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October 23, 2005

Week in review

CHARLEVOIX
Man charged with assaulting his mother
      CHARLEVOIX - A Charlevoix Township man was arrested and charged with domestic violence and assaulting and resisting a police officer, hours after his release from a 45-day stay in Emmet County Jail on an unrelated domestic violence charge.
      Police responded to 911 hang-up call just after 2 a.m. Oct. 15 on Cedar Street, north of U.S. 31. Micheal J. McCann, 26, was found intoxicated in the front yard with blood on his hands and clothing.
      McCann allegedly resisted and assaulted a Charlevoix sheriff's deputy and was apprehended after a foot chase.
      The deputy then found McCann's 57-year-old mother, who was severely beaten. She was taken to a local hospital and treated for multiple injuries.
      McCann was charged with second-offense aggravated domestic violence, assaulting and resisting a police officer and as a habitual felon because of two prior convictions for resisting an officer. His bond was set at $200,000 pending his arraignment today.
     
Federal indictment filed against Arthur Kirk
      CHARLEVOIX - A man accused of changing his name to hide sex crime convictions who worked at Charlevoix-Emmet Intermediate School District now faces federal charges.
      An indictment filed recently alleges that "Arthur Kirk, a/k/a Arthur Kirkeby," made false statements on an application to a federally funded school program when he stated he had no criminal record.
      The three-count indictment, signed by Assistant United States Attorney Thomas J. Gezon, said Kirk failed to disclose convictions in Macomb County for second-degree criminal sexual conduct in 1978 and for first-degree criminal sexual conduct in 1981.
      Kirk served more than five years in prison after the 1981 conviction, which involved an 8-year-old boy, and he legally changed his name from Kirkeby in Ingham County in 1985, officials said.
      Kirk, 71, of Charlevoix Township, was arrested in July on felony weapons charges after his criminal record was revealed when he applied for a concealed weapons permit and was required to undergo a fingerprint-based background check.
      Kirk had volunteered at the school district through AmeriCorps since 2001.
     
CHEBOYGAN
Husband and wife face multiple drug charges
      CHEBOYGAN - A Cheboygan husband and wife are in jail on multiple drug charges, including allegations she tampered with her 11-year-old son's prescribed Ritalin medication.
      Cheboygan County Sheriff Dale V. Clarmont said Angela Cunningham, 28, and James Cunningham, 36, face numerous drug offenses after an anonymous tipster said the boy was in danger.
      Police allege Angela Cunningham altered her son's Ritalin capsules by removing the drug and replacing it with sugar. The modified capsules were given to the child in place of the medication, which the adults allegedly either sold or ingested, swallowed, snorted or injected, Clarmont said.
      Angela Cunningham was charged with delivery of an imitation controlled substance, use of methadone and marijuana, as well as maintaining a drug house. James Cunningham, the child's stepfather, was charged with delivery and use of methadone, use of marijuana and maintaining a drug house.
      The subjects are lodged at the Cheboygan County Jail. Both have previous convictions for drug offenses and face enhanced penalties if convicted. Angela Cunningham's bond is $20,000, and James Cunningham's bond is $50,000, set at their arraignment in 89th District Court.
     
Man allegedly dumped sewage from camper
      CHEBOYGAN - A downstate man was charged with dumping sewage on the lawn of a well-known tourist stop in Munro Township.
      Vincent Jacob Walz, 22, of Grass Lake allegedly dumped sewage on Sept. 5 from his camper-trailer near a playground area at Sea Shell City, next to Interstate 75 in Cheboygan County.
      "A customer saw him open the waste pipe and dump it in my yard and then he pulled forward and dumped the gray water," said Leslie Earl, owner of Sea Shell City.
      She confronted Walz, but he denied dumping the waste, she said, before he drove his pickup truck and camper-trailer away.
      Earl called police and followed up on the case by reporting the incident to the District Health Department, the state Department of Environmental Quality and Cheboygan County Prosecutor Catherine M. Castagne.
      Walz was scheduled to be arraigned in 89th District Court Wednesday, but requested an adjournment and is now set to appear in court Oct. 26.
      Walz could face a fine up to $5,000 and up to 90 days in jail if convicted.
     
Cheboygan man guilty of sexually abusing girl
      CHEBOYGAN - A Cheboygan man was found guilty of the sexual abuse of a girl, beginning when she was 7 years old.
      James Edward Kitchen, 39, was found guilty last week on four counts of criminal sexual conduct after a two-day trial that included testimony from the victim, who's now 12.
      The girl testified about sexual abuse that continued for three years until she told her mother.
     
CRAWFORD
Improvements OK'd along Au Sable River
      GRAYLING - Improvements are planned along the Au Sable River.
      A $465,000 state grant will allow a new footbridge to be built and a boardwalk installed along the eastern side of the river to the downtown area. The state Department of Natural Resources awarded the grant that also will include funds for a canoe and kayak launch, two fishing piers and renovation of a former library building into a nature interpretive center.
      City manager Allen Lowe said the city's local match to the state grant is about $116,000. State costs will be more than $348,000.
      The construction bid will go out this month and city leaders could award the contract in November. Work could begin in December with an expected completion date in July, Lowe said.
     
GRAND TRAVERSE
Township board seeks development strategy
      ACME - Weary of two years of zoning lawsuits, local residents, developers and Acme officials are looking for common ground.
      The township board last week directed its recently appointed "new urbanism advisory committee" to work on a plan to concentrate major new development on commercial properties owned by Meijer, The Village along M-72, and the Johnson family property along Mount Hope Road.
      The committee's task is to find a planning consultant that can work with developers and the Concerned Citizens of Acme Township to create a development plan for the three properties that is consistent with the township's master plan.
      Acme officials said the township has looked at various proposals for those properties on an individual basis in recent years but hasn't come up with a comprehensive plan for all three.
      Three separate lawsuits have been generated since late 2003 involving plans for a Wal-Mart, Meijer and The Village on those parcels.
     
Suit alleges sex discrimination
      TRAVERSE CITY - The Traverse City Area Convention and Visitors Bureau and three of its board members face a lawsuit from the former director amid allegations they illegally "conspired" to breach her contract when she was ousted this year.
      Deborah J. Knudsen filed suit in 13th Circuit Court against the convention bureau and board members Robert Gattin, Andrew Bateman and Jeffrey Weaner after she was fired as executive director in July.
      Knudsen's suit also alleges that gender was a factor in her dismissal and that the defendants "broadcast" information to the public that was "unreasonable and highly objectionable" that presented Knudsen in a "false light."
      Knudsen wants damages of lost salary with interest on the remaining 21 months of her contract and damages for loss of reputation in her professional field.
     
City offers options on Garfield annexation
      TRAVERSE CITY - A city plan to annex part of Garfield Township next goes to the township board - this time with options.
      Monday, the city commission passed 4-3 a resolution that gives two options regarding a possible annexation of township property.
      City officials want to add 95 acres located in the township's Incochee and Ramsdell road area where the city says it provides many services.
      Some of the affected township residents expressed opposition to that plan, even after the city modified it so current property owners wouldn't have to pay higher city taxes.
      In anticipation of further possible objections, the city will offer another option. The second plan allows the city to annex the proposed 70-home subdivision Incochee Woods and not existing developed properties.
      The township is scheduled to consider the options at its Oct. 27 meeting.
     
Septage plant report cites missing hooks
      TRAVERSE CITY - A subcontractor who didn't install hooks to hold a wall to a tank roof at Grand Traverse County's septage treatment plant will take the blame for its collapse.
      The county's independent engineer, NTH Consultants, Ltd., said the collapse of the membrane tank wall was caused by the omission of reinforcing hook steel bars atop the walls.
      The subcontractor, Farrington Construction of Traverse City, took full responsibility, said Scott Jones of the Christman Company, the project's general contractor.
      A portion of the new, multi-million-dollar septage facility collapsed June 18, spewing 150,000 gallons of partially treated sewage across the grounds.
      Overall, approximately 400 pieces of steel are missing from the facility, and no one seems to know what happened to them.
      Despite the large number of missing hooks, no one from Christman or Gourdie-Fraser, the engineering firm that designed the plant, noticed the omission.
      Gourdie-Fraser and Christman agreed to make repairs to bring the structures up to the ACI-350 standard.
     
City manager receives 3 percent salary boost
      TRAVERSE CITY - City manager Richard Lewis earned a raise that boosted his salary to $90,640 and garnered largely favorable reviews from city commissioners.
      Monday, the city commission gave Lewis a 3 percent raise. City officials said it is the same percentage increase given to all employee groups this year. Lewis made $88,000 in his last contract.
      Lewis earned high praise from several commissioners in a job evaluation for administering city laws in "a professional, unbiased manner."
     
City approves rezoning of cemetery land
      TRAVERSE CITY - The city rezoned part of Oakwood Cemetery to clear the way for Munson Medical Center to purchase the land for use as a parking lot.
      Voters gave the city the OK last year to dispose of a 0.81-acre parcel at the far eastern portion of the cemetery on Airport Access Road.
      The sale was contingent on its rezoning for hospital use and amending a planned unit development for the Munson Community Health Center site. Monday, city commissioners approved both the rezoning and the amendment.
      Munson plans to build a parking lot to serve the health center. The city will close on the $194,000 property sale, said city manager Richard Lewis. Proceeds are earmarked for the construction of a cemetery office, he said.
     
Airline bankruptcies may reduce flights
      TRAVERSE CITY - Local air service - on a steady incline in recent years - could be in for turbulence as northern Michigan's primary carriers wade through bankruptcy proceedings.
      Flight schedules for Northwest and Mesaba airlines out of Cherry Capital Airport should remain intact through the holidays but flights could dwindle by early next year, airline officials said, as Northwest looks to roll back seating capacity throughout its system as part of financial reorganization.
      Airport officials worry about how those financial woes will affect air travel at Cherry Capital, which totals about 400,000 passengers a year and is up more than 11 percent this year.
      Northwest spokeswoman Kristin Heinmets said the company's first published flight schedule since the company filed for bankruptcy last month maintains existing flight service out of Cherry Capital and Pellston airports through mid-December.
      There are no commitments beyond mid-December. Beyond that, however, the company won't make any commitments, other than saying it will make significant reductions in capacity.
     
Man sentenced in hidden camera case
      TRAVERSE CITY - A local man who admitted to using a hidden camera to take nude pictures of girls will spend at least five years in prison.
      Timothy Jay Frederick, 41, of Traverse City, was sentenced Tuesday by 13th Circuit Court Judge Thomas Power to serve five to 20 years in prison.
      Frederick pleaded guilty last month to using a computer to commit a crime and one count of child sexually abusive activity in exchange for the dismissal of two other felonies.
      Grand Traverse County sheriff's officials were contacted July 9 after the images of young girls in various modes of dress were found on Frederick's computer.
     
Alleged confessions admissible in trial
      TRAVERSE CITY - A local man's alleged confessions will be admissible when he stands trial for allegedly throwing an infant to the ground because the child "spit up" milk.
      Phillip Jon Fahrner, 28, is accused of first-degree child abuse for allegedly flinging Cameron Strang to the floor of a house in July, when Cameron was 11 months old.
      Fahrner recently appeared before 13th Circuit Court Judge Thomas Power for a final conference on the abuse charge.
      Defense attorney Jeffrey Slocombe filed a motion to suppress Fahrner's alleged confession to sheriff's officials at the DeVos Children's Hospital in Grand Rapids.
      Slocombe also petitioned the court to reduce Fahrner's bond from $1 million to $50,000.
      But Power said the extent of the evidence against Fahrner and belief by doctors that Cameron eventually will die from his injuries - which assistant prosecutor Robert Cooney said would prompt a new or amended charge - was enough to deny the motion.
     
Psychologist responds to suit by former patient
      TRAVERSE CITY - A Traverse City psychologist sued by a former patient for negligence contends he never billed the woman for sex as part of a "love therapy" treatment.
      Dr. David Halsted responded to a suit filed in June by a Kingsley woman alleging "negligent professional psychotherapeutic care" provided by Halsted for over a decade.
      The woman alleges Halsted - a state-licensed psychologist - recommended regular therapy sessions after she became a patient in 1990, sessions that included traveling to "secluded places" where they allegedly engaged in intimate contact and sexual intercourse.
      The suit alleges Halsted told the woman sex sessions were "an integral part of his therapy" practices and he billed her for them.
      In a pre-trial statement filed in 13th Circuit Court, Halsted argued that "appropriate psychological therapy was provided" to the woman and denied her allegations.
      Court records show the former patient wants at least $350,000 for alleged damages to settle the case, which has been ordered into mediation by Judge Philip Rodgers.
      Also listed in the suit was Halsted's wife, Judith, and her Traverse City-based Halsted Academic Advisors counseling service.
     
Officials investigate possible abduction try
      TRAVERSE CITY - Grand Traverse County sheriff's officials are investigating a possible abduction attempt of a 10-year-old girl waiting for a school bus on Long Lake Road.
      Undersheriff Nathan Alger said the girl apparently was approached by a man at a bus stop on West Long Lake and Amidon roads just after 8 a.m. Wednesday.
      Alger said the girl told sheriff's officials a white, four-door car stopped near the bus stop and the man got out and approached her.
      Alger said the girl fled through a wooded area and into an adjoining subdivision.
      When the girl came out of the woods, she told sheriff's officials a gold-colored sedan approached her with the same man in the passenger seat.
      The man allegedly exposed himself to the girl before the vehicle left.
      The man is described as being approximately 25 years old, heavyset with brown hair and sideburns.
     
Police: Man tried to steal ATM from bank
      KINGSLEY - Police are looking for information after a man allegedly attempted to steal an automatic teller machine from a bank by cutting it out of a wall with a hand-held welding torch.
      Grand Traverse County Undersheriff Nathan Alger said the incident occurred at the Forest Area Credit Union branch on M-113 in Kingsley just after 3 a.m. Thursday.
      Alger said officers responded to the bank site after receiving a call from an alarm company.
     
LEELANAU
Budget cuts may target work crew program
      SUTTONS BAY - The price for Leelanau County's continued participation in a regional anti-drug task force may include scaling back a program that puts criminal offenders to work.
      The budget county board members adopted recently spared funding for a sheriff's deputy position dedicated to the Traverse Narcotics Team, a slot that Sheriff Mike Oltersdorf fought to protect.
      But commissioners left Oltersdorf to decide how and where to cut $40,000 during the next fiscal year.
      Oltersdorf is considering decreasing the department's community work program and reducing the number of hours the deputy in charge spends supervising work crews. He said he won't eliminate the program that began in 1997.
      The program had 82 participants in 2004 and generated $5,480 in fees for the county. The initial 2006 budget for the community work program earmarks $74,548, and Oltersdorf said he plans to bring an adjustment to the county board before the new fiscal year begins Jan. 1.
     
Residents petition against Glacier Bay
      TRAVERSE CITY - Fred Harrison doesn't like the proposed Glacier Bay Resort and he said plenty of his neighbors feel the same way.
      Harrison lives on High Point Drive in Elmwood Township, near the 230-acre site proposed for the new hotel and water complex. He presented an opposition petition signed by about 100 other residents to the township planning commission at Tuesday's public hearing.
      Stanley Kouchnerkavich, who lives on Cherry Bend Road, was the lone resident who spoke at the hearing in favor of Glacier Bay. He said he's satisfied with solutions the developers have proposed to minimize negative impact.
      Glacier Bay would be located near M-72 and Carter Road.
      The township planning commission will now begin a preliminary site plan review of the Glacier Bay project to evaluate whether it addresses the requirements of the township's zoning ordinance.
     
MANISTEE
Ex-housing director sentenced to 3 years
      MANISTEE - The former director of the Manistee Housing Commission will spend three years in prison and pay restitution after he skimmed over $1 million in public funds meant to provide shelter to the city's poorest citizens.
      U.S. District Court Judge Richard Alan Enslen sentenced Jerome "Jay" Wisniewski, 60, to prison Monday and ordered him to repay $1.3 million he stole from public coffers.
      Wisniewski pleaded guilty in June to embezzlement and money laundering.
      In his plea, Wisniewski admitted he used the commission's checking account to pay for personal expenses and diverted rent payments to his bank account. Federal investigators said he stole about $1.2 million from the housing commission.
     
State suspends license of Manistee doctor
      MANISTEE - The Michigan Bureau of Health Professions suspended the medical license of a Manistee doctor charged with fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct.
      John J. Oliver, 66, was arraigned recently on the misdemeanor charge, based on a complaint from one of his patients. The incident allegedly occurred Oct. 3 at Oliver's family practice clinic at 215 Maple St. in Manistee.
      The state agency filed a three-count complaint Oct. 14 citing violation of duty, departure from standards and "lack of good moral character" in suspending Oliver's license. Oliver may appeal the suspension.
      Oliver's preliminary examination is scheduled for Nov. 9 in Manistee County District Court. He is free on cash bond. Fourth-degree CSC is a misdemeanor punishable by up to two years and/or $5,000, along with mandatory HIV testing.
     
Police seek missing Manistee woman
      MANISTEE - Police are looking for a 77-year-old woman who may have walked away from an adult foster care home.
      Manistee County Sheriff's deputies said Wilma Elizabeth Frederickson was last seen at the Harmony House Adult Foster Care Facility Monday morning wearing a tan or beige corduroy jacket, tan pants and white tennis shoes.
     
Inmate found dead in cell at Oaks facility
      MANISTEE - A probe into the death of an inmate at the Oaks Correctional Facility in Manistee is in the hands of the Michigan State Police.
      Sgt. John Hansen said the Manistee post received a call at 7 a.m. Thursday regarding a 44-year-old male inmate found dead in his cell by corrections officers.
      The inmate was pronounced dead at the state-run facility and will now undergo an autopsy by the Manistee County medical examiner to determine cause of death.
      Hansen said an initial investigation found no evidence of foul play
     
MANISTEE
Three teens arrested in Falmouth break-ins
      FALMOUTH - Missaukee County sheriff's officials arrested three teens believed to be responsible for a rash of break-ins around Falmouth in recent months.
      Police responded to a call of a breaking and entering at the horse arena building at the Falmouth Youth Show the morning of Oct. 15.
      An investigation allegedly found that three 17-year-old boys and one juvenile were responsible for the larceny, which included stolen pop, candy and tools.
      Police said the investigation allegedly solved four other cases in Falmouth in recent months.
      Sheriff's officials said the 17-year-olds are lodged in the county jail on charges on breaking and entering.
     
OTSEGO
Wind turbine proposal ready for public debate
      GAYLORD - The debate over wind turbine generators in Otsego County is ready for a public hearing after officials spent two years tweaking a proposed ordinance.
      The windmills concept created discussion over height restrictions, property setbacks, noise levels, shadow-flicker from the spinning blades, as well as ice from blades.
      The county's planning commission finalized the draft ordinance last week.
      Environmental attorney Susan Topp of Gaylord said height allowances in the proposed ordinance are still too tall and allow wind turbine generators to be built up to 400 feet.
      The Federal Aviation Administration requires all structures more than 200 feet to be equipped with red lights and a white strobe. That will create a disruption to the county's nighttime sky, Topp said.
      Other restrictions include property setbacks of at least 1,250 feet for utility companies and 180 feet for private landowners. Existing noise levels at property lines also would have to be maintained, and ice throw could not cross property lines or roads.
      The public hearing will be Dec. 19 in Gaylord. If county commissioners and state officials approve the ordinance, it could become law in March.
     
WEXFORD
Man arrested on gun, marijuana charges
      TRAVERSE CITY - A Cadillac man was charged with manufacturing and possession of marijuana, delivery of marijuana to a minor and two firearm violations.
      Police responded last Sunday to a report of gunfire at a East Lake Mitchell Road house near Cadillac. They found Hans Peter Anderson, 36, and his 14-year-old son in the garage and allegedly smoking marijuana.
      State police officials from the Cadillac post said Anderson was shooting a gun in a swamp near the house. There were no injuries, police said.
      Police confiscated $1,600 in cash and marijuana plants. Police also found five unregistered firearms.
      Anderson faces marijuana and firearm charges. The son was not charged and turned over to relatives, police said.
     

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