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May 28, 2000

Week in Review

      Inmate files suit against Cheboygan Daily Tribune
      CHEBOYGAN - A Cheboygan man who was sentenced to up to 10 years in prison for breaking into a veterinary clinic and later killing the clinic's mascot cat has been spending his time as a jail house lawyer.
      Ryan Burmeister has filed a lawsuit against the Cheboygan Daily Tribune for the newspaper's coverage of the February 1999 break-in at the Black River Animal Hospital in Indian River. He claims the coverage affected his ability to receive a fair trial and that he is now subject to ridicule by prison guards and other inmates. He has filed an appeal of his sentence for the crime and the $4,465 in restitution he was ordered to pay.
      Rich Adams, editor of the Cheboygan Daily Tribune, said he considers the lawsuit to be frivolous.
      Burmeister claims he has suffered and was treated for anxiety, headaches, paranoia, lack of sleep and appetite. He is seeking more than $25,000 from the paper for loss of lifetime income, loss of educational opportunities, financial assistance for college and not being able to find employment in Cheboygan.
      State officials shut down Frederic's trash pickup
      FREDERIC - The future of Frederic Township's tax-funded, roadside trash collection remains uncertain after state officials ordered the township to cease operations last week.
      Mark Lutz, a Department of Natural Resources conservation officer, informed township officials May 15 that the pickup truck and trailer used to haul bagged garbage to the township compactor site don't comply with state law because they're not water-tight, supervisor Brian Hulbert said.
      The township typically provides roadside garbage collection for about 700 township residences. Trash was collected two days a week in a pickup truck and a 6-by-12-foot trailer capable of hauling about 300 bags per load. The garbage is taken to a compacting station near the township hall on Kelly Avenue. Compacted garbage is in turn hauled by Waste Management to its landfill in Waters.
      grand traverse
      Annie's gift store sold to merchants
      TRAVERSE CITY - Marci Berry and her husband, Jeff, have sold the Annie's gift store business in downtown Traverse City to Peter and Kim Schmitz, owners of the downtown American Spoon Foods outlet.
      The Schmitz family is moving the business to 127 E. Front St. Work on the new location is under way. The move will take place some time the week of June 4.
      The store will continue to feature greeting cards, balloons, gourmet coffee, candies, party supplies and gifts.
      The Berrys retain the one-story building that housed Annie's. Berry said it might be renovated, torn down for new development or sold.
      Children's House has plans for expansion
      TRAVERSE CITY - The Grand Traverse Montessori Children's House, which moved into a newer facility just two years ago, is planning to build a new school and expand its program to the sixth grade in the next five years, director Colleen Christensen said.
      There is an extensive waiting list for the school, she said. The school has 205 students, from age 3 through third grade, and Christensen said the goal is to expand to 275 students as soon as 2002. It operates out of two facilities: one near Grand Traverse Commons and a rented space at Traverse City Central Grade School.
      The school is seeking financing through a newly forming economic development corporation being set up by Garfield Township to build a 20,000-square-foot facility. The school is inquiring about the Grand Traverse Road Commission property near East Junior High School.
      Illegal aliens face check fraud charges
      TRAVERSE CITY - Six illegal aliens were charged Tuesday with check fraud and now face deportation after cashing stolen payroll checks at a local bank, police say.
      Macario Tornez-Cruz, 20, Luis Torrez-Rangel, 19, Faustino Hernandez-Osorio, 41, Mario Dodoy, 41, Narvin Mendez-Gonzalez, 23, and Jorge Celis, 25, were charged with uttering and publishing, punishable by up to 14 years in prison.
      Investigators said they believe all six are illegal aliens, and at least two have been previously deported by federal authorities.
      City police Chief Ralph Soffredine said the men entered a Traverse City bank on May 13 and cashed a series of payroll checks that were later reported stolen from a Mancelona lumber yard. The checks were written for upward of $800. Soffredine said the men used fraudulent green cards to get the checks cashed.
      The men were subsequently arrested following a traffic stop in Ottawa County, where authorities alerted investigators here.
      Police arrest teen, seize what they believe is LSD
      TRAVERSE CITY - An 18-year-old woman was arrested on drug charges Tuesday after police seized what they believe is thousands of doses of LSD worth $20,000 from her Garfield Township apartment.
      Officers with the Traverse Narcotics Team arranged for a controlled buy of 1,000 doses of the hallucinogenic drug from the apartment Tuesday evening.
      They returned later and searched the residence, recovering 3,000 additional LSD doses and a small amount of another substance they suspect is cocaine.
      Alexandria Elramly, who lived at the apartment, was arrested and charged with possession of cocaine.
      Sheriff Harold Barr said the investigation is continuing and at least three more arrests in the case are anticipated.
      Residents seek recall over roundabout approval
      TRAVERSE CITY - The first step in a recall drive targeting five city commissioners for supporting a proposed traffic roundabout at Eighth and Woodmere was approved by county officials Wednesday morning.
      The county election commission approved the clarity of recall petition language submitted by city residents Anne Melichar and Mary Johnson. The two women are leading a recall drive against Mayor Linda Smyka, mayor pro tem Tom Gilbert and commissioners Jim Tompkins, Larry Hardy and Phill Orth.
      The five commissioners voted early last month to support plans for construction of an estimated $1.5 million two-lane traffic roundabout at the intersection of Eighth Street and Woodmere Avenue. Earlier this month, however, commissioners put a 60-day hold on design work during which officials are expected to re-evaluate the project. Consultants say a two-lane roundabout, rather than a one-lane roundabout, is necessary to handle the amount of traffic there.
      Forest worker breaks arm in 55-foot fall from tree
      TRAVERSE CITY - A 53-year-old National Forest Service worker suffered a fractured forearm when he fell 55 feet from a treetop while tagging baby eagles Thursday afternoon.
      The man, identified as Teryl Grubb, was listed in fair condition at Munson Medical Center, where he was taken by a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter after his fall.
      According to a Coast Guard release, Grubb was working in a tree around Indian Lake in East Bay Township when he slipped and fell.
      Because of the rugged terrain and remoteness of the area, a helicopter from the Traverse City Air Station was called in to evacuate him.
      Convicted murderer denied a new trial
      KALKASKA - Jamie Lee Peterson, the Kalkaska man convicted in the 1996 murder of a 68-year-old woman, lost a bid for a new trial, but his attorney said a hearing Monday was just the beginning of an appeal.
      Peterson, 25, is serving five life sentences for killing Geraldine Montgomery. A Kalkaska County circuit court jury convicted him of murder two years ago.
      Montgomery was found dead of asphyxiation in the trunk of her car with the motor running in her closed garage. She had been beaten and raped in her own home before she was stuffed in the trunk.
      Retired Detroit-area lawyer Al Millstein is appealing the case, arguing that the trial should have been held in another county because of pre-trial publicity and Montgomery's prominence and popularity.
      Suttons Bay man sent to prison for burglaries
      LELAND - A 19-year-old Suttons Bay man was sentenced to two to 10 years in prison Monday for a series of burglaries that included the Suttons Bay middle and high schools.
      Joseph Winowiecki also was ordered to pay $13,700 in restitution.
      He pleaded guilty in April to four felony charges stemming from break-ins at the school, Omena Party Store and a motor vehicle. The school was vandalized Nov. 28.
      Conservancy buys land for Gateway project
      EMPIRE- The Leelanau Conservancy has completed the first part of its Gateway to Empire project by purchasing the 86-acre Clagett property in the northern part of the village.
      The Gateway project, which includes the purchase of another 10-acre parcel, is designed to maintain Empire's rural character, conservancy members said.
      It expects to close on the other 10 acres soon, member Brian Bourdages said. That property, currently owned by McKeough Land Co. with offices in Traverse City, Grand Haven, and Poynette, Wis., touches the Clagett property on the northwest corner and has more than 1,400 feet of frontage on M-72, Bourdages said.
      The conservancy is planning summer fund-raisers to help raise money to repay the loans for the Clagett property and to purchase the McKeough property.
      Tribal chairman defeated in bid for re-election
      PESHAWBESTOWN - Tribal chairman George Bennett of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, who in four years has overseen an expansion of casinos and tribal services as well as weather a difficult period in federal court, was defeated Wednesday in his bid for re-election.
      New chairman Robert Kewaygoshkum, along with three new tribal council members, was sworn in Thursday. Almost 100 tribal members packed into the tribal courtroom to watch as Kewaygoshkum, Thurlow Sam McClellan, Connie TwoCrow and Ardith Dodie Chambers took the oath of office. The three new council members were the top vote-getters in a field of nine.
      Kewaygoshkum took almost 47 percent of the vote to defeat Bennett and council member Jaime Barrientoz. Barrientoz, whose council term expires in two years, will remain on the council.
      City council approves budget for 2000-2001
      GAYLORD - Council members on Monday unanimously approved the city's $6.729 million budget for 2000-2001.
      Expenditures in the budget total $8.103 million, but city manager Joseph Duff said the discrepancy involves the second phase of a $7 million wastewater treatment plant facility expansion approved by voters in a bond issue last May.
      Funds for the remainder of that work are coming from the bonds and are outside of the budget, he said.
      The budget includes funding for asbestos and lead paint abatement at the old post office building on Main Street bought by the council earlier this year for future city offices.
      Plan for training center site falls through
      GAYLORD - An 11th-hour attempt to move a proposed technical training and University Center to a new city industrial park appears to have fallen through, after the city council refused Monday to commit to extending utilities to the site.
      The refusal likely means the more than $4 million M-TECH/University Center facility will be built on 10 acres in the Alpine Center off Livingston Boulevard and Old U.S. 27. That was the site originally planned before city officials made a pitch earlier this month to have the 46,000-square-foot facility built on 30 acres in a new industrial park.
      Officials had favored the industrial park site because it would alleviate future traffic congestion, provide room for expansion and be closer to the industry that graduates of the technical and vocational training center would serve.
      Lookout sentenced for role in robbery
      CADILLAC - A Detroit-area man was sentenced Monday to a year in jail for standing lookout in a car while his brother and cousin broke into a house in Harrietta in February.
      Thong Huu Phung, 19, of Southfield, received the sentence for breaking and entering. He was also placed on three years probation. He earlier had pleaded guilty to the charge.
      His co-defendants also have pleaded guilty to second-degree home invasion, a 15-year felony, and await sentencing. They are Sanh Kieu Luu, 30, and Vinh Huu Phung, 24, both of Southfield.
      The three also face burglary charges in other counties. They were arrested on Feb. 9 at a Harrietta home by state troopers and other police officers.
      Teen sentenced to boot camp in shooting case
      CADILLAC - A Cadillac teen was sentenced to a state boot camp program for shooting at a group of people who had stormed his friend's house in March.
      Phillip Galbraith, 16, was sentenced as an adult on the charge of assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder. He has admitted to shooting from a porch after the group vandalized the house and allegedly threatened people inside.
      Galbraith was sentenced for his part in a case that has included 15 defendants. Thirteen had been charged with storming the house of Kevin Clements, 16, and his family and threatening Galbraith and Clements. Clements also faces charges for firing toward the crowd, but he has pleaded not guilty and is headed for trial.
      Wagner's General Store is changing hands
      BUCKLEY - After almost three decades of selling everything from milk and beer to videos and shotgun shells, Julie Wagner has rung up her last sale.
      Wagner's General Store will soon become Buckley General Store. Wagner sold the business earlier this month to Carl Brasseur of Tustin.
      Wagner and her late husband, Jim, brought their six children from Detroit to buy the store in 1972 from Buckley residents Chuck and Sonja Renaud.
      After Jim died in 1983, Julie was still able to run the store with just herself and one employee. Now, though, the store now has five employees. Ideally, it should have seven, but workers are hard to find.
      Police investigate home break-in, theft from safe
      CADILLAC - State Police here are investigating a break-in at a home in Missaukee County where a safe containing some $15,000 in cash was stolen.
      Troopers said the theft, from a home in Clam Union Township, was reported Monday afternoon. Investigators have identified some suspects in the incident, but had not made any arrests by late Monday night.
      Man sentenced to jail in stabbing incident
      CADILLAC - A Cadillac man has been sentenced to one year in jail for stabbing another man in the arm at a party in January.
      David R. Johnigan, 20, earlier had pleaded guilty to assault with a dangerous weapon, Prosecutor William Fagerman said.
      The stabbing occurred at a home on Crippen Street on Jan. 15 when Johnigan's 18-year-old brother, Matt, had gotten into a fight with Christopher Gregg, 19.
      David Johnigan stepped in to help his brother, wielding a double-edged dagger between 10 and 12 inches in length. The knife cut into Gregg's right arm during the scuffle and he was treated at the hospital, Fagerman said.
      No one injured in standoff with police
      CADILLAC - No one was injured in a police standoff in Cherry Grove Township Monday when a suicidal man barricaded himself in his home.
      It all happened at about 10:30 p.m. Monday at a home on Morel Road. The Wexford County Sheriff's Department and Michigan State Police went to the home after someone reported a man who lived there planned to do himself harm.
      Negotiations with the barricaded man began and he gave himself up a short time later, according to a press release from the sheriff's department.
      The man was turned over to mental health services for evaluation and treatment, police said.
      Local teen suspects jailed in Pennsylvania
      ERIE, Pa.- Two northern Michigan teens are in jail in Pennsylvania on charges they broke into a Marion home and stole a safe containing $15,000.
      Cassie Lynn Farr, 18, of McBain, and Matthew Jay Aldrich, 17, of Lake City, were arrested late Tuesday night by Pennsylvania State Police in Erie following a traffic stop. Arrest warrants for the pair had been issued after the Cadillac State Police post identified them as suspects in the home invasion and safe theft Monday.
      Farr is charged with second degree home invasion, a 15-year felony, and larceny, a 5-year felony. Aldrich faces a felony receiving and concealing charge.
      Both will remain in jail in Pennsylvania pending extradition hearings June 2.
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