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July 11, 1999

Week in Review

A news roundup from the 13-county region


Team examines 'bomblike' object
      ELK RAPIDS - Police cordoned off a beach north of Elk Rapids Wednesday afternoon until a military ordnance team could examine a disc-shaped "bomblike" object discovered there earlier in the day.
      An explosives team from Selfridge Air Force Base arrived in the village late Wednesday night to examine the artifact, which was described as eight inches in diameter and painted army green.
      It was discovered on the sand off North Bayshore Drive around noon by a beachcomber looking for Petoskey stones, and police decided to warn people away from the area until it could be identified.
      It is believed the object may have been washed ashore during Monday night's heavy storms.


Woman electrocuted while swimming
      FRANKFORT - A 22-year-old Chicago woman died Monday after receiving an electrical shock from a water pump suction pipe at a fueling dock in Crystal Lake.
      According to Benzie County Sheriff's Department reports, the woman was in the water when the accident happened, near 1107 S. Shore. The cause of death is listed as electrocution and/or drowning.
      The victim, whose name is not being released pending notification of family, was taken to Paul Oliver Memorial Hospital in Frankfort where she died.
Frankfort man wins $140,000 in contest
      FRANKFORT - A Frankfort family can now build a new home after winning it big at a local grocery store.
      Harold "Bugs" Middleton, 33, won $140,000, first prize, in a Spartan Stores contest.
      "We intend to use most of the money to build a house in the Frankfort school district," Middleton said.
      Middleton and his wife Elizabeth "Liz" have five children: Austin, 5, Harold, 8, and Nicole, 12, and Eric and April who are grown and away from home.
      Middleton is an apprentice electrician at Olsen Electric Company. His name was selected from an estimated 100,000 entrants statewide.


Police seize illegal fireworks in raid
      CHEBOYGAN - Police said they raided what appeared to be a legal fireworks stand here on Independence Day after an undercover investigation revealed a side business selling banned fireworks.
      State police in Cheboygan said they got an anonymous tip to check out the stand, which was set up near TJ's Party Store in Cheboygan.
      Troopers in plain clothes asked if they could buy illegal fireworks. They said they were taken to a trailer partially hidden from view near the rear of the party store, police said.
      There, the officers saw a large amount of illegal fireworks and were able to purchase some.


Car fire leads to arrest on marijuana charges
      GRAYLING - A 19-year-old Caro man whose car caught fire early Tuesday caught some official heat after police arrived.
      Harvey Reaver was arraigned Tuesday afternoon in Crawford County District Court on a charge of possession of marijuana with intent to deliver.
      Michigan State Police troopers from the Houghton Lake post were dispatched to a car fire on I-75 near the Crawford-Roscommon County line at 1:50 a.m. Tuesday.
      Troopers said Reaver acted suspiciously when they arrived and they asked to search his car. They say they found a pound of marijuana and $1,000 in a duffel bag. Police said they did not know why the car caught fire.

County fires housing director following audit
      GRAYLING - The Crawford County Housing Commission Tuesday fired its director after an audit revealed procedural errors that cost the commission thousands in lost grants and that hundred of dollars of personal phone calls were billed to the county.
      Housing commission director Sandy Brody was fired following a three-hour meeting to review her job performance Tuesday. Brody declined to comment.
      Marv Henderson, an auditor hired by Crawford County, reported that there were hundreds of dollars in phone calls billed to the county that were made on nights and weekends that were "outside the scope of doing business."
High winds blamed for death of camper
      GRAYLING - Powerful winds blew the rotting branch off a maple tree Friday morning, killing a female camper from St. Johns.
      A man was also injured when the limb fell about 30 feet onto their campsite at Lake Margarethe.
      State police said the National Weather Service reported that winds gusts were 35 mph when the accident occurred about 3 a.m. Friday.
      The names of the victims were being withheld pending notification of family. St. Johns is north of Lansing.


Voters elect Waldvogel, Relinger to school board
      PETOSKEY - A fraction of Petoskey voters wrapped up their holiday weekend by heading to the polls on Monday.
      Voters re-elected incumbent Jack Waldvogel to the school board and also chose Tom Rellinger among the three newcomers vying for the two seats. Waldvogel, an insurance broker, received 733 votes and Rellinger, a minister, received 844 votes. Each term will last three years.
      Turnout for the election was sparse. Only 12 percent of the city's 11,183 eligible voters cast their ballots.


Frederic boy, 8, drowns in lake near Interlochen
      INTERLOCHEN - David Michael Wilson, 8, of Frederic, drowned last Sunday at Cedar Hedge Lake.
      Wilson drowned after apparently stepping over a drop-off while swimming with friends at the lake west of Interlochen. He was reported missing around 6:30 p.m.
      His body was recovered after a half-hour search by Grand Traverse County Fire Department and U.S. Coast Guard personnel, but efforts to revive him were unsuccessful.
TC zoning changes win commission's approval
      TRAVERSE CITY - Traverse City commissioners approved a highly debated zoning ordinance Tuesday.
      Weese and Commissioners Jasper Weese and Margaret Dodd were the only dissenting votes on the ordinance issue, which passed by a 5-2 vote.
      The new ordinance will restrict new construction to seven stories in the downtown area but it will allow a building to be constructed to the edges of a piece of property.

City OKs reappointments to GT Commons board
      TRAVERSE CITY - The Traverse City Commission ratified the reappointments of four members of the Grand Traverse Commons Redevelopment Corp. board Tuesday - but added a recommendation that a fifth vacant seat be filled with a representative of a preservationist group.
      The commission followed the recommendation of the Commons board itself, which oversees redevelopment plans for the former Traverse City Regional Psychiatric Hospital and its grounds.
      After some discussion Tuesday night, the commission agreed to the reappointment of banker John Pelizzari, retired engineer Robert Bach, retired head of Munson Healthcare John C. Bay and Richard Marion Jr., administrator of the Grand Traverse Medical Care Facility.

Man may testify that his friend solicited for sex
      TRAVERSE CITY - A man who admitted in court that he helped a friend try to solicit teen-age males at Central High School for sex was sentenced Wednesday to 90 days in jail to be served after he testifies against his alleged partner.
      David Dugas, 19, will get credit for time he recently served in jail in Kalkaska County for a probation violation. In a plea agreement in May, Dugas agreed to help prosecutors make a case against co-defendant Ronald VanBrocklin.
      VanBrocklin, 31, awaits trial on charges of soliciting prostitution and making an obscene phone call stemming from the events of a morning in February when Dugas - allegedly at VanBrocklin's urging - approached several Traverse City Central High School students before school and offered them up to $500 if they would meet with VanBrocklin.

State buys development rights of Old Mission site
      TRAVERSE CITY - The state Department of Natural Resources was to approve Wednesday an $850,000 purchase of development rights deal for 170 acres on Old Mission Peninsula.
      The property, owned by Jed and Dawn Hemming of Traverse City, is located in the central part of the peninsula, north of Ne-Ah-Ta-Wanta Road.
      The site, which is currently being used for farming, has "significant scenic views" of Bowers Harbor, according to the DNR, and is subject to development pressure.
      The development rights to the property will be purchased with money from the state's Farmland and Open Space Preservation program. The purchase price is $5,000 per acre, the maximum allowed under the program.
      The property will be restricted from development forever, except for one reserved farm building site.

Iowa Sara Lee plant closing helps TC
      TRAVERSE CITY - The closing of a Sara Lee Bakery in Iowa saved up to 1,000 local jobs and could bring in another 350.
      "To me the important decision is the plant is closed somewhere else," said Charles Blankenship of the Traverse Bay Economic Development Corp.
      Sara Lee officials announced Thursday they will close before year's end a plant that employs 625 people in New Hampton, Iowa. The move follows an internal study that showed the corporation could eliminate one of its three underutilized bakeries and maintain production levels, spokeswoman Theresa Harlevsen said.
      Blankenship has known of Sara Lee's determination to close either its North Carolina, Iowa or Traverse City plant. He has been lobbying to maintain the local facility that once was home to Chef Pierre.
      On Friday, he breathed a sigh of relief and began thinking about the possibility that the two remaining plants will absorb 300 to 350 new jobs between them.

Erin Sullivan crowned Cherry Queen
      TRAVERSE CITY - Twice was the charm for Erin Sullivan.
      The Traverse City native was crowned 1999 National Cherry Queen at the Coronation Ball Friday evening.
      "I can't believe it right now, it feels so surreal," said Sullivan, wiping tears from her eyes. "I'm really excited."
      Sullivan is a spring graduate from the University of Michigan, where she earned a bachelor of arts degree in both psychology and anthropology. She plans to continue her education to earn a doctorate and become a professor.
      Traveling is what Sullivan is most looking forward to during her reign as queen.
      "I'm so excited to travel, especially with Mr. Kaberle to see what all the fun is about," she said.
Police, civilians break up TC melee
      TRAVERSE CITY - What began as a fight Wednesday night escalated into a crowd of young people throwing rocks and bottles at police who tried to arrest two brawling teens.
      Police and some adult bystanders helped break up the melee quickly. Traverse City Police Captain Mike Warren credits a quick response from police and citizens who stepped in to help stop what could have become a riot.
      "The minute the reinforcements arrived, it was disbursed without any further problems," Warren said. He said the incident was not connected to the National Cherry Festival beer tent.
      Two 17-year-olds, from Kingsley and Traverse City, were charged Thursday with disorderly conduct and resisting a police officer after police tried to arrest them for fighting.
      The pair hurled insults at police as a crowd of several hundred young people ran to the parking lot across from Clinch Park Zoo around 11 p.m. and began throwing rocks and bottles at police. One officer was hit in the arm but wasn't hurt.
      Grand Traverse Prosecutor Dennis LaBelle said if police catch any of the youths involved in the melee, they could face more serious charges than the pair arrested for resisting arrest.
      While those two face a maximum of one year in jail, under two Michigan anti-riot laws it's a 10-year felony to incite a riot "that causes public terror or alarm." Under the law, if five or more people are committing acts of violence together or inciting other people to commit violent acts, it's considered inciting a riot.

Rapist receives maximum sentence
      TRAVERSE CITY - A man accused of raping a woman at knife point last year in Hoosier Valley received the maximum sentence Friday of 15 to 22 years in prison.
      Edward Brown and his girlfriend left a Traverse City bar with the victim to buy marijuana in September 1998, according to court records. Brown stopped at a grocery store and bought a clothes line that he told his girlfriend he would use to tie her up so he could steal her car.
      When the car got stuck in mud in Hoosier Valley, Brown took her into the woods and raped her. Brown contended that the sex was consentual.
      "Mr. Brown, I think you're dangerous to women and I don't see any way to fix it," Circuit Judge Thomas Power said.
      Brown was convicted of criminal sexual conduct in 1991 under almost identical circumstances. He took a woman who was supposed to sell him marijuana to Hoosier Valley and raped her.

Judge jails teen-ager who made bomb threat
      TRAVERSE CITY - A bomb threat at Kingsley High School in May cost police, the school, and the fire department thousands of dollars. The prank will also cost a 17-year-old six months in jail, a judge ordered Friday.
      "When you're 17 and 18 years old, you do dumb things," Circuit Judge Thomas Power said. "This is a dumb thing."
      Edward Karker's lawyer, Wilson Brott, had asked Power to sentence his client to a strict term of probation.
      Power refused, saying he wanted Karker to spend time in jail as punishment for the trouble he caused.


Police arrest man on statutory rape charge
      KALKASKA - A South Boardman man was arraigned Wednesday on two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct involving a 12-year-old.
      William True Clay, 18, is being held in the Kalkaska County Jail in lieu of a $100,000 cash bond after being arrested Monday.
      In an unrelated case, Clay also was charged with possession of marijuana and drunken driving.
      Bond for those charges was set at $1,000.

Forgery suspect sent to Kent County
      KALKASKA - Kalkaska County Sheriff's officials have turned over a forgery suspect apprehended last week to Kent County officials.
      Investigators believe David Joseph Bechtel, 29, recently paroled from prison in Ionia, is responsible for passing $75,000 worth of bad checks since his May release.
      Kalkaska Sheriff's Deputy Harry Smith stopped Bechtel on U.S. 131 last week for speeding. During the traffic stop and subsequent search of the vehicle, Smith found a wallet under the seat with a large number of payroll checks, police said.
      The forged checks were drawn on either BankOne or National City Bank and used the following company names: Air Equipment Inc. in Grandville, Mich.; Sun Guard in Grand Rapids; and Art Plus Inc., in Madison, Wis. Bechtel is believed to have passed the checks at numerous locations in Michigan and Wisconsin.


Northport man helps at scene of U.P. crash
      NORTHPORT - A local dentist who came upon an accident in the Upper Peninsula in which three people died moments after it happened said the scene was pandemonium.
      Gene Stout arrived on the scene on U.S. 2 just minutes after a motor home struck a semi truck parked on the shoulder of the road. Nine other people were injured.
      "It was confusing because there were so many people in the mobile home; some of them were standing; some of them were wandering around, some of them were screaming," he said. "It was basic pandemonium."
      The crash occurred about 8:50 a.m. Thursday near Naubinway in Mackinac County, state police said.
      "I immediately went up to the wreckage," Stout said. He had been traveling from Wisconsin to his Northport home. "Much to my dismay, there was a person underneath the motor home."
      Stout, who is trained in first aid, and two other men helped pull the man from under the wreckage. When Stout realized the man was going into shock, he covered him with a blanket.
      "He said, 'I have to roll over,' and he rolled over," Stout said. "I covered his head so the sun wouldn't be in his eyes and I don't think he lasted longer than that."
      Stout said it appeared that the driver of the motor home lost control and struck a semi parked on the shoulder of the road. A pedestrian - whose car was parked up the road with a flat tire - was apparently standing next to the semi asking for help when the motor home hit the truck.
      Gerald Hardwick, 52, of Rapid River, was struck and killed by the motor home, police said. Nine people in the motor home were injured and two were killed.


Arcadia Bluffs developer responds to lawsuit
      ARCADIA - The developer of a Manistee County golf course denies the project violated state environmental law and says a suit against his company is politically motivated.
      RVP Development Inc. of Grand Rapids formally responded recently to the April lawsuit filed by the state attorney general over its Arcadia Bluffs golf course.
      The state alleges that the developer illegally discharged sediment into Lake Michigan during storms last year and illegally built a clubhouse in a high-risk erosion area. Fines of $425,000 have been proposed.
      In its response, RVP denies that it broke any laws, and it claims that the state attorney general's office, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and Manistee County are singling out Arcadia Bluffs to the news media for political gain.

High school counselor killed in car accident
      MANISTEE - A popular guidance counselor at Manistee Area Senior High School was killed early Wednesday afternoon in a traffic accident.
      Kevin P. Casey, 55, was pronounced dead at West Shore Hospital, according to a report from the Manistee City Police Department.
      In addition to his job at the high school, he was a professional magician who often entertained nervous students with feats of illusion.
      Police said Casey was killed in an early afternoon crash at the corner of U.S. 31 and Sixth Street. He apparently pulled out onto the highway in front of oncoming traffic.


Jury finds doctor innocent of sex charge
      CADILLAC - A jury acquitted a former Cadillac gynecologist Friday of charges that he molested a female patient in April 1997.
      The jury of nine women and three men returned the not-guilty verdict against Edward Piotr Zarczynski, 43, of Adrian after a seven-day trial.
      Zarczynski's lawyer, Roger Wotila, said he was "relieved" by the verdict.
      "We felt all along there were logical medical explanations for the complaint," he said.
      Zarczynski was accused of improperly touching the 57-year-old Cadillac woman while she was in his office for a checkup.
      Wotila contended the woman was mistaken because she never saw Zarczynski molest her. A cloth raised up over the lower part of her body blocked her view, he said.
      Wotila presented expert witnesses to say that what she felt may have been part of a routine medical exam and mistaken for something sexual, he said.
      Wotila and the prosecutor declined to comment on the similar charges Zarczynski faces involving four other women in Cadillac and two in Adrian, where he moved to practice after leaving Cadillac.

Manton teen dies in one-car accident
      MANTON - A 17-year-old girl died Friday morning after she drove her car off the road and struck a tree in Manton.
      Nicole Letts, of Manton, was driving east on 7th Street near Sturtevant Avenue about 4:15 a.m. when she lost control of the car and went off the north side of the road, according to state police.
      She was taken to Cadillac Mercy Hospital where she died a short time later. Alcohol is believed to have been a factor, police said.
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