The South Haven Tribune is a total market coverage newspaper in southwestern Michigan, delivered weekly to 13,500 homes and businesses in northwestern Van Buren County and southwestern Allegan County. The Tribune is owned by Paxton Media Group and is affiliated with The Herald-Palladium.
This Just in...
South Haven man faces criminal charges in cousin's death
A South Haven man is in jail with a $1 million bond and faces multiple criminal charges in the death of his cousin.
Erik Woodall, 22, was arraigned, Thursday, in Seventh District Court for second degree homicide, carrying a concealed weapon and drunk driving in a fatality, May 28, that killed his cousin, 25-year-old Jason Woodall, also of South Haven.
Van Buren County Sheriff's deputies have spent the past several months investigating the two-car crash that occurred on County Road 687 in Geneva Township and came to the conclusion that Erik Woodall intentionally hit the Chevy Blazer driven by his cousin, according to Detective Lt. Mark McCulfor.
“The investigation found that both vehicles were traveling southbound on CR 687 and there was intentional contact between the vehicles causing the crash,” McCulfor said.
The fatality occurred at 10:40 p.m. near 6th Avenue. When deputies and emergency crews arrived they found Jason Woodall trapped in his truck, which had gone off the road after being struck. He was pronounced dead at the scene. His passenger, 20-year-old Cassandra Hayes was injured and treated at the scene. While EMS workers tended to her, Erik Woodall was observed at the crash scene. When deputies tried to interview him he became combative and was arrested for obstructing a police officer and the investigation. While at the scene, investigators found a 9 mm handgun in Eric Woodall’s vehicle.
Man arrested following single-car accident
A 31-year-old Hartford man faces several criminal charges are crashing his pickup, Sunday, in Lawrence Township.
Juan Benavidez was arrested for operating while impaired third offense; drive with a suspended license second offense; driving with no insurance; and for an outstanding bench warrant.
Van Buren County Sheriff's deputies became aware of the accident after received a call from an off-duty Hartford police officer.
Deputies say Benavidez had been traveling south on County Road 681 at a high rate of speed. When he attempted to turn east onto 72nd Street he lost control of his vehicle which crashed into a ditch on the north side of 72nd Street.
After submitting to a preliminary breath test, deputies found the driver's blood alcohol content to be three times above the legal limit. He was arrested and taken to Van Buren County Jail.
Man faces drunk driving charges
A Fennville man faces criminal charges are he was caught driving drunk near a busy intersection in South Haven.
Van Buren County deputies arrested the 29-year-old man for four counts of drunk driving with occupants less than 16 years old in his vehicle.
The arrested occurred at 7:45 p.m. at the intersection of Phoenix Road and Blue Star Highway, according to the sheriff's report.
The driver was originally pulled over for not wearing a seatbelt. Deputies noticed the man smelled of alcohol and admitted to drinking before driving his wife and four children to a store.
The driver failed sobriety tests and was arrested. The children were put into the custody of their mother. Deputies forwarded a report to Child Protective Services regarding the arrest. The driver was also ticketed for not wearing a seatbelt and for a child who was not wearing a seatbelt.
M-43 roundabout pavement project extended to next week
By BECKY KARK
Editor and general manager
Repaving of the M-43 Highway roundabout in South Haven will be extended until at least Wednesday, according to the Michigan Department of Transportation. The work was supposed to have ended by Saturday, Aug. 23, but Mother Nature got in the way.
"The contractor lost two days to rain," said Nick Schirripa, communications representative for MDOT, referring to Tuesday's severe thunderstorm and its aftermath.
The roundabout, as well as a six-mile stretch of M-43 Highway, between Blue Star Highway and 66th Street will remain closed until workers finish the project. Detour roads include 66th Street, 20th Avenue, M-140, Blue Star Highway and Phoenix Road.
Although the roundabout is only six years old, MDOT discovered soon after it was built that the base layer of its pavement did not meet the agency's standards.
Highway department officials could have waited several more years to repave the heavily traveled roundabout, but chose to complete the task this summer to coincide with a 6.5-mile pavement project along M-43 from Blue Star Highway to 64th Street in Geneva Township.
“It was added to the M-43 repaving contract to minimize the cost,” Schirripa said. “The cost to repair the roundabout as part of this contract is significantly lower than it would be if it was a stand-alone project.”
Rieth-Riley Construction Co., which Schirripa said, was not the contractor for the original roundabout project, is overseeing the $1.3 million M-43 Highway and roundabout repaving projects. The roundabout pavement accounts for approximately $150,000 of the total contract.
Half-brother of Oscar-winning actress charged in South Haven stabbing incident
By BECKY KARK
Editor and general manager
A South Haven man faces a preliminary exam in Seventh District Court after allegedly stabbing another South Haven man multiple times, Tuesday.
Stephen Angelo Simpson, 45, who WWMT-TV reported as a half-brother of actress Jennifer Hudson, was arraigned Wednesday at the courthouse in South Haven for attempted murder, first-degree home invasion and habitual offender 4th offense. He will return to court Wednesday, Sept. 3 for his preliminary exam.
South Haven Police say they were called to the apartment of Simpson's estranged wife at 2:25 a.m. in the Maple Glen apartment complex on Baseline Road in South Haven.
Officers found 31-year-old Charles Smith, bleeding, in the hallway near the apartment.
Smith, who was cut in the face, neck and chest, identified Simpson as his attacker. He was taken to South Haven Health System, treated with stitches, and later released.
“(Simpson) used a box cutter.,” said South Haven Assistant Police Chief Natalie Thompson, regarding the weapon. “That is the reason the victim didn't sustain life-threatening injuries. He was stabbed 15 times. It was bloody, but the cuts didn't go deep enough, which was fortunate.”
Thompson said Simpson, who has a history of domestic violence, had knocked on the door of 24-year-old Ericka Nicole Simpson's apartment. When Smith answered the door, Stephen Simpson forced his way inside. Mrs. Simpson escaped by locking herself into a bathroom.
“It appeared to be a love triangle,” Thompson said.
Simpson fled the scene after the stabbing, but turned himself in to police on Wednesday.
The stabbing incident ended up making international news because of Stephen Simpson's reported family link to Oscar-award winning actress and singer Jennifer Hudson.
“I happened to work late Wednesday night and had 25 phone calls from the media. It was unbelievable,” Thompson said. “Entertainment Tonight, CNN, People Magazine, Good Morning America...even the BBC. They seemed more interested in his relationship to Jennifer Hudson more than anything. I thought it was weird.”
Severe thunderstorm damages vehicles, homes; Leaves people without electricity
UPDATED WITH TIMES FOR ELECTRICAL POWER RESTORATION
By BECKY KARK
Editor and general manager
Sixty-mile-per-hour winds from a severe thunderstorm whipped through western Van Buren County, Tuesday afternoon, damaging homes and vehicles and leaving several thousand people without electrical power.
The storm occurred at approximately 2 p.m. and brought what appeared to be straight line winds that started along the lakeshore in South Haven and continued southeast toward Grand Junction and Bangor, leaving a path of destruction in its wake.
Limbs from a willow tree crashed onto the top of a parked car in the 500 block of Monroe Boulevard, bleachers at Elkenburg Park blew over on the city's south side, tree limbs smashed part of home's roof top on 60th Street in Geneva Township, while strong winds bent a tall emergency dispatch tower in half in Grand Junction,
But, one of the most bizarre effects of the storm occurred at Black River Tavern in downtown South Haven when steady wind gusts shattered a large window while patrons dined.
“It (the wind) sounded like a plane hit the window,” said tavern owner Scott Maxwell. “I was downstairs at the time and ran up the stairs just in time to see the last of the glass falling....All of our (45 rpm) records blew off the walls. It was nuts.”
A patron happened to be sitting at a table next to the window when the thick glass shattered.
“She was shaken up but fortunately she wasn't hurt,” Maxwell said.
The tall, nine-foot window measured seven-feet wide, providing an excellent view of the harbor and lighthouse, but for now, the space will be boarded up until the damage can be repaired.
“Mother Nature and God acted in unison,” Maxwell said of the storm. “Nobody got hurt but she did her thing.”
Indeed, Mother Nature was not kind to electric customers served by Consumers Energy and Indiana & Michigan Power Co. Consumers reported nearly 2,000 customers without power in portions of Geneva Township and Columbia Township, while I&M indicated another 2,000 customers out of power in areas that it serves in Van Buren County.
“The winds were estimated at 60 miles per hour,” I&M spokesperson Tracy Warner said. “We used crews from other areas to help restore power.”
Electricity from both utility companies was expected to be restored by 4 p.m., today.
The South Haven area, served by South Haven Board of Public Utilities, also dealt with several power outages on Monday.
The hardest hit area from the storm appeared to be in the tiny town of Grand Junction, where trees and utility poles snapped like matchsticks on properties throughout the area.
“I was startled at all the damage,” said Grand Junction resident Sue Saran. “I was lucky I just had limbs down in the yard.”
Lack of electricity caused several store owners to hook up generators to keep the lights and cash registers working.
“We were without power for about an hour. So I had to go home and get a generator,” said John Daily, owner of the Marathon convenience store and gas station in Grand Junction, said this morning.
The local post office, which had a fallen tree nearly blocking its entry way, was forced to display a sign that read, “Due to the power outage we are unable to accept packages or do money orders...Cash or check only. Sorry for the inconvenience.”
Just south of town, the Grand Junction Fire Department was suffering an issue of its own when a 100-foot tall emergency service dispatch tower bent in half, due to the strong winds.
Luckily, 911 service will continue for local residents, according to Fire Chief Dave Johnson.
“We will be getting dispatched off a backup tower in Hartford until ours is back in service,” Johnson said. “We are figuring on a month if all goes well.”
The storm's damage also kept CSX railroad employees busy. They spent Tuesday evening and this morning removing branches and limbs off the tracks located near County Road 215. They also had to switch on generators along the tracks to ensure train signal lights worked until electrical power was restored.
Photo: Bystanders peer into Black River Tavern, Tuesday afternoon, after strong, steady wind gusts, shattered a tall, nine-foot window. No one was injured from the incident. (Photo by Becky Kark)
Work begins Monday on M-43 roundabout; Road to be closed from Blue Star Highway to 66th Street
By BECKY KARK
Editor and general manager
Motorists will have to find roundabout ways to and from Kalamazoo next week when workers repave the M-43 roundabout.
A 6.5-mile section of M-43, between Blue Star Highway and 66th Street will be closed Monday through Saturday, Aug. 18-23, so contractors can complete the project.
Michigan Department of Transportation will detour M-43 traffic to 66th Street, 20th Avenue, M-140 Highway, Blue Star Highway and Phoenix Road.
The roundabout at Maple Grove Corners is only six years old, but needs to be repaved because its base layer of asphalt does not meet MDOT standards, according to Nick Schirripa, communications representative for MDOT.
“When the roundabout was first built in 2008, we learned a layer of the pavement failed after the project was completed,” Schirripa said. “There are three pavement layers - base, leveling and top - and the base layer failed.”
Schirripa said the contractor, whom he did not name, was penalized for the problem.
“We paid about half of the contract cost because of the failure,” he said.
MDOT could have waited to repave the roundabout for several more years, but chose to do it now as part of its project to repave M-43 between Blue Star Highway and 64h Street.
“It was added to the M-43 repaving contract to minimize the cost,” he said. “ The cost to repair the roundabout as part of this contract is significantly lower than it would be if it was a stand-alone project.”
Rieth-Riley Construction Co., which Schirripa said, was not the contractor for the original roundabout project, is overseeing the $1.3 million M-43 Highway and roundabout repaving projects. The roundabout pavement accounts for approximately $150,000 of the total contract.
6-year-old bicyclist hit by car in Geneva Township
A little boy luckily escaped injuries after a car hit him, Wednesday, at a mobile home park in Geneva Township.
The 6-year-old was riding his bicycle when a car, backing up at a high rate of speed, smacked into him, throwing him and his bike to the ground, according to a report from the Van Buren County Sheriff's Department.
Deputies say the incident occurred at approximately 2 p.m. at Meadow Brook Mobile Home Park, 07120 68th St.
The driver of the vehicle, a 21-year-old Lawrence woman, faces reckless driving charges, while her two passengers, Shawn White, 27, of Bangor, and Derrick White, 26, of Bangor, were arrested for outstanding warrants.
The situation began when Shawn and Derrick White entered a home and were asked to leave the residence. When leaving, Shawn White broke out a window. The two men then got in the Lawrence woman's vehicle. She “gunned” the car in reverse, according to witnesses, and hit the boy on the bike. The woman's vehicle then left the park at a high rate of speed.
Deputies tracked the vehicle to a residence in the 40000 block of 48th Street in Arlington Township. They noticed that Shawn White had a significant hand injury from breaking the window. He was treated at Bronson Lakeview Hospital for the injury. He then was arrested for three outstanding warrants for assault, contempt of court and failure to pay child support. He also faces a charge for malicious destruction of property, for breaking the window. Police also arrested Derrick White for an outstanding warrant for contempt of court. Both men were taken to Van Buren County Jail.
Additional charges are also being sought with the Van Buren County Prosecutors Office against Shawn White and the 21-year-old female for their roles in the incidents at the mobile home park.
PHOTOS: Shawn White is in the top photo. Derrick White's photo is beneath it.
Woman, son survive unscathed after tree falls on their vehicle
A Paw Paw woman and her young boy escaped from their vehicle unharmed after a tree fell on it, Tuesday, on M-40 Highway.
The 29-year-old woman and her 1-year-old boy were driving in a pickup truck at approximately 6:45 a.m. in Pine Grove Township, when the large tree fell on the truck, blocking the entire roadway and shutting down traffic in both directions, according to a report from Van Buren County Sheriff’s Department.
No one in the vehicle was injured, but the vehicle is believed to be totaled and not drivable, the report indicated.
With the help of several citizens and a chainsaw, deputies removed the tree from the roadway and reopened it for travel.
Plane crashes in Casco Township; Killing one person
UPDATE: Michigan State Police identified the pilot who died in the plane. His name is Craig Ewing, 45, of Hastings. He was flying a two-passenger, light sport airplane from Lansing, Ill. to Hastings. Police and the FAA are continuing to investigate the crash. No passengers were involved in the crash.
Police are trying to determine how a small plane crashed in Casco Township, today, killing one person.
“The FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) is on their way right now to investigate how the accident happened,” said Michigan State Police Sgt. David Caswell, of the Wayland post.
Troopers became aware of the wreck when a citizen that lived near 109th Avenue and 68th Street called between noon and 1 p.m. to report the incident.
“They heard a noise and then saw debris falling from the sky,” Caswell said.
State police used a helicopter to locate the wreckage and found most of it near the vicinity of 111th Avenue, east of 68th Street.
Police found one person dead at the wreckage, who they believe is the pilot. They are investigating further to determine if anyone else was in the aircraft, which was described as a small-engine plane.
The name of the deceased is not being released, pending notification of family members.
Official results of 80th District House race released; Gamrat wins
ALLEGAN - Cindy Gamrat of Gunplain Township has officially won the Republican party's nomination for the 80th State House seat that will be available next year when Rep. Bob Genetski is forced to step down due to term limits.
The district covers most of Allegan County, except for a small strip on the northern edge.
Gamrat was the top vote-getter in a four-way GOP primary race. She won with 3,924 votes.
The vote counts for the other three candidates were: Mary Whiteford, Casco Township, 2,798; Stephen Schulz, Allegan Township, 2,462; and Randy Brink, Saugatuck Township, 427.
Gamrat will face Democrat Geoffrey Parker, Otsego, in November.
Gamrat likely winner in 80th district House race
Mary Whiteford of Casco Township had to settle for second place in the tightly contested Republican primary race for the 80th District House of Representatives seat.
Cindy Gamrat of Otsego appears to be the winner, according to unofficial results compiled by the Allegan County Clerk's office. She will now face Democrat Geoff Parker in the November election.
With all but one precinct reporting, Gamrat received the most votes with 3,591, while Whiteford tallied 2,528. The clerk's office experienced technical difficulties due to three different voting systems utilized in Holland, Allegan County and South Haven city, according to the Kalamazoo Gazette. The three systems did not mesh correctly, so Allegan County clerks have been stuck compiling results manually. The only precinct whose results have not yet been tallied is the portion of South Haven that is in Allegan County.
The other two candidates in the primary were Steven Schulz and Randy Brink.
Whiteford defeated Gamrat in Casco Township, Ganges Township, Laketown Township Precinct 3, Lee Township, Saugatuck Township, City of Douglas, City of Fennville, and City of Saugatuck.
Couple accomplishes rare feat at Beeches golf course
By BECKY KARK
Editor and general manager
It's not every day that two people hit a hole-in-one on the same hole at the same golf course on the same day.
“No way,” said Aaron Mohr, general manager of Beeches Golf Club, 9601 68th St.
But that changed Tuesday when Grand Rapids couple Joel and Janis Carpenter aced the 17th hole on the back nine at Beeches.
“We get about a dozen hole-in-ones each year, but I've never heard of two people hitting the same hole at the same time,” Mohr said.
The Carpenters, who have golfed for 17 years, were equally surprised.
“I didn't think anyone would believe it,” Janis said.
But seeing was definitely believing for witnesses of the couple's feat.
“Most people never get a hole-in-one,” said Phil Rhoads, one of the witnesses.
Joel used an eight-iron and made the shot from 132 yards, while Janis shot her ace from the women's tee at 72 yards, using a gap wedge.
“I hit it first,” Joel said.
Not to be outdone, Janis ventured forth next.
“I came up to the tee and thought, 'now he's got one in and I don't.' You can tell I'm a little competitive,” she said, laughing.
Tuesday marked the first time the Carpenters golfed at Beeches. They did so as part of a week-long vacation in South Haven.
“It's a good course,” Janis said. “Very well groomed.”
Senior service millage approved in all but one township
With the exception of Keelerr township, the senior millage renewal in Van Buren County was passed overwhelmingly by voters in Tuesday's primary election. Voters also approved other millage renewals throughout the county. Here are the latest election results for county ballot proposals (with 91 percent of precincts reporting):
Michigan Proposal 1 (reduce state use tax)
Yes – 6,473 No – 2,054
Van Buren County ambulance millage renewal
Yes – 5,809 No – 1,745
Van Buren County public safety millage renewal
Yes – 5,497 No – 2,077
Van Buren County 911 service charge
Yes – 5,200 No – 2,360
Here are election results for Senior Service millage by municipalities:
Almena Township – Yes – 499 No – 144
Antwerp Township – Yes -724 No – 476
Arlington Township – Yes – 118 No – 34
Bangor Township – Yes 138 No – 57
Bloomingdale Township – Yes – 244 No – 66
Columbia Township – Yes – 194 No – 73
Covert Township – Yes – 184 No – 33
Decatur Township – Yes – 261 No – 65
Geneva Township – Yes – 242 No – 75
Hamilton Township – Yes – 103 No – 35
Hartford Township – Yes – 133 No – 50
Keeler Township – Yes – 108 No – 157
Lawrence Township – Yes – 224 No – 56
Paw Paw Township – Yes - 843 No – 163
Pine Grove Township – Yes – 210 No - 73
Porter Township – Yes – 167 No - 114
South Haven Township – Yes – 318 No – 61
Waverly Township – Yes – 179 No – 88
Bangor City – Yes – 73 No -14
Gobles City – Yes – 82 No – 23
Hartford City – Yes – 88 No - 37
South Haven City – Yes – 514 No – 103
Here are results for other millage elections in Van Buren County
Bangor Township road millage renewal
Yes – 114 No – 50
Columbia Township police protection renewal
Yes – 177 No – 8
Columbia Township road millage
Yes – 137 No – 128
Covert Township ambulance and fire renewal
Yes – 170 No – 37
Covert Township police millage renewal
Yes – 171 No – 38
Covert Township road millage renewal
Yes – 178 No – 39
Bloomingdale Public Schools operating millage renewal
Yes – 220 No - 123
Here are results for county commission elections (all candidates ran unopposed)
District 1 – Mike Henry - R, 627 votes
District 2 – Sue Hammond - R, 475 votes
District 3 – Richard Godfrey – R – 721
District 4 – Richard Freestone – R - 494
A crucial election
Senior Services of Van Buren County keeps close watch on Tuesday's millage renewal results
By ANDREW LERSTEN
For the Tribune
Most Van Buren County voters Tuesday will consider renewing the quarter-mill levy that brings in most of the funds for Senior Services of Van Buren County.
The four-year renewal is on the ballots in 22 municipalities throughout the county. Most of the municipalities have chosen to earmark the millage funds for Senior Services of Van Buren County, which operates three senior centers in South Haven, Hartford and Paw Paw, and satellite branches in other area of the county. However, for the past three years, Covert Township has chosen to divvy up its funds among several different agencies, including Senior Services. This year, two other municipalities — Antwerp Township and Porter Township, are also waiting until after the millage vote to determine which senior service agency they want to contract with.
Money it receives from the millage accounts for two-thirds of the budget for Senior Services of Van Buren County, according to Executive Director Jennifer Carver. Additional revenue sources include donations, grants and fundraising, she said.
Four years ago, the former South Haven Area Senior Services organization expanded throughout most of the county when it asked voters in most communities to approve the dedicated levy. As a result, it changed its name to Senior Services of Van Buren County.
"We have experienced significant community participation and growth," Carver said. "Millage funding has always been the foundation funding for this organization over the past 20 years."
Here is a breakdown of the estimated revenues that the levy would generate this year, if approved, in the following governmental units in the South Haven area:
Arlington Township, $13,618; Bangor Township, $14,800; Bloomingdale Township, $20,800; Columbia Township, $21,000; Covert Township, $164,744; Geneva Township, $20,450; South Haven Township, $31,500; Bangor city, $6,100; Gobles city, $2,500; and South Haven city, $77,100.
PHOTO: Jennifer Carver (right) executive director of Senior Services of Van Buren County, is shwon with advisory board member Dixie Capps.
South Haven weather buoy deployed
South Haven area boaters will be able to easily access up-to-date weather conditions of Lake Michigan, thanks to a new high-tech weather and wave monitoring buoy that was installed earlier this week.
The buoy was deployed Wednesday in Lake Michigan approximately two miles offshore of South Haven, according to Harbormaster Paul VandenBosch.
The new station will become part of a growing nearshore network of buoys currently deployed between Ludington and Michigan City, Ind. to increase boating and swimming safety along the Lake Michigan shoreline.
Purchase of the sophisticated buoy was provided by a $50,000 grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) and contributions from local organizations will support annual deployment and retrieval costs.
The weather buoy will provide improved wind and wave observations for the nearshore waters of Lake Michigan in the South Haven area. The buoy measures wind speed, wind direction, air temperature, relative humidity, solar radiation, water temperature, wave height, period, direction, and also has a webcam. Real-time observations from the buoy are available freely to the public online at http://bit.ly/shbuoylink. A link to image and video clips, updated hourly, will be available at the top of the buoy page. Individuals can also receive the latest observations via text message by texting 45168 to (734) 418-7299. The service is free to use, however standard text message fees apply.
Similar buoys are located within the region near Ludington, Muskegon, Holland/Grand Haven, St. Joseph, Michigan City, and offshore in southern Lake Michigan. The South Haven buoy will fill a 70-mile wide gap in present buoy stations. The other stations are also relatively new and have only been deployed in the last several years. However, within that period, these nearshore buoy stations have become widely popular with boaters and the public and receive over 300,000 requests for observations each month.
The buoy will improve boating and swimming safety within the region by providing real-time, over water observations of present wind and wave conditions, city officials think.
Wind and wave data will assist the NOAA National Weather Service offices in Grand Rapids and Northern Indiana with predicting dangerous boating and beach conditions due to high waves and rip currents. In addition the observations will be used to check and improve the accuracy of nearshore forecasts.
A number of South Haven organizations have partnered together to support the annual deployment, retrieval, and maintenance cost and add additional sensors to the buoy. These include major contributions from the City of South Haven, Van Buren County, and Entergy Palisades Nuclear Plant. Other organizations supporting annual maintenance costs include the South Haven Yacht Club, South Haven Steelheaders, Tournament Trail 333, South Haven Convention and Visitors Bureau, Covert Generating Station, US Coast Guard Auxiliary, River Bend Boat Club, South Haven Kiwanis, and the South Haven Chamber of Commerce.
The South Haven Steelheaders are supporting the addition of a string of nine temperature sensors below the buoy to report water temperatures in real-time. WOOD-TV out of Grand Rapids is supporting the addition of a high definition webcam to the buoy to provide hourly images and video clips. Padnos Metal Recycling of Holland has donated two recycled train wheels to be used as the permanent mooring anchor for the buoy. The NOAA field research station in Muskegon, MI is supporting the deployment of the mooring anchor by donating use of its 80 foot research vessel, the R/V Laurentian.
Planning for the addition of the South Haven station to the buoy network began in December 2013 through a partnership between the South Haven Steelheaders, the City of South Haven, and LimnoTech, an environmental engineering company located in Ann Arbor, LimnoTech has worked with other local communities and businesses in the area to seek out grants and provide the technical assistance to acquire, deploy, and retrieve the high tech environmental monitoring buoys.
“Our experience working with the South Haven community and the Steelheaders has been phenomenal. The level of support we’ve received from local organizations and businesses quickly advanced this important public safety project from an idea to a fully funded reality in under six months. We received letters of support from 15 area businesses and organizations during the grant process.” said Ed Verhamme, Project Engineer at LimnoTech.
Mayor Robert Burr of the City of South Haven says the new buoy will be an asset for residents and tourists of the area for many years to come. “Given South Haven’s strong connection to Lake Michigan I am excited for the addition of this station to the regional buoy network. The City’s goal is to provide area boaters, swimmers, and water safety professionals with up-to-date lake conditions. Conditions on the big lake can change fast and we want everyone to be prepared when venturing out on the water,” Burr said.
PHOTO: The weather buoy is shown in Lake Michigan two miles offshore of South Haven.
Free wifi service now available in downtown South Haven
Wireless internet users will now be able to take advantage of free wifi service while in South Haven's downtown and at the city 's main beaches and marinas.
The wifi system allows wireless devices such as tablets, smartphones or laptops to connect to the internet. The City is working with Secant Technologies to design and install the system and Bloomingdale Communications will provide internet connectivity.
Free wifi service is now available in the downtown and along the Black River from the Michigan Maritime Museum to the South Haven channel. About 40 access points have been placed throughout the area. Bandwidth speeds will depend on distance from an access point and the level of use of the system. To access the service, select the Harbortown wifi access point, open a browser and agree to the terms of service.
The City's municipal marinas will receive upgraded service, which will be available to marina boaters throughout the downtown and on the beaches.
Mayor Robert Burr said, "The goal of the downtown wifi system is that everyone will be able to connect to the internet while they are enjoying our parks, downtown street cafe's and beaches. This is another way to make South Haven a fun place to visit".
For more information, contact Paul VandenBosch, Harbormaster, 269-637-0775 or firstname.lastname@example.org
PHOTO: A worker installs wiring for the wireless internet service that the public can use free of charge in downtown South Haven and at main city beaches and marinas.
Funeral services scheduled for woman killed in car accident
Funeral services are scheduled for a South Haven woman who died from injuries she sustained in a car accident.
Marilyn Laraway died following the accident that occurred July 16 on 56th Street near the town of Bravo in Clyde Township, according to death records. Her son, Michael, who was in the vehicle, was seriously injured, and was still in the hospital as of this morning.
No other details of the accident have been released by Allegan County Sheriff's Department.
Marilyn graduated from Covert High School and worked as a legal secretary for Attorneys Meyer Warshawsky, William Verdonk and George Dunn for the past fifty years.
Visitation will be held from 5:00 P.M. to 8:00 P.M. on Wednesday, July 30, 2014 at the Filbrandt Family Funeral Home in South Haven. A memorial service will be held at 2:00 P.M. on Thursday, July 31, 2014 with Pastor Mick Schmid officiating at the Peace Evangelical Lutheran Church in South Haven.
Bangor area man sentenced for selling firearms without a license
A Bangor Township man has been sentenced in a federal court for selling firearms without a license.
David Rainey, 66, was sentenced to two years supervised release, with one year to be served in-home confinement following his felony conviction, said U.S. Attorney Patrick Miles. Rainey, who lives at 23916 59 ½ St., was also fined $4,000.
U.S. District Judge Janet T. Neff, who presided over the case, also ordered the forfeiture of Rainey's 71 firearms and 94,000 rounds of ammunition. As a convicted felon, Rainey is also prohibited from possessing firearms.
Rainey pled guilty to the charge on April 10. Selling firearms without a license is punishable by up to five years' imprisonment and a maximum fine of $250,000.
The case resulted from a joint undercover investigation by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Van Buren County Sheriff's Department.
A year ago, ATF agents executed a search warrant, with the assistance of the sheriff's office at Rainey's farm, seizing 71 handguns and long guns, along with 93,770 rounds of various types of ammunition.
Rainey had owned and operated a gun shop called Dave's Place at his farm at 23916 59 ½ St. Following a felony conviction for embezzling from the Van Buren Youth Fair in 2009, he agreed not to sell firearms, and according to an interview he had with the South Haven Tribune in 2011, turned the business over to his son.
Funeral service set for J.C. Hartsfield, co-founder of popular touring band, Heartsfield
A South Haven man, who was co-founder of 1970s rock band Heartsfield, has died.
J.C. Hartsfield, 71, passed away Thursday, July 17 from injuries he suffered in a motorcycle accident, July 3, in Marcellus Township. Visitation is scheduled from 4-6 p.m., Friday at Filbrandt Family Funeral Home of South Haven. A memorial service will follow.
Cass County Sheriff's Department reported Hartsfield had been in critical condition at Bronson Methodist Hospital since the accident.
Hartsfield was traveling north on M-40 Highway north of Dutch Settlement Road at about 8 p.m. when he lost control of his motorcycle, went off the road and flipped into a ditch. Hartsfield was not wearing a helmet, police said.
He was flown to Bronson Hospital by an AirCare helicopter.
At the time of the crash, police said they believed alcohol may have been a factor in the crash. Upon further investigation, the sheriff's department said it was not.
Hartsfield and fellow guitarist Perry Jordan formed the rock group Heartsfield in 1970. The band toured extensively, performing with the Doobie Brothers, Eric Clapton and Fleetwood Mac. One of their most recognizable tunes during the 1970s was “Music Eyes.” The original group disbanded in 1981 after releasing four albums, including “Wonder of it All” and “Foolish Pleasures,” but regrouped in 1999 by co-founder Perry Jordan. Since that time the band has released several more albums, according to its website. Jordan, however, died in 2011 following health problems.
Police investigate three daytime home invasions
Police are seeking the public's assistance in helping to solve three daytime home invasions that occurred Wednesday.
The break-ins happened at three residences in Columbia Township and Bloomingdale Township, according to a report from the Van Buren County Sheriff's Department.
Deputies were first notified of a break-in when an elderly male, who lives in the 52000 block of 24th Avenue, called. The man told deputies at 2:47 p.m. he saw a full-size dark blue or black-colored SUV, pull into his driveway. At least one subject, possibly two, knocked at the front door of the home. When no one answered immediately, the SUV departed, and two subjects went to the back of the home, the man reported. The two suspects put on masks and stocking caps and forced entry to the rear door. Once inside, and confronted by the elderly homeowner, the two subjects fled east on foot. A canvass of the area found no evidence as to the identity of the subjects involved,
In the second and third home invasions, near 6th Avenue and 36th Street in Bloomingdale Township, the victims returned home to find their homes ransacked and items stolen. One homeowner reported two guns and three flat screen televisions were taken. Deputies believe these took place between 2:15 p.m. and 4:15 p.m.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office at 269-657-3101, Crime Stoppers at 1-800-342-7867 or Silent Observer at 1-866-774-2345.
Tuesday morning's brief thunderstorm not only kicked up 4-8 foot waves on Lake Michigan, it also brought down a waterspout over Lake Michigan near South Beach..The waterspout was broken up before it got to shore. This photo was taken at approximately 9 a.m. by Kelly Weber. Waterspouts are a rare sight on Lake Michigan this time of year, according to John Kowalewski, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service's Grand Rapids office. Waterspouts normally occur during the fall when the air temperature becomes cooler than the lake temperature. Yesterday's conditions were ripe, however, for a waterspout to occur. The lake temperature was 68 degrees, while the air was 60 degrees, accompanied by strong winds.
Gas price plunge expected to continue
Expect prices at the pump to continue falling for the next couple of weeks. At least that's what a petroleum analyst predicts will happen.
Patrick DeHaan, a senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy.com, says gasoline prices should go down an additional 10 to 20 cents per gallon in the next two weeks.
“Prices have been on an 18-consecutive-day streak where the current price was less than the price from the previous day,” DeHaan noted.
As of today, gas prices in the South Haven area hover around $3.36-$3.43 per gallon for unleaded fuel. The state average for today is $3.61 per gallon, according to GasBuddy's website.
SH school board plans to hire new high school principal
A high school principal from the Upper Peninsula may become South Haven High School's new principal.
Jerome Sardina, of Stephenson High School, in Stephenson, has been chosen the finalist for the job, which was vacated at the end of June by by Craig McCrumb, who has left South Haven to become new superintendent for Durand Area Schools near Lansing.
South Haven school board members will decide whether to hire Sardina, Wednesday during the school board meeting at 6:30 p.m. at South Haven City Hall, 539 Phoenix St.
In addition to his duties as high school principal at Stephenson, Sardina also serves as high school athletic director for the Class C school district, located in Menominee County.
The beach today is only for the brave...or the foolish
If you like going to the beach in July you might want to think twice about it, at least today.
This morning's temperature is a cool 60 degrees at South Beach and isn't expected to get much higher throughout the day. Coupled with a threat of thunderstorms and rip current warnings, it would probably be best to stay in your car if you venture toward South Haven's sandy beaches.
“The first part of this week will feel more like September than the middle of July, typically the hottest time of year, throughout the Midwest,” said Kristina Pydynowski, a senior meteorologist for accuweather.com
Some meteorologists blame the unseasonable cool temperatures on a polar vortex, which created one of the coldest winters on record in Michigan earlier this year. But other meteorologists say Super Typhoon Neoguri near Japan is the cause.
“During strong forcing by an extra-tropical transitioning West Pacific super typhoon, we often see a massive mid-latitude ridge build over western North America, favoring for a series of colder than average air masses to impact the major markets across the eastern two thirds of the U.S.,” WSI Weatherwise stated on its website blog.
Whatever the case, plan on wearing a jacket when you go outside, and keep an umbrella handy in case it rains.
Temperatures will warm up for the remainder of this week, but will still be on the cool side. Wednesday's forecast shows a high of 68 degrees with a shower in the afternoon, according to Accuweather.com. Thursday through Saturday, expect partly sunny skies. Thursday's high is expected to be 73, Friday's, 78 and Saturday, 80 degrees.
Emergency workers from South Haven Area Emergency Services are shown responding to a two-vehicle accident at CR 380 and CR 681, Friday, July 11. (Photo by Kelly Weber)
4 injured in collision near Breedsville
Four people suffered injuries this past Friday after a pickup truck collided with a semi-truck near Breedsville.
The incident occurred at 3 p.m. at the intersection of County Road 380 and County Road 681. Three of the accident victims had to be extricated, according to Ron Wise, fire chief for South Haven Area Emergency Services.
Ambulance from Pride Care and from SHAES transported the victims to South Haven Helath System.
“None of the injuries appeared to be life-threatening,” Wise said.
Michigan State Police responded to the accident, however, o more information is available at this time regarding how the accident occurred.
Police investigate woman's death in Casco Township
Michigan State Police continue to investigate a suspicious death reported Tuesday in Casco Township.
“An autopsy is being done as we speak,” Sgt. Tom Brower of the Michigan State Police Wayland post said this morning.
Police say they were called to a home in the 300 block of 71st Street at 3:30 p.m. and found a 35-year-old woman dead in the house. Brower said the woman had been a guest in the home for the past few days.
WOOD-TV reported a man at the home was interviewed by police but was not considered a suspect as of yesterday. Brower said police are still working to contact the woman's family. More information about the incident is expected to be released later today.
Former church meets the wrecking ball, Wednesday
By BECKY KARK
Editor and general manager
A historic landmark that has anchored the intersection of Center and Huron Streets for 125 years will be leveled Wednesday.
Construction workers plan to start tearing down the former First Baptist Church at 7 a.m. Specialized Demolition Inc. of Hamilton, who was hired for the project, should complete it by the end of the day, South Haven city officials say.
While demolition occurs, the streets and sidewalks around the former church will be closed throughout the day and will reopen once the workers complete their job.
“The intersection closure will extend east to Hogan's Alley and north to the Masonic Temple/Murphy's Antique Mall. All private driveways will remain open during the road closure,” said Deb Davidson, director of the city's Downtown Development Authority.
The sidewalks on the east side of Center Street and the north side of Huron Street will also remain closed to pedestrian traffic, (but) sidewalks on the opposite side of each street will remain open, to facilitate access to businesses.
The former First Baptist Church at Huron and Center streets has had a long history in South Haven.
The town's early Baptists built the wooden structure in 1889. Its early officers at the time were such local notables as J.S. Malbone, C.E. Abell and L.S. Monroe.
Over the years, though, the congregation outgrew the aging church facility, and in the late 1970s constructed the current house of worship at 1635 76th St., in South Haven Township.
Ironically, the old church's exterior walls look much the same today as they did in the late 1880s. The original wooden siding was revealed when workers removed the asbestos lined shingles that covered the building in its later years.
The old church structure fell into disrepair over the years, prompting the city to condemn it in 2013.
Benton Harbor nonprofit organization Kinexus won a state grant to demolish the former church and 14 other buildings in Southwest Michigan.
Barry Story, who owned the building since 1999, had made attempts to rehabilitate the dilapidated structure. But the aging structure was apparently beyond repair, and he closed the auction business and put the building up for sale.
The other side of the 4th of July
City spends in excess of $20,000 on cleanup efforts after weekend celebration
By BECKY KARK
Editor and general manager
South Haven's Fourth of July holiday celebration conjures images of fireworks bursting in air, a parade filled with marching bands, floats and antique cars, and an art fair's array of glass, jewelry and paintings.
But for city Department of Public Works employees and police officers, Fourth of July conjures up another image — the aftermath.
The city spends in excess of $20,000 to clean up beaches, parks and bathrooms, and that doesn't include the 50 extra police units from other departments that ensure crowd and traffic control following the parade and fireworks.
“It's non-stop,” said City DPW Operations Director Ron Dotson, regarding clean-up efforts.
“It takes 20 people to make sure the beaches and parks are cleaned up and open for the next day after the fireworks display,” Dotson said. “It's expensive to get done.”
When the fireworks display ended at 11 p.m., Thursday, July 3, police were ready to direct vehicles safely and quickly out of town. Then at 1 a.m., city DPW staff tackled the task of cleaning up the beaches and parks.
“Some people who looked at the beaches said they weren't sure we could get it done by 10 a.m.,” Dotson said. “It was amazing what they did to make sure it was spick and span for the morning. The parks department bears the brunt of the garbage.”
And garbage is something that wasn't in short supply over the holiday weekend.
“They emptied 230 garbage cans that we put in 6-8 20-cubic-yard containers. We went through 1,000-1,500 garbage bags. That was just for the fireworks,” Dotson said. “We had to get it done by 10 a.m. to open up the beaches and the bathrooms.” DPW staff then worked three different shifts to make sure garbage cans continued to be emptied and bathrooms stocked with toilet paper, towels and soap. Garbage bags, alone, cost $1 apiece, because they have to be large heavy-duty ones.
The efforts of the city appeared to pay off, especially for this year's weekend celebration that attracted a record number of people to downtown..
It's a lot of work for the city workers, police and fire department crews who stand by ready to ensure safety and cleanliness, but Dotson said it's worth it.
“We take a lot of pride in what we do,” he said.
PHOTO: Trash cans, like the one shown above at South Beach, were overflown with garbage following the Fourth of July fireworks display, Thursday, July 3. Photo by Becky Kark
The big bang effect
Fireworks ignite July 4th holiday weekend events in South Haven
By BECKY KARK
Editor and general manager
South Haven's annual Fourth of July weekend celebration will ignite with a $34,000 pyrotechnics display over Lake Michigan.
This annual Light up the Lake fireworks display begins at 10:30 p.m., tonight. It will be followed by the Independence Day Parade at 11 a.m., Friday, and the South Haven Art Fair, Saturday and Sunday.
“We're shooting fireworks at $1,000 a minute,” quipped South Haven Mayor Bob Burr, regarding the annual 30-minute Light up the Lake fireworks display that attracts upwards of 25,000 people to town.
Many of the spectators come from Kalamazoo, the mayor noted. “It ends up being a record day for McDonald's in Bangor,” Burr said, regarding the town that is part-way between Kalamazoo and South Haven. “They stay open until 3 a.m. They used to close at midnight. Then they learned.”
Kalamazoo residents appear to enjoy coming to South Haven for the show.
“We've been rated the Best Fireworks Display in West Michigan by the Kalamazoo media for three years in a row,” Burr said.
Living up to that reputation isn't easy. First, it takes money. Each year, Burr canvasses businesses, organizations and individuals for financial support. “Palisades, Fleming Bros. Value Markets and Walmart are major sponsors,” he said. He also has turned his attention to second-home owners and visitors and found some of his financial support from Sally Newton of Shores Vacation Rentals.
“Sally charges an extra $100 for rentals during 4th of July week. She's raised $3,000,” Burr said.
The next component to a successful display is the selection of a pyrotechnics company.
“We use Melrose Pyrotechnics,” Burr said. The northern Indiana-based company has shot off fireworks displays throughout the world, including Aruba, Cuba, Japan, Korea and the Philippines, and closer to home, the 2012 Super Bowl, the Chicago Air & Water Show, and for Major League baseball games and national corporate events.
“Right after they get done here they go straight to Chicago to Navy Pier. (for Chicago's fireworks),” Burr said.
The third component to a successful display is choreographing it to music. Each year, Light up the Lake organizers turn to Paul Layendecker, operations director for 107.3 FM.
“I've been choreographing the show since it began 18 years ago,” Layendecker said. He begins the task in April when he chooses a theme and begins to pull ideas and songs together to match the music with the fireworks.
“Each soundtrack takes about six hours to compile and edit,” Layendecker said. “It is always a challenge to find songs that will represent the theme best and have enough of a beat and emotion to work with the fireworks.”
Once the music is chosen, Melrose staff take over. “Bob Kearns and his team listen and match the best fireworks for the music. They always work magic,” Layendecker said.
This year's theme will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Beatles appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1964.
“To this day, America has never responded to any band like the Beatles and they're still an American favorite,” Layendecker said. But don't expect to hear just the Fab Four. “The soundtrack will feature Beatles songs covered by other artists like Billy Joel, Aerosmith, Phil Collins and more,” Layendecker said.
And the choreographer hasn't forgotten patriotic favorites. Of the dozen or so songs listeners will hear during the fireworks display, the “Star Spangled Banner” and “Stars and Stripes Forever,” will also be played.
If people want to hear the choreographed music during the fireworks, they will need to tune in to 103.7 FM.
Donations are still being accepted to help pay for fireworks. Checks can be made to The City of South Haven, with the notation, “fireworks.” Donations are tax-deductible.
Light up the Lake reminders
Marrone unveils new company in Bangor; Plans to employ 50 people
By BECKY KARK
Editor and general manager
BANGOR — Pam Marrone, owner of Marrone Bio Innovations, still recalls the summer of 1967 when gypsy moths destroyed trees around her family's home in New Hampshire.
“I asked my mom what we could do to stop them and even though I was a child she had me write a letter to the USDA and they sent a brochure about integrated pest management (an environmentally sensitive approach to pest management that causes the least possible hazard to the environment).”
Her recollection may not seem significant except that it may have planted the seed for Marrone's career in discovering and developing environmentally friendly products that control pests and protect plants.
Marrone and other company officials celebrated an expansion of their California-based company, Tuesday, when they hosted the grand opening of the new 11,600-square-foot Marrone Michigan Manufacturing plant, 700 Industrial Rd. The event attracted nearly 100 business, government and community leaders.
“We looked at 247 sites throughout the country,” Marrone said of the company's efforts three years ago to expand in the Midwest. A chance meeting with U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Michigan, turned Marrone's attention to Bangor. “She mentioned a defunct bio-diesel plant, which was conducive to us because the utilities were already set up.” Marrone also liked the plant's location, which is close to Bangor's wastewater treatment plant, and the availability of scientific expertise from Michigan State University's agricultural programs. A $10 million loan backed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development program didn't hurt either.
“That will help us to expand our capacity and meet increased sales projections,” she said, pointing to land near the Bangor plant that is earmarked for future building expansions.
The $10 million is being added to the $56.4 million the company has raised to open its new Bangor plant.
“I think this is a real success story,” said Jim Byrum, president of the Michigan Agri-Business Association. “Is is a real example of government working together,” he said referring to the assistance provided to Marrone by the City of Bangor, the Michigan Economic Development Commission and the USDA.
Marrone started production at its Bangor facility in April with 24 employees. It hopes to double that number at the end of the year by producing bio-based pesticides to protect fruits and vegetables from pests and diseases. They also plan to soon begin making a bio-based product to control invasive zebra and quagga mussels that have been a serious problem in the Great Lakes.
“It's exciting ...to see new bio-based products being manufactured that are supporting new jobs, helping our farmers and protecting our Great Lakes,” Stabenow said.
PHOTO: Pam Marrone, Marrone Michigan Manufacturing plant owner
Neighbors resort to gunfire to resolve dispute
A Geneva Township man has been arrested for felonious assault following an ongoing dispute with neighbors.
Daren Lee Clouse posted a $1,500 bond and now faces a preliminary exam, July 9, in Seventh District Court in South Haven.
The dispute occurred at approximately 10:30 p.m., June 25, at Clouse's residence at 61288 County Road 380, according to a Van Buren County Sheriff's report. Deputies say several people were standing at the end of the driveway when Clouse exited a camper trailer on the property, armed with a 12-gauge shotgun, and fired four shots over the heads of people at the end of the driveway.
A woman, whose name is being withheld, then pulled a 9mm handgun from her waistband and fired several shots into the ground in self-defense. She may face charges of reckless discharge of a firearm. People involved in the dispute allege Clouse pointed his shotgun directly at two of the subjects during the dispute.
ALDI's hosts job fair for new South Haven store
With construction of the new ALDI store underway on 73rd Street in South Haven Township, company officials are now turning their attention to hiring 10-15 employees for it.
ALDI's plans to hold a job fair, Thursday, from 8 a.m.-6 p.m. at Baymont Inn & Suites, 1555 County Road 388, in South Haven. The store is scheduled to be open in the fall.
The company is seeking store associate and shift manager applicants. Store associates will be paid $10.50 an hour, while shift managers will be paid $15.25 per hour. Applicants must be 18 years or older; possess a high school diploma or GED, be able to work between 6 a.m.-11 p.m., Monday-Sunday; and be able to lift at least 45 pounds. Retail experience is preferred. Applicants will also have to undergo drug screening and background checks. Staff who work at least 20 hours a week will receive full health and dental insurance and 401K benefits.
Suspect attempts to rob man near South Beach
A Muskegon man is in jail today after attempting to hold up a man in South Haven, Sunday evening.
The victim, whose name is not being released, was walking on Water Street near Maple Street at 11:47 p.m. when a 23-year-old black man demanded money, according to a South Haven Police news release. The suspect, whose name is not being released until arraignment, implied he had a gun and threatened to shoot the victim in the head.
The victim noticed a police car a short distance away and got the officer's attention. The officer arrested the suspect without incident.
Police say the suspect also is wanted for auto theft in Muskegon County. He is currently lodged in Van Buren County Jail without bond.
Covert hires new police chief to succeed longtime chief Rick Winans who is retiring after 40 years of service
By BECKY KARK
Editor and general manager
COVERT — After a three-month search, Covert Township Board has hired a new police chief to replace Rick Winans, who is retiring after 40 years of service to the municipality.
Township board members, Friday, inked a one-year contract with Covert Police Officer Jay Allen to succeed Winans, whose last day on the job is June 30.
“He was the best candidate,” said Township Supervisor Barbara Rose. “He's done a lot for this community. We're looking forward to working with him.”
Winans was also pleased with the township board's choice. “He's worked on all our cold cases and solved them. He's a good investigator,” Winans said.
Allen begins his new duties, July 1, and will be paid $57,000. The new police chief, who has been with Covert Police Department for 14 years, was chosen from nine applicants.
“We interviewed seven of the candidates,” said Township Clerk Dennis Palgen. “We didn't interview the remaining two because they did not have the qualifications necessary for the job.”
Allen will be in charge of a department that has six officers.
He appealed to the township board because he is fluent in both English and Spanish, according to Rose.
In the past 10 years, Covert's Latino population has grown significantly. More than one-third of the township's population is now Latino. A number of them are not fluent in English. Having a police chief who can speak Spanish will prove to be an asset, according to Rose.
In honor of Winans' years of service to the township, the township board is hosting an open house for him from 2-5 p.m., Saturday, July 12 at Jerry Sarno Community Center, 78085 County Road 378 West, in Covert.
Winans has served on the Covert Police Department since 1975. He first started as an officer and then became chief in 1981.
'Zelephant' trumpets start of Waterfront Film Festival, Thursday in South Haven
Whimsical mural located on Quaker Street, downtown
By BECKY KARK
Editor and general manager
What do you get when you cross an elephant with a zebra?
A zelephant. And it happens to be the name of the outdoor mural being created by world-famous muralist Ron English for South Haven as part of the Waterfront Film Festival.
English with the help of his wife, Tarssa, and several other volunteers worked between rain showers Wednesday to create the new mural that depicts the “zelephant.” They hope to complete it Thursday for the opening of the festival that brings 80 independent films to South Haven, along with musical entertainment and guest star appearances.
Waterfront Film Festival organizers invited English to create the mural, hoping to jump-start an annual street art celebration that will attract other muralists to South Haven.
“A zelephant is one of those beautiful objects of whimsy,” said Tarssa. “What if you mesh two images your familiar with into one? It (the mural) tricks the eye. It makes a whimsical image that everyone can relate to.”
Ron English originally had wanted to create a mural of Waterfront's 2014 poster, which he also created, however, the building wall at 503 Quaker Street, where the mural is being painted was not suitable. The poster was vertical in shape, while the wall is more of a horizontal shape.
So, English came up with “Zelephant.”
“Actually, if you look at the wall (which has stucco pattern), it almost resembles an elephant's skin, which is why it seems so perfect for this mural,” Tarssa said. “It's an example of working with what you have...When it's done, (Zelephant) will look very lifelike.”
Waterfront Film Festival: Filming of music video, actor appearances and creation of mural are all part of the fun
By BECKY KARK
Editor and general manager
Expect more than film screenings when the 16th Waterfront Film Festival returns to South Haven, Thursday-Sunday.
Aside from showing more than 80 independent movies and short films, the festival will also debut an outdoor mural created by world-famous artist Ron English and the opportunity for local residents to be featured in a music video.
It's all part of the festival's vision to become a celebration of the visual arts, according to Waterfront co-founder Hopwood DePree.
“We talked about having a street art festival last year as part of the film festival,” DePree said. “We're starting small with one mural...It's a step toward a bigger event with other mural artists.”
English's mural will be painted on the side of a building on Quaker Street where the Waterfront Film Festival ticket office is located.
“It's not a huge space, but it sure is an honor to have a Ron English mural in South Haven,” DePree said of the artist whose paintings are located on buildings throughout the world.
While English begins to create his mural, California singer Tony Ferrari plans to film a new music video of his song, “South Haven Girls,” during Waterfront's opening night party, Thursday, on South Beach.
“He'll offer the chance for spectators to be in the video, including some who may be featured on screen,” said festival publicist Patrick Revere.
“South Haven Girls” is one of the tunes on Ferrari's recently released album, “Gentleman,” which ranked within hours of release on the Top 50 Pop Albums chart on iTunes, according to Revere.
Ferrari said he was inspired to pen “South Haven Girls” after he performed at Waterfront Film Festival last year. The song's lyrics include images of Broadway Street, The Depot caboose and Dyckman Avenue drawbridge.
But the heart of Waterfront Film Festival is the dozens and dozens of independent movies that will be shown at the Michigan Theater, Foundry Hall and Listiak Auditorium.
“We have a lot of people coming in,” DePree said regarding the actors, directors and producers that will be on hand during film screenings. Actors Jason Ritter (Parenthood TV show) and Melanie Lynskey (Two-and-a-half Men TV show) are just two of the stars who plan to talk about independent film projects they are involved with. Others include Eddie Jamison (Ocean's Eleven), Blake Robbins (The Office), David Lascher (Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Blossom), and Christine Elise (Child's Play 2, ER),
“We have a lot of people coming in,” DePree said. “There will be a lot of recognizable actors and lots of filmmakers. There's a lot of great energy coming to South Haven from Los Angeles and New York. People heard what a great town it is and they want to come.”
Films to be screened at this year's festival have been created by and star such notable Hollywood names as Richard Dreyfuss, Barbara Hershey, Jason Priestley, Richard Moll, Mercedes Ruehl, Annie Potts, Robert Forster, Michael O’Keefe, Elias Koteas, Jennifer Jason-Leigh, Jane Seymour and Virginia Madsen.
“We keep seeing an influx of people making their own films,” DePree said, explaining that technological advances in film-making have made it more affordable and easier for filmmakers to make and market their own movies. “Whether they're low-budget or high-budget, the option of making your own film, and seeing it happen from start to finish has opened a lot of actors' eyes.”
The increased interest in independent film-making and the festival's second year in South Haven may also have contributed to the increased interest from actors in coming to this year's event.
“This year is second time in South Haven so it's much easier because we're familiar with the venues and there's a lot more volunteer help and support,” DePree said, giving credit to new volunteer coordinator Amy O'Sullivan. “Anytime you do something the first time it's much more tricky.”
Volunteers are still needed for the festival. Area residents or organizations interested in volunteering or becoming a festival sponsor, can visit the website, www.waterfrontfilm.org or stop by the film festival's office, 503 Quaker St.
PHOTOS: JASON RITTER AND MELANIE LYNSKEY
Waterfront Film Festival announces opening night entertainment; Evening includes filming of music video for the song, "South Haven Girls"
A mix of music and films will greet spectators who attend Waterfront Film Festival's Opening Night Summer Homecoming Party.
The fun gets underway at 6 p.m., Thursday, June 12 at South Beach, and includes entertainment by “The Bachelorette” contestant Bradley Wisk, California singer Tony Ferrari, who has released the song, “South Haven Girls,” and screenings of popular independent mini films.
“The level of talent and the mix of musical styles at this year’s opening night party are certain to create a high level of energy on South Beach, providing a great kickoff for Waterfront Film Festival in its 16th year,” festival co-founder Dori DePree said.
Wisk, an acclaimed operatic tenor, will share the stage with Ferrari, who will kick off his international tour at Waterfront Film Festival.
“Wisk is hailed by critics and has been described as having an 'alluring rich color and exceptional spinning stratospheric top notes,” said Patrick Revere, publicist for the film festival.
The 22-year-old Ferrari’s recently released album “Gentleman” ranked within hours of release on the Top 50 Pop Albums chart on iTunes.
Among his new tunes is a song called “South Haven Girls”, which he wrote upon reflection of his time at Waterfront Film Festival last year. His new music video for the track will be filmed during the outdoor live performance at Waterfront Film Festival’s Opening Night Summer Homecoming Party, offering the chance for spectators to be in the video, including some who may be featured on stage and on screen.
Other musical acts include the Grand Rapids-based bands of Alexis and Valentiger, Alexis's songs blend a mix of retro electro pop and jazz, while Valentiger is a throwback in Americana music, reinventing the sounds of the '60s, with lyrics derived from contemporary ideals and experiences.
After the musical entertainment, the audience can settle in for a viewing of short, independently produced films presented on a large, outdoor screen.
Once the opening night party ends, the festival's main attraction — screenings of 80 independent films and guest appearances by actors, directors and producers — will get underway Friday-Sunday, June 13-15 at venues in South Haven.
Advance tickets for the opening night party are $10 at www.WaterfrontFilm.org and at the ticket office, 503 Quaker St.. Gate entry the day of the event will be $12.
PHOTOS: Tony Ferrari (top) and Alexis musical group
Bangor company plans expansion, thanks to federal loan program
A Bangor company will receive a $10 million boost in funding, thanks to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The USDA has approved the $10 million loan to Marrone Bio Innovations Inc. through its Guaranteed Loan program. Marrone plans to use the money to expand its manufacturing plant on Industrial Drive in Bangor's industrial park
The company began production late last year, in Bangor. The loan will allow it to move ahead with a planned expansion, according to company spokesperson Julie Versman, who estimated the expansion will add 30-50 more employees at the Bangor plant.
Marrone is headquartered in Davis, Calif. The biotech company produces natural pest control products for the agricultural and water treatment markets. Bangor is host to its first plant.
Company officials earlier said they were planning to invest $32 million into the Bangor plant, which is in a former biodiesel plant..
In a news release, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said the Marrone Bio loan package is a good example of what the loan program can accomplish.
“This program is a prime example of how USDA helps local businesses have far-reaching payoffs, including the production of innovative products that are made in rural America and sold around the world,” Vilsack said.
U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, chairperson of the Senate committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry said, “I first met with Marrone Bio Innovations a few years ago and strongly urged them to come to Michigan, because we are leaders in bio-based manufacturing, an area poised for growth. (Wednesday's) announcement is welcome news and will help this innovative company expand its operations and create new, high-tech jobs in Southwestern Michigan.”
— Andrew Lersten of the Herald-Palladium contributed to this story
Motorcyclists killed on M-40 Highway
ALLEGAN — A Holland area couple died Sunday when a vehicle crashed head-on into their motorcycle on M-40 Highway in Allegan Township.
Robert John Kammeraad, 69, and Susan Mae Kammeraad, 66, died after being hit by a vehicle driven by a 23-year-old woman from Grand Haven, according to an Allegan County Sheriff's news release.
Deputies say the woman from Grand Haven was southbound on M-40 when she failed to see vehicles that had stopped for a car making a left-hand turn. Trying to avoid the stopped traffic, the woman swerved into the on-coming lane of the Kammeraads, who were headed north. The couple had been wearing helmets at the time of the crash.
The driver of the car, as well as two of her passengers, were taken to Butterworth Hospital and Allegan General Hospital with non-life threatening injuries. The vehicle occupants had been wearing seat belts when the crash occurred.
The crash remains under investigation and the car driver's name is being withheld pending further investigation.
Police seek public's help in identifying suspect
Allegan County Sheriff's Department is seeking the public's assistance in identifying a person involved in a break-in at a convenience store near Plainwell.
The white man, who was caught on a video surveillance camera in the Third Base Convenience Store, is shown with short-cropped brownish-reddish hair, and was wearing jeans and a purple T-shirt.
A news release stated that alcohol and cigarettes were taken from the store, at 595 10th Street in Gun Plain Township. The crime occurred around 1 a.m., Monday, May 26. Deputies were alerted to the scene after the store alarm went off and a witness observed the front door glass shattered. Deputies believe the suspect left the premises in a dark-colored SUV, possibly a Ford Explorer.
Detectives with the Allegan County Sheriff's Office are asking for assistance in identifying the subject. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Detective in charge of the case at 269-673-7163 or the sheriff's office at 269-673-0500
South Haven man dies in car crash
Funeral services are scheduled Tuesday for a 25-year-old South Haven man who died in a car crash, Wednesday evening, on County Road 687 in Geneva Township.
Van Buren County Sheriff's deputies say Jason Woodall was traveling south on CR 687 near 6th Avenue when he apparently lost control of his 1995 Dodge Ram pickup. It rolled over, trapping him inside. When deputies arrived at 10:40 p.m., he had died from his injuries. A passenger in his vehicle, Cassandra Hayes, 20, of Bangor, suffered injuries, as well, and was treated at the scene.
While deputies were interviewing Hayes, another subject, a 21-year-old man from South Haven, became combative with emergency staff and officers. He also had been driving a vehicle that was southbound on CR 687 at the time of the crash. Deputies arrested the man for obstructing a police officer and the investigation.
However, it is not yet known if the man's vehicle was involved with the accident. Deputies are still continuing to investigate the crash. Anyone with information about the circumstances involving the fatality are asked to call the sheriff's office at 269-657-3101, Silent Observer or Crime Stoppers.
Friends of Blue Star Trail receives $25,000 grant
A group that is raising funds to create a 20-mile bike path from South Haven to Saugatuck received a boost in revenue, thanks to a grant from Consumers Energy Foundation.
Friends of the Blue Star Trail received a $25,000 grant from the foundation to help in construction of the bike path. The foundation also awarded a $25,000 grant for the Calhoun County portion of the Great Lake to Lake Trail.
Friends of the Blue Star Trail will use the funds to help construct a two-mile section of the off-road trail this year. The two-mile section will begin in South Haven and extend northward along Blue Star Highway.
Fundraising has been going well for the Friends. Board President Jeanne Van Zoeren recently announced the group exceeded Phase II goal of its Campaign for the Blue Star Trail, by raising over $140,000 in approximately five months. These matching funds qualified for a $355,000 federal grant that will be used for the 2014 construction project.
On-going fundraising activities are expected to generate additional matching funds with which to qualify for additional national and state grants. Donations can be made to the Campaign for the Blue Star Trail through the Allegan county Community Foundation.
Consumers has made a point in the past several years to help fund construction of recreational trails throughout Michigan. With the latest donations, Consumers has donated $238,000 to 18 trail projects across the state's lower peninsula.
“We are committed to promoting Michigan residents’ health and quality of life, and to promoting Pure Michigan as a tourist destination,” said David Mengebier, president of the Consumers Energy Foundation. “We have supported the development of 18 trails from the Mackinac Bridge to the Indiana line because they make Michigan a more attractive place to live and work.”
Police continue to investigate bomb threat
South Haven Police are sifting through video and audio tapes today at Baseline Middle School in an effort to find out who made Tuesday's bogus bomb threat that forced the evacuation of students and staff.
Police and bomb-sniffing dogs from the Michigan State Police and Berrien County Sheriff's Department spent nearly four hours, Tuesday, searching the exterior and interior of Baseline School and found no explosives.
School officials had received a written threat shortly before noon announcing that a bomb was set to go off at a predetermined time, according to Natalie Thompson, deputy chief of police. Officers went to the school and assisted school staff in taking students to North Shore Elementary School, nearby. Police then began searching the premises for the bomb and cleared the scene at approximately 4 p.m., Tuesday.
Anyone with information about the bomb threat is asked to call the police department at 637-5151.
South Haven Police Officer Shawn Olney talks with a pedestrian at the entrance of Baseline Middle School this afternoon. The school was evacuated at lunchtime due to a bomb threat.
Students evacuated from school after bomb threat made
Students at Baseline Middle School were evacuated to a nearby school building today when the school received a bomb threat. The threat occurred at lunchtime, according to Shawn Olney of the South Haven Police Department. Pupils were immediately evacuated to North Shore Elementary School, which is located next to Baseline. Parents were notified of the situation and picked up their children at the elementary school at the conclusion of the school day. South Haven Police, along with bomb-sniffing dogs from Berrien County Sheriff's Department and Michigan State Police are still at Baseline Middle School searching the building and grounds. Police are not releasing further details at this time.
Beach town kudos
South Haven named Top 10 tourism destination for regional travel
By BECKY KARK
Editor and general manager
South Haven won accolades in 2013 for being Yachting Magazine's top 10 boating towns in the world. Now, it has another feather to put in its cap.
Just Energy Group Inc., an energy supplier based in Ontario, Canada and Houstan, Texas, has named the town one of its Top 10 Memorial Day destination for day trippers.
The honor pleased Lisa Shanley, executive director of the South Haven/Van Buren County Convention and Visitors Bureau.
“Because Memorial Day Weekend has always been the official kickoff of the summer tourism season in Michigan, this article gives our area a nice boost coming out of the gate,” she remarked.
Just Energy, which advocates eco-friendly energy, decided to put together the list to tell its customers they don't have to jet-set to an exotic location to enjoy the upcoming holiday weekend.
“We started by focusing on major metropolitan areas and searched for the best beach towns within 250 miles. Everything we chose was bicycle-friendly, clean, family friendly and not too crowded,” said Paul Batistelli of Just Energy.
“We chose South Haven because of its proximity to Chicago, Detroit and Indianapolis, making it a central location for a large number of people. In addition to its unique features, such as the 100-year-old lighthouse and the Michigan Maritime Museum, we love that South Haven is bicycle friendly, has easy access to the beach and is full of quaint B&Bs and historic inns. It's the perfect little beach getaway.”
Other towns chosen for the “Best One-Tank Beach Trips for Memorial Day,” include Provincetown, Mass.; Fire Island, NY: Bethany Beach, Delaware; Kiawah Island, SC; Anna Maria Island, Fla.; Port Arkansas, Texas.; Santa Barbara, Calif.; Pacific Grove, Calif.; and Westport Beach, Wash.
In selecting South Haven, Just Energy wrote, “With no shortage of water, South Haven is a quaint little beach town worth visiting during your long weekend. Not only is the town divided by the Black River, you’ll have your pick of seven city beaches.
“Carve out your own piece of paradise on South Haven’s sandy shores or walk out to the 100-year-old lighthouse at the end of South Beach Pier. Don’t forget to take in the lively farmer’s market on Saturday morning and catch the Memorial Day Parade on Monday at 9 a.m., (May 26).”
The link to Just Energy's “Best One-Tank Beach Trips for Memorial Day follows: http://www.justenergy.com/blog/best-one-tank-beach-trips-for-memorial-day/
PHOTO: Sheryl Kaptur photographed a little girl playing on South Beach. Behind her is South Haven's South pier, catwalk and lighthouse.
KitchenAid and Organic Gypsy Food Truck Tour makes stop in South Haven
KitchenAid is partnering with the Organic Gypsy, a locally-sourced food truck based in Kalamazoo, for a month-long mobile tour throughout Southwest Michigan and Northwest Indiana to raise awareness for its presenting sponsorship of the 75th Senior PGA Championship at Harbor Shores in Benton Harbor.
South Haven is one of nine appearances the mobile food truck tour will make throughout Southwest Michigan and Northwest Indiana. The truck will be at the South Haven Farmers Market, 9 a.m.-noon, this Saturday.
• The Organic Gypsy will be serving lunch dishes such as spring rolls, wraps, tacos and organic root beer
• KitchenAid will give away a free Stand Mixer, its legendary countertop appliance, to one lucky winner at each tour stop
• The PGA of America will be offering discounted tickets to the Championship, May 22-25, and giving fans an up-close view of the historic Alfred S. Bourne trophy
Waterfront Film Festival unveils lineup for 2014 event
By TRIBUNE STAFF
Independent films starring Jason Ritter, Barbara Hershey, John Heard and Richard Dreyfuss headline the upcoming 2014 Waterfront Film Festival in South Haven.
“Waterfront’s selection committee has been working hard to put together a fun, diverse lineup of fantastic films that will offer something for everybody,” said Festival co-founder Hopwood DePree. “Many film directors and actors will be traveling to West Michigan to show their new movies at the festival and meet the audiences. This is always my favorite time of year as Waterfront Film Festival is a perfect kick-off to summer.”
Now in its 16th year, the film festival is scheduled June 12-15 at venues throughout South Haven, including the Michigan Theater and Listiak Auditorium.
More than 80 films will be featured in this year's event, including 21 Midwest premiers and 13 Michigan premieres that include award-winning documentaries and narrative features. Many of the films set to screen in South Haven will have producers, actors, directors and writers in attendance and participating in Q&A sessions following each screening. Tickets for the movies are available online at www.waterfrontfilm.org or at the festival office, 503 Quaker Street, downtown.
“Waterfront Film Festival has a tradition of showcasing films to the Midwest that go on to great success, including 'Man On Wire,' 'March of the Penguins,' 'Queen of Versailles,' and 'Napolean Dynamite,' and last year’s 'Muscle Shoals' and 'Blackfish,'” said Patrick Revere, festival publicist.
This year marks the second time that the film festival will take place in South Haven. Originating in Saugatuck, Waterfront Film Festival is considered one of the leading destination film festivals in the Midwest. It regularly hosts Midwest premiers of Academy Award-winning and nominated documentaries. It is now recognized as a top-film festival that is committed to creating a “middle coast” venue for independent filmmakers while enhancing the cultural draw of West Michigan.
Here is a sample of some of the films that will be shown at this year's festival:
• Midwest Premiere of “Whitey: United States of America v. James J. Bulger.” Oscar-nominee Joe Berlinger’s latest documentary film begins when James “Whitey” Bulger is arrested and follows his trial while exploring the man and the corruption that plagued Boston for years. Entertainment Weekly has called the film , “Summer Movies To See.” It has been selected for the 2014 Sundance Film Festival.
• Midwest Premiere of “Wild Canaries.” In this comedy mystery starring Emmy-Award nominee Jason Ritter (“Parenthood”) and Alia Shawkat (“Arrested Development”), a Brooklyn couple suspects foul play when their rent-controlled
neighbor suddenly drops dead. The film has been selected as a Grand Jury award nominee for the SXSW Film Festival.
• Midwest Premiere of “Sister.” Starring Academy-Award nominee Barbara Hershey, Reid Scott, John Heard and Illeana Douglas, this poignant family drama follows a well-meaning brother who takes in his delinquent sister. The film has been selected for the Tribeca Film Festival.
• Midwest Premiere of “Love Child.” A shocking documentary on the first fatality attributed to “internet addiction.” A young couple in Seoul, Korea, allow their newborn baby to starve to death while they devote their lives to raising a fictional child in an online fantasy world. Grand Jury prize nominee in World Cinema Documentaries for the Sundance Film Festival.
• Midwest Premiere of “Cas & Dylan.” Academy Award winner Richard Dreyfuss stars as an aging doctor who inadvertently winds up on the lam with an “anything-but-normal” 22-year-old girl (Tatiana Maslany) in this comedic drama directed by Jason Priestley. The film won a Canadian Genie Award for Best Actress in Leading Role.
South Haven Police step up effort to arrest vandals; Offer $500 reward
South Haven Police Department is offering a reward up to $500 for tips leading to the arrest of three suspects who are vandalizing vehicles and park restrooms.
Police say they have responded to “numerous complaints involving legally parked ares on city streets. The suspects break windows of the vehicles. Nothing, however, is taken from the vehicles.
Officers also say fixtures have been destroyed in public restrooms at Kids Corner Park on Monroe Boulevard and the Tot Lot on Bailey Street in the past several weeks.
City residents are asked to report any suspicious activity by calling 911. People who have information about the vandalism are asked to call the police department, 637-5151.
South Haven man involved in serious motorcycle accident
By BECKY KARK
Editor and general manager
A 56-year-old South Haven man suffered serious head injuries Thursday after his motorcycle collided with a car.
Dennis McCurine was traveling south in the 300 block of Broadway at approximately 10:15 p.m. when a northbound car, driven by a 20-year-old Kalamazoo woman, turned left in front of his bike, causing him to crash into her vehicle, according to South Haven Deputy Police Chief Natalie Thompson. McCurine was not wearing a helmet.
“It was a very bad accident,” Thompson said. Emergency responders from South Haven Area Emergency Services rushed McCurine to South Haven Hospital, where he later was airlifted to Bronson Methodist Hospital in Kalamazoo. Hospital officials, today, would not release the condition of McCurine, however, Thompson said she had received news from McCurine's wife that he was beginning to recover. “He's talking and doing better,” Thompson said.
Police shut down a portion of Broadway between Phoenix and Huron streets to reconstruct how the accident happened. They do not believe speed or alcohol were factors in the accident, however, they have not yet completed their investigation. They said they would not yet release the name of the woman from Kalamazoo who was driving the car, pending results of their investigation.
Conservancy hosts 3rd annual Brilliant Birds Tour
Mothers can be treated to Mother Nature and a flurry of birds on Saturday, May 10, at Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy’s Black River Preserve, in Geneva Township. The conservancy will offer a guided walking tour highlighting a wide variety of wildflowers and many species of avian spring arrivals from 9:30-11:30 a.m.
Black River Preserve features 121 acres of meadow, steeply rolling forest, and wetlands, in addition to one mile of river frontage and forested areas along three tributary streams. The area provides habitat for warblers, tanagers, thrushes, orioles, cuckoos and dozens of other kinds of birds.
Tour leaders Nate Fuller, the conservancy's director of conservation and stewardship, and John Mitchell, president of Bangor/South Haven Heritage Water Trail, will lead the tour.
"The combination of great wildlife cover, proximity to Lake Michigan, and being along the river means we could see all sorts of birds," Fuller said. "With trees leafing out late this year, we’ll have great views through the woods. I expect nice looks at rose-breasted grosbeaks and scarlet tanagers."
Black River Preserve was acquired by the conservancy in 2011. Areas are now under restoration to improve habitat for wildlife and water quality, and the first phase of a trail system has been implemented.
"Our first steps have been toward restoration of the ecology of the site," Fuller said. "We are in the process of identifying resources to improve its value as a local resource for passive recreation." Currently, the preserve has some existing trails and will eventually have an off-street parking lot, a completed trail system, and trailhead signage.
Space is limited for the tour. To make reservation, call (269) 324-1600. Participants should dress for weather conditions and bring binoculars. One mile east of County Road 689 and a half-mile west of 86th Street, just west of the 8th Avenue Bridge.Directions and additional information can be accessed at www.SWMLC.org.
South Haven voters say yes to $36.74 million in school building improvements
Third time's the charm proved to be at work for South Haven Public School officials bond proposal request.
Twice in the past six years, voters turned down funding for building improvements, but Tuesday, they had a change of heart, approving $36.74 million to upgrade school and athletic facilities.
According to election results, 61 percent of voters favored the 30-year bond proposal. A total of 1,319 electors voted yes, while 843 nixed the idea.
Most of the bond request — $28.87 million — will be used for improvements to South Haven High School. The improvements follow:
Improvements to other facilities follow:
Now that the bond proposal has been approved, property tax bills will soon go up. The owner of a home valued at $100,000, will pay an additional $78 annually; the owner of a $150,00 home will pay an extra $117 each year; while those with homes valued at $200,000, will pay $155 more in taxes.
Bangor voters elect three new council members
By BECKY KARK
Editor and general manager
BANGOR — Three last-minute, write-in candidates ended up having an effect on Bangor's city council election.
Tuesday's election was originally uncontested. Harold Bator and Lucas Koenig had sought two full-term seats, while Jim Tanner settled for the partial-term seat.
However, only two of the three were elected, according to unofficial results.
Bator and Tanner will take their seats on the council, while write-in candidate Daniel Fry, will fill the other full-term seat. The full terms will be for three years. The partial term seat will last until May of 2016.
Unofficial results follow:
Full-term seats: Harold Bator, 84; Daniel Fry, 67; Greg Moench, 53; Lucas Koenig, 50.
Partial-term seat: Jim Tanner, 88; Robert Freislinger, 53.
The results could change, Bangor Clerk Kim Schmitz said, due to various spellings voters used for the write-in candidates' names. Fry, for instance, could end up receiving 83 votes, while Moench could get 65. Van Buren County Board of Canvassers will make the final determination.
But it appears, even with the varied spellings, the outcome of the election will remain the same.
Twelve percent of the city's 1,317 registered voters cast ballots in Tuesday's election.
Meijer's opening attracts a crowd
By BECKY KARK
Editor and general manager
If a full parking lot is any indication, South Haven area residents like the town's new Meijer store.
The Grand Rapids-based retailer conducted a “soft opening” Thursday at its newest store at 1223 Phoenix St. in preparation for Sunday's grand opening.
But the enticement of grand-opening gift card giveaways didn't stop people from checking out the 190,000-square-foot establishment a few days ahead of time.
As shoppers browsed among groceries, approximately 100 people stood at the front of the store to watch Meijer officials and governmental leaders take part in a ribbon-cutting ceremony where they presented a $25,000 check to South Haven Public Schools athletic program and $7,500 to Bangor Vikings summer ball program.
“We're so glad to be here,” said Hank Meijer, company president. “I think it's one of the few stores we have that is right next to a highway and right next to a downtown. It makes us feel like we're part of South Haven.”
Governmental officials are equally as glad to have Meijer locate in South Haven.
“Not only am I excited about the job creation and private investment this development represents, I am pleased with our partners in South Haven Charter Township who actively partnered with the city to ensure this development was planned and built in a high-quality manner,” South Haven Mayor Bob Burr said.
The sprawling store is located in South Haven Township, while its nearby gas station rests on South Haven city land.
Both South Haven City Manager Brian Dissette and South Haven Township Supervisor Ross Stein said the store will provide the catalyst for more economic growth for the entire South Haven area.
Meijer hired more than 260 employees for the opening of the local store, according to Store Director April Groenleer.
“This community has provided such a talented team for this store,” she said.
But the new jobs are just part of the picture, according to Stein and Dissette.
“Meijer will be the anchor for future growth,” Stein said, indicating that four retail establishments have shown interest in locating businesses near the intersection of Blue Star Highway and Phoenix Road.
The township and city will also receive more property tax revenue from Meijer, as well as revenue for utilities that Meijer uses, such as water, sewer and electricity.
“It (utility usage) will allow us to expand our (water and sewer) system,” Dissette said. Meijer's utility usage may also eventually mean cheaper utility costs for area residents served by the city's water and sewer systems.
Restaurant, bank open in Meijer store
The South Haven Meijer store is home to Huntington Bank and Subway restaurant.
Huntington plans to offer staffing at its new South Haven office seven days a week, according to Brian Bromley, senior vice-president of Huntington. The South Haven Huntington is the 40th one that the banking firm has opened in Meijer stores in the past two years, Bromley went on to say. The Subway is operated by the same owners of the Subway store on Broadway Street in South Haven.
Grand opening events
Meijer will feature grand opening events, starting Sunday, that include daily giveaways, family activities and a chance to win ten Ultimate Grilling Packages through May 31. On Sunday, the first 200 customers to enter store after 6 a.m. will receive a Mystery Meijer Gift Card with a value of $5, $10 or $20. Notable events for the month include an In-store Community Picnic and free ticket giveaways to Cedar Point amusement park every 15 minutes with WCSY-FM radio personalities on May 10, Radio Disney on May 11, and a cooking demonstration with celebrity chef and reality TV star Fabio Viviani on May 25 from 5-7 p.m.
PHOTO: Meijer cashier Jackie Danenberg is shown at the check-out line along with customer Jeff Olney.
Reconstruction of I-196 in Allegan County set to begin
Motorists can expect traffic delays on Interstate 196 in Allegan County this summer.
Starting Monday, May 12, Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) plans to reconstruct more than 7 miles of eastbound I-196 in Allegan County, from the split with US-31 to the Ottawa County line in Holland.
The $15.7 million investment is the extension of the northbound I-196 reconstruction project completed in 2012. The eastbound I-196 project includes road reconstruction, ramp and bridge repairs, and culvert, slope, guardrail and fence repairs and replacement.
Construction is scheduled for completion by Oct. 31, and includes nighttime and weekend work, according to an MDOT news release. During construction, one lane of I-196 will be open in each direction, as well as intermittent ramp and bridge closures with posted detours.
During work on the M-40 ramp to eastbound I-196, traffic will be detoured north on M-40 to 32nd Street, then east to I-196.
While work proceeds on the eastbound I-196 ramp to M-40, traffic will be detoured north on US-31 to M-40, then south to I-196.
The 56th Street and 58th Street bridges over I-196 will be closed alternately, and detoured. The detour for 56th Street will be 58th Street, while the detour for 58th Street will be 56th Street.
Monroe Boulevard construction begins
A portion of Monroe Boulevard in South Haven will be closed to traffic for the next several weeks.
Beginning today, Monroe Boulevard will be closed to through traffic from Aylworth Avenue to South Haven Street. The road closure is necessary for construction of new sanitary sewer main, sanitary sewer services, and water services. Upon completion of the utility work, the street pavement will be replaced.
The project is anticipated to last through June 10, city officials say. Traffic will be detoured on Aylworth Avenue, St Joseph Street, and South Haven Street. Residents within the construction zone are requested to travel north or south to reach the beginning of the detour route.
The City has hired Abonmarche to provide construction phase services for this project. Questions or concerns may be directed to Tim Drews, PE at (269) 927-2295, ext 157. Thank you for your patience as we complete this work.
New South Haven Meijer store ready to open its doors Thursday
By BECKY KARK
Editor and general manager
Shoppers will have a new store to check out when Meijer opens its doors Thursday.
Located on Phoenix Street, just west of Interstate 196, the new 190,000-square-foot store will celebrate its “soft” opening with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 10 a.m., Thursday. Store officials will then host a grand opening Sunday, May 4, offering a number of giveaways and prizes.
When customers enter the 190,000-square-foot store, they will notice a wide variety of merchandise and departments including a pharmacy, a meat department that offers butcher shop service, a bakery that carries fresh bread baked four times a day, a produce section that features 600 varieties of produce and a garden center.
“As a pioneer of the 'one-stop shopping' concept, Meijer stores have evolved through the years to include expanded fresh produce and meat departments, as well as pharmacies, comprehensive electronics departments, garden centers and apparel offerings,” said Joe Hirshmugl, public relations director for Meijer.
The new store and its accompanying gas station will employ more than 270 people, Hirshmugl went on to say. It will be open 24 hours a day, every day of the year, except Christmas.
It took nearly two years to build the store, which has entrances on both Phoenix and Blue Star Highway.
Meijer had been eyeing the South Haven market for several years, company officials said earlier. They got their chance to build a new store here after purchasing 24 acres of land in 2011 from Stone's Throw LLC, owned by Cindi Compton and Henry Compton of South Haven. The property was mainly wooded and needed a lot of preparation and excavation before construction could begin. Once construction began in 2013, the store took a little over a year to be built.
The South Haven location becomes the 205th Meijer Store to open to the public. Meijer, a Grand Rapids-based retailer, operates supercenters and grocery stores throughout Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky.
Gas station robbed on Easter
MATTAWAN — Police are on the lookout for three men who stole nearly $4,500 from a gas station in Mattawan on Easter.
The incident occurred shortly before noon at the Citgo gas station, 24039 Red Arrow Hwy.
Van Buren County Sheriff's deputies say three black men entered the store. Two of the suspects walked around the store while a third one went into a side room where money was located in an unlocked drawer.
When the clerk noticed the man near the side room the suspect became irate with her. The three men then fled with nearly $4,479 taken from the drawer.
The suspects may also have been involved in robberies from two stores in Portage, Saturday.
The men are described as 35-50 years of age. All were in dark clothing. One suspect was wearing a blue stocking hat. Another one was wearing a light-color golf-style hat. They were driving a newer, white sedan, possibly a Cadillac.
Anyone with any information is asked to call the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office or Silent Observer.
'Blood Red' lunar eclipse - first one of 2014
The South Haven area was shrouded in clouds early this morning for the 'blood red' lunar eclipse, but Sheryl Kaptur of South Haven managed to capture these images. The top image shows the moon just prior to the eclipse. The one directly above shows part of the eclipse, A lunar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes directly behind the Earth into its umbra. This can occur only when the Sun, Earth, and Moon are aligned exactly, or very closely so, with the Earth in the middle.
Bangor DPW director announces retirement
By BECKY KARK
Editor and general manager
BANGOR — After 40 years with Bangor's Department of Public Works, Steve Lowder is calling it quits, but some people aren't too happy about it.
Lowder submitted his retirement notice April 4 to City Manager Ryan Fellows. He will continue to work as DPW director until a new person is hired.
“I have enjoyed my many years of serving the City of Bangor and I look forward to helping the city successfully transition to a new director of public works,” he wrote.
The letter seemed amiable enough, but two people who attended Monday's City Council meeting claim Lowder was forced to retire.
“This is hypocrisy, why don't you call it what it is?” asked a man who identified himself as Tony.
Another man, Brian Rouse, agreed. “I've known Steve the majority of my life. I've never seen him turn down work.”
Several city council members, however, disagreed with the two men.
“Forty years speaks for itself,” said council member Fred Hicks. “I don't know if I agree with us being hypocrites.”
“Forty years is a very long time for any one to be in a position,” said council member Lynne Farmer. “We appreciate Steve as our DPW director and assistant fire chief.”
But another council member hinted that there may have been friction between Lowder and city administrators over the past several years. Fellows is the fourth city manager the town has had since 2011.
“Maybe it wasn't all his (Lowder's) fault, maybe it was management's fault,” said council member Renee Doroh.
Whatever his reason for retirement, Lowder isn't talking about it. “I really can't say,” he said in a phone interview, Tuesday.
City Manager Ryan Fellows said he wasn't aware of Lowder's intentions to retire until after he received his resignation letter.
When asked if he had reprimanded Lowder, Fellows said, “there's nothing in writing. People make choices.”
Fellows went on to say, “I thank Mr. Lowder for his years of service and appreciate his willingness for a smooth transition.”
Grand Junction man charged with aggravated assault of a police officer
A 19-year-old Grand Junction man faces several criminal charges after allegedly spitting on a sheriff's deputy and using a cigarette to burn a police sergeant.
Van Buren County Sheriff's Department arrested Eric Thomas Murphree for aggravated assault of a police officer, resisting and obstruction of a police officer, simple assault and minor in possession of alcohol. He was arraigned Monday in Van Buren District Court where the magistrate set his bond at $25,000.
The charges stem from a complaint deputies received, Sunday, of a possible assault in progress in the 00700 block of 67th Street, in Geneva Township.
Murphree allegedly was arguing with and physically assaulting a 39-year-old man from the South Haven area. When law enforcement officers tried to arrest Murphree he allegedly became combative. During the struggle, a South Haven Police Department sergeant was burnt by a cigarette Murphree had. When Murphree was later escorted to the police cruiser he spit on a deputy's face.
The victim was treated on the scene for his injuries. Murphree was treated at South Haven Hospital for injuries.
Wild Chef Japanese Steakhouse re-opens
A Holland restaurant that voluntarily closed its doors after patrons reported flu-like symptoms is now open.
The Ottawa County Department of Public Health allowed Wild Chef Japanese Steakhouse to reopen on Monday.
The restaurant voluntarily closed Tuesday, April 1 after numerous reports of illness were received by health department from customers who dined at the establishment. Approximately 300 people reported symptoms consistent with norovirus, according to the health department. The health department confirmed that norovirus was indeed the pathogen that affected patrons.
Wild Chef Japanese Steakhouse has met the following health department requirements:
Cleaned and disinfected all equipment, floors, walls, and ceilings.
Developed new written policies and procedures and provided staff training on proper hand washing, glove use, food preparation practices, and reporting of illness
Discarded all prepared foods from the establishment
All staff completed a food handlers training program and passed the exam.
Humane Society celebrates National Volunteer Week
Al-Van Humane Society plans to celebrate National Volunteer Week by highlighting all the volunteer opportunities that provide comfort, care and compassion to the local homeless pet population while they wait to be adopted.
“We want to thank those that currently volunteer for our organization by holding a special event on Saturday, April 12 for our active volunteers, and to showcase each day some of the wonderful ways that people can help the homeless pets through service as a volunteer to Al-Van Humane Society,” stated humane society Executive Director Will Anzenberger.
National Volunteer Week, April 6-12, is about taking action and encouraging individuals and their respective communities to be at the center of social change- discovering and actively demonstrating their collective power to foster positive transformation.
“Whether it is fostering an animal awaiting a chance at adoption, assisting with our mobile adoption events (“Meet & Greets”), or applying creative skills like photography to promote our shelter animals’ best side, our volunteers provide an invaluable service to our organization and to our mission,” added Anzenberger. “This National Volunteer Week reminds us to take a brief moment out of our hectic schedule to truly thank those that tirelessly give to our organization on behalf of the animals.”
About National Volunteer Week – The event was established in 1974 and has grown each year with thousands of volunteer projects and special events scheduled throughout the week.
Survey shows state residents favor cherry over blueberry as Michigan's official fruit
By BECKY KARK
Editor and general manager
Michigan legislators have yet to decide whether the cherry or blueberry should be the state's official fruit, but a survey conducted by a marketing group could sway their opinion.
Marketing Resource Group of Lansing surveyed voters throughout the state in March and discovered that two-thirds of them think the cherry should rule.
The results, released today, didn't surprise Dave Doyle of Marketing Resource Group. “We kind of expected Southwest Michigan voters to be for the blueberry and the rest of the state for cherries,” he said.
The marketing group decided to survey Michigan residents after hearing State Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker, R-Lawton, had introduced a bill to make the blueberry the state's official fruit. Her bill followed on the heels of a similar one by Sen. Rebekah Warren (D) touting the cherry. A senate committee heard testimony from the two sides in early March but did not make any decisions.
“We read about it and figured it would be a fun and interesting subject of a survey,” Doyle said when asked why Marketing Resource Group decided to poll people.
“Six hundred likely voters were randomly selected throughout the state between March 24-28,” Doyle said of the telephone survey. “If 10 percent of Southwest Michigan voters voted in an election, than 10 percent were called in Southwest Michigan.”
The news is bound to come as a disappointment to the contingency from southwest Michigan who traveled to Lansing in early March to promote the merits of the blueberry.
Local blueberry growers, Blueberry Store owners and students from St. Basil Catholic School and Baseline Middle School spent a half-hour telling legislators why they favor the blue fruit, while students from the east side of the state lobbied for the cherry.
The local students argued that Michigan is one of the largest producers of blueberries in the nation and that blueberries are grown on 21,500 acres spread across 600 farms, many of which are located along the lakeshore in Southwest Michigan. They also pointed out that blueberry production funnels $187.7 million into the state's economy each year and provides 3,000 jobs.
“The kids did a fabulous job,” St. Basil School Principal Jeanne Arbanas said. “Even the cherry side. You have to give them some credit. They've been wanting the cherry for years so they had been at it for sometime. But I thought we had a great showing.”
Each side left the senate committee with some food for thought:
“If this doesn't get out of committee it will be the pits,” cherry promoters said.
Blueberry lovers took a different tack, reminding legislators that blueberries are native to North America, while cherries are native to China.
“You can't forget that,” Arbanas said.
Canine unit sniffs out suspect hiding in a barrel
Hiding from police in a 55-gallon barrel didn't pan out for a Hartford area woman.
A Van Buren County Sheriff's Department canine unit found 29-year-old Tiffani Ann Johnson-Oliver hiding in the barrel Saturday afternoon after she led a deputy on a high-speed chase.
Deputies began to pursue Oliver after she left a gas station in Hartford at a high rate of speed. A deputy tried to stop her 1995 white Cadillac, but Oliver kept trying to elude him for several miles. She went through stop signs and was driving recklessly before going off the road into an orchard and cornfield near the intersection of 34th Avenue and 66th Street in Bangor Township. She then fled her vehicle on foot and attempted to hide in the barrel. Deputies deployed a canine unit that tracked them to the barrel where the suspect was trying to hide.
She was arrested for fleeing and eluding and an outstanding bench warrant.
Covert Township Police, Hartford Police, Michigan State Police and Bangor Police departments assisted.
Man escapes serious injuries after falling asleep while driving on M-40 Highway
A Lawton man is lucky to be alive after a farm post smashed through his windshield, Thursday.
The 18-year-old had been driving north on M-40 Highway in Porter Township when he fell asleep, according to a Van Buren County Sheriff's Department news release. His vehicle traveled across the center line and went into a farm field for about 100 yards. It then hit the farm post and re-entered the roadway.
When deputies and emergency personnel arrived at the scene they found the injured man, and the post, which had stopped inches from his body. The man was taken to Bronson Methodist Hospital in Kalamazoo for non-life-threatening injuries. He was cited for careless driving. Neither alcohol, drugs nor speeding were factors in the accident.
Stomach illnesses in Ottawa County linked to Holland restaurant
HOLLAND – Ottawa County Department of Public Health (OCDPH) has received an increase of gastrointestinal illness reports this week from residents. Wild Chef Japanese Steakhouse Grill and Bar in Holland Township voluntarily closed Tuesday after being notified that a number of dining customers had reported gastrointestinal illnesses to the health department. OCDPH has conducted a full inspection and the investigation is still in process. So far, health officials have identified more than 100 gastrointestinal illness cases related to dining at Wild Chef. The restaurant owner and staff have been cooperative with the health department. Health officials are ensuring proper disinfecting procedures have been completed before scheduling a re-open date. OCDPH wants to ensure health and safety for residents and that restaurants are successful establishments. OCDPH is waiting on lab results to determine which pathogen is associated with the Wild Chef incident. Currently, no other dining establishments have been identified as having an outbreak.
Gastrointestinal illness symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, cramping and low-grade fever. If you are currently experiencing any of these symptoms, please remain at home at least 24 hours after symptoms subside. If you or anyone you know has dined at Wild Chef between Thursday, March 27 and Tuesday, April 1, regardless of experiencing symptoms or not, take a moment to complete the OCDPH online questionnaire at www.surveymonkey.com/s/wildchefto help aid the investigation.
Area municipalities receive nearly $1 million to shore up winter road maintenance budgets
Municipalities in southwest Allegan and northwest Van Buren counties received nearly $1 million today to help restore road maintenance budgets that were depleted by Michigan's cold, snowy winter.
The funding is part of $100 million the Michigan legislature recently approved for winter road maintenance.
"These funds are badly needed by counties, cities and villages to compensate for the extraordinarily high costs of plowing, salting and filling potholes this past winter," said State Transportation Director Kirk T. Steudle. "We are all extremely appreciative of the governor's and legislature's understanding of the toll this brutal winter has taken on road budgets."
The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) allocated the one-time appropriation of $100 million according to the Public Act 51 of 1951 road funding formula, meaning MDOT received $39.1 million, counties $39.1 million, and cities and villages $21.8 million.
The Act 51 formula is complex. How much a county, city or village receives in funding through Act 51 depends on several factors, including road mileage and population. Counties, cities and villages receiving the funds must use the money for winter maintenance costs, and not for things such as administration, overhead or other indirect costs.
Here is a breakdown of what local municipalities received:
Lawrence man dies in single-vehicle accident
An autopsy is scheduled today for a 42-year-old Lawrence man, who died in a traffic accident on Interstate 94 Wednesday afternoon.
Frederick Neil Alburtus died at the scene of the crash, which occurred shortly before 3 p.m. near the 48 mile marker in Hartford Township.
Witnesses told Michigan State Police troopers they noticed Alburtus driving erratically prior to the crash. Police said Alburtus lost control of his pick-up truck. It went off the right side of the road and rolled over. He was not wearing a seatbelt.
Police say alcohol does not appear to be a factor in the crash. The autopsy will be performed at Spectrum Butterworth Hospital.
Sure sign of spring
It's no April Fool's joke. After a harsh, cold winter, snow drops are shown, Monday, blooming in a yard in Grand Junction. (photo by Kim Roe-Kester)
Nesbitt plans local office hours today
Area residents can meet with State Rep. Aric Nesbitt today at several town halls throughout Van Buren County. Nesbitt, R-Lawton, has scheduled several in-district office hours at the following locations:
• Covert Township Hall, 73943 Lake St., noon-1 p.m.
• Julia's at the Pavilion, 561 Huron St., South Haven, 2-3 p.m.
• Railroad Cafe, 555 Railroad St., Bangor, 4-5 p.m.
Gobles area man air-lifted to Bronson following ATV accident
UPDATE: Glen W. Sutton, 69, died Monday at Bronson Methodist Hospital in Kalamazoo, shortly after being air-lifted there. Police released his name Tuesday.
A 69-year-old Gobles area man was air-lifted to Bronson Methodist Hospital today after suffering head and neck injuries in an ATV accident.
The incident occurred shortly before 10 a.m. in a corn field in the 12000 block of M-40 Highway in Bloomingdale Township, according to a Van Buren County Sheriff's report.
When deputies arrived they found the victim unconscious, not breathing and bleeding from the head. A deputy began CPR until personnel from Life EMS and Pine Grove Fire Rescue arrived to take over medical treatment.
A friend of the victim, who was riding a separate ATV when the accident occurred, told deputies that the Gobles man was traveling eastbound in a cornfield when his hat began to come off. The man tried to retrieve the hat, but in doing so accidentally hit the throttle of his ATV. The ATV lost control and went onto two wheels. The man fell from the vehicle and struck his head on the ground. The victim's friend called 911. At this time the condition of the victim is not known.
Penny slot machine yields huge dividends for St. Joseph resident
Playing the penny slots has paid off in a big way for a St. Joseph man.
The lucky guy won a $509,036 jackpot, Saturday, playing “The Lord of the Rings — The Fellowship” penny slot machine at Four Winds Casino in New Buffalo.
Other jackpots won recently at the Four Winds casino follow:
• Feb. 14 — $211,698
• June 2013 — $1,038,265
• January 2013 — $744,966
J&B Landing employees. who helped salvage the Wilhelm Baum this past weekend. are shown standing next to the historic tugboat, which is now dry-docked at the company's marine facilities on Dyckman Avenue in South Haven.
South Haven marine contractor salvages historic Wilhelm Baum
By BECKY KARK
Editor and general manager
The old saying. “Don't give up the ship.” certainly applies to the crew that salvaged the historic Wilhelm Baum tugboat this past Saturday.
“It took three days. We had a hard time bringing it up,” said Barney Pero, owner of J&B Landing, which undertook the task of getting the submerged tug out of the Black River in South Haven.
The 91-year-old tug lay submerged for a month in icy water at the Michigan Maritime Museum dock before J&B workers could rescue it.
“It had taken in a lot of water,” Pero said of the 25-ton tugboat owned by Jim and Sheral Bradley of South Haven.
Workers began the arduous task Thursday, battling freezing temperature and wind gusts. The task proved tough.
“The weather was miserable,” Bradley said.
While bystanders watched, J&B employees tried unsuccessfully on Thursday, Friday and Saturday morning to lift the vessel.
“You couldn't lift the whole tug out of the water, it was just too heavy,” Pero said. Workers then devised a plan to lift the back part of the tug onto a barge, which allowed them to successfully pump out some of the water. They then were able to lift the front part of the tug onto another barge and drain the rest of the water out of the craft.
Surprisingly, once the water was out of the Wilhelm Baum late Saturday afternoon, it floated on its own.
“It came up and wasn't leaking water at all,” Bradley said. “I think Barney and his boys did a wonderful job. I was very pleased nobody got injured.”
Just why the Wilhelm Baum sank on Feb. 23, still remains somewhat of a mystery.
“The Coast Guard didn't find anything obvious,” Pero said.
“We do not know why it sank,” said Bradley, who has owned the Wilhelm Baum since the mid 1970s. “There's not many clues to the mystery.”
Pero ventured one guess. “It's possible with all of the ice and snow we had it weighed down the boat and it started to take on water, but that's just a guess.”
Despite sinking, the tugboat showed very few signs of damage, which pleased Bradley. However, its electronic components were ruined.
“It had sonar, a remote-operated vehicle for underwater videos, things like that,” said Bradley who used the tug for shipwreck searches and as a rescue boat when he volunteered with the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary.
“That's a major deal,” he said regarding the loss of the electronic devices. “Most of it was handmade by me and took a long time to make. It can't be readily replaced.”
At this point, Bradley said he is not sure yet whether the tug will go back in the water.
I'm not sure where we're going to next,” he said.
The Wilhelm Baum was built in 1923 for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and used on the St. Mary's River. At that time it was called the Captain Canfield. When Bradley bought it he changed the tug's name to Wilhelm Baum, in honor of a South Haven resident of the same name, who had served as Lt. Commander of the U.S.S. Swordfish submarine during World War II.
Bradley and his wife Sheral spent the next three decades using the tugboat for search and rescue operations for the Coast Guard Auxiliary in South Haven.
“I'd say 1,200 to 1,500 people were assisted in the 30 years the tug was used by the auxiliary,” Bradley said. For the past nine years, Bradley used the boat for his diving expeditions.
“My wife (Sheral) and I were very active in the the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary in South Haven,” Bradley said. “The Wilhelm Baum was involved in many rescues. I'd say 1,200 to 1,500 people were assisted in the 30 years the tug was used by the auxiliary.”
Bradley bought the Wilhelm Baum in the early 1970s. At that time the tug was known as the Captain Canfield. It had been built in Baltimore, Md. For the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and used on the St. Mary's River. It then was sold to several private interests before Bradley bought it.
“I didn't like the name,” he said when asked why the tug was given another moniker. “I chose the name Wilhelm Baum, because he was a local navy hero.” Baum had served as Lt. Commander of the U.S.S. Swordfish submarine during World War II. The Swordfish was the first United States sub to sink a Japanese ship during the war.
After three decades of plying the Black River and Lake Michigan for the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, the Bradleys retired. For the past nine years, the Wilhelm Baum has been used for recreational purposes and for Bradley's shipwreck searches.
The country music trio, Lady Antebellum, is shown.
Lady Antebellum, Joe Nichols to perform at Allegan County Fair
Allegan County Fair promotors are giving country music lovers something to cheer about with the addition of Lady Antebellum and Joe Nichols to the fair's concert lineup.
Tickets will go on sale Friday at 10 a.m. for the Sept. 7th concert, featuring both Lady A and Nichols.
Tickets can be purchased online at www.allegancountyfair.com or at the fair box office, by calling 1888-673-6501.
Lady Antebellum is riding on the success of its latest No. 1 hit, “Compass,” from the band's “Golden Deluxe Edition.” Since forming in 2006, the trio of Hillary Scott, Charles Kelley and Dave Haywood has earned seven Grammy Awards and dozens of other awards, including their most recent ones — Duo/Group Artist of the Year and Best Single by a Duo/Group from the American Country Awards in 2013.
Lady Antebellum's hit singles include “Our Kind of Love, “Need You Now,” “I Run to You,” “American Honey,” and “Downtown.”
Nichols, who also is enjoying popularity on the country music charts, recently released his latest album, “Crickets.” The single, “Sunny and 75” was certified gold earlier this year.
Hit other hits include “Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off,” “She Only Smokes When She Drinks,” “It Ain't No Crime,” “The Impossible,” “I'll Wait for You,” and “If Nobody Believed in You.”
UPDATE: The Wilhelm Baum was salvaged from the Black River late Saturday afternoon by workers from J&B Landing in South Haven. The difficult operation took three days. Barney Pero and his crew had to use several barges and other pieces of equipment to pump water out of the submerged tug and lift it out of the river, where it had been submerged for a month.
A slow go...
Workers are at the Michigan Maritime Museum docks in South Haven today trying to salvage the historic Wilhelm Baum tugboat, which sank Feb. 23. The tug was not able to be raised earlier, due to ice that had built up on the Black River. The photo shows workers using a barge and crane in an attempt to pull the tug out of the water. It was not immediately known what caused the tug to sink. The Wilhelm Baum was built in 1923 and is owned by Jim Bradley of South Haven. For 30 years, the tug was used by the South Haven Coast Guard Auxiliary to rescue boats on Lake Michigan. For the past nine years, the Wilhelm Baum has been used for recreational purposes and for Bradley's shipwreck searches. (Photo by Becky Kark)
Palisades ends maintenance outage
COVERT — It's full speed ahead for Palisades Nuclear Power Plant.
After nearly a two-month-long refueling and maintenance outage, the plant resumed operation on Sunday.
The return to service follows a Nuclear Regulatory Commission safety review that indicates Palisades is safe to operate.
During the outage, workers discovered a piece of metal wedged tightly within the plant's reactor vessel. Workers also found flaws in 17 of the plant's 45 control rod drive mechanism housings.
Plant officials decided to replace all of the control rod drive housings
The NRC conducted reviews of the two issues and determined that review and determined that the metal will not impact the reactor vessel or the fuel within the vessel.
“In the unlikely vent of any impact to the fuel or the vessel, the plant has instrumentation that will alert them to the existence of foreign material within the fuel plenum,” the review stated. “In addition, plant operators are trained and are aware of immediate actions necessary to mitigate the event before it poses a significant safety concern either to the plant or to the public.”
The review also pointed out that the rod drive housings that were replaced are designed differently and are more resistant to developing the type of flaws that were found in the original housings.
The review went on to say that plant officials conducted destructive testing of four of the housings identified with flaws. Their results were reviewed by the NRC which stated the housings' structural integrity was not comprised while the plant was operating.
Their assertion was reiterated by Palisades spokesperson Lindsey Rose: “There was no leakage associated with any of the housings and there was no risk to the health and safety of the public or employees,” she said.
Workers from Martin J. Construction of Coopersville pour and smooth cement for a portion of Phoenix Street near Kalamazoo Street in downtown South Haven. Paving of the new road is expected to continue this week. The paving project is part of the reconstruction of Phoenix from Broadway to Kalamazoo Street. The project includes new water and sewer lines, new sidewalks, areas for outdoor cafes and gathering areas, landscaping and free wi-fi service for internet users. The project began in September 2013, and is expected to be finished sometime in May.
It ain't over until it's over
Colder-than-normal temperatures expected to continue this winter
This winter is shaping up to become at least the fifth coldest one on record in Michigan, according to a report issued by Michigan State University Extension's Department of Geography.
And even though today's 45-degree temperatures give reason to hope winter's cold, icy weather will soon depart, don't expect normal temperatures anytime soon.
“(The outlook) calls for a continuation of below-normal mean temperatures state and region-wide for March 10-14 and March 16-20,” Jeff Andresen, co-author of the winter weather update, stated.
A deep, upper-air troughing pattern persisted across eastern North America during late February into early March, leading to a continuation of severe winter conditions across Michigan and the Great Lakes region. One of the Arctic-origin air masses associated with the pattern led to extreme cold conditions on March 2 and 3, with minimum temperatures falling to the -15 to -30 degree Fahrenheit range, which were among the coldest readings observed so far this winter and, according to Michigan State University Extension experts, may have resulted in cold injury to overwintering vegetation above the snowline.
Extension experts blame blame the cold Arctic weather for the below-normal temperatures this winter. Since January, five major Arctic air mass “events” have occurred in Michigan: Jan. 3-8; Jan. 27-29; Feb. 11-12; Feb. 27-28 and March 2-3.
In addition to the cold temperatures, the state has experienced heavier-than-normal snowfall this winter. Some areas of Michigan have experienced more than 250 inches of snow since January. South Haven area's snowfall has been estimated at 140 inches or more since November, when the snow started to fall in earnest.
The prolonged cold temperatures have allowed the development of an unusually deep snow pack continuing across the state. South Haven area's snow pack is estimated between 9.5-20 inches.
$100 million in additional funds for road maintenance
Van Buren County could receive an additional $486,000 for road maintenance projects this year if the state legislature approves more funding.
Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker announced that additional road funding is included in a supplemental appropriations bill passed by the Senate last week.
Of the $100 million for roads included in the bill, which still needs the approval of the House of Representatives, Kalamazoo and Van Buren counties would receive approximately $1.9 million for local projects.
“This winter has been exceptionally harsh and our roads have taken a beating. As some of the ice has started to thaw, we have been left with a mess of potholes,” said Schuitmaker, R-Lawton. “This money will help address some of the most pressing maintenance needs.”
Kalamazoo County would receive $838,000 with an additional $594,000 split between cities, townships and villages. Van Buren County would receive $377,000 with an additional $109,000 going to local municipalities.
The funding is designated for special winter road maintenance, which includes snow and ice removal, pot hole patching, crack sealing, emergency repairs and bridge maintenance. This one-time funding cannot be used on capital projects like reconstruction or resurfacing.
“As the Legislature continues working toward a long-term funding solution, we need to direct the resources we have available to fix the worst problems,” Schuitmaker said.
Approximately 40 percent of the money would be allocated to state trunkline funds with the remaining 60 percent distributed to counties, cities and villages. Funding would be allocated to counties, cities and villages according to the same formula used to distribute funding from the Michigan Transportation Fund.
The supplemental appropriations bill, Senate Bill 608, passed the Senate and is now awaiting action in the Michigan House Appropriations Committee.
Photo by Troy Kaptur
Historic tugboat sinks
By BECKY KARK
Editor and general manager
A piece of South Haven's maritime history may become a thing of the past.
Sometime on Sunday morning, the historic Wilhelm Baum tugboat partially sank while docked at the Michigan Maritime Museum's docks on the Black River.
“I was at the dock at 8 a.m. on Sunday and everything was fine. Then five hours later that all changed,” said the Baum's owner, Jim Bradley, regarding the tug's sinking. “We don't really know what happened.”
As of today, the tug still remains partially sunk in the icy water.
“It has to come out of there,” said Bradley, who hopes to salvage the historic tug that was built in 1923. “Most likely a crane will be used on a barge to lift it out and then we can pump it out, but that can't happen until this ice melts.”
The thick ice surrounding much of the docks along the Black River may have played a role in the tug's sinking, but Bradley is not convinced that's the case.
“We had been there the day before and chopped the ice. It (the tug) was floating freely,” he said.
When the tug is hauled from the river, it will be costly to repair. “There's going to be a lot of water damage, There was a lot of electronic equipment on it,” Bradley said, referring to the sonar and scanning devices used when the tug went on rescue missions.
“My wife (Sheral) and I were very active in the the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary in South Haven,” Bradley said. “The Wilhelm Baum was involved in many rescues. I'd say 1,200 to 1,500 people were assisted in the 30 years the tug was used by the auxiliary.”
Bradley bought the Wilhelm Baum in the early 1970s. Then the tug was known as the Captain Canfield. It had been built in Baltimore, Md. for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and used on the St. Mary's River. It then was sold to several private interests before Bradley bought it.
“I didn't like the name,” he said when asked why the tug was given another moniker. “I chose the name Wilhelm Baum, because he was a local navy hero,” who, Bradley said, had served on a submarine during World War II.
After three decades of involvement with the Coast Guard Auxiliary, the Bradleys decided to give themselves and their tugboat a rest. For the past nine years, the Wilhelm Baum has been used for recreational purposes and for Bradley's shipwreck searches.
Drivers told to stay off roads in northwest Allegan County
Due to poor weather conditions, motorists are urged to avoid driving on roads in northwest Allegan County. Wind gusts of 40 miles an hour has resulted in limited visibility on roadways.
“Deputies and troopers are responding to numerous crashes, several involving injuries,” said Capt. Frank Baker of the Allegan County Sheriff's department. “Visibility is zero in many places. Stay off the roads on the northwest side of Allegan County until the wind subsides.”
Several roadways have been closed on 58th Street between 136th Avenue and 138th Avenue and 147th Avenue and 40th Street.
Six people injured in 40-car pileup
Six adults dealt with injuries in a 40-car pileup on Interstate 94, Monday.
Weather played a major role in the pileup that occurred shortly after 5 p.m. in the eastbound lane of the highway, between Paw Paw and Lawrence.
Four of the adults were taken to nearby hospitals, their exact injuries were not immediately known, according to a news release issued by Van Buren County Sheriff's department.
The pileup began when a semi lost control, causing a chain reaction.
Poor visibility and weather conditions played a major role along with drivers driving too fast for the conditions, according to Sgt. Dan Abbott.
The National Weather Service had issued a weather advisory earlier in the day on Monday, warning of snow accumulations of 4-6 inches. The snow began to fall very heavily right around 4:30 p.m. making driving treacherous for people going home from work.
The highway was shut down completely for several hours, due to the difficulty in removing the vehicles.
Deputies were assisted by the Michigan State Police, Paw Paw Police Department, Paw Paw Fire Department, Lawrence Fire Department, Van Buren Emergency Services, Lawton Fire Department, and Decatur Fire Department.
Winter advisory issued
Southwestern Michigan is under a winter advisory until 4 a.m. Tuesday.
The National Weather Service predicts four to six inches will fall from now until the advisory ends. Some areas may see more snow.
Snowfall rates of half-an-inch to one-inch per hour may occur between 3 p.m. and 9 p.m.
Motorists headed home this afternoon are warned to drive carefully due to snow-covered roads and poor visibility.
Man goes on the rampage, assaults four people
A 24-year-old man from Watervliet faces multiple charges after allegedly assaulting four people, including his sister. this past weekend.
The incident was reported to Van Buren County Sheriff's deputies at 3:41 a.m., Saturday, at a residence in the 58000 block of Springdale Drive, Hartford Township.
Deputies say the suspect, who had been drinking, entered the residence uninvited. He assaulted the four victims and damaged several items in the home and a vehicle that belonged to one of the victims.
The victims included the suspect's ex-girlfriend, a 30-year-old woman from Hartford; the suspect's sister, a 19-year-old Bangor area woman; the suspect's girlfriend, 25, of the Watervliet area; and a 31-year-old man from the Watervliet area, who is the boyfriend of the suspect's sister.
The suspect was charged with malicious destruction of property over $1,000; three counts of domestic violence; and assault and battery. He was taken to jail and his bond has been set at $50,000.
For $1 you can get a smooch on Valentine's Day from Dexter the French Bulldog during the "Come and Get Your Love" event at the Al-Van Humane Society. The fundraiser is one of several activities planned during Responsible Pet Owners Month.
Smooch with a pooch
French bulldog's 'Kissing Booth' one of the fundraiser Al-Van Humane Society plans for Valentine's Day
By KIM INGALLS
For the Tribune
Instead of giving a box of chocolates this Valentine's Day, why not give your loved one a big ol' sloppy kiss?
You can do just that on Valentine's Day when Al-Van Humane Society hosts a rather unique fundraiser. Dexter the French Bulldog will spread the love from 11 a.m.-3 p.m., Feb. 14, at his “Frenchie Kissing Booth” during the society's “Come and Get Your Love” fundraiser.
"Let's just say he gives big kisses," laughs Al-Van's Executive Director Will Anzenberger. "Dexter is rescued from a national French bulldog rescue group and has acid reflux, so he is very, very lean. He is 3-1/2 years old, and pretty much goes everywhere with me."
The humane society suggests a $1 per kiss donation. There will also be Valentine's Day treats available for participants.
"Come and Get Your Love" is one of several events planned by the shelter during February, which is dubbed Responsible Pet Owners Month.
"Even with all the snow on the ground, love is truly in the air when it comes to companion animals at Al-Van during the month of February,” Anzenberger said. “Whether it is offering reduced adoption fees, partaking in some Valentine’s Day fun at the shelter, or providing tips on how to be a responsible pet owner, our shelter wants to help strengthen the human-animal bond anyway possible during this special month.”
One of the month-long events is "Two Hearts." Until Feb. 28, anyone who adopts one adult cat can have the adoption fees waived if they adopt a second adult cat or kitten. Anzenberger said there are close to 60 felines at the shelter right now.
Until Feb. 16, supporters can send their favorite Al-Van adoptable animal a Valentine donation of $14 during "My Funny Valentine." The donations will be applied to the animal's adoption fee. Any donation that exceeds the fee will be applied toward spay/neuter costs.
Parents and teachers can continue to show the love by encouraging their children and students to create Valentine's Day cards for their favorite shelter canine or cat. Each card will be displayed in the shelter lobby next to the photo of the animal. The funniest cards will be posted on the shelter's Facebook page.
Throughout the month, the humane society will also feature tips and suggestions on its Facebook Page about responsible pet ownership.
Al-Van Humane Society was founded in 1968 as a non-profit animal welfare organization dedicated to providing emergency food and shelter for homeless pets. It is an independent and private, 501c3 non-profit organization. In 2012, the Michigan Pet Fund Alliance awarded Al-Van the Most Improved Open Admission Shelter.
Al-Van Humane Society is at 73303 8th Ave., east of Blue Star Highway. For more information, call (269) 637-5062 or visit the website, www.al-van.org.
Mounting snow piles on Phoenix Street concern city officials
If you have to travel along Phoenix Street early Friday morning, South Haven city officials ask that you find an alternative route, if possible.
Starting at 2 a.m., Department of Public Works road crews will remove excess snow that has piled up on the sides of the road.
“We've had so much snow it's gotten to the point where we can't do anything more with sidewalks because of snow piling up,” said Roger Huff, DPW director. “It's starting to roll back into the streets.”
Workers began removing the snow at 2 a.m. Thursday and will finish up early Friday morning.
They're working early both days to avoid the need for lane closures and to allow equipment operators to move more freely. There's typically less traffic on the roadway, as well, during early morning hours.
Once the snow is removed it will be trucked to an open space near Black River Park where the city has been depositing snow this winter. That area is beginning to be filled up with snow mounds that have been removed from city parking lots, but Huff said he anticipates the area will still be able to hold more snow for the remainder of this winter season.
A South Haven city street department employee uses a snow blower today to clear snow and slush off of sidewalks on Eagle Street, downtown.
South Haven area residents woke up to more snow this morning after Ol' Man Winter dumped another 4-5 inches.
Many area schools remained open, but the snow made driving slippery for many motorists trying to get to work. Municipal road crow crews were hampered by the snow, which continued to fall until approximately 11 a.m. Plowing, however, began in earnest afterwards.
Snowfall is expected to diminish today and tomorrow, with about an inch predicted for each day. But temperatures will remain cold, according to the National Weather Service. The agency predicts temps will fall to around 11 degrees tonight with wind chill values as low as -4. On Thursday, the thermometer reading is expected to hover around 10 degrees with wind chills as low as -8. Thursday night, the temperature will drop to 5 degrees with wind chills of -13. The low temps continue Friday with a high of 16 and a low of 9.
Meijer seeks applicants for South Haven store
Meijer has put the word out that it wants job applicants for its new store in South Haven.
“Winter may be in full-force, but Meijer is thinking summer with the grand opening of its new super center,” said Meijer Public Relations Manager Joe Hirschmugl.
Meijer plans to employ 270 people at the South Haven store and gas station. The gas station is expected to open in April. The store will then open in May. Positions available include clerks, cake decorators, customer service representatives, cashiers, receiving, and meat cutters. Starting pay will be based on experience level and specific skills.
Area residents interested in applying should do so online at http://jobs.meijer.com/newstore
Meijer officials will then conduct phone interviews during the next few weeks. Afterwards, selected candidates will be contacted to schedule face-to-face interviews.
Meijer, a Grand Rapids, Mich.-based retailer, operates 204 super centers and grocery stores throughout Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky.
Winter weather takes its toll on Red Cross blood supply
The American Red Cross needs blood and platelet donors to help restock its blood supply for February. Severe winter weather throughout January across much of the country forced the cancellation of about 770 Red Cross blood drives, resulting in more than 25,000 uncollected blood and platelet donations, according to Jim Flickema, CEO of the Red Cross Great Lakes Blood Services Region.
“Blood products were distributed to hospitals as quickly as the donations came in,” Flickema said. “The extraordinary number of cancellations in January was the equivalent of the Red Cross having to shut down its national operations for more than an entire day.”
On average, the Red Cross must collect about 15,000 units of blood every day for patients at approximately 2,700 hospitals and transfusion centers across the country. With additional winter weather already forecast for parts of the country in the next week or two, all blood types are currently needed to ensure a sufficient blood supply is available for patients.
There is an urgent need for blood types O positive, O negative, A negative and B negative. Eligible donors with these blood types are strongly encouraged to make an appointment to give in the coming days.
Platelets, a key clotting component of blood often needed by cancer patients, must be transfused within five days of donation, so donations are constantly needed. Red blood cells, the oxygen carrying component of blood, are the most widely transfused blood product and must be transfused within 42 days.
Here is a list of upcoming Red Cross and Michigan Blood Bank blood drives in Van Buren County:
Woman returns home
A Bloomingdale Township woman, who was reported missing last week, has returned home, safe and sound.
Gabrielle Bianca Himmelein, 19, came back to her residence Sunday, Van Buren County Sheriff's Department reported. Deputies said she came home on her own free will and no foul play took place while she was gone.
Himmelein's family members reported her missing on Jan. 28, after she failed to return home the evening of Jan. 27.
Suspects take $10,000 worth of electrical tools, copper wiring from storage area
Police are on the lookout for suspects who allegedly made off with $10,000 worth of electrical tools and copper wiring from an electrical contractor sometime Thursday evening.
Van Buren County Sheriff's deputies were dispatched today to the storage lot for Newkirk Electric Associates, at the corner of M-43 and M-40 highways in Waverly Township.
They were told two utility trucks and a large storage trailer had been broken into and that electrical tools and other equipment, including large spools of copper wire, had been taken.
Deputies say the suspects drove snowmobiles on Trail 59 of the Van Buren County trail system, parked in a small wooded area, walked on foot and pried open the locks on the vehicles and trailer. The suspects then fled eastbound on Trail 59 on snowmobiles.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Van Buren County Sheriff's office, 269-657-3101, Silent Observer, 866-774-2345, or Crime Stoppers, 1-800-342-7867.
Gabrielle Bianca Himmelein is shown in the photo, above.
Bloomingdale Twp. woman reported missing
Police seek the public's assistance in locating a Bloomingdale Township woman who never returned home this past Monday. Gabrielle Bianca Himmelein, 19, left her home at 7:15 p.m. Monday after telling family members she was going out for the evening. When she did not return home on Tuesday, family members called Van Buren County Sheriff's office to report Himmelein missing. She does not have a vehicle nor cell phone. She is described as 5'7,” 110 pounds and was last seen waring frayed blue jeans, a red and black striped sweater, grey boots and a brown puff waist-length jacket with the words, “Baby Phat” in gold letters on the left front side. She was also carrying a pink and purple purse with a shoulder strap. If anyone has seen her they are asked to call the sheriff's office at 269-657-3101, Crime Stoppers, 1-800-342-7867, Silent Observer, 269-343-2100 or local police departments.
BBB: If the phone rings once, think twice before returning the call
The Better Business Bureau of Western Michigan warns of two scams that could end up costing area residents money.
Scammers from the Caribbean countries of Grenada and Dominica are using a phone-call scheme that involves use of area codes 473 and 767. Phones of people who receive the calls only ring once. The scammers hope when people see the missed call they will call the number back, but that's when consumers get hit with the charges.
While the phone numbers appear to be in the United States, the number dialed is actually an international number with a share of the revenue going to the operator of the number. Consumers are tricked into dialing these international phone numbers, which results in substantial long-distance charges, according to Phil Catlett, president and CEO of the Western Michigan BBB. Because the same laws do not apply to international calls, it makes these areas ideal for scammers who wish to target U.S. citizens.
"Don't call back a number you do not know if they don't leave a message that makes sense to you,” Catlett warns. “If a caller uses the 473, 767, or any other area code you do not recognize, do not call it back. Instead contact the operator to verify where the caller's area code originates from."
The second scam involves home computers. This scheme works in the following way: A caller asks for the computer user in the home. When the conversation begins, the caller says they have information indicating that the computer is not working correctly. They ask if the computer owners has been experiencing problems with slow speed or other issues.
“If you get into this conversation, they will guide you to allow them to take control of your computer via the internet so they can fix the problem,” Catlett said. “If you allow it, they may install malware on your computer. Malware might permit hackers to learn passwords, steal your computer identity, access personal and financial accounts, and more.”
PC Speedy is the supposed "company" calling West Michigan residents lately, however these types of companies change names frequently, Catlett warns. “Remember, it is the premise of the call not just the company name that you want to be wary of....Never give control of your computer to a stranger on the internet or over the phone."
A Van Buren County Road Commission snowplow driver clears snow in near white-out conditions, Monday. Road crews have cleared many major roadways, however, roads remain snow-covered and slippery due to the extreme cold temperatures. (Photo by Kelly Weber)
Wind chill warning issued until 7 a.m. Wednesday
Blowing and drifting snow has diminished somewhat from winter's latest Arctic blast, but South Haven area residents are still dealing with frigid, single-digit temperatures.
The thermometer is not expected to go above 5 degrees today. Coupled with winds of 20 miles per hour, wind chills could dip to -20 degrees, according to the National Weather Service, which has issued a wind weather advisory until 7 p.m. tonight and a wind chill warning until 7 a.m. Wednesday.
Area schools remain closed today along with Allegan County courts, South Haven City Hall and Bangor City Hall.
The closures have been issued because of the cold weather and blowing and drifting snow that has made roadways hazardous.
Area police agencies spent much of Monday responding to accidents, including one on Interstate 94 near Hartford that involved four semi-trucks and a car. Closer to home, an accident at 5 p.m. Monday closed the southbound lane of Interstate 196 near South Haven for 1-1/2 hours.
The accident involved three semis, a Michigan Department of Transportation snow plow and several cars. It occurred when one of the semis lost control on the slippery highway near mile marker 18 and hit the plow truck. A second semi then rear-ended the first semi causing a chain reaction of rear-end collisions.
No one was injured in the accident, according to South Haven Police, however, two of the semis left the scene of the accident.
The hazardous road conditions and limited visibility on Monday, prompted Allegan, Berrien, Cass and Van Buren county sheriff's departments to ask people to stay off the roads.
Slippery, ice-covered roads remain today, due to the extreme cold weather that prevents municipal snow plows from using de-icing agents on roadways.
Temperatures are expected to warm up to the mid-20s by Thursday, however, snow is expected to continue through the end of the week, with an inch or so of accumulation predicted each day.
Motorists urged to stay off roads in Allegan County
Allegan County Sheriff's Office is urging area residents to stay off roadways today, due to severe winter weather that has made driving hazardous.
The county has received 8 to 15 inches of snow today. The heavy snowfall, combined with blowing and drifting, has made driving hazardous, and in some areas roads are impassible, according to Capt. Frank Baker.
“The current weather conditions pose a serious danger to travelers who may be involved in an accident or slide off,” Baker said. “Emergency personnel are responding; however, they could be delayed by the weather conditions or handling other calls for service.
As of 2 p.m. today, all county offices will be closed including the courts. Court proceedings that have been cancelled due to weather will be rescheduled and all parties will receive notice of the new date and time. In addition, Community Mental Health will also be closing. Anyone experiencing a mental health related crisis and needs immediate support should call 1.800.795.6617 or 1.888.354.0596.
Allegan County residents can call the Public Safety Information Line at 269-686-4570 or check the County website at www.allegancounty.org to find out if offices will remain closed before leaving for work or seeking county services.
Linda Olson, who lives on Superior Street in South Haven, joins many area residents who are clearing their driveways today after last night's snowfall.
Another blast of Arctic air whips through the South Haven area
January is shaping up to be the winter of our discontent. Area residents woke up today to more snow, wind and frigid temperatures.
Area schools closed today after the latest blast of Arctic air blew into southwest Michigan, and many people found it hard to get to work with drifting snow that partially has closed rural roadways.
This newest snowfall and gusting wind comes on the heels of this past weekend's wintery blast, when winds of 40 miles per hour and 5-6 inches of snow came through the area.
Van Buren County Sheriff's Department urged motorists to stay off the roads, Saturday, because snowplows were having great difficulty keeping roads clear. A number of vehicles were left stranded on roads that had become impassable due to drifting snow.
Temperatures today and tomorrow are expected to remain in the single digits.
State police: Be prepared for another round of extreme cold
With another round of arctic temperatures expected to impact the entire state until early next week, the Michigan State Police, Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division (MSP/EMHSD) is encouraging Michigan citizens and visitors to be extra cautious when going out in the extreme cold.
“As we saw a couple of weeks ago, these frigid temperatures can be potentially life-threatening,” said Capt. Chris A. Kelenske, Deputy State Director of Emergency Management and Homeland Security and commander of the MSP/EMHSD. “Everyone should be prepared for all possible hazards if they head out. That means bundling up and placing emergency preparedness kits in vehicles with extra blankets and high-energy foods.”
The National Weather Service is forecasting statewide bitterly cold temperatures and wind chills below zero degrees possibly until Wednesday, Jan. 29. Along the Lake Michigan shoreline, a winter storm will produce blizzard-like conditions with high winds and blowing snow through tonight. The public is encouraged to monitor local news media for up-to-date weather reports.
To stay safe during cold weather:
• Stay indoors if possible. If you must go outside, wear protective gear—such as hats, mittens and gloves—in addition to a warm coat. Always protect your lungs with a scarf.
• Watch for signs of frostbite, which include loss of feeling or pale appearance of fingers, toes or face.
• Watch for signs of hypothermia, which include uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, drowsiness and exhaustion.
• Understand the hazards of wind chill. As wind speed increases, heat is carried away from a person's body more rapidly and could lead to severe hypothermia.
• Remove clothing if it gets damp or wet. Wet clothing can make you more prone to hypothermia.
• Weather-proof doors and windows to trap heat inside your home.
• Check heating units. Poorly operating or damaged heating units can release carbon monoxide gas. Test carbon monoxide detectors for proper operation and battery life.
• Check on family, friends and neighbors who are at risk and may need additional assistance.
• Watch pets closely and keep them indoors when possible. Animals can suffer from hypothermia, frostbite and other cold weather injuries.
• Check and restock your emergency preparedness kit. If you don't have a kit, make one.
• Minimize travel. If travel is necessary, keep a full tank of gas and an emergency preparedness kit in your vehicle. Put warm clothing—such as gloves, blankets and hats—in your kit in case you become stranded.
In addition to being prepared for the extremely cold weather, the MSP/EMHSD reminds motorists to take extra precautions when stopping and driving in the winter weather.
Remember to do all of your braking before the turn is made and take proper line of travel through the turn to reduce the potential for a skid to occur. If your car begins to skid, let off the throttle and brakes and use a quick hand-over-hand steering technique to turn the front tires in the direction you want to go.
“A vehicle’s handling capability is drastically reduced in winter weather, so take it slow on ice and snow,” Kelenske said. “Be sure to leave enough distance between you and the vehicle in front of you. Always keep your focus on the road and avoid cell phone use while driving.”
Safe winter driving tips:
• Check the weather before leaving for a destination. If the weather forecast looks dangerous, reschedule or postpone the driving trip.
• Keep tires at the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended pressure and routinely check tire pressure during cold weather.
• Keep windshield solvent at full strength and make sure the reservoir is full, and keep new wiper blades on front and rear wipers, if so equipped.
• Wash your vehicle for better visibility to other drivers, and remove ice and snow from all lights, windows and the license plate before driving.
• Periodically check all lights and replace when necessary.
• Have your vehicle inspected by a mechanic before making long-distance trips.
• Keep an emergency preparedness kit in your vehicle (e.g., a hand-crank flashlight and radio, cell phone charger, windshield scraper, emergency contact list, blanket, "Help" signs, jumper cables, tow strap, fire extinguisher, cat litter or sand for better tire traction, shovels, flares, first aid kit, bottled water and non-perishable, high-energy foods).
Police and fire department building renovations complete
South Haven Police Department has returned to its permanent location at 90 Blue Star Highway after operating from a temporary location at the former Michigan State Police Post, 720 Lagrange. The temporary space was arranged to facilitate a $2.7 million renovation at the police/fire complex at 90 Blue Star Hwy. The project is now complete and serves as the location for both the South Haven Police Department and the South Haven Area Emergency Services The project was designed by Abonmarche, an engineering and consulting firm.
Allegan County Sheriff's deputies responded to an accident on Interstate 196 in Ganges Township, Wednesday, that involved three semi-trucks and two cars.
Allegan, Van Buren counties under winter storm warning; blizzard conditions predicted Friday evening
This weekend will be a good time to stay put — cabin fever or not.
Old Man Winter has paid another visit to South Haven, dropping 4-6 snow in the last 24 hours, and it's gonna get worse, according to the National Weather Service.
Allegan and Van Buren counties continue to be under a winter storm warning with an additional 3-6 inches snow through early afternoon. Then the wind chill advisory kicks in at 7 p.m. and will last until 1 p.m. Friday. Wind chills of 20 below zero or worse are expected.
Friday evening 4 more inches of snow is predicted to drop on the area, bringing wind gusts of 40 miles per hour. The wind will create blizzard conditions. Saturday, the high winds will continue with 1-3 inches of new snow.
The rapid snowfall has created near white-out conditions for many motorists at various times within the past 24 hours. Police report many slide-offs, and a crash that involved three semi-trucks, Wednesday afternoon, on Interstate 196 in Ganges Township.
Police had to shut down the highway for several hours. The crash occurred around 5:30 p.m. when a semi-truck struck the rear of another semi-truck.
“The resulting crash involved three semi-trucks and two passenger cars,” said Capt. Frank Baker of the Allegan County Sheriff's Department. “The cab of one truck was knocked off the frame. Both southbound lanes of the freeway were blocked by the jackknifed trucks. Traffic was rerouted off the freeway until the crash scene was cleared.”
Police continue to warn motorists about the slippery, snow-covered roads and highways. Michigan State Police is advising motorists to use extreme caution on Interstate 94 and the US 31 bypass.
Whiteout conditions are reported from Bridgman south to the Indiana state line, creating many slide offs and traffic crashes. Police are asking motorists to avoid that portion of the highway.
Health department reports higher-than-normal number of flu cases; One confirmed death from the flu
By BECKY KARK
Editor and general manager
A confirmed influenza death in Van Buren County has prompted Van Buren/Cass District Health Department to remind area residents to get their flu shots.
“That is unfortunate,” said Sue Bailey, a nurse for the health department in Hartford, regarding the person who died from the flu. Several other flu-related deaths have been reported in Kent and Kalamazoo counties as well in the past week.
Influenza activity is on the rise both nationwide and in all regions of Michigan, according to a news release from the Michigan Public Health Department. Since the end of December, public health officials have noticed an increase in patients of all ages being admitted to hospital for serious influenza disease.
"Flu has already come to Michigan this season, causing an unusually high number of severe cases and hospitalizations for this time of year," said Dr. Matthew Davis, Chief Medical Executive with the state health department. “Even though flu already came to Michigan in December, we expect this is just the beginning of the flu season that will likely last for the next few months. That means that now is the best time for Michiganders to get vaccinated against flu - from ages 6 months on up."
This year's predominant flu strain — the 2009 H1N1 virus — affects more young adults and middle-age adults than other flu strains, health officials have noted.
But even with all the warnings issued by health department officials, only 40 percent of Michigan residents get flu shots. According to Michigan's immunization registry, only 9 percent of residents ages 18-24 and 11 percent of residents between 25-49 received flu vaccine in 2012-13. Michigan lags behind U.S. estimates for flu vaccine coverage in every age group and ranks 42nd in the nation for flu vaccine coverage.
Van Buren/Cass health department held its flu clinics in October and November, but it's not too late for people to get vaccinated, according to Bailey. “We're already into the flu season, but people still have time to get a flu shot,” she said. Flu shots are available from health-care providers and from pharmacies.
“Going to a pharmacy that offers flu vaccinations is probably the most expeditious way,” she said. “People should do so quickly, however, because it takes 10-14 days for the flu vaccine to be effective in preventing the flu.”
74-year-old man arrested for home invasion
A 74-year-old man, who helped himself to an acquaintance's pocket full of money, has been arrested.
Van Buren County Sheriff's deputies report the man broke into the victim's home in the 51000 block of County Road 681 in Lawrence and stole money repeatedly from the victim's pants pocket.
The victim first noticed $120 stolen from his pants the weekend of Jan. 11-12. He then noticed $400 taken several days later. The victim then set up a camera system, and left $55 in his pants. When he woke the next morning, Jan. 18, he found $15 missing. When looking at the surveillance camera it showed the suspect entering through a kitchen door and looking through the victim's wallet.
The suspect was later arrested at his home at 58839 48th Ave., in Lawrence, and charged with home invasion first degree.
Photo by Kelly Weber
The rapid melting of two feet of snow in the last week and unseasonably warm weather over the past few days has caused ice to break up on the Black River. This picture of the river was taken on 8th Avenue near 68th Street in Geneva Township.
National Weather Service issues hazardous weather outlook
It looks like January's brief thaw will be coming to an end in the South Haven area.
The National Weather Service has issued a hazardous weather outlook for the remainder of this week.
Approximately 4-5 inches of snowfall is predicted to fall in the area over the next several days, bringing with it colder temperatures and wind gusts as high as 34 miles per hour.
The snowfall is expected to begin this afternoon. Temperatures will fall overnight to the low 20s and by Wednesday morning show showers are expected to continue with gusting winds that could cause blowing and drifting of snow.
The rapid melting of last week's snowstorm, which dropped two feet of snow on the area, has caused rivers to rise and ice to break up on the Black River and other streams. The National Service warns that this week's weather will cause an elevated risk for ice break and and ice jams throughout the week.
Felon arrested for unregistered handgun
A couple walking down a rural road ended up being arrested Saturday afternoon after the man was found in possession of an unregistered handgun.
Van Buren County Sheriff's deputies responded to a domestic assault complaint in the 66000 block of 8th Ave. in Geneva Township and encountered a 38-year-old South Haven man, and a 36-year-old South Haven woman walking down the roadway. Both denied that an assault took place. However, in talking to the two, police found that man to be in possession of a .22-caliber revolver. One round of ammunition was missing. The man told police he had fired off one round at his residence prior to going outside. He also said he was taking the fun to a friend's house to show him he weapon.
The gun, however, was unregistered and the man is a felon with an extensive criminal history, according to the sheriff's report.
The man was arrested for a felon in possession of a firearm, and possession of an unregistered handgun. The woman was arrested for marijuana possession. Both were taken to Van Buren County Jail.
Now that the worst of this week's snowstorm is over, area residents, such as Charles Ouellette and Jon Olsen, are starting to become a bit more lighthearted about the weather. These two friends are standing next to an igloo they made from all the snow that fell earlier this week. The igloo is located at 321 Michigan Ave., South Haven. When they finish the igloo they plan to put a couch in it and “chill.” Photo by Tara Wilkinson.
Two state police vehicles hit on I-94 while responding to accidents
It's dangerous to be a Michigan State trooper on Interstate 94 during harsh winter weather..
State police say two trooper vehicles have been struck on the interstate in the past two days while responding to traffic crashes that occurred due to treacherous winter weather conditions.
Lt. Dale Hinz of the Paw Paw state police post is asking motorists to slow down and use extreme caution on I-94, particularly between Paw Paw and Benton Harbor.
“The freeway has become extremely icy in this area and because of the extreme cold,” Hinz said.
Police say they expect slippery roadway conditions to continue until there is a significant increase in temperature and melting agents are once again effective.
NOTE: The South Haven Tribune office will be closed today due to inclement weather.
Winter storm dumps more than a foot of snow on South Haven area
South Haven area residents woke up today to more snowfall and frigid temperatures that will continue to drop as the day goes on.
This weekend's snowstorm began Saturday, dropping more than a foot of snow on the South Haven area.
Many public institutions are closed today, due to the inclement weather, including South Haven City Hall, South Haven Department of Public Works, Van Buren County courts and governmental agencies and Hope College, which has canceled classes through Wednesday.
A winter storm warning is in effect for Van Buren County until 8 a.m., Tuesday. Temperatures, with wind chills, are expected to drop to as low as -45 degree this evening. The area could receive 3-7 more inches of snow.
Roads are snow-covered and slippery. Winds are expected to gust to 35 miles per hour or more today and this evening, creating near blizzard-like conditions, according to WWMT-TV. People are urged to stay indoors as much as possible.
Group of teens will ring in the new year Asian style
By KIM INGALLS
For the Tribune
They may be American, but this group of students from South Haven likes all things Asian and to celebrate their love of the Orient, they'll host an Asian Cultural Festival.
The event, created by South Haven Memorial Library's Teen Asian Culture Club, is scheduled Thursday-Friday, Jan. 2-3 at South Haven Memorial Library, 314 Broadway. The festival will last from 11 a.m.-7 p.m., Thursday, and 11 a.m.-5:30 p.m., Friday, in the library's community room.
The club was formerly called the Japanese Culture Club, but chose to broaden its horizons this year.
"We decided to change our name because we wanted to expand to other areas in Asia and not just solely be about Japan," member Ashley Blair explained. "So our upcoming event is kind of a debut fundraiser for our new club."
Focusing on China, Korea and Japan, the festival will feature movies, performances, poetry reading, and of course, Asian food.
“As for food we will be having Chinese, Korean, and Japanese desserts, tea, and coffee," Blair said. "Some of the foods we are serving are steamed Chinese longevity buns, Korean Strawberry Satang which is similar to candied apples, and Taiyaki which is a fish-shaped filled pancake."
While there is no charge to attend the fundraiser, there is a small charge for food and beverages. Donations are also welcome.
"We're hoping to raise enough money to send to the people in the Philippines (who suffered a typhoon in November) and also to take field trips to Asian-related conventions and events," Blair said.
Field trips are an important component of the club, according to Blair.
"Our mission is to bring more than just Asian culture to South Haven but to bring the Asian experience to people that may not know much about different cultures,” she said. “We want to educate the community of South Haven and enlighten them with new, unique things."
There's no place like jail for Christmas
A man who thought he was entering his own home Christmas morning ended up going to Allegan County jail.
The incident occurred at approximately 2:30 a.m. on Dec. 25 when a woman called 911 to report that someone had broken into her home in Lee Township. The woman heard her alarm go off and someone forcing open the front door of the home. She locked herself and her daughter in a back bathroom. She then heard the kitchen door slam and the suspect attempting to get into the bathroom saying he didn't know where he was at.
The man left before deputies arrived, however, he was located down the street. He told deputies he thought he was at his own home. He was arrested for breaking into the woman's home and possession of marijuana.
Police identify group suspected of breaking into 40-50 vehicles
South Haven police plan to seek criminal charges against a group of teens and young adults believed to be responsible for dozens of vehicle break-ins over the past six months.
“Additional interviews will be conducted before charges are sought from the prosecutor's office,” Police Chief Tom Martin wrote in a news release, issued today. “Numerous felony charges are expected.”
Vehicles that were broken into were located in the city of South Haven and South Haven Township. Some were locked, however many weren't. The suspects damaged a number of vehicles trying to break into them, according to Sgt. Kyle Griffith. Police would not say what was taken from vehicles.
Police were able to crack the case when patrolling one early morning and noticing several suspicious subjects. “They stopped and talked with them and were able to gather information,” Griffith said.
The group of five to six suspects is from the South Haven area. Police estimate they broke into 40-50 vehicles.
Gas prices creep up for holidays
After dipping below the $3 mark on Dec. 19, gas prices shot up 30 cents this week in the South Haven area, averaging $3.27.
The uptick in price follows what's going on across Michigan, according to GasBuddy.com, which tracks gasoline prices throughout the United States.
The average retail gasoline prices in Michigan rose 13.1 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $3.24 per gallon for unleaded fuel, according to GasBuddy's daily survey of 4,913 gas outlets in Michigan. This compares with the national average that has increased 2.2 cents per gallon in the last week to $3.23 per gallon.
"Motorists hitting the road for Christmas travel are cringing as gasoline prices have picked up with the best now behind us," said GasBuddy.com Senior Petroleum Analyst Patrick DeHaan. "While prices will advance, I don't expect it to last too long - January and February generally also feature relatively low gasoline prices. And while motorists aren't looking forward to the higher prices, they may take some solace in our expectation that gasoline prices in 2014 should average lower than they will after 2013 is complete. Make no mistake - gas prices will see volatility, and there will be times when motorists will experience "motion sickness" at the pump, but that shouldn't discount that Americans will be able to spend less on a yearly basis in 2014 than they did this year," DeHaan said.
Group receives federal grant to extend bike path
By BECKY KARK
Editor and general manager
An organization that hopes to build a 20-mile bike trail between South Haven and Saugatuck received a timely gift for the start of 2014.
Friends of the Blue Star Trail has qualified for a $335,000 federal grant to begin construction of a two-mile section of the path from North Shore Drive north along Blue Star Highway.
“It will be off-road, completely separate from the road,” said James Van Buren, a board member for Friends of the Blue Star Trail. Allegan County Road Commission plans to oversee construction of the paved path, which will be located along the west side of the road.
To receive the grant, the Friends group had to raise $140,000 in matching funds.
“We raised the money in approximately five months,” Van Buren said.
The grant comes from money provided through the federal Department of Transportation, which awards funds for transportation projects that reduce congestion and improve air quality.
Friends of the Blue Star Trail hopes construction of the two-mile section will begin in the spring of 2014. In the meantime, they will pursue other grant funds through the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
The non-profit trail group formed in 2009 to create an off-road bike path along Blue Star Highway. Since that time, it has been working with area municipalities to make the trail a reality.
The group's first project came about in 2011 when the Michigan Department of Transportation created a one-third-mile section of the path from Baseline Road to North Shore Drive. Another section in Douglas was completed earlier this year.
Grant funding and private donations will be crucial to the completion of the 20-mile trail, however. The entire project is estimated to cost $5.4 million with $1.1 million coming from private funds. The Friends group hopes to complete the trail by 2018.
For more information on the Friends and how to contribute, visit www.fotbst.org
Al-Van Humane Society director steps down; New one hired
Al-Van Humane Society will get a new director in 2014, following the retirement of current Executive Director Cathy Thaler.
Will Anzenberger, former development director for the Kauai Humane Society in Hawaii, will take the helm of the local humane society Jan. 3, according to a news release from Al-Van Humane Society.
Thaler's last day will be Jan. 10. She approached the board in September with her wishes to retire, agreeing to stay until a replacement could be found. She has served as executive director since 2011 and also served on Al-Van's Board of Directors for 15 years, including terms as president from 2003-2005 and vice president from 2006-2011.
“Al-Van is near and dear to my heart,” Thaler said. “Although I am stepping down as executive director, I will continue to support this amazing organization and its loving and caring staff in any way I can.”
Thaler will be missed according to Kelly Elvin, board treasurer and past president. "Cathy's hard work, compassion, and dedication have helped so many animals in our community get a second chance at finding a loving home. Our shelter staff, volunteers and board members are very proud of what Al-Van has accomplished under Cathy's leadership and look forward to continuing her good work,” Elvin said.
Anzenberger said he's looking forward to his new job.
“I am excited to be working with the Al-Van Humane Society staff, volunteers, and board in building upon the recent achievements of the organization,” he said. “While there is hard work ahead in achieving the best outcomes for the animals of Allegan and Van Buren counties, knowing there is an engaged, committed board of directors, a supportive community and a dedicated staff will make my job much easier.”
Anzenberger holds a bachelor of arts degree from Boston College and a law degree and master of business administration degree from the University of Wisconsin. Over the years he has worked with a number of animal welfare organizations. He served as a consultant with the Santa Cruz SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) and was director of law and advocacy for the San Francisco SPCA.
“Will brings to Al-Van a demonstrated ability to build strong relationships with co-workers, volunteers and the community. He is a creative, energetic and forward-thinking director with significant experience in fundraising and business management,” stated Al-Van Board President Lisa Galdikas.
Unleaded gasoline prices dip below $3 per gallon – barely
It may not be much, but for the first time in months, gasoline prices in the South Haven area have dipped below $3 a gallon.
Several gas stations are showing prices of $2.98 and $2.99 this morning for regular unleaded fuel. Village Xpress is showing $2.98 per gallon, while Broadway Marathon, Broadway Shell and Murphy USA are displaying $2.99 per gallon.
The news doesn't surprise analysts at GasBuddy.com, which tracks fuel prices at more than 140,000 gasoline stations in the United States and Canada.
Earlier this week, GasBuddy reported that fuel prices have been trending down for the past several weeks.
“Another downward trend in gasoline prices has emerged as motorists hit the roads in the last full week before Christmas," said GasBuddy.com Senior Petroleum Analyst Patrick DeHaan. "Historically, this is about the time of year that gasoline prices hit their yearly lows, but this time around, I have more optimism that prices may move even lower in the next few weeks.”
As of Dec. 15, the average retail gasoline prices in Michigan fell 8.4 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $3.12, according to GasBuddy's daily survey of 4,913 gas outlets in Michigan. That compared with the national average that fell 2.4 cents per gallon in the last week to $3.21/g, according to gasoline price website GasBuddy.com.
Including the change in gas prices in Michigan during the past week, prices on Dec. 15 were 10.2 cents per gallon lower than the same day one year ago and 13.5 cents per gallon lower than a month ago. The national average increased 0.7 cents per gallon during the last month and stood at 3.8 cents per gallon lower than the same day one year ago.
Bangor city council hires new city manager
By BECKY KARK
Editor and general manager
BANGOR — After a two-month search Bangor has a new city manager.
Ryan Fellows, 36, of New Buffalo accepted a two-year contract, Monday, to become the chief administrator for the town.
He will be paid $59,900 annually and begins his new duties Jan. 2. He replaces Larry Nielsen, who has served as interim manager Since Sept. 16. Nielsen's last day will be Dec. 31. He will then return full-time to Paw Paw as its village manager.
“Ryan was chosen for his background and his knowledge,” Bangor Mayor Nick Householder said, referring to Fellows' seven years of experience serving as assistant city manager of New Buffalo, in Berrien County. “He's familiar with smaller cities, Downtown Development Authorities, recreation, budgets. He will be a good fit here.”
Fellows was unanimously selected Dec. 8 by Bangor City Council members from a list of five finalists, including Bangor Treasurer Lisa Imus; Daniel Bishop, Albion city manager; Gary Bluschke, office administrator for the Berrien County prosecutors office; and Mark Honeysett, Constantine village manager.
“I'm looking forward to serving this community,” Fellows said. “It has a lot of potential. I think the riverfront is beautiful and not every town has a historic train depot. I like the dynamics of being halfway between Lake Michigan and Kalamazoo,” he said referring to Bangor's location and the potential it could have for economic development.
While serving as assistant city manager in New Buffalo, Fellows has worn several different hats. He has been the city's assistant zoning administrator, interim city clerk, harbor maintenance administrator, and has been involved in grant writing, ordinance writing, storm water project coordination, budgeting, parks and recreation, internet resources management, and public relations.
Prior to that he was a data services coordinator for Practical Political Consulting for three years and was an intern for the Michigan Senate and the City of Mason where he worked with the election coordinator and the economic development coordinator. He has a bachelor's degree in political science from Grand Valley State University and plans to pursue a master's degree in public administration from Western Michigan University.
Trimming the tree turns ugly for family
A mom's supposed favoritism of one son over another ended in the arrest of a 33-year-old man in Casco Township this past weekend.
Allegan County central dispatch received a call at 1:56 a.m.,, Saturday, but no one appeared to be the line. The dispatcher heard yelling and screaming in the background and a woman screaming, “You are hurting me.”
Deputies arrived to the home in the 6600 block of 111th Avenue and fond that the 33-year-old suspect had punched his 58-year-old mother in the face four or five times.
Family members had been decorating a Christmas tree when the suspect, who had been drinking alcohol, became angered, according to the sheriff's report. He noticed an ornament that had his brother's name on it, but did not see any ornaments with his name. He became upset, pushed his way past the others and attacked his mother, striking her several times in the face.
She suffered a bloody nose, swollen eye and swollen lip. The suspect, who had minor injuries to his knuckles and hands, was arrested for domestic violence and taken to Allegan County Jail.
Geneva man goes out of control, shoots his own dresser; Flees from police
A 22-year-old Geneva Township man faces several criminal charges after firing a gun in his parent's home and then fleeing from police.
The incident began at 5 p.m., Thursday, when the man's parents, who live in the 67000 block of 8th Avenue in Geneva Township, called 911 to report their son was intoxicated and out of control.
The parents went on to report their son had discharged a shotgun several times in the home. As deputies investigated the incident the son got in his grandfather's car and left the scene.
Deputies located the suspect vehicle in the 07000 block of County Road 687. When talking with the suspect, they were told he had been drinking vodka and taking prescription medications. The suspect told deputies he had become upset with his father and went into his bedroom. He began yelling and went to his closet and got a .20-gauge shotgun and shot his dresser three times. The shotgun slugs penetrated through the dresser and exited out the rear wall of the mobile home. The suspect, knowing that the police had been called, fled the scene in his grandfather’s vehicle.
No one was harmed in the incident, and the shotgun was recovered at the scene.
The suspect was arrested for possession and use of a firearm while under the influence of alcohol/drugs and operating a motor vehicle while under the influence. The report will be sent to the prosecutor's office for possible other charges.
Man's thirst for free beer squelched
A thirst for free beer landed an Allegan County man in jail this past week. Allegan County Sheriff's Department received a complaint, Dec. 7, from a Lee Township business that the man had taken two 25-ounce cans of beer. When searching the man, deputies found that he had more cans of beer hidden in his clothing. Deputies investigated and found that those beers were taken from another Lee Township business. When the manager of the second business reviewed his surveillance video, he saw the suspect conceal and steal the other cans of beer. The shoplifting suspect was arrested for larceny and for an outstanding warrant for violating his parole.
Police label threat not 'credible'
Apparently, Lake Michigan College students will be safe to return to classes on Monday.
Michigan State Police say that an alleged threat — that prompted college officials to close all LMC campuses today — was not credible. The alleged threat was reportedly made by an employee who was dismissed on Thursday.
“Detectives from the Michigan State Police made contact with the suspect and determined no specific, credible threat was made. LMC was not mentioned in any threat. No arrest was made,” a Michigan State Police news release, just released, states.
Lake Michigan College closed all of its campuses in Southwest Michigan between 11 a.m.-noon today after college officials were made aware of the alleged threats.
Alleged threats prompt evacuation of LMC campuses
Lake Michigan College's South Haven campus, as well as all of the other college campuses operated by LMC, are closed following an evacuation of the buildings earlier today.
Students, staff and children who attended the South Haven campus and the Kidz Zone preschool were told to leave the building and grounds between 11 a.m. and noon, according to a security guard. Parents of the children were called and came to the college to take their children home, while students and staff got into their vehicles and left the premises at 125 Veterans Blvd. According to the security guard the evacuation at the South Haven campus went smoothly without incident.
Laura Kraklau, director of marketing services for LMC, said the evacuations occurred due to a “possible threat” that was made. But she would not comment further.
Reportedly, a maintenance worker at the Napier Avenue campus in Benton Township had been fired Thursday and called a friend in Chicago to say he was upset over his dismissal and apparently made threats, according to WSBT-TV in South Bend. Worried, the friend called police in Benton Harbor. As a precaution, college officials decided to close the campuses.
Michigan State Police are investigating the alleged threats.
LMC South Haven campus evacuated
Lake Michigan College's South Haven campus is expected to remain closed until at least Monday following an evacuation of the building earlier today.
Students, staff and children who attended the college's Kidz Zone preschool were told to leave the building and grounds between 11 a.m. and noon, according to a security guard. Parents of the children were called and came to the college to take their children home, while students and staff got into their vehicles and left the premises at 125 Veterans Blvd.
College and police have not yet issued any comment as to why the evacuation took place, however, the evacuation went smoothly, according to the security guard who was interviewed. As we receive more information, we will update this story.
Geneva woman faces felony drug charges
A Geneva Township woman faces multiple criminal charges after trying to flee from police during a domestic violence incident.
Bethany Murk, 48, was arraigned Thursday in Seventh District Court for possession of marijuana second offense; possession of analogues (Vicadin); resisting and obstructing police; two counts of domestic violence; and a contempt of court warrant from district court, according to a Van Buren County Sheriff's Department news release. Her bond was set at $4,000 and she was told not to have contact with the victims. She later posted bond and was released form Van Buren County Jail.
Deputies and Bangor Police officers were dispatched to a home in the 61000 block of County Road 380 at 11:45 p.m., Wednesday.
The two victims of the alleged domestic violence were interviewed. Police then talked with Murk, who was in a separate part of the home. They found bags of marijuana, loose marijuana and drug paraphernalia in Murk's portion of the residence. Although Murk showed them a medical marijuana patient card and caregiver card, police say they were either expired or not verified.
While deputies checked on the status of the cards and waiting for the suspect to get dressed, she attempted to run through the house and out the front door, but was apprehended and arrested. Deputies discovered additional contraband and marijuana on her person at the Van Buren County Jail.
In all, police seized 11.8 ounces of marijuana, 81 Valium/Diazepam pills, and drug paraphernalia including two bongs and two marijuana pipes.
Five compete for Bangor city manager position
By KIM INGALLS
For the Tribune
Bangor City Council is inching closer to finding a new city manager.
Two former Bangor city manager candidates are among the current five finalists city council members plan to interview Saturday.
Lisa Imus, current city treasurer, and Ryan Fellows, New Buffalo assistant city manager, had applied for the job in May, however former Benton Harbor city manager Rich Marsh was chosen, while Imus settled for the open treasurer's position. But, when Marsh resigned in September to become city manager of Inkster, near Detroit, council members once again were on the hunt for an administrator to lead the city.
Imus and Fellows will be joined by three other finalists — Daniel Bishop, Albion city manager; Gary Bluschke, office administrator for the Berrien County prosecutors office; and Mark Honeysett, Constantine village manager.
The interviews will begin at 1 p.m., Saturday, at city hall, 257 W. Monroe St.
Larry Nielsen, who has been interim city manager in Bangor for the past two months, has been coordinating the manager search.
Nielsen told city council members Monday that he felt each of the candidates has relevant backgrounds and would be a good fit for the city.
First responders honored for rescuing dog
South Haven Area Emergency Services will receive an award after first responders rescued a large dog that had fallen through the ice on a pond earlier this week.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, commonly referred to as PETA, announced today that it will give South Haven Emergency Services its Compassionate Responders Award.
The rescue occurred shortly before noon on Sunday, when a hunter called 911 to say that a large dog had fallen through the ice on a pond near 8th Avenue in Geneva Township.
When the rescuers arrived, the dog, who was about 150 feet from shore, was struggling and crying out for help. Members of the crew put on ice-rescue suits, crawled along the ice to the dog's location, and pulled the exhausted animal to safety before wrapping him in a thermal blanket. He was later reunited with his family and is doing fine. According to news reports, the dog had broken free from his chain or other type of tether and ventured about a mile before becoming trapped.
"Thanks to the dedication and know-how of South Haven Area Emergency Services, what could have spelled tragedy for a terrified dog had a happy ending," says PETA Senior Vice President Daphna Nachminovitch. "South Haven area residents should be proud of their first responders, who are prepared to protect and serve both human residents and their beloved animal companions."
South Haven Area Emergency Services will receive a framed certificate, a letter of recognition, and a box of vegan chocolates.
UPDATE: Ricky Dean Navarre was located out-of-state, unharmed, shortly after noon, today, according to the Muskegon Chronicle.
State Police ask for help in locating missing man
Michigan State Police requests the public's help in finding a West Michigan man who went missing two days ago. Ricky Dean Navarre of Twin Lake (east of Muskegon) went to work Monday morning, but never returned home, according to a news release issued by the Michigan State Police Grand Haven detachment.
He is described as a 48-year-old white male white male, 48, 175 pounds, with grey hair. He was last seen driving his white-colored 2012 Ford Super Duty Crew pickup with the license plate of OLKA9, an Army veteran plate. The vehicle also has a State of Alaska license plate attached to the front (orange with blue characters).
Area residents who have information regarding Navarre's whereabouts are asked to contact the Michigan State Police Rockford Post at: (616) 866-4411 or the Michigan State Police Grand Haven Detachment (Trooper Hartman or D/Sgt. Poulson) at (616) 842-9318.
Popular South Haven artist remembered for his paintings, and his friendliness
By BECKY KARK
Editor and general manager
Many people in South Haven have a watercolor painting or print created by local artist Steve French.
Many also have fond memories of seeing and talking with the popular painter at local art shows.
But the friendly, outgoing artist will no longer be creating the signature paintings he has become known for throughout West Michigan, as well as other states and countries.
French died at his home this past Saturday after suffering from an illness. He was 60.
News of his death shocked the community. More than 60 people have already expressed their condolences on the website of Filbrandt Family Funeral Home, which is handling funeral arrangements.
“Few get to be immortal,” wrote Barry Shanley of South Haven and former news director for WWMT-TV in Kalamazoo. “But, Steve's special style in his life's work hangs in abundance all around the world and is viewed and enjoyed many times a day. Continuously. And will be. And so much of it about the small town we share.”
French created watercolor paintings depicting what South Haven is known for — it's lighthouse, blueberries, and the natural, wooded settings that surround the town. His paintings were chosen for Tulip Time festival posters in Holland, South Haven's National Blueberry Festival and Fennville's Goose Festival. Fenn Valley Winery commissioned his artwork for a label on one of its wines, and the South Haven Tribune commissioned French to paint its masthead.
Shanley became acquainted with French when the artist purchased acreage that Shanley owned.
“He purchased the 15-acres of land I owned after he bought his five acres adjoining it. He told me he used the sites he saw on those acres to paint.”
Over the years, French developed a unique style that many outdoor lovers enjoyed seeing in paintings that depicted birds, deer, flowers and lakes.
“His paintings captured Lake Michigan in ways few other artists have mastered, and his art will live on forever,” wrote Linda Stieve as part of her condolence.
In the past several years, French branched out to creating abstract watercolor paintings, which also proved popular with buyers.
“So sad for our community to lose such a talented men,” wrote Jan Leksich of Victoria Resort in South Haven. “I have some of his paintings in my dining room and guests always remark about how unique and beautiful they are.”
A visitation for French is scheduled from 2:30-5 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 4 at Filbrandt Family Funeral Home. A funeral service will follow at 5 p.m. A memorial dinner will take place afterwards at the Moose Lodge in South Haven.
This large dog that had fallen through the ice, Sunday, on a pond in Geneva Township is shown after rescuers from South Haven Area Emergency Services went out into the icy water and brought it safely to shore.
Dog saved after it falls through the ice
A large dog was rescued Sunday by South Haven Area Emergency Services.
Emergency rescuers received a call at 11:33 a.m. that a dog had fall through the ice on a pond on 8th Avenue in Geneva Township. A hunter noticed the dog in the water and called 911.
When rescuers arrived, they saw the dog struggling in the water about 150 feet from shore. Rescue workers put on ice-water suits and brought the dog back to shore.
“The rescue took about 11 minutes to perform once rescuers were on scene,” said Ron Wise, fire chief. “Rescuers had to break their way through the ice to reach the dog.”
Once the dog was brought to safety, it was wrapped in a thermal blanket to keep it warm. It then was taken to Van Buren County Animal Control and later reunited with its owner, who lived nearby.
South Haven Area Emergency Services warns area residents to stay off the ice, because it is still too weak to support animals or humans.
“The coming warm weather this week will only make it worse,” Wise said.
Two people injured in head-on crash
Slippery road conditions helped contribute to a head-on collision that occurred Sunday in Geneva Township.
A 52-year-old Lacota man suffered a leg fracture in the accident, while a 42-year-old Bangor area man was treated for minor hand injuries for what could have been a serious collision.
The crash was reported to Van Buren County Sheriff's department at 12:15 p.m. on 62nd Street, south of county Road 384.
Deputies reported that the Lacota man was headed north on 62nd Street in a 1993 Dodge Dakota, while the Bangor area man was going south in a 1996 GMC Yukon. The Yukon went out of control and drove into the oncoming lane hitting the Dakota head-on.
The Bangor area man was cited for driving too fast for road conditions.