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A look back at the year 2019 in the local area

Daily Press file photo Local residents tour the new Deta County Correctional Facility earlier this year. The new jail was one of the new additions to the comunit that became operational in 2019.

ESCANABA — Here are some of the local events that made headlines in 2019.

January

3 – Ophelia Marie LeBeau was the first baby born in Escanaba in 2019.

5 – Delta County received $85,000 in grant funding for improvements to Rapid River Falls Park.

14 – Pasqua Warstler retired as executive director of the Bonifas Arts Center.

21 – The Michigan State Police Manistique Post will operate as the Manistique outpost under the supervision of the Gladstone Post.

30 – Holy Name Catholic School is planning to re-open its high school, school. The launch of a capital campaign to raise funds for this project was announced during the press conference.

February

5 – Bay College’s student enrollment numbers for the winter 2019 semester have shown an increase from last winter.

8 – The Escanaba City Council took steps to block the sale of marijuana within the city limits.

14 – Heavy snowfall and bitterly cold temperatures have been seen in the area over the past few weeks. Representatives of local public works departments said the impact of this weather on their work has been significant.

20 – OSF HealthCare St. Francis Hospital & Medical Group celebrated 135 years of serving the Delta County Community.

26 – An ordinance that would prohibit businesses selling marijuana in Gladstone was introduced.

March

2 – The Escanaba Society of Saint Vincent de Paul (SSVdP) Thrift Store expanded.

8 – The Escanaba City Council adopted an ordinance that officially prohibits the retail sale of marijuana within the city limits.

8 – The proposed redevelopment of the historic House of Ludington into senior housing was a major topic of discussion at the Escanaba City Council meeting.

9 – The Upper Peninsula has been hit by heavy snowfall and extremely low temperatures this winter. According to the Department of Natural Resources, these factors have made winter challenging for the local deer population.

19 – Struggling retailer Shopko has announced it will close its remaining 120 stores, including locations in Manistique, Ishpeming, Kingsford and Iron River.

21 – Longstanding member of the Bay College Board of Trustees William Lake resigned.

26 – Hobby Lobby opened in Escanaba.

April

5 – An ordinance detailing wind energy guidelines within the city was adopted by the Escanaba City Council.

9 – The Escanaba Water and Wastewater Departments are seeking steep rates increases.

23 – The final round of work intended to remove contaminated sediments from the Manistique River will begin this summer.

25 – After months of discussion over whether or not a property owner could legally blight its own property to receive brownfield designation and related tax benefits, the Escanaba Brownfield Redevelopment Authority narrowly approved the designation for the former Super One Foods building.

May

7 – Carrie Selma Flath, of Rapid River, was sentenced to 12 months in jail on embezzlement charges in Delta County Circuit Court.

8 – Voters in Delta County approved a pair of county-wide millage requests Tuesday.

A total of 2,695 votes, or 55.08 percent, were cast in favor of a law enforcement millage for road patrol, search and rescue services and the operations of the Delta County Sheriff’s Office. Voters also supported a request to renew Delta County’s 911 millage of .75 mills.

15 – Delays in opening the new Delta County Correctional Facility at the Delta County Service Center have taken a financial toll on the county’s corrections department.

25 – Efforts to open the new Delta County Correctional Facility have continued with the recent move of Delta County’s road patrol to the facility.

June

4 – Despite the Escanaba City Council finalizing a series of utility rate increases that include a 45-percent increase for water and the first of a series of 20-percent increases for wastewater during a special meeting Monday morning, the city’s water department is struggling to keep up with planned infrastructure projects in parts of the city.

8 – Warm temperatures have been scarce this spring, and despite the predicted warmer weekend, consistent warmer weather is not expected arrive in the U.P. until late June.

18 – After years of planning, the new Delta County Correctional Facility has officially opened for business. All inmates have been moved to the new facility from the previous facility, which was located near the Delta County Courthouse.

20 – An Escanaba man who pleaded guilty to charges of animal torture and child abuse in two separate cases was sentenced to a minimum of six years and 8 months to a maximum of 10 years in prison in Delta County Circuit Cour. In February, Michael Anthony Madril, 27, of 505 S. 17th St., Escanaba, pleaded guilty to one count of animals – killing/torturing and one count of child abuse – second degree.

29 – Record high water levels in the Great Lakes are affecting some parts of Delta County. Lake Michigan is forecasted to rise three to four inches before receding this summer. City of Gladstone Parks and Recreation Director Nicole Sanderson is working with her department to combat the water coming over the docks in Gladstone’s harbor.

July

5 — The Schoolcraft County Board of Commissioners passed a resolution to establish a citizen advisory board. The new board will be the first of its kind in the Upper Peninsula.

5 — At approximately 5:53 p.m. Friday, July 5, Delta County Central Dispatch received a 911 call reporting a male suspect dressed in black with a mask and a gun attempting to gain entry into the United Federal Credit Union. The doors had been secured for the closure of lobby business, but an employee was still inside at the time of the incident. On Monday, July 8, the same suspect robbed a bank in Pembine, Wis.

9 –At about 11:35 a.m. Tuesday, Delta County Central Dispatch received a 911 call reporting a male suspect had passed a note to a cashier at the Escanaba Hardee’s indicating an armed robbery. The suspect, Mark James Wilson of Kalamazoo, entered the restaurant’s bathroom and held up there until authorities arrived on the scene. He was sentenced to 25-40 years in prison on Dec. 9

11 — A series of deer hunting regulations aimed at slowing the spread of chronic wasting disease were approved by the Michigan Natural Resources Commission at its regular monthly meeting in Lansing. The regulations include a ban on baiting in part of the central U.P. that is being monitored for chronic wasting disease.

13 — After almost two years of planning and fundraising, the Veterans Memorial Park in Powers-Spalding Township has a new state of the art play structure for local and visiting children alike to enjoy. The playground was community-funded and community-assembled.

16 — The Gladstone City Commission voted to begin the process of removing City Manager Darcy Long from his position at a special meeting. The meeting was supposed to be in closed session,

however, Long did not request it, so the meeting was open to the public.

16 — A child advocacy center in Delta County is transitioning towards being controlled locally this summer. The Delta County Board of Commissioners agreed to sign a letter seeking Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) emergency funding for the continuation of child advocacy services in the area.

24 — VIPs from Delta County and beyond had an opportunity to get an early look at a new multi-use complex on the U.P. State Fairgrounds during a dedication ceremony and donor reception. The complex houses offices for the Delta County Chamber of Commerce, Delta County Builders Exchange, Delta County Economic Development Alliance and the U.P. State Fair; a U.P. Welcome Center; and the U.P. Veterans Museum and Webster Marble “Inventing the Outdoors” Museum.

26 — Attendance was strong for the 57th annual U.P. Trappers Convention & Outdoor Expo’s first day.

29 — Delta County Administrator Philip Strom announced he would be leaving his position with the county to become the deputy city attorney for the City of Grand Rapids.

29 — Downtown Manistique’s second mural created through the “Power of Words Project” was officially unveiled. The mural, which has been painted on what will be the mBank Community Arts & Cultural Center, is themed around the word “imagine.”

August

1 — After nearly a half hour in closed session, the Gladstone City Commission terminated Darcy Long from his role of city manager — effective immediately.1 1 — Former Delta County Treasurer Tom Sabor will serve as the county’s part-time interim administrator. The Delta County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to appoint Sabor to the position.

3 — Hundreds of people attended the ninth annual Daily Press Children’s Back-to-School and Health Fair at the Ruth Butler Building on the U.P. State Fairgrounds.

3 — The Escanaba Market Place filled with LGBT community members and allies alike to show they are here and they are proud of who they are during the first ever pride picnic and march in Escanaba.

6 — The Escanaba Dog Park, located near the Delta County Airport, officially opened.

6 — A millage proposal that would have created a sinking fund in the Mid Peninsula School District failed by a single vote, with 132 votes in favor of the proposal and 133 cast against the measure. A recount held Aug. 27 had no effect on the vote totals.

12 — Upper Peninsula State Fair kicks off.

12 — Charlie’s Foods marks 50 years of being a staple at the Upper Peninsula State Fair.

12 — The Gladstone City Commission unanimously voted to appoint Eric Buckman as the new interim city manager Monday night — relieving Gladstone Public Safety Director Ron Robinson from the task.

12 — The Escanaba Township Board voted to send a proposed change to the township’s zoning ordinance, which would allow for a large-scale solar generation facility to be constructed in the township, back to the planning commission.

13 — Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel was in Escanaba to open Senior Day at the Upper Peninsula State Fair, introduce her office’s elderspecific infinitives, and answer questions from local media.

13 — The grand and reserve champion steers were selected Tuesday during the Beef Cattle Junior Show at the Upper Peninsula State Fair in Escanaba. The junior market steer grand champion is owned by Marlee Larson of Wilson. Representing lower Michigan, MaKenna Hoppa of Fremont, Mich., raised the reserve champion.

13 — Gladstone City Commissioner Dave Nemacheck died as a result of an ongoing illness, including prostate cancer. His death left a vacancy on the commission, which was filled by the appointment of Greg Styczynki on Sept. 23.

15 — Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was in Escanaba to discuss issues relating to the Upper Peninsula and Michigan during a luncheon at the fair.

15 — Bernard Stanaway Jr., commander of Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 3165 in Negaunee, was honored as 2019’s Upper Peninsula Veteran of the Year. A ceremony in his honor was held at the U.P. State Fair.

21 — The Wilson Seventh-day Adventist Church, located on County Road 551 in Wilson, is finally being rebuilt after it was destroyed by fire after a lightning strike in 2017.

22 — A proposal to develop a hotel at the site of the former Delta County Correctional Facility and other nearby parcels took steps forward. The plan was approved by the Escanaba Planning Commission, Delta County Board of Commissioners, and the Escanaba City Council during a series of meetings.

23 — Gourley Township, the smallest and second poorest township in Menominee County, is building itself a new township fire garage and hall. The township took on the project without asking for a millage from taxpayers.

26 — People involved with recent efforts to update a playground in the Masonville Township Recreation Area took part in a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new and improved playground.

September

3 — Biologists from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ cougar team confirmed the 40th cougar report in Michigan since 2008. The trail camera photo was taken on public land in Delta County at 8:55 p.m. Aug. 17. A black-and white image from the camera shows a cougar heading away from the camera into a stand of cedar trees.

5 — The 74th Annual Great Lakes Logging and Heavy Equipment Expo kicked off at the U.P. State Fairgrounds.

6 — The Gladstone mural created through the Power of Words Project was unveiled during its grand opening ceremony. The mural, which is painted on the east-facing wall of the Rialto Center, was themed around the word “play.”

23 — The body of Gregory Sutherland, 29, of Clarkston, Mich. was discovered at a campsite on McInnes Lake in Schoolcraft County. Troopers said it appeared that Sutherland had an accident in which his leg was badly cut. He attempted to apply a tourniquet using his own belt, but his efforts failed.

24 — The 10th Annual Daily Press Senior Expo was held at the Terrace Bay Hotel in Gladstone.

October

2 — A Manistique man, Todd Lalonde, 53, escaped injury after he was rescued from a burning home by Manistique Public Safety.

3 — After two years managing Escanaba’s day-to-day operations, City Manager Patrick Jordan announced he would resign from his position with the city.

11 — After working at the Delta County Airport for roughly a year, Airport Manager Jeffery Sierpien officially submitted his resignation.

17 — About a year after a groundbreaking ceremony took place for an athletic addition to the Northern Lights YMCA building, where Bay College’s gymnasium facility is located, college representatives said Bay has taken occupancy of the new facility

17 — A mysterious and foul odor spreading across parts of Escanaba left some feeling ill and city employees scratching their heads. Representatives from multiple businesses appeared at an Escanaba City Council meeting to describe the odor.

29 –Michael Silverman of Caro, Mich. was chosen to serve as Delta County’s next administrator.

30 — In the days leading up to the Nov. 5 general election, Bay College President Laura Coleman took to Facebook using the names “Lee Knapp” and “Laura Knapp” while promoting the millage on pages against the proposal. Coleman described her use of a false name as “a rookie, stupid mistake.”

November

4 — The Escanaba Township Planning Commission made nine appointments to an ad hoc committee that will focus on the future of solar power in the township.

5 — A Bay College operating millage proposal was denied by nearly three-quarters of Delta County voters. “I think that the people in Delta County are tired of millages,” Coleman said of the loss.

6 — Michael Silverman of Caro, Mich., who was chosen to serve as Delta County’s next administrator, withdrew his name from the running.

7 — Emily DeSalvo — the other finalist for the position of Delta County administrator — was offered the position.

11 — In a surprise move Escanaba City Manager Patrick Jordan was rehired to the position after informing the council he intended to resign effective Dec. 1. In a split vote, the council approved Jordan’s original resignation and rehired him at a salary of $125,000 per year, with 32 days paid time off.

11 — The Gladstone Downtown Development Authority’s (DDA) capture of assessed value of the properties within the DDA district have been determined to be legal. The DDA’s actions were questioned by former city commissioner Mike O’Connor, who sued the city over the DDA.

20 — A 35-year-old Bark River man was arraigned on an open murder charge in Menominee County District Court Wednesday, after allegedly killing his adoptive father in Harris Township on Nov. 19. Gary Paul Phillips-Donovan, 35, of 3071 D Road, Apt. 208, Bark River, is accused of murdering Michael Alan Donovan, 74, of Harris Township.

21 — Anthony McCullough, 55, of the Hannahville Tribal Community, was found floating face down just off shore east of the Harbor Master Building in Escanaba. His death was apparently an accidental drowning, according to authorities.

21 — Police say the body of Kristin Hope Gromoske, a 17-year-old girl reported missing earlier in November, was found in the Menominee River.

25 — Interim Gladstone City Manager Eric Buckman is interim no more, following the city commission’s unanimous approval of hiring him as the city’s official manager.

December

1 — An unusual snow storm dumped 22.9 inches of snow on Escanaba in a 24-hour period according to the National Weather Service. Gladstone saw roughly 20 inches, Rapid River saw 18, the Dagget area saw 20, and Steuben in Schoolcraft County’s Inwood Township saw the highest totals at 26 inches. Houghton, which normally receives large amounts of snow from winter storm systems, received only 6 inches of snow.

4 — Wildlife biologists with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources said preliminary results from deer check stations across the Upper Peninsula show the harvest for this year’s firearm deer hunting season was down roughly 5 percent compared to 2018 and a 10-year average.

5 — According to Escanaba Public Safety Capt. Darin Hunter, the investigation into a meth distribution ring within Delta County was multifaceted, but was spearheaded after the drug overdose of a 34-year-old woman on the 200 block of South 9th Street in Escanaba in July 2018. Local law enforcement agencies worked together in the investigation that amounted to the arrests of 18 individuals.

16 — After over a year of discussion, the Escanaba School Board voted to close the Soo Hill Elementary building during a regular school board meeting. Out of seven board members, two voted against closing the school — Jim Beauchamp and Todd Milkiewicz.

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