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Police investigate dispute that led to lockdown of South Haven High School
South Haven Police are seeking the public's help in its investigation of an incident that resulted in the lockdown of South Haven High School this past Friday.
The incident came about at approximately 11 a.m. Friday near Elkenburg Park, which is near the high school. It involved a dispute between two teenage girls and their family members, according to a police report issued by Sgt. Patrick Carlotto.
Carlotto said one of the girls had allegedly been bullying the other girl. The brother of the girl being bullied confronted the girl and a dispute erupted. Family members of the alleged bully got involved in the dispute and the brother produced a handgun. All parties then left the scene.
While South Haven Police looked for all of the people involved in the incident, South Haven High School officials locked down the school to ensure the safety of students. When school officials determined there was no threat to the school, the lockdown ended.
Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call the police department at 637-5151.
South Haven High School students on 'soft' lockdown
South Haven High School students have been ordered to stay inside the school building following an altercation that occurred near the campus, at approximately 11:30 a.m. today.
School Administrator Carol Stricklin reported that an altercation between two individuals happened on Elkenburg Street in front of the school. There was a rumor that one of the individuals had gun. South Haven Police were called and when they arrived at the scene one of the individuals ran away.
Police are in the process of trying to locate that person.
In the meantime, the school is in what is called a “soft” lockdown. Assistant High School Principal Jeremy Burleson explained that students have to remain inside the building. School officials are monitoring doorways to ensure safety of students.
DNR confirms black bear sighting in the South Haven area
By KIM INGALLS
For the Tribune
People normally glimpse black bears in northern Michigan, but it seems one or possibly more have wandered south this spring.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has confirmed a report of a bear sighted two weeks ago by a resident who lives on Baseline Road in the South Haven area.
"One of our biologists went out and found bird feeders tipped over, trash thrown around and bear tracks," said Jordyn Richardson, a DNR wildlife technician, based in Plainwell. "He's really certain there was actually a bear."
It's not uncommon for bears - especially young males - to wander this far south, Richardson went on to say, but it has been approximately 10 years since one has been reported in the South Haven area.
"They (bears) just woke up in April and they wander," she said. "They are not necessarily looking for food because they have plenty in the North. They just follow the river corridor. Males typically travel a long ways."
Five years ago, state biologists caught a black bear at the Oceana/Muskegon county line and put a tracking collar on him. The bear moved up and down the lakeshore for over a month, traveling more than 135 miles along rivers and state land.
Last week, photos on Facebook showed two bears on the Kal-Haven Trail east of South Haven, but Richardson said the DNR has not yet been able to confirm whether that is the case. She did say, however, that the sighting could be true.
"They are just making their way down and should make their way back north soon," she said.
A bear sighting was also reported along the lakeshore in April and early May in Ottawa County.
The recent bear sightings in southwest Michigan prompts the DNR to give advice to people who do spot bears close by.
"Make noise," Richardson said. "Make sure the bear sees you. Most likely, they will see you before you see them and won't stick around."
Memorial Day Concert kicks off summer season in South Haven
Get ready to dust off your dancing shoes Memorial Day when four local bands get together to present the second annual “Rehearsal on the Riverfront” concert.
This year's event will take place from 1-5 p.m. at Riverfront Park on Water Street in South Haven.
Dolly Harris, lead singer of the Pat Benatar tribute group, the US Band, has organized the event once again.
“Last year it was us and one other band, Kings Carnival,”she said. “We originally did this last year to get ready for our outdoor summer concerts. We had so much fun.”
This year, Harris has lined up four groups: guitarist and singer Jack Adams, The Energetic Entertainer; Nate Mielke with Alexis Jeffries and Emma Parker; Star & Charlie and the US Band.
In addition to the performances, there will be several raffle drawings.
Downtown merchants have gotten behind the concert by helping to sponsor the performers.
“We are proud of our town, the beach, the lighthouse and the beautiful downtown and merchants,” Harris said. “We want to make this a yearly event to show off our local talent.”
The concerts are free of charge. Attendees should bring a blanket or chair to sit on.
PHOTO: Dolly Harris, lead singer for the US Band is shown performing a concert in 2014
A South Haven Area Emergency Services firefighters examines damage from a building that was destroyed by fire at South Haven Recyclers.
Fire destroys building at metal recycling company
A fire swept through a storage barn at South Haven Recyclers on Wednesday, causing significant damage.
South Haven Area Emergency Services responded to a call at 2:20 p.m. to the metal recycling center, 3110 67th St., in Geneva Township. When the first firefighters arrived the building was fully engulfed in flames.
Firefighters worked hard to save tools, equipment and vehicles — including a race car and several vintage motorcycles, from being damaged.
“The building was a complete loss,” said Fire Chief Ron Wise. “The contents of the building were estimated at $200,000. Of that $70,000 was lost.”
The fire started when workers were trying to draining gasoline from gas tank. They were trying to use an electric impact device to remove straps from the tank, when a spark from the device ignited gasoline vapors, causing the fire to start.
The two workers were able to escape from the building, unharmed.
Firefighters from Columbia Township, Lee Township, Bangor and Ganges Township assisted South Haven. Covert Fire Department was also on standby for South Haven.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation.
Assistant fire chief earns seat on Bangor city council
By TRIBUNE STAFF
Bangor voters appear to be sending city council members a message following the results of Tuesday's election.
Voters ousted one incumbent, while the other one up for election kept his seat by only three votes.
The incumbents, Lucas Koenig and Fred Hicks, faced challengers Steven Lowder and Daniel Freislinger on Tuesday.
Lowder received the most votes with 160, while Hicks edged Freislinger 117-114. Koenig, who had been appointed to the council in June 2014 to fill a vacancy, received 51 votes.
Turnout for the election was light. Only 18.5 percent of Bangor's 1,299 voters cast votes, according to Van Buren County Clerk's office.
Both Lowder and Hicks will be sworn in for three-year terms at the next city council meeting, May 17.
Lowder, 59, retired as Bangor's Department of Public Works director in 2014 and is currently assistant chief at Bangor Community Fire Department. This will be his first time serving on the city council.
Hicks, 46, will be starting his third term as a council member. He is employed at Allegan General Hospital as cardiac services coordinator.
Other election results in Van Buren County follow:
Voters turned down a zoning proposal, 261-213, that would have allowed special use permits for home-based commercial businesses in residential dwellings located in agricultural districts.
Van Buren District Library
It's back to the drawing board for district library officials who were hoping voters would favor a 0.2 mill increase to fund library operations. Voters turned down the request 3,526-2,986. The increase would have generated an additional $364,000 for the library district, that has branch libraries in Bangor, Covert, Bloomingdale, Decatur, Gobles, and Lawrence. County voters approved the library district's original 1-mill levy in 1991, and since then it has been reduced to 0.8917-mill under the state Headlee provisions related to tax valuations. The millage brings in about 76 percent of the library district's annual budget.
Van Buren Public Transit
County voters approved a four-year renewal of 2.5-mills for Van Buren Public Transit. The millage brings in about $760,500 per year for the transit system, which is based in Bangor. The renewal passed 6,534-5,226.
Bangor Twp. man dies in single-vehicle accident
Funeral services are scheduled Friday for a Bangor Township man, who died in a single-vehicle crash, Sunday, May 3.
Wendell Jeffrey Bowman, 52, was pronounced dead at the scene of accident that occurred in the 72000 block of 36th Avenue in Covert Township.
Covert Police Chief Jay Allen reported that a passerby, who came upon the accident, called police at 1:06 a.m., May 3 to report the incident.
“A passerby found the vehicle and the driver,” Allen said. “The driver was already deceased when located by the passerby.”
Allen said the speed at which Bowman was driving was a factor in the crash. “He drove off the road and went into a ditch,” Allen said. “His pickup continued going in the ditch and then it hit a driveway and flipped over. He wasn't wearing a seatbelt.”
The crash is still under investigation. Police are waiting on results of a toxicology report to determine if alcohol or a controlled substance may have contributed to the crash.
MSP has its eye on Bangor
FBI won't discuss mayor's claim of missing money,
Skeptics refute mayor's claim
By BECKY KARK
Editor and general manager
BANGOR - State police have launched a criminal probe of Bangor City Hall, but the FBI is mum about whether it's looking at the city.
David Porter, a spokesman for the FBI's Detroit office, would neither confirm or deny Wednesday if an investigation is taking place. Mayor Nick Householder announced Tuesday the FBI is looking into city finances.
Porter said it's FBI practice to not confirm an investigation.
"We can't control what another entity may say," Porter said, referring to Householder's news release.
Porter said the FBI deals with a number of calls from citizens.
"We take the information we receive and make a determination as to what we should do," he said.
State police, on the other hand, confirmed they are investigating complaints of possible wrongdoing by current City Council members.
"We're doing a formal investigation. It's in its infancy," said Detective Lt. Chuck Christensen of the state police's 5th District headquarters in Paw Paw.
WWMT-TV in Kalamazoo reported Tuesday that state police are probing possible violations of the Michigan Open Meetings Act and a complaint the city issued a permit to allow an unlicensed contractor to tear down a blighted, tax-reverted home this year.
Householder on Tuesday alleged that more than $500,000 in city funds between 2007 and 2012 were "unaccounted for."
The claim has drawn sharp skepticism.
Jennifer Carpio-Zeller, who served on the City Council from 2003-13 and as mayor from 2010-13, took issue with Householder's claim that city funds may have been mishandled.
"A reduction of funds does not equal missing funds. I have no idea what he is claiming," she said.
Michael Selden, Bangor city manager from 2007-12, also took issue.
"Each year while I was in Bangor the city had an independent auditor audit the funds and nothing abnormal ever showed up," said Selden, who became city manager in Wayland after leaving Bangor.
"I can't speak to what the funds have done since I left, but as the economy declined severely during much of that time, so did revenues - both from loss of tax revenue due to property values declining and from less revenue in state money," Selden said. "As is often the case, things were getting more expensive and revenues were declining."
Householder said his figures show that city fund balances for general operations, water and sewer, dropped from $692,000 in 2005 to $125,000 in 2012. The biggest drop - $583,660 - happened between 2005 and 2007.
However, Larry Nielsen, Bangor city manager from 2000 to 2007, said council members at the time were aware the city's fund balances would drop due to several improvement projects in the mid-2000s.
Nielsen said the city had obtained federal loans and grants for upgrading the city's sewage ponds and water and sewer mains. The city received a $500,000 grant to improve and expand Lions Park. However, the city had to provide matching funds for those grants. The city also made improvements to the railroad station grounds and a streetscape project downtown, Carpio-Zeller said.
The interior of this 2001 Ford Mustang is shown after the car caught fire after it smashed into a tree, Monday evening in Paw Paw Township. The driver died this morning from burns she suffered in the accident. (Photo courtesy of Van Buren County Sheriff's Department)
Gobles woman dies from burns suffered in fiery car crash
A Gobles woman died this morning of severe burns she sustained in a fiery car crash that occurred Monday evening after her vehicle hit a tree.
The crash involving the 48-year-old woman was reported to Van Burn County Sheriff's deputies at 7:35 p.m.
As deputies were on their way to the accident on 39th Street north of County Road 358, they were told the woman's car was on fire and she was trapped inside.
Witnesses at the scene used water bottles in an attempt to put out the fire, according to a news release from the sheriff's department. Rescue workers from Paw Paw Fire Department arrived and removed the woman from the Ford Mustang while the vehicle was still on fire. They then extinguished the blaze.
The woman, whose name is not being released until family members are notified, suffered extensive burns and was rushed to Bronson Methodist Hospital in Kalamazoo where she was listed in critical condition. She died early this morning.
A firefighter from Paw Paw Fire Department suffered minor injuries while trying to free the driver. He was treated at Bronson and later released.
The Van Burn County Accident Reconstructionist Unit is trying to determine the cause of the crash. Both speed and alcohol are believed to be contributing factors to the crash, which remains under investigation.
Photo by Andrew Lersten
South Haven officials have put up fencing to keep people away from a large hole that developed along the seawall at the city's Ellen Avery Park. A Rockford, Mich., company has been hired to fix the erosion problem.
Erosion causes large hole to form under park sidewalk
By ANDREW LERSTEN
For the Tribune
South Haven officials want to get a handle on soil erosion at the city's Ellen Avery Park before there's a public emergency.
Soil has been washed out by wave action under the sidewalk near the seawall at the park. The park is at the southern end of North Shore Drive, along the harbor channel.
The fear is that the erosion could lead to sinkholes or sidewalk collapses, city engineer Larry Halberstadt told the City Council this past week.
"The hole we uncovered was probably six feet deep, and about 10 by 8 feet. It was big," Halberstadt said. For now, a safety fence has been erected around the hole.
The council voted to hire West Michigan Waterproofing LLC, of Rockford, Mich., to stabilize the area for $27,100.
Specifically, the company will put in sand fill and then inject a urethane grout that will expand into the void.
"Hopefully this will last 10 to 15 years," Halberstadt said.
In other city news, about 20 people attended last week's council meeting and the group urged the city to develop some pickleball courts.
Pickleball is a sport growing in national popularity. It is similar to tennis but played on a smaller court and at a slower pace.
Eastland disaster topic of museum program
One of the nation's worst maritime disasters will be the focus of the next program presented as part of the Michigan Maritime Museum's Lecture Series for 2015.
Michael McCarthy, an author and former Wall Street Journal editor, will discuss his new book, “Ashes Under Water: The S.S. Eastland and the Shipwreck that Shook America,” at 2 p.m., Saturday, April 25 at the museum, 260 Dyckman Ave., South Haven.
This year marks the centennial of one of the nation's worst disasters, the 1915 sinking of the steamship Eastland in the Chicago River, with more passenger deaths than the Titanic. An astonishing 844 poor people perished on the Eastland — a ship still tied to its dock when it capsized.
Older adults in South Haven may remember reading about the sinking of the Eastland, which was commissioned by the Michigan Steamship Company in 1902. The ship was built specifically to travel a route on Lake Michigan between South Haven and Chicago. The ship was constructed to compete with the steamer City of South Haven, also a familiar ship to sail into South Haven's port each summer, teaming with tourists from Chicago and northern Indiana.
When it came to naming the Eastland, the Michigan Steamship Company sponsored a contest. Mrs. David Reid of South Haven came up with the winning name and received a season pass on the ship along with $10.
For a century, the cause of the nearly forgotten tragedy had remained a mystery. McCarthy’s work offers a fresh, somewhat sinister explanation for the tragedy: that management neglected needed repairs to the stabilizing machinery of the ship.
McCarthy, who learned to sail on Lake Michigan, is the author of The Sun Farmer and worked as a reporter and editor for the Wall Street Journal for 22 years. He lives in South Haven.
Admission to the lecture is $8 for adults and $7 for seniors. There is no admission fee for Museum members. Light refreshments will be provided.
Police say video shows brutality not used in man's arrest in 2013
By BECKY KARK
Editor and general manager
A new wrinkle has emerged in a lawsuit that alleges South Haven Police used brutality in dealing with a man they arrested in 2013.
Police have just released a video of the incident involving the 60-year-old lawsuit plaintiff, Michael Kinney of South Haven.
Kinney contends in a civil lawsuit, filed April 6, that police mistreated him by using a choke hold when arresting him and caused irreparable damage to his vocal cords. The original charges against Kinney were dropped by the Van Buren County Prosecutor's Office, however, he is now seeking financial compensation, interest and legal fees for his medical bills and other costs.
Police, however, deny the lawsuit's claims and say the dash cam video proves it.
“The video validates earlier findings that the claims contained in Mr. Kinney's filing grossly misrepresent the events that occurred on the night of July 7, 2013,” Police Chief Tom Martin stated in a news release. “The video further shows that the officers of the South Haven Police Department acted in a professional manner at all times.”
Police initially said they did not have the video because they purged it from their computer system after 60 days, according to department policy. However, when South Haven Police checked further, they discovered the video, which was being used for training purposes.
The discovery of the video causes suspicion, according to Robert J. Baker, the attorney representing Kinney.
“It seems like the chief is trying it (the lawsuit) in the media,” said Baker, who went on to say that his law firm requested the video prior to filing the lawsuit because Kinney's memory was obscured by his diabetic attack and the length of time between the incident and now.
“We did (request) it months ago and they said it didn't exist,” Baker said. “It's really suspect that now they come up with it.”
Baker said he has only seen FOX News 17 excerpts of the 48-minute video.
“I don't think it supports their claim (that Kinney was not mistreated).”
The crash involving Kinney began at 11:30 p.m., July 7, 2013 when police observed him driving a pickup truck “erratically” on Phoenix Road in South Haven. Police activated their vehicle's flashing lights and siren and began to pursue Kinney's vehicle as it traveled eastbound. According to Police Chief Tom Martin, officers thought they were dealing with a drunk driver.
The video clearly shows Kinney weaving in and out of his lane, nearly hitting mailboxes on the right side of the road, swerving into the opposite lane and nearly hitting an oncoming vehicle. Even though he was being pursued by police Kinney did not stop until his vehicle went airborne after hitting a ditch and crashed on the right side of the road on County Road 388 near 65th Street in Geneva Township.
Kinney's lawsuit states he is a diabetic and that he was suffering from low blood sugar, which caused confusion for him. The lawsuit also states Kinney “was tailed closely and aggressively...until (he) was forced into a ditch.” However, in the video it does not appear officers were tailing him.
The video shows that after Kinney's truck crashed, officers approached his vehicle and repeatedly ordered him to put his hands on the steering wheel. He then was ordered to come out of the vehicle. When he did not respond to their commands officers then removed him from the vehicle, and took him to the ground to put handcuffs on him.
Police say they called paramedics after Kinney was on the ground and showed them a necklace indicating he was a diabetic. Paramedics arrived and determined he was not drunk, but was suffering from low blood sugar.
Kinney claims officers used a choke hold on him, but whether that is the case is not known because when officers were handcuffing Kinney he and they were too low to the ground for the dash cam to capture their actions.
But police deny they choked Kinney.
“There was never any type of choke hold or anything along those lines,” Martin said. “He didn't get roughed up.”
After paramedics arrived to treat Kinney for low blood sugar, the video shows Kinney standing but it doesn't appear there was any red marks or bruising around his neck.
Police Chief Martin said there were two small cuts on either side of Kinney's face, most likely caused from the crash.
Paramedics are shown in the video telling Kinney he should go to the hospital for further treatment for his low blood sugar level, however Kinney refused to go. Police ended up taking Kinney to the hospital where he was evaluated and admitted.
Although Kinney was initially arrested by police for his erratic driving and his failure to stop, no charges were authorized by the Van Buren County Prosecutors Office due to Kinney's medical condition at the time of the incident.
Allegan man charged in death of half-brother
A 25-year-old man from Allegan County faces criminal charges for the shooting death of his half-brother.
Malcolm Patterson Dotson was arraigned Monday in 57th District Court for homicide/open murder and felony firearm in connection with the death of Damon Francis Sheldon, 37, of Trowbridge Township, southeast of the City of Allegan. Dotson also was arraigned on breaking and entering charges for a separate incident.
The body of Sheldon was found by Allegan Sheriff's Deputies, Friday, April 10, after they received a complaint of a suspicious situation at a residence on 26th Avenue in northern Trowbridge Township. The caller, who was the mother of Sheldon, told deputies she had found a large amount of blood at the residence where Sheldon was staying. But he was not at the residence.
Deputies investigated and found Dotson sleeping at another home on the property. Sheldon's body was later found in a shallow grave.
A motive for the crime is not yet apparent. However, according to the Kalamazoo Gazette, Dotson told deputies he needed a place to stay for the night and was upset because Sheldon would not let him stay at his home. Instead, Sheldon told Dotson he could stay in a trailer on the property that had no heat or electricity. An additional report from WOOD-TV related that Sheldon had been convicted in 1995 of attempted sexual criminal conduct second degree against Dotson, who was a minor at the time.
Man caught with loaded gun, drugs
South Haven police arrested a Kalamazoo man, Saturday, after a citizen called to say the man was standing in the road with a gun.
Police received a call at 6:30 p.m. from a citizen in the 300 block of Edgell. The caller described the man, who officers were able to locate a short time later.
Police say the 18-year-old man had a loaded handgun, cocaine and marijuana. He was arrested and taken to Van Buren County Jail.
“This incident illustrates the positive working relationship between members of the community and the South Haven Police Department,” Deputy Chief Natalie Thompson said.
Two suspects arrested for robbing South Haven area convenience store
Two suspects from Van Buren County are behind bars after being arrested for the armed robbery of Phoenix Country Market this past December.
Anton Terry Walters, 36, of Bangor, and Melody Michelle Rawson, 17, of Paw Paw, were arraigned Wednesday in Seventh District Court, according to a news release from the Van Buren County Sheriff's department.
Walters faces armed robbery and habitual offender - 2nd notice charges, while Rawson was charged with armed robbery. Both of their bonds were set at $100,000, each.
The robbery of Phoenix Country Market, located near the corner of 68th Street and Phoenix Road in Geneva Township, occurred at approximately 8:30 p.m., Dec. 28. Deputies were initially told that a suspect entered the store, pulled a hand gun from his pocket and pointed it at an employee and ordered her to open the cash register drawer. The employee did so and the suspect grabbed an undetermined amount of cash out of the drawer and fled the scene prior to the arrival of police.
Police rule out foul play in man's death
After receiving results of an autopsy, the Michigan State Police Paw Paw Post is now stating that a heart attack caused the death of a 65-year-old Decatur man who was found deceased inside his residence following a 911 call Tuesday morning. The death of Terry Dean Gillam was initially investigated as a suspicious death as Gillam had called 911 to report a disturbance at his residence at approximately 5:20 a.m. Tuesday. When troopers arrived at Gillam’s Harrison Street residence a short time later, they found Gillam unconscious inside of his residence. Attempts to revive Gillam were unsuccessful.
An autopsy conducted Wednesday morning determined the cause of Gillam’s death was a heart attack no other signs of injury were noted.
Police investigate suspicious death of Decatur man
The Michigan State Police Paw Paw Post is investigating the suspicious death of a 65-year-old Decatur man, who was found deceased inside his residence, Tuesday..
Police found Terry Dean Gilliam unconscious inside his residence at 5:20 a.m. after receiving a 911 call, according to Lt. Det. Dale Hinz of the state police. Attempts to revive Gillam were unsuccessful.
An autopsy is scheduled today to determine the cause of Gillam’s death.
The investigation of the incident is ongoing.
Crash involving Van Buren County deputy under investigation
A crash that injured five people , including a Van Buren County Sheriff's deputy, is now under investigation by Michigan State Police.
The two-car collision was reported at 7:20 p.m., March 28, on W. Kalamazoo St. in the Village of Bloomingdale, according to First Lt. Dale Hinz of the state police post in Paw Paw.
Hinz reported deputy Todd Oliver was traveling west on Kalamazoo Street to provide assistance to another deputy, who requested backup assistance. When Oliver attempted to pass a Honda driven by 37-year-old Sarah Jelsomeno of Bloomingdale woman, he collided with her vehicle as she attempted to turn left into a driveway. Hinz said the deputy's emergency lights and siren were activated at the time of the accident.
The patrol car struck the Honda near the driver's door. Jelsomeno was taken by ambulance to Bronson Methodist Hospital where she is listed in stable condition. Jelsomeno's 16-year-old son Ethan, who was in the backseat, was flown from the scene to Bronson Hospital where he is listed in stable condition, while her other son, Nicholas, 17, who was in the front seat, was treated at the scene for minor injuries.
Oliver was taken to South Haven Community Hospital for minor injuries, while a 17-year-old student intern passenger, Tyler Graham, was taken to Bronson Hospital with minor injuries. Both Oliver and Graham have been released from the hospitals.
Photo courtesy of South Haven Area Emergency Services
200,000-square-foot barn in Bangor Twp.
Firefighters from six departments battled a fire, Thursday, that broke out at 8 p.m. at a 20,000-square-foot horse barn at 36399 County Road 681, Bangor Township. Because the barn was located in a rural area, Water had to be shuttled to the scene. The owner of the barn was alerted to the fire by a neighbor. Along with the help of firefighters, he was able to salvage about $15,000 worth of equipment from the barn. His horses were not in the barn at the time of the fire. They were in a nearby corral. No one was injured in the blaze that took two hours to extinguish. A preliminary investigation indicates the blaze started in the southwest corner of the building, according to Bangor Community Fire Department Chief Derek Babcock, and may have been caused by a wood boiler that set nearby bales of hay and wood on fire. It The loss of the building was estimated at $200,000. Fire departments on the scene were from Bangor, Columbia, Hartford, Lawrence, Keeler, Watervliet and South Haven.
Bangor council offers city manager job to Bangor Township supervisor
BANGOR — A familiar face will continue to lead the City of Bangor.
Council members, Tuesday, chose interim city manager Regina Hoover to become the town's full-time manager — its fifth one in the past two-and-a-half years.
“We have to have a 'working' manager who can function in all of the departments, I think Regina is that kind of person,” Mayor Nick Householder said.
Council member Jim Tanner agreed. “We've got somebody who's lived here all her life and very qualified,” he said.
“I was really excited and happy,” Hoover said after she heard news she had been chosen.
Hoover, who was selected from four candidates, has been serving as Bangor's interim city manager since January, following the departure of Ryan Fellows.
She has served as Bangor Township supervisor for the past 10 years and was office manager of State Farm Insurance agency in Bangor for 12 years before resigning in January to become the city's interim manager. State Farm is owned by Mayor Pro Tem Lynne Farmer, who recused herself from voting at Tuesday's special meeting.
Not everyone on the council favored hiring Hoover. Danny Fry, who cast the lone no vote, said he thought Dale Stuart of Clarkston had more experience and education. Stuart served as a city manager in Cheboygan and Keego Harbor in Oakland County for a total of 8 years. Prior to that he was supervisor of the Charter Township of Independence in Clarkston from 1991-2004.
“I was impressed by (Stuart), “ Fry said. “I know it (his salary projection) looked unaffordable, but I'd like to throw (a salary proposal) out to him.”
Other council members agreed that Stuart's resume and interview before council members on Saturday, March 21 was favorable.
“He had a ton of knowledge,” council member Lucas Koenig said.
But several council members worried the city's wouldn't be able to match Stuart's salary proposal.
“It's $20,000 higher than our budget,” council member Harold Bator said, referring to the approximately $58,000 the city has been paying to its managers in the past.
Council members also showed concern about the distance Stuart lives from Bangor. Clarkston is approximately two hours away from Bangor. Council members said Stuart told them his family would continue to reside in Clarkston, but he would rent an apartment in Bangor and commute home on the weekends.
“Right now we have a person (Hoover) vested in this community,” council member Fred Hicks said. “His family lives two hours away. I'd rather go with what I know.”
Now that they have hired Hoover, the mayor and city attorney will draw up a salary and contract for the new city manager, which will be presented at the next council meeting, April 6. Householder suggested to the council a starting salary of $52,000 with health insurance, two weeks of vacation and one week of personal time.
If Hoover reaches a salary agreement with the city, she will have to resign her position as Bangor Township supervisor. The township then would have to appoint a supervisor to take her place until her term of office ends in 2016.
Bloomingdale man faces drug charges
A 26-year-old Bloomingdale man faces several criminal charges after police found methamphetamine and marijuana in his home.
Van Buren County Sheriff's deputies arrested the man this morning after obtaining a search warrant for a home in the 14000 block of 45th Street in Bloomingdale Township. His name is not being released pending arraignment.
During the search of the residence and outbuildings, deputies found several meth manufacturing components, meth, and a marijuana grow operation consisting of two marijuana plants.
The man was arrested for operating and maintaining a meth lab, possession of meth, manufacture of marijuana and maintaining a drug house.
The investigation is ongoing and once completed will be forwarded to the Van Buren County Prosecutors office for review
Body of missing man found in Lawrence
A man who went missing from a mental health facility in Lawrence has been found dead.
Van Buren County Sheriff's department reports the body of 34-year-old Ryan Brocklehurst was found, Saturday, in the Village of Lawrence,
Deputies say no foul play was involved in the man's death. “The cause of death was self-inflicted,” said Tony Evans of the sheriff's department.
“His family along with the Van Buren County Sheriff's office would like to thank the public and news media for assistance in this matter,” Evans said.
Brocklehurst was reported missing Thursday from the treatment center on Bangor Road in the Village of Lawrence where he was under medical care. Deputies said he had no access to his prescribed medications.
A search for Brocklehurst was conducted right away. Deputies said he had very few contacts in southwest Michigan ad even fewer places where he might stay.
Waterfront Film Festival organizers cancel event in South Haven; Plan new one in Grand Rapids
By BECKY KARK
Editor and general manager
Waterfront Film Festival is saying goodbye to South Haven, at least for now.
After two years of presenting the popular three-day screening of independent films in this lakeshore community organizers are packing their bags and heading to Grand Rapids this fall to host an event as part of ArtPrize.
Festival organizers say they are doing so to expand their regional presence in West Michigan. They have formed a partnership with ArtPrize to create a competitive film component, “ArtPrize OnScreen: Presented by Waterfront Film Festival.” It will take place during the ArtPrize's open-air art competition, Sept. 23-Oct. 11. More details as well as times and locations will be announced at a later date, festival organizers say.
The news saddened Lisa Shanley, executive director of the South Haven/Van Buren County Visitors Bureau.
“The community of South Haven and the South Haven Convention and Visitors Bureau really rolled out the red carpet to support and host this event the past two years, and our hope is that the festival will strongly consider that commitment as they plan for the future.” she said. “We wish them the best of luck in 2015 and hope for their return to the lakeshore.”
Several weeks ago, Shanley had been in conversations with Hopwood DePree, co-founder of the Waterfront Film Festival, and according to a March 4 article published in the Kalamazoo Gazette, it was her understanding the festival would not take place in South Haven this year.
However, she later told the Gazette that in further conversations with Hopwood DePree she was assured the festival has been “very pleased with the level of support from the South Haven/Van Buren County Convention & Visitors Bureau and the South Haven community as a whole.”
When Hopwood DePree was contacted by the Gazette he said the festival was still in its early planning process for the June event, and that there were no firm plans to release to the general public.
"We had no intention of making an announcement the festival was canceled," DePree said. "We were trying to figure out the logistics for 2015, like we would have been doing for the last 15 years."
But, once word got out about the uncertainty of the festival in South Haven, Waterfront Film Festival organizers had a change of heart.
“We had been trying to figure out a way to host both events this year,” estival co-founder Dori DePree said. But, she went on to say, “we found people were already rescheduling and making other arrangements. That continued to happen during the following days, and we realized rather than spending all of our time and energy trying to counteract rumors, it would be better to move forward
and focus 100 percent on this new and exciting opportunity with ArtPrize in Grand
Rapids for 2015. We hope to return with a summer lakeshore event as well in 2016.”
Waterfront Film Festival debuted in Saugatuck in 1999 and took place there for 14 years until festival organizers decided to expand their presence two years ago and relocate the event to South Haven. Both communities, according to Hopwood DePree, remain in the plans as a reinvention of festival activities enter Grand Rapids. The vision for the coming years is to have multiple communities involved.
Although the Waterfront Film Festival is moving away from the lakeshore, organizers' decision to partner with ArtPrize in Grand Rapids is consistent with the festival's mission to offer more events throughout the West Michigan region, according to Hopwood DePree.
“Since the inception of the Waterfront Film Festival in 1999, we have continually made
strides to raise the organization’s presence throughout the region to help build
appreciation for inventive filmmaking and the middle-coast film industry,” he said. “We have been in conversations with ArtPrize for quite a while on this front, and we now feel we are in a good position to expand in this way.”
SAGIndie, Screen Actors Guild Magazine, ranked Waterfront among the top five film
festival’s in the world. In recent years the festival has programmed more than 80 films
each year – including documentaries, shorts and narrative features – as well as Q&A and
industry mixers with visiting filmmakers and actors.
“There is so much opportunity in this partnership, with Waterfront’s robust experience in
film coupled with the inspired offerings and public enthusiasm associated with ArtPrize,
we are looking forward to combining these efforts as a great opportunity for both
organizations and to be extremely appealing to artists, filmmakers and the public.”
Hopwood DePree said.
Man arrested in connection with triple homicide in Allegan County
A 32-year-old man will face charges for his involvement in the deaths of three people who were found deceased in a burned out trailer, Tuesday, in Dorr Township, in northeastern Allegan County.
Undersheriff Frank Baker of the Allegan County Sheriff's Department reported today that Corey Lee LaValley, 32, was arrested Tuesday evening in Eaton County. He was brought back to Allegan County to face formal charges that could be filed as early as today, according to Baker.
The victims — two children and a woman — were discovered inside a burning home at 2360 Briarwood Ave. in Dorr Twp. Tuesday at 1 p.m. while firefighters from Dorr and Salem Township fire departments were battling the blaze. The names of the victims will be released after autopsies have confirmed their identities. Those autopsies were scheduled this morning.
“This investigation is ongoing and more details will be released when they are made available from the investigators,” Baker said in a news release.
PHOTO: Corey Lee LaValley
Police trying to locate missing elderly woman
UPDATE: Van Buren County Sheriff's Department reported at 3:50 p.m. "with deep sorrow" that Donna Moulten's body was found in a field near her home.
"A K-9 unit from the Cass County Sheriff's Office located the body," said Sgt. David Walker of the sheriff's office. "There were no signs of foul play and only one set of footprints, that being hers, up to her final resting place were present," Walker said.
HERE IS THE ORIGINAL STORY: Van Buren County Sheriff's deputies are requesting the public's help in locating an elderly woman, who suffers from dementia and Alzeheimer's Disease.
Deputies say 87-year-old Donna Moulten was last seen at 10:30 p.m., Monday, by her son, at her home at 60029 County Road 687 in Keeler Township.
She is described as 5'5” and weighs approximately 115 pounds. She has grey hair, hazel eyes and was last seen wearing a blue nightgown.
Deputies are currently using K-9 units from Van Buren and Cass counties to find Moulten. Area fire departments are also assisting in the search. The Michigan State Police helicopter is currently en-route to the Keeler Township area to provide further assistance.
Anyone with information about Moulten's whereabouts is asked to call the sheriff's office at 269-657-3101.
People venture onto ice covered Lake Michigan this past weekend. Safety officials are warning people to stay off the ice because it has become unstable due to the warmer temperatures the South Haven area is experiencing.
Person rescued after falling on Lake Michigan's melting ice
As the South Haven area continues to thaw from its long winter nap, emergency officials warn people to stay off the ice on Lake Michigan and the Black River.
This past weekend, South Haven Area Emergency Services rescued a person that had fallen on the ice on Lake Michigan north of the lighthouse.
“The melting snow and rising temperatures will make the ice even more dangerous to venture out onto,” said Ron Wise, executive director of South Haven Area Emergency Services. “The incident put our rescuers at great risk due to the fact it took many of them to reach the victim and carry him off the ice.”
Wise went on to say ice can change in a matter of seconds this time of year, due to water moving underneath it on the Black River and Lake Michigan.
Woman arrested for possession of crystal meth
A 26-year-old woman from Decatur faces drug charges after deputies found crystal meth in the pocket of her jeans.
The incident began at 12:50 a.m. this morning when a Van Buren County Sheriff's deputy stopped her vehicle for defective equipment on M-40 Highway near 66th Avenue in Antwerp Township.
Deputies found the woman did not have a driver's license or other identification card. They then searched her and found a tube containing crystal meth in her pocket. Crystal meth, according to deputies, is a much more pure and rare form of methamphetamine.
The woman was arrested and taken to Van Buren County jail and faces charges for possession of meth and driving without a license.
Slippery roadway contributes to woman's death in Lee Twp.
LEE TWP. — A Bangor Township woman died Tuesday afternoon after she lost control of her vehicle on a slippery roadway in Lee Township.
Allegan County Sheriff's department reports that Cindy Rosales, 40, was driving on 56th Street near 102nd Avenue at approximately 4 p.m. when she suddenly lost control of her vehicle and spun into the path of an oncoming pickup truck.
She died at the scene of the accident. “The force of the crash along with the victim not wearing a seatbelt led to her fatal injuries,” said Sgt. Chris Kuhn.
The driver of the pickup truck, a 53-year-old man from Allegan, suffered minor injuries and sought medical treatment on his own.
Deputies say the snow-covered roadway played a role in the fatality, but they are not sure why Rosales suddenly lost control of her vehicle.
An autopsy will be conducted to rule out any possible medical-related incidents which may have contributed to the crash. At this time there is no indication of drugs or alcohol being involved.
The sheriff’s office was assisted on the scene by the Michigan State Police and the Lee Township Fire Dept.
Health officials: Allegan County girl not infected by the measles
Allegan County Health Department officials say they are certain that a child who was thought to have the measles does not.
This past week, the department reported a 15-month-old unvaccinated child from Allegan County had been “clinically” diagnosed with measles, a highly contagious disease. The diagnosis prompted the county health department to seek further testing.
Officials today say today they have received word from the Michigan Department of Community Health laboratory that all three tests conducted to cofirm signs of the Measles came out negative.
Allegan Health Department would like to remind the community that vaccination is the most important strategy to prevent communicable diseases, such as measles. If, you are unsure of your vaccination status, check with your healthcare provider.
This car became trapped underneath a semi during a crash that happened at 11:15 a.m. today on Interstate 196 near the Covert exit. (Photo courtesy of South Haven Area Emergency Services)
Two injured after car becomes trapped underneath semi
UPDATE; The southbound lane of I-196 between exit 13-18 is now open to traffic.
Two people were taken to the hospital today after a multi-vehicle accident involving three semi's occurred on Interstate 196.
The accident occurred at 11:15 a.m. this morning in the southbound lanes of Interstate 196 near the Covert exit.
South Haven Area Emergency Services reports the collision caused a car to become pinned underneath the trailer of one of the semi's. The two people in the car had to be extricated from the wreckage by rescue workers from Covert Fire Department. The victims were then taken to South Haven Health System by ambulances from Covert Fire Department and South Haven Area Emergency Services.
The accident has forced the closure of southbound I-196 from exit 18 in South Haven to exit 13 in Covert Township. Traffic is being re-routed via M-140 Highway.
Winter weather advisory issued in Van Buren, Allegan counties
Motorists are urged to take extreme precautions when traveling along roadways in Van Buren, Allegan, Ottawa and Kalamazoo counties today and tomorrow.
The National Weather Service predicts 4 to 8 inches of snow will fall today and Thursday and has issued a winter weather advisory until 7 p.m. Thursday evening.
Area residents can expect not only snow but blowing and drifting this afternoon. Wind chills are expected to fall to -5 to -15 degrees below zero.
Roadways are snow covered and slippery right now and occasional whiteouts are expected as the wind picks up.
Interstate 94 was closed briefly late this morning near County Road 365 in Van Buren County due to an accident. The roadway is now reopened.
The National Weather Service urges motorists to carry a winter survival kit in their vehicles, including a charged cell phone, blankets, warm clothing, a flashlight, a sack of sand or cat litter and battery booster cables.
People are also urged to limit their time outside and dress in multiple layers, making sure all exposed skin is covered. In this kind of winter weather, frostbite can occur in 30 minutes of exposure to cold temperatures.
South Haven's Bobbie Goodwin (24) is shown competing in a basketball game earlier this season. The versatile athlete has earned a track scholarship to attend Siena Heights Unviersity in the fall. (Photo by Jody Warner)
All-around athlete headed to college on track scholarship
Once she graduates in May, a South Haven High School senior athlete will trade in her cap and gown for an athletic scholarship to attend Siena Heights College.
Bobbie Goodwin, a three-sport athlete for the Rams, has signed a track and field athletic scholarship, according to South Haven Athletic Director Jamin Olds.
Goodwin and her family took part in a signing ceremony earlier this month at the high school.
As a junior, Goodwin just missed all-state honors at the Division 2 state meet in the shot put event. Only the top 8 finishers medal; Goodwin placed 9th. She made it to the state meet after winning first place at the Division 2 regional in both discus and shot put with throws of 109-3 and 33-5, respectively. She also won the discus and shot put competitions at the Wolverine Conference Tournament in 2014.
“Bobbie is a tremendous athlete and her upside in track and field is limitless,” said South Haven track coach Charlie Richards. “If she stays on her current trajectory, she should shatter school records in the shot put and discus throw while also earning league championships and regional championships in both events (as she did last year). She will be a team captain again and can earn All-State honors in both events this year if she stays consistent.
“In college, they look for untapped potential and with Bobbie, she has plenty,” Richards went on to say. “I think she can enter Siena Heights as a freshman and compete to be one of their top throwers in the shot put, discus throw, and weight throw/hammer throw.
Goodwin isn't just a key member of the track team, she also has played leading roles on the varsity volleyball and basketball teams.
The 2014 Wolverine All-conference hoopster is currently averaging 14.6 points per game and 8.9 rebounds for the Rams. She also earned all-conference and all-region honors this past fall as a member of the Lady Rams volleyball team.
“She won our team's offensive award by leading the team in kills,” Rams volleyball coach Katie Olds said. “She was also voted by her peers for the teammate award this (past fall).”
Albemarle plans to sell its South Haven plant
By ANDREW LERSTEN
For the Tribune
A company that employs 125 people in South Haven plans to sell its pharmaceutical plant at 1421 Kalamazoo St.
Albemarle Corp. expects to sell the South Haven factory along with one in Pennsylvania as part of a decision to focus on the company's core businesses that involve bromine, lithium and other chemicals and surface treatments, according to a story in the Altoona Mirror, in Pennsylvania.
Albemarle reported in a 2014 annual financial statement that its Performance Chemicals division net sales for the fourth quarter of 2014 had decreased 9 percent from the same period in 2013. Company officials partially blamed the loss on unfavorable sale volumes from Fine Chemistry Services and Specialty Chemicals, which are produced at several of its plants, including the one in South Haven.
Albemearle officials told the Altoona Mirror they will continue to operate the two plants and anticipate that once the factories are sold new owners will operate them in a similar manner.
Albemarle's South Haven plant manager was not available to comment.
Albemarle, which is based in Baton Rouge, La., makes bulk pharmaceuticals at the South Haven plant. Albemarle bought the former DSM plant in 2006.
South Haven city officials assisted DSM in selling the plant to Albemarle, and plans to use a similar process to assist Albemarle in finding a new owner, South Haven City Manager Brian Dissette said. Before it was owned by DSM, the plant was owned by Wyckoff Chemical.
"The city's top priority is assisting the process to ensure the local jobs are preserved," Dissette said. "The city has already met with Albemarle's representatives and offered assistance with the marketing of the site."
This photo shows the 1999 Chevy Lumina that was found on County Road 215 in Arlington Township. Van Buren County Sheriff's deputies say the occupants fled the scene. The driver was later found at South Haven Health System where he was being treated for injuries sustained in the rollover accident.
Bangora area man could face criminal charges in vehicle rollover incident
A 22-year-old Bangor area man could face criminal charges after crashing his vehicle early Sunday morning, in Arlington Township.
Van Buren County Sheriff's deputies report they received a call at 4:30 a.m. regarding two suspicious men walking along County Road 215 by 44th Avenue. When deputies investigated they did not find the men, however, they did find a 1999 Chevy Lumina that had been involved in a rollover accident. Deputies discovered the driver and passenger had fled the crash scene on foot. The driver of the vehicle was later located at South Haven Health System where he was being treated for injuries he suffered in the crash. His 19-year-old passenger, also from Bangor, was not injured.
Deputies believe alcohol played a role in the accident. The driver, whose name is not being released, was not arrested, however, deputies are seeking criminal charges from the prosecutor's office. Charges include leaving the scene of a personal injury crash, operating while intoxicated and driving with a suspended license.
Van Buren County Sheriff's deputies are shown responding, Friday, to an accident in which he driver of a Chevy Lumina crashed into a freight train in downtown Bangor. (Photo by TJ Schnooberger)
Vehicle crashes into freight train in Bangor
A Bangor area man managed to escape injury after his car crashed into a freight train this past Friday afternoon.
Police say John Serdel, 59, hit the CSX train about 1:45 p.m. on Monroe Street (M-43 Highway) in downtown Bangor.
Serdel had just pulled out of a local business and was traveling west on Monroe when he tried to remove a bank card from his wallet, according to a Van Buren County Sheriff's report. In doing so, he didn't notice the railroad crossing lights had started flashing to indicate an oncoming train. Serdel tried to accelerate and get through the railroad crossing, however, he wasn't able to avoid the train, which struck the rear driver side of his Chevy Lumina.
The impact from the collision rotated the Lumina and threw it from the path of the train. Serdel was able to escape from the car without injury. The train, which was traveling north at 20-25 miles per hour at the time of the accident. was able to stop further up the tracks.
His vehicle had to be towed from the scene. The train did not sustain any damage. Serdel was cited at the scene for careless driving.
Snowstorm forces school closures
February came roaring in Sunday with a snowstorm that all but paralyzed southwest Michigan.
Strong winds, wind chills in the single digits and a foot of snow that fell throughout the area made many roads nearly impassable for motorists.
Because of the blowing snow throughout the day on Sunday, snow plow crews were forced to wait until the early hours of today to begin clearing roads.
Despite road crew efforts, many schools throughout the area, including South Haven, Fennville, Covert and Lake Michigan College's South Haven campus are closed today. Van Buren County government offices are closed as well, along with Van Buren County Senior Services activities.
People will also have to do without the services of Van Buren County Public Transit, which cancelled all of its bus routes for today.
There was one bright spot from yesterday's storm – police agencies reported very few traffic mishaps.
“We were relatively quiet,” said Jamie Washegesic, an information officer for South Haven Police Department.
Two police vehicles struck by semi's on I-94; One deputy injured
This morning's icy road conditions played a role in two collisions on Interstate 94 that involved two semi-trucks and two Van Buren County sheriff's vehicles.
The collisions occurred while deputies were policing traffic crashes on I-94, according to Lt. Dale Hinz, of the Michigan State Police post in Paw Paw.
“Freezing rain that fell during the early morning hours had left area roadways slippery which complicated the morning commute,” Hinz said.
The first crash occurred at approximately 2:15 a.m. on I-94 eastbound near exit 56 in Paw Paw Township. A 35-year-old semi driver from Chicago lost control of his vehicle, which struck the vehicle of a deputy who was investigating a slide-off that had occurred previously on the interstate.
The impact rolled the deputy’s Ford Explorer police vehicle onto its side. The deputy was inside his vehicle at the time of the crash and had to be extricated by fire personnel. He was transported to the Bronson Lakeview Hospital in Paw Paw where he was treated and released. The driver of the semi was also treated and released at Bronson Lakeview Hospital. The driver and passenger of the vehicle involved in the prior slide-off were inside their vehicle at the time of the second collision but were unhurt.
The second accident involving a semi and sheriff's vehicle occurred at 5:30 a.m. on I-94 near exit 56. The semi, driven by a 37 year old man from Ontario, Canada, lost control of his vehicle, striking the deputy’s Ford Explorer that was parked on I-94 with its emergency lights activated to warn motorists to exit the freeway at exit 56 as traffic was being re-routed following the previous deputy-involved crash. The deputy was not inside his vehicle at the time of the impact and there were no injuries in this crash.
Both semi drivers were issued citations for driving too fast for conditions.
“The Michigan State Police are again reminding motorists to slow down and use extra caution during winter weather driving,” Hinz said. “The safety of law enforcement and first responders depends upon your ability to maintain control of your vehicle.”
State suspends physician assistant's license
By BECKY KARK
Editor and general manager
A physician assistant who practiced in South Haven has had his medical license suspended after a federal court convicted him on drug charges.
The Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs announced Monday it has suspended the license of 43-year-old James Lander Wertheimer.
The state suspended Wertheimer's license after he was convicted in July of 2014 for Acquiring Controlled Substances by Fraud in the United States District Court in South Carolina.
The conviction stemmed from an investigation that showed Wertheimer had acquired a large amount of prescriptions for Oxycodone in 2012 from a doctor in South Carolina while also obtaining the same prescriptions from a doctor in Michigan, according to U.S. Assistant Attorney William Day. Wertheimer was sentenced to probation for two years and ordered to pay $600 in fines. His medical license in South Carolina was also suspended at that time.
Wertheimer can request a hearing to have his license in Michigan reinstated, according to Jeannie Vogel, a spokesperson for the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.
“At such a hearing a licensee must prove to the administrative law judge that their being allowed to practice again is not a threat to the health and safety of the public; which does not always happen,” Vogel said.
Wertheimer was originally indicted on the drug charge in 2013 by the U.S. Attorney General's office in South Carolina.
Wertheimer had been employed with South Haven Family Physicians starting in 2012, but left that practice a year ago. according to a Family Physicians spokesperson.
Prior to coming to South Haven, Wertheimer served as a physician's assistant in South Carolina from 2006-2012. Before that he was a paramedic for 10 years in South Carolina
The photo above shows a camper similar to one that was taken from a home in Geneva Township on Friday.
Police report camper stolen from Geneva Township home
Police are seeking the public's help in finding a camper trailer stolen Friday from a home in Geneva Township.
Van Buren County Sheriff's department reports that at least two suspects arrived to the home at 05000 68th Street sometime between 10 a.m. and noon and used a four-wheel drive vehicle to hook up the camper and pull it out of the driveway. They then headed south on 68th Street, according to the sheriff's department's investigation.
The 71-year-old woman who lives at the address and owns the camper was out-of-town at the time of the incident. It was a neighbor who first noticed the camper stolen. He called the sheriff's department and said he had left his home around 10 a.m. and returned at noon to see the camper was missing.
The camper is described as a 24-foot-long 1998 Jayco Eagle lite 3800. It is white or cream colored with green and gold graphics. The front of it is darkened from tree sap. It has a roll-out canopy and rail on the back for extra luggage storage.
Anyone with information is encouraged to contact the Sheriff’s Office at 269-657-3101.
Man arrested for armed robbery of South Haven business
A South Haven man faces criminal charges in connection with an armed robbery at a local business.
The 24-year-old man is expected to be arraigned this week in Seventh District Court in South Haven, according to a report from the South Haven Police Department.
The armed robbery was reported to police at 11:35 a.m., Saturday. Police responded to the Boost Mobile/U-Haul store at the corner of Phillips and Green streets.
The suspect fled when police arrived. South Haven Police located and arrested him a short time later with assistance from the Michigan State Police canine unit, Covert Township Police and Van Buren County Sheriff's Department. Police also seized evidence associated with the crime.
The suspect was taken to Van Buren County Jail pending his arraignment.
Seven people were injured in a head-on collision, Tuesday night, on M-43 Highway in Almena Township.
7 people injured in head-on collision
Seven people from Mattawan, including four children, were rushed to area hospitals Tuesday night following a head-on collision on M-43 Highway, in Almena Township.
Van Buren County deputies are still investigating the cause of the accident that occurred shortly before 9 p.m. on M-43 west of County Road 653.
When deputies arrived to the accident scene they found a 2012 Buick Regal and a 2003 Kia Sedona with extensive front-end damage blocking all lanes of M-43.
The two drivers of the vehicle had to be extricated from their vehicles. The victims of the crash were also beginning to suffer from the effects of the -5 degree temperatures, as well.
The 39-year-old female driver of the Regal and her 10-year-old male and 12-year-old female passengers all sustained broken bones and possible internal injuries, according to the sheriff's department news release.
The 25-year-old woman driving the Sedona suffered severe injuries to her face and lower extremities and possible internal injuries, while her 42-year-old male passenger and 2-year-old and 5-month-old passengers sustained minor non-life threatening injuries.
The victims with serious injuries were listed in critical but stable condition at area hospitals.
M-43 Highway was closed near the accident scene until 11:30 p.m.
It does not appear that speed, alcohol, drugs or texting were contributing factors of the crash.
Anyone with information about the crash can contact the Van Buren County Sheriffs Office at (269) 657-3101, Crime Stoppers 1-800-342-7867, Silent Observer (269) 343-2100 or their local police department.
Harold Knight, who is a person of interest in the death of his wife, Sara Lee Knight, is shown in this undated photo driving a 2009 Subaru Forrester that belonged to his wife. Deputies are looking for Harold Knight and think he may be driving the vehicle.
Deputies investigate 'suspicious death' in Ganges Township
THIS STORY HAS BEEN UPDATED FROM THE ONE PUBLISHED EARLIER TODAY.
Deputies in Allegan County are investigating the death of a woman found in a Ganges Township home this morning.
The woman's death appears to be suspicious and is being investigated as a homicide, according to Capt. Frank Baker of the Allegan County Sheriff's Department.
Deputies were called to the home on 116th Avenue near 62nd Street after receiving a call at approximately 8 a.m. that a deceased person had been discovered there.
Deputies responded and found the victim who they say is 49-year-old Sara Lee Knight. Police say they believe the 911 call was made by Knight's husband, Harold “Butch” Knight. The call, however, was not made from the couple's home. Deputies are identifying Harold Knight, 66, as a person of interest and say he may be driving a 2009 Subaru Forrester, light green in color, registered to the victim, and bearing Michigan registration plate GM74A. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Allegan County Sheriff's Office at 269-673-0467.
PHOTO: Harold "Butch" Knight
Families left homeless after fire destroys home
Three families found themselves homeless this past weekend after a fire destroyed a two-story home they were renting in South Haven Township.
Firefighters from South Haven Area Emergency Services responded to the 911 call at 9:30 p.m. , Jan. 9, at the home at 70107 County Road 380. However, they arrived to a structure engulfed in flames, according to Fire Chief Ron Wise.
“The fire started upstairs and burned for awhile before the family noticed,” Wise said. “When we got to the scene, there was heavy, heavy fire. It was 1,200 degrees upstairs. We found aluminum rails melted. The conditions upstairs were so hot inside the home we had to leave and get to the fire from the outside.”
After Michael Wallace and his wife Debbie saw flames coming through the first story ceiling, they immediately exited the house along with their daughter and three grandchildren, including a newborn baby boy, whose parents are Jack McCoy and Alyssa Burkert. Another relative was also home at the time of the blaze with her two children.
McCoy and Burkert said they had just left to run an errand at a nearby store prior to the start of the fire. However, when they arrived home, they witnessed firefighters struggling to battle the flames and Wallace overcome by smoke after he had tried to remove belongings from the house. Wallace was taken to South Haven Health System for treatment of smoke inhalation and released the following day.
“We worked on the fire for three-and-a-half hours in 10-degree weather,” Wise said.
The fire began in the upper story of the home, however, firefighters still are not sure how it started, according to Wise.
“There was a lot of damage to the home,” he said. The home is owned by Lou Crawford.
The three families are being assisted by the American Red Cross in Hartford. People who want to make donations can contact the Red Cross at 269-621-6456.
Van rolls over in Geneva Township
An Eau Claire woman was ticketed by police after her car rolled over and crashed, Sunday, in Geneva Township, Sylvia Payne, 22, was northbound on County Road 681 near 4th Avenue Sunday afternoon when she lost control of her minivan, according to a Van Buren County Sheriff's report. The vehicle ended up crossing the centerline, and then ran off the roadway and rolled over into a ditch. Payne suffered minor injuries in the crash, but refused medical treatment. Her passenger, 36-year-old Brad Pullins of Eau Claire was not injured. Deputies cited Payne for driving too fast for road conditions.
The suspect who robbed Consumers Credit Union, Friday, is caught on surveillance camera
Suspect sought in robbery of credit union
South Haven Police are looking for a suspect who robbed Consumers Credit Union this past Friday.
The suspect is described as a white man, with a stocky build, wearing a dark colored hat, sunglasses, gloves and a dark-colored Carhart-type coat and tan pants. He left the scene in an older model white Chevy Impala, last seen headed west from the credit union, located on Phoenix Road near 73rd Street.
The robbery was reported to police at 1:30 p.m., Friday. The lone suspect obtained money from the credit union and left the scene. No one was injured during the incident.
South Haven police say the robbery at the South Haven credit union was similar to one that occurred Jan. 5 in Kalamazoo County. Both the suspect and his vehicle were describe as similar in that incident.
South Haven Police are responding to a reported robbery this afternoon at Consumers Credit Union. The robbery was reported shortly before 2 p.m. at the credit union located on Phoenix Street, near 73rd Street. Bank employees are reported to be under lockdown while police investigate. No additional details are available at this time.
Fire damages vehicle
Photo courtesy of South Haven Area Emergency Services
Firefighters from South Haven Area Emergency Services battled a car fire, this morning, that destroyed a 1996 4-door GMC Jimmy. The vehicle belonged to Juan Gomez of the South Haven area. He was visiting a friend at Briar Hills Apartment complex when the vehicle caught fire. The blaze was called in at 8:36 a.m., and firefighters arrived at the scene three minutes later to find the car engine and front passenger area fully engulfed in flames. No one was injured in the incident. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.
Cold, snowy weather returns
After a month's hiatus, winter has resumed its cold, icy grip on Southwestern Michigan, creating dangerous road conditions and school closures.
Area residents woke up today to single-digit temperatures, 2-3 inches of snow and slick, icy roads.
The cold temps and road conditions prompted area schools to close, including Bangor, Bloomingdale, South Haven and Covert.
The return of winter's cold, icy blast actually began Sunday when 1-2 inches fell on the South Haven area, causing slippery roads that kept emergency workers busy responding to accidents.
Slick roads were blamed for four accidents that occurred this past weekend, injuring three people, including a nine-month pregnant woman, according to the Van Buren County Sheriff's Department.
Road conditions aren't expected to get much better, either.
The National Weather Service has issued a winter weather advisory until noon, Tuesday for Van Buren, Kalamazoo and Barry counties.
Snow showers are expected to continue today with an additional 1-3 inches of snow. Minus-10 wind chills are expected this afternoon and snow showers are predicted to intensify this evening and overnight with 2-4 more inches of snow. South Haven and other lakeshore areas could see 4-6 inches of snow.
Throughout much of the week, lake-effect snow showers are expected to continue, according to a weather outlook from the National Weather Service. By Sunday, heavy lake-effect snow totals are predicted for areas along and west of US-131.
Miss South Haven 2015 Amaris Bryant is shown with Mr. South Haven 2015 Christian Burmeister
New Miss South Haven crowned
By BECKY KARK
Editor and general manager
Amaris Bryant earned the 2015 Miss South Haven crown, Saturday, in front of a full house at South Haven High School's Listiak Auditorium.
Amaris, 17, the daughter of Mara Givhan and Vincent Bryant, is a senior at South Haven High School.
“This is the highlight of my life,” she said after being crowned by 2014 Miss South Haven Brooke Boyd. “The main person I want to thank is my mom.”
Other members of the Miss South Haven court include first runner-up Allie Ruppert, second runner-up and Miss Entrepreneur Jessica Miles, and Miss Congeniality Jessica Price.
Judges named Christian Burmeister as Mr. South Haven.
Amaris wore a cream-colored gown with a bodice accented in gold sequins.
A senior at South Haven High School, she is a member of the National Honor Society and band, and studies cosmetology at Van Buren Technology Center. After graduation, she plans to become certified in cosmetology and then attend Western Michigan University to study neurology.
First Runner-Up Allie, 17, is the daughter of Theressa (CORRECT SPELLING) and Greg Ruppert. The South Haven High School senior is a member of the National Honor Society, student council, Shoreline Dance Academy, theater and choir.
Second Runner-Up Jessica, 18, is the daughter of Steve and Kathleen Miles. She is a senior at South Haven High School where she is a member of the National Honor Society, president of the National High School Art Society, captain of the varsity soccer team, and has attended several church youth group mission trips. She plans to pursue a degree in child development in college.
Miss Congeniality Jessica, 17, is the daughter of Stuart and Jennifer Price. She is a junior at South Haven High School.
Remaining contestants included Tayler Turonek, Stephanie Postema, Mia Jackson and Clarissa Meza.
Mr. South Haven Christian, 18, is the son of Ben Burmeister and Cindy Blanchard. He is a senior at South Haven High School where he is a member of the National Honor Society, jazz band, concert band and marching band. He plans to attend Western Michigan University to pursue a career in aviation.
Also competing for Mr. South Haven was Colin Assink.
The contest theme was “The Muffin Man.” The committee chairs were Brandie Rainey and Kim Slazek.
The judges for the contest were long-time Blossomtime Festival volunteer Nancy Pallas of Dowagiac; Eau Claire resident Nancy Schilling, who has served as a judge for the Miss Blossomtime and South West Michigan pageants; and Wayne Prillwitz of Dowagiac, who is a certified Miss America judge.
Paul Layendecker, operations director for 103.7 COSY-FM, served as master of ceremonies.
Area electric customers warned about phone scam
South Haven Police Department is warning electric customers to be aware of a phone scam involving calls from someone claiming to be from the "disconnect" department of Consumers Energy.
The scam involves a request to the customer to purchase green dot cards to use for payment to avoid disconnect, according to Natalie Thompson, deputy chief for the police department.
In addition to Consumers Energy customers, several South Haven Electric customers have also received these prank calls.
“If customers of either Consumers Energy or South Haven Electric have a question about their account, it is best to initiate a call to the appropriate provider,” Thompson said.
Customers receiving the prank calls should report them to the Better Business Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission.
Bangor woman arraigned on child abuse and torture charges
Family member says girl has history of hurting herself
By ANDREW LERSTEN
HP Staff Writer
BANGOR — A Bangor woman charged with felony child abuse and torture is being held in the Van Buren County Jail on $500,000 bond.
Stephanie Arteaga, 47, was arraigned in Seventh District Court Friday on one charge of first-degree child abuse and one charge of torture, court officials said. Police got involved when staff at Bronson LakeView Hospital in Paw Paw found suspicious injuries on Arteaga’s daughter, 6, on Friday, according to state police Detective Sgt. Shane Criger. Child Protective Services had removed the girl from her home last Wednesday, and she was brought to a foster care home, Criger said. Foster care home staff discovered the girl’s injuries and took her to the hospital on Friday, Criger added. “She does have some scarring from possible restraints or binding,” Criger said. Arteaga has two much older children who were not living at the home with her and her daughter, Criger said. If convicted, Arteaga could face up to life in prison, police said earlier. Arteaga’s son David Tyler III, told Wood TV 8 over the weekend that his sister, the alleged victim, likely has autism and has a history of self-inflicted injuries. “When she gets frustrated and she doesn’t understand things, she will bang her head against things, she will scratch herself really bad,” he told the station. “She has pulled out her hair before – just hurt herself.” He added his mother would sometimes have to strap the girl to a stroller or chair just to keep her from hurting herself. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. on Jan. 5. Defense Attorney David Hunt was assigned to represent Arteaga in her case.
PHOTO: Stephanie Arteaga
South Haven High School students are evacuated from the building and escorted to nearby Lincoln Elementary School today after a bomb threat was discovered at the school.
Bomb threat made
at South Haven
Students at South Haven High School have been evacuated from the school premises, today, following a bomb threat reported to police at 12:20 p.m. The threat was apparently written on a piece of paper that was found in a bathroom, according to initial accounts of the incident, said South Haven Police Officer Antwan Bell. After finding out about the threat school officials decided to evacuate the building. Students were escorted to Lincoln Elementary School, which is located next to the high school. The high schoolers weren't the only ones evacuated from the building. Students from Lincoln School and Maple Grove Elementary School were taking part in an assembly in the high school auditorium, and swimming in the high school pool. They too, had to be evacuated to Lincoln School. It is expected that students will stay at Lincoln School throughout the rest of the school day until dismissal time. In the meantime, South Haven police officers and the Michigan State Police bomb sniffing dogs will search the building to ensure there is no bomb. District Superintendent Bob Herrera speculated the threat could be a hoax, due to today being the last day students are in school until Christmas vacation. However, he said, the school district wanted to be cautious and evacuate the building in case the threat is true.
Dog perishes in fire
Firefighters from South Haven Area Emergency Services battled an early morning blaze, today, that ended up destroying a trailer and claiming the life of a dog. The mobile home fire at Whispering Pines Estates was reported at 5:45 a.m. When firefighters arrived the trailer was fully engulfed in flames. The residents of the trailer were not home at the time of the blaze, however, a dog perished. The cause of the fire is under investigation. The mobile home park is located on County Road 388 near 67th Street in Geneva Township. (Photo courtesy of South Haven Area Emergency Services)
A 57-year-old South Haven man had to be rushed to South Haven Health System this morning after he collapsed near the South Haven lighthouse. Tom Watson had been jogging on the south pier toward the lighthouse at approximately 10:30 a.m. when he collapsed, possibly from a heart attack, according to South Haven Police. A man who was fishing on the pier called 911 after seeing Watson fall. Rescue workers from South Haven Area Emergency Services provided emergency medical treatment to Watson and rushed him to South Haven Hospital. Efforts to revive Watson were unsuccessful, however. He died this afternoon. (Photo by Becky Kark)
A total loss
Three fire departments battled a fire, Saturday afternoon, that destroyed a home in Geneva Township. The dwelling on 66th Street, just south of County Road 388 was totally engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived at 12:25 p.m. No one was home when the fire was reported by a passerby. The cause of the fire remains under investigation. South Haven Area Emergency Services along with Bangor and Columbia fire departments put out the fire. (Photo courtesy of South Haven Area Emergency Services).
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.