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...
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.
Miss Bangor 2014 crowned
By BECKY KARK
Editor and general manager
BANGOR — A Bangor High School senior, who is also dual-enrolled at Lake Michigan College, has been crowned Miss Bangor 2014.
Danielle Costantini won the crown in front of a full house at Bangor High School's auditorium, Sunday.
Her court consists of first runner-up Lindsey Brenne, secondrunner-up Kamrynn Weber and court members Brianna Haygood and Samantha Tuttle. Now that she has been named Miss Bangor, Costantini will be eligible to compete in the Miss Blossomtime Pageant in March of 2014.
Costantini, 17, is the daughter of Julie and Ken Costantini of Bangor. For the pageant she wore a purple-colored gown accented with silver bask beads, purple sequins and rhinestones.
Costantini is one of the top 10 students in her senior class and has been named student of the month a number of times. She also volunteers for Al-Van Humane Society in South Haven. After graduation she plans to attend Western Michigan University to major either in medicine or education.
First runner-up Brenne, a 17-year-old senior at Bangor High School, is the daughter of Leigh Ann and Jim Brenne of Bangor.
For the pageant she wore a fuchsia-colored strapless taffeta gown accented with crystals and pearls.
She was second runner-up in the Miss Teen Bangor pageant in 2012 and has won several dance competition awards. She also is an assistant dance teacher and plans to attend college after graduation.
Second runner-up Weber is a 17-year-old senior at Michigan Lutheran High School in St. Joseph. She is the daughter of Julie and John Weber of Bangor.
For the pageant she wore a white, sheath gown designed with an iridescent jeweled strapless bodice.
Weber has been on the honor roll since first grade. An athlete, she earned an honorable mention in the Cornerstone Conference in softball and was named to the Red Arrow Conference second team for basketball and volleyball. She plans to attend college after graduation majoring in psychology and hopes to start a substance abuse prevention clinic.
Other contestants who earned honors in the pageant follow: Haygood, a senior, won the People's Choice award and Miss Congeniality award. Samantha Tuttle, a senior, won the Miss Entrepreneur Award for selling the most tickets, and junior Quinten Johnson was named Mr. Bangor.
The Miss Bangor Pageant also hosted a Miss Teen Bangor contest and a Miss Junior Teen Contest.
Morgan Bodtke won Miss Teen Bangor, while Le'Onna Wallace was crowned Miss Junior Teen.
This year's pageant theme was “The Princess and the Frog,” in keeping with the Miss Blossomtime theme “Blossomtime Gets Animated.”
Cory Knuth and Amy Graham co-chaired the pageant. Scott Jackson, an English and theater teacher at Bangor High School, emceed the pageant.
Fundraiser assists woman who needs lung transplant
Bloomingdale area residents are rallying around a woman who has to undergo a lung transplant.
The 2013-14 Miss Bloomingdale royalty and contestants, along with Cardinal Youth Sports, are hosting a taco benefit dinner and silent auction from 5-7 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 23 in Bloomingdale High School cafeteria.
Proceeds will assist with medical and other expenses associated with the lung transplant that Bloomingdale resident Tina Goad will soon undergo.
Menu includes beef and chicken tacos, rice, tamales and more. Silent Auction items include tools, gift cards, jewelry, small appliances and collectibles.
Financial donations will also accepted at Chemical Bank (make checks payable to Mike Goad).
For more information or to donate additional items to the silent auction, contact Michelle Tourangeau at (269) 929-4949.
Shelters open in Van Buren County for people without electrical power
Because many people in Van Buren County remain without electrical power following Sunday's storm, the Van Buren County Office of Domestic Preparedness has announced the opening of two shelters where people can go.
A warming shelter will be open until 6 p.m. today and from 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. at Antwerp Township Hall, 24821 Front Ave., in Mattawan.
The other one will open at 6 p.m. today at the American Red Cross chapter building, 301 N. Center St., Hartford. Those seeking shelter at the Hartford location are encouraged to bring the following items if possible: appropriate bedding, blankets, and pillows; prescription medications; personal hygiene items; a change of clothes; and any necessary items for infants or the elderly. Residents are encouraged to call 211 for assistance or the Red Cross at 269-556-9619.
The storm, which brought 60- and 70-mile-per hour wind gusts, caused a lot of damage to trees and electrical power lines throughout the county, especially the Mattawan area.
Consumers Power reported earlier today that approximately 3,700 people remained without electrical power in Van Buren County. Some people may not have power until Saturday.
Photo by Kelly Weber
A truck nearly collided with a downed tree limb Sunday on 68th Street in Geneva Township.
Wind roars through South Haven area leaving many without electrical power
A number of South Haven area residents are still without electrical power today after the wrath of last night's storm.
“There were extremely high wind gusts that went through the area,” said Roger Huff, Department of Public Works director. “Gusts at the lighthouse were recorded at 60 and 70 miles per hour.”
The terrible weather on Sunday started at approximately 3 p.m. when torrential rain fell for 30-40 minutes, flooding streets, including Phoenix Street, which was temporarily closed near Prospect Street until the rain stopped.
The storm clouds subsided briefly, then another front moved through at approximately 6 p.m. bringing very strong winds that caused widespread electrical outages.
The largest area hit occurred on the east and south side of the electrical system.
“AEP's main line which feeds into our main substation went down,” Huff said. Power to those areas was restored within several hours, however, widespread outages throughout the service area occurred when trees fell on lines.
“We're still receiving calls from people saying they're without power,” Huff said, this morning.
Consumers Power customers aren't faring any better - and in some cases - perhaps worse than South Haven customers served through AEP.
Consumers Power reported that as of 11 a.m. today, 5,700 customers in Van Buren County were still without power and 8,900 in Allegan County. The utility company stated that some customers may still be without power for the rest of the week.
Motorists cautioned to watch for deer during firearm hunting season
By TRIBUNE STAFF
Area hunters are looking forward to firearm deer season when it opens Friday but law enforcement officials caution motorists to be wary of deer crossing roadways.
“November is historically the month with the highest number of car deer crashes and deputies notice that the deer seem to become more nocturnal when the hunters take to the field,” said Captain Frank Baker of the Allegan County Sheriff's Department.
The Michigan Deer Crash Coalition echoes his comments. October and November are the two most dangerous months for deer-vehicle crashes, according to the organization. Deer/vehicle crashes resulted in 1,329 injuries and eight deaths in 2012 in Michigan.
In the Great Lakes State, there is an average of 134 deer/vehicle crashes each day, the organization stated. Although reported deer/vehicle crashes in Michigan declined in 2012 to 48,918 from the 53,592 crashes reported in 2011, many crashes also go unreported, so actual crash numbers are probably higher.
Oakland County leads the state in deer/vehicle crashes with 1,683 in 2012. Van Buren and Allegan counties rank lower, but law enforcement officials are cautioning motorists just the same. Last year, 956 accidents were recorded in Allegan County, while 547 were reported in Van Buren.
“The majority of car-deer cashes occur between 6 p.m.-9 p.m., followed by 6 a.m.-9 a.m.,” Baker said.
All motorists should “think deer” whenever they are behind the wheel, and drive defensively, according to Michigan Deer Crash Coalition chairwoman Lori Conarton, who represents the Insurance Institute of Michigan.
“Most injuries and deaths occur when motorists veer to avoid the deer,” she said. “So when a deer crash is unavoidable, it is important to have your hands on the steering wheel, slow down and stay in your own lane.”
The state has a herd of 1.75 million deer. Deer frequently travel in groups, Conarton went on to say. If a motorist sees one deer cross the road, chances are there are more nearby.
Here are tips the Allegan County Sheriff's Department offers to motorists during deer-hunting season:
• Slow down, watch for deer, and anticipate seeing deer on or near the roadway
• Ask passengers to help look for deer and alert you if they see deer
• Don't swerve to avoid deer; it is felt more serious injuries occur when motorists attempt to avoid deer
• Wait in your vehicle or stand well off the roadway if you are involved in a car deer crash and are waiting for law enforcement to arrive
• Do not stand around your vehicle or in the road. Passing motorists will be looking at the crash and not watching for you
• If the deer was killed and is on the roadway only remove it if you can do so safely.
• Do not assume people will slow down or see you
Woman dies in car crash
By ANDREW LERSTEN
H-P Staff Writer
COVERT — A car crash in Covert Township claimed the life of a Grand Junction area woman and injured the driver Friday night.
Kelly Barringer, 27, a passenger, died from the crash that was reported at 9:45 p..m. on County Road 378 near 72nd Street, Covert Township Police Officer Adam Beck said.
The driver, William J. Robinson III of the Covert area, 27, suffered injuries and was listed in stable condition at Bronson Methodist Hospital in Kalamazoo Saturday night, Beck said.
The crash is still being investigated, but Beck said it appears speed was a factor. The car left the road and hit a hollow tree, and the roof caved in, killing Barringer.
While emergency personnel arrived, they also put out a battery fire, Beck said.
A toxicology report on the driver is being done to see if he may have been intoxicated at the time of the crash, Beck said.
Van Buren County Sheriff ’s Department, Michigan State Police, South Haven police, Pride Care ambulance and South Haven area firefighters assisted township police.
Demolition of two vacant buildings at the southwest corner of Broadway and Phoenix Street in South Haven, started this afternoon. Workers began the demolition at the rear of the two buildings. The buildings and property recently sold for $253,000. The purchaser of the property, 304 Broadway LLC, managed by Ron Andronaco of Alto, originally wanted to restore the buildings, but a structural engineer reported they were not structurally sound for redevelopment. Rumors have circulated that a brew pub will be constructed on the site, however, Andronaco said he does not yet want to comment on his company's plans for the site. The buildings were originally home to the former Twitchell Hardware Store, Van Buren Savings & Loan and Clarke Realty. Over the years, other occupants have included Sturgis Bank and Trust, the South Haven Area Chamber of Commerce and LoBretto Realty. The buildings have been vacant for the past two years.
Retired fire chief to receive state tribute
A Lee Township man who served the Lee Township Fire Department for 50 years will be honored this week. Retired fire chief Nelvin DeWeerd will receive a tribute, Monday at 7:30 p.m. at Lee Township Hall, from State Rep. Bob Gentski. DeWeerd retired earlier this year. He served as fire chief for 47 years.
Area groups plan Veterans Day events
By TRIBUNE STAFF
Area organizations and schools will observe Veterans Day this week with a variety of events to honor area military veterans and pay tribute to the ones who died while serving the United States.
Events are listed below:
• Veterans Pancake Breakfast, 10 a.m., Sunday, Nov. 10, Anchor Baptist Church, 71925 M-43 Highway. The breakfast and service that follows afterward are free to the public. For more information, call 637-4202.
• Veterans Day ceremony, 11 a.m., Monday, Nov. 11, Veterans of Foreign Wars post, 1070 S. Bailey Ave., South Haven. The ceremony will honor local veterans and will include a 21-gun salute. Afterwards, participants will go to Countryside Nursing Home in South Haven to honor veterans that reside there. A luncheon for participants will follow at the American Legion, 129 Michigan Ave., South Haven.
• Veterans Day ceremony, 1:45 p.m., Monday, Nov. 11, Pullman Elementary School, 5580 South Ave., Pullman. Students will conduct a ceremony honoring area veterans. The guest speaker will be Sandy Anderson, Michigan District 8 president of the Ladies Auxiliary to the Veterans of Foreign Wars. The event is sponsored by the Ladies Auxiliary to the Ralph Dailey Jr. Veterans of Foreign Wars post 6134, in Pullman.
• Veterans Day ceremony, 8:30 a.m., Monday, Nov. 11, Bangor High School gymnasium. Area veterans are invited to attend the ceremony, which will include a keynote speech by Bangor Korean War veteran Roger Valentine. Music will be provided by the Bangor High School Concert Band, under the direction of Tianna Huyser. Refreshments will be offered to veterans afterward.
• Veterans Day breakfast, 9 a.m., Monday, Nov. 11, Lincoln Elementary School cafeteria, 500 Elkenburg St., South Haven. All area veterans invited to attend.
• Veterans Day breakfast buffet, 7 a.m.-10:30 a.m., Big Boy restaurant, 73rd Street, South Haven. In honor of Veterans day, all veterans can enjoy a free trip to the restaurant's breakfast buffet.
Leaves, leaves, go away
City's street crew battles to clear leaves; but many still remain on trees
By BECKY KARK
Editor and general manager
The question many South Haven homeowners face this November is when will the leaves finally fall?
Normally, most leaves are off of trees by the first week of November, but this year many still stubbornly remain.
And that has become a huge dilemma for the city's Department of Public Works workers.
“We start leaf pickup around Oct. 1 each year, but there's a lot of leaves on these trees,” admits Ron Dotson, operations manager for the DPW.
Street department workers normally use two large trucks that suction the leaves through a long hose. They begin in October as soon as local residents start raking leaves to the curb. The process normally continues through the first week in November. It works fairly smoothly as long as leaves remain fairly dry and they fall off in a timely manner.
But this year, things are different.
Rain and an early snowfall has hampered local residents efforts to get their leaves to the curb. To make matters worse, the amount of rainfall that occurred earlier this year, coupled with a cool summer, has kept leaves on the branches.
“Six to eight years ago we had this same problem. We had an early snow, a lot of rain, and it was a nightmare,” Dotson recalled.
During that particular leaf pick-up season, many leaves were left on the trees well into November. Snowfall and rain prevented the street crew from picking up many of the leaves because they were too wet and frozen to be suctioned into trucks. To make matters worse, the wet leaves clogged catch basins, causing flooding along roadways. If that weren't enough, snow mixed in with the leaves, causing further problems for street crews, who at times, had to resort to shoveling the leaves into dump trucks.
Unfortunately, Dotson foresees a similar situation this year.
“Maybe the wind will knock some of these leaves down and we can get a few dry days so that people can rake,” he said.
If that's the case, he cautions local residents to rake the leaves to their tree lawns and curbs — not into the streets.
“That can become a major issue, clogging catch basins, especially if it freezes,” he said.
In the meantime, the city's street department will continue leaf pick-up.
“As long as the weather permits, we'll do it,” Dotson said.
South Haven voters re-elect mayor, council member
South Haven voters have re-elected Bob Burr to his third term as mayor of South Haven.
Burr won 92 percent of the votes that were cast in Tuesday's election. His opponent, Frank Consolino had withdrawn from the race this past week, however, his name still appeared on the ballot. Even though he withdrew from the race, Consolino won 8 percent of the votes.
Voters also returned Vickiy Kozlik Wall to a second term as South Haven city council member. She defeated challenger Todd Comeau 172-66.
In other election news, South Haven voters agreed to change the city charter to eliminate term limits for appointed city board and commission members.
South Haven Public Schools received good news following Tuesday's election. Voters in the school district renewed the five-year, 18-mill nonhomestead property tax 912-298.
South Haven resident plans to run for State House District 66 seat
South Haven resident and school board member Annie Brown announced today that she will run as the Democratic candidate in State House District 66. Joining Brown for the announcement was Representative Sean McCann (D-Kalamazoo) and Former State Rep. Ed LaForge (D-Kalamazoo). Currently the 66th District House seat is held by Rep. Aric Nesbitt (R-Lawton).
“I’m honored,” said Brown. “It’s truly humbling to be the Democratic candidate for House District 66 and I am ready to get to work in our neighborhoods. I’ve been meeting with families from Parchment to South Haven, Lawrence to Lawton listening to the values we share that can help get Michigan back on track.”
“About 14 years ago, I was a pregnant mother with 2 young children while I helped my husband start a small business,” said Brown. “I know the frustrations of business owners who are trying to provide jobs, and serve a community while they jump through the hoops held by state government. I can help the residents of the southwest Michigan navigate this often difficult process so they can hire workers and focus on supporting their families.”
Brown, a South Haven resident for nearly 30 years, currently is a trustee of the South Haven School Board having formerly served as Board President and Secretary. Brown also serves on the Leadership Council for Welcoming Michigan. She is active in her church, St. Basil’s Catholic Church. She previously was a columnist for the Herald Palladium Newspaper.
“Annie’s experience in West Michigan will be invaluable in Lansing, especially when we are fighting to return funding to our schools, support Michigan’s small businesses, and create good jobs for our workers so they can support their families,” said Rep. McCann. “She is a hard worker. She listens to people and then does what is best for them.
“Annie understands the issues facing our students, our seniors and our families. She’ll put people first before anything or anyone else.”
“These are tough times for Michigan, but the people of the Van Buren and Kalamazoo do not give up and neither do I,” said Brown. “I am a go-getter. I am excited about running for State Representative and hitting the ground running. I look forward to working tirelessly for the families of southwest Michigan and I cannot think of better people to work for.”
SH hospital ranked No. 1 for customer service by national organization
By BECKY KARK
Editor and general manager
When it comes to patient satisfaction, South Haven Health System is apparently the hospital of choice, according to a national organization that ranks medical institutions for customer service excellence.
The local health provider has been named the Top Hospital of the Year for 2013 by the American Alliance of Healthcare Providers.
Upon hearing the news, hospital officials held a celebration with the health system's 425 employees today.
“They said we wowed them,” said Joanne Urbanski, president and CEO of South Haven Health System “It is an honor to be selected as the Top Hospital of the Year, out of the 100 top hospitals, inclusive of University of Michigan, Northwestern Memorial Hospital, and Mayo Clinic, to name a few.”
This is the second year that the Alexandria, Va.-based American Alliance of Healthcare Providers has honored South Haven Health System. In 2012, the hospital was named among the Top 10 medical institutions that provide customer care excellence.
The hospital earned its award this year after the Alliance conducted an onsite visit, evaluated hospital documents and the effectiveness of the hospital's website, interviewed staff and patients and took part in a “mystery customer” phone survey to compare telephone answering systems and the customer service skills of hospital staff.
“The Hospital of Choice Award Selection Committee chose South Haven Health System from more than 1,600 hospital reviews,” said Rick Parr, president of the American Alliance of Healthcare Providers. “The Choice Awards are based on customer service practices and techniques recommended in (our) Soar to Excellence Program, and includes service delivery competencies in communication, collaboration, education, teamwork and good citizenship.”
The alliance created the Hospital of Choice Awards in 2002 to help consumers find a top quality hospital with excellence customer service skills, according to Parr. The secret shoppers' calls, which are a key component of the evaluation process, are designed to evaluate more than service skills, they also attempt to discover if a hospital has convenient and safe parking, how billing disputes are handled, the average emergency room waiting time, and if patient information remains confidential.
“We believe these key indicators speak volumes about the functionality, knowledge and service performance of our selected hospitals,” Parr said.
Each year, the Alliance evaluates more than 400 hospitals nationwide and selects the top 100. The member-based organization then chooses the Top 10 hospitals and finally the No. 1 medical institution.
“We are a proud organization,” Urbanski said. “South Haven Health System adds value to the community and now we are being recognized as being No. 1 in service excellence. Hats off to the staff that are the reason we earned this recognition.”
Hiding from the law? Don't rely on police scanners to keep the cops away
A Gobles man trying to dodge a bench warrant discovered police scanners don't always work in your favor.
Jason Smith, 24, of Gobles, who was captured by Van Buren County Sheriff's deputies on Saturday, now could face another criminal charge against him — Using a Scanner in Commission of a Crime.
Smith and Matthew Durian, 26, also of Gobles, had been staying at a residence in the 36000 block of 6th Ave., in Bloomingdale Township, when deputies received information of their whereabouts. When deputies arrived at 5:10 p.m. at the residence, they saw both Smith and Durian running out the back door and into a field. Both men were caught. Durian attempted to push and kick when he was caught, but no one was injured.
Deputies found the men to be in possession of meth and marijuana. They also found that Smith's cell phone had actively been running an app as a police scanner. Deputies reported hearing their own radio traffic coming from Smith's phone during his arrest.
Smith, who had two bench warrants for failure to appear in court on traffic violations, now faces methamphetamine possession and using a scanner in commission of a crime.
Durian, who had a felony warrant for failure to appear for sentencing on a weapons charge, now faces resisting arrest and marijuana possession charges.
Both men were taken to Van Buren County Jail.
Lee Township woman injured in hit-and-run accident
Police are looking for the driver of a vehicle that hit and seriously injured a Lee Township woman on Thursday evening.
The woman, Rachel Krieger, 21, was traveling northbound on 60th Street, north of 106th Avenue in Casco Township when she apparently stopped her vehicle to help a cat that was in the road. In doing so, she was struck by another vehicle, described as a 1988-89 Chevrolet GM pickup truck or Suburban type of vehicle. The vehicle did not stop, but continued on, according to an Allegan County Sheriff's report.
Krieger was found injured in the roadway by another person, who reported the accident at 10:36 p.m. and stayed with her while waiting for rescue workers and Allegan County Sheriff's deputies to arrive. She was taken to Bronson Methodist Hospital, in Kalamazoo.
When they did, deputies noticed a wet cat in Krieger's vehicle, which is why they believe she may have stopped to get the animal out of the road.
The vehicle that hit Krieger will likely have damage to the front end of the driver's side and will be missing a headlight and turn-signal assembly, the news report indicated.
Anyone with information related to the crash is asked to contact the Allegan County Sheriff's Office Detective Bureau at 616-673-0500 or Silent Observer. If area residents were in the area and noticed either the victim's or suspect's vehicle they are asked to call. Additionally; if anyone had been in contact with Krieger around the time of the crash Detectives would like to speak to them.
Accident forces closure of I-196 in South Haven
The southbound lane of Interstate 196, between Phoenix Road and M-140 Highway was closed at 9:30 a.m. this morning after a delivery truck full of pigeons crashed and turned over on the southbound lane of the highway.
The driver of the truck was taken by ambulance to South Haven Health System with minor injuries, according to a South Haven Police Department spokesperson. Information is not yet available as to how the accident occurred.
As of 10:30 a.m., emergency crews were still on the scene to upright the truck and have it towed and to transfer the pigeons to another truck. In the meantime, southbound traffic is being diverted to Blue Star Highway at North Shore Drive (exit 22) and Phoenix Road (exit 20). The highway was reopened at approximately 11:30 a.m.
Geneva residents evacuated from homes after car hits gas line
A number of Geneva Township residents living along a section of County Road 687 had to be evacuated from their homes this morning after a vehicle crashed into a natural gas line.
The incident occurred at 7:30 a.m. in the 6000 block of CR 687, according to a Van Buren County Sheriff's Department dispatcher.
Because of the severity of the leak, members of South Haven Area Emergency Services and the sheriff's department knocked on doors and told local residents in the 6000 block to stay indoors. Several residents whose homes were located right next to the accident scene were evacuated from the area until the line was capped off. As of 9:30 a.m. residents had returned to their homes and emergency crews cleared the scene.
The driver of the vehicle received minor injuries from the crash. Details of why he crashed into the gas line are not yet available.
Waterfront Film Festival lured back to South Haven
Waterfront Film Festival organizers apparently liked their new venue in South Haven earlier this year, because they have just announced they will return in 2014.
The decision followed an outpouring of community support, festival organizers said. Next year's festival will take place June 12-15 and will follow on the heels of this year's festival which featured nearly 90 documentaries, dramas, comedies and film shorts on seven screens throughout the four days in South Haven. A record number of filmmakers were in town to talk about their films before and after the screenings, and many actors and filmmakers participated on Q&A panels.
Festival organizers have been approached by many new sponsors and volunteers who are committed to helping with Waterfront Film Festival’s second year in South Haven, according to festival co-founder Hopwood DePree.
“Through a partnership of financial donors, the city government, the South Haven Center for the Arts, Convention and Visitors Bureau and Chamber, Waterfront Film Festival will expand to be bigger and better in 2014,” DePree said.
A local philanthropist stepped forward with a significant financial commitment to underwrite the hiring of a Director of Development who will focus on fundraising and handle day-to-day, year-round operations of putting the festival together.
“This has been one of our goals since the beginning. It is wonderful to finally be at this point. Having a full-time staff member dedicated to development is a crucial step in taking the Waterfront Film Festival to new heights and to achieve long-term success for the non-profit organization,” DePree said.
Organizers say the long-term goal for the festival’s growth is to encompass more of the West Michigan region, eventually hosting screenings up and down the lakeshore.
Waterfront Film Festival Co-founder Dori DePree commended the South Haven community for its enthusiastic response to the festival and continued support.
“We are thrilled with the support of the residents, city officials and the mayor,” she said. “Mayor Bob Burr was instrumental in bringing the festival to South Haven, and his enthusiasm to inject more art into the community is inspiring.”
Film submissions for the 2014 festival will be accepted beginning Nov. 1.
Visit www.waterfrontfilm.org for more information on film submission guidelines, the job posting, and how to become a sponsor or volunteer for 2014.
Say it isn't snow!
South Haven area residents woke up today to the first accumulation of snowfall this season. Some inland areas received nearly an inch of wet, sticky snow, while lakeshore areas received just a covering. Temperatures are expected to hit 44 degrees today, according to the National Weather Service. This photo was taken this morning in Geneva Township.
Hail is shown in a patch of grass and leaves, today, in downtown South Haven.
Signs of winter
A mix of small hail stones, sleet and rain today is giving area residents a taste of the coming winter months.
The temperature in South Haven is currently 38 degree and may reach 46 later today, but will fall to 38 this evening. Although snow has been visible at various times today, no accumulation is expected, according to the National Weather Service forecast.
Similar weather is forecast for Thursday and Friday. Temperatures are expected to warm up Saturday when they hit 50 degrees, however there is a 40-percent chance of rain. Sunday, sunny skies should return with a high of 49 degrees.
Unwanted prescription drug drop off scheduled Saturday
Area residents will get the chance to drop off unwanted prescription drugs when Van Buren County Sheriff's Office hosts Drug Take Back.
Unwanted meds can be dropped off from 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 26 at Shoreline Rehabilitation and Wellness Center, 920 S. Bailey Ave.
They can also be dropped off during the same time period at Family Fare, 847 S. Kalamazoo St., Paw Paw.
The sheriff's department is partnering with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Van Buren County Medical Examiner’s Office along and the Van Buren County Health Department for the drop-off. “This gives the public another opportunity to prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs,” said Van Buren County Sheriff Dale R. Gribler. “Bring your medications for disposal. The service is free and anonymous, no questions asked.”
This past April, Americans turned in 371 tons of prescription (over 742.000 pounds) drugs at more than 5,800 sites operated by the DEA and its thousands of state and local law enforcement partners. In its five previous Take Back events, DEA and its partners took in over 2.8 million pounds— over a 1.4 tons — of pills.
• Controlled, non-controlled, and over the counter substances can be dropped off for disposal.
• People can dispose of medication in it original container or by removing the medication from the container and disposing of it directly into the disposal box.
• If an original container is submitted, people are encouraged to remove any identifying information from the prescription label.
• All solid dosage pharmaceutical products and liquids need to be in consumer containers. Please make certain that the caps are tightly sealed.
• Intra-venous solutions, injectibles, and syringes will not be accepted due to potential hazard posed by blood-borne pathogens.
Max Adler (who played the role of bully Dave Karofsky on "Glee,") gets ready to jump to the curb in front of the First Hebrew Congregation synagogue in South Haven as part of a scene in "Saugatuck Cures."
Local synagogue chosen for film scene
The First Hebrew Congregation synagogue in South Haven was the site today for the shooting of the comedy, "Saugatuck Cures."
The movie stars Max Adler ("Glee"), Danny Mooney ("Love and Honor"), Judith Chapman ("Young and Restless") and Matthew Klingler (TV and theater actor).
Saugatuck Cures is described as a family-friendly comedy about a widowed bed and breakfast owner, Maggie Callaghan (played by Chapman), living in Saugatuck dealing with a second round of cancer. When she can't afford treatment, Maggie's gay son Drew (played by Adler) becomes determined to raise money for her treatment, yet doesn't have the slightest idea of how to do it. After a falling out ...with his sister, Penelope, a religious conservative, Drew is convinced by his eccentric, best friend Brett (played by Mooney), who's straight, to pose as ex-gay ministers in order to raise the money by "converting" homosexuals into heterosexuals! After a crazy adventure, getting into a lot of trouble with the law, family conflicts and not knowing if they will have enough time to save mom, the film ends with an overall message of forgiveness, love, and acceptance.
The film, which is being shot in Saugatuck, Holland, Allegan and South Haven, is expected to be released in 2014.
Foster care home resident missing
Police are searching for a woman who never returned from an approved walk at an adult foster care home, Sunday.
Chelsea Richards, 29, went for the walk and never returned to the foster, in the 56000 block of 48th Avenue, in Lawrence. She has been missing since 5 p.m., Sunday, according to a report from the Van Buren County Sheriff's Department.
Richards, who has a history of mental issues, is required to take medication on a daily basis. She is described as 5'5” tall, with short brownish blonde hair with a tint of dyed red streaks. She was wearing black pants, black shoes and a black jacket when she was last seen.
Deputies and foster care home staffed searched for Richards but were unable to locate her. It is possible she may have accepted a ride from a passing motorist, but police don't know for sure.
Anyone who has information about her is asked to call their local police department of the Van Buren County Sheriff's Department.
Man faces criminal charges for taking young teens from Lawrence
An 18-year-old man who drove from Lawrence to Oceana County with two juvenile girls in his vehicle faces criminal charges.
Van Buren County Sheriff's deputies arrested Orlando Jimenez Thursday and have charged him with two counts of harboring runaways, a misdemeanor that carries a maximum sentence of a year in the county jail and/or a $500 fine. His arraignment is scheduled today in Seventh District Court in Paw Paw.
The girls and Jimenez were found Thursday morning at a farm in Benona Township where Jimenez was employed. The owner of the farm recognized the two girls and Jimenez from news reports of the girls' disappearance and called police.
The girls were taken into protective custody by the Oceana Sheriff's Department and turned over to the custody of their parents.
Jimenez was identified as the boyfriend of one of the girls, Myra Peris Rodriguez, 14. The other girls was identified as Jerica LaShae Springer, 13. The girls skipped school on Wednesday, and apparently met up with Jimenez in a local park where they then headed north to Oceana County.
The girls told Oceana County deputies they left with Jimenez because of “issues at home.”
Teenage runaways, boyfriend found at migrant farm
Two young teenage girls, who skipped school Wednesday to drive off with one of the girl's boyfriends, have been found.
The girls, who are from Lawrence, are in custody right now at Oceana County Sheriff's Office, according to Lt. Craig Mast, and are expected to return to Lawrence today. The 18-year-old man that the girls left with, Orlando Jimenez, is currently at a migrant farm in Benona Township, where the girls were found, and may be facing criminal charges, according to Mast. “I believe they're (Van Buren County prosecutor's office) preparing a warrant for his arrest,” he said. “We know where he (Jimenez) is, we're just waiting on whether a warrant will be issued.”
The girls told Oceana deputies they left with Jimenez because of “issues at home,” Mast said.
The girls are Jerica LaShae Springer, 13, and Myra Perla Rodriguez, 14.
They were found when the owner of the farm that Jimenez works at identified he and the two girls from news reports, according to Mast.
“The farmer had seen the news reports and identified them and called us,” Mast said.
Van Buren deputies say that the two girls left Lawrence Middle/High School on Wednesday an hour after they arrived. They think the girls were picked up at a park by Jimenez, who they believe is the boyfriend of Rodriguez. Jimenez, is originally from Florida.
Police looking for two runaways; suspect driver
Police hope to find two Lawrence students who skipped school on Wednesday to take off in a vehicle driven by the boyfriend of one of the missing students.
The two students are identified as Jerica LaShae Springer, 13, and Myra Perla Rodriguez, 14, according to a Van Buren County Sheriff's report.
Deputies say that the two girls left school an hour after they arrived.
They think the girls were picked up at a park in Lawrence by Orlando Jimenez, 18, who they believe is the boyfriend of Rodriguez. Jimenez, is originally from Florida, but is believed to be living in Grand Rapids.
He was driving a 2000 model Green Jeep SUV with a possible Florida plate.
Deputies said they received tips that the girls and Jimenez could possibly be in the Muskegon County/Oceana County area. one of the student's boyfriend's vehicle. Both girls did contact their families and said they were not in danger but would not state where they were at or who they were with. The investigation is ongoing.
Anyone with information can contact the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office at (269) 657-3101, Crime Stoppers 1-800-342-7867, Silent Observer (269) 343-2100, or your local Police Department.
PHOTOS: From top, Orlando Jimenez, Jerica Springer and Myra Rodriguez.
Angry sky over Bangor
A rain cloud swirls over downtown Bangor just after sunrise, today, marking an end to a week in which the area experienced sunny days and temperatures in the high 60s and lower 70s. (Photo by Kelly Weber)
Man dies after vehicle strikes his scooter
A 78-year-old man from Royalton Township lost his life this morning while trying to retrieve a newspaper from his mailbox.
Ronald Maier died after a vehicle struck his medical scooter on Linco Road near Hollywood Road, according to a Michigan State Police report from the Niles post.
The accident was reported at 6:40 a.m. The driver that struck Maier was from Eau Claire, however police have not released his name.
A preliminary investigation indicates that darkness and a lack of lighting or reflective clothing worn by Maier contributed to the crash. The crash is still under investigation, pending a review by the Berrien County prosecutors's office.
Area legislator opposes bill allowing bars to serve booze until 4 a.m.
A Michigan senate bill to extend the hours that bars and night clubs can serve alcohol has caught the ire of at least one legislator.
Senate Bill 247, which is currently in the Senate Regulatory Reform Committee, would allow bars and restaurants in a central business district, such as downtown South Haven, to stay open until 4 a.m. if the owners pay an annual fee of $10,000 and have extra bouncers and security cameras. Currently, the last call for alcohol is 2 a.m. in Michigan.
But if Sen. Bob Jones, who represents Allegan County, has his way, the last call for alcohol at 4 a.m. will never see the light of day.
“Getting behind the wheel after you have had too much to drink is never the right choice,” said Sen. Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “Unfortunately, in 2011 nearly 30,000 people decided to do just that.” And of that number, 255 died from alcohol-impaired vehicle accident, according to data from the Century Council, a non-profit organization, based in Arlington, Va., that promotes responsible drinking and is funded by distillers.
Those in favor of the legislation, however, contend that the late closing time would generate more revenue for the state due to increased licensing fees and additional sales. The bill was introduced by Sen. Virgil Smith Jr., (D-Detroit).
Jones said he could not disagree more with the revenue rationale, contending that casinos and night clubs in the Detroit area are clamoring for the legislation because they want to compete with Chicago nightclubs.
“The Michigan Municipal League asked for even higher fees. I asked how high?” said Jones. “Their response was: 'We are not sure yet but we want more money.; If this is done for Detroit then how long before every bar wants it and demands that the fees go down? This is the ‘camel’s nose under the tent.”
This photo shows the 2000 Pontiac Grand Am that went airborne over a bridge and struck a tree, Sunday, killing the vehicle's driver and seriously injuring a passenger
18-year-old Paw Paw woman dies in tragic accident
PAW PAW — An 18-year-old Paw Paw woman lost her life Sunday when the car she was driving went airborne over a bridge and crashed into a tree. Two passengers were also injured in the accident that occurred shortly before 6 p.m. in the 36000 block of 64th Avenue in Paw Paw Township.
A Van Buren County Sheriff's report indicates that Emily Rose Lauer was traveling at a high rate of speed in an attempt to go airborne over the small bridge. Unfortunately, the she lost control of the 2000 Pontiac Grand Am, which went off the southside of the road and struck a tree. The car then continued on, rolling over a number of times and striking other trees before coming to a rest, upside down.
When emergency workers arrived they had to use the “Jaws of Life” to extricate both the victim and an 18-year-old Paw Paw man, who was in the back seat. Another passenger, a 16-year-old Paw Paw girl, was able to get out of the front seat on her own. The man, who suffered serious head and facial injuries, was taken to Bronson Methodist Hospital in Kalamazoo. The girl was treated for minor injuries.
Grief counselors will be at Paw Paw High School today to help students cope with the loss of the 18-year-old woman, who had attended the local high school.
Police find fugitive hiding in outbuilding in Bloomingdale Township
By TRIBUNE STAFF
After an extensive manhunt, a parole violator who had led police on a high-speed chase earlier this week, has been captured.
Van Buren County Sheriff's deputies found Michael Loren Warner II of Otsego shortly after noon on Thursday, hiding in a false wall of an outbuilding in Bloomingdale Township.
“The outcome of this successful arrest was from joint cooperation and teamwork from the multiple agencies involved,” said Sgt. David Walker of the sheriff's department.
Police units discovered Warner, 32, after receiving a phone call that the fugitive had stolen two long guns and an ATV from a residence in the 39000 block of 14th Avenue in Bloomingdale Township, according to a report from the sheriff's office.
The witness who called police said he saw the fugitive on the ATV and attempted to chase him, but had to give up after the ATV left the roadway at the T intersection of 14th Avenue and 41st Street.
The sheriff's department contacted the Michigan State Police which used a helicopter to locate the stolen ATV and the two long guns, which were in the vehicle's cargo area.
SWAT members from the sheriff's department then used K-9 units and enlisted the help of state police and South Haven Police to track the suspect who was found at 6:45 p.m. in the outbuilding in the 10000 block of 41st Street.
Warner was taken to Bronson Lakeview Hospital in Paw Paw for minor injuries he had sustained during his 24-hour run from police. He was later released and taken to Van Buren County Jail.
He faces a number of criminal charges including breaking and entering, larceny from a building, illegal entry and firearms violations.
These charges are on top of the charges he faces in Allegan County for parole violation and fleeing and eluding police.
Those charges stemmed from Wednesday when Warner cut off his tether. Allegan County Sheriff's deputies searched for Warner and found him in his vehicle in Valley Township. When sheriff's deputies attempted to talk to Warner, he fled the scene and led deputies on a high-speed chase through Allegan County and into Van Buren County. Police gave up the chase due to safety concerns. They later found Warner's abandoned vehicle on County Road 388 in Bloomingdale Township. They searched the area and found Warner's cell phone but were unable to locate him until Thursday when they received the report that Warner had taken an ATV and long guns from a residence.
Parole violator leads police on high-speed chase in Allegan, Van Buren counties
Police are on the lookout for a parole violator who led officers on a high-speed chase last night in Allegan and Van Buren counties.
The suspect, Michael Loren Warner, 32, of Allegan, is on parole for home invasion and larceny. He allegedly broke his tether on Wednesday, prompting Allegan County Sheriff's deputies and parole officers to search for him. The found Warner in his 2004 Volkswagen Passat in Valley Township shortly before 5 p.m. on Wednesday. However, Warner fled the scene with police pursuing him into Van Buren County.
The pursuit, however, was discontinued at 7 p.m. due to the high rate of speed and disregard of traffic control signs by the suspect, according to Lt. Frank Baker of Allegan County Sheriff's Department.
The suspect's vehicle was found abandoned in the 38000 block of County Road 388, in Bloomingdale Township. A Michigan State trooper and his K9 searched the area and found Warner's cell phone but not the suspect. The search ended around 7:30 p.m.
Police say Warner could be a threat to himself, based on comments he made to police when they initially tried to stop his vehicle in Valley Township.
Deputies with the Allegan County Sheriff's Office were assisted by Deputies with the Van Buren County Sheriff's Office and the Michigan State Police.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Allegan County Sheriff's Office at 269-673-0500, 911, or silent observer at 855-745-3680
Square dancers are shown during Square Dance Kalamazoo in 2012. A similar square dance will take place Friday as part of South Haven's Fall Fest and will feature the Celery City Sod Busters that performed at Square Dance Kalamazoo.
Get set to kick up your heels and watch outhouse races at South Haven's Fall Fest
By BECKY KARK
Editor and general manager
Get ready to square dance, launch pumpkins, and laugh at amusing looking outhouses during the Fall Fest in South Haven.
This year's event is scheduled Friday and Saturday at a variety of downtown venues and offers more activities than the inaugural celebration in 2012.
“You know us — we try to pack as many activities as possible into everything we do,” said Susan Diepen, assistant director of the South Haven Area Chamber of Commerce, which is organizing the festival.
Now in its second year, Fall Fest took the place of the city's previous autumn celebrations. And compared to Fall Fest, the events of yore pale in comparison.
Previous autumn celebration fare included sidewalk sales, cider and donuts, and decorated scarecrows as a way to attract people to downtown during October.
But the chamber wanted a more unique and fun way to bring people in during harvest time — hence such Fall Fest activities as the “Pub Runz” bar hop, the “Outhouse Grand Prix” race, and the “Pumpkin Launch” competition.
It's all geared toward making South Haven more attractive to visitors, especially this year when the town's main drag — Phoenix Street — is under construction.
To entice visitors to Phoenix Street's merchants, the Fall Fest will feature a “Potty Passport” to guide people to the brightly decorated outhouses that store owners are putting on display. When festival-goers visit a store that has an outhouse they can drop their name in a hat for a drawing to become eligible for prizes.
“This is a particularly important initiative this year with the Phoenix Street repairs impacting downtown businesses,” Diepen said.
But the festival won't just be limited to events reflective of bathroom humor.
It opens Friday with a square dance at 7 p.m. at Joe's Bar, 248 Broadway.“We'll start with a beginner-friendly basics lesson, then dance the night away,” Diepen said. The Celery City Sod Busters will perform the music while Mike Clark of the Kalamazoo Square Dance Club is the scheduled caller.
People who don't want to square dance, can check out other downtown nightclubs for drink special and entertainment as part of the festival's “Pub Runz” bar hop that takes place throughout the two-day celebration at participating establishments.
Saturday includes a wide variety of activities. Children's events are scheduled from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. at the Huron Street pavilion and include pony rides, a mechanical bull, and pumpkin carving contest. The pumpkin launch — where participants will launch real pumpkins into the Black River in an attempt to hit floating targets for cash prizes — will take place at noon at the city's Southside Marina. A Taste of Fall food festival, beer and wine tent and live music will begin at 3 p.m. at the pavilion and will wrap up at approximately 11 p.m.
And the festival's main draw — the Outhouse Grand Prix — will take place at 2 p.m., on Huron Street.
Last year's outhouse race ended up being the festival's most popular event. Even when rain forced organizers to hold the races at the Huron Street pavilion, spectators didn't turn away.
“Considering the weather, we had great attendance last year,” Diepen said. “With the buzz that last year's outhouse races caused we're looking at drawing an outstanding crowd this year.”
For more information about Fall Fest, visit the chamber's website at www.southhavenmi.com
State police caught up in latest scam
Warning to area residents: If you get a phone call from the Michigan State Police claiming they need money to clear your outstanding warrant, think twice before dipping into your wallet.
The Michigan State Police Paw Paw post is warning residents of a new scam where callers pose as state police to steal people's money.
Citizens have reported calls in which the caller claims to be a member of law enforcement. No complaints have been reported so far in southwestern Michigan, but state police are being proactive and warning area residents, anyway.
“The caller says there is a warrant for your arrest and to avoid being arrested you must pay a fine,” said Lt. Dale Hinz, Paw Paw post commander. “Scams can take many forms, but citizens should know that law enforcement will never call you to notify you of a warrant and to ask for money or bank account information.”
Most scams involve obtaining a victim’s personal information under false pretenses, Hinz went on to say. The scammer usually portrays a sense of urgency, pretending to be an official of a legitimate organization to fool a victim into providing personal information or money.
To avoid becoming a victim of a scam state police issue the following tips:
• Do not give personal information to unknown callers.
• Do not respond to unsolicited e-mails from unknown senders.
• Confirm the identity of a contact by independently speaking with the identified source (your bank, credit card company, government agency, etc.)
• Ask for a call-back name and number and then use a reliable source, such as the phone book, to confirm the contact’s phone number or e-mail.
• Report any suspicious contacts to police.
Al-Van Humane Society honored for reducing the number of stray animals it euthanizes
Al-Van Humane Society has been recognized by a Michigan group that seeks to eliminate euthanization of dogs and cats.
The Michigan Pet Fund Alliance announced today that Al-Van has received the Most Improved Open Admission Shelter award for reducing the number of euthanizations in a one-year period of time.
“This shelter increased their lifesaving from 18.41 percent in 2011 to 63.23 percent in 2012,” the Alliance stated in a news release.
The alliance reviewed the 2012 annual shelter reports that licensed shelters are required to submit to the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, and used that data to determine each shelter's performance in saving lives.
In 2011 Al-Van's board made the decision to limit animal intakes. The shelter adopted a policy stating that it would only house animals based on the availability of space at the shelter. At the same time, the board adopted an aggressive campaign to increase the number of animal foster parents. The decision met with criticism by some because if the shelter doesn't have room for strays than it is up to the pet owner or the finder of the stray pet to determine the pet's future. Opponents of the policy stated that the pet shelter took in 1,000 fewer stray cats in 2012 versus 2011, and claimed that the stray population in the community had grown.
Despite the criticism, a growing number of pet shelters are adopting policies similar to the ones Al-Van Humane Society adopted in 2011.
Four other pet shelters received honors from the Michigan Pet Fund Alliance.
South Haven police warn of burglaries
South Haven residents are urged to be more vigilant as police try to solve a series of burglary/home invasion cases, city police reported.
South Haven Police Chief Tom Martin said the department has responded to seven such cases since Aug. 28 in an the vicinity of the Hartman School neighborhood. The break-ins have occurred in an area bordered by Phoenix Street, Cherry Street, South Haven Place and Broadway.
Police urge residents to lock all doors and windows and be suspicious of unusual noises and activities, especially at early morning. People are asked to call 911 and report such events immediately.
Martin said the department has stepped up car and foot patrols in the area.
Truck driver dies in collision on I-196
A truck driver died this morning in a head-on collision with another truck on Interstate 196 in Casco Township.
A Michigan State Police sergeant stated that the accident occurred when a southbound semi-truck crossed the median, went through the cable barrier and struck a northbound semi-truck earlier this morning. Police and rescue personnel are still at the scene of the accident. The northbound lanes of I-196 are closed between North Shore Drive (exit 22) and 109th Avenue (exit 26). Traffic is being rerouted at exit 22 to Blue Star Highway.
Broadway expected to reopen this week
If Mother Nature cooperates, motorists will receive some good news this week: Broadway, near the Phoenix Street intersection, will reopen to both north and southbound traffic by late Wednesday afternoon.
Steve Oosting, lead city engineer for the Phoenix Street reconstruction project, predicted that concrete paving would take place at the Phoenix-Broadway street intersection this past weekend. However, if inclement weather were to occur, the paving could stretch into Monday or Tuesday of this week.
“If the concrete work is delayed by rain, then we expect to see the Broadway traffic restored in the following days,” he said. However, The Broadway Avenue sidewalk past the Muffler Man shop will remain unfinished until sometime in October.
After the Broadway Avenue traffic is restored, the work on Phoenix Street between Broadway and the "welcome island" will continue until Dec. 1. Pavement removals west of the welcome island to Kalamazoo Street will start Nov. 1.
The Phoenix Street project includes placement of new water and sewer lines, repaving of the street, new sidewalks, landscaping and free wi-fi service for internet users.
Merchant meeting planned
South Haven's downtown merchants are invited to attend a meeting, Thursday, to discuss upcoming events that will take place during the reconstruction of Phoenix Street. The meeting will follow the city's update on the construction progress. That meeting is planned at 9 a.m., Thursday, at Golden Brown Bakery.
Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker eyes
new 26th District
A well-known lawmaker may be returning as South Haven area's next state senator.
State Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker announced today she will be seeking re-election to the Michigan State Senate in the 26th District, which includes Van Buren County, Allegan County, and Kentwood and Gaines Township in Kent County.
Schuitmaker currently represents the 20th Senate District, which includes all of Kalamazoo County, as well as Paw Paw and Antwerp Townships in Van Buren County. After the 2010 census, district lines were redrawn and Schuitmaker's family home in Lawton is now included in the 26th District.
"I am a lifelong resident of Van Buren County and I am not going to move for political purposes. It isn't right for my family and it isn't right for the citizens of Michigan," Schuitmaker said. "The people of West Michigan have created a great place to live, work and vacation here along the beautiful lakeshore and I look forward to representing such a wonderful community.
"Michigan is on the road to recovery, but we're not there yet," she said. "Lower taxes and less regulation have driven our recovery. We cannot go back to the failed tax-and-spend policies of the past. Hard work and innovation—not government—will continue to lead Michigan to renewed prosperity and a brighter future."
Schuitmaker was first elected to the Michigan Senate in 2010. She is the current President Pro Tempore of the Senate as well as Chairperson of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Higher Education.
During her first term Schuitmaker sponsored legislation improving government transparency, increasing penalties for elder abuse, holding universities accountable for the tax dollars they receive and requiring prisoners -to provide DNA samples, which led to numerous cold cases being solved.
Prior to serving in the Senate, Schuitmaker served six years in the state House of Representatives and as an attorney in her family's practice in Paw Paw. She lives in Lawton with her husband and two children.
A campaign website is now up and running. Voters can find more information about Tonya and the campaign by visiting www.votetonya.com.
Lee Township fire chief plans to retire after serving 50 years
By KIM INGALLS
For the Tribune
PULLMAN — After decades of fighting fires, Lee Township Fire Chief Nelvin DeWeerd is saying goodbye to a public service career that has spanned 50 years.
DeWeerd will be "folding down his bunk gear" once last time as he officially retires from the fire department. He leaves behind an impressive list of accomplishments.
"I told myself that when we got this new fire station, then I would retire," said DeWeerd, 76, referring to the 109th street station that was built last year. "That was my biggest goal."
He was also instrumental in getting the downtown and the Osterhout Lake stations built, and purchasing new fire equipment.
A retirement open house will be from 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 21 at the township fire station with an awards ceremony at 1 p.m. The public is invited.
The former owner of Nels' Diner joined the department in 1963. When he started, there were only six or seven men willing to battle blazes.
"It was mostly business owners," he remembers. "There was one from the hardware store, the grocery store and the gas station. Later on, we had people from Pullman Industries."
He also remembers how they used to get emergency calls.
"When I started, there were no pagers. We had a telephone operator who would plug in a cord to the fire phones and it would ring one long ring."
"There were still fire phones when I started," recalls Lee Township Assistant Fire Chief Ted Chamberlain who will be serving as interim chief upon DeWeerd's retirement. "I've worked with Nels for 26 years. When I was 15, I worked in his restaurant and would hear the fire calls. Us kids would chase them and when we went to one, I would think 'That's awesome' and I ended up joining the department when I was 18. We've had a lot of good times over the years and have accomplished a lot."
Being fire chief has been trying over the years, DeWeerd admitted.
"The worst part is the fatal fires," DeWeerd said. "About a year ago, we had four. That's really hard. There was one with a mother and young son. She ran back in to save him and got really burned. She died the next day. That about did me in."
Getting called in the middle of the night is no picnic either.
"That I won't miss," he smiles. "You'd go to a fire, get home, shower, then you can't sleep. And before you know it, it's time to go to work."
DeWeerd accepted the chief position after only a few years on the force. Juggling a fulltime job as grounds keeper with the local school, raising a family with his wife Eleanor, and overseeing a fire department that has grown to 29 members has made the years fly by.
"Fifty years went by quick," he admits. "We've had good times, we've had bad times. I tell my wife that if we get hard up, I could write a book. It'd be a best seller."
State senate bill would ban animal shelter
gas chambers in
Van Buren County Animal Control is one of four pet shelters in Michigan that may have to change the way it euthanizes animals.
Legislation co-sponsored by Sen. John Proos that would ban the use of gas chambers for the purpose of euthanizing companion animals in shelters was unanimously approved by the Michigan Senate on Thursday.
“Ideally, every cat and dog would be adopted by a caring family. Unfortunately, we cannot ensure that all pets will find homes and some animals are put down,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “Putting to sleep a family pet is a heartbreaking choice that is made easier knowing that the process will be a peaceful and pain-free one. This measure would ensure that every animal is treated in this humane way.”
Senate Bill 354 would stop the practice of euthanizing shelter animals in gas chambers.
The county shelters in Berrien, Branch, Cass and Van Buren counties are the only four shelters in Michigan that still have operating gas chambers and are using them to euthanizing animals.
“There will be no cost to these shelters for closing their gas chambers and changing to euthanasia by injection, because animal rights groups will be covering it,” Proos said. “Organizations like the Michigan Humane Society have been offering grants for a long time to the counties that still use gas chambers. These funds will be used to decommission the chambers, dispose of carbon monoxide and train staff to give the euthanasia shot.”
The use of gas chambers to euthanize small animals is regarded as a dangerous and inhumane practice and has been abandoned by most Michigan counties and at least 20 states.
The American Veterinarian Medical Association recommends euthanasia by injection because it is a more reliable, humane and cost-effective approach to euthanizing pets than gas chambers.
SB 354 was approved 37-0 in the Senate and has been sent to the Michigan House of Representatives for further consideration.
Suspects face criminal charges after police find thousands of dollars of stolen goods in their apartment
Two people from Waverly Township, who are accused of concealing thousands of dollars worth of merchandise taken from homes in five counties, have been arraigned in Seventh District Court in South Haven.
Lori Ann Evans, 34, faces a felony charge of receiving and concealing stolen property. Her bond was set at $125,000.
David Lee Evans, 26, faces a felony charge of receiving and concealing stolen property, and a charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm. His bond was set at $250,000. Both suspects are currently in Van Buren County Jail.
Van Buren County Sheriff's deputies became aware of the suspects after receiving reports of breaking and entering complaints in Osceola, Mecosta and Allegan counties. Detectives found that one of the suspects had sold some of the stolen items to an unsuspecting business in Van Buren County.
Working with several other county agencies, detectives located the suspects on Sept. 4. They were driving a 2008 Blue, four-door Hyundai in the Bangor area. When detectives stopped the car they arrested the driver, Lori Evans for receiving and concealing stolen property, and seized the vehicle. Deputies obtained a search warrant for the suspects' apartment and found firearms, electronics, jewelry and household goods believed to be stolen. They then found David Evans and arrested him.
Since the search warrants and arrests, Van Buren County Sheriff’s detectives and deputies have linked some of the stolen property to breaking and entering complaints in Osceola, Mecosta, Kent, Allegan and Van Buren counties. They are still continuing their investigation.
Dredging near South Haven's pierheads began this past weekend and is expected to continue until the end of the month.
Dredging underway in South Haven channel
Boaters should be able to navigate South Haven's harbor more easily when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers finishes dredging Lake Michigan near the pierheads.
The Corps began dredging this past weekend.
Dredge spoil will be placed south of South Beach as a beach replenishment process, according to South Haven Harbormaster Paul VandenBosch.
The project is a hydraulic dredging operation. There will be pipe extended through the
channel dredging area, which may be floating or suspended under water. Pipe will be extended from the dredging area to a beach replenishment area south of South Beach.
Boaters are asked to proceed with caution and watch for dredging equipment and pipe.
Work is expected to be completed by the end of September.
Man injured after jumping from moving van
A Bloomingdale man was airlifted to Bronson Methodist Hospital after he jumped from a moving vehicle this past weekend.
The 20-year-old man was riding in a minivan at approximately 11 p.m. on Saturday when he jumped out of the vehicle for an unknown reason, according to a Van Buren County Sheriff's report. The incident occurred at the intersection of 12th Avenue and 37th Street, in Bloomingdale Township.
The driver of the van, who was a 20-year-old male cousin, said he was driving around 40 miles per hour when the incident occurred.
The passenger struck the pavement causing a severe head laceration. He is currently listed in stable condition at Bronson.
Area hunters arrested for baiting and
Four hunters from Van Buren and Allegan counties face charges after Department of Natural Resource law enforcement officers arrested them for baiting and shooting geese.
The men are ages 44, 49, 54 and 71. Another man from Mass City, in the Upper Peninsula, also was arrested. The five men are expected to be arraigned within 10 days in Allegan District Court, according to a news release issued today by the DNR.
The incident occurred Sept. 1 near Cheshire Hills Golf Course on 102nd Ave., in Cheshire Township.
Conservation officers received a tip that corn was being placed to hunt geese prior to the start of the Sept. 1st early goose season. Officers found the corn and saw five men shoot eight geese over the baited area on the morning of Sept. 1.
The five subjects were issued appearance citations for hunting with the aid of bait. One subject was additionally cited for using toxic shot while waterfowl hunting and a second subject was cited for using a shotgun capable of firing more than three shotgun shells.
If found guilty, the men could be fined from $100-$500 as well as pay restitution for illegally shooting geese. The judge could also confiscate their firearms.
Police raid Tranquility Central; Arrest owner
Undercover police officers from Southwest Enforcement Team raided Tranquility Central store in downtown South Haven, today, and arrested the owner.
Frank Consolino, the store's owner who also is running for mayor in South Haven, faces four felony counts for delivery of marijuana.
Police say Consolino sold marijuana to undercover officers on four occasions.
Police arrested Consolino at his store this afternoon after obtaining a warrant to search the premises and two of Consolino's vehicles. Police took a number of items from the store, including files and computer equipment. They also seized the two vehicles.
Tranquility Central recently moved from 2nd Avenue to Center Street in South Haven. The store originally operated as a medical marijuana dispensary. However, dispensaries were ruled illegal. The store re-opened downtown selling a variety of clothing, posters and pipes.
Bangor city council hopes previous manager
will return to run the city
as an interim manager
By BECKY KARK
Editor and general manager
BANGOR — The search is on for a new city manager in Bangor, and council members hope to snag a leader who is quite familiar to the city — Larry Nielsen.
Nielsen is the current manager for the Village of Paw Paw, however, prior to that he had served as Bangor's city manager for seven years until leaving for the Paw Paw job in 2007.
Council members don't want to take Nielsen away from Paw Paw, but rather hire him to be an interim manager until a permanent one can be found to replace Rich Marsh, whose last day was Aug. 28.
They have authorized city attorney David Distefano to try to negotiate an agreement with the Village of Paw Paw to allow to divide his time between his current job duties and those in Bangor, for up to 90 days. According to Bangor Mayor Nick Householder, the negotiations are still ongoing.
The council has other options as well, according to recommendations made by Marsh before he left for his new job as city manager of Inkster, near Detroit.
Marsh suggested that city treasurer Lisa Imus could be hired as interim manager. Prior to coming to Bangor in May, Imus had served previously as a city manager in Allegan and assistant city manager in Grand Haven. The council could also consider requesting the state of Michigan to step in and choose an emergency manager.
The event of that is unlikely, however, because Bangor is not in dire financial straits as some municipalities — such as Detroit and Pontiac — where emergency managers have taken over administration of those cities.
Imus stated that the city council is concerned about the city's finances because of the low general fund budget balance of $112,000 and a $90,000 deficit in the city's water fund budget. The city was able to bolster the general fund balance by $80,000 this past year, but council members remain concerned.
Police release name of man who died in Lee Township
Police have released the name of a 48-year-old man who died in Lee Township this past weekend.
The man has been identified as Robert Samuel Gilmore. He did not have a permanent address, but was believed to be in various areas of southwestern Michigan since May.
Allegan County Sheriff's deputies had received a call on Saturday that Gilmore had walked onto a property in the 100 block of 54th Street and had fallen. When emergency responders arrived, they performed CPR on the man but were unable to resuscitate him.
The sheriff's department issued a description of Gilmore. A person called Sunday and told deputies that he thought he knew who the deceased person was. Deputies followed up on the tip, and identified Gilmore through fingerprints.
An autopsy was conducted at Sparrow Hospital in Lansing, which indicates Gilmore died by natural causes, pending results of a toxicology report.
The sheriff's office is still looking for information as to the details surrounding Gilmore's arrival at the 54th Street address and his connection to the area. Any one with information is asked to call the Allegan County Sheriff's Office at 269-673-0500 or Silent Observer.
Bloomingdale man arrested for driving motorcycle under the influence
A motorcyclist faces criminal charges after police found him to be operating under the influence of narcotics.
Van Buren County sheriff's deputies arrested the 42-year-old Bloomingdale at 8 p.m., Monday after noticing that he was driving his Harley Davidson bike erratically in the Village of Bloomingdale.
They stopped the man at West and Rumery streets after he pulled into a driveway. The motorcyclist told deputies he had taken morphine, vicodin, flexeril and other medications. Deputies searched the man and found he had small amounts of heroin, methamphetime and marijuana, as well. He was arrested and taken to Van Buren County Jail. The report is being forwarded to the prosecutor's office for formal charges.
Natural gas pipelines to be replaced near South Haven
Beginning this week, TransCanada crews will begin construction efforts to replace two natural gas pipelines in Geneva Township.
As part of a maintenance program, the company will replace two pipes, which are 22 and 30 inches in diameter. The pipes, which are located by 64th Street, north of County Road 388, cross the eastern part of the South Haven Family Campground.
They are part of the ANR Pipeline Company’s system that has been serving Michigan and the Midwest since the 1950s.
TransCanada, which owns the ANR Pipeline System, has been delivering large volumes of natural gas to utilities and end-users for more than 60 years, according to George Chukwu, a project manager for TransCanada.
“In order to minimize our impact on camping activities, we are beginning the bulk of the construction after the holiday,” Chukwu said. “Our land representatives have been working with the campground to ensure the construction process inconveniences campers and the public as little as possible.”
Residents in the area will notice construction equipment and a large pipe yard in the area. A staging site will be located east of the intersection of 64th Street and north of County Road 388. The construction process involves excavating two sections of pipe that are approximately 1,860 feet long. New pipe will be strung, welded and lowered into place and tested. The entire construction process is expected to be completed by the end of November, weather permitting. The pipe replacement project is required by the Department of Transportation due to an increase in population density.
For several months, TransCanada land representatives have informed local businesses and residents of the impending construction. “We’ve spent some time working with the South Haven Family Campground because we will be excavating just east of existing camp sites,” said Chris Doxsee, a land representative for TransCanada. “We’ve taken precautions to limit the impact from the construction zone by adding fencing, silt fence and barriers for traffic control. However, it’s still a construction zone and we are asking campers and the general public to be patient with our efforts during this time.”
In addition to the construction near the campground there will be some temporary traffic control measures which include a reduction in the overall traffic speed along County Road 388. TransCanada has worked with county officials to develop a traffic plan to ease congestion and will flag personnel and construction entrances on the roadways to help motorists navigate the area safely.
Police bust two meth labs in Gobles
Three people from the Gobles area are under investigation after police found two meth labs last night in two separate incidents.
The first incident occurred at 9:10 p.m. at Exchange and Glover streets.
Deputies stopped a vehicle driven by a 53-year-old Gobles area man for several traffic violations. They searched the vehicle and found a one-pot methamphetamine container and gas generators used in making the product.
The other bust occurred at 10 p.m. at a residence in the 300 block of E. Main St.
Deputies were called to the home after receiving a report of a domestic assault. However, when they arrived the 24-year-old male had left the residence. When speaking to the 29-year-old woman, she appeared to be under the influence of meth. Deputies were allowed to search the home and found several one-pot meth vessels and gas generators in the garage. They also found other components used to make meth. Because there was a two-year-old child at the residence, Child Protective Services was called and removed the toddler from the home.
Both incidents are being reviewed by the prosecutor's office.
Elderly woman drowns in Van Auken lake
An autopsy is being performed today on a 76-year-old Illinois woman who apparently drowned in Van Auken Lake in Bangor Township.
Van Buren County Sheriff's deputies were dispatched to the lake shortly before 3 a.m. Monday morning and performed CPR on the victim but were unable to resuscitate her.
The woman, who was suffering from Dementia and Alzheimer's Disease, had been staying with her son when the incident occurred. The son told deputies he had gone to bed around 10 p.m., Sunday. He got up around 2 a.m. to check on his mother, but she was missing. He found her in the water a short time later and call 911. The incident is under investigation, but deputies believe at this point there is nothing suspicious about the drowning.
Police receive tip about identity of man who died in Lee Township Labor Day weekend
Police are in the process of trying to confirm the identity of a man who died in Lee Township, this past weekend.
The man was found shortly before 1 p.m., Saturday, on property in the 100 block of 54th Street, according to a news release from the Allegan County Sheriff's Department.
Deputies were told the man had walked onto the property before falling in the yard.
When emergency responders arrived they tried to resuscitate him but were unsuccessful. The man was identified as a white, middle-age white man with several tattoos.
He had been barefoot, so deputies thought he had not walked far from where he was staying.
On Sunday, a tipster identified the man. The information he gave, as well as a photo from the Secretary of State was sent to Sparrow Hospital morgue to confirm the man's identity through fingerprints. At this time foul play is not suspected.
Swimming ban lifted
South Haven city officials has received the all-clear signal to lift the swimming bans from five of its six beaches.
Today, the Van Buren/Cass Public Health Department conducted tests of the surface water on Lake Michigan and determined that E. coli bacteria levels had returned to an acceptable level.
The health department issued the swimming advisory Wednesday after tests done on Tuesday showed higher-than-normal bacteria levels in the water.
The only beach that remained open yesterday was South Beach. Now all of the beaches are open.
The health department will continue testing the water between now and Labor Day to ensure that bacteria levels are within the accepted range.
Health department advises people not to swim at most South Haven beaches; South Beach swimming still allowed
South Haven city officials are advising swimmers to stay out of Lake Michigan at North Beach and five other beach access points, due to higher-than-normal levels of E. coli bacteria.
Van Buren/Cass District Health Department tested the water at all of the city's beaches on Tuesday and found six of the seven to be in violation of the state's surface water quality standards.
South Beach is the only beach that remains open to swimmers.
The health department will conduct tests again on Thursday.
This is the third time this summer that South Haven beaches have had higher-than-normal levels of E. coli bacteria.
City officials attribute the problem to the excessive amount of rainfall the area has experienced this summer. Each of the beach closures have happened after a significant rainfall has occurred.
“We've had zero sanitary sewer overflows this summer,” said City Manager Brian Dissette. “Our best guess is it (E. coli problem) is tied to the rainfall. Anything that gets into the river – dirt, fertilizer – will travel along to the lake.”
Decorated state police officer dies from injuries suffered in car crash
By BECKY KARK
Editor and general manager
DECATUR — A Michigan State trooper lost his life this morning after he suffered critical injuries in a single-car accident this past week.
Motor Carrier Officer Dennis Myers passed away shortly after midnight, this morning, at Bronson Methodist Hospital in Kalamazoo. Myers, 38, who served the Michigan State Police Paw Paw post, is survived by his wife, Tania, and two sons. He was very involved in the community and was a longtime member of the Michigan Flywheelers Museum in South Haven.
" This is so tragic," said Michigan Flywheelers Museum president Patrick Ingalls. "Dennis was a lifetime member of our organization and was a pleasure to work with. He was a very devoted father and loved to take his boys for rides on his tractor when they were at our show."
A website has been established to help Myers' family deal with medical bills. It can be accessed at http://www.giveforward.com/search/?query=dennis+myers.
A goal of $5,000 has been set. Family and friends have already contributed enough funds for 30 percent of the goal.
Myers was critically injured in an off-duty accident that occurred at approximately 11:30 p.m., Aug. 19 on CR 352, near Decatur. He had been on medical leave after undergoing a hernia operation.
The accident occurred when his car left the roadway and overturned.
State police are not sure why his Honda Civic left the roadway.
“The cause of the collision is that the right tires went off the right shoulder of the roadway prior to the loss of control,” said Lt. Dale Hinz, commander of the Paw Paw state police post. “ Why that occurred we might never know since we weren't able to interview Dennis and there were no witnesses.”
When emergency medical personnel arrived at the accident scene, Myers was in cardiac arrest. Paramedics were able to reestablish a pulse at the scene prior to transporting him, however, he had to be put on life support at the hospital.
“Officer Myers’ organs were donated through the Gift of Life that some good might come from this tragedy,” said Paw Paw post commander Lt. Dale Hinz.
Myers was recognized for his outstanding achievements in 2010 when he was honored as the Michigan State Police Motor Carrier Officer of the Year. The award, sponsored by the Michigan Trucking Association, recognizes the MSP Motor Carrier Officer who symbolizes outstanding professional ethics, dedication to duty and concern for giving back to his/her community. Myers joined the department in 2001, and was first assigned to the Bridgman Post. He transferred to the Paw Paw Post in 2007.
Woman injured when her car hits bank wall
A car slammed into the marble wall of Chemical Bank this morning, causing its driver to suffer minor injuries.
The incident occurred shortly before 8 a.m. today. The woman was headed north on Center Street and attempted to turn west on Phoenix Street toward Lake Michigan when her vehicle overshot the turn, landed on the sidewalk and hit the bank's front wall.
Police did not release the woman's name. They said she apparently had suffered a medical issue. She was taken to South Haven Health System with minor injuries. A portion of the bank's marble wall was damaged from the accident, as well.
National Weather Service
urges swimmers to avoid
Lake Michigan today
The National Weather Service is warning swimmers to stay out of Lake Michigan today until 6 p.m.
High waves and rip currents could make swimming very dangerous in the South Haven area today, according to the weather service's beach hazards warning.
Southwest winds of 15-20 knots will continue this afternoon, creating waves of three to five feet. South facing piers and break walls will be susceptible to strong structural currents. Additionally longshore currents along the shore line are expected as well as rip currents.
The beach hazards warning extends from St. Joseph to Manistee.
Woman dies in one-car accident in Covert Township
Speed is believed to be a factor in a one-car accident that claimed a woman's life in Covert Township.
Van Buren County Sheriff's deputies say a passerby reported the accident at 6:06 a.m., today, in the 78000 block of 48th Avenue.
The driver of the 1996 Pontiac Grand Am, a Coloma Township woman in her 40s, had already died when the passerby noticed the crash, the sheriff's news release stated.
Police think the driver had been traveling too fast on 48th Avenue, which is a gravel road in the 78000 block.
The name of the victim is not being released yet until family are notified. The crash is under investigation. Investigators will wait for results of a toxicology report to see if alcohol or controlled substances were a factor in the crash.
State trooper in critical condition following
rollover crash in Decatur
A Michigan State Police officer remains in critical condition, today, after he suffered critical injuries in a car accident late Monday evening, in Decatur.
Motor carrier officer Dennis Myers was off-duty when the accident occurred at 11:30 p.m. on County Road 352 near Delta Drive, according to a State Police news release.
Myers was westbound on CR 352 when his Honda Civic went off the right shoulder of the roadway. He apparently over-corrected his vehicle, which crossed the centerline, and veered off onto the left shoulder before overturning.
According to the news release, Myers suffered cardiac arrest at the scene. Emergency medical personnel were able to reestablish a pulse at the scene prior to taking him to Bronson Hospital in Kalamazoo.
Myers was wearing his seatbelt at the time of the crash.
Myers was recognized for his outstanding achievements in 2010 when he was honored as the Michigan State Police Motor Carrier Officer of the Year. He joined the department in 2001, and was first assigned to the Bridgman Post. He transferred to the Paw Paw Post in 2007 where he currently serves.
Jake Simmons and the Little Ghosts will perform at a benefit concert Friday at Black River Tavern, corner of Kalamazoo and Phoenix streets, in South Haven.
Benefit concert planned to help critically ill South Haven man
A benefit concert will raise funds for a South Haven area man suffering from an acute lung condition.
The concert for Jerrod Smith is scheduled at 9 p.m., Friday, at Black River Tavern in South Haven. Smith is listed in critical condition at the University of Michigan Health System in Ann Arbor. He is suffering a series of complications, including viral pneumonia and ARDS following an accident he was involved in recently.
A friend of Smith's, Bret Self, who is helping to organize the concert, said he will match donations up to a maximum of $500. The concert will be performed by Jake Simmons and the Little Ghosts.
SH man recovering from parachuting accident
A South Haven man is recovering from injuries he sustained in a parachuting accident, Friday, in Barry County.
Russell Webb, 40, is listed in fair condition, today, at Spectrum Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids, according to hospital spokeswoman Melissa Kamara Liggins. “That is great news,” Liggins said.
Webb had traveled Friday to Hastings, Friday, afternoon to skydive. He and four other skydivers were aboard an airplane operated by Skydive Hastings. Webb was the first to jump, according to a Michigan State Police report. While descending he was in radio contact with an instructor, who was on the ground. After Webb was told to make several turns, he began to circle and then spiraled out of control. His parachute did open, however, when he struck the ground, the impact caused him to lose consciousness.
Webb was airlifted to Spectrum-Butterworth by Aeromed. Police notified the Federal Aviation Administration of the accident.
Men arrested after deputies find cocaine in vehicle
Two men face criminal charges after police found open intoxicants and drugs in the vehicle they were driving in on Monday in South Haven Township.
Van Buren County Sheriff's department reports that the arrest was made at 2:50 p.m., on Phoenix Road near Interstate 196.
Deputies stopped a 2000 Pontiac Bonneville driven by a 31-year-old man from the Gobles area. The driver allowed deputies to search the vehicle. They found .2 grams of cocaine, 1.5 grams of marijuana, a drug scale and an open bottle of vodka. The driver was arrested for driving with a suspended license, possession of cocaine, transporting open intoxicants in a motor vehicle and improperly transporting medical marijuana. The passenger, a 33-year-old South Haven area man, was arrested for possession of open intoxicants in a motor vehicle.
Both men were taken to Van Buren County Jail. Deputies also seized $100 under the civil forfeiture act.
Photo by Andrew Lersten
Experimental plane crashes onto Covert beach injuring the pilot and passenger
An experimental light sport craft plane crashed onto Covert Township Beach along Lake Michigan early this afternoon, injuring both the pilot and his passenger. The pilot, an Elkhart man, sustained a broken leg and his passenger, a teenage boy who was a family friend, had minor injuries. The pilot was taken to South Haven Health System and later transported by helicopter to a Kalamazoo hospital due to the extent of the injuries his leg suffered in the accident.
South Beach reopens for swimmers
After a week of being closed due to higher-than-normal E. coli bacteria content, the South Beach in South Haven reopened to swimmers on Friday. The Van Buren/Cass County Health Department closed the beach on Aug. 8 after E. coli bacteria counts exceeded state standards.
Bangor man’s body pulled from Cass County lake
By JULIE SWIDWA
HP Staff Writer
DOWAGIAC — Police are investigating the death of a Bangor man whose body was pulled from Indian Lake Wednesday night.
The Cass County Sheriff’s Department identifi ed him as Steven Crans, 58. He was pulled from the southwest side of Indian Lake in Silver Creek Township about 8:45 p.m. in an area off M-62. The spot is several miles west of Dowagiac. Nearby residents from along Forest Beach Road called police after they found the man’s body in the water.
Homeowners told police they had seen the man fishing from a boat in the lake earlier in the evening and at some point noticed that his boat was still there but he was not in it. Some of the residents went out to the boat and saw his body in the water, police said in a news release.
Marine division Deputy Clint Roach said an autopsy will be done. Until results are known, he said, police are not calling it a drowning. He said Crans’ body was found floating at the lake surface a couple of feet from his boat. He estimated the lake depth to be about 15 feet.
Roach said Crans was not known to be visiting anyone in the immediate area and likely had used a public boating access to the lake.
Cass County deputies were assisted by Pride Care ambulance and Indian Lake Fire Department.
Van Buren County horse dies from Eastern Equine Encephalitis
State Veterinarian urges
owners to vaccinate horses
Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) State Veterinarian Dr. James Averill today confirmed the first case this year of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) in a 12-year-old grade mare from Van Buren County. The only Michigan case of EEE last year was in an eight-week-old puppy from the same county.
“This horse was never vaccinated against EEE and died after she developed severe swelling of the brain, her clinical signs were stumbling, depression, and blindness,” said Dr. James Averill. “Horse owners in Michigan’s southwestern counties should be especially aware of the risk and take extra measures to protect their animals.”
The highest concentration of the disease has historically been in Southwestern Michigan. Since MDARD began tracking the disease in 1980, Barry County has had 27 cases, Calhoun County: 22 cases; Cass County: 46; Kalamazoo County: 44; St. Joseph County: 59; and Van Buren County has had 26 EEE cases.
EEE is a zoonotic, viral disease, transmitted by mosquitoes to both horses and people, but also other animals. Other animals include, but are not limited to, birds such as pheasants, emu, ostriches, quail, and ducks, and the disease occasionally occurs in other animals such as reptiles, amphibians, and the puppy last year.
“In 2010, statewide there were 56 cases of EEE, and since then the cases have steadily declined - more than likely because Michigan veterinarians encourage EEE vaccinations as part of the spring horse vaccination protocol,” Averill said. “Vaccinating at any time against the virus is encouraged, even this late in the year.”
Mosquito management is vital in the prevention of EEE in horses. Owners should eliminate standing water by properly discarding old tires, filling ruts and pot holes, and removing water from tarps, pool covers, and other items where it may collect.
Changing water in bowls, buckets, troughs, bird baths, and wading pools at least once each week, especially during the warmer weeks of late summer, are just a few simple steps to prevent mosquito-borne illnesses.
Additional practices to reduce mosquito exposure include:
• If you are able, keep pets indoors from dusk till dawn, when mosquitoes are out in full force.
• Horses can also be stabled during times when mosquitoes are most active. Placing fans to blow in stalls and on stabled horses will also help keep mosquitoes from landing and feeding.
• Finally, products are available to repel or kill fleas, ticks, mosquitoes, and biting flies from dogs and cats, repellent sprays are available for livestock, and a vaccine against EEE is available for horses.
• Owners should consult a veterinarian on specific products and usage.
Pier Cove beach open to swimmers
Swimmers are now allowed to go into Lake Michigan at Pier Cove Park in Ganges Township.
The beach was closed to swimmers on Tuesday and Wednesday after Allegan County Health Department determined the E. coli bacteria count was higher-than-normal.
Testing was done on Wednesday and today the swimming ban was lifted.
SH area woman dies in head-on crash; Watervliet woman critically injured
A South Haven area woman died Tuesday in a head-on collision on M-140 Highway, in Covert Township. The driver of the second vehicle remains in critical condition at Borgess Hospital, in Kalamazoo.
Odessa McKeller, 70, was pronounced dead at the scene of the collision, which occurred at 3:15 p.m. between 26th and 28th avenues, according to Mark Cleveland, Covert Township fire chief. She was driving a 1999 Oldsmobile. Roberta Becker, 71, of Watervliet, who was driving a 2011 Chevy Impala, was critically injured. Both women had to be extricated from their vehicles. Becker was airlifted from the accident scene to Borgess.
A third vehicle, a 2001 Ford F-150, was also involved, but its driver, whose name is not being released, did not suffer injuries.
Police do not yet know how the accident occurred. A team of investigators from the Van Buren County Sheriff's Department, is reconstructing the accident scene, but has not yet released its findings.
An Air Care helicopter gets ready to land onto M-140 Highway to transport one of the accident victims to Bronson Methodist Hospital, in Kalamazoo.
One person dies in head-on crash today in Covert Twp.
A two-car, head-on collision took the life of one of its victims and very seriously injured another one Tuesday afternoon in Covert Township.
The accident occurred shortly before 3:30 p.m. on M-140 Highway, between 26th and 28th streets, according to a Van Buren County Sheriff's news release.
Witnesses indicated the accident involved a green-colored car and a white-colored car.
A South Haven Area Emergency Services rescue worker stated that one person died at the scene of the accident and that another one was expected to be taken to Bronson Hospital by Air Care helicopter.
No further information is available at this time.
Accident closes portion of M-140 Hwy. in Covert Twp.
Michigan 140 Highway is closed between 26th and 28th avenues in Covert Township, due to a traffic accident.
Van Buren County Sheriff's Department is asking motorists to avoid the area and seek alternate routes.
A sheriff's department advisory indicated the crash is “bad” and that “numerous” police, fire and medical trucks are at the scene.
More information will follow when it becomes available.
Swimming advisory issued for Pier Cove beach
Pier Cove beach in Ganges Township is closed to swimmers due to higher-than-normal amounts of E. coli bacteria.
The Allegan County Health Department issued a public health advisory today after it tested the waters of Lake Michigan near the beach and found higher-than-normal concentrations of the E. coli bacteria.
Beach-goers should stay out of the water. The Allegan County Health Department will continue to monitor these locations; when the water quality meets Michigan’s Water Quality Standard the public health advisory will be lifted and the signs removed.
Weather service urges swimmers to stay out of Lake Michigan today, Wednesday
The National Weather Service is warning swimmers to stay out of the waters of Lake Michigan today and Wednesday.
High waves and the possibility of rip currents will persist throughout today and Wednesday, and there may be a slight possibility of water spouts forming on the lake.
North Beach, South Beach, Covert Township beach, Deer Lick beach and Van Buren State Park are all affected by the warning.
North winds of 15-25 miles per hour are expected to continue on Lake Michigan through tonight. Waves of 3-6 feet can be expected in most areas with higher waves possible in the South Haven area this afternoon. Strong structural currents are expected on the north side of the North Pier in South Haven.
South Haven Twp. man injured after truck goes into river
A South Haven Township man was taken to South Haven Health System, Friday afternoon after his truck ran off the road and went into the Black River.
Van Buren County Sheriff's deputies say that Lewis Geits, 53, was eastbound on County Road 388 near 70th Street when his Ford F150 ran off the road, struck a guard rail and then went airborne, over the river, and hit an embankment. His vehicle then rolled back into the river, where it came to a stop.
The vehicle became completely submerged. Geits was able to exit the vehicle and swim to shore and was coherent for emergency responders.
Deputies think Geits may have suffered from a possible medical problem.
Alcohol was not a factor in the incident. Geits, however, was issued a misdemeanor citation for a driving with a suspended license. He is currently in stable condition at South Haven Health System.
Health Department lifts swimming ban at most
South Haven city beaches
A swimming ban continues this weekend at South Haven's South Beach due to higher-than-normal levels of the E. coli bacteria.
Van Buren County Health Department closed all of South Haven's seven public beaches to swimming on Thursday. However, after testing the waters of Lake Michigan this morning, the ban has been lifted at North Beach, Woodman Beach, Dyckman Beach, Packard Park, Oak Street Beach, and Newcome Beach.
Health Department workers will next test South Beach on Tuesday, Aug. 13.
People can still go to all of the beaches, however, they should avoid contact with the water at South Beach.
7 injured in car crash in
South Haven Township
Seven people were injured in a two-car accident this morning in South Haven Township.
Emergency responders arrived at 9:18 a.m. at the accident, which occurred at the intersection of M-140 Highway and Blue Star Memorial Highway, according to a news release from South Haven Police.
Two SUVs were involved in the crash.
Three adults and four children suffered minor injuries and were taken to South Haven Health System.
No further information is available at this time.
As of 9:45 a.m. police are asking motorists to avoid driving in the area of M-140 Highway and Blue Star Highway in South Haven Township due to a two-car accident in which a number of people have been injured.
South Haven Police Department, Van Buren County Sheriff's Department and Michigan State Police, as well as fire and ambulance crews are on the scene. No further information is available at this time.
Health department warns swimmers to stay out
of the water at South Haven public beaches
South Haven city officials are warning swimmers to stay out of the water at all seven of the city's public beaches on Lake Michigan.
The advisory is being issued because testing by the Van Buren/Cass County District Public Health Department indicates that E. coli bacteria levels exceed normal standards.
Another set of samples will be taken on Friday to determine if the advisory should continue.
City officials say that the heavy rainfall that occurred on Wednesday probably contributed to the high level of E. coli bacteria that drained into the lake from rivers and streams.
The Van Buren County Environmental Health Division is advising the public to avoid body contact with the surface water at the City of South Haven's bathing beach areas on Lake Michigan.
Flood advisory issued for
Van Buren County
Area residents woke up to thunderstorms this morning that have dropped more than 2 inches of rain in various sections of Van Buren County. The heavy rain has prompted the National Weather Service to issue a flood advisory for Van Buren County until 12:30 p.m. today. Areas that are expected to experience minor flooding include South Haven, Bangor, Decatur, Paw Paw, Almena, Armstrong Corners, Berlamont, Mentha, Teapot Dome and Toquin. Bangor has already received more than 2.5 inches of rainfall, which caused the parking lot and the overflow pit (above) at Pri-Mar Petroleum to flood.
Recently hired Bangor
city manager may be
moving on to a new job
By BECKY KARK
Editor and general manager
It appears Bangor City Council will soon be looking for another city manager.
After serving as the city's administrative leader for two months, Richard Marsh has been offered a job to become the new city manager of Inkster, near Detroit.
“Nothing is official yet,” Marsh said at Monday's city council meeting. “We're in the middle of negotiations.”
Shortly after becoming city manager of Bangor, Marsh said he received a call about the job in Inkster. If he were to sign a contract, Marsh said his salary would increase. Currently, he is being paid $59,000.
“When they offered me the job I literally couldn't sleep for two days,” Marsh said, regarding his decision whether to stay in Bangor or move.
If he is to take the job in Inkster, Marsh's replacement will face a number of challenges in Bangor.
The city council still needs to determine whether to build a new police station or renovate the current one, which was damaged by a fire in 2010; the council has to decide how to eliminate a $90,000 deficit in the water fund budget; and it needs to establish a better working relationship with the Downtown Development Authority, which recently mediated a lawsuit it had filed against the city alleging that city leaders spent DDA funds without DDA members' approval.
Despite the obstacles still facing city leaders, Marsh feels optimistic about Bangor's future.
“We've set up a good budget, we are working with the DDA and we recently had a goal-setting session that went very well,” he said.
Although Marsh did submit a resignation, the council will not act on it until he decides whether to take the job in Inkster, according to Mayor Nick Householder.
“We'll know by the next city council meeting (Aug. 19) whether he will be leaving,” Householder said.
The mayor admitted it may be hard to replace Marsh, who has more than two decades of experience in municipal management.
“We told Rich to dig down deep and see what he wants to do,” Householder said. “I know we can't compete against a bigger city. We've put a band-aid on the hemorrhaging,” he continued regarding issues the city has faced recently. “We want the wounds to heal and not have the band-aid fall off.”
Two people injured in accident
Two people from Florida suffered injuries after their truck collided with another one, Sunday, in Geneva Township.
Ma Jimenez, 33, of Labelle, Fla., and her 16-year-old passenger, also from Labelle, were taken to South Haven Health System following the accident, which occurred at 7 p.m. at the intersection of County Road 384 and 62nd St.
According to a Van Buren County Sheriff's report, Jimenez was headed west on CR 384. She told deputies she stopped at the intersection but failed to see a vehicle driving on 62nd Street.
The driver of the vehicle, Michael Cornejo, 34, of Bangor, was traveling north on 62nd Street in a 2003 pickup, when his truck collided with the 2002 pickup driven by Jimenez. Cornejo was not injured.
Jimenez was cited for failure to yield.
South Haven Emergency Services provided assistance at the accident scene.
Swimming ban lifted at beach
Pier Cove Beach in Ganges Township is now open to swimmers, Allegan Public Health Department announced today.
The Lake Michigan beach was closed to swimmers Tuesday when tests showed the E. coli bacteria count was too high and could be harmful for people who entered the water.
Tests taken Wednesday afternoon showed that the bacteria count has gone down to an acceptable level.
Pullman woman in stable condition after vehicle crashes into tree
A 42-year-old Pullman woman is listed in stable condition today after she was airlifted from an accident that occurred in Bloomingdale Township, Monday.
The single-car crash occurred at 12:40 p.m. in the 45000 block of County Road 388. Van Buren County deputies say the woman was traveling eastbound on CR 388, crossed the center line and went off the roadway, striking a large tree.
The impact of the collision caused the woman's Ford Taurus to land upside down trapping her inside. Bloomingdale and Pine Grove fire department workers extricated the woman with the “jaws of life.” She suffered a broken leg, multiple lacerations and a large cut on her head. She was taken to Bronson Methodist Hospital in Kalamazoo.
Police are not yet releasing the name of the woman or saying, yet, why she went off the roadway.
Alcohol is not believed to be a factor in the accident.
Health Department issues health warning for Pier Cove beach in Allegan County
Pier Cove beach in Allegan County is temporarily closed to swimmers because of a higher-than-normal level of E. coli bacteria, according to a news release from the Allegan County Health Department.
The department warns people to avoid total body contact with the surface water at Pier Cove beach, located on Lakeshore Drive, in Ganges Township. Signs have been posted at the beach to warn swimmers.
The health department will continue to monitor the E. coli level. When the water quality meets Michigan water quality standard, the swimming ban will be lifted and the signs removed.
Beach advisory warning in effect for Lake Michigan beaches in Van Buren and Allegan County
The National Weather Service has issued a beach advisory warning until 8 p.m., Wednesday, for beaches that extend from St. Joseph to Whitehall, including North Beach, South Beach, Van Buren State Park, and Covert Township Park – all in Van Buren County; and Westside Park in Allegan County.
Wind gusts of 21-29 miles per hour from the north are expected to create high waves, strong longshore currents and the possibility of rip currents, especially on North Beach, according to the warning.
Swimmers are warned to stay out of the water.
“High wave action alone can make swimming difficult on days such as this,” the warning state. “Incoming waves in rapid succession can tire a swimmer quickly.”
The National Weather Service pointed out that in South Haven high winds bring about structural currents that form along piers where longshore currents and wave action flow into the structure, which can sweep swimmers offshore along the pier structure.
Longshore current move parallel to shore and can prevent swimmers from being able to keep their feet on the lake bottom, thus making it difficult for swimmers to return to shore.
2012 drunk driving audit shows increases in impaired driving deaths, injuries
More people died from alcohol- and drug-related driving in Michigan in 2012, according to an annual state analysis, but a five-year picture shows an overall decline, with alcohol involvement decreasing more rapidly than drug involvement.
According to the 2012 Michigan Drunk Driving Audit, traffic deaths resulting from alcohol- and/or drug-related crashes jumped 7.2 percent, from 319 in 2011 to 342 in 2012, while injuries increased from 6,086 to 6,177. Drug involvement in traffic fatalities increased 6.3 percent, from 127 deaths in 2011 to 135 in 2012, while alcohol involvement climbed 2.6 percent, from 274 to 281. Seventy-four deaths involved both alcohol and drugs and were counted in each category.
County statistics for 2012 show that four people died from alcohol- and drug-related accidents in 2012 in Van Buren County, while one died in Allegan County. In 2011, one person died from alcohol- and drug-related accidents in Van Buren, while four died in Allegan County.
“Although 2012 saw increases in impaired driving deaths and injuries, the overall trend in Michigan is a positive one,” said Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue, director of the Michigan State Police (MSP). “Officers in Michigan have been and will continue to make impaired driving enforcement a priority.”
The increases come after dramatic drops in all categories in 2011, Etue went on to say. “It should be noted deaths involving alcohol and/or drugs have fallen by 9.8 percent over the past five years,” he said. “Alcohol-involved traffic deaths have decreased by 11.4 percent since 2008, while drug-involved deaths have declined by 3.6 percent.”
The Drunk Driving Audit is an annual report issued by the MSP Criminal Justice Information Center and is a collaborative effort between MSP and the Michigan Department of State.
“While the overall decline in injuries and deaths over the last five years is encouraging, the 2012 report shows we must be vigilant and continue to educate drivers about the dangers of driving while under the influence of alcohol and drugs,” said Secretary of State Ruth Johnson. “Law enforcement does an exceptional job and our driver education partners are doing everything they can to educate drivers-but it’s going to take all of us working together to save lives and make our roads safe.”
In 2012, officers made 37,182 alcohol- and drug-related driving arrests. Male drivers were nearly three times as likely as female drivers to be arrested for impaired driving, with 27,606 men arrested compared to 9,576 women. There were 36,322 persons convicted of operating under the influence of liquor or other impaired driving offenses. Some of these convictions include arrests made in prior years.
The 2012 Drunk Driving Audit includes county-specific information and is available at Michigan.gov/drunkdrivingaudit.
Genetski plans to meet with constituents, Saturday
Area residents will have a chance to meet with state Rep. Bob Genetski, when he schedules office hours, Saturday, in Pullman.
“No appointment is necessary and I welcome everyone to come in for a talk,” said Genetski, R-Saugatuck. “I’m here to listen to ideas or whatever else is on people’s minds for the future of Michigan, help with state department inquiries or just say hello.”
Genetski will meet with constituents from 10 a.m.-11 a.m., at Lee Township fire hall, 77 56th St.
People unable to attend an office hour meeting can contact him toll free at 855-737-0080 or by email, BobGenetski@house.mi.gov.
Teen injured when two personal watercraft devices collide
A teenager suffered injuries Sunday after his personal watercraft device collided with another one on Duck Lake in Cheshire Township.
Allegan County Sheriff's office reported that the incident occurred around 3:30 p.m. Two personal watercraft devices, driven by 15-year-old siblings from the Wayland area, were running in circles in the lake when one turned in front of the other. When that happened one of the operators shut down the engine, however, both collided and the other operator was thrown into the water. Another person in a small watercraft went to the crash and pulled the boy out of the water. The minor who was injured was taken to Allegan General Hospital for treatment.
Both teens were cited for watercraft and marine violations.
Bangor woman dies in car crash
A Bangor woman died in a car crash Friday on M-43 Highway near 40th Street in Waverly Township.
Michigan State Police from the Paw Paw post said Betty Horton, 83, died at the scene.
Police have not yet provided names of people in other vehicles involved, but said they were taken to Bronson Methodist Hospital in Kalamazoo for treatment of injuries that did not appear to be life-threatening.
According to police, Horton was traveling west on M-43 when her vehicle crossed the center line into oncoming traffic, striking an eastbound vehicle causing it to run off the road. Horton's car then hit another eastbound vehicle head-on, police said. Troopers said they did not know why Horton's car crossed the center line.
South Haven Police to swimmers: Stay out of the water
After rescuing six swimmers from the South Beach area today, South Haven Police Department and South Haven Area Emergency Services are asking beachgoers to stay out of the water until conditions become more calm.
Beach warning flags now indicate “Water Closed,” police say, which means that swimmers need to stay out of the water, because of the high waves.
Currently, six to eight-foot waves are rolling over the South and North piers. The high winds the area is experiencing today are causing dangerous currents for swimmers.
Police say swimmers need to stay out of the water until the beach warnings flags have been downgraded from their current status of “Water Closed.”
School district mourns loss of assistant principal
By BECKY KARK
Editor and general manager
South Haven Public Schools is mourning the untimely death, Thursday, of Nathan Luna, who had been the district's assistant high school principal.
“It just breaks my heart,” said Janet Lynam, a central office administrative assistant.
“We're all very heart broken,” said Lynne Maxwell, a Baseline Middle School teacher.
Luna died Thursday evening from a boating accident on Lake Michigan in Laketown Township.
Michigan State Police say Luna, 34, of Holland, had been in a boat with three children in approximately three feet of water when he either jumped or dove out of the boat shortly before 6 p.m.
He then was unable to swim and his 6-year-old daughter pulled him to shore. From there friends and family, who were on shore, began CPR and called 911. Further medical support was provided at the scene by emergency responders, who then took Luna to Holland Hospital. He died at 7:14 p.m.
State police are still trying to sort out the cause of Luna's drowning.
State police ordered an autopsy, today, which showed that Luna suffered a fractured neck when he went into the water.
“It appears he went into the water head first,” said Detective Sgt. Matt Doan. "We're not sure why he jumped into the water head first. He may have slipped in the boat and then went in."
Luna had been assistant principal at South Haven High School since 2010. His position was eliminated in June due to budget cuts. He had an opportunity to return to a teaching position or find an administrative job elsewhere, but had not yet made a decision, according to district superintendent Bob Herrera.
A memorial service is scheduled at 9 a.m., Monday, at Black River Park on Dunkley Street. A group of volunteers is making paper origami boats that students will release into the water in memory of Luna.
Pure Michigan guide produced in Iowa
creates a flap
State official, local visitor's bureau director respond
By TRIBUNE STAFF
A state agency's decision to outsource the “Pure Michigan” travel guide to an out-of-state firm has some people scratching their head and wondering why.
The Associated Press reported this past week that the staff for Pure Michigan Travel Guide works for Meredith Corp., the parent company of Midwest Living magazine in Des Moines, Iowa. The guide is part of the Pure Michigan campaign, overseen by the Michigan Economic Development Corp., the Traverse City Record-Eagle reported.
MEDC spokesperson Michelle Begnoche said Midwest Living offered “the best value for the price” and “we got the most out of it.” The contract includes editorial production, design, printing and partial distribution of three seasonal issues of the travel guide. The guide, though is printed in Michigan.
“We look at Michigan companies, we work very hard to work with Michigan companies, but we want to make sure the product we're delivering is consistent and has the quality and the distribution,” Begnoche said.
Lisa Shanley, executive director of the South Haven/Van Buren Convention and Visitors Bureau and the past-president of the Michigan Association of CVBs, defended the MEDC's decision to choose Midwest Living Magazine to produce the guide.
“Due to its rich content and distribution strength, this guide ranks in the top three media lead sources for visitors who want to vacation to Van Buren County,” she said. “In terms of audience reach, one of the key advantages to working with Meredith Corp. on this project is that of the 1 million guides that are produced, over half are poly-wrapped with the March/April issue of Midwest Living Magazine. This exposure is possible because of the large Midwest Living subscriber base.”
The MEDC in the future might consider breaking down the production bid, or awarding a Michigan magazine oversight of editorial content, the Associated Press reported.
“If someone presented that in their bid to us, it's something we'd consider in the review process,” she said.
Photo by Becky Kark
Like many people today, Olivia Morrison of Bangor spent the day at South Beach in South Haven, playing in the sand and the water. Temperatures are in the mid-90s and the heat is expected to continue for the next few days.
Health department warns people to protect themselves from extreme heat
The Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) urges residents to protect themselves against the extreme heat forecast this week with a few simple health precautions. The department is particularly worried about older adults, infants and children, people with certain medical conditions, those who work in hot environments, and athletes.
Any time temperatures reach the high 80s and above, they can cause body temperature to rise. This can result in muscle cramps, dizziness, severe heat illness, and even death. Heat illness occurs when the body is unable to cool down. The body normally cools down by sweating, but during extremely hot weather, sweating may not be enough to cool the body. That's when the risk of overheating to the point of becoming ill occurs.
"During the extreme heat that we're expecting this week, it's very important to take some key steps," said Dr. Matthew Davis, Chief Medical Executive at the MDCH. "For ourselves, it's important to stay well hydrated, limit exposure to heat, and be vigilant for signs of heat-related illness.
"In addition, we should look out for our neighbors during these especially hot days, to see if we can help them stay safe from the heat," said Dr. Davis.
Tips to Avoid Heat Illness:
Use air conditioning or spend time in air-conditioned locations, when possible. Public authorities may set up cooling centers in your area to provide air-conditioned locations. Call 211 or check with local authorities for more information, including city and county websites.
Take a cool bath, shower, or swim.
Minimize direct exposure to the sun.
Limit time outdoors as much as possible, but take frequent breaks if you must be outside.
Stay hydrated - drink water or nonalcoholic fluids; try to avoid fluids with caffeine, because they can dehydrate you.
Wear loose fitting, light-colored clothes.
Check on your neighbors, friends and family members, especially those who are older, those with very young children, or those who have health problems.
Never leave children, the elderly, or pets unattended in a vehicle. Even with the windows rolled down, or just for a few minutes, it is never OK to leave anyone in a vehicle in extreme heat.
Use a fan when the windows are open or the air conditioner is on when the weather begins to heat up. Once the temperature reaches the high 90s, fans will not prevent heat illness.
Covert Township employee faces sexual assault charges involving 9-year-old relative
By BECKY KARK
Editor and general manager
Covert Township's Department of Public Works supervisor faces several sexual assault charges stemming from a complaint that he allegedly molested a 9-year-old female relative.
A preliminary exam has been scheduled Aug. 14 in Seventh District Court in South Haven for Joseph Wioskowski of Covert Township.
He faces two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and one count of second-degree criminal sexual conduct for alleged assaults against the girl. If convicted he could face 25 or more years in prison.
The girl's mother told the South Haven Tribune that the alleged assaults took place over a one-and-a-half-year period of time. The mother said she found out about it when reading a diary that her daughter kept.
Wioskowski was arrested by Michigan State Police in June. His bail was set at $150,000. Wioskowski is now out on bond and was in Seventh District Court, today, for a pre-trial conference.
He has been DPW director of Covert Township for at least 15 years, according to Township Supervisor Barbara Rose. He was also a reserve police officer for Covert Township at one time, according to Police Chief Rick Winans.
Rose indicated township officials are aware of the criminal charges Wioskowski faces.
“I'm really shocked,” she said. Wioskowski will be allowed to work pending the outcome of court hearings, according to Rose, after the township board recently voted to let him continue working.
“You're innocent until proven guilty,” Rose said. If Wioskowski is found guilty of the charges his employment will be terminated with the township, the supervisor went on to say.
Assistant coach charged for sexual assault against 14-year-old girl
A former All-State basketball player from Lawrence High School has been arrested for an alleged criminal sexual assault of a 14-year-old girl.
Adrian Ledesma, 23, and his 24-year-old cousin, Jaimie Ledesma III, were both arraigned today in Allegan County District Court. Adrian Ledesma has been charged with two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and one count of second-degree CSC. Jaimie Ledesma has been charged with one count, each, of first-degree CSC, third-degree CSC and fourth-degree CSC.
The arrests came after Michigan State Police troopers received a complaint on June 18 from the parents of the 14-year-old girl that she had received text messages of a sexual nature. Police examined the alleged victim's cell phone and discovered text messages between her and Adrian Ledesma.
The girl had become acquainted with Adrian Ledesma while he was employed as a boy’s junior varsity basketball coach for Bloomingdale High School, where the girl was a student. Further investigation led to the arrest of Jaime Ledesma. The investigation revealed none of the incidents took place at or near Bloomingdale Public Schools.
Ledesma, who graduated from Lawrence High School in 2008, played both basketball and football for the Tigers. His senior year he averaged 16 points per game and helped lead the Tigers to an SAC championship and a 23-2 season. He was named to the Class D All-State basketball team for his efforts. He also played quarterback on the football team his senior year.
Photo: Adrian Ledesma
We want your blood
Blood donations down
10 percent in June
The American Red Cross has issued an emergency request for platelet and blood donors to roll up a sleeve and give, due to a shortage of volunteers in June and the first week of July.
“We are counting on generous volunteer blood and platelet donors to step up and give now,” said Todd Kulman, Communications Program Manager for the Red Cross Great Lakes Blood Services Region. “Every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood. Each day donations come up short, less blood is available for these patients in need.”
Nationwide, donations through the Red Cross were down approximately 10 percent in June, resulting in about 50,000 fewer donations than expected. The shortfall is similar to what the Red Cross experienced in June 2012.
June can be among the most challenging months of the year for blood and platelet donations as regular donors delay giving while they adjust to summer schedules. High school and college blood drives account for as much as 20 percent of Red Cross donations during the school year. Donations from those who usually give at these drives drop by more than 80 percent when school is out for the summer. In addition, a mid-week Independence Day holiday reduced the number of blood drives scheduled in early July. Many sponsors, especially businesses, were unable to host drives because employees took extended vacations.
The following blood drives are scheduled in the South Haven area:
Call 800-RED-CROSS to schedule an appointment.
Gas prices going up - once again
Say good-bye to lower gas prices, at least for now.
After the South Haven area enjoyed an 84-cent drop in unleaded fuel prices — $4.29 to $3.45 this past month — prices are steadily increasing.
In the past week, the price for a gallon of unleaded fuel has gone from $3.45 to $3.69 at South Haven area. And it's expected to get worse for drivers.
“The future looks dim again for motorists as oil prices have risen $10 per barrel in just the last two weeks. It’s all but guaranteed to mean another round of price increases as motorists hit the road for summer vacations, taking a bigger bite out of their wallets,” said Gregg Laskoski, senior petroleum analyst with GasBuddy, which tracks fuel prices throughout the United States.
Most notably, the Midwest and Great Lakes region have seen the steepest increases with many of those states recording 10-cent increases (or more) in just the last week, Laskoski went on to say.
“With NYMEX crude oil over $105 per barrel today and with concerns about who’s running the government in Egypt and the security of the Suez Canal, it’s not surprising that we’re seeing wholesale and retail gasoline prices rise,” said Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst with GasBuddy. The key question is: ‘How long will the run-up in crude oil last?’
“What’s even more troubling is that the Department of Energy’s weekly report today showed the second consecutive week with exceptional declines in crude oil (9.9 million barrels this week) inventory totaling a 20 million barrel decline in the past two weeks,” he added. “So there’s no getting around the fact that prices go up when supply diminishes.”
A 16-foot wide section of County Road 687 that washed out in April will probably not be repaired until sometime this fall, according to the Van Buren County Road Commission.
You can't get there from here
Motorists find other ways to travel on CR 687 in Geneva Township, following washout of roadway
By BECKY KARK
Editor and general manager
GENEVA TOWNSHIP — When it comes to the condition of County Road 687, it's like the old saying goes: “You can't get there from here.”
Since a portion of the road between 12th and 16th avenues washed out in mid-April motorists have had to find alternate routes.
And it looks like that will continue for several more months, according to Larry Hummel, engineer-manager for the Van Buren County Road Commission.
“A best case scenario for the road to reopen would be mid-September,” Hummel said. “It will probably be more like October.”
The roadway that collapsed April 18 spans a 16-foot wide tributary of the Black River in Geneva Township. Two six-foot wide circular culverts had been put in place to allow the stream to pass through. However, the soil around the culverts gave way when the South Haven area experienced torrential rains and wind.
To prevent a similar event in the future, the road commission is working with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to examine other types of culverts to place underneath the roadway..
Instead of having two culvert pipes there will be one larger one made either of timber, concrete or metal.
“We have several options we're looking at,” Hummel said.
Costs for the four proposals the road commission is examining run anywhere from $100,000-$150,000.
The road commission plans to approve one of the options this month. However, it could take 8-12 weeks for the materials to arrive and an additional month or so for construction to be completed before the road can reopen.
Damage from the April 18 storm is expected to cost the road commission about $250,000 in unplanned expenditures, according to Hummel.
“There's the bridge and then a lot of clean up we're dealing with, mainly in the Hartford area,” he said.
To deal with the unexpected storm damage costs, the road commission will hold off on buying a large truck and may have to cut down on some of its sealcoat projects.
Chicago woman killed after being struck by vehicle
The July 4th holiday turned tragic for an 18-year-old woman from Chicago, who died after she was struck by a vehicle on 68th Street, in Geneva Township.
The victim, Ayala Shulman, of Chicago, Ill., passed away Friday, July 5 at Bronson Methodist Hospital in Kalamazoo.
Van Buren County Sheriff's deputies have submitted the fatality report to the prosecutor for review to see if criminal charges should be authorized against the driver of the vehicle that struck Shulman.
The driver of the vehicle, Charles Carrigan, 18, of Kalamazoo, told deputies he was traveling southbound on 68th Street shortly after midnight on July 4. He was a half-mile south of County Road 388, trying to use a GPS device to locate M-43 Highway. As he was traveling, he swerved to miss a pedestrian who was walking near the edge of the road with Shulman. When he swerved, however, his vehicle struck Shulman who was walking in the road near the center line, according to the sheriff's report. A witness who was traveling north on 68th Street, told deputies he saw the victim jump out of the southbound lane into his lane. She then jumped back into the southbound lane where she was struck by the vehicle driven by Carrigan.
Deputies say that Carrigan had been traveling at 40 miles per hour when the accident occurred. There was patchy fog at the time and the victim had been wearing black clothing.
Ayala was treated at the scene by South Haven Area Emergency Services and taken to South Haven Health System. Later on Thursday morning she was airlifted to Bronson Methodist Hospital in Kalamazoo where she died from her injuries.
License of SH area pharmacist suspended due to marijuana possession
By BECKY KARK
Editor and general manager
A South Haven area pharmacist's license has been suspended after is was discovered he had been convicted of marijuana possession.
The Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs announced Wednesday that it had suspended the license of Donald James Buckley, 71, who had been employed as a part-time staff pharmacist at South Haven Health System, and prior to that as a part-time pharmacist at Shoreline Pharmacy in South Haven.
The suspension came about based on Buckley's misdemeanor conviction in 57th District Court in Allegan for marijuana possession, according to Jeanne Vogel, a spokesperson for the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.
The conviction occurred Oct. 11, 2012. Buckley was ordered to pay fines and costs, and was placed on probation for six months, according to a news release issued by the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.
According to Det. Sgt. Jack Waterway of the Michigan State Police West Michigan Enforcement Team, officers arrested Buckley in 2012 after 14 marijuana plants were discovered growing near his home in Casco Township. Buckley told officers he was growing the marijuana for personal use to treat his glaucoma. However, “he told us he did not have a medical marijuana card because he was afraid it might jeopardize his employment,” Waterway said.
The West Michigan Enforcement Team discovered the pot plants during their annual helicopter sweep of rural areas, according to Waterway.
Tracy Wohlgemut of Lake of the Ozarks, Mo., puts a shirt on her son Ryan, while the family sets up their chairs and blankets an anticipation of tonight's Light up the Lake fireworks display in South Haven.
South Haven gets ready for tonight's popular Light up the Lake fireworks display
By BECKY KARK
Editor and general manager
Eager to get out into this morning's partly sunny weather, many people are already setting up their blankets and lawn chairs along Monroe Boulevard in anticipation of tonight's Light up the Lake fireworks display.
However, a 40 percent chance of thunderstorms could snuff out the pyrotechnics.
South Haven Fire Department, Melrose Pyrotechnics and the U.S. Coast Guard are keeping a close eye on the weather throughout the day and evening, according to Art Haines, public information officer for the South Haven Police Department.
“If it's light rain they can probably go on, but if it's a heavy rain, especially with heavy winds and lightning, no.”
But, city officials and Melrose Pyrotechnics remain optimistic.
“They're (Melrose Pyrotechnics) doing set up (right now),” said City Manager Brian Dissette. “They're confident the weather will hold off.”
The National Weather Service predicts temperatures near 74 today with a 40 percent chance of showers and thunderstorm for South Haven. Winds are expected to be 6 miles per hour before calming down in the afternoon. Tonight, the forecast indicates a 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms, mainly before 11 p.m., with a low temperature of 61 degrees, and winds at 5-7 miles per hour.
A rainy forecast isn't stopping people from getting outside and enjoying the partly cloudy weather this morning. Many people are out jogging, bicycling, walking, and of course --- marking their territory for tonight's fireworks.
In anticipation of the heavy turnout, the city plans to keep people informed of the weather as the evening progresses. “COSY-FM and WWMT-TV will be at the beach. If the weather should be inclement we'll make an announcement then,” Dissette said.
The Fourth of July holiday is one of the busiest times of the year for tourism in South Haven, and this year is no exception.
Visitors have been in town since Monday. Even if tonight's fireworks are canceled, the weather is expected to improve the rest of the week. For the Forth of July, temperatures are expected to be near 78 degrees and skies mostly sunny. That will be good for the city's Fourth of July parade, which steps off at 11 a.m. Friday and Saturday will bring similar weather. Sunday there is a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms, with a high of 79. The Art Show is scheduled Sunday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. in Stanley Johnston park.
Train strikes mini-van in Columbia Township
Four occupants of a mini-van are lucky to be alive after a train struck their vehicle Monday afternoon.
The incident was reported to Van Buren County Sheriff's department at 1 p.m. at the railroad crossing near County Road 215 and County Road 384 in Columbia Township.
A sheriff's report stated that the 23-year-old van driver from Washington had stopped on a private drive to wait for the CSX freight train to pass, however the driver misjudged the distance from the front of his vehicle to the railroad track.
The northbound freight train ended up clipping the front end of the minivan.
No one was injured in the accident.
Skies will light up with West Michigan's best fireworks display
By BECKY KARK
Editor and general manager
Get ready for packed beaches and parking lots when South Haven's annual fireworks display ignites, Wednesday, July 3.
Voted two years in a row by WWMT-TV as the Best Fireworks Display in West Michigan, the city's Light up the Lake event will begin around 10:30 p.m., er make that exactly at 10:30 p.m., predicts South Haven Mayor Bob Burr.
“They'll go off precisely at 10:30 p.m.,” said Burr, who has led fund-raising for the display for the past three years.
“Entergy (one of the event's main sponsors) will be there to do a countdown from the pier and once they count down to 1, boom,” Burr said.
Melrose Pyrotechnics Inc., which provides fireworks for the 4th of July celebration in Chicago, will team up with WCSY-FM to produce the musically choreographed display.
“This year's theme is 'I'm Proud to be an American,'” Burr said. “Pam Buck, a summer resident here, put together the music.”
While 200 mortars and rockets are shot over Lake Michigan, spectators will hear such hits as “Born in the USA,” by Bruce Springsteen; “We're an American Band,” by Grand Funk; Neil Diamond's “America” and “God Bless the USA,” by Lee Greenwood.
“'The Star Spangled Banner' by Whitney Houston will be the finale,” Burr said.
Best viewing spots include South Beach, North Beach, the Lake Michigan shoreline, Kid's Corner on Monroe Boulevard, and in boats on the Black River.
“The Dyckman drawbridge will be open from 11-11:30 p.m. to let the boat traffic through,” Burr cautioned.
The show is expected to last 28 minutes and will cost $33,000.
“We have about 150 donors for this year's show,” Burr remarked. Major sponsors include Entergy, Dr. Pepper, Walmart, McDonalds, Fleming Bros. MBG Marketing and Do-It Corp. However, a number of individuals have stepped forward to help the fundraising efforts.
“We've asked people who summer here to help and they do a great job of contributing,” Burr said.
Floats, antique cars and
musical groups line up for
South Haven's 4th of July parade
Fifty entrants are expected for South Haven's annual Fourth of July parade.
Grand marshals Robert and Jane Copping will help lead the parade through the city's downtown streets, beginning at 11 a.m., Thursday.
The Coppings are very active members of SHOUT for South Haven, a local group that promotes beautification and arts projects in town.
Organizers expect floats by local businesses and organizations, Miss Blossomtime local queen pageant floats, antique cars, the Casco Band and area emergency and police vehicles.
Nine awards will be given for Best Overall Entry, Best Business Entry, Best Musical Entry, Most Patriotic Entry, Best Pageant Entry, Most Original Entry, Most Enthusiastic Entry, Best Children's Entry and Best Vehicle Entry, according to John Deschaine of Do-It Corp., one of the parade's main sponsors.
The parade route will begin at South Haven High School and will continue from Elkenburg to Kalamazoo Street, Phoenix Street, Broadway Street, Huron Street, and Center Street, before ending at the high school.
Line-up begins at 10 a.m. Applications for entries can be submitted until July 2 by going online to www.do-it.com
The other parade sponsors are the South Haven Rotary Club and South Haven Kiwanis Club.
Bangor celebrates 4th of July with a parade, volleyball tournament
Bangor may not have fireworks this year during its annual 4th of July celebration, but festival organizers plan to bring back two stalwart events — the parade and mud volleyball tournament.
The popular parade will begin at 3 p.m., Thursday, on Hamilton Street and proceed downtown along Monroe Street (M-43 Highway).
Dorothy Coates, a South Walnut Elementary School teacher and former Bangor high school volleyball coach, has been chosen as the parade's grand marshal, according to Robert Freislinger, chair of the 4th of July Festival committee.
“She's done a lot of things in the community and schools over the years, we thought she was a good choice,” Freislinger said.
Coates can often be seen at Bangor sporting events cheering the teams on and is known for organizing South Walnut's annual Jump Rope For Heart event that raises funds for the American Heart Association. This year, the youngsters raised $4,300 for the charity.
The committee still welcomes entries for the parade. Participants should line-up starting at 2 p.m. on Hamilton Street. For more information, they can call 214-8601.
Earlier in the day, the mud volleyball tournament will get underway in Lions Park.
“This is the 13th year we've had the tournament,” Freislinger said. “Last year we had 11 teams competing. This year we're hoping for 16.”
Three-member teams will compete for cash prizes in the contest.
Registration begins at 8 a.m. The entry fee is $20 for each team. The fee goes toward the cash prizes. Area residents interested in competing in the tournament can call 214-8601 for more information.
If people are worried about the return of fireworks, Freislinger said they shouldn't.
The fireworks display, which normally takes place on property owned by Bangor Public Schools, was forced to be canceled this year because of construction at the high school sports complex.
“Next year we'll be back with fireworks and it (the 4th of July celebration) will be bigger and better next year,” Freislinger said.
Sheriff's department plans to step up patrols for boaters driving under the influence
Boaters who plan to operate their craft under the influence of alcohol this weekend should watch out — Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office Marine Division plans to be out in force, Friday through Sunday, seeking boaters whose blood alcohol content exceeds the state limit of .10.
“We intend to arrest intoxicated boaters and to reach out to as many people as possible about the hazards of boating under the influence,” Sheriff Dale R. Gribler said in a news release.
Increased patrols and boater education information will take place on inland lakes and Lake Michigan.
The stepped-up marine patrols are part of “Operation Dry Water,” a nationally coordinated effort to reduce the number of accidents and fatalities related to boaters who operate under the influence.
The mission of Operation Dry Water also brings awareness and education to recreational boaters about the dangers of alcohol and drug use on the water, according to the sheriff's news release.
"We are dedicated to keeping boaters safe on our waters. Boating is a safe and enjoyable pastime when people stay alert and follow the rules,” Gribler said. "You will see our officers out on the water looking for boaters who are operating a vessel under the influence.”
Operation Dry Water 2013 is a joint program of the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office, the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators, the U.S. Coast Guard, other Michigan Sheriff’s Offices and Michigan DNR. For more information, visit www.operationdrywater.org.
Dinner benefits efforts to prevent suicides in
Van Buren County
Area residents will have the chance this weekend to support an organization that tries to prevent suicides in Van Buren County.
The Van Buren County Suicide Prevention plans to have a Pasta Benefit Dinner, from 4-8 p.m., Saturday, at the Moose Family Center, 1025 Wells St., South Haven.
During the dinner, guests can enjoy lasagna, spaghetti, salad, and rolls and take part in a silent a auction and several 50/50 drawings.
Suicides and suicide attempts by adults and teens in the county is an ongoing concern for the prevention council, according to Becky Fatzinger, coordinator for the coalition.
“The 2012 Michigan Profile for Health Youth results indicate over 17 percent of teen girls in Van Buren County have seriously considered suicide during the past 12 months,” Fatzinger reported. Statewide, the 2011 Michigan Risk Behavioral Survey showed that more than 25 percent of teens report they felt very sad or hopeless for at least two weeks or more during the previous year; and more than 15 percent had attempted suicide, with 8 percent attempting more than once in the previous year.
“Depression and suicide are serious concerns for teens, as well as for other age groups,” Fatzinger said. “The Suicide Prevention Coalition initially focused its efforts on reducing teen suicide, but many of the services provided benefit all ages.
Some of the work of the Van Buren County Suicide Prevention Coalition includes:
• Gatekeeper training for almost 300 adults and almost 150 teens. Gatekeeper training teaches people how to detect possible suicidal language (which is often coded and indirect) and how to respond and help the person get connected with professional help;
• More than 400 teens, with parent permission, have completed mental health screens. These screens help to detect possible mental health concerns. Youth and families with concerns are assisted with referrals to community resources;
• Printing and distribution of 5000 Teen Help Cards (with phone numbers and websites of youth friendly agencies and organizations) to all middle and high schools, as well as other places;
• Suicide Prevention posters distributed to every middle and high school in the county;
• Regular updates to Coalition members about available best practice trainings and webinars regarding suicide prevention;
• General suicide prevention awareness presentations to more than 300 people;
“Although we are pleased with our efforts, there is still much work to be done,” Fatzinger said. “Young people are still going without the help they need to cope with the demands and stress they are experiencing. We need to continue to raise awareness about adolescent depression and suicide prevention.”
Police step up efforts to crack down on drunk driving during 4th of July holiday
Extra police patrols will be in force, July 1-7, when the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning begins its July 4th holiday crackdown on drunk driving.
Twenty-six counties, including Allegan, Berrien and Van Buren, will participate in this year's enforcement program.
In 2012, 342 people died in Michigan as a result of alcohol and/or drug-involved traffic crashes, a 7.2 percent increase from 2011. To help prevent the tragedies, law enforcement agencies from local police departments, sheriff offices and Michigan State Police posts across the state will work stepped-up drunk driving patrols during this popular summer holiday time period.
The effort is paid for with federal funds administered by the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning (OHSP)
“Don’t let your Fourth of July end in an arrest, said Michael L. Prince, OHSP director. “Make smart decisions and plan ahead to ensure a safe way home. If you drive drunk, you will be arrested.”
During the 2012 July Fourth holiday period, four people were killed in four traffic crashes. Although none of the crashes were alcohol-related, one crash involved a pedestrian, one motorist was unbelted and a motorcyclist and an ORV rider were not wearing helmets.
In Michigan, it is illegal to drive with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or higher, although motorists can be arrested at any BAC level if an officer feels they are impaired. Under the state’s high BAC law, motorists face enhanced penalties if a first-time arrest is for a .17 BAC or higher.
Search for suspect reveals large pot-growing operation
A search for the suspect of a stolen vehicle in Bangor Township yielded more than police bargained for early this morning.
While patrolling on County Road 376 near 64th Street, shortly after midnight, a Van Buren County Sheriff's deputy noticed a white truck driving in a cornfield. He watched the truck for awhile and then noticed it had become stuck in the field. The driver fled on foot across a yard and into a wooded lot. When the deputy reported the incident he was told that a white truck had just been reported stolen from the 53000 block of County Road 687 in Hartford Township.
A tracking dog was called to the area where the man had taken off on foot, but was unable to locate him. However, deputies did find a large marijuana growing operation in the wooded lot.
Deputies contacted the homeowner, a 42-year-old Bangor Township man, who was reported to be cooperative. Deputies then seized the 80 pot plants and impounded the truck, which will be processed by a crime technician for further evidence. Deputies are also seeking a warrant in reference to the marijuana growing operation.
Anyone with information pertaining to the stolen vehicle is asked to call the Sheriff Department, 1-269-657-3101.
Motorcyclist critically injured
A 55-year-old Grand Junction man suffered critical injuries Saturday after his motorcycle collided with a utility truck.
The accident was reported to police at 9:10 a.m. at the intersection of County Road 388 and County Road 681 in Geneva Township, according to a Van Buren County Sheriff's report.
The utility truck driver, 52-year-old Mark Anderson of Wayland told deputies he had been traveling south on CR 681. He said he looked both ways after stopping at the stop sign and did not see any other vehicles. However, Cowell was traveling west on CR 388 and ended up colliding with Anderson's vehicle as it went through the intersection.
Cowell's bike struck the side of the truck, which ejected him from his Harley-Davidson and onto the road. Cowell had been wearing a helmet, but suffered serious injuries. He was taken to South Haven Health System and later airflighted to Bronson Methodist Hospital, where he was listed in critical condition on Sunday. Anderson was not injured.
The accident remains under investigation.
Swimming ban lifted at West Side County Park
The Allegan County Health Department has lifted the swimming ban advisory at West Side County Park in Ganges Township.
The ban was ordered Tuesday after water samples of Lake Michigan confirmed inflated levels of E.coli bacteria.
This morning, however, the bacteria count had decreased to make swimming possible again.
Monitoring of all of Allegan County's beach parks will continue, according to health department officials.
Multi-state credit card fraud suspect captured in Niles
A Miami, Fla. man, who used a check card fraud scheme to obtain more than $100,000 worth of items from Portland, Ore. and Seattle, Wash., was caught Tuesday in Berrien County.
Michigan State Police troopers from the Niles post had been on the lookout for the suspect after Kentwood Police Department (suburb of Grand Rapids) warned the man may be headed to Chicago in a rental vehicle from the Kentwood area.
The suspect was stopped near the I-196 and I-94 interchange and taken into custody.
Police found approximately $1,000 worth of recently stolen jewelry, clothing, and electronics in the vehicle.
According to an article in the May 13 Oregonian, police were appealing for help in locating the suspect. Police from Beaverton, Ore. stated that the suspect had used an American Express card encoded with a stolen account number. More than $100,000 worth of items were reportedly purchased with the card from April 19-May 13.
Relief for boaters
Harbor dredging expected
to begin Monday
The U.S. Army Corps has notified the City of South Haven that its contractor plans to begin dredging on Monday, June 24, subject to weather conditions.
The dredging project will last about a week, according to city harbormaster Paul VandenBosch.
“The plan is to remove the shoal which has built up near the pierheads and into Lake Michigan to a depth of 14 feet below Low Water Datum,” VandenBosch said.
While the pier dredging gets underway, the city is continuing its efforts to dredge the Black River Turning Basin near the Michigan Maritime Museum. When that is completed the city will turn its attention upriver to the Dyckman Bridge.
City officials caution that boaters should give a wide berth when traveling near dredging operations.
For more information, contact VandenBosch at 637-0775, or email him at
Swimming advisory issued for Westside County Park
Swimmers are being warned to stay out of the waters of Lake Michigan at Westside County Park in Ganges Township.
The Allegan County Health Department issued the warning today after water samples taken on Monday revealed the E. coli content exceeded the State of Michigan's Water Quality standards.
As a result of the results, the health department is telling the public to avoid total body contact with the surface water. Residents are advised they wade in the water, but to avoid water contact with the face, mouth, nose and ears.
Signs have been posted at the park to inform the public to avoid total body contact with the surface water. The Allegan County Health Department will continue to monitor these locations; when the water quality meets Michigan’s Water Quality Standard the public health advisory will be lifted and the signs removed.
Palisades nuclear plant returns to service after 43-day shutdown
By TRIBUNE STAFF
After a 43-day shutdown, Palisades Nuclear Power Plant returned to service Monday afternoon.
“Employees identified a leak from the safety injection refueling water tank on May 5,” said Prema Chandrathil, Region III public affairs officer for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. “The leak exceeded the level Entergy (Palisades' owner) had committed to the NRC, which required the plant to shut down to ensure structural integrity of the tank.”
In determining why the tank was leaking, Palisades employees discovered a small crack along a weld that joined one of the nozzles to the bottom of the tank, according to Lindsey Rose, plant spokesperson.
To deal with the problem, Palisades employees completely redesigned the tank bottom with an asphalt-embedded fiberboard subflooring to provide a reliable support structure for the aluminum tank floor.
“The aluminum floor has been constructed of more than 90 percent new aluminum flooring material,” Rose said. “The remaining amount of pre-existing aluminum flooring, which has been incorporated into the design to provide structural support for the tank, makes up a 14-inch wide ring around the entire inside perimeter of the tank.'
Workers also redesigned and replaced all of the tank's nozzles which transport water to and from the tank.
Palisades ended up redesigning the the tank's bottom because it had leaked in the past, causing the plant to shut down in July of 2012.
The ongoing leaks prompted the NRC to add onsite inspectors to the plant and to scrutinize repair work that had been done to alleviate the leaks.
“The tank is used during refueling outages and to supply water to the reactor during emergencies. It has leaked before,” Chandrathil said. “That’s one reason why, in a July 2012 letter, the plant made a commitment to measure and trend daily leakage from the tank, and shut down the plant if the leak exceeded certain limits,”
During the latest outage, plant workers discovered that the underlying tank support system had not been built as designed in the late 1960s.
Palisades officials decided not to rebuild the subflooring based on the original design. Instead, they put in a new support structure.
“Going forward, the NRC will continue to make sure the tank remains safe,” Chandrathil said. “We will independently inspect the areas around the tank where leaks can be identified and will follow Entergy’s actions to monitor the tank. If small leaks are discovered we expect Entergy to evaluate them according to the NRC’s rules, and take appropriate action.
Ticket sales brisk for Waterfront Film Festival
Waterfront Film Festival organizers are urging movie-goers to not wait until the last minute to purchase tickets for this weekend's event.
“(The tickets) are going faster than in previous years,” said film festival publicist Patrick Revere. “There are several shows that are near sell out at this point, including Muscle Shoals, Syrup and A River Changes Course.”
More than 70 films, opening night music on South Beach and the scenic resort setting of South Haven have generated unprecedented interest in the annual Waterfront Film Festival, June 13-16, Revere went on to say.
Programmers for the festival screened more than 600 films this year to create the final lineup film fans will enjoy during the coming long weekend. Many of the films are Midwest Premieres and most will have filmmakers in attendance to talk about their projects and answer questions from the audience.
Individual film tickets are available to purchase for $12 alongside the movie descriptions at www.waterfrontfilm.org and at the festival offices at 503 Quaker Street in South Haven. For increased access, film viewers can purchase a Day Tripper pass $90-$99, a Bronze pass for $300, a Silver pass for $500 or the Gold pass for $2,500.
Screen Actors Guild Magazine by SAGIndie named Waterfront as one of the top five film festivals in the world, alongside Sundance and Cannes.
Relief from high gasoline prices expected soon
Gas prices still range between $4,22-$4.29 a gallon for unleaded fuel in the South Haven area, but there may be some relief in sight for motorists who are sick and tired of paying higher-than-normal prices.
It appears the surge in gasoline prices across the Great Lakes states is soon to be over, according to Patrick DeHaan, a senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy, which tracks gasoline prices throughout the United States.
“For the last four consecutive trading sessions, spot gasoline prices (which influence retail) have dropped a healthy amount,” he said, predicting that prices could fall anywhere from 15-30 cents next week.
The sudden change comes as ExxonMobil reports its Joliet, Ill. refinery back online, and with it, an expected increase in gasoline production, according to DeHaan.
"The last seven days have seen some shocks at the pump for motorists in the nation's Great Lakes region," DeHaan said. "But perhaps the best news is that the worst is now over and we expect some well needed relief in the days ahead for areas of the Great Lakes, especially Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana and Ohio.
Natural gas customers can expect rate increase
Michigan Gas Utilities, which provides service to the South Haven area, has filed a request for new natural gas distribution rates with the Michigan Public Service Commission. If granted, the request will result in an overall rate increase of about 6% and become effective on Jan. 1, 2014.
MGU last implemented new distribution rates on Jan. 1, 2010.
MGU needs the increase to offset the cost of upgrades to its transmission and distribution systems, decreased revenues, increased costs of customer service functions, and general inflation, according to Paul Livernois, spokesperson for MGU. The company has recently upgraded several aspects of its natural gas system, replacing vintage steel pipe, and rebuilding some older facilities.
”MGU has long been committed to safe, reliable and affordable gas service for our customers," said Barbara Nick, President of MGU “This rate adjustment will allow us to continue our efforts to modernize portions of our system that are aging.” Nick indicated that MGU has been extremely prudent in all budget categories over the past 3years, adding that rate cases are not taken lightly and only filed when absolutely necessary.
If approved, the typical MGU residential customers using 880 CCF annually will see their natural gas bills increase approximately $2.34 per month. Even after the increase, if it is approved, typical MGU residential customers will pay nearly 25 percent less than in 2010, due to lower natural gas market prices.
Waterfront Film Festival Volunteers (from left) Mellow Westra and Louis Prince install a movie screen at Listiak Auditorium on Monday. Jetson Minter watches from the gallery.
Setup underway for Waterfront Film Festival
Waterfront Film Festival begins Thursday night at South Beach, and festival organizers have begun putting the pieces in place for the Opening Night Music and Movie celebration as well as several other venues for screenings and gatherings during the four-day event.
Movie screens have been raised at Listiak Auditorium, the AV Auditorium at South Haven High School and the screening room at Foundry Hall. Other film venues include Michigan Theatre and South Beach on Water Street where a 50-foot inflatable screen will be set against the backdrop of Lake Michigan for the Shorts Spectacular Program, a 64-minute collection of nine amazing short films.
The festival is being put on with the assistance of about 300 volunteers and an overwhelming amount of support from the city of South Haven, South Haven business owners and residents.
Each year, Waterfront Film Festival draws thousands of people who appreciate the art of movie making. Screen Actors Guild Magazine by SAGIndie named the Waterfront as one of the top five film festivals in the world, alongside Sundance and Cannes.
Waterfront Film Festival has premiered an array of award-winning films, including groundbreaking documentaries such as “Winged Migration”, “March of the Penguins”, “Born into Brothels”, “Murderball” and “The Story of Weeping Camel”.
The friendly and walkable vibe of Waterfront’s resort setting has earned it a reputation as “the laid back Sundance”.
More than 70 films will screen June 13-16 in South Haven, many of which will have actors, directors, writers and producers in attendance to talk about their projects and answer questions about the industry.
The full schedule of films, as well as trailers for each film – including documentaries, dramas, comedies and film shorts – are available at www.waterfrontfilm.org. Tickets and passes can be purchased at the website as well as at the Waterfront Film Festival office, at 503 Quaker Street in South Haven.
For more information on Waterfront Film Festival, including directions, transportation and parking details, volunteer and sponsorship opportunities, visit www.waterfrontfilm.org
Group hosts forum on fracking
Fracking has become a hot topic recently in Michigan, and a local environmental group plans to host a forum to inform Van Buren County residents about the issue.
The forum, sponsored by the Two Rivers Coalition, will take place at 6:30 p.m., Wednesday, June 12 at the Van Buren Conference Center in Lawrence.
A three-person panel representing regulatory, industrial and environmental interests will give presentations and answer questions on the issues involved with the extraction of natural gas from deep rock formations in Michigan. The panelists will include Bill Mitchell, a geologist for Michigan Department of Environmental Quality's office of Oil, Gas and Minerals; Steve Losher, president of Michigan Land, Air and Water Defense; and Luke Miller, business development director for Miller Energy in Kalamazoo. The moderator will be Bill Reed, executive director of The FORUM of Kalamazoo.
In Michigan and the United States there has been a push to find cheap, domestic energy sources. Fracking (hydraulic fracturing) of deep natural gas deposits has been seen as a way to provide the energy that the country has become dependent on with a smaller carbon footprint than coal or oil. However, with the rush to extract resources, questions of environmental consequences have come to the forefront and the debate over cheap energy and protecting Michigan’s water and air resources has heated up.
In October 2012, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources auctioned oil and mineral rights in the Allegan State Game Area. Part of the area is in the Black River Watershed, meaning the land drains to the Black River and then into Lake Michigan at South Haven. The Two Rivers Coalition hopes to cut through the rhetoric of the fracking debate and discuss some of the facts surrounding the benefits and risks as they relate to water quality.
Areas of concern and topics of discussion will include but aren’t limited to the following:
The fracking process
The removal of millions of gallons of water and whether fracking processes are covered under federal and state laws relating to water use and quality
The need for baseline groundwater testing prior to drilling
The disposal of flow back water and fracking fluids into deep injection wells
The oversight and inspection of gas wells (Michigan has 25 inspectors with 12,000 existing wells)
The composition of fracking fluids which are considered a “trade secret” and not disclosed to the public
The permitting process and opportunity for public comment
The restoration of the area after well abandonment
Pullman woman dies in single-car crash
A Pullman woman died Monday when her car veered off the roadway and collided into a tree in Casco Township.
Nicole Goss, 33, died at the scene of the accident that was reported to Allegan County Sheriff's department at 10:18 a.m.
Witnesses told deputies that Goss's vehicle was traveling on 109th Avenue near 62nd Street in Casco Township when it crossed the centerline, went off the right shoulder of the roadway, and into a ditch where it hit the tree. Emergency responders found Goss lying on the ground near the vehicle and attempted CPR until ambulance arrived. Despite the efforts by deputies and medical personnel, Goss was pronounced dead at the scene.
Deputies say they do not yet know why the vehicle crashed. They did say Goss had not been wearing a seatbelts.
Gas prices shoot up to $4.15 a gallon
Motorists in the South Haven area got a bad case of sticker shock this weekend when gassing up at the fuel pumps.
Many gas stations were at $3.79 a gallon for unleaded fuel Saturday morning, but within a couple of hours priced rose nearly 40 cents to $4.15 per gallon.
Prices have remained between $4.12 and $4.15 so far today.
The local spike in fuel pump prices is higher than the state average, which went up nearly a quarter to average $4.10 on Sunday, according to GasBuddy's daily survey of 4,913 gas outlets in Michigan. Ironically, the national average fell 1.5 cents per gallon in the last week to $3.64.
"While the national average has given up some ground to start the driving season, motorists have certainly seen a lot of ups and downs in different areas of the country," said GasBuddy.com Senior Petroleum Analyst Patrick DeHaan. "One thing remains the same throughout the United States, and that is we're still reliant on oil refineries to process crude oil into gasoline. When they go partially offline whether expected or unexpected, there's going to be tightness in gasoline supply, and that has an almost immediately impact at the gas pump," DeHaan said.
The regional fluctuations in gas prices is evidenced when looking at this year's gas price comparisons to last year's.
In Michigan, Sunday's price for unleaded fuel was 50 cents higher per gallon than the same day one year ago and 32 cents per gallon higher than a month ago.
Conversely, the national average for gas increased 13.1 cent per gallon during the last month and stands 3.1 cents per gallon higher than the same day a year ago.
Vehicle crashes into park concession stand, causing $3,500 in damage
Police are on the lookout for the driver of a vehicle that smashed into a concession stand at a Bloomingdale Park, causing $3,500 in damage.
The car is described as blue or partially blue, according to a Van Buren County Sheriff's report.
The incident occurred sometime after 9:45 p.m. on Friday and before 7 a.m. on Saturday at Sunny Brook Park, in the 200 block of S. Van Buren St., in Bloomingdale village.
A deputy noticed the damage to the concession stand while on duty and conducted an investigation. Although the suspect vehicle is believed to be blue in color, no suspect has been found yet.
Anyone with information about the incident can the Van Buren County Sheriff's Office at 269-657-3101.
Driver injured after his car slams into a Hartford Township residence
A Hartford Township home suffered damage early this morning when a speeding car slammed into it.
The crash occurred at 12:30 a.m. at the home in the 54000 block of 60th St., according to a Van Buren County Sheriff's report.
The incident involved a 32-year-old Lawrence Township man, who apparently lost control of his 1993 Chevy Blazer, which then veered off the right side of the road and slammed into the home. The residence sustained severe damage to the walls and foundation, according to the sheriff's report.
It appeared the driver never attempted to use his brakes, the report indicated. The man, who was not wearing seat belts, was trapped inside his vehicle and had to be removed from it by the “Jaws of Life.” He was taken to Lakeland Hospital and is listed in stable condition.
Police say the speed the car was traveling and alcohol may have played a role in the accident. The accident remains under investigation.
South Haven senior earns National Merit Scholarship award
A South Haven High School senior has been named a National Merit Scholarship winner.
Andrew Sicard is one of 2,500 students from the United States and Canada, to earn a scholarship in the academic competition.
He and the other winners will receive scholarships between $500 and $2,000 annually for up to four years of undergraduate study at colleges and universities.
Sicard plans to attend Hope College in the fall to study physics and engineering. He is the son of Walt and Kathy Sicard of South Haven.
About 1.5 million juniors in some 22,000 high schools entered the 2013 National Merit Scholarship competition when they took the 2011 Preliminary sat/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (psat/nmsqt®), which served as an initial screen of program entrants.
Last fall, approximately 16,000 Semifinalists were named on a state representational basis in numbers proportional to each state’s percentage of the national total of graduating high school seniors.
Semifinalists were the highest-scoring program entrants in each state and represented less than one percent of the nation’s seniors.
To compete for Merit Scholarship awards, Semifinalists first had to advance to the
Finalist level of the competition by fulfilling additional requirements. Each Semifinalist was asked to submit a detailed scholarship application, which included writing an essay and providing information about extracurricular activities, awards, and leadership positions. Semifinalists also had to have an outstanding academic record, be endorsed and recommended by a high
school official, and earn sat scores that confirmed the qualifying test performance. From the Semifinalist group, some 15,000 met requirements for Finalist standing, and more than half of the Finalists will be Merit Scholarship winners in 2013.
Woman shot by stray bullet
A 34-year-old Lawton woman is recovering from a bullet wound after she was shot in the arm at a family birthday party over Memorial Day weekend in Hartford Township.
The family had been celebrating a thee-year-old child's birthday, Saturday, at a home in the 71000 block of 62nd Street, according to a Van Buren County Sheriff's report. Children were hitting a pinata, and the woman decided to open a can of pop at approximately 7:45 p.m. When doing so the can exploded as a bullet went through it and into her arm. Family members then took the woman to Watervliet Hospital.
The bullet, deputies found out, came from a hire-powered rifle that had been shot from a distance.
Deputies tracked the location of where the shooting had taken place and discovered that a group of people had been target practicing. The person who shot the gun had left the scene by the time police arrived. They were told he lived in St. Joseph.
When interviewing the person in question, deputies were told that the target practicing had not been done in a reckless manner.
The possible weapon was seized and will be compared to the bullet round that deputies hope can be recovered from the victim's arm. hopes to be recovered from the victims arm. This incident remains under investigation. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office at 269-657-3101; Silent Observer, 343-2100 or 866-774-2345; or Crime Stoppers, 800-342-7867.
Bond set at $1 million for Bangor man
A Bangor man remains in jail after his bond was set at $1 million at an arraignment Friday for attempting to grab a sheriff deputy's handgun.
Toby Farley, 34, faces one count of attempting to disarm a police officer, two counts of resisting arrest and fourth-offense for being a habitual offender. He is scheduled for a preliminary exam at 1 p.m., May 20 in Seventh District Court in South Haven.
Farley was arrested at 6:20 p.m., Thursday, May 9, in the 28000 block of County Road 687. Van Buren County deputies, who had an outstanding warrant for parole absconding, visited the home Farley was at after receiving a complaint of a possible child neglect complaint.
When Bangor Police, Child Protective Services and sheriff's deputies arrived to the home, Farley ran from the house into a wooded area.
After he was apprehended, deputies said Farley struggled when they attempted to handcuff him. As he was being escorted to a police vehicle Farley tried to grab a deputy's handgun from its holster. Farley received several facial injuries while resisting police officers. One o the officers incurred minor hand injuries.
Ironically, in 2006 Farley was convicted of disarming a state trooper who shot Farley as he was attempting to do so. Farley was paroled from prison several months ago.
Bangor man arrested after trying to grab deputy's gun
A Bangor man has been arrested after attempting to grab a sheriff deputy's handgun.
Toby Farley, 34, faces criminal for failure to report to his parole officer, resisting arrest and attempting to disarm a police officer.
Farley was arrested at 6:20 p.m., Thursday, in the 28000 block of County Road 687. Deputies, who had an outstanding warrant for parole absconding, visited the home Farley was at after receiving a complaint of a possible child neglect complaint.
When Bangor Police, Child Protective Services and sheriff's deputies arrived to the home, Farley ran from the house into a wooded area.
After he was apprehended, deputies said Farley struggled when they attempted to handcuff him. As he was being escorted to a police vehicle Farley tried to grab a deputy's handgun from its holster. Farley received several facial injuries while resisting police officers. One o the officers incurred minor hand injuries.
Ironically, in 2006 Farley was convicted of disarming a state trooper who shot Farley as he was attempting to do so. Farley was paroled from prison several months ago.
Bangor voters choose
By ANDREW LERSTEN
For the Tribune
BANGOR - Bangor is getting a new mayor Monday.
City voters chose challenger Nick Householder, in the May 7 election, over incumbent Mayor Jennifer Carpio-Zeller. Householder won with 185 votes, while Carpio-Zeller fell short with 85 votes.
Carpio-Zeller has been mayor for two years. Householder, 41, a political newcomer, was elected to a three-year term and will be sworn in on Monday.
After the results were announced, Householder said he believes he was elected because voters felt it was time for a leadership change.
His priority is to stop what he called a steep economic decline for city government. He'll also push for renovation of the former police station that was badly damaged by a 2010 fire instead of pursuing costlier options, he said.
Councilwomen Lynne Farmer and Patti Waite fought back challengers Tuesday, and were reelected to new three-year terms. They took in 170 and 144 votes, respectively.
Candidates Jim Tanner and Robert Freislinger received 107 and 73 votes, respectively.
Whether or not to renovate the former police station may have been a big issue for voters. Householder and Farmer favor renovation over other options.
"I think that the propaganda that was sent out was a big reason," Carpio-Zeller said of the police issue and how it might have affected the election results. "I have been waiting for valid information, which we have never received."
Householder said the council has been dragging its feet on the issue for three years.
"The police issue was on the surface. They keep talking about a police station we can't afford. But we're hemorrhaging. We're at the bottom. My thing is to stop that. I want to talk about how we can stabilize the finances, and redevelop the city."
About 20 percent of the city's 1,345 registered voters cast ballots.
Bangor council agrees on contract for new manager, treasurer
By BECKY KARK
Editor and general manager
It's official. Bangor has a new city manager.
Richard Marsh, 52, of Southfield, plans to begin his new duties at the end of May.
Bangor City Council members, Monday, voted to hire Marsh at an annual salary of $59,000.
“We originally said between $50,000-$55,000, but when we looked at what Rich would forego in pension, travel and dues, it ended up being pretty much a wash,” said Interim City Manager Don Beavers. “Bangor has been facing difficult times and many candidates asked what our outstanding issues were. I realized that it would be difficult finding candidates. Rich has shown he's a good manager in other cities that he's worked at.”
Marsh spent part of this past week in Bangor, visiting with city officials and local residents.
“I had an opportunity to meet with many people,” he said. “I'm looking forward to my job here.”
The new city manager will have his work cut out for him when he starts his new duties.
The Downtown Development Authority and city council settled a lawsuit earlier this month, in which the DDA alleged the city had misappropriated funds for other uses. Although the two parties agreed to mediate their differences, Marsh will have to work with the DDA to help it come up with a new five-year plan and meet its membership requirements. The city also has to determine where to place its police department, after a fire shut down the department's building on Division Street. And, the city is facing several financial issues, mainly its dwindling budget reserves.
“I'm familiar with the issues facing Bangor — the DDA, finances and the police building.” Marsh said.
Marsh comes to Bangor after working two years as a municipal manager in Pontiac. Prior to that he served as city manager of Benton Harbor for 1-1/2 years, as assistant city manager in Jackson for two years, community and economic development director in Romulus for five years and senior planner of community development in Jackson for seven years.
In addition to hiring Marsh, Bangor city council members also named Lisa Imus as the city's new treasurer. Imus, who had been a city manager finalist for Bangor, will replace Cheri Parrish, who resigned in February to become treasurer/finance director for the City of Wayland, in northern Allegan County.
Imus, 44, of Kalamazoo, will begin her job May 13 at a starting annual salary of $38,700, which was what Parrish had been paid, according to Beavers.
Imus, a Gobles native, had served as assistant city manager in Grand Haven for four years, city manager of Allegan for four years and assistant city manager in Allegan for five years.
Leaking tank forces Palisades
to shut down
A leak in a safety injection refueling water tank forced Palisades Nuclear Power Plant to close on Sunday.
“Plant operators shut down the plant when water leakage from the tank exceeded a site threshold,” said Lindsay Rose, communications specialist for Palisades. “There is no impact on the health and safety of plant employees or the public.”
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission inspectors, who work at Palisades, monitored the shutdown of the plant, according to Viktoria Mitlyng of the NRC office of Public Affairs.
The tank is the same one that forced the plant to shutdown in 2012.
“The plant has been monitoring the leakage from the tank and had to shut down in accordance with the commitments made to the NRC in 2012, after the leak from the tank caused the plant to stop operation for repairs,” Mitlyng said.
“The NRC resident inspectors are closely following the plant's actions to identify the source of the leakage and repair the tank and the inspectors in the NRC Region 3 Office in Lisle, Ill., are evaluating these actions to make sure that the plant and the public continue to be safe.”
Kite boarder rescued from
A kite boarder was rescued from the choppy waves of Lake Michigan, Tuesday afternoon, after he had become tangled in his kite-board lines.
South Haven Area Emergency services found John Duda of Park City, Utah, about 200 yards from North Beach and brought him safely to shore.
Emergency responders received a call of a kite boarder in distress at 1:39 p.m. SHAES launched a fire boat from the Black River boat launch and reached the victim 15 minutes later. Duda was wearing a wet suit and flotation device which aided in his ability to stay afloat until a rescue boat arrived, according to Ronald Wise, executive director of SHAES.
Duda was taken back to shore in the fire boat along with his kite board.
SHAES strongly recommends that all persons on or near the water wear personal floatation devices at this time.
Tourism group gets boost in revenue from lodging establishments
By TRIBUNE STAFF
Tourism marketing in the South Haven area will receive a boost in revenue this year, thanks to an an agreement reached with lodging owners and a tourism group that promotes the area.
Owners of hotels and bed and breakfast inns that belong to the South Haven/Van Buren County Convention and Visitors Bureau have agreed to increase their lodging assessments from 2 percent to 5 percent, starting in June.
The assessment, commonly referred to as a “bed tax” is what lodging owners pay the convention bureau from each room that is booked. The money goes to pay for marketing programs to bring more tourists to Van Buren County and southwest Allegan County, according to Lisa Shanley, executive director of the convention and visitors bureau.
“In 2010 many CVB’s around the state, including ours, lobbied the Michigan Legislature to pass a law that allows Convention & Visitors Bureaus of our size to increase our lodging assessment from two percent up to five percent,” Shanley said.
The rationale behind the increase was based on several factors, Shanley went on to say.
One, similar-sized destination marketing organizations (DMO’s) had not increased since the Act was passed in the early 1980’s while all other expenses like media, overhead and utilities have continued to climb.
Two, small -to mid-sized CVB’s, such as South Haven's, were at a competitive disadvantage with the larger metro CVB’s who were already collecting at a higher rate.
And three, the local CVB determined that in order to grow and build its destinations, it needed to expand its marketing reach and effectiveness, which costs money.
To gather support for the increased assessment, board members from the CVB visited each lodging establishment to discuss the proposal. For the proposal to pass a majority of lodging owners had to agree to it.
“Based on a total count of 1168 lodging rooms in our assessment district, which includes all of Van Buren County and Casco Township, (it) passed 526 to 333,” said Sally Newton, president of the convention bureau and rental manager of Shore Vacation Rentals.
Tourism officials think the assessment will provide a boost in tourism dollars spent in Van Buren County and Casco Township.
“The economic impact of visitors who come to South Haven and Van Buren County already exceeds $100 million annually, Shanley. said “Tourism ranks in the top three industries in the county. “
Alluding to the state's award-winning Pure Michigan Campaign, Shanley went on to say, “It’s because of amazing places like South Haven that those commercials are working. Beautiful beaches, abundant bike trails, amazing attractions, one-in-a-million sunsets, and a rich resort history – we have it all. Now with this boost, we are in a strong position to expand our reach and tell more people about it.”
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