A Look Back at 2020 Part I
To say the past year was strange is perhaps the understatement of the century and even though the century is still rather young the level of strangeness is undoubtedly one for the ages.
Here’s a glance at the first half.
First Baby Arrives!
Spectrum Health Gerber Memorial’s New Year’s Day baby took a little longer to show up despite mom Cassie Moore’s best efforts. Moore began feeling contractions late in the afternoon on Jan. 1.
Baby Gabriel, however, wasn’t quite ready to show up, and waited until 4:12 a.m. on Thursday, Jan. 2, to make his long-awaited debut.
Weighing in at 6 pounds and 4 ounces, Gabriel was born to Moore and Mark Golliver, both of Fremont.
HTRJ stays in the family
Linda Cudworth considered a number of options in the area and even gave a fleeting thought to a place she stumbled upon during a visit to Grand Marais.
But in the end Hit The Road Joe landed next door to her house in Croton.
That was 20 years ago when she was 50. Now 20 years later her daughter Tracy, known as Chef T, has taken the reins of the iconic restaurant that has been a gathering spot for a slew of regulars and a pleasant surprise for those who have discovered this haven of epicurean delights by accident, by design or by recommendation.
And she is now nearly 50, producing a fitting symmetry to the transition process.
Headway received this same grant 5 years ago and it will allow the prevention work in NC to continue with Katherine Mater and Kelly Wawszcyk coordinating activities.
The Headway Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition serving Newaygo County, was one of the grant recipients and will receive $625,000 in DFC grant funds to involve and engage their local community to prevent substance use among youth. The Newaygo County RESA serves as the fiduciary for the Headway Coalition.
First inkling of the pandemic in our state. Seems like forever ago.
On Monday, January 27, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) reported today that test results on three possible cases of 2019 Novel Coronavirus came back negative. A specimen from a fourth possible case, from Washtenaw County, was sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today for testing.
Last Thursday (Feb 13) recreational marijuana arrived in our county for the first time when Skymint began moving beyond dispensary mode and into dual duties including cannabis presumably not prescribed for medical usage.
Well, one imagines recreational pot has long been a part of our little slice of bipeninsular heaven, but they were indeed the first ones to do it under the auspices of licenses, regulation and whatnot.
For now the ‘Cannabis in the Cloud’ emporium remains unique and the only (legal) place nearby one can purchase pot since the next nearest is in Evart.
The dire social media warnings of chaos in the streets once pot was available without a prescription never came to fruition.
The Newaygo County Road Commission held an open house for retiring Director Kelly Smith on Friday February 14th to commemorate his 35 years serving the citizens of Newaygo County.
Board member Doug Harmon: “Kelly is and loves to be a problem solver. It has been an honor and pleasure working with someone that loved, had compassion and lived his job 24/7.”
Mr. Smith, who was a regular contributor to our pages of RC info, continues to do some consulting when not pursuing his love of racing...cars by the way, not running.
Ms Hefferan schools the class on Dam to Dam
The annual Dam to Dam Ice Fishing Tournament had special guests this year, as twenty-three GVSU Honors students packed the ice to collect fishing stories and to learn about the Muskegon River. The class, HON280 Making Waves: Water in a Changing World, began the day with a tour of Hardy Dam. They then headed to Croton, with students circulating among tournament participants, interviewing ice fisherman about fishing culture and practices. Among the GVSU participants were three local residents: Professor Tara Hefferan of Croton and students Maggie Degen and Lauren Ferris, both of Fremont.
Newaygo County Regional Educational Service Agency (NC RESA) hosted the 2020 Regional Spelling Bee on February 25 with 18 district-level winners and runners-up (grades 3 through 8) competing for the regional title. Congratulations to Sophia Fries from Grant Middle School, who was the overall winner by correctly spelling the word pilferer in Round 11. Sophia will now advance to The Greater Grand Rapids Spelling Bee on Tuesday, March 24 at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids.
Sherry Claflin, an eighth-grade Earth science teacher at White Cloud Junior High School in White Cloud, Michigan, has been named the 2020 recipient of the Edward C. Roy Jr. Award for Excellence in K-8 Earth Science Teaching.
Ms. Claflin also earned a trip to Boston scheduled for April and we all know what happened to that. This year’s conference? Virtual of course.
The tail end of a column.
And for pity’s sake people, virus or no virus, please wash your hands will you?
You know who you are and we know who you are from seeing you exit public bathrooms without a stop at the sink.
As Bob Marley once said...
“Before you start pointing fingers make sure your hands are clean.”
Spectrum Health Gerber Memorial’s Chief Nursing Officer Meleah Mariani has been named chief nursing officer at Spectrum Health Ludington Hospital. At Gerber Memorial, in addition to overseeing more than 175 members of the nursing staff, Mariani was also an executive leader who spearheaded numerous initiatives at Gerber Memorial in addition to serving as an ambassador throughout the Newaygo County community.
Ms Mariani was outstanding as a CNO according to a source well known to this writer.
Tragedy in Croton
Newaygo County Prosecuting Attorney, Worth Stay, announced that Max Wallace William Carle of Newaygo, was arrested during the course of an investigation into activities that allegedly occurred on March 8, 2020, at a residence in Croton Township. Deputies from the Newaygo County Sheriff's Office responded to a report of an assault of a 64-year-old male. The 64-year-old male was located with multiple stab wounds and was pronounced dead at the scene.
And here we go…
March 11- Wayne County Health Department announced today that two Michigan residents tested presumptive positive for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), the first confirmed cases in the state.
March 12- All MHSAA winter tournaments are suspended, effective immediately and indefinitely, due to concerns related to COVID-19.
March 16-No visitors will be allowed at any locations (hospitals, outpatient locations and long-term care facilities) for all local health care systems. For special circumstances, one approved visitor will be allowed in situations involving patients undergoing surgery and pediatric, maternity, end of life or critically ill patients.
On March 17, 2020 at approximately 7:56 am, Deputies from the Newaygo County Sheriff’s Office were dispatched to 1140 N Walnut Ave, Wilcox Township, on a report of an adult male threatening to shoot an adult female and 3 kids. While enroute to the scene deputies were advised that the male suspect left the residence on foot with a gun.
Upon arrival on scene, law enforcement set up a perimeter around the area. Newaygo County K-9 team was called in for tracking the suspect. After tracking the suspect and making contact with him on the phone he agreed to come out of the woods. The male suspect surrendered peacefully to law enforcement.
Judge Springstead frees up Hespo council logjam.
The Village of Hesperia has been at a virtual standstill for nearly a year.
Last week the Hon. Robert D. Springstead ruled that the resignations of DanBesten, Derks, and Kochans were valid when they were submitted.DanBesten also moved out of the village making her ineligible to hold a council seat.Though Derks and Kochans recently tried to rescind their resignations it was ruled that this made no difference and they were also off the Council. Michael Maynard who has not attended in a year will retain his council seat. Three new members were appointed to the council as Jackie Slocum, Dan Herin and Sara Walker now fill the once vacant seats and the Village Council of Hesperia once again numbers 7.
Cold Case Team notches another
Nearly 37 years after 25-year-old Richard Atwood disappeared from White Cloud, Michigan in Newaygo County, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel along with Newaygo County Prosecutor Worth Stay have jointly charged Roy Leando Snell with his murder. Atwood’s body has never been found.
The Cold Case Team members who doggedly pursued this case were Scott Rios (NCSO, MSP retired), Adam Mercer (NCSO), Robert Watson (MSP), Ryan Maki (MSP) and Richard Miller ( MSP ret.).
The next shoe drops.
Today, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” Executive Order (EO 2020-21), directing all Michigan businesses and operations to temporarily suspend in-person operations that are not necessary to sustain or protect life. The order also directs Michiganders to stay in their homes unless they’re a part of that critical infrastructure workforce, engaged in an outdoor activity, or performing tasks necessary to the health and safety of themselves or their family, like going to the hospital or grocery store. “ In just 13 days, we’ve gone from 0 to over 1,000 COVID-19 cases,” said Governor Whitmer. “This is an unprecedented crisis that requires all of us working together to protect our families and our communities. The most effective way we can slow down the virus is to stay home. I know this will be hard, but it will be temporary. If we all come together, get serious, and do our part by staying home, we can stay safe and save lives.”
And now it arrives in our fair county.
March 23 – District Health Department #10 reports the first confirmed positive case of COVID-19 in a Newaygo County resident.
March 26- The Senate has unanimously passed a stimulus bill. While there are many provisions including expanded unemployment guidelines and monies heading for larger entities, part of the package involves payments to individuals and families.
Individuals will receive $1200 per adult. $500 per child 16 and under.
Done in a hurry. So why did it take so long this time around?
First District 10 death
March 26, 2020 – District Health Department #10 (DHD#10) received notification of the first local death attributed to COVID-19. The individual from Mecosta County was an 82-year-old male who was admitted to Spectrum Health in Big Rapids on March 25.
Tossing in the towel.
April 2- Schools are closed for the rest of the year. Newaygo County superintendents have been meeting regularly since schools were closed preparing for this moment and are targeting April 20 to launch a distance learning program. “We share the Governor’s highest priority right now to protect our Newaygo County students and their families from the spread of COVID-19,” said Dr. Lori Tubbergen Clark, NC RESA and Big Jackson Public School Superintendent.
Plans had her headed for Grand Canyon U.
The Michigan Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association Scholarship is awarded to 12 students who ‘flourish in academic and athletic excellence and commit to service to their local community. Lauren Boerger of Fremont was announced as the recipient of one of those 12.
While at Fremont, Lauren competed on the Tennis, Swim, and Cross Country Teams. She was a team captain for the swim team and earned all-conference on the tennis team. Activities that Lauren is involved in outside of school include the National Baby Food Festival, and Feed My Starving Children.
On April 9, 2020 at approximately 1:55 pm, Deputies from the Newaygo County Sheriff’s Office were checking on a suspicious vehicle near E 6 Mile Rd and N Thornapple Ave. While the Deputy was talking with the 38 year old female from Wyoming Michigan, she put her vehicle in drive and took off at a high rate of speed. At the intersection of E Monroe St and N Evergreen Dr a Sergeant with the Sheriff’s Office was able to deploy stop sticks and successfully deflate 3 out of the 4 tires. The vehicle continued north on N Evergreen until E Jackson St where the driver failed to negotiate the curve and continued north into a grassy area and became disabled.
The 38 year old driver was taken into custody without incident.
Oh yeah, and possession of Meth. Stuff that tends to alter one’s judgement
Hmm. The warning from LE wasn’t enough?
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office – in coordination with Mason County Prosecutor Paul Spaniola – sent a cease and desist letter Thursday to a community action agency (Five Cap) in Scottville after receiving complaints that the organization was continuing to require non-critical infrastructure employees to report to work, despite warnings from local police.
And speaking of LE...from the NCSO facebook page:
We have received many phone calls, text messages and emails regarding Governor Whitmer's Executive Orders and the Sheriff's Office position on those orders.
The women and men of the Newaygo County Sheriff's Office have taken an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States of America and the Constitution of the State of Michigan. It is our responsibility to serve and protect the citizens of Newaygo County and protect your rights as described in the Constitution. We will respond to all calls for service and will address each call with common sense. Our goal is to ensure that everyone is safe and treated fairly.
It is our opinion that the people of Newaygo County will use good judgement and be considerate of their friends and neighbors. We will all get through this by working and communicating with each other. Please take care of each other and let us know if you need our assistance.
Sheriff Bob Mendham
Total Confirmed Cases 31,424
Total COVID-19 Deaths 2,391
Sunday Confirmed Cases 633
Sunday COVID-19 Deaths 83
6 weeks prior…. 2 cases confirmed in the state
An even dozen in Newaygo County
As of Tuesday, April 21, 2020, District Health Department #10 (DHD#10) reported the twelfth lab confirmed positive case of COVID-19 in Newaygo County. As of 04/21/2020 there are now 105 positive cases in DHD#10’s ten county jurisdiction and 8 deaths. Statewide there are 32,967 lab confirmed positive cases and 2,700 confirmed deaths. The first pediatric death from COVID-19 in the state was reported on April 19, 2020.
For the first time in nearly three decades, Hesperia’s downtown streets, parks, and skies will be silent on the 4th of July. The Hesperia Chamber of Commerce, who hosts the annual event, made the tough decision to cancel the 2020 Hesperia FunFest due to the ongoing Covid-19 concerns, and the probability that large gatherings will continue to remain discouraged throughout the summer months.
Grab your hammer and get ready. Meanwhile the Gov and the solons...
During her Wednesday news conference Governor Whitmer stated she would sign an order Friday allowing both residential and commercial construction to resume beginning May 7th. The Legislature is considering her request to extend the state of emergency, set to expire on Thursday, 4 more weeks to May 28th but there looks to be resistance from the Republican majority in the House and Senate who did not vote on the issue during session today. “They are acting as though we are in the middle of a political problem," she said of Republicans critical of her orders during the coronavirus pandemic. "This is not a political problem we have. It’s a public health crisis.”
Hazardous Waste Day postponed, then eventually cancelled thanks to COVID
This year the event was scheduled for May 30th but due to the COVID-19 situation the Board of Public Works made the decision to postpone the event and scheduling issues may lead to its cancellation for this year.
A little drive through Pomp & Circumstance
With the prospect of a formal graduation ceremony on the football field completely out of the question, Newaygo Public School administrators and senior class advisers began to brainstorm how to make the would-have-been night something that the seniors would at least remember for years to come, even if it wasn’t what they’d always thought it would be.
What ended up taking place was a joyous, special evening for all graduates. Their senior photos were made into posters, which lined Barton Street and began the “Graduate Parade”. While the seniors were not allowed to get out of their cars, they filed into four lines in their vehicles to turn in their books and computers and to pick up documents and a care package from the staff.
And then the corner was turned...for awhile.
Office work that is not capable of being performed remotely can resume.
In-home services, including house cleaning services, can begin operations.
Fitness classes can be held outside.
Drive -in movies can reopen.
Groups of 100 or less can now congregate outdoors so long as safety measures are in place.
On Thursday, June 4th, retail establishments can move beyond appointments and welcome in customers with reduced capacity numbers.
On Monday, June 8th, restaurants can open with both indoor and outdoor dining if tables are 6 feet apart and capacity remains at 50% or less. Day camps and swimming pools can resume operations the same day.
Not yet open?
Hair salons, gyms, indoor theaters, casinos, and tattoo parlors.
The governor indicated these restrictions could be lifted within 2 weeks if the downward trend of cases continues.
A long 84 days for those who enjoy an occasional sit down meal at one of our local eatatoriums.
On Monday (June 8) the drought came to an end as restaurants and bars in our fair county were able to open their doors to the public beyond take out and actually have folks indulge in a bit of dining beyond the confines of their kitchens. One of our faves has always been the Moon Dance Cafe in Fremont where regulars were welcomed inside for the first time Monday morning
“We had people who were waiting when we opened the doors at 7am,” said MDC owner Tina Drum. “We’re glad to be back and happy to see all the familiar faces.”
MD followed the guidelines and shifted back to take out when the ban was reinstituted, however, in the past week Tina regrettably closed Moon Dance until the time indoor seating would be allowed.
Part of being media is the need to experience some things first hand, so when testing was offered for the COVID virus I decided to give it a whirl.
I know, I know, there are some out there who embrace any number of theories about this whole shebang but in the land of ‘what ifs’ I tend to lean toward precautionary approaches to situations that could lead to disastrous results.
So I got tested.
It was negative.
Julie Burrell of the Right Place put on the second Pitch North event where budding entrepreneurs ‘pitched’ their business to a panel of judges. The first was held at the Dogwood. This one? Virtual.
The first place prize of $4,000 was awarded to Amber Hellewell, Hearth Magic, in Pentwater. Amber plans to use her prize money to upgrade computer, printer and other equipment to allow her business to scale. Second place was awarded to Ron Radkay, Elsie’s Ice Cream Shop in Fremont. Ron plans to expand Elsie’s and add an old fashioned soda fountain to allow for the business to operate year round.
A New Leader for SHGM
June 26– Spectrum Health today announced Drew Dostal as the new market leader for the system’s northwest region covering Newaygo, Mason, Oceana and Muskegon counties. Dostal will oversee operations at Ludington Hospital, Spectrum Health Gerber Memorial in Fremont and the Integrated Care Campus in North Muskegon.
So that wraps up the first 6 months. Stay tuned and we’ll deliver the rest of the story of a year that will be remembered well by many and remembered fondly by few.
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