2013-01-03 / Front Page

Big and local news 2012

Top news stories of 2012: Part 2
BY KELLY TAYLOR-JEROME
News & Sports Editor • 810-452-2617 • kjerome@mihomepaper.com
BY JOHN BONKE
Staff Writer • 810-452-2668 • jbonke@mihomepaper.com


The Top Sports Photo of 2012 was taken by Huron County VIEW News & Sports Editor Kelly Taylor-Jerome: On the front page of the Nov. 29 edition under the headline - “Congrats to State Champs Harbor Beach” - the following was printed: “The Harbor Beach Pirates football team brought home the State Championship trophy after beating the Beal City Aggies 35 to 10 Friday at Ford Field in Detroit.” 
Photo by Kelly Taylor-Jerome The Top Sports Photo of 2012 was taken by Huron County VIEW News & Sports Editor Kelly Taylor-Jerome: On the front page of the Nov. 29 edition under the headline - “Congrats to State Champs Harbor Beach” - the following was printed: “The Harbor Beach Pirates football team brought home the State Championship trophy after beating the Beal City Aggies 35 to 10 Friday at Ford Field in Detroit.” Photo by Kelly Taylor-Jerome HURON COUNTY - The staff at the Huron County VIEW has voted on the Top News Stories of 2012.

For this week’s edition, here’s a look at the second half of the year from July through December.

• One of the Top News Stories, from July, was fireworks. C-Grade, or commercial grade, fireworks became legal in Michigan on Jan. 1, 2012, but they didn’t become a problem for local authorities until the Fourth of July approached.

In response to complaints from residents, the cities of Caseville and Bad Axe in August joined an explosion of municipalities across the state that passed an ordinance banning fireworks use all days except the day before, the day of and the day after a national holiday. The state law prohibits local units of government from banning fireworks use on those days.

While most complaints to area police were regarding noise, there were a few dangerous situations reported:

• June 28 - A group of teenagers was caught after shooting bottle rockets at pedestrians while traveling in a car down North Port Crescent Street in Bad Axe.

• July 5 - A mini-van parked in a driveway near the West Irwin Street and Bacon Street intersection in Bad Axe was destroyed and the victim’s garage was damaged by a blaze police believe was intentionally set using a firework.

• July 6 - The Bad Axe Fire Department responded to two ditch fires on Richardson Road that occurred within 200 feet of each other and were believed to have been set by falling firework debris.

While local governments are prohibited from an outright ban on fireworks during holidays, area police can still issue citations if a person launching fireworks is a nuisance.

Anyone damaging property or injuring a person would face legal action under state law. According to the Michigan Fireworks Safety Act, the following penalties could apply to those who damage property or human life by recklessly using fireworks:

• If someone intentionally or recklessly violates the law, they are subject to a 30-day misdemeanor and/or $1,000 fine.

• If the violation damages property of another person, it is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail and/or a fine of $5,000.

• If the violation causes serious impairment of a body function of another person, it is felony punishable by up to five years in prison and/or a fine of up to $5,000.

• If the violation causes another’s death, it is punishable by up to 15 years and/or a fine of up to $10,000.

• By September of 2012, Huron County Commissioners had grown weary of years of unmet promises made by wind energy companies and unstable state laws regarding taxing turbines, and one commissioner threatened a moratorium against any new wind developments.

At its Sept. 11 meeting, the board voted to fight for higher turbine taxes in court, passed a resolution in opposition to 25 by 25 and voted to join a political action coalition committed to opposing 25 by 25. The board’s opposition to 25 by 25, which would have amended the state’s constitution to require 25 percent of the state’s energy to come from renewable resources by 2025, was backed by voters, who turned down the proposition in November.

If the proposal had passed, the landscape of Huron County would change forever, commissioners stated.

Commissioner Ron Wruble said he favored the county imposing a moratorium on any new wind energy developments until the county is assured it will be treated fairly and will receive all the revenues promised by the companies. Commissioners acted on Wruble’s request in November, by voting to “hit the pause button” on new developments.

Also at the Sept. 11 meeting, the commissioners voted to include Huron County in a proposed five-county collaborative effort to get all the tax money they have been promised by wind energy companies.

Carl J. Osentoski, Huron County Economic Development Corporation director, reported during the board’s Sept. 20 meeting that counties hosting wind parks throughout the state stand to lose millions in tax revenue if the Michigan Tax Commission stands by its most recent figures for the deprecation rate of wind turbines.

The tax commission voted last fall to lower the taxable value of wind turbines, but did not provide any factual reasoning behind the change. By law, Osentoski said, the tax commission must base changes in tax rates on tangible data.

Therefore, the counties of Huron, Sanilac, Gratiot, Mason and Tuscola are working on joining together to pay a legal team to fight for the higher tax rate, he said. The inter-county unit would be known as the Michigan Renewable Energy Collaborative.

- Also in September, the City of Harbor Beach announced plans to extensively upgrade the beach front area. The Waterfront Development Project is a $400,000 project funded by a Department of Natural Resource Trust Fund Development Grant.

The Waterfront Development Plan is a multifaceted project which will coordinate several projects together in order to minimize disruption and save cost, Harbor Beach Mayor Gary Booms reported. One component of the plan calls for the extension of the city’s bike and pedestrian path in a loop near the waterfront. The path is designed with a 10-foot wide asphalt surface, which will be lit for night time use.

The project also includes the addition of bathroom facilities and new playground equipment.

A ribbon cutting ceremony is planned for June of this year.

On Saturday, Sept. 15, 2012, the former Bathing Beach Park and adjacent 6.85 acres were officially renamed The James H. Lincoln Memorial Park during a groundbreaking and dedication ceremony. Several local dignitaries attended the event and spoke of the revered judge.

Harbor Beach Mayor Gary Booms told the crowd that the park was a fitting memorial, as Lincoln was dedicated to helping children throughout his career. As the as the Wayne County Probate Judge, Lincoln presided over 30,000 adoptions.

“What better place to have a dedication - a park that so many young people can come and play for years,” Booms said.

• In November, work on the Thumb Loop project entered Huron County in earnest. The 140 miles of electric transmission lines and four new substations will serve to connect sources of power production, such as wind turbines and solar arrays, to the electric grid. Work is expected to be completed this fall.

ITC Michigan President Gregory Ioanidis said the line will integrate renewable energy production, increase reliability and improve economic efficiency of the power grid. Ioanidis and other company officials spoke during a brief presentation at the Franklin Inn, Bad Axe, on Oct. 30, 2012. Ioanidis said the future-oriented project aims at getting the maximum outcome possible and that the “demand on the grid is unprecedented” as more devices, including vehicles, are being plugged in to it. He said the genesis of the “Michigan Thumb Loop” was the passage of Michigan’s Renewable Portfolio Standard, as well as the area receiving primary wind zone designation. The Clean, Renewable & Efficient Energy Act (PA295) passed in October of 2008 and created the Wind Energy Resource Board. In January of 2010, the Michigan Public Service Commission designated the Thumb as the state’s primary wind development zone. The double-circuit loop is designed to carry 345,000 volts, the highest capacity in the state. Phase I of the loop passes through Sebewaing, Brookfield, Winsor, Oiver, Colfax, Verona, and Sigel townships, with scheduled completion in 2013. Phase 2 will extend the loop from Sigel Township through Paris Township and into Sanilac and St, Clair counties, and is expected to be done by 2015.

- Also in November, the Democrat Party victories around the Nation included former 84th District State Representative Terry Brown re-gaining a seat in the State Legislature.

- One of the most exciting sports stories of the year also happened in November when the Harbor Beach Pirates football team brought home the State Championship trophy.

The team beat the Beal City Aggies 35-10 on Nov. 23, 2012 at Ford Field in Detroit. The team’s season ended with 13 wins and one loss, a toughfought battle against Menominee, a division-five team that lost in this year’s semifinal playoffs.

HONORABLE MENTIONS:

Making Honorable Mention from the second half of the year, in chronological order as they were printed, were: Bird Creek Golf Club suffered a fire that destroyed its club house; the County Board of Commissioners hear plans for for a low-income dental clinic; local police bust the home of Heidi Heintz, who was suspected to be a major supplier of the drug bath salts; more turbines are erected in the county; Farmers await disaster relief for drought; Jennifer Emerick is charged in connection with her toddler son’s death; Robert Alent, owner of Maple Lane Discount and known bath salt supplier before the drug was outlawed, was arraigned on charges in connection to bath salts after his home and business were simultaneously raided by police; Apartment fire in Bad Axe kills three people.

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