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YEAR IN REVIEW A SUPPLEMENT TO
Year in Review | January 2019
Everyone gathered for the ribbon cutting to open the WSCC Riemer Regional Public Safety Training Center in October. (News Advocate file photo)
WSCC enjoys busy year of progress in 2019 By Ken Grabowski Associate Editor The 2019 year at West Shore Community College can best be described as a year of growth in terms of infrastructure and curriculum opportunities offered to students. A dream officially turned into a reality in October when West Shore Community College unveiled to the public the Riemer Regional Public Safety Training Center at an open house/ribbon cutting ceremony. The state-of-the-art training facility is something that will benefit law enforcement, fire departments and medical first responders from both the
college district and the surrounding areas. The college’s decision to move in this direction was due to the need for a facility of this nature in west central Michigan. College officials began working toward this goal two years ago in 2017 when they first began looking at purchasing the building. The building was owned by Dr. Andrew Riemer, who had purchased it in 2013. Riemer acquired the 21,900 square foot former West Michigan Regional Blood and Cancer Center property with hopes of finding a use for the building. After coming to a purchase agreement for the building with the college, Riemer donated the entire purchase
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price back to the WSCC Foundation. He also pledged another $500,000 for college scholarships that will be given out annually in $50,000 increments. This year’s funds from that scholarship program will be used to support students in programs at the training center. Once the new center was up and running, long-time WSCC director of criminal justice Dan Dellar announced that he would be retiring at the end of 2019. Shortly after that resignation, Manistee County Sheriff John O’Hagan announced he would be retiring from his position and taking a job as a new instructor at the Riemer Regional Public Safety Training Center. In May, WSCC president Scott Ward and Davenport University president Dr. Richard Pappas sat down at the WSCC campus to sign an articulation agreement between the two learning institutions that will allow students to earn an expedited bachelor of science degree in nursing. The partnership allows WSCC students working on their associate of applied arts and sciences in nursing to formally enroll in Davenport University’s bachelor of nursing concurrent enrollment program. Students will take classes at both institutions and receive their bachelor of science in nursing only three semesters after earning their associate degree.
Midway through 2019, the WSCC board of directors began to look at the possibility of bringing housing to the campus. Two studies were done for the board, one was done by the Scion Group, while the second was done by Wendy Gradwohl Wells Ph.D. Both studies raised many positive aspects to bringing housing to the campus with one being the possibility of increasing enrollment numbers. Between the interest that has come in from the students and area K-12 school officials, the board of trustees will be looking further into the matter at its Jan. 20 board meeting. The month of September saw the unveiling of the 9-foot high bronze replica sculpture of the Manierre Dawson work “Daedayl.” The noted artist has an art gallery named after him in the college’s Arts and Sciences building. Dawson is considered America’s first artist to produce nonrepresentational abstractions, and though born in Chicago, he spent most of his life as a fruit farmer in Mason County. This sculpture is the latest addition to the college’s growing collection of Dawson’s work. Seven paintings and sculptures comprise the college’s current collection and, earlier this month, three more pieces were added by a donor. Members of the public had the opportunity to view the new renova-
January 2019 | Supplement to the Manistee News Advocate tions that took place at the West Shore Community College Technical Center during an open house the day of the Dawson sculpture unveiling. The renovation encompassed 66,000 square feet of existing space and a 2,700 square foot addition to the center including the expansion of a high-bay welding lab and nursing simulation classrooms, remodeling of existing classroom space to increase student capacity, and updates to corridors, offices and restrooms throughout the facility. “West Shore’s Technical Center was overdue for an upgrade, and we wish to thank the State of Michigan and our local taxpayers for the support of this needed project,” said WSCC president Scott Ward during the open house. “The expansion and improvements to the facility will make it a better place to learn cutting-edge, in-demand job skills.” The project had an estimated cost of $5.2 million with the State of Michigan picking up 50 percent. The Tech Center space is shared by the West Shore Educational Service District’s career and technical education program.
Late in the year, the West Shore Community College Board of Trustees voted 6-0 to name Manistee architect Kendra C.Thompson P.C. to handle the design of the Manistee Downtown Education Center. Throughout the course of the year, the project moved forward with the college first purchasing the building and entering into an agreement with two tenants. The Manistee Area Chamber of Commerce and Networks Northwest (Michigan Works!) have already agreed to be tenants in the building. Ward pointed out that because of that collaboration between education and economic development, it brings a level of cooperation that is drawing attention around the state. The college will use the building for classes and seminars and it will give them usage during the day, which wasn’t happening with the Manistee Education Center at Munson Heathcare Manistee Hospital. Costs for the Manistee Downtown Education Center have been estimated at $3.2 million with $2.2 million of that coming from the college funds and the other $1 million from an anonymous donor.
One of the many highlights of 2019 at West Shore Community College was the unveiling of the Manierre Dawson sculpture “Daedayl”. (News Advocate file photo)
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Year in Review | January 2019
Fire destroys iconic buildings; major court cases come to a head throughout county in 2019 By Ashlyn Korienek Special to the News Advocate The year of 2019 had many ups and downs, featuring stories of tragedy, hope and everything in between. Manistee County’s law enforcement and court system had one underlying goal in 2019: public safety. Headlines over the past year featured many hardships in the community, safety upgrades and lengthy court cases, among many other breaking front page stories. LAW ENFORCEMENT New year, new look The Manistee County Sheriff’s Office started out the new year by sporting a whole new design on patrol vehicles. Manistee County sheriff John O’Hagan said the upgrade was well within the allocated budget, and there is a rotation and method to how they upgrade their vehicles. Manistee distracted driving operation results in 40 traffic stops Local law enforcement agencies teamed up to remind drivers to pay attention to the roadway during a newly launched campaign. The Michigan State Police, Little River Band of Ottawa Indians Department of Public Safety, Manistee County Sheriff’s Office and City of Manistee Police patrolled from Merkey Road to M-55, watching out for distracted drivers. The campaign resulted in around 40 traffic stops,
many of which were distracted drivers who admitted to not paying attention to the roadway. Sheriff’s office K-9 dies unexpectedly Tragedy struck in July when K-9 officer Beno died unexpectedly. The K-9 was hit by a passing motorist in Dickson Township on July 23, and died at the scene. Beno just finished working his shift a few hours prior when the accident took place. The 2-year-old German Shepard was assigned to his handler, deputy Brandon Gillispie, and had been a member of the sheriff’s office since June 2018. Foul play suspected in Dublin General Store fire Investigators announced arson is suspected in a blaze that destroyed the Dublin General Store during Labor Day weekend in Wellston. The fire left the historic Manistee County icon in shambles. In a press release, Manistee County sheriff John O’Hagan said investigators have evidence to suggest the fire was “intentionally set.” Dublin General Store has been a destination in Manistee County since 1935. In recent years, its jerky selection has added to its fame. Portage Point Inn cottage a total loss after blaze A blaze destroyed one of Portage Point Inn’s historic cottages in
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Onekama. Rob Johnson, assistant fire chief of Onekama Township Fire Department, said crews responded to a fire at the historic Rexwood Cottage located at Portage Point Inn in Onekama around 6 a.m. on Aug. 26. However, by the time crews arrived the structure was entirely engulfed in flames.
Public Defender’s office. David Kieft, Manistee County administrator, said five candidates were interviewed for the position but Henry was an ideal fit. Henry previously worked as the attorney-magistrate, court administrator and Sobriety Court project director for Manistee County’s 85th District Court.
New dog joins police force after tragic loss The Manistee County Sheriff’s Office introduced its newest member on Nov. 6, K-9 officer Faro, a 1-yearold purebred German Shepherd from Poland. Deputy Brandon Gillispie and Faro completed a five week intensive training at the Mid Michigan Academy in Eaton Rapids. The K-9 was introduced to his handler at the end of September. Faro is a “dual purpose” K-9 professionally trained in narcotic detection and patrol functions, Gillispie said. The K-9 is trained in the detection of the following narcotics: Cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and ecstasy.
Man charged following deadly shooting in Free Soil Township Corey Beekman was arraigned in April following a double shooting in Free Soil Township. Beekman was charged with one count of homicide/ open murder; two counts of weapons/felony firearms; and one count of assault with intent to commit murder. Mason County Sheriff’s Office deputies were called to a residence at the 10000 block of North U.S. 31 in Free Soil Township around 6:54 a.m. on April 16 in response to the shooting. Upon arrival, police found one man dead from multiple shot wounds and a woman who was seriously injured. The female victim was transported by Life EMS to Munson Healthcare Manistee Hospital. Two children were in the home at the time of the shooting. Mason County sheriff Kim Cole said the male shooting suspect surrendered to officers outside of the home around 8:25 a.m. Beekman was said to have shot the two victims at the residence.
MANISTEE COUNTY COURTS Chief defender named for new regional office In February, Jared Henry was selected as the first chief public defender serving Manistee and Benzie counties’ newly created Regional
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January 2019 | Supplement to the Manistee News Advocate Myers sentenced nearly 1 year after fatal Bear Lake crash A Bear Lake woman was sentenced in August for causing the death of a construction worker and seriously injuring another in September 2018. Charlene Myers, 67, was sentenced by Judge Thomas Brunner in Manistee County’s 85th District Court to 14 days in the Manistee County Jail, 180 days on house arrest with a GPS tether, and two years of probation. In addition, her driver’s license was revoked. The deadly incident took place on Sept. 25, 2018, in a Bear Lake construction zone on U.S. 31, in which Myers reportedly crossed the centerline striking Andre Alvesteffer, 20, of Pentwater, and Damon Williamson, 23, of Ludington. Alvesteffer died at the scene, and Williamson suffered life-threatening injuries. Myers was charged with two misdemeanors: moving violation causing death (punishable by up to one year in jail), and moving violation causing serious impairment of bodily function (punishable by up to 93 days in jail). New fingerprint machine to be located at courthouse In October, new equipment provided through a Local Revenue Sharing Board grant was placed in the Manistee County Courthouse for public use. Previously, fingerprinting services had be done at the Manistee County Sheriff’s Office. Sheriff John O’Hagan and undersheriff Ken Falk said the new fingerprinting service is set to be held from noon to 4:30 p.m. on Wednesdays.
Pair charged in Marilla Township animal cruelty investigation Two Kaleva women appeared in court in November in relation to an animal cruelty case which took place in September in Marilla Township. Irene George, 61, and Christina Humphrey, 27, both of Kaleva, both appeared in Manistee County’s 85th District Court on Oct. 30 for a probable cause conference. The two women also were both arraigned on Oct. 16. George and Humphrey were charged with abandoning/cruelty to 10 or more but less than 25 animals, which is a felony punishable by up to four years in prison, a $5,000 fine, and up to 500 hours of community service. In early October, the Manistee County Sheriff’s Office reported that 29 dogs were found in wretched living conditions. All of the dogs were removed from the scene. Former funeral home manager facing felony charges A former Manistee funeral home manager was arraigned in Manistee County’s 85th District Court in September on felony counts of fraud. Tim Kozal, Manistee Public Safety director, said Denis Johnson, 69, the former manager of Johnson Funeral Home, P.C., of Manistee, was arrested by officers after the Michigan Attorney General’s Office issued a felony warrant. According to the court, Johnson was charged with four counts of funeral contract conversion charges. Johnson’s arrest stems from a long-term investigation by the Attorney General’s Office into Johnson Funeral Home. In 2017, Johnson retired after receiving a second cease and desist order from the state.
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Dublin General Store caught fire in the early morning hours of Aug. 31. Firefighters worked for hours to contain the blaze. The loss continues to be felt throughout the community, however, the owners are now working to rebuild. Police suspect arson, and the investigation is ongoing. (News Advocate file photo)
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Year in Review | January 2019
2019 anything but dull for area schools By KEN GRABOWSKI Associate Editor
Onekama Consolidated Schools superintendent Kevin Hughes surprised his board of education in February when he resigned at the end of the school year. (News Advocate file photo)
To say that 2019 was a relatively mild year when it came to the county school districts would be a major understatement. Some of the highlights during the past few months included achievements by students, changes in administration, mixed in with a variety of bond issues that were put before the voters. To put it quite simply, it was a year of excitement in area schools. Something that was anything but mild when it came to schools was the weather. One of the big stories of the year was that all the county school districts recorded double digit snow day counts forcing some of them to extend their school year to get in the mandatory number of days. For several months, the local districts joined others around the state in seeking help from Lansing to forgive some of the snow days. After much deliberation, the
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state responded with some help and the school year was not extended quite as long as first anticipated. Another big change came at Onekama Consolidated Schools when superintendent Kevin Hughes surprised his board of education in the spring by announcing he was retiring from his position on July 1. Due to financial constraints, board members opted to go with a one-year interim superintendent position and subsequently hired Mark Parsons for the position. Parsons had no more than taken over the job when the next big surprise came to their board of education. The district’s enrollment dropped drastically, forcing them to move into being an Out-of-Formula school district. Being in a transition of moving from state per pupil funding to Out-Of-Formula left the district with a tight financial situation which prompted them to offer Parsons another year as interim superintendent. Changes in administration this year also came to Trinity Lutheran School
where Tina Fisk took over the principal duties, and at Manistee Catholic Central where the same thing happened when Jeremie Solak became principal. Other big news in the past year to come to the K-12 school districts was when Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued line item vetoes of many areas of legislation that impacted local school districts. CASMAN Academy and the Michigan Great Lakes Virtual Academy were prevented at first from getting a $250 per pupil increase in funding while Kaleva Norman Dickson, Onekama Consolidated and Bear Lake Schools saw busing funding disappear for their rural districts. It wasn’t until December that a supplemental budget bill was passed that included $114.5 million for education. That bill restored many of the things local districts had lost and also re-instated autism funding and reading support for elementary schools. Throughout the course of 2019 the Manistee Area Public Schools held a
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January 2019 | Supplement to the Manistee News Advocate
Wishing You The Manistee Catholic Central Quiz Bowl team won the Class C/D state championship in 2019 and their division in Central Michigan University’s Quiz Central. (News Advocate file photo)
series of forums with the public about possible bond proposals to put before the voters. MAPS’ shrinking enrollment numbers necessitated a need to look at downsizing the number of buildings and footprint the district has in the community. After a series of those forums and meetings, the district came back to the public with a 2.65 mill ($29,861,255) bond increase to the district’s current millage which would raise it to 4.9 mills. The plan is to take the request to the voters on May 5. The plan also calls for the decision to tear down the former 1927 building located behind Kennedy Elementary school that has turned into blighted property and the demolition of the current Jefferson Elementary School Building. A new elementary lower elementary wing would be added to the back of Kennedy Elementary and additions would also be added to the Manistee Middle/ High School building. Millages were in the news all over the county as the Kaleva Norman Dickson School District asked the voters for a Zero Mill Bond increase. Only 9 percent of the registered voters came out to vote in the November election, and it passed by a 283-180 vote. Superintendent Marlen Cordes said school officials were appreciative of the voter support. The Zero Mill Bond increase will generate $2.775 million for the district that will be used for improvements to the Brethren School campus. Manistee Intermediate School District officials also made the decision in November to renew a 0.2104 mill special education millage in the upcoming May 5 election. It expires in 2020, and would run from 2021 to 2025. The millage currently generates roughly $250,000. School security came to the forefront in 2019 with all districts taking steps to
bolster their buildings with cameras, new security entrances and more. All of the districts were also required by the state to complete an Emergency Operations Plan by the end of the year. It was a tedious process, but one that all the schools completed touching on plans for just about every scenario possible. Kaleva Norman Dickson Schools used grant funds to put a new, more secure entrance to their building as did the Manistee Area Public Schools, which used general fund money to solidify the entrance to the Manistee Middle/High School building. CASMAN Academy also took steps to secure its building’s entrance as did Manistee Catholic Central. Manistee Catholic Central had a banner year in Quiz Bowl competition, sweeping just about every honor in sight. Besides winning the West Michigan D League championship, their division in the White Cloud tournament and the Class C/D State Championship, the team also recently captured the Gold Division Championship in the Quiz Central Tournament at Central Michigan University. They even qualified for the national tournament in Chicago, but were unable to attend due to a schedule conflict. Also doing extremely well at the Class B level was the Manistee High School Quiz Bowl team, who finished fifth at the state finals in Lansing. The Science Olympiad teams also had good years as the MCC Junior High Science Olympiad team and Manistee High School team won their respective regional championships. They both competed in the state finals in Lansing. Another competition gained numbers when Manistee High School and Manistee Catholic Central entered the Robotics competition field in 2019. They joined Kaleva Norman Dickson and Bear Lake schools, which have been participating for the past five years.
2020 A Top-Notch Year
Year in Review | January 2019
Manistee County faced choices and challenges in 2019 By Scott Fraley Staff Writer MANISTEE COUNTY — 2019 was a year marked by change throughout the county. Residents and institutions with long-running traditions were faced with often difficult choices during changing times. Some remained steadfast in the face of uncertainty, and while others sought to guide these changes, many were forced to adapt. These choices not only defined the year that was -- their results and consequences will remain with the community for years to come. Manistee County Treasurer, Russ
Pomeroy chose to end his decades long career in public service, passing the torch to Rachel Nelson who was chosen as his successor in April. “Russ has a lot of knowledge, a passion for his job, and truly cares about fulfilling his duties as the county treasurer to the best of his ability,” Nelson said. “It’s an honor to follow him in this position.” After a strong tenure, Pomeroy shared his thoughts on the community as it heads into a new decade. “It was wonderful working with the citizens of Manistee and I work with Continued on Page 14
In the fall, Swidorski Brothers Excavating’s equipment worked on fortifying the shoreline home owned by Rochelle Radlinski by placing large rocks to protect it from washing into Lake Michigan. (News Advocate file photo)
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Year in Review | January 2019
City discusses marijuana, completes Rising Tide program, marks sesquicentennial By Michelle Graves Managing Editor MANISTEE — Throughout 2019, recreational marijuana was one of the hot topics in the City of Manistee, as well as the city’s year-long participation in the State of Michigan’s Rising Tide program. Celebrating the city’s sesquicentennial as well as a world record are among the high points. However, the city continued to discuss housing issues throughout the year. In 2018, a voter approved measure decriminalized recreational marijuana use for Michigan residents ages 21 and over. This action left local townships and city governments with the responsibility to lay the foundation for the licensing and regulation of the controversial new industry. City of Manistee officials first moved
forward with a recreational marijuana ordinance that would allow establishments within the city limits in May. Council members voted 5-2 to introduce ordinance 19-14 Recreational Marijuana. Throughout 2019, City Council would introduce more ordinances concerning recreational and medical marijuana, including creating a Marijuana Sales Overlay district on Arthur Street. The City of Manistee Planning Commission approved 10 special use permits on Sept. 19 for potential marijuana businesses located in the district, and on Oct. 11 the city began taking recreational marijuana license applications. Lissette Reyes served as Manistee’s development fellow in the Rising Tide program, a statewide program in which the city was selected to participate for 2019. Throughout the year, Reyes gathered
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the area’s largest employers, institutions and governing bodies under one roof with community forums, informational sessions and other meetings. After working with Sarah Lucas, of Housing North, a a housing action plan and mission statement was proposed. Following several community forums, Joe Borgstrom, president of Place + Main Advisors, LLC, put together an economic development plan, which lists action items assigned to specific organizations, individuals or groups within the city. In August, Ben Muldrow, of Arnett Muldrow & Associates, who also worked with Project Rising Tide, proposed a branding package consisting of a new logo, slogan, city mission statement and color palette. The city completed the program in December. Manistee Forward, an organization formed from the steering commit-
tee, is intended to take over where Rising Tide and Reyes left off. Discussion turned to housing early in the year when City Council approved a 4% Payment in Lieu of Taxes in January for a development. The Hollander Development Corporation announced a plan for “workforce housing” at the former Washington Elementary School property, located on Ford Street bordering Short Street and Third Avenue in Manistee. The 3.5 acre site would support 50 units, at rental rates affordable to households with incomes from 30% to 100% of area median income. In June, the development — called Hillcrest Apartments — was awarded $1,091,745 in Low-Income Housing Tax Credits from Michigan State Housing Development Authority. The Hollander Development Corp. also was involved in discussions for
January 2019 | Supplement to the Manistee News Advocate
Manistee residents participated in February in the Rising Tide Economic Development Summit. (News Advocate file photo)
a development along with the City of Manistee Housing Commission (CMHC). The housing development was proposed at the Olson Lumber site, located at 168 Harrison St. The CMHC is working to update and convert its family-site homes, Century Terrace and Harborview apartments from the public housing program to long-term Section 8 rental assistance, under the Rental Assistance Demonstration program (RAD). The program runs through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). However, in August CMHC terminated its contract with Hollander Development. The City of Manistee considered its options to remediate shoreline erosion which has taken a toll on local residents and city property. In May, city officials told council that shoreline erosion has caused significant damage to the riverwalk and Manistee River Channel due to higher than average water levels, ice build up and wave-action. Severe erosion has been taking place along the inner Manistee Harbor near the First Street Boat Launch, at city property along residential lots on the Manistee River Channel, and damage to the riverwalk was reported last winter. After years of work, and work throughout 2019, the Manistee City Council approved an ordinance in October to issue water and sewer revenue bonds that would allow the city to remove the last combined sewer overflow. Council members approved the ordinance for the bonds in any amount not to exceed $4 million. This step is necessary to process any bond sale. City council approved a Notice of Intent Resolution for the issuance of sewer and water revenue bonds in one or more series up to $25 million on Aug. 22. The Michigan Department of Envi-
ronmental Quality (MDEQ) National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES), which became effective Jan. 1, includes a final wet weather Corrective Action Plan (CAP) program. It aims to eliminate the last Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) where illegal water is getting into the sewer system. Mikula said this is a 20-year sewer separation process. He said the city eliminated 18 out of the 19 CSOs, however the last one remaining will be the most difficult to eliminate. The City of Manistee marked an important milestone in 2019. During the first week in March of 1869, Manistee was granted a charter by the State Legislature officially making Manistee a city. After the first charter election was held on March 15 of that year, a mayor was elected as were alderman for the city’s (then) four wards. 2019 marked the 150th anniversary of this event and to mark the celebration, the Manistee County Historical Museum, and other area businesses and organizations, hosted a variety of events throughout the year. The museum’s kickoff event, Fun with the Founding Fathers, was held at the Manistee Elks Lodge No. 250. The museum hosted a total of 13 events throughout the city from February to December. The end of the decade also saw Manistee make its mark in the record books. Following a two-year project headed up by fireman Fred LaPoint with assistance from Manistee County Historical Museum executive director Mark Fedder, Manistee’s historic fire station was honored by the Guinness Book of World Records on June 18 for being the Oldest Continuously Manned Operating Fire Station. A plaque was placed on the outside of the building noting the fact that the fire station has been been manned 24 hours a day, seven days a week since 1889.
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Year in Review | January 2019
The local sports stories that shaped 2019 By Dylan Savela Sports Editor How many local sports highlights can you pack into a calendar year? Well, teams and athletes across Manistee County certainly provided plenty in 2019. This is a recap of the year’s standout moments, achievements and stories that helped shape the local sports landscape: Portagers ski at the state finals The Onekama co-op ski team’s Joe Buswinka, a Manistee Catholic Central senior in 2019, and Kylar Thomas, then a Manistee freshman, competed in the Division 2 state finals at Boyne Mountain on Feb. 25. Buswinka capped his successful career by finishing 21st in the giant slalom in 1:14.37 and 26th in the slalom in 1:11.44. Thomas, in his first appearance at the finals, finished 45th in the giant slalom in 1:17.70. The two punched their tickets to the state finals in mid-February at their regional meet, in which Buswinka placed second in the giant slalom and fifth in the slalom. Thomas made the cut in giant slalom with an 11th-place regional finish. Chips wrestle at the state finals Manistee wrestling had two wrestlers compete in the Division 3 individual state finals in 2019. The two-day tournament was held the first weekend of March at Ford Field with then senior Bryson Jensen and sophomore Keaton Ensley representing the Chippewas. Jensen grappled his way to a fifthplace finish — and All-State status — in the 160-pound weight class while En-
sley came up short in his two matches at 152. The two qualified for the finals with strong regional performances leading up to the state tournament. Jensen, who won a regional crown, crossed the 150-win milestone at the state tournament, and added two more to finish his career with 152. He became just the second Manistee wrestler to place at the state finals, with Adam Ball being the first in 2014. Bear Lake’s Gilbert hits 1,000 career points Heading into Bear Lake’s regular season finale on Feb. 21, then senior Trey Gilbert was 46 points away from the coveted 1,000-point milestone most varsity basketball players can only dream of capturing during the course of their careers. With two minutes remaining in the Lakers’ eventual 71-48 West Michigan D League victory over Baldwin, Gilbert scored his 46th point of the game — and 1,000th of his career — en route to an incredible 50-point performance on the night. Gilbert went on to be named a Division 4 first-team All-State player by the Michigan Associated Press. MHS swim record falls at finals The Manistee swim team traveled to Oakland University for the Division 3 state finals in early March, and the Chippewas came back with another program record in tow. Manistee’s Ben Sullivan Dylan Johnson, Zach Lee and Caden Schmutzler took down a four-year-old Manistee mark in the 200-yard freestyle relay with a new record time of 1:32.89. The group set the school record in the preliminary rounds while placing 19th
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overall, just outside a top-16 finish that was necessary to advance to the final heats. The 200-yard freestyle relay team’s performance marked the fifth school-record swim of the season for Manistee. The Chippewas competed in three other events at the state finals, for which they qualified during the Coastal Swim Conference championships in late February. The team of Eric Vilardell, Lee, Sebastian Larsen and Schmutzler placed 28th in the 200-yard medley relay in the time of 1:46.86, while Schmutzler — a senior — capped his prep career with a 24th-place finish in the 50-yard freestyle (22.67) and 26th in the 100yard freestyle (50.31). All-State athletes at track finals A trio of Manistee County athletes earned All-State status to cap their prep careers at the track and field state finals on June 1. Manistee’s Anselmo Sarabia and Erin Dorn — both seniors at the time — earned All-State honors in their respective Division 3 800-meter runs, as Sarabia placed seventh in the men’s race and Dorn took eighth in the women’s. Sarabia finished in a season-best time of 1:58.68 while Dorn finished her season and prep career very strongly with a personal record time of 2:21.69. Bear Lake’s Zach Belinsky — representing the Onekama co-op track team — also earned All-State status as a senior in the shot put at the Division 4 track and field state finals. Belinsky threw a personal best 483.75, good for a sixth-place finish in the
Manistee’s Sara Thompson helped the Manistee girls golf team qualify to the state finals this fall. (News Advocate file photo)
event. Local golfers compete in state finals Three Manistee County golfers finished their prep careers with strong showings at the state finals in June, including Manistee Catholic Central’s John Slivka, who capped a spectacular season and decorated prep career with a top-10 finish. Following his 76 in the first round of the Division 4 finals at The Meadows of Grand Valley State University, Slivka carded an 82 in the final round for a combined score of 158, good for eighth place overall in a field of more than
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January 2019 | Supplement to the Manistee News Advocate a hundred golfers. The top-10 finish earned Slivka a coveted state finals medal. Slivka’s teammate and fellow senior at the time, Preston Picardat, also competed at the finals, capping his prep career with a 32nd-place finish overall after shooting an 88 in the first round and an 85 in the second. Meanwhile, in Big Rapids, Manistee’s Jayden O’Hagan completed his golf career with the Chippewas in the Division 3 state finals at Ferris State University’s Katke Golf Course. O’Hagan followed up his first-round 80 with an 87 on the second day for a combined score of 167 to tie for 32nd out of more than a hundred golfers. Bobcats have season to remember Led by a core of five seniors — Jake Riggs, Gavin Asiala, Hunter Wojciechowski, Adrian Dean and Jalen Guenther — the Brethren baseball team compiled a record of 29-5 in the spring, winning both a West Michigan D League title and Division 4 district championship. Up until their 5-3 loss to powerhouse Beal City in a regional title game, the Bobcats hadn’t allowed a single run in four postseason performances, besting Onekama (1-0), Mesick (11-0) and Marion (15-0) in their district tournament, and Fowler (8-0) in the regional semifinal. Portagers capture elusive district title Despite a strikingly young roster, the Onekama softball team turned a lot of heads this spring with their dominance on the diamond. The young squad was in uncharted territory on June 8 in Holton, while seeking a program-first regional title after winning a district that’s been elusive for decades. The Portagers, however, certainly didn’t look the part of newcomers as
they won their opening game, 4-3, against Marion for a berth in the afternoon’s Division 4 regional championship. Unfortunately for Onekama, though, tournament host Holton was too much to overcome in a 10-2 defeat. The Portagers earned their spot in the regional tournament by capturing a district championship the weekend prior, with wins over Manistee Catholic Central (21-0) and Bear Lake (1-0). Onekama’s McCarthy hits 1,000 kills While success on the volleyball court certainly takes a team effort, Onekama senior Colleen McCarthy has been the pulse of the Portagers’ dominance in recent years. And at an invitational tournament on Sept. 14, she became the first player in the program’s history to surpass the coveted 1,000-kill mark for one’s varsity career. McCarthy amassed 467 kills in her senior season alone, bringing her career total to 1,374. She finished with a 92 percent serving percentage and also averaged 2.4 digs per set. Chips golfers qualify for state finals Prior to her team’s Division 4 regional, Manistee girls golf coach Bridget Warnke downplayed the Chippewas’ chances to make the cut as a team. The little white lie helped take the pressure off as Manistee secured its bid to the program’s first state finals as a unit since 2015. The senior-laden Chippewas put it all together in the 10-team regional, totaling 431 strokes to be the third and final team in the field to qualify for the finals. Manistee capped its successful season with an 18th-place finish at the finals, which were held at Bedford Valley of Battle Creek.
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The Brethren baseball team celebrates its district championship. (News Advocate file photo)
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Year in Review | January 2019
Continued from Page 8 a great bunch of people,” he said. “It has been a pleasure to serve Manistee County.” When faced with the grim reality of veteran suicide, local Marine Travis Snyder chose to fight back, raising both awareness and funding to combat the growing trend. Snyder left at the end of August, on a 42 day trek around Lake Michigan, ending where he started in Manistee. The 180 mile march to raise awareness of veteran suicide caught the attention of national press as well as local news outlets in every community he passed. “When I started this five weeks ago, I had done very little planning and I had only hoped to reach just a few people with this message and cause,” Snyder said. “The magnitude that it’s reached has been a blessing, so I’m very thankful.” Rising water levels left both local leadership and shoreline residents searching for answers. Unseasonable weather and flooding throughout the county brought the issue of shoreline erosion to the forefront in the second half of the year, as near record water levels devoured lake front property. “Water was just running over like I didn’t even have a seawall and the lake was just continuing on,” said Manistee Township resident, Rochelle Radlinski, whose home risked collapsing into Lake Michigan. While fast action saved Radlinski’s home from washing away, others like Rita Alton haven’t been as fortunate. In September, Alton reported that acres of her property had been swept away by a growing cliffside, leaving her with seemingly few remaining options. To find out what, if anything, could be done to address the issue, the
The 305-acre Arcadia Marsh Nature Preserve reopened with a new universally accessible walkway in 2019. (News Advocate file photo)
Manistee County Board of Commissioners held an emergency summit in December, which was attended by representatives from both state and local government. “The only way to address these issues is to get things out on the table and try to find a workable solution,” said Lt. Brian Gutowski, the Manistee County Emergency Management Coordinator who helped coordinate the symposium. “The purpose of this meeting is to get subject matter experts and members of the community all in one place, so we can get good solid information in the hands of people that this situation is affecting.” The commissioners joined with local representatives as well as the leadership of other lakeside communities to issue a joint statement pressing Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to declare the Great Lakes coast a disaster area. “This is not an emergency disaster like a tornado went through or the blizzard of 1978,” said Manistee County Commission chair Jeff Dontz.
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“This is a drip, drip, drip, but yet, it is a disaster.” The Huron-Manistee National Forests announced in February a delay in the implementation of a closure order prohibiting alcohol on sections of three National Wild and Scenic Rivers until at least 2020. The U.S. Forest Service instead planned to work with local communities to develop alternative means of restoring public safety and preventing damage to Congressionally-protected sections of the AuSable, Manistee and Pine Rivers. Earlier in the month, the Forest Service announced the closure order to prohibit alcohol on sections of the AuSable, Manistee, and Pine National Wild and Scenic Rivers during the 2019 recreation season. The closure order was intended to address persistent public safety issues and protect natural resources on those waterways. Following a public hearing in late April, Manistee County drain commissioner Gary Schwaiger signed documents to officially close the Kettle Hole drain, after nearly a decade of turmoil. “It’s a pretty big deal, this has been going on a long, long time,” said Stronach Township supervisor Phil Vadeboncoeur. About a half dozen spoke in support of closing the drain, and Schwaiger said he received numerous letters of support from governmental agencies. Schwaiger said closing the Kettle Hole drainage district would save the county and taxpayers money. Arcadia Marsh was reopened in late July, following months of environmental rehabilitation. The nature preserve, one of only 15 coastal marshes remaining along Lake Michigan’s shoreline, became the site of a universal access trail which extends from the parking
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area on M-22 to St. Pierre Road. “Our coastal marshes are the biological engines of the Great Lake’s ecosystems,” said Grand Traverse Regional Conservancy executive director Glen Chown. “They are tremendously productive ecosystems that provide critical habitat for hundreds of birds, plants, fish and other animals and they protect Lake Michigan’s treasured water quality by filtering pollutants and contaminants from the watershed.” In Onekama, the Manistee County Fair was met with increasing challenges in 2018. Faced with dwindling sources of funding and diminishing participation, the Manistee County Agricultural Society, which runs the fair, had struggled to maintain and repair aging infrastructure on the fairgrounds. “We have a lot of things that need to be fixed to make it a safe place for the public,” said Elaine Bossingham of the Manistee County Agricultural Society. “We will donate our time until the last one doesn’t show up, because agriculture is hurting and the more kids that we can bring up and be involved in this, hopefully we have future farmers there.” A blaze broke out at the Dublin General Store after 2 a.m. on Aug. 31 in the front corner of the hardware section, leaving only rubble in its place. “This is a huge devastation to this community. Everybody shops here, plus it draws a huge number of tourists, they have jerky, a deli, they ship worldwide,” said Joyce Durdel, a member of the Sauble Elk Eden Township Fire Support Group at the scene of the fire. Following the fire, Manistee County sheriff John O’Hagan said on Sept. 3 that investigators have evidence to suggest the fire was “intentionally set.”
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