuries to people were reported.
True Blue Farms blueberry packing facilities took the brunt of the storm, suffering an estimated hundreds of thousands of dollars in losses.
A mile north of True Blue, the tornado ripped off part of the roof at Columbia Township Hall, caused structural damage to nearly a dozen homes, and damaged many trees whose limbs blocked roadways and ripped down power lines.
The U.S. National Weather Service in Grand Rapids observed the tornado at 1:20 p.m. Saturday, near Bangor and issued an alert warning people in northern Van Buren County and southern Allegan County to take cover.
Bangor residents were the first ones hit by the tornado, which uprooted trees, damaged homes and blew off a large section of the new roof at the Bangor Police Station.
The warning, which many people received on their cell phones, took them by surprise.
“I was sitting outside of the office,” Hartman said, “and wondered what was going on? I looked at the sky and thought everything was OK.”
But then she saw trees and debris swirling around in the air.
“I thought, 'Oh my God, what is that?'” Hartman said. “There were trees, debris, paper flying around, and then there was this indescribable noise and glass breaking.”
The cell phone warning from the National Weather Service also surprised Ellie Rayna.
“When I first got the alert, I thought, 'we always get them,'” said Rayna, who lives at the corner of 51st Street and County Road 388, across the street from Columbia Township hall. “But then I heard something like a train and thought what's going on? she said, describing the tell-tale sound of a tornado.
Although the family has an underground shelter outside of their home there wasn't enough time for Rayna to grab her children and aging parents to take them there.
“My father is disabled,” she said. “We wouldn't get there in time.”
So Rayna resorted to grabbing her children and ushering everyone into a closet to wait out the tornado.
“We were OK,” she said. “We are very blessed.”
Several blocks away, Columbia Fire Chief Dave Johnson was at home, looked toward the sky and observed the tornado for himself.
“I actually saw it coming,” he said. “It went right through our yard on the east side. It sucked the siding off the northeast corner and the east gable end, soffit and facia came off.” The tornado also broke seven windows of Johnson's home, and damaged the roof, windows and door of his barn.
But he wasn't able to tend very long to his personal losses, because he had to help assess damage in the rest of the township.
“After the tornado went over our house, I made sure everyone was OK, looked at my wife and said, 'sorry honey, I gotta go.'"
One of Johnson's first stops was the township hall where part of the roof had blown off.
“We had a meeting here that ended at noon,” said Ada Lepure, township hall secretary. “Luckily they got out and nobody was here when the tornado came.”
The aftermath of the storm not only wrecked the roof, it also ruined the furnishings, computers and walls of the treasurer and supervisor's offices.
“We hope our (computer) server will be OK,” Lepure said. “We have to do something. We have to keep the township running.”
Getting True Blue Farms back to normal is also a priority for Hartman.
Nearly 100 workers and volunteers spent Saturday evening and Sunday cleaning up debris.
“We had people from Monte Packaging, Blue Star Farms and Thayer who came out and volunteer to help,” Hartman said.
Thousands of plastic lugs scattered all over the company's property had to be restacked; fallen trees and limbs cut up and removed; and broken glass cleared away. Trucks that had blown over onto their sides had to be righted. The machinery needed to be assessed and repaired if possible.
“The (fresh-pack) facility and offices were damaged heavily,” Hartman said. “But it (the tornado) didn't affect our processing (facility) at all. We're going to be up and running Monday. Nothing is keeping True Blue down.”
Despite the economic losses, Hartman said she is very grateful no one was hurt from the tornado.
“We had 65 people working here,” she said. “Everyone was trained (to seek shelter). They knew where to go.”
She also was grateful for the employees' willingness to step up and help with the cleanup.
“They said, 'we're not doing this on the clock, we're volunteering to help,” Hartman said.
Police looking for armed robbery suspect
Police are seeking the public's help in locating a man allegedly involved in an armed robbery at a store in Hagar Township.
Michigan State troopers report that a suspect entered Riverside Food Mart at 3468 Coloma Rd., at 5 a.m., Tuesday, and robbed a clerk at gun point. The suspect escaped on foot with an unknown amount of cash and cigarettes.
The suspect is described as a white male in his late 30s or early 40s. He is approximately 5 feet-8 inches tall with a medium build and wears thin wire eye glasses. The suspect was wearing a gray Michigan State University hooded sweatshirt, a dark baseball cap, black pants and “flip flop” sandal type footwear.
If anyone has information pertaining to the robbery they are asked to call Trooper Holly Tetro or Trooper Steffon Mayhue at the Niles State Police post, 269-683-4411.
People line the South Pier in South Haven during the 2015 Salute to Veterans. (file photo by Tom Renner)
A shout out and a wave for the veterans
5th Annual Salute to Veterans planned Saturday
By BECKY KARK
Editor and general manager
Fifty disabled combat veterans will get the opportunity to enjoy a relaxing day of fishing on Lake Michigan when they take part in South Haven's Fifth Annual Salute to Veterans, Saturday, Aug. 20.
Hosted by Operation Injured Soldier, the South Haven Steelheaders and Star of the Lake Masonic Lodge, the event will begin bright and early for veterans with a fishing trip on the big lake and will culminate with a welcome home salute when they return to shore followed by a luncheon at the South Haven Moose Lodge. Veterans and the general public are also being invited to see a Michigan Vietnam Memorial wall that will be on display at the American Legion post #49 from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. The post is at 129 Michigan Ave.
“The community really gets behind this event,” said Bangor resident Bruce Thatcher, who organizes the Salute to Veterans on behalf of Operation Injured Soldier.
Twenty-five Steelheader boat captains have volunteered to take disabled veterans on the fishing trip. In addition, Chad Bard, owner of the Sun Setter excursion boat, has offered to take 30 more veterans from South Haven and Bangor American Legion posts and Benton Harbor-based Lest We Forget veterans organization on the big lake.
Although the veterans enjoy the chance to hook a big Steelhead or trout, they also look forward to the cheering crowd that awaits them when they return to South Haven's harbor, according to Thatcher.
“When the veterans, especially the Vietnam vets, see people clapping and waving it brings tears to their eyes,” said Thatcher, who served in Vietnam with the 1st Calvary Division of the U.S. Army. “Vietnam vets didn't get a warm welcome when they returned home from serving in the war. So we want to encourage as many people as possible to come and make sure to bring their kids.”
The boats returning to the harbor will be led by members of the Coast Guard along with Vietnam war veterans Jim McCloughan of South Haven and Dan Ambrose of Lest We Forget.
In addition to the Coast Guard and the crowds of people who line North and South piers to welcome the veterans, South Haven Area Emergency Services will hoist a large American flag from atop their ladder truck, and members of the Bangor American Legion color guard will salute as the Hooligan aircraft precision flight team of Battle Creek flies in formation over South Haven's harbor, according to Thatcher.
The salute to veterans began informally approximately 20 years ago when charter boat operators Don and Sis Buckberry took a half-dozen or so disabled veterans from the Veterans Hospital in Battle Creek for a day of fishing on Lake Michigan. Within several years, Don Nicholas of Nichols Charter Boats, began to help provide a day of fishing for an additional 12-15 veterans. Then the South Haven Steelheaders, along with South Haven Vietnam war veteran Glenn Higgs, got involved and began partnering with Operation Injured Soldier four years ago.
Operation Injured Soldier is based in South Lyon and organizes recreational activities for disabled war veterans in Michigan.
State police investigating apparent drowning
Michigan state police troopers are investigating an apparent drowning that occurred Wednesday at Three Legged Lake in Bloomingdale Township.
Troopers received a 911 call at 4 p.m. that a 12-foot fishing boat was anchored in the lake, but unoccupied.
Troopers arrived and found items in the boat and called Van Buren County Sheriff's Department's dive team who found a deceased 75-year-old Glendale man in seven feet of water. The man's name is not yet being released pending notification of his family.
A vehicle, whose driver attempted to flee from a traffic stop, is shown after it struck a tree and caught fire, Monday, evening in Arlington Township. The vehicle is shown below before the fire was extinguished.
Chase ends with car catching fire; Three people arrested
Three people are lucky to be alive after their vehicle caught fire following a high-speed chase with police.
The incident began Monday at 8:13 p.m. when Van Buren County Sheriff's deputies attempted to pull over an unregistered vehicle traveling south on County Road 665 near 38th Avenue in Waverly Township.
The driver, Walker Woods, 22, of Kalamazoo, refused to stop, however, and a pursuit ensued in which deputies were led down rural roads and through a vineyard, at speeds of 60-65 miles per hour and as high as 85 at one point, according to a sheriff's news release.
During the pursuit deputies reported that occupants inside the vehicle were intentionally throwing items at the pursuing patrol car, which was struck and damaged.
After approximately 15 minutes the suspect driver lost control while traveling westbound on 44th Avenue east of 52nd Street, in Arlington Township. His vehicle ran off the road, struck a tree and caught fire.
While the driver fled on foot through a swampy area, deputies were able to apprehend the two passengers, who managed to quickly get out of the car. A deputy ran after the suspect driver, chasing him through a four-foot deep swamp. The suspect was apprehended with the assistance of a sheriff's K-9 unit and arrested.
Meanwhile, the Bangor Fire Department extinguished the vehicle fire. The occupants of the vehicle sustained minor injuries in the crash. All three were treated at Bronson Lakeview Hospital prior to being taken to Van Buren County Jail.
Woods was arrested for three outstanding warrants, fleeing and eluding, resisting and obstructing a police officers, and driving with no insurance. The front seat passenger, Ryan Glen Grady, 30, of Dowagiac, was arrested for five outstanding warrants, resisting and obstructing a police officer, throwing projectiles at a motor vehicle and malicious destruction of police property.
The 24-year-old female passenger from Decatur, whose name is not yet being released pending her arraignment, was arrested for resisting and obstructing a police officer, throwing projectiles at a motor vehicle and malicious destruction of police property.
Marchers - black, white, young and old, march on Kalamazoo Street near Huron Street for the Unity for Our Community march, Saturday, Aug. 6.
100 convene for Unity For Our Community march in South Haven
By BECKY KARK
Editor and general manager
Those were the words chanted by South Haven residents as they walked through town during Saturday's first-ever Unity In Our Community march.
Approximately 100 people — black, white, young and old, took to the sidewalks holding signs that read “Our Race is the Human Race” and “Be the Change in Your Community.” The march started at Elkenburg Park and traveled along an hour-long route to downtown and back to the park where participants then gathered for a picnic that included hamburgers, hot dogs with all the fixings, games for children and basketball games where youth played alongside South Haven police officers.
“I want to cry because this is an amazing moment,” said march and picnic organizer Hillary Mahone of South Haven. “To see people of all different nationalities talking with each other, eating with each other, it's just amazing.”
Nancy Nelson of South Haven, who participated in the march, agreed.
“I think this is so needed, it's long overdue,” she said. “It's about coming together for our future.”
Annie Brown of South Haven, who is running for the 66th State House seat, said she did not participate in the walk to promote her campaign, but rather to show her support for the town she lives in.
“I love it when our whole community works together to show we're one big family,” she said. “I think this is a positive way to show other communities this is a great community and we work together.”
Ironically, the idea for the march wasn't originally grounded in harmony, but rather anger at the way police handled a private party that had gathered during the late evening hours of July 3 at Lakeside Entertainment Center.
Police received 911 calls of the crowd getting out of control, that fights had started and there existed a possibility of a person with a gun.
When police arrived they tried to shout at the crowd to leave the building, however, they weren't heard. As a result officers used pepper balls, causing people to panic and rush for the doors.
A relative of the person who booked the party was angered over the incident and called for protest march through downtown during the National Blueberry Festival, but after Mahone met with police and city officials she decided that a unity march would be a better way to go.
“It (the protest march) went from an ugly thing to an amazing event,” Mahone said during an interview several weeks ago. But she still worried people would not support the march.
As it turned out, she worried for nothing.
Meijer, Walmart and Village Market donated food and other supplies for the picnic, the City of South Haven rented bounce houses for youngsters to play in, and police set up tents, chairs and games for the picnic. They also played a friendly game of basketball with the kids. Mahone also gave a lot of credit to her mom, Linda Barton, for donating time and money for the march and picnic.
“She donated a whole lot,” Mahone said.
Marchers who were interviewed, said they felt it was better to have a march to bring the community together rather than separate it.
“I thought (the unity march) was a good idea,” said Ann Habicht of South Haven. “It's a step in a positive direction, rather than a negative.”
Elderly woman dies of apparent drowning in Lake Michigan
Medical condition may have led to drowning
A 93-year-old Ganges Township woman died Thursday after an apparent drowning in Lake Michigan.
Elizabeth Ann Bennett, who regularly swam in Lake Michigan, died at the scene, according to an Allegan County Sheriff's report.
Deputies were called at 4:30 p.m. because witnesses swimming nearby noticed that Bennett had not emerged from the water.
When deputies arrived, Ganges Fire and AMR ambulance first responders were at the scene performing CPR, however their efforts to resuscitate Bennett were unsuccessful.
Witnesses told deputies that Bennett lived at a residence near the site where she drowned and regularly swam in Lake Michigan. They said she was in good shape and swam nearly every day and kept a styrofoam raft nearby.
However, when she didn't return to the beach a search was initiated. She was found and pulled from the water and CPR was started.
“The witnesses stated that nothing appeared out of the ordinary and everything seemed consistent with the victim's normal routine,” Undersheriff Frank Baker said in a news release. “Therefore, a medical condition cannot be ruled out at this time (as to why she drowned).
Brown, Griffin advance in 66th District House race
Republican Beth Griffin will be squaring off with Democrat Annie Brown for the District 66th House seat in the November election.
Griffin fended off GOP challengers Matthew Nilson and Greg Kolich in Tuesday's primary race, while Brown defeated Dylan Kerley.
The winner in November's election will take over the House seat being vacated by Aric Nesbitt, R-Lawton, who faces term limitations.
Meanwhile in the 80th District race, incumbent Republican Mary Whiteford won easily over her challenger, Abigail Nobel. Whiteford will now face Democrat John Andrysiak of Martin in the November election.
PHOTO: Annie Brown (top) and Beth Griffin
Here are other election results from Tuesday's primary races
Van Buren County Sheriff's race — Daniel Abbott won the Republican primary by defeating three other candidates. Abbott received 3,741 votes; David Walker, 3,146; Phil Oretsky, 796; and James Worthington, 432. Abbott will now face Democrat Robert Overhuel, who received 1,760 votes, in the November election.
7th District Court Judge race — Cirilo Martinez and Michael McKay will advance to the November election after earning the most votes in the Primary. McKay received 5,095 votes; Martinez, 3,614; and Nichole Dunfield Hameed, 627.
Covert Township — Dennis Palgen emerged the winner in the supervisor race, defeating incumbent Barbara Rose, 240-129. Daywi Cook defeated Isaiah Young, 238-106 in the clerk's race; incumbent trustee Kenneth Harrington and newcomer Lonzey Taylor received the most votes in the four-way Democratic race for trustee. Incumbent Republican trustee Gaetano DeRosa was unoppposed. Harrington, Taylor and DeRosa will now head into the November election to determine if the incumbents will retain their seat or be defeated by Taylor who received the most votes in the Democratic Primary with 175. Harrington was second with 163; Dawn Alspaugh third with 139; and Amy Meunchow, fourth, with 70 votes. DeRosa received 27 votes in a township whose voters are primarily Democrat.
Columbia Township — Republicans Kathy Curtis and John Huizenga will compete with Democrat Rosemary Hurley in November for two available trustee seats. Huizenga received 182 votes in the primary; Curtis, 169; and Hurley, 65. Karen Gruss defeated Kristen Bus, 171-77 for the treasurer's seat.
Van Buren County Road Millage renewal — The proposal passed 7,274-2,832
Van Buren County Conservation District millage — The proposal passed 5,568-4,451
Chris Baner of South Haven ties blue ribbons on fences and trees at her home.
South Haven residents show support for local police agencies
By BECKY KARK
Editor and general manager
With an eye toward the recent shooting deaths of police officers in Dallas, New Orleans and closer to home, St. Joseph, a South Haven organization and a local citizen are showing their support for the safety of local law enforcement agencies.
Bruce Thatcher of the Star of the Lake Masonic Lodge in South Haven spent part of this past week distributing posters to local businesses. The posters ask people to support the South Haven Police, Van Buren County Sheriff deputies and Michigan State Police.
“I passed out 50 posters,” Thatcher said. “We're trying to support our police and treat others with brotherly love.”
While Thatcher walked throughout the city's central business district to distribute posters, South Haven resident Chris Baner decided to do something on her own.
She decorated her front porch and front yard trees with blue ribbons to signify her support for local police agencies.
“Somebody has to do something positive,” Baner said.
Others appear to agree with her gesture toward police.
“My neighbor took pictures and put it on Facebook and she said she got a lot of 'likes,'” Baner said.
Meanwhile, plans are still in the works for a Unity In Our Community march Saturday, Aug. 6 in South Haven.
The march came about over the disapproval of the way South Haven Police disbursed a crowd from a late-night private party at Lakeside Entertainment Center, July 4.
Police were called to the building shortly after midnight on reports that there was fighting going on. They tried to get the crowd's attention to exit the building, but ended up using pepper balls to get the crowd to leave.
Some people unhappy with the police decision to use pepper balls, and urged a boycott of downtown businesses. Police and city officials met with local residents several times after the incident occurred and police apologized. From those meetings came the idea to have the Unity In Our Community march.
Organizer Hillary Mahone said all South Haven residents are invited to attend and that the event is about uniting together as a community and demonstrating that by getting to know one another, local residents can help end judgements and stereotypes.
The march will begin at noon at Elkenburg Park. It will conclude back at the park with a basketball game and barbeque at 1:30 p.m.
A woman was seriously injured in an accident this morning after her vehicle collided with a semi-tractor trailer on Interstate 94.
Woman seriously injured in car-semi accident
LAWRENCE — A woman suffered serious injuries this morning after her car collided into a semi-tractor trailer on Interstate 94.
The accident occurred at 7:30 a.m. near the 54-mile marker in Lawrence Township, according to a Michigan State Police news release.
The woman, whose name is not yet being released, was traveling east on the highway in the left lane when she lost control of her vehicle and veered into the right lane and into the path of the semi-tractor trailer. The trailer struck the car and forced it into a guardrail. The car then re-entered the freeway where it was sideswiped by the trailer, which forced the car into a ditch. The driver of the semi then lost control of his vehicle and went into a ditch.
The woman told police she lost control of her vehicle because the morning sun blinded her. She was taken by ambulance to Borgess Hospital in Kalamazoo. The male semi driver, whose name is not yet being released, was unharmed. Both vehicles were later towed from the accident scene.
Troopers were assisted by the Lawrence fire department, Van Bure Emergency Medical Services and Michigan Department of Transportation workers who were mowing grass in the area.
The Draken Harald Harfagre, touted as the largest Viking ship to be built in modern times, is now on display at the Michigan Maritime Museum, 260 Dyckman Ave., South Haven. The ship arrived to the museum's dock Sunday and will depart this evening to head to Chicago. (Photo by Becky Kark)
World's largest Viking ship arrives in South Haven
By BECKY KARK
Editor and general manager
Michigan Maritime Museum's tall ship, Friends Good Will, commands a lot of attention from visitors, but the ship has been playing second fiddle the past few days to a vessel touted as the world's largest Viking ship.
The Draken Harald Harfagre sailed into the South Haven harbor Sunday for a three-day stop before it heads to Chicago this evening to participate in Pepsi Tall Ships Chicago 2016, set to run Wednesday through Sunday at Navy Pier.
“It's a very interesting boat,” said Ashley Deming, director of education and administration for the museum. “I can see why people are drawn here to see it.”
Kathy Garza was one of the many visitors drawn to South Haven to view the 115-foot long ship, which has a crew of 32. She and her husband traveled all the way from Valparaiso, Ind., dressed in 12th century Norwegian attire that they made themselves.
“I've been following stories about this ship since they began building it,” said Garza, who said her ancestors were among the Norsemen who settled Wales in the 12th century. “We could have seen the ship in Chicago but thought South Haven would be more intimate.”
Nancy Tuma, a Chicago resident who owns a cottage in South Haven, also toured the ship Monday.
“What a treat to have this here,” she said.
The ship, commonly referred to as the Draken, is the largest Viking ship created in modern times. Construction of the vessel began in 2010 in Haugesund, Norway, and it was first launched in 2012. It is equipped with 50 oars and weighs 95 metric tons. The ship can be powered by oars, engines or its sails.
One of the ship's deckhands, Thomas Holsen, first became interested in the ship while taking college courses on maritime studies. He volunteered to be part of the Draken's maintenance crew in 2013 and has continued sailing on it for its latest trip – Expedition America 2016 – in which the crew crossed the Atlantic Ocean and now is sailing the Great Lakes.
“The Great Lakes are amazing,” Holsen said. “You have lakes the size of oceans, it seems. I've never seen freshwater lakes this size before.”
The Draken will remain on display at the museum from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. today. The museum is at 260 Dyckman Ave. The Draken will then depart from South Haven's harbor tonight.
There is a separate admission fee to tour the ship.
For a time it looked as though the Draken may not make it as far as Lake Michigan. According to a Star Tribune (Minneapolis) story two weeks ago, the expedition ran into high unexpected costs when it entered waters under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Coast Guard, which requires pilots on non-recreational foreign ships in the Great Lakes (no such regulation is required in Canadian waters for ships under 35 meters). Expedition officials scurried to raise money to pay a pilot, which can cost up to $400 an hour, the Star Tribune reported. The cost could reach upwards of $400,000, the paper reported, if the ship is able to make all of its scheduled stops.
By last Wednesday enough had been raised to ensure the ship's arrival in Chicago, according to a July 21 New York Times article.
Eventually the ship hopes to sail to Duluth, Minn., to take part in that city's tall ships event, before heading back east for several planned stops on the East Coast.
The ship set sail in April from Norway.
Theft of charity money mars benefit golf outing
By BECKY KARK
Editor and general manager
BLOOMINGDALE — A golf outing, Saturday, at Jeptha Lake Golf Course raised more than $2,000 to help pay funeral costs for a Grand Junction woman who died of an aneurism in June, but organizers would have had an additional $475 to contribute if the money hadn't been stolen.
“It was a terrible thing for somebody to do,” said Laura Reed, who owns the golf course, along with her husband, Doug.
The Reeds had organized the benefit golf outing to help raise money for the family of Natalie Grider-Frank.
“She had a husband and an 11-year-old son,” Laura Reed said. “They didn't have any life insurance to pay for the funeral costs.”
Prior to the golf outing, friends and family members of Natalie Grider Frank placed donation jars at various businesses and raised $475 which they dropped off at the golf course Friday night, just prior to Saturday's benefit golf outing.
But when the Reeds arrived to open the golf course Saturday morning, they discovered someone had broken in and had stolen the money.
“They broke the window and unlocked the door and came into the office and took it,” Laura Reed said. “That's all they took. I have a computer, an iPad...a Kindle in there, It was like they were looking for that money. I don't really have suspects, but I think it's somebody who's been here...someone who knew the benefit was on Saturday.”
In spite of the theft, the golf outing went on as scheduled.
“The good that came from it was the people who came here to play in the golf outing,” Laura Reed said. “They cleaned up the glass, Landers Hardware donated new glass and people who came to play donated much more than they probably would have.”
An anonymous donor came forward to pay for a headstone and footings for Grider-Frank's grave. In addition, the golf outing itself raised nearly $2,000 for the family's funeral expenses.
“People were very generous,” Laura Reed said.
The Van Buren County Sheriff's Department doesn't have any suspects at this time, and is seeking the public's help. Anyone with information about the break-in and theft is asked to call the sheriff's department at 269-657-3101.
Mobile phone users and online users can provide anonymous crime tips to the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office by sending a text Tip Soft message by sending a text message to “CRIMES” (274637) with the keyword VBCTIP from a mobile phone.
PHOTO: Natalie Grider-Frank
Man arrested after fleeing from police
A Holland area man found himself behind bars this weekend after attempting to flee from Van Buren County deputies.
The incident began 5:42 p.m. Sunday when deputies tried to stop a Ford van traveling on County Road 388 near 62nd Street in Geneva Township for a registration violation.
But the driver, Eric Overway, 43, didn't stop and instead fled northbound on 62nd Street. He then pulled into a private drive and tried to run into a wooded area. The deputy caught him after a quarter-mile pursuit.
Overway was arrested for possession of marijuana and resisting and obstructing a police officer. He also was arrested on a criminal bench warrant from 7th District Court in South Haven for failing to appear on a drug charge.
Man injured in jet ski accident
19-year-old Grand Rapids man suffered injuries this past Saturday in a jet ski accident on Lake Michigan near Van Buren State Park.
Van Buren County Sheriff's deputies report that Conner Carruthers was riding on a jet ski operated by a 16-year-old girl from Fort Gratiot, Mich. Deputies said the jet ski was pulling a tube and Carruthers was acting as a spotter when he was thrown from the jet ski and became entangled in the rope that was connected to the tube.
He was then dragged through the water and suffered a possible fractured leg, bruising, and abrasions. Emergency responders from South Haven Area Emergency Services took Carruthers to South Haven Health System.
Covert Police officer subject of criminal investigation
A Covert Police officer has resigned amid allegations that he allegedly sexually assaulted a woman.
Michigan State Police recently completed a two-week investigation into the allegation and have forwarded their report to the Van Buren County Prosecutor's office for possible charges.
The allegation was brought to the attention of Covert Police Chief Jay Allen on July 9.
“I received a citizen complaint and determined a possible crime might have occurred and contacted Michigan State Police,” said Allen, explaining that state police were asked to investigate the complaint because it would be a conflict of interest for anyone from the Covert Police Department to do so.
“Shortly after they (state police) began their investigation the officer resigned,” Allen said.
The officer, whose name Allen did not release, had been with the Covert Police Department for two months.
Allen would not confirm a WWMT-TV report that the officer resigned over allegations that he had sexually assaulted a woman. Detective 1st Lt. Chuck Christensen of the state police Fifth District headquarters in Paw Paw also would not comment on specifics of the investigation.
WWMT reported Tuesday the officer had allegedly taken the woman to a motel after her husband was arrested for drunk driving. The news report went on to indicate the officer returned to the motel and sexually assaulted the woman after taking her husband to jail.
— By Andrew Lersten and Becky Kark
Wellness Center offers relief from the heat
With temperatures approaching the 90-degree mark over the next several days, South Haven Health System's Wellness Center will serve as a “cooling station” for people who want to escape the heat.
The air-conditioned Wellness Center lobby and its public conference rooms will be available now through Sunday, July 24 to anyone who needs a place to relax, cool off and get a drink of cold water, hospital officials say.
The Wellness Center is open today and Thursday from 5 a.m.-10 p.m., Friday from 5 a.m.-9 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. For more information, call 269-639-2949 or visit www.sh-hs.org
Police find body of missing South Haven man
Police are investigating the death of a South Haven man who had been reported missing since last week.
The body of Matthew Ahmed Morin, 39, was found in Barry County, July 12, according to a news release from the South Haven Police Department. A person of interest is in custody on unrelated charges, but police are not releasing further information at this time.
Morin was last seen at his Briar Hills apartment in South Haven on July 5. South Haven Police received a report July 9 that Morin was missing and along with the Michigan State Police began an investigation into his whereabouts.
Missing Bangor Township man found in safe condition
A Bangor Township man who had been reporting missing has been found.
John Yore, 73, was located at 3 a.m., this morning in Schaumburg, Ill. And is OK, according to a report from the Van Buren County Sheriff's department. A family member has gone to pick him up and bring him home.
Yore left his residence July 11 in his vehicle and when he could not be reached by family members, they called police the following day to report him missing.
Bangor Township man reported missing
Van Buren County Sheriff's Department is seeking the public's help in locating a Bangor Township man, who has been missing since July 11.
Deputies say John Yore, 73, left his home on July 11 to make a trip to an unknown location in Indianapolis, Ind. He was driving a black 2008 Chevy Avalanche with a Michigan handicap license plate, 0757j7. Family members say he has not been heard from since. Deputies tried to retrieve locations from his cell phone, but were unable to do so. Family members said Yore is in need of daily medications that he did not take with him and may be suffering from the onset of dementia.
Yore is described as a white, 6-foot-tall man, weighing approximately 300 pounds. He has gray hair, one blue eye and one false eye. He was last seen wearing blue jeans, a white t-shirt and a baseball cap with the words “Yore Place” on the cap.
Deputies entered a description of Yore and his vehicle information into a national missing database in an attempt to locate him. Anyone with information regarding his whereabouts is asked to call the Van Buren County Sheriff's office.
Police seek public's help in locating missing man
South Haven Police are seeking the public's help in locating a man who has been missing since July 5.
Matthew Ahmed Morin, 39, was last seen at his apartment in South Haven on July 5, police reported in a news release.
Police say Morin may be depressed and without medication.
He may be driving a 1999 Pontiac Sunfire with a license plate of BES7017. The car is light blue and has red tape on the left tail light. There are also Monster energy drink stickers in the back window.
Anyone with information is asked to call the police department, 269-657-3101.
Members of the Harris family in Grand Junction are shown taking part in the “First Pick” ceremony at their farm this past week. From left are Al Harris, South Haven Mayor Bob Burr, MBG Marketing president and CEO Larry Ensfield, Marcy Harris and Scott Harris.
Blueberry growers look forward to best crop in four years
By TRIBUNE STAFF
The annual blueberry harvest in the South Haven area officially got underway this week with the “First Pick” ceremony in Grand Junction.
This year's event took place at Harris Blueberries and was attended by South Haven Mayor Bob Burr and Larry Ensfield, president and CEO of MBG Marketing, a grower-owned cooperative and a founding partner of Naturipe Farms, which manages t he sales, marketing and distribution of the co-op's blueberries.
“It is always a pleasure to meet our local blueberry growers and have the opportunity to partake in the First Pick,” Burr said. “Harris Blueberries represents an impressive number of generational family growers throughout our community who make such a strong impact both locally and throughout the United States and beyond with their blueberries.”
Scott Harris gave Burr a tour and shared the history of the farm – an operation which once started on two acres in 1978 that now encompasses 250 acres. Harris is a first-generation grower, but he said he couldn’t have done it without the help of his uncle, Al Harris. Scott’s daughters and extended family members are now, too, getting into the family tradition of growing blueberries.
“I want to ensure they understand the value of our work and take pride in the product we produce for consumers,” Scott said.
Like a growing number of farmers, Scott Harris is taking care to minimize environmental impact to the soil when planting and harvesting his crop.
Currently, he is converting all new plantings to trickle irrigation in order to conserve water and wind machines for frost protection.
“I relish the chance to develop a farm into something that is sustainable and can endure for generations to come,” he said.
The blueberry crop this year is shaping up to be one of the best ones in four years, according to Mark Longstroth, a fruit educator for MSU Extension in Van Buren County.
Although the ceremonial “first pick” took place last week, blueberry farmers have actually been harvesting early varieties of their crops for the past several weeks.
“We're expecting a crop in Michigan of 100 million pounds this year,” Longstroth said. “That will be the biggest crop since 2013 when 114 million pounds were harvested.”
Some farmers experienced hail damage to their crops in mid-June when a severe thunderstorm swept through Van Buren County, while other farmers that do not have underground irrigation are keeping an eye on the July and August weather, which is typically hot and dry. Concern has also been expressed regarding whether an ample supply of workers can be found to harvest the berries. But overall, growers that Longstroth said he has talked to are looking forward to a bumper crop.
Michigan is among the largest blueberry producing states in the nation, with farmers harvesting their varieties from the end of June through September. Early season varieties for Naturipe Farms include Bluetta and Duke, which will peak the first half of July. Blue Crop, Draper and Liberty will peak around the last two weeks of July and through mid-August; a strong late-season availability of Elliot and Aurora, among others, will supply the Eastern United States through the month of September.
South Haven celebrates Independence Day
Boaters enjoy watching the Light up the Lake fireworks display in South Haven, on Sunday, July 3. (photo by Kelly Weber)
Donielle Hudson and her son, Hunter, of Grosse Pointe, enjoy watching South Haven's Fourth of July parade, Monday, July 4.
Spectators line Huron Street to wait for the start of South Haven's Fourth of July parade. The parade route was switched this year, somewhat. Instead of traveling on Phoenix Street, downtown, parade participants used Huron Street, which runs parallel to Phoenix. (parade photos by Becky Kark)
Members of the Niles Shrine Club entertain spectators during the South Haven Fourth of July parade.
Police close North Beach prior to Fireworks display due to unruly crowds; Bottles thrown at police, citizens
By BECKY KARK
Editor and general manager
South Haven's popular Light up the Lake fireworks display went off without a hitch Sunday evening, but not before police cleared North Beach due to a group of unruly people who began throwing liquor bottles at officers and other citizens.
Approximately 80-90 police officers from South Haven and surrounding areas removed approximately 4,000 people from the beach at approximately 9:30 p.m., about an hour prior to the start of the fireworks display. It took approximately 45 minutes to clear the beach.
A news release issued by South Haven Police Department stated, “The decision to close the North Beach was unfortunate but necessary...The size and violent nature of the crowd made it unsafe for officers and citizens after subjects in the crowd began throwing bottles at officers and citizens.”
The news release went on to say that a large group of individuals became violent necessitating an emergency request for police assistance from the Michigan State Police, Van Buren County Sheriff's Department and the Pokagon Tribal Police Department.
Bottles thrown at police ranged from pint bottles to half-gallon jugs, according to Sgt. Kyle Griffith of the South Haven Police Department. Both officers and citizens were hit. Several citizens required medical treatment for lacerations, he went on to say.
Police made a number of arrests following the bottle-throwing incident, but Griffith did not have an exact number.
Patrols on the beach were stepped up throughout the day on Sunday. Police set up three access points at the beach in an effort to prevent people from bringing alcoholic beverages to the public beach.
“Many” arrests were made during the day and leading up to the fighting incident, according to Griffith. People were arrested on a variety of charges, including felony drug possession, possession of alcohol on a public beach, fighting in public and inciting a riot.
Gas prices fall as 4th of July holiday approaches
At a time of year when motorists expect gas prices to rise, prices have actually been falling, just in time for the Fourth of July when many will be hitting the road. GasBuddy predicts this Independence Day to be the cheapest since 2005.
This year the United States experienced the lowest June gasoline prices in over 10 years. GasBuddy predicts the national average will be $2.27 per gallon on the Fourth, down considerably compared to just two years ago when the national average hit $3.66 per gallon for the holiday.
Closer to home in South Haven, prices at the pump range from $2.21 to $2.39, with the state average at $2.42.
The decline as motorists approach July 4 is not a rarity. Over the past 10 years, the average price of gas through the Fourth of July holiday has declined more often than not.
“The U.S. average price of gas was lower on July 5th than it was the previous week seven out of 10 occasions dating back to 2006,” said Gregg Laskoski, senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy. “This defies the general consensus on Main Street that prices rise ahead of a major travel holiday.”
The good news doesn’t end here. Looking forward to the rest of 2016, GasBuddy projects the return of a sub-$2 per gallon national average as soon as early November. Seasonal trends, such as lower gasoline demand and cheaper winter gasoline, return to the picture. Gas prices in the South are most likely to spend the most time under $2 this autumn, while the West Coast may be left behind. By Thanksgiving, GasBuddy sees the national average back at $1.99 or less. It should be noted, however, that any unforeseeable major impact to the supply chain, such as hurricanes, could disrupt gasoline prices and lead to a departure from this forecast.
Fireworks light up the skies in South Haven during the 2015 Light up the Lake fireworks display. (Photo by Sheryl Kaptur)
Ready to Ignite
South Haven gets ready for busy 4th of July weekend
By BECKY KARK
Editor and general manager
One of Southwest Michigan most popular fireworks displays, an art fair with 120 booths, and an hour-long parade are all lined up for this year's Fourth of July weekend celebration in South Haven.
The 57th Annual South Haven Art Fair will kick off the weekend activities, Saturday-Sunday, July 2-3 at Stanley Johnston Park. The fun continues Sunday evening, July 3, when the sky over the town's iconic lighthouse and harbor ignites with fireworks, and the parade will conclude the holiday events at 11 a.m., Monday, July 4.
This year's fireworks display will feature $34,000 worth of colorful pyrotechnics and is expected to last until 11:05 p.m.
“That's $20 a second,” quipped South Haven Mayor Bob Burr, who has been leading fundraising efforts for the past six years.
Fireworks will be shot off at 10:35 p.m. off the North Pier. Best viewing spots include North and South beaches, Riverfront Park, portions of Stanley Johnston Park, Kids Corner on Monroe Avenue and the bluff along Monroe Avenue.
Melrose Pyrotechnics, of Kingsbury, Ind., has been hired again to shoot off the fireworks display, which will be synchronized to patriotic music by Paul Layendecker of COSY-FM Superhits.
“It's quite a process to synchronize the music to the fireworks,” Burr said. “Paul sent a CD of music to Melrose in February. They then program the fireworks to the music.”
But even though the company plans well in advance, technical problems can still occur the evening of the show.
“The COSY sound technician plays the music from a remote location and Melrose uses a computer to pick it up and then they fire the rockets. I don't think people understand how complicated it can be,” Burr said.
Once the fireworks display ends, the Dyckman Avenue drawbridge will remain down until 11:35 p.m. It then will be raised for boaters.
Dowagiac man dies in roll-over accident in Lawrence Township
LAWRENCE — A 24-year-old man from Dowagiac died in a single-car accident, Sunday morning, that also injured a 25-year-old passenger from Dowagiac.
Van Buren County Sheriff's deputies received a 911 call at 7:55 a.m. and arrived at the crash scene on
County Road 681, near 71st Avenue in Lawrence Township and found the 24-year-old driver deceased. The passenger was conscious and had to be extricated from the vehicle. He was then taken to Bronson Hospital for his injuries.
Deputies say seatbelts were worn, and alcohol use is unknown at this time. The cause of the crash is still under investigation. The name of the crash victim will be released once immediate family members have been notified.
A portion of a wooden footbridge in Stanley Johnston Park was damaged after a large limb fell on it during a late night storm, Wednesday. The storm, which began in earnest shortly after midnight, brought down hail, larger than a quarter in some cases, as the photo, below, shows. (Photos by Becky Kark and Kelly Weber)
Clean up begins after last night's storm
Last night's storm, with its multiple lightning streaks, was pretty to look at, but its aftermath was another story.
A number of residents in South Haven woke up this morning to find downed tree limbs that damaged fences, at least one vehicle and dwellings.
South Haven Department of Public Works employees were out early this morning assessing damage and removing limbs that had fallen in city right-of-ways.
The worst damage appeared to be in the vicinity of Dyckman Avenue, west of the drawbridge, and along Park Street and North Shore Drive, according to City Manager Brian Dissette.
The storm began building shortly after 11 p.m., illuminating the sky with lightning. Shortly after midnight it brought hail, wind and rain.
A homeowner who lives at the corner of Park and Wells Street said she didn't even realize a large limb had fallen in her yard and on her fence until she woke up this morning and looked out her window.
Despite the lightning, hail and wind, very few people lost electricity in South Haven. Dissette estimated approximately 200 electric customers on the north side lost power. Further east, about 500 Consumers Energy customers in Arlington Township, east of Bangor, were without electricity this morning.
Although the storm is over, the National Weather Service is reminding people not to swim in Lake Michigan due to high waves. Temperatures today are predicted to reach a high of 63, for a somewhat chilly start to the four-day Harborfest that begins this evening at Riverfront Park in South Haven. Warm weather will resume Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, however, when temperatures will climb to the low 80s.
Barricaded gunman ends standoff with police
A 15-hour standoff between police and a barricaded gunman from Geneva Township ended early this morning after the suspect agreed to surrender to police.
Shortly before 1:45 a.m. 41-year-old Jason Kohlhoff, emerged from his home ending the standoff which earlier in the evening involved an exchange of gunfire between the suspect and police.
He faces a felonious assault charge for shooting at police and a misdemeanor charge for reckless use of firearms.
The suspect's standoff with police began at 10:30 a.m., Tuesday, when a Michigan State Police detective from the Wayland post attempted to talk with the man in the driveway of his residence near County Road 388 and 60th Street. The suspect became upset, walked into the residence and then emerged carrying a long gun. He fired off one round in the general direction of the detective before going back into the residence, according to the news release.
The detective pulled out of the man's driveway and called for back-up. A perimeter was set up around the residence, nearby residents were evacuated and vehicle traffic was re-routed to other streets.
Negotiators tried to talk with the suspect by telephone several times but he would not emerge from the residence.. While the state police Emergency Support team was on the suspect's property, he fired many rounds of ammunition several times in the direction of police. Emergency Support team members returned shots, but no one was injured.
The man finally made verbal contact with police shortly before 1 a.m. this morning and said he would give up if he could speak with a Van Buren County deputy that he personally knew. The deputy was brought to the scene and at 1:42 a.m. the suspect surrendered to officers outside of his home.
The interior of the United Pentecostal Church of South Haven is decorated for the "Under the Sea" Vacation Bible School that began today.
Volunteers go the extra mile to decorate church for summer
Vacation Bible School
Area children are invited to attend the Vacation Bible School being offered this week at United Pentecostal Church of South Haven, 617 Kalamazoo St. The theme for this year's Bible School is “Under the Sea.” The Bible School will take place Monday-Wednesday, June 13-15. Registration starts each day at 9:30 a.m. and ends at 4 p.m. A parents night and awards ceremony is scheduled at 7 p.m., Wednesday. A bus can provide transportation for those who need it. To make arrangements, call Wendy Holt at 767-3131.
LMC hosts discussion on plight of refugees
The plight of refugees, such as ones who have fled war-torn Syria, will be the focus of a panel discussion at Lake Michigan College in South Haven.
As part of World Refugee Day, the South Haven Refugee Task Force in collaboration with the South Haven Diversity Coalition, Bethany Christian Services of Michigan, and Lake Michigan College South Haven Campus will host the panel discussion describing the current plight of refugees. The event is scheduled from 7-8:30 p.m., Monday, June 20 at the campus, 125 Veterans Blvd. A reception will take place at 6:30 p.m. with desserts provided by Café Julia.
World Refugee Day was established in 2000 by the United Nations General Assembly to commemorate the strength, courage and perseverance of millions of refugees forced to flee their homes under the threat of persecution, conflict and violence.
Guests will hear stories of former refugees and meet refugee foster care families. Attendees will also learn about various ways to assist refugees locally.
The South Haven Refugee Task Force, a recently formed group united by their common interest, is in the planning stages for developing various ways community members can contribute and offer refugee support.
Guest speaker Ramea Almubarack, a graduate student at Western Michigan University, will be speaking about her family's experience fleeing Syria and their current status.
Balla Hounakey, caseworker for Bethany Christian Services, will speak about her personal experience coming the United States and being in the Refugee Foster Care program.
Julie Ludwig, South Haven Refugee Task Force member, will discuss the mission and scope of the local group which provides opportunities for community involvement for refugee relief.
“The refugee crisis in Europe is horrifying and so distant it is difficult to imagine people in Michigan can do anything to offer assistance,” Ludwig said. “Yet, we have heard there are specific opportunities to help.”
Joel Bell and Alisa Otto, Bethany Christian Services staff, will provide information on how Bethany Christian Services, a global nonprofit organization, brings families together and keeps families to together. Bethany has responded to the need of families forced to flee their homes due to war, natural disasters, or persecution through their Refugee and Immigrant Foster Care program along with other refugee services in Kalamazoo.
Contact (269) 993-2728 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about the panel discussion.
Deputies release names of men who died in double fatality
ARLINGTON TWP. — Deputies have identified the two victims of a double-fatality that occurred two days ago on M-43 Highway, near Glendale.
Two men from Mid-Michigan lost their lives in the head-on collision that occurred Sunday morning on M-43 near 46th Street.
When Van Buren County deputies arrived at 5:20 a.m. they found two vehicles on fire and the occupants trapped inside. Deputies say a 1999 Chevy S-10 pickup driven by 27-year-old Casey Aaron-Donald Snyder of Clare, was traveling west on M-43 when it crossed the centerline and struck a 2001 Pontiac Aztek driven by 20-year-old Quinten Reed Greiner of Midland, who was headed east. Both drivers died from injuries sustained in the accident, according to a news release issued today from the Van Buren County Sheriff's office.
Police are waiting for toxicology results to determine whether alcohol or drugs may have played a role in the accident. The accident remains under investigation.
Representatives from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality spent Friday evening, June 3, monitoring cleanup efforts of a wooded area in Geneva Township where diesel fuel leaked after a farmer accidentally hit an underground pipeline while excavating. (Photo by Tom Shields)
Diesel fuel pipeline leak contained in Geneva Township; Cleanup efforts continue
By BECKY KARK
Editor and general manager
GENEVA TWP. — Crews continue to clean up several thousand gallons of diesel fuel on a Geneva Township farm after a farmer accidentally hit a pipeline while excavating.
The incident, which occurred Friday in a wooded area near County Road 380 and 62nd Street, led to a release of approximately 8,400 gallons from an eight-inch line owned by Wolverine Pipe Line Co., in Portage.
“The area of impact is about a quarter of an acre,” said Mark DuCharme, incident management specialist for the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.
Cleanup efforts began shortly after the incident occurred at noon, Friday, according to Tom Shields, a spokesperson for Wolverine Pipe Line Co.
“A farmer was excavating on his farm when he traveled over the pipeline and his equipment track hit the line,” Shields stated in a news release. “The diesel fuel...is contained in an area of the farm field There are no reported injuries from the incident and no reports of any wildlife impacts.”
Wolverine shut the pipe down immediately and began clean up efforts Friday, in coordination with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the MDEQ.
Three vacuum trucks and storage tanks were brought on site to remove the spilled product, according to Shields. As of Saturday, approximately 5,400 gallons of diesel fuel and 3,000 gallons of water containing fuel were recovered.
The ground where the spill occurred consists mainly of clay, according to DuCharme, which may help mitigate contamination of the soil. Workers were worried Friday evening that rain would cause the fuel to leach further into the ground. So they took several precautionary measures, including the plugging of a culvert, so that fuel wouldn't migrate to a nearby drainage ditch.
“I think we were successful in containing the contamination,” DuCharme said.
Although there are no homes around the area where the spill occurred, the EPA and Wolverine are taking air samples on a regular basis.
Cleanup efforts, so far, are going well, according to DuCharme.
“At this point we're pleased with the progress,” he said. “They (Wolverine) moved very quickly.”
As of Monday, the pipeline had been repaired and was expected to be operational by today.
However, it is not yet known when the cleanup efforts will be completed. In the meantime, Wolverine is encouraging the general public to stay away from the site.
“Wolverine's priority is for the safety of the community, the environment and our employees,” Shields said. “Wolverine is cooperating and coordinating with local, state and federal authorities in our response to minimize any impacts the incident may have on our neighbors, the environment and surrounding community.”
2 men die in fiery crash
Police continue to investigate a head-on collision that claimed the lives of two men, Sunday morning. The crash occurred on M-43 Highway, just west of 46th Street, near Glendale. When Van Buren County deputies arrived at 5:20 a.m. they found two vehicles on fire and the occupants trapped inside. Deputies say a 1999 Chevy S-10 pickup was traveling west on M-43 when it crossed the centerline and struck a 2001 Pontiac Aztek that was headed east. Both drivers died at the scene of the accident and have not yet been positively identified.
Police investigate home invasions in Grand Junction
Police are seeking the public's help in locating two suspects involved in at least two home invasions this past weekend in the Grand Junction area.
The break-ins occurred between noon and 3 p.m., Saturday. The first report came from an elderly woman who called 911 to say she had caught someone breaking into her residence. She yelled at the suspect who then fled the scene in a silver-colored 4-door hatchback vehicle, possibly a Ford Escort or Focus. The woman described the suspect as 5'10”, 155 pounds, and dressed in black clothing, A second suspect was waiting inside the vehicle.
Shortly afterward, a second breaking and entering complaint was received from a residence a short distance away. The caller told deputies he had returned home to find his door had been forced open and items had been taken from the home.
Deputies also are investigating a third home invasion in the area to determine if it is related to the other two break-ins.
Anyone with information about the home invasions or who observed a silver colored small-size sedan-style vehicle in the area of Grand Junction on Saturday, June 4 can call the sheriff's office at 269-657-3101. Callers may also contact Silent Observer to remain anonymous or submit a tip via text message to “CRIMES” (274637) with the keyword VBCTIP.
Oil pipeline spill occurs in wooded area in Geneva Township
South Haven Area Emergency Services responded this afternoon to an oil pipeline spill that occurred in Geneva Township.
SHAES was dispatched at 1:08 p.m. to a wooded area near County Road 380 and 62nd Street where the spill occurred.
The pipeline is owned by Wolverine Pipe Line Co., in Portage, according to a news release from SHAES. Officials told SHAES the line was ruptured by an earth excavator working on adjacent land. No fire nor injuries were associated with the spill.
Wolverine shut down the pipeline and a repair crew is in the process of repairing it. It is not yet known how much oil was spilled.
'American Pickers' plans to film in Michigan; Seeks antique collections from South Haven area
Producers of a popular television documentary show plans to film in Michigan this month and hopes to find South Haven area residents who have antiques and unusual collections in their homes, storage areas and barns.
The History Channel's “American Pickers” follows hosts Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz who hunt for valuable antiques throughout America. Area residents who have large private antique collections can send their name, phone number, location, description of their collection and photos to email@example.com or call 1-855-OLD-RUST.
Firefighters from South Haven Area Emergency Services extinguish a car fire that occurred on 102nd Avenue after a vehicle left the roadway and struck several trees. (Photo courtesy of South Haven Area Emergency Services)
Three injured in car fire in Casco Township
A Pullman woman and her two passengers suffered injuries, Wednesday, after their car left the roadway, struck several trees and caught fire.
The accident occurred at 3:45 p.m., on 102nd Avenue near 62nd Street, according to the Allegan County Sheriff's department. Caroline Norman, 70, was heading west on 102nd Avenue when her car left the roadway for an undetermined reason.
Several good samaritans pulled Norman, her adopted son Terrence Norman, 44, and a minor female child of Norman's, from the burning vehicle, according to Captain Chris Kuhn of the sheriff's department.
The youngster was airlifted from the accident scene to Bronson Hospital in Kalamazoo, while the other two accident victims were taken by ambulance to South Haven Health System. Norman, who suffered life-threatening injuries, was later airlifted from South Haven hospital to Bronson Hospital where she was still in the trauma unit as of Friday. Her young daughter was in the pediatric intensive care unit at Bronson, and her son was listed in good condition at South Haven hospital.
The accident remains under investigation.
Malfunctioning hydraulics on a 50-foot wide disc and harrower sheared off the roof of a vehicle driven by a 79-year-old Bloomingdale woman, causing her to suffer serious injuries.
Woman suffers serious injuries when tractor's hydraulics fail
A 79-year-old Bloomingdale woman suffered serious injuries after equipment on a large farm tractor malfunctioned and sheared off the roof of the vehicle she was driving.
Shirley Noble was headed east on 6th Avenue near County Road 665 shortly before 3 p.m., Monday, when the accident occurred, according to a report from the Van Buren County Sheriff's Department.
Aaron Moll had finished plowing a field with a 50-foot-wide disc and Harrower and was driving the tractor west on 6th Avenue near County Road 665 when the disc on the driver's side lost its hydraulics, according to a Van Buren County Sheriff's report.
Loss of the hydraulics on the 2016 John Deere tractor occurred right when Noble was attempting to pass the tractor. As she did so, the disc's hydraulics lowered the driver's side wing of the disc, taking off the pickup truck roof.
Noble had to be extricated by the Bloomingdale Fire Department and was taken to Bronson Methodist Hospital in Kalamazoo.
The tractor and disc also crashed into mailboxes along 6th Avenue. The tractor and disc are owned and used by Boersen Farms in Zeeland. The incident remains under investigation and upon completion an incident report will be turned over to the Van Buren County Prosecutors Office for review.
Lest we forget
The South Haven American Legion firing squad takes part in a 21-gun salute as part of the Memorial Day services, Monday, May 30, at Lakeview Cemetery. The service followed a parade that featured Grand Marshall Jed Fall, a Korean War veteran and member of the American Legion and VFW; South Haven High School Band; Baseline Middle School Band; parade marshall and keynote speaker Jim McCloughan, a Vietnam War veteran who has led the parade for 46 years; Mr. and Miss South Haven and their court; South Haven Mayor Bob Burr; the South Haven Fire Department Color Guard; members of the American Legion and VFW; Little Miss Blueberry; and local Boy and Girl Scout troops. (Photo by Becky Kark)
Fire destroys attic of Casco Township home
A Casco Township home suffered heavy damage after a fire broke out in the attic Sunday evening.
The home's occupants, who were able to escape unharmed, noticed fire coming through the kitchen ceiling lights shortly before 10 p.m. and called 911.
Firefighters arrived four minutes later and found heavy fire and heat in the attic area, according to Ron Wise, director of South Haven Area Emergency Services. The fire was quickly put out, however firefighters had to spend several hours removing all of the blown insulation from the home, due to the fire spreading to the insulation.
The cause of the fire is being investigated. The home is owned by Jerry and Annete Koller.
Troopers warn motorists to use seat belts
Buckle up or risk getting a ticket.
That's the warning to motorists by Michigan state police troopers who are conducting their annual Memorial Day seat belt enforcement campaign.
The Click It Or Ticket campaign begins today in Van Buren and Kalamazoo counties and continues until June 5.
“Seat belts are the single best defense in the event of a crash and the easiest safety feature in your vehicle to use,” said Lt. Dale Hinz of the state police Paw Paw post. “Buckling up can reduce the risk of serious injury or death by 45 percent.
Michigan law requires all drivers, front seat passengers, and passengers 15 years old and younger in any seating position to be buckled.
South Haven Police search for man involved in gun-related incidents
South Haven Police are seeking the public's help in locating a man allegedly involved in several handgun-related incidents in the past several weeks.
Police first became aware of Tevin Jermal Hunter, 22, when responding to a complaint of a gun being fired in the 300 block of Fruit Street on Mother's Day, May 8. Hunter is believed to be involved in the incident, according to South Haven Detective Adam DeBoer. However, it is not yet known whether he was intentionally pointing the gun at someone or not. Since that time police say they have received several reports of Hunter brandishing a handgun in front of other people, and he has several outstanding bench warrants.
Police also are worried that Hunter may end up being involved in a shooting.
“We're searching for him because we're trying to head off a problem before it begins.” DeBoer said.
Hunter could be in the South Haven area; Kalamazoo area, where he has friends; or Grand Rapids, where he has family members.
Anyone with information about his whereabouts is asked to call 269-639-3403 or 269-637-5151.
Lucky to be alive
The northbound lane of Interstate 196, just north of Phoenix Road, was closed for for nearly two hours this past Friday afternoon after a van flipped over. The van was traveling south on I-196 when a front wheel came off of it, forcing the van to go into the median where it then flipped over onto the northbound lane. No one was injured in the accident. Northbound traffic was rerouted around the accident while crews removed scattered debris, including thousands of spilled roofing nails on the highway. (Photo courtesy of South Haven Area Emergency Services)
Police looking for missing 14-year-old Geneva Twp. girl
UPDATE: Kiera Kaleese Shepherd has been found and is safe with her parents, according to a news release issued at 11 a.m. today from the Van Buren County Sheriff's Department. The case will be forwarded to the prosecutor's office for review.
Police are requesting the public's help in locating a missing 14-year-old Geneva Township girl.
Kiera Kaleese Shepherd was last seen Wednesday at 11 a.m. at her home in the 64000 block of 16th Avenue with a friend, Raven Pendergrass and her cousin Alex Shepherd, and has not been seen since, according to a report from the Van Buren County Sheriff's Department.
Pendergrass, who is a friend of Kiera's, was located Thursday and told deputies he did not know her whereabouts. Police believe Kiera might be with her cousin, Alex Shepherd, however his whereabouts were still unknown as of early this morning.
Anyone with information about Kiera Shepherd or Alex Shepherd or their whereabouts is asked to call the sheriff's department, 269-657-3101.
Fire damages cottage
A fire on Saturday caused damage to a roof and kitchen at a cottage in Casco Township. Neighbors called 911 at 4:30 p.m. about the fire in the cottage, which was unoccupied at the time. The dwelling is located at 74th Street and 101st Avenue. South Haven Area Emergency Services firefighters were assisted by Ganges and Bangor fire departments. The cause of the fire is under investigation. (Photo courtesy of South Haven Area Emergency Services)
South Haven man involved in ramming incident arraigned on lesser charges
By ANDREW LERSTEN
For the Tribune
A South Haven man who allegedly rammed a stranger's truck in Geneva Township on purpose was arraigned on criminal charges today.
Gregory Schener, 54, County Road 384, was found in his crashed vehicle in a ditch after the incident Thursday on CR 384, authorities said.
The crash was reported by another South Haven man, 21, who called 911 to report that Schener had intentionally rammed his pickup truck several times while driving on County Road 384 and had then crashed.
The victim said he did not know the suspect, nor why he his truck was being rammed, police said. The victim's truck had an estimated $3,000-$5,000 in damage, according to a Van Buren County Sheriff's news release.
Police arrested the suspect on charges of second-offense drunk driving and felonious assault of a non-family member with a motor vehicle.
However, neither charge was authorized by Assistant Prosecutor Eric Jenkins.
Jenkins instead authorized charges of reckless driving and malicious destruction of personal property under $200.
Jenkins decline to discuss why he authorized those specific charges in the case, but he did say the case is still under investigation.
Schener was arraigned in Seventh District Court in South Haven Friday. Both charges are misdemeanors carrying a maximum penalty of 93 days in jail upon conviction.
Magistrate Jim Becker entered a not guilty plea on Schener's behalf and set his bond at $25,000. "You are a public safety concern," Becker told Schener. Becker noted that Schener was arrested for drunk driving in 2007 and careless driving in 2013.
South Haven man arrested for
allegedly ramming his vehicle
into back of pickup truck
A South Haven man faces criminal charges for intentionally ramming his vehicle into the rear-end of a pick-up truck and then crashing his vehicle into a ditch.
The incident began at 8:15 p.m. this past Thursday in Geneva Township when the victim called 911 to say the 54-year-old suspect was intentionally running into the back of his truck, which was traveling at 55 miles per hour, according to a news release from the Van Buren County Sheriff's office.
The 21-year-old victim from South Haven said the first ramming incident happened at the intersection of county roads 384 and 681, while the second happened at the intersections of county roads 384 and 687. The victim then saw that the suspect's vehicle crashed into a ditch on County Road 384 near 68th Street.
He told 911 he did not know the suspect and did not know why he was running into the rear of his vehicle. The victim said he was afraid to stop and help the suspect because he was concerned an altercation might take place.
When deputies arrived to the accident scene they attempted to ask the suspect why he was allegedly ramming the vehicle, however, the suspect would not say why. Deputies noticed the suspect was intoxicated and arrested him for drunk driving second offense. They also arrested him for felonious assault with a motor vehicle after noticing that fragments from his vehicle were embedded into the rear-end of the pickup truck. Damage to the truck is estimated between $3,000-$5,000.
Bangor celebrates 11th annual Amtrak Train Day, Saturday
BANGOR — Bangor train depot will be the place to be Saturday morning, May 7, when local residents gather to celebrate the 11th annual Amtrak Train Day.
The celebration will include family activities, giveaways, entertainment and cake for people to enjoy. The event is sponsored by Beacon Specialized Living Services, whose corporate offices are located in the upper story of the historic depot, and the Railroad Café, which is on the first floor of the depot on Railroad Street.
The events get underway at 7 a.m. when people can line up for the arrival of the Amtrak Train at 7:38 a.m. At that time, several local and state government leaders, including State Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker, will be invited to speak, along with Ken Ratzlaff, president of Beacon Specialized Living Services Inc.
At 10 a.m., Chrisopher Blue, a musician from Bangor, will perform and cake will be served. Train Day activities will conclude at noon.
Time to vote
Recall election on Covert ballot; Road millage, council election on Bangor ballot
By ANDREW LERSTEN
For the Tribune
COVERT — Voters in Covert schools and the city of Bangor will go to the polls, Tuesday, to vote in special elections.
Covert schools' voters will decide whether school board President Diana Parrigin should stay on the board.
She faces a recall attempt in the special election, and voters will be able to either vote to retain her or instead elect Val Bury, the recall election organizer.
Bury, a former Covert school board member, submitted 168 valid petitions to force the election.
The recall effort stems from Parrigin's arrest for marijuana possession in March 2015, and subsequent refusal to step down as president. Parrigin pleaded no contest to the charge.
The Covert school board in April 2015 could not get enough votes to pass a resolution asking Parrigin to resign as president. Parrigin has been president since January 2015.
In Bangor, voters will be asked to consider a five-year, 1.5-mill road levy that would generate an estimated $39,837 annually for road projects.
City Manager Regina Hoover explained that the $150,000 to $170,000 the city receives every year in state and federal road money doesn't go far enough to address the city's needed road work.
"This will help us do better," she said said.
She noted the city fire levy has been reduced from
3.25 mills to 2.25 mills this year, so between the fire and new road millage voters would only see a half-mill tax hike this year.
Bangor voters will also elect city officials, who are running without opposition.
Seeking new terms are incumbent Nick Householder, who is seeking a second three-year term as mayor, and incumbents Lynne Farmer and Jim Tanner, who are each seeking three-year terms as city council members.
Paw Paw man dies in 2-car collision
An 18-year-old Paw Paw area man died from injuries he suffered in a two-vehicle collision, Thursday, in Almena Township.
The accident was reported at 5:40 p.m. at the intersection of County Road 652 and 44th Street, according to a news release from the Van Buren County Sheriff's Department.
At this point, investigators are not sure how the collision occurred. They say alcohol/drug use is not believed to be a factor.
The victim, Riley Manning, had to be extricated from his vehicle, which was pinned against a tree. He died during the collision.
The driver of the other vehicle, a 44-year-old woman from Decatur, suffered back and minor neck injuries and was taken to Bronson Lakeview Hospital in Paw Paw. Three juvenile passengers in her vehicle were not injured.
The accident remains under investigation.
Woman dies in traffic crash on I-94
UPDATE: The woman who died has been identified as Esmeralda Bermudez, 32, of Traverse City.
A woman died this morning in a traffic accident on Interstate 94 near the Decatur exit.
Troopers from the Michigan State Police are investigating the crash that occurred at 10:15 a.m. near mile marker 57, according to a news release.
The crash occurred when the woman's Jeep Grand Cherokee struck a Ford Edge in the rear left corner while passing. The Jeep then lost control and ran off the freeway to the north prior to striking a tree. Both vehicles were westbound prior to the crash. The victim died at the scene of the accident. The driver and passenger of the Ford were not injured. The crash remains under investigation and the identity of the deceased is not being released until family has been notified.
South Haven Health Care pursues partnership with Bronson Healthcare
By BECKY KARK
Editor and general manager
South Haven Health System may soon be a part of Bronson Healthcare System.
The hospital's Board of Trustees, Monday, voted to pursue a partnership with the Kalamazoo-based healthcare system to provide more comprehensive care for patients and to ensure long-term financial stability for the locally based hospital.
The board made its decision after interviewing several potential regional partners, according to Dennis Palgen, chair of South Haven Health System's board of trustees.
“Our hometown healthcare will be stronger and better with this affiliation, and it will provide additional access to Bronson’s advanced diagnostics, specialty care and resources to better serve our patients,” Palgen said.
The hospital board of trustees has discussed the possibility of affiliating or merging with a larger, regional healthcare system for the past two years.
“So many influences are challenging our existence as an independent hospital,” Palgen said when the board first announced plans to seek a regional partner. “There have been many unprecedented changes from the Affordable Care Act. It has put a strain on hospitals. There are lower reimbursements from Medicare and Medicaid and people now have higher deductibles to pay. They're not seeking medical care, As a result our volumes have diminished but expenses continue.”
In January, the South Haven Health System's Board of Trustees announced plans to find a strategic healthcare partner. Potential partners were identified in February through a request for proposal process and interviews were conducted earlier this month.
Bronson is a likely choice for a partnership, according to Joanne Schroeder, president and CEO of South Haven Health System.
“South Haven Health System and Bronson have a 30-plus year history of working together cooperatively to improve access to healthcare services for the residents of South Haven and the surrounding communities,” Schroeder said. “As healthcare continues to evolve, our organization will be better positioned to adapt to change as part of a regional system that will help us continue to provide coordinated, quality care in this community.”
Currently, Bronson provides several physicians for inpatient services at South Haven Health System. It also has a contract to provide pathology services not offered by the local hospital and has helped with implementation of a software system that has allowed South Haven Health System to digitize all patient records and clinical data.
Over the coming months, South Haven Health System and Bronson Healthcare will begin to work out details of the proposed partnership through a series of processes that include developing a letter of intent and conducting due diligence, according to Schroeder.
Once terms for an agreement are reached, the transaction will then be subject to regulatory approvals and will also require a public vote to remove South Haven Health Care from the hospital authority.
Currently, taxpayers in the hospital's authority area are assessed a millage that provides approximately $500,000, annually, to help support the hospital, according to Schroeder. The authority includes the City of South Haven, City of Bangor and townships of South Haven, Bangor, Arlington, Casco, Columbia, Covert and Geneva.
If the ballot request is approved by voters, citizens in the communities that make up the authority will no longer have to pay taxes to support the hospital.
It is too early to tell if enough details will be completed in time for the ballot request to go before voters in the Nov. 8 election. The election may have to wait until sometime in 2017.
“(We) will keep the community informed as work toward formalizing the partnership progresses and a timeline is established,” Schroeder said.
South Haven Health System isn't alone in considering an affiliation with a larger institution.
“Over the last 5 years there has been a 70 percent increase in merger and affiliation activities nationwide amongst hospitals,” Schroeder said in an earlier interview.
Several of those mergers have occurred right here in southwest Michigan.
In 2007, Lakeview Hospital in Paw Paw merged with Bronson Healthcare in Kalamazoo and is now called Bronson Lakeview. In 2010, Spectrum Health acquired Zeeland Community Hospital, while Watervliet Community Hospital was acquired by St. Joseph-based Lakeland HealthCare that same year. Two years ago, Holland Hospital developed a formal collaborative agreement with Spectrum.
Schroeder anticipates that if the partnership with Bronson is formed, it will be similar to the partnership that occurred with Lakeview Hospital merged with Bronson.
“Bronson Lakeview Hospital was an authority hospital also,” Schroeder said, regarding taxpayer money being used to help support the hospital. “Both organizations are in Van Buren County and while our footprint of services is not exact, it is very similar.”
Firefighters from South Haven Area Emergency Services and Covert Township Fire Department battle a fire, Monday evening, at Lakeshore Appliance in South Haven Township. (Photo courtesy of South Haven Area Emergency Services)
Fire destroys South Haven business; high winds blow plane off runway at South Haven regional airport
By BECKY KARK
Editor and general manager
Monday night's thunderstorm, accompanied by high winds, caused a fire that destroyed a South Haven Township business, and created havoc for an airplane pilot trying to make an emergency landing at South Haven Regional Airport.
Both incidents happened within minutes of one another, keeping South Haven area firefighters busy.
Firefighters from South Haven Area Emergency Services (SHAES) were first called to the airport at 9:38 p.m. when a plane, piloted by Patrick Jarman of Mt. Pleasant, attempted to make an emergency landing, but ended up going off the runway.
Jarman was on his way from Kansas to Mt. Pleasant when the storm blew in, according to Dave Johnson, manager of South Haven Regional Airport.
Both South Haven Police and SHAES responded to the report of the emergency landing.
“He (Jarman) was in contact with the Chicago tower,” said Tony Marsala, deputy fire chief for SHAES. “Chicago told him he had this little window to land at South Haven and that hopefully they could get him in there. No sooner had he hit the ground when he got hit with wind gusts. When he touched down the winds coming from behind hm were so strong he couldn't get the plane to stop.”
Jarman was not injured, however, his 1998 Rockwell Commander suffered damage to the propeller and wheels.
While first responders were dealing with the plane incident, they received another call at 9:42 p.m. regarding a structure fire at Lakeshore Appliance, at the corner of County Road 380 and Blue Star Highway.
Firefighters arrived to find the building's attic totally engulfed in flames. No one suffered injuries, however the single-story building and much of its contents were destroyed.
“The entire roof was burned off and there was substantial damage,” Marsala said of the business, owned by Mike and Donna Springer of South Haven.
The fire occurred when a tree fell on electrical wires leading to the building, near the attic.
“When we arrived flames were coming out of both gable ends (of the roof) and through the vents,” Marsala said. “His (Springer's) nephew heard a tree crash and then saw arcing going on (where the triplex wires feed electrical power to the building). The wires shorted out.”
For Springer, the loss of his business and building was devastating.
“It's a total loss,” he said.
“We've been in the appliance business for 30 years,” Springer went on to say. “My parents originally owned it. My dad and I built this building. I took the business over when my mom passed away three years ago.”
Springer said he got to the scene of the fire several minutes after it started.
“It went extremely fast,” he said, regarding the blaze. “Our pump house sits close by, maybe 100-200 feet from the building. I grabbed a hose. But it didn't have enough pressure (to fight the fire).”
Springer could not say for sure if his family will rebuild the business. The building and its contents were not insured.
“We couldn't afford it,” Springer said. “People say insurance is cheap but it's not cheap for a business.”
News of the Springer's loss touched Lindy DeVries, a friend of the family, who started a Go Fund Me site, “Help the Spring Family Rebuild.”
“This business is the livelihood of the Springer family, whom have given back so much to our community, DeVries wrote on the Go Fund Me site. “They are great people who always look out for others and help when they can.”
Over the years, Mike and Donna Springer and their family, have volunteered for many school and community-related activities. They are familiar faces at South Haven High School football games, where family members help Donna sell tickets and pass out programs. Mike has also volunteered time to help the high school's drama department for the past two decades.
In addition to making donations to the Go Fund Me site, people can drop off donations at Little Oscars Custom Apparel, 452 Blue Star Hwy., South Haven.
Unwanted prescription drug drop-off day planned
South Haven area residents will have the opportunity to drop off unwanted prescription drugs during Drug Take Back day, Saturday, April 30.
Unwanted, unneeded or expired prescription drugs can be dropped off from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at South Haven Wellness Center, 950 S. Bailey Ave. The service is free and anonymous, no questions asked.
Many people are not aware that medicines remaining in home cabinets can be highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse, according to Van Buren County Sheriff Dale Gribler.
Rates of prescription drug abuse in the United States are at alarmingly high rates, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs. Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet. In addition, many people do not know how to properly dispose of their unused medicine: often flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash — both pose potential safety and health hazards.
Last September, Americans turned in 350 tons (over 702,000 pounds) of prescription drugs at more than 5,000 sites operated by the Drug Enforcement Administration and more than 3,800 of its state and local law enforcement partners. Overall, in its 10 previous Take Back events, DEA and its partners have taken in over 5.5 million pounds — more than 2,750 tons — of pills.
Throughout the year, unwanted prescription drugs can be dropped off at Red Med boxes throughout the South Haven area. Red Med boxes are located at Hometown Bangor Pharmacy, 3 W. Monroe St., Bangor; Value Drugs, 08337 M-140 Hwy., in South Haven; and the South Haven Police Department, 90 Blue Star Hwy.
For more information, go to www.vanburencountysheriff.com
• Controlled, non-controlled, and over the counter substances.
• May dispose of medication in it original container or by removing the medication from the container and disposing of it directly into the disposal box.
• If an original container is submitted, we encourage you to remove any identifying information from the prescription label.
• All solid dosage pharmaceutical products and liquids in consumer containers. Please make certain that the caps are tightly sealed.
WIIL NOT COLLECT:
• Intra-venous solutions, injectibles, and syringes will not be accepted due to potential hazard posed by blood-borne pathogens.
Suspects arrested for armed robbery, killing two dogs in Allegan County
CLYDE TWP. — Two suspects face multiple criminal charges for allegedly breaking into a woman's home, stealing items from it and killing her two dogs.
Michael Mills and Jamie McDonald were arraigned Monday in 58th District Court in Allegan, according to a news release from Allegan County Sheriff's office. Bond for both men were set at $100,000, each.
Mills was arraigned for armed robbery, assault with intent to rob, first-degree home invasion and two counts of killing an animal.
McDonald was arraigned for armed robbery, assault with intent to rob and home invasion.
The criminal charges against the two men stem from the report of the robbery, April 4, at a residence in the 4800 block of 118th Avenue in Clyde Township.
The female victim told Allegan County sheriff's deputies that she was home alone when the two suspects, armed with knives, allegedly forced their way into her home. One of the suspects held the victim down while the other ransacked the home.
The woman did not suffer injuries in the incident, but her two dogs — a German Shepard and Black Lab — attempted to protect her and were stabbed by one of the suspects, according to Undersheriff Frank Baker.
One of the dogs died at the scene. The other one was taken to a veterinarian for treatment, but died a short time later.
Detectives are still investigating to determine whether or not there are any other suspects. It is believed the home invasion and robbery was not random and that the suspects had prior knowledge of the existence and location of items stolen from the home, according to sheriff's department Captain Mike Larsen.
Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker, R-Lawton, speaks to advocates and family members during the annual Michigan Crime Victims Vigil Wednesday evening.
Senate OK's Schuitmaker bill to create Michigan Crime Victims' Rights Week
State Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker was joined by dozens of elected officials, law enforcement officers, advocates, and friends and family members of victims Wednesday evening at the state Capitol to celebrate the 28th annual Michigan Crime Victims Vigil.
The event is hosted by the Crime Victim Foundation and takes place at the Capitol every April as part of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week.
“For the past 11 years, I have attended this event as a member of the Crime Victims Caucus,” said Schuitmaker, R-Lawton. “Participating in the vigil has always been an honor and is a very moving experience for all who attend. Crime has long-lasting effects, and those who participate in this vigil have had their lives changed forever.
“Meeting with families and friends who have lost loved ones to senseless crime and hearing their stories gives me a much greater understanding of the pain that they feel. I am grateful they are willing to share their experiences.”
Schuitmaker on Wednesday also introduced Senate Resolution 161, which designates the week of April 10 – 16 as Crime Victims’ Rights Week in Michigan. SR 161 had a host of bipartisan co-sponsors and was unanimously adopted by the Senate.
“National Crime Victims’ Rights Week is being commemorated across the country and Michigan is no exception,” Schuitmaker said. “I am proud of the work our state has done to protect victims and their families and I was once again humbled to be able to participate in this event.”
Bloomingdale woman, two children injured in accident
State troopers are investigating the cause of an accident that injured a woman from Bloomingdale and two young children who were in the vehicle she was driving.
Brandy Chandler, 26 was traveling on County Road 665 in Bloomingdale Township, at 9:45 p.m., Tuesday evening, when she apparently lost control of her vehicle, which ran off the roadway and overturned.
Chandler was seriously injured in the accident and taken by Life EMS to Bronson Methodist Hospital in Kalamazoo, according to a news release from the Michigan State Police in Paw Paw. The 3-year-old boy suffered serious injuries after being ejected from the vehicle and was airflighted to Bronson where he remains in critical condition. The 5-year-old girl suffered minor injuries and was taken by ambulance to Bronson. Neither child was in a child-safety seat, according to the news release.
Police say at this point alcohol does not appear to be a factor in the accident.
Troopers were assisted at the scene by Van Buren Sheriff's deputies, Bloomingdale Fire Department, Life EMS and Pride Care EMS.
MDOT plans to repair Business Loop 196 in South Haven
Just when it looked like the Michigan Department of Transportation would only have one project to undertake this year in the South Haven area, it is adding a second one.
MDOT plans to repair concrete sections of the 1.7-mile section of Business Loop 196, starting April 25, according to Nick Schirripa, communications representative for MDOT. The news comes on the heels of plans in September to replace the Black River bridge on Blue Star Highway.
The stretch of the business loop that will be repaved extends from Blue Star Highway to Aylworth Avenue and includes Phoenix Street, Broadway and LaGrange Avenue. One lane of traffic will be open in each direction during the repaving project. More details of the $700,000 project will be announced next week.
LMC suspends president
Spielvogel just started her 4th month in post
By RALPH HEIBUTZKI
BENTON TOWNSHIP — Only three months after she started, Lake Michigan College President Jennifer Spielvogel has been taken off the job for reasons that haven’t been stated publicly. The LMC Board suspended Spielvogel immediately after a special meeting Friday, according to an LMC statement released that afternoon. “LMC has a strong and dedicated team, and phenomenal community support. We are confident in our ability to continue growing, innovating and serving our students without compromise,” LMC Board Chairwoman Mary Jo Tomasini said. The college’s statement didn’t specify what factors led to Spielvogel’s suspension, or whether she has been – or will be – fired from the job she started on Jan. 1. “As an ongoing personnel matter pending a final resolution, specific contributing factors leading up to the decision are confidential,” the college’s statement said. “The Board of Trustees is working closely with college and community stakeholders to determine the best steps moving forward.” The announcement of Spielvogel’s suspension followed a meeting notice that Friday’s session had been called “to discuss a written legal opinion from the college’s attorney related to an employment matter,” but gave no other details. The board sounded a similar note in a letter from Tomasini that went out Friday to faculty, staff and students, which WSJM’s Pat Moody – a former LMC trustee – posted in his “Moody on the Market” column. The letter emphasized that specific reasons for the board’s decision had to stay confidential, but that “please know that board – after long and careful deliberation – acted with the utmost consideration for the best interest of the college, or employees, students and the communities we serve,” it stated. Employees with any work-related concerns arising from Spielvogel’s suspension are being asked to check with their department’s vice president.
Beyond that issue, the board will “continue to communicate updates as soon as information is available,” Tomasini said, in the letter.
The board voted in December 2015 to hire Spielvogel to replace president Bob Harrison, who’d led LMC since 2009, and retired after a 16-year career with the institution.
Before coming to LMC, Spielvogel served as vice president of evidence and inquiry since 2007 at Cuyahoga Community College in Ohio.
Two dogs die trying to protect owner from alleged armed robbery
CLYDE TWP. — Two dogs are dead after helping to save their owner from an alleged armed robbery that occurred Monday morning at a residence in Clyde Township.
Allegan County Sheriff's Department received a report of the robbery at 8:52 a.m. at the home in the 4800 block of 118th Avenue, east of Pearl.
The female victim said she was home alone when two suspects allegedly forced their way into the residence. The woman told police the suspects were armed with knives and were not identifiable because they were wearing dark clothing and dark hoodies, as well as face masks and gloves.
One of the suspects held the victim down while the other ransacked the home.
The woman did not suffer injuries in the incident, but her two dogs — a German Shepard and Black Lab — attempted to protect her and were stabbed by one of the suspects, according to Undersheriff Frank Baker.
One of the dogs died at the scene. The other one was taken to a veterinarian for treatment, but died a short time later.
Deputies are still looking for the suspects and are not releasing information about what may have been stolen from the home. They were told by the woman that the suspects fled in a silver-colored small passenger car. One of the suspects may also have injuries consistent with being scratched and bitten by a dog.
Nesbitt hosts office hours in South Haven, Bangor
State Rep. Aric Nesbitt, R-Lawton plans to host office hours this week in South Haven and Bangor.
Nesbitt will be at Cafe Julia at 9 a.m., Thursday. The cafe is at 561 Huron St., in South Haven.
He then will meet with Bangor residents at 11 a.m., Thursday, at the Railroad Cafe, 555 Railroad St.
Bangor marching band travels to Disney World to perform
While area students enjoy spring break this week, members of the Bangor High School Marching Band traveled to Orlando, Fla., this past weekend, to perform at Disney World. The band members are shown in the photo, above, prior to embarking on their trip. The band not only performed in a parade at Disney, they also took part in music workshops, ate at Hard Rock Cafe and saw The Blue Men perform in concert. The band is expected to return from their trip later this week. (Photo by Kelly Weber)
Dyckman drawbridge repairs scheduled this week
Motorists who want to access Dyckman Avenue drawbridge Wednesday and Thursday may want to find an alternative route.
On both those days, contractors will be repairing navigation lights on the bridge, resulting in intermittent closures for vehicles and pedestrians. The channel will also be closed to boats during the intermittent closures.
Motorists are asked to detour along Dunkley Avenue, Wells Street, Blue Star Highway, Baseline Road and North Shore Drive.
The City will make every effort to minimize traffic disruptions Wednesday and Thursday, however,
For additional information, contact Larry Halberstadt, city engineer, 637-0770.
Vandals damage historic gravestone markers in Lacota Cemetery
LACOTA — Vandals damaged more than 30 historic cemetery headstones in one of Van Buren County's cemeteries this past week.
Cemetery sexton Peter Sorenson discovered the damage at Lacota Cemetery, Tuesday, and notified the Van Buren County Sheriff's department.
“This is a shame, why would people look to destroy the history of our ancestors?” asked Nancy Whaley, township supervisor.
Thirty-three headstones were either tipped over or damaged, according to a news release from Van Buren County Sheriff's department.
Deputies believe the vandalism occurred sometime Saturday evening, March 19, but have few leads as to who committed the crime. The vandals were most likely driving in a pickup truck or SUV.
Lacota Cemetery is located on Baseline Road near 61st Street. Approximately 350 people are buried in the cemetery. Grave markers date back to the late 1800s.
Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call the Van Buren County Sheriff's Department, 269-657-3101.
Man arrested after attacking Ganges Twp. woman
GANGES TWP. — A 54-year-old Ganges Township woman was taken to the hospital this morning after being attacked by her boyfriend.
The attack occurred at 2:30 a.m. at the woman's home, in the 1300 block of 66th Street, according to a report from the Allegan County Sheriff's Department.
Deputies went to the location after the woman ran to a neighbor's residence for help.
According to the sheriff's news release, the woman came home at 2:30 a.m. and was tackled to the ground by the 53-year-old suspect. He then poured what deputies believe was acid on her face and chest. The suspect made “several unusual statements” to her and then fled the scene in the woman's vehicle, according to Undersheriff Frank Baker.
Prior to the woman's arrival home, the suspect caused a considerable amount of damage to the residence and to items in the home.
Later this morning, law enforcement agencies from Berrien County Sheriff’s Office and Watervliet and Coloma police departments found the victim’s vehicle in Berrien County and located the suspect, who was arrested on the following charges: torture; home invasion; domestic violence - third offense; and for being a habitual offender.
Baker anticipates the suspect will be arraigned Thursday in 57th District Court in Allegan.
This story will be updated when more information is received from the sheriff's department.
Funeral services set for former South Haven man who died in car accident
Funeral services will take place Tuesday for a former South Haven man who died in a car accident this past Friday, March 11.
The funeral service for Corey Aaron Crawford, 26, will be at 1 p.m. at Filbrandt Family Funeral Home, 1076 S. Bailey Ave., South Haven. Visitation is scheduled today from 6-8 p.m. at the funeral home.
Crawford died in a single-car accident when his vehicle hit a large utility pole and flipped onto its side, according to an article in the Herald-Palladium.
The accident occurred shortly after noon on Red Arrow Highway in Bridgman.
Police are still investigating why his vehicle veered into the pole. Crawford's 6-year-old daughter was in the vehicle, as well, and sustained several injuries. She was taken to the hospital but will not require surgery.
Crawford and his wife have been living in Troy, Ala., where he worked for Spurlock Iron and Scrap. He enjoyed playing guitar and spending time with his daughter.
Corey is survived by his wife – Desiree Crawford of Troy, Ala.; daughter – Lillian Crawford; parents – Tim and Nellie Crawford of South Haven; siblings – Tara Monter of Sharon, Pa., Nicole (Phil) Quandt of South Haven, Derrick (Ashley) Crawford of South Haven and Mellissa (Albert) Gaines of Coloma. Sever aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews also survive.
Contributions may be made in Corey’s memory to the Crawford Family, 1076 S. Bailey Avenue, South Haven, Michigan 49090. Kindly share your thoughts and memories on the family’s online guestbook at www.FilbrandtFFH.com.
Armani May of South Haven chosen as Mr. Blossomtime
South Haven High School senior Armani May (third from left) has been crowned Mr. Blossomtime for 2016. May earned the title at the Mr. Blossomtime competition, Sunday, at Lake Michigan College's Mendel Center in Benton Harbor. Armani is shown with the Mr. Blossomtime Court. From left are Nice Guy George Smallbone of Eau Claire/Sodus; second runner-up Romeo Thompson of Berrien Springs and first runner-up Eric Eagle of St. Joseph. (Photo by K West Photography)
Middle school student faces criminal charges after writing threat on bathroom wall
By BECKY KARK
Editor and general manager
A Baseline Middle School student is facing several criminal charges after writing a threatening statement on a bathroom wall earlier this week.
The female student was taken to a juvenile detention center, Tuesday, following a police investigation of the incident, according to South Haven Interim Police Chief Natalie Thompson. The girl has since been released to the custody of her parents and will face a felony charge for making a false report of a terroristic threat as well as malicious destruction of property. The charges are being filed through Van Buren County Juvenile Court.
The incident involving the student began at 11 a.m. when a statement about a possible shooting was found written on a bathroom wall at the middle school, according to a statement issued by South Haven Public Schools Superintendent Robert Herrera. The school's resource officer and several law enforcement officers immediately responded, secured the building and began investigating. At 12:30 p.m., they apprehended the girl who wrote the statement. Although students remained at school during the investigation, police continued to stay at the school until late afternoon to ensure safety.
Thompson would not comment on the exact wording of the message, but said, “it was threatening enough that we were called.”
The incident on Tuesday marked the second time in less than a month that a threat to the school was found written on a bahtroom wall at Baseline Middle School.
The other threat occurred Feb. 22 when staff found a bomb threat faintly written in a bathroom stall. Police, along with several teachers secured the building and checked various areas of the school, according to a news release from Principal William Stitt.
“Nothing was found in the search, but we take these threats seriously,” Stitt noted.
Herrera reiterated Stitt's comments.
“Our students' safety is the District's first priority, and we will take every precaution necessary to ensure their safety,” he said in his news release.
Police, too, have to take the threats seriously, even though the threats have so far turned out to be hoaxes, according to Thompson.
“The one time you don't respond, something very serious could happen,” she said. “Twenty years ago we didn't have to deal with this,” Thompson went on to say regarding the escalation of mass shootings that have occurred in the past two decades at schools and colleges throughout the United States. “Now, this is what we deal with.”
Due to mechanical problems with the Tribune delivery truck a number of South Haven Tribune customers will not receive their Tribune until Monday. We apologize for the inconvenience.
Karen Tolen of South Haven shovels the end of her driveway after 3-4 inches of snow fell today. An additional 3-4 inches are expected to fall this evening.
Latest winter storm forces closure of schools, creates hazardous driving conditions in SW Michigan
March weather roared in like a lion today forcing southwestern Michigan residents to deal with another winter storm.
Today's wintery blast started Monday evening when snow began to fall leading to 3-4 inches of accumulation by this morning. The heavy snowfall led to hazardous road conditions and the closure of area schools, including ones in South Haven, Bangor and Bloomingdale.
A winter storm warning issued Monday for southwestern Michigan will remain into effect until 1 a.m. Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service.
Another 3-4 inches of snow is predicted to fall in South Haven this evening, while 4-6 inches is predicted for the rest of Van Buren County, Allegan County and Kalamazoo County. Wind gusts of 25 miles an hour or more are expected this afternoon and evening, as well as freezing rain at times.
Snow is expected to taper off by Wednesday morning, but could still linger along the lakeshore.
Daytime temperatures are expected to hover into the mid-20s Wednesday with a 40 percent chance of snow. Temperatures will rise slightly during the day, Thursday, with a 50 percent chance of snow.
Chances of snow are expected to end Sunday, when the National Weather Service predicts it will be partly sunny with a high near 40.
Firefighters put out a fire that occurred Tuesday evening in a pole barn in Casco Township. (Photo courtesy of South Haven Area Emergency Services)
Fire destroys pole barn in Casco Township
CASCO TWP. — A fire destroyed a large pole barn and caused minor damage to a residence Tuesday evening on 68th Street.
South Haven Area Emergency Services responded to a 911 call at 7:30 p.m. at the residence at 1012 68th St.
When they arrived, flames were coming through the roof.
“The homeowner was home and by the time the fire was noticed, it was well involved inside the barn,” said Ron Wise, fire chief for South Haven Area Emergency Services.
Even though the home was only eight fee away from the 100-by-32-foot pole barn, firefighters were able to save the dwelling.
“The home did suffer some fire damage to the outside and minor damage to the inside ceiling,” Wise said. “Rapid response from SHAES and Ganges Fire Department saved the home from being destroyed. Damage to the home was minor enough to allow the homeowner to live in the home after the fire.”
Firefighters are still investigating the cause of the blaze.
Bangor Community Fire Department and Lee Township Fire Department also provided assistance in putting out the fire.
Police arrest suspect in shooting incident in Allegan County
ALLEGAN — Police have arrested a suspect they believe wsa involved in a shooting incident that occurred Monday at a park in Allegan County.
Allegan County Undersheriff Frank Baker reported that the suspect was arrested Monday afternoon. The suspect is alleged to have shot a 37-year-old Kalamazoo area man shortly before 1:30 a.m., Monday, at Little John Lake county park on 113th Avenue, southwest of the City of Allegan.
The victim, who suffered non-life threatening injuries, went to Allegan General Hospital which then notified 911. The victim then was taken to Bronson Hospital in Kalamazoo for further treatment.
The shooting resulted from a disagreement between the victim and the suspect over the recent sale of a weapon, according to Baker.
NRC sides with Entergy in federal agency's ruling involving supervisors' wrongful termination
By ANDREW LERSTEN
For the Tribune
COVERT — In November the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration ruled that two Palisades nuclear power plant security supervisors were wrongfully terminated in 2013.
But the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission also investigated the allegations and has reached a different conclusion.
The NRC recently sent Palisades' owner Entergy a letter stating that it could not substantiate the men were discriminated against and in turn wrongfully terminated.
The newest information is consistent with the NRC's original investigation from 2013. The NRC reopened the investigation last year after receiving additional information requiring follow-up, the NRC stated.
Entergy is appealing the OSHA ruling.
Meanwhile, NRC officials told Entergy they are concerned the OSHA ruling may affect the willingness of plant employees to raise safety and security issues.
The NRC is asking Entergy to submit plans, within 30 days, detailing how it will address the possible adverse impact of the OSHA ruling, in the next 30 days.
OSHA ruled that Chris Mikusko and Roland Ruby are due back wages with interest, and ordered Palisades' owner Entergy to reinstate their jobs.
In addition, the ruling ordered Entergy to pay the men $5,000 each in compensatory damages, and to pay their attorney fees.
Regarding the men's termination, they alleged they were fired after raising concerns about a fellow security supervisor who was allegedly working without proper firearms qualifications. OSHA agreed there was evidence to support their claim.
Palisades is along Lake Michigan in Covert Township.2.8.16
Family escapes fire at apartment complex
Smoke detectors played a key role in helping a family escape from a fire that started in their home, this past Friday, at Park Meadows Apartments, in South Haven Township.
The fire began at approximately 2 p.m. in an upstairs bedroom, according to a news release from South Haven Area Emergency Services. Smoke detectors alerted the family of three adults and three children and they escaped from the home.
Firefighters arrived within three minutes os being dispatched to find the fire mostly contained by the apartment complex's fire-sprinkler system.
The sprinkler system prevented the fire from extending into the attic space above the bedroom and from spreading to the rest of the building's seven apartments.
“We are still working on the exact cause, but it has been ruled accidental,” said Ron Wise, fire chief for South Haven Area Emergency Services. “(We) cannot stress enough the importance of having working smoke detectors on all floors of a home and the presence of a fire sprinkler system to help contain a fire in the home.”
The American Red Cross is helping the family, which did not have renters insurance.
South Haven Area Emergency Services was assisted at the scene by South Haven Police Department and South Haven Public Works department.
Principal faces criminal sexual conduct charges involving teacher, para-pro
By BECKY KARK
Editor and general manager
ALLEGAN — A Decatur man, who is the principal of a behavioral learning center in Allegan, faces a number of charges for alleged criminal sexual conduct involving a teacher and a para-professional.
Jonathan Garcia, 34, was arraigned, Wednesday, in 57th District Court in Allegan, on 11 counts of criminal sexual conduct, according to a court clerk.
The first female victim said her allegations stemmed from an incident that occurred Sept. 1, 2014. Charges Garcia face from that incident include three counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct and three counts of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct.
The second female victim's allegations stemmed from an incident that occurred Sept. 1, 2015. Charges Garcia faces from that incident are five counts of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct.
Garcia's bond was set for $25,000 for each victim. He remains in jail and his next court date is Feb. 11.
Detectives arrested Garcia, Monday, Feb. 1, after the Allegan Area Educational Service Agency superintendent's office heard the allegations of sexual contact between him and the two female staff members.
Garcia has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of an internal investigation that will be conducted by the Educational Service Agency, as well as the criminal charges he faces.
News of the allegations against Garcia surprised Education Service Agency Superintendent Mark Dobias.
“It's absolutely shocking,” he said. “Certainly we would not tolerate any behavior along these lines.”
Garcia has served as principal of Hillside Learning and Behavior Center in Allegan since July of 2013.
According to Dobias, he has been an “administrator in good standing.”
Bloomingdale woman becomes first female hunter chosen as a winner in the Pure Michigan Hunt drawing
A woman from Bloomingdale won a pocket full of licenses and more than $4,000 worth of hunting gear from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources as part of its 2016 Pure Michigan Hunt contest.
Makayla Fleetwood's name was chosen, along with two other hunters, in the 7th annual drawing.
“I was shocked at first,” said Fleetwood, who became the first female hunter chosen in the history of the drawing. “I didn’t think this would ever happen to me. I am very grateful for this opportunity.” The other two winners were Jeff Kresnak of Caledonia and Mike Scherzer of Freeland.
Each winner in the drawing will receive elk, bear, spring and fall turkey, and antlerless deer licenses for 2016. They – along with a companion hunter — also will get first pick opening morning of the waterfowl season at any of Michigan's premier managed waterfowl hunt areas, according to Jordyn Richardson of the DNR. Other prizes they will receive include a camouflage pop-up blind, a crossbow, 12-gauge camouflage shotgun, outdoor camera, waterfowl mount, bolt-action rifle, Carhartt jackets and bib overalls, shotgun case, $400 worth of gift cards, turkey hunting gear, hunting hats, traps and hunting calls, and a two-day, two-night guided hunt. The prizes were donated by businesses and organizations throughout Michigan.
The three winners will be awarded their prizes at the next Natural Resources Commission meeting Feb. 11 in Detroit.
A total of 13,055 people purchased Pure Michigan Hunt applications, for 2016, which generated more than $176,000 for wildlife habitat restoration and improvements in Michigan, according to The 2016 drawing had a total of 35,336 applications purchased by 13,055 individuals, which generated more than $176,000 to help wildlife habitat restoration and improvements in Michigan.
Applications for the next Pure Michigan Hunt drawing will be available starting March 1. For more information, visit www.mi.gov/pmh.
Actors are shown in a scene from the movie "The Finest Hours" after being rescued by a 36-foot Coast Guard boat. The actual Coast Guard boat used in the film will be on display at the Michigan Maritime Museum, starting June 11.
Maritime museum lands boat used in Disney film, 'The Finest Hours'
By BECKY KARK
Editor and general manager
Michigan Maritime Museum takes pride in its collection of historic Coast Guard vessels, but the newest one to be displayed in June holds special meaning.
It is a restored motor life boat featured in the new Disney film, “The Finest Hours,” that opens Friday in theaters nationwide.
“For us to get this boat the same year the movie comes out is wonderful,” said Patti Montgomery, executive director of the museum.
“The Finest Hours” tells the true story of a daring Coast Guard rescue in February of 1952 off the coast of Cape Cod. Based on the 2009 international bestseller by Michael J. Tougias and Casey Sherman, the movie recounts the fate of two oil tankers, the Pendleton and the Fort Mercer, that found themselves engulfed in a terrible storm in February. Not prepared to withstand the nor'easter, both tankers ended up splitting in two, leaving 84 men trapped at sea.
Thanks to the heroic efforts of crew from motor life boat CG -6500 and the crew of a surfboat from the Coast Guard Yukutat, nearly all of the tankers' crewmen were heroically rescued.
The CG-36500 still exists but could not be used for the movie, so Disney turned its attention to Jeff Shook, a well-known restorer of Coast Guard vessels. Shook, who live in Fenton, owned a seaworthy identical boat, CG-36460, which caught Disney's eye.
“The historically registered original CG-36500 boat couldn’t be used, leaving my boat Disney’s only option,” Shook said. “Basically without my boat, they told me the movie cannot be made.”
Shook's decision to let Disney borrow his boat for the filming turned out to be good news for the movie studio, but bad news for the museum.
“Several years ago he was going to allow the museum to exhibit his boat on a long-term basis, but when Disney told him the movie was based on a true story about a Coast Guard rescue, it was an offer he felt he had to take,” Montgomery said.
“These Coast Guard guys on the CG-36500 performed an amazing feat that night as well as other Coast Guard ships, planes, stations, etc. who were all involved,” Shook said. “That night 70 out of 84 people were rescued from these two ships with 32 alone on the small Coast Guard 36500 Motor Life Boat.”
Now that the movie has been released, Shook is making good on his original offer and plans to bring the boat to the museum in June so that people can learn more about the famous Coast Guard rescue and the boat itself.
The boat will actually be in the water, ready for tours, as part of the museum's summertime exhibit about the CG-36460.
The exhibit will debut June 11 and will include a variety of displays and activities.
“We will have Coast Guard auxiliary members that will give onboard tours,” Montgomery said. “We are in the process of getting the boat licensed and have volunteer captains coming forth to give rides. We also will have a 42-foot Coast Guard boat coming from Grand Haven.”
Winter storm causes area schools to close
Many students in Allegan and Van Buren counties got to enjoy a snow day today — the first one of the year — thanks to a winter storm that dropped several inches of snow on Southwest Michigan, Monday evening. And more snow is on the way today as the storm continues.
The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning through 7 p.m. tonight, estimating 4 to 6 more inches will fall. Coupled with 30 mile-per-hour wind gusts, and wind chills of 0 degrees, driving will continue to be dangerous for motorists. North-south roads will be prone to drifting and near-whiteout conditions are predicted at times.
Snow will continue Wednesday, with an accumulation of two more inches.
Some relief will be in sight, Thursday, when temperatures rise to the mid 30s. Rain will enter the picture Thursday evening and Friday when temperatures could hit 40 degrees, according to the National Weather Service. However, the precipitation will likely turn to freezing rain Friday evening, and a chance of snow showers could occur on Saturday.
Lighthouse restoration continues
Workers from Mihm Enterprises got a favorable break in the weather this week to complete sandblasting of the second- and third-story levels of the South Haven lighthouse. The workers planned to beginning painting the interior levels today. (Photo by Tom Renner)
Teen dies after sled collides into a tree
A teenager died this past weekend following a sledding accident in Allegan County.
Mason Dykstra, 15, was sledding with his 19-year-old brother in their yard in the 5300 block of 133rd Avenue in Manlius Township when the accident occurred shortly before noon, Saturday.
Family members called 911 about the accident. When Allegan County Sheriff's deputies arrived they were told that the 19-year-old brother was driving a sport utility vehicle with a sled attached to the rear of the vehicle, via a rope. While Mason was being pulled on the sled he collided with a tree in the yard.
Mason was conscious after the incident and complained of some pain, according to the sheriff's department news release. He was treated by emergency medical responders and taken by helicopter to a hospital in Grand Rapids. However, during the flight his condition suddenly worsened and he died upon arrival at the hospital.
Alcohol does not appear to be a factor in the accident. The incident remains under investigation and the case will be submitted to the prosecutor’s office for review.
The photo above shows an architectural rendering of what the proposed Dole processing facility would look like. It is one of three new businesses proposed for South Haven's industrial and business park on 2nd Avenue.
Plans progress for cold storage, fruit processing facilities in South Haven
By ANDREW LERSTEN
For the Tribune
Plans are moving ahead for a long-anticipated fruit processing and cold storage facility that could bring up to 200 jobs to South Haven.
MBG Marketing in 2012 bought 42 acres on the north side of 2nd Avenue from the city.
City officials said MBG plans to sell the eastern 25 acres of the 2nd Avenue site to Hanson Logistics, which in turn would lease space to Dole. MBG, which does business as Naturipe, would also have a processing facility.
City Manager Brian Dissette said MBG's property sale to Hanson Logistics may have recently occurred, but he could not immediately verify that.
Earlier this year, MBG Marketing secured a utility incentive deal from the city Local Development Finance Authority worth up to $150,000 in utility hookup and related fees.
The original incentive deal was set to expire this month. So in November, due to delays in the process, the company asked for a six-month extension of the utility incentive package and the LDFA approved it. The $150,000 deal would not cover all of the utility hookup fees, officials said earlier.
No formal plans have yet been submitted to the city, but at an LDFA meeting in June project developers said initial plans call for 150,000 square feet of processing space for both MBG and Dole. Future phases call for a cold storage facility.
The city has specifically targeted the agricultural industry in its economic development recruitment efforts.
"The city is thrilled about the potential of bolstering resources for the agricultural community," said City Manager Brian Dissette said earlier.
In anticipation of such a development, the city has been investing heavily in its electric system. An additional transformer was installed at the 2nd Avenue substation, Dissette said.
MBG officials earlier said South Haven was chosen primarily due to its location along Interstate 196, and proximity to the association headquarters in Grand Junction.
The 2nd Avenue site is part of the city's I-196 Business Park and is zoned light industrial.
Suspect takes $2,000 worth of items from home
A man dressed in black made off with approximately $2,000 worth of items from a home in Columbia Township, according to a report from the Van Buren County Sheriff's Department.
A homeowner who lives in the 12000 block of 56th Street called deputies shortly after noon on Tuesday to report that his home had been broken into and that many items had been taken from it. The homeowner told deputies he had left his house for a short time and when he returned he found it had been broken into.
Witnesses in the area told deputies that a man dressed in black was seen running from the area of the victim's residence and fled the area in a tan SUV. The suspect was described between 5'6” - 5'11,” and of average weight.
Anyone with information about the incident can call the Van Buren County Sheriff's Office at 269-657-3101, Crime Stoppers at 1-800-342-7867, or Silent Observer at (269) 343-2100.
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.