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Pentwater woman adopted at birth reunited with half-brother

Joanne Sadosty used to tell people she was “hatched on the highway from an egg.”

The 74-year-old Pentwater resident was adopted as an infant. While she was growing up in Shelby, Sadosty said people would tell her that her mother would come to town once a year to make sure she was OK.

“Once I was a teenager, I realized if that were true and she was really coming to town to see me, that she would have shown up at some important events in my life,” Sadosty said. “And at that point, I just started questioning.”

Sadosty attempted to identify and contact her birth parents through the probate court when she was pregnant with her first child. She wanted to know her parents’ health history for the benefit of her baby, but was unsuccessful in making contact.

Her interest in her family history was peaked again later in life when a close friend took a DNA test and learned about a sister and some aunts she had never known about. Then, a couple years ago at Christmas, Sadosty received a DNA test as a gift.

On the day that the results of her DNA testing were complete, Sadosty said she received a message on Ancestry.com from a second cousin who she was unaware of. She also learned that her newly discovered second cousin, Phyllis Codling McLaughlin, is a genealogist.

McLaughlin also received a notification when Sadosty showed up on her “match list” as a relative.

“I was a surprise to her,” Sadosty said about McLaughlin learning they were related.

“I know who all of my second cousins are,” McLaughlin said. “When I saw her name, I didn’t recognize her.”

McLaughlin is a former 30-year journalist who is now a genetic genealogist in Milton, Kentucky.

“I use DNA and genealogy to figure out who people’s birth families are,” she said.

“What I’m looking for is a most recent ancestral couple,” McLaughlin explained. “If you’re looking for a grandparent, then you’re looking for somebody who has the same great-grandparents as you do.”

McLaughlin went to work researching Sadosty’s father’s side of the family. It took a couple months to reconstruct Sadosty’s family tree, McLaughlin said.

“I was able to determine which person was most likely to be her father,” McLaughlin said. “I contacted the man’s son and he came back matching as a half-brother.”

McLaughlin credited Sadosty’s half-brother, Jeff, for being part of the research.

“Without people like him who are willing to do a test to see if the hypothesis is true, we wouldn’t have the answer,” McLaughlin said.

Jeff told McLaughlin that he and his sisters “knew there was another child out there up for adoption.”

Still, McLaughlin said Sadosty was “very trepidatious about contacting him.”

“I was not real sure that I wanted to be a part of that,” Sadosty said.

Once she did contact Jeff, Sadosty said he was very happy to finally talk with her.

“It has just been a beautiful, beautiful story from then on.

“Until I talked to Phyllis, the only people I ever touched that had my blood were my two kids,” Sadosty said. “In one year, I have found my mother’s family and my father’s family.”

McLaughlin will tell the story in more detail — and talk about other genealogical projects she’s working on — during a talk at 6:45 p.m. Thursday. The presentation is being hosted by Sadosty’s sorority, Beta Sigma Phi, at a member’s home. It is open to the public.

Jeff, who lives in Midland, will be in attendance as well.

“I have a real brother and a real sister-in-law, and I feel so proud,” Sadosty said.

She now has a feeling of completeness, she said.

“It wasn’t like I had a terrible life; it was just that I didn’t know where I came from and I didn’t do anything to find out,” she said. “I don’t know why this has taken so long to happen in my life, but I do think it’s the right time because it’s gone so well.”

Sadosty recommended researching family history to others, when the time is right for them.

“I feel like there’s a whole lot of lonely people out there, and I think that some of them have family (members) who want to know who they are,” Sadosty said. “Sometimes when something comes at you that you didn’t plan, sometimes it’s the best thing to happen.”

To attend McLaughlin’s talk, call Sadosty to RSVP and for the location at (507) 358-3741. For anyone unable to attend or who would like to talk with McLaughlin, she can be reached at (502) 514-3715.

Ludington Fire Department celebrating Fire Prevention Week

The Ludington Fire Department has seemed more like an elementary school this week, as bright yellow school buses have been dropping off kindergarteners and first- and second-graders at the fire station since Monday, and will continue to do so through the end of the school day Thursday.

Ludington firefighters, along with many local, state and national departments, are celebrating Fire Prevention Week through Saturday. The program has been around for years, Ludington Fire Chief Jerry Funk said as he strolled around the fire station watching children tour the smoke house, spray the fire hose and learn the basics of the Stop, Drop and Roll technique, in case of a fire in their own home.

For most kindergarten students, it is the first time that they have participated in the activities at the Ludington Fire Station. For the first- and second-graders, it is a refresher course in creating and practicing a family plan for escaping a fire.

New this year is the Fire Safety House, which was purchased by the fire department with funds received from Friday Nigh Live food sales during the past couple of years and a donation from OxyChem, according to Funk. Funk said the Fire Safety House is a tool to start a conversation with the students.

“The house has a kitchen, which allows us to talk about a fire extinguisher, smoke detectors and overall kitchen safety,“ Funk said. “It has a fireplace, so we talk fireplace safety, always stay back 4 feet (from) burning candles, make sure candles are always attended (to).”

Funk, who has been with the Ludington Fire Department since 1970, said one of the best things that happens to him is when a parent tells him that their child attended the Fire Prevention Week event and their family has developed a family fire escape plan.

“We know that this is working,” he said.

“Our fire from children is way down compared to what it used to be years ago. We haven’t had a fire from little kids in years.”

Funk said the fire department teaches the students about the Stop, Drop and Roll technique, in case their clothes catch on fire; fire safety tips for the bedroom, like keeping the door closed at night; to have two ways out of the house during a fire; and to have a meeting place outside of the home where everyone knows to go in case of a fire.

The department currently has 19 firefighters on staff, according to Funk.

“They volunteer their time for these four days during Fire Prevention Week,” Funk said. “Many take vacation time away from work just to be here for the kids.”

Funk said that the Ludington Fire Department will be at Lowe’s along with other area departments from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday to celebrate Fire Prevention Week. The event will include tips about installing and maintaining smoke detectors and other home safety information.

If anyone is in need of a fire extinguisher, Funk said the Ludington Fire Department has a few to give away. Can contact the department at 843-3425.

Sky high learning with Young Eagles

PERE MARQUETTE TWP. — The Ludington area is known for its scenic views, but not everyone gets the opportunity to see the sights by flying overhead.

Thirteen middle school students from Gateway to Success Academy flew as passengers into the clear blue sky above Ludington Tuesday morning in small planes flown by members of the Mason County Pilots Association.

The flights were a Young Eagles event hosted by the local Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) Chapter 772, with members of the Mason County Pilots Association.

The group has been hosting flights for young people since the EAA began its Young Eagles program in the 1990s. Locally, about 130 kids participated in Young Eagles flights this summer, and this school year, approximately 90 students from various schools are expected to be passengers on the flights.

“A good percentage of them have never had the opportunity to fly, and they get the opportunity right here,” said John Berend, an EAA member.

The class of G2S students, from the sixth to eighth grades, and their teachers met up with pilots at the Mason County Airport.

Many different local pilots volunteer to fly for the Young Eagles program as their schedules allow. On Tuesday, three pilots participated, volunteering their time and personal aircraft.

Each of the three planes had four seats, which meant that there was a pilot and three passengers at a time in each aircraft. The flights lasted 10 to 15 minutes each.

“It’s nice to expose the young people to aviation,” said pilot Doug Shoup.

He said he enjoys taking passengers on flights. And, “selfishly,” he said, it gives himself another excuse to get into the pilot’s chair and soar into the sky.

“I just love flying,” Shoup said.

G2S Superintendent Jamie Bandstra said that the class includes 20 students, and 13 chose to fly.

“I’m grateful our students have the opportunity, and I’m grateful for the pilots involved,” Bandstra said. “It’s a cool chance for them to have an experience that’s connected to their learning. And for some of them — and for a lot of people — they don’t get the chance very often (to fly), so it’s also a fun thing.”

Thankfully, the sky was sunny and clear, providing spectacular views of Mason County, and with those views, an opportunity to learn, according to G2S middle school teacher Jess Blauwkamp, who also rode as a passenger along with the students.

“We couldn’t have asked for a better day,” she said.

Blauwkamp said the students have been learning about energy in their classroom curriculum, including alternative energy sources. She said it’s fortunate that there is the Ludington Pumped Storage Plant and wind turbines in the area for the students to learn about.

Getting to fly up and see an aerial view of the storage plant’s reservoir gave the students a new perspective and helped them to see the massive scale of the power plant and how gravity makes it work, Blauwkamp said.

“Being able to see it (from the air) helped them to understand it better,” she said, adding that the students are also building their own bicycle-powered generator in class.

“It’s cool to take them on these adventure experiences,” she added. “Taking kids on these adventures also helps them decide what they want to do in the future and what they want to study, too.”

G2S eighth-grader Asher Johnson said he’d flown in planes before, but this was his first time sitting in the copilot chair of a small plane.

“It was awesome,” he said. “Being able to sit in the copilot seat and see how it works was so cool. It makes me want to learn how to fly.”

Sixth-grader Jersey Schneider said it was his first time riding in a small aircraft.

“It was so fun,” he said, adding later, “I learned that small planes aren’t that scary ... I thought that smaller planes have worse turbulence, and that’s not true.”

LACA to host Nathaniel White and Noah Cameron Thursday

LACA to host Nathaniel White and Noah Cameron Thursday

As part of its “Intimate Evening With…” series, the Ludington Area Center for the Arts will host percussionists Nathanial White and Noah Cameron at 7 p.m. on Thursday in LACA’s performance hall. Tickets are $5 each and can be purchased either at the door or in advance by calling (231) 845-2787.

White and Cameron will perform an array of songs on the handpan.

“The handpan is a Relatively new instrument invented only about 30 years ago in Switzerland by a man named Felix Rohner,” White said. “The original name for Rohner ‘s invention is called the hang or hangdrum. The style of instruments he pioneered is now referred to collectively as handpans.”

White said the instrument has seen an increase in popularity as more makers appear to meet the demand.

White and Cameron have more than 18 years of percussion experience between them and they are currently working on an album they hope to release later this year.

The “Intimate Evening with...” series will continue on the second Thursday of each month through May, with the exception of December.

Rosary Rally to pray for U.S. Saturday

The public is invited to participate in the third annual Rosary Rally at Ludington’s Rotary Park from noon to 1 p.m. this Saturday.

People of all religious beliefs are welcome to participate in the free event, and rosary beads will be provided for those who don’t bring their own, said Helen Graczyk, who is organizing the rally.

“We’re gathering to pray the rosary for peace in our country,” she said, adding later, “Public prayer is powerful ... I think prayer in our country right now is very important.”

Graczyk is a leader of the Adoration Chapel at St. Simon Catholic Church, which is hosting the Rosary Rally at the city park.

The event will include reciting the rosary, singing Christian songs and listening to a homily by Father Wayne Wheeler, Graczyk said, adding that the rally should last 45 minutes to an hour.

“I want this to be very welcoming and people to be glad they come,” Graczyk said, adding, “We’ll have homemade cookies as a snack afterwards.”

Rosary rallies will also be hosted by other churches throughout the United States, she said, adding that more than 20,000 prayer rallies are expected to be held.

“It’s been nationwide for many, many years, but this is the third time for us,” she said.

Graczyk said she’s been heading up the Ludington Rosary Rally since it was first held, and each year the event has had 40 to 50 people attend.

“We’ve had a very good turnout (in years past),” she said, adding, “We’re hoping for a big crowd.”

She said the rally’s organizers have been advertising the event throughout the area, including in Ludington, Custer, Pentwater and Weare Township.