June 27, 1999
Week in reviewANTRIM
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State official issues warning about drinking water
MANCELONA - It took just one sip of water from a Tar Lake-area well for a state environmental official to decide that residents should be drinking bottled water instead.
As many as 90 nearby homes soon will be supplied with bottled water through the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.
For more than 70 years, residents have complained about the foul taste of their well water, thought to be soured by years of pollution by the old Antrim Ironworks factory.
While the taste is bad, there are no health-related concerns associated with a plume of water connected with the Tar Lake site, the official said.
Carjack 'victim' accused of filing false report
ELMIRA - Antrim County Sheriff's deputies Wednesday arrested Ed Weaver, 40, of Boyne Falls on a charge of filing a false police report.
Weaver had told authorities he was carjacked and robbed at gunpoint after pulling over to help a pair of stranded motorists on June 8.
A warrant for Weaver's arrest was signed Tuesday by county Prosecutor Charles Koop. Koop said investigators are certain that Weaver's account of being carjacked was a hoax.
Mancelona official: Our water is safe
MANCELONA - The Mancelona village manager said there is no reason for village residents to be concerned about their drinking water.
Manager Scott Yost said his office has been inundated with calls from residents since the Record-Eagle reported on two unrelated water investigations occurring outside the village.
Yost said village residents who receive their water through municipal wells do not have reason to worry. Recent tests of the village's well water show no contamination whatsoever, Yost said. He said those test results are available at the village office for public view.
The state's Department of Environmental Quality plans to distribute water to residents of Custer and Mancelona townships, but not to village residents. The water distribution will be for residents with bad-tasting water who live outside village limits and who use wells. A DEQ official said the bad-tasting water found in some area wells is a result of the Tar Lake cleanup project site, found in Mancelona Township, but not within the village of Mancelona.
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Teen charged with reporting false bomb threat
CHARLEVOIX - A Boyne City teen-ager has been charged with reporting a false bomb threat in a bomb scare last month at Boyne City High School.
The Charlevoix County Prosecutor's office charged Nathan Hublick, 14, with one count reporting a false bomb threat.
On May 17, a bomb threat was found written on the door of a boys' bathroom stall. No explosives were found in the building.
The entire door with the handwriting sample was taken to the Michigan State Police crime lab in East Lansing. Investigators found the handwriting matched Hublick's.
While there are no sentencing guidelines for juveniles, adults convicted of reporting a false bomb threat could face up to four years in prison and a $2,000 fine.
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Engler honors soldiers in Camp Grayling ceremony
GRAYLING - The state will soon provide more educational opportunities for guard members, Gov. John Engler said Friday.
Engler, commander and chief of the Michigan National Guard, was at Camp Grayling for the annual review and memorial service. Nearly 4,000 soldiers completed their two weeks of annual training Friday. Thirty-six guard members who died over the past two years were honored at the ceremony. Awards and decorations were also given to individual soldiers.
The governor said he will soon sign legislation allocating $2 million for college tuition reimbursement for Guard members.
The program will pay to 50 percent of the tuition for bachelor's and master's degrees. Colleges such as Western Michigan University, Eastern Michigan University, Northern Michigan University, Davenport College, Detroit College of Business and Great Lakes Junior College are already involved in the program.
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Officer pleads guilty to violating restraining order
PETOSKEY - A Harbor Springs police officer could face up to three months in jail after pleading guilty Monday to violating a restraining order preventing him from having contact with his former girlfriend.
Veteran officer Rollins Jewell, 45, of Harbor Springs, had been charged with felony stalking of his former girlfriend. But in an agreement with Charlevoix County Prosecutor Mary Beth Kur he pleaded guilty to a lesser offense of criminal contempt of a personal protection order.
Kur said she agreed to the plea bargain because she was not confident the evidence would support the stalking charge, which carries a maximum sentence of up to five years in jail.
After he was charged with felony stalking in March, the Harbor Springs City Police Department suspended Jewell without pay.
MDOT grants to help pay for non-motorized path
HARBOR SPRINGS - Sections of a proposed bicycle and walking trail believed to be on the state's back burner just moved forward.
The Michigan Department of Transportation announced more than $600,000 in grants this week for a non-motorized path along M-119, which will provide another link between Petoskey and Harbor Springs.
The current trail runs from Petoskey, through parts of the Bay View subdivision to just past Petoskey State Park along the highway.
The new section will extend 5.3 miles from Beach Road to Park Lane in Harbor Springs and Little Traverse Township.
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Former principal becomes interim superintendent
TRAVERSE CITY - Former Central High School principal Jim Rossi will delay his retirement to become Traverse City Area Public Schools' interim superintendent.
The Traverse City school board approved Rossi's appointment to the position at a special meeting Monday.
Effective July 1, Rossi will step into the position until a replacement for outgoing superintendent Peter Wharton is hired.
Wharton is leaving the district to take a similar position in Rapid City, S.D.
TC noise ordinance issue remains unresolved
TRAVERSE CITY - A majority of the city commission supported a proposed review of the city's noise ordinance but not enough to award a contract for the work.
The commission voted 4-2 Monday night to hire a sound expert from Rutgers University to evaluate the city's noise ordinance. But the decision failed to gain the five-vote majority needed under the city charter to award a contract, leaving the noise issue unresolved.
The commission has discussed the noise ordinance three times since February, and periodically for more than two years, as a result of complaints about the sounds from the exhaust fans at the Tom's grocery store in the West Bay shopping center.
City commission hikes parking meter rates
TRAVERSE CITY - Meter and permit rates for downtown parking will increase for the first time in more than a decade following action by the city commission this week.
Parking meter rates for the city's 30-minute and one-, two- and three-hour meters are being increased to 40 cents per hour, double the current rate. Rates at the 10-hour meters will increase to 25 cents an hour, up from 10 cents.
For permits to park in city-owned parking lots downtown, the monthly rate will go by $5 to $20 per month. The quarterly rate will be $40, which is a $10 increase. Annual permits will cost $150, a $40 hike.
State Theatre group revamps project design
TRAVERSE CITY - The proposed renovation of the State Theatre in downtown Traverse City into a community performing arts center has been scaled back to cut costs and speed up the project, officials said.
Audiences will see essentially the same revamped interior with 730 new seats and a large stage as earlier proposed, said Dan Wolf, chairman of the State Theatre Group Inc.
But the new design trims about $2 million from the cost of the renovation, bringing the total cost down to about $5 million, he said.
A revamped design for the stage-fly house, the tall portion of the building at the rear, will fit within the current structure. Earlier plans called for tearing down and greatly enlarging the rear of the building. The new design eliminates the need to encroach on the alley behind the building though the structure may go up in height.
Raid nets evidence of child pornography ring
TRAVERSE CITY - U.S. Customs agents raided a Traverse City home Wednesday, seizing what they called "a significant amount of evidence" related to a worldwide child pornography ring run through the Internet.
The search, which federal authorities said took place at 1001 Carver Street across from Traverse Heights Elementary School, is part of a highly publicized child porn ring that first surfaced last year and eventually involved more than 100 suspects in 14 countries. The receipt, distribution or possession of child pornography is a federal offense.
According to agent Kenneth Smith of the Customs office in Grand Rapids, the agency executed 32 search warrants around the country last September looking for evidence on the child pornography trading ring.
Smith said information gathered in that portion of the probe led investigators to the Traverse City residence and Wednesday's search.
The owner of the home, Douglas P. Grant, declined to speak with reporters about the raid.
No arrests were made Wednesday, according to investigators.
Grant to help fund Woodmere project
TRAVERSE CITY - A $216,650 state transportation grant has been approved for improvements to Woodmere Avenue, city officials announced Wednesday.
The grant will be matched with $92,850 in city funds to fund almost $310,000 in work on Woodmere between Eighth and Hannah streets, transforming Woodmere into a landscaped, tree-lined boulevard with marked bike lanes.
The work will include extension of the TART recreational trail up to Woodmere, where there's currently about a three-block gap in the trail. A crosswalk will be constructed near the Traverse Area District Library's new building on Woodmere.
Attorney dies in Montana rafting accident
TRAVERSE CITY - Community advocate, local attorney and former judicial candidate Madeleine Thomas died Wednesday in a river rafting accident in Montana.
Thomas' husband, Bob Eichenlaub, son Christopher, 15, and daughter Caroline, 11, were with her on vacation when the accident happened Tuesday afternoon.
The family was rafting on the Flathead River in northwestern Montana when the raft Thomas and her son were on overturned. Authorities there said high, fast water swept her into some logs, trapping her underwater for about 20 minutes. Her husband and daughter were on another raft.
Thomas, 41, a past president of the Grand Traverse-Leelanau-Antrim Bar Association, ran for district judge in 1996.
Judge declares mistrial in Holtzer murder case
WHITE CLOUD - A mistrial was declared Thursday in the first-degree murder trial of Kevin Holtzer because evidence that could possibly clear him suddenly emerged.
Police say they don't believe a pair of Caterpillar work boots turned into the Grand Traverse Sheriff's department Wednesday could have been the boots that left a trail of bloody footprints leading away from the savagely beaten body of Kalee Bruce, an 18-year-old Northwestern Michigan College student.
But prosecutors, defense lawyers and Circuit Judge Thomas Power agreed that the 11th-hour evidence required investigation and that the four-day-old trial had to end.
Holtzer will likely be tried again on charges of first-degree murder and will remain in jail, where he is serving a 15-year sentence for an unrelated assault conviction.
Library board agrees to take on tctv2 channel
TRAVERSE CITY - Just one week before the public access cable channel tctv2 would have signed off because it didn't have an operator, the Traverse Area District Library came to the rescue.
The library board, in a 5-2 vote Thursday, agreed to a three-year contract to operate the cable access channel, taking over from Northwestern Michigan College as of July 1.
The pact includes a clause allowing the library to terminate the deal on Dec. 31 if it can't find a long-term facility for the operation. The cable channel presently has its studios at Northwestern Michigan College.
The library board has struggled for weeks with the tctv2 proposal and board members have expressed concerns about the facilities issue and whether the library's general operating funds would be called on to operate tctv2 if other revenue sources for the station ran short.
Introduction of boots considered a coincidence
TRAVERSE CITY - Police say early tests indicate a pair of boots that caused a mistrial in Kevin Holtzer's murder case have not been connected to the crime scene.
The boots, which police said were turned in to the Grand Traverse County Sheriff's Department Wednesday, were sent to a Chicago forensic lab for testing.
"At this point, there's nothing to connect them to the crime scene," Lt. John Block said.
A mistrial was declared Thursday after the boots, which are the same brand as a pair police say Holtzer wore at the scene of the slaying of Kalee Bruce, were turned in to the department four days into Holtzer's trial in White Cloud.
Although considered an extraordinary coincidence, police do not suspect the man who turned them in was attempting to interfere with the case.
"He's a reliable citizen who's had a good job with a good company," Block said. He said the man has no connection to Holtzer and didn't turn them in earlier because of a misunderstanding.
SmartRoads activists hire own traffic expert
TRAVERSE CITY - Upset with what it felt was short shrift given to the SmartRoads plan in the county's latest Boardman River crossing study, the Coalition for Sensible Growth is hiring its own traffic expert.
The 500-member group will announce Monday that it is hiring a suburban Chicago transportation consultant to do a traffic modeling study on the SmartRoads plan.
SmartRoads is the coalition's alternative to the two construction options in the road commission's draft environmental impact statement on the river crossing, which includes the Hartman-Hammond connector bridge or widening South Airport Road to six lanes.
The county is holding its final public hearing on the environmental study from 4 to 7:30 p.m. Monday at the Civic Center.
The coalition is announcing its plans at 2 p.m. Monday at Medalie Park just east of Logan's Landing.
Man tries to get teens into his car
TRAVERSE CITY - City police are seeking information on a man who allegedly tried to lure two teen-age girls into his vehicle late Thursday night.
Capt. Michael Warren said the incident took place around 10:30 p.m. near the intersection of Eighth and Franklin streets. The girls, both 14, told police they were walking in the neighborhood when the man pulled his vehicle into a driveway in front of them and motioned for them to get in.
Police said the man then rolled down his windows and asked them to get in the car before they ran away. He was described as a slender white male, aged 30 to 35, with long, dark hair pulled into a ponytail. He had a goatee and was wearing a black T-shirt.
The vehicle was described as an older model, full-size Blazer-type auto, red with several rust spots. The license plate couldn't be identified by the girls, Warren said.
Fire alarm interrupts movie at GT Mall
TRAVERSE CITY - Movie buffs had a frightening dose of reality at the Grand Traverse Cinemas Friday night when they were evacuated after a fire alarm in the theater was tripped.
At approximately 7:15 p.m., the alarm in theater seven was triggered for unknown reasons, Grand Traverse County Fire Chief Wayne Hanna said. According to firemen on the scene, theater seven was immediately evacuated, but the other theaters were not.
Three fire trucks were on the scene and fire fighters combed the roof for any clues to the tripped alarm.
"(The alarm) just got everybody excited," said Hanna, who had to call off two other stations about to arrive on the scene. "A fire in a theater is not good."
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Fugitive turns himself in after monthlong search
LELAND - It was a made-for-TV ending to fugitive Corey Matthews' monthlong life on the loose.
Matthews, accompanied by his grandparents Sid and Gloria Matthews of Buckley, gave himself up to Leelanau County Prosecutor Clarence K. Gomery at approximately 4:00 p.m. Thursday.
On hand to film the event was television reporter Dave Fortin, who reportedly acted as the arbitrator between the prosecutor's office and Matthews' family in getting Matthews back to Leelanau County from the Richmond, Virginia area where he was last seen.
Fortin said he was contacted Monday by the fugitive's grandparents to help them with Corey's surrender.
Leelanau County has plans to help students
SUTTONS BAY - Students in Leelanau County say that although they feel that their parents and teachers encourage them to do well, very few feel that school is providing a caring environment, according to survey results released Friday.
The Leelanau County Asset Survey, the last of five area county youth surveys to be released, was presented by the county Family Coordinating Council, the county's human services coordinating body.
In front of a group of about 20 people representing schools, neighborhoods and county human service organizations, program coordinator Margie McNabb said that Leelanau kids had a slightly higher number of assets than was reported on a national level at 18.8 versus 18.5.
"But," she warned, "don't focus on the numbers; it's just a base line of where we can go from here.
"We need to move from awareness to action."
Using a list of community "dreams" generated from a county visioning workshop at the Rally Around Youth in May, the group brainstormed three set of action items to galvanize their asset building efforts:
- To bring in more choices in the arts for youth.
- Getting youth more involved in the media as guest editors at local newspapers and having other options for television.
- Scheduling youth activities, such as block parties or intergenerational parties.
McNabb said that the council is ready to fund different projects supporting youth asset development, having secured funding through various grants and donations.
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Police seize cache of illegal fireworks
COPEMISH - Police had to use a 26-foot moving truck to move thousands of pounds of illegal fireworks from a fireworks store on Tuesday.
An investigation involving area youths led the state troopers to the store, where the owner was unable to produce valid permits for the sale, possession or storage of the Class B and C fireworks, which make a loud bang or can leave the ground, police said.
The complaint was forwarded to the Manistee County prosecutor's office. The violation is a misdemeanor and additional charges may be pending, police said.
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Police link two Cadillac men to 11 car robberies
CADILLAC - Two Cadillac men arraigned June 19 on first-degree home invasion charges are being linked to 11 robberies from cars, police said.
Daniel Timm, 19, and Nathan Miller, 17, were are accused of breaking into 11 vehicles, the Wexford County Sheriff's Department reported. Deputies and Michigan State Police Troopers from the Cadillac post said the pair have been suspects in breaking and entering cases in the past.
All of the burglaries occurred in the Pleasant Lake area. Items valued at over $2,000 range from a lap top computer to spare change and other personal items.
Deputies investigate theft of $15,000 in equipment
CADILLAC - Wexford County Sheriff's deputies are asking for help in locating more than $15,000 in stolen equipment, including a tractor, a trailer and several implements and tools.
Police say someone stole an International 2400 Series B tractor with a front end loader valued at more than $5,500.
Also stolen was a 16-foot Gold Star trailer with gang box valued at $1,700, seven attachments for the tractor valued at over $4,500 and several hand tools.
The equipment was stolen from a lot on North 45 Road at East 14 ¬ Road. Deputies believe the theft occurred between June 12 and June 14.
Family may appeal jury's land valuation decision
CADILLAC - A farming family may appeal a jury decision that gave them $12,000 more than the state was offering for 37 acres of land that will become part of the U.S. 131 bypass.
After a three-day trial and two hours of deliberations, a jury late June 18 awarded Carl and Bertha Fagerman $237,000 for the land, which will be split by the bypass around Cadillac.
The award was $12,000 more than the $225,000 the state was offering, and substantially less than the $533,000 the Fagermans believe the property is worth.
The Fagermans' attorney, Robert Sheehan, said he will meet with the Fagermans to consider an appeal.
Jury chosen for trial of Cadillac doctor
CADILLAC - After two full days, lawyers seated 12 jurors and one alternate Friday to decide if a former Cadillac gynecologist molested a local patient.
Opening arguments in the case against Edward Piotr Zarczynski, 43, of Adrian, are to begin Monday in a trial that could take more than a week.
He is being tried on charges of third-degree criminal sexual conduct. The outcome could have implications for four similar charges in Cadillac involving four other women.
Zarczynski is also charged with improperly touching two women in Adrian, where he practiced after leaving Cadillac in 1997.
There are at least nine and possibly 10 women on the jury; officials didn't have an exact makeup of the jury Friday afternoon.