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Home damaged Thursday morning in structure fire

A Sheridan Township home was damaged Thursday in a structure fire Thursday morning, but none of the homedwellers were harmed, according to Fountain Assistant Fire Chief Jeremy Goble.

Goble told the Daily News that the structure fire, which was at 6590 E. Beech St., resulted in “minimal damage” to the single-story home.

Roughly five adults — some of whom were family visitors staying at the residence — and approximately three children were at the home when the fire occurred, according to Goble. He said the family has been temporarily displaced as a result of damage to the roof and ceiling of the home, as well as to portions of the building’s exterior.

“It had a fire up in the eaves, in the ceiling and in the stovepipe area, because there was a wood stove in the home,” Goble said. “There was also a little damage to the outside of the structure.”

The fire was reported by dispatchers at 8:01 a.m., according to Goble. He said the Branch and Custer fire departments, as well as the Michigan State Police, were called to the scene in addition to the Fountain Fire Department.

Firefighters acted quickly and beat back the flames in moments, according to Goble.

“Branch Fire was the first unit on scene. They knocked it out within the first 2 minutes,” he said. “It took about 10 minutes for the first unit to arrive ... We spent the rest of the time doing mop-up and cleaning the rafters.”

It took less than 500 gallons of water to extinguish the fire, according to Goble.

The American Red Cross was called to assist with finding a place for the family to stay while the homeowner looks into the cause and attempts to repair the damage.

“We contacted the Red Cross to help get them a place to stay for the night,” Goble said. “It should be temporary. The homeowner was planning on working on it to see what he could do (to fix it).

“Everybody was able to get out of the house. There were no injuries,” Goble said.

It’s possible that the cause of the fire was electrical, but Goble noted that no official cause has been determined.


Noah Hausmann | Daily News 

Noah Hausmann | Daily News

The Ludington North Breakwater Light is pictured through the icicles along the shore at the Loomis Street Boat Launch Thursday afternoon.


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Downtown Ludington to host Cookie Walk, Santa visit

Downtown Ludington will host a new event this holiday season — a Cookie Walk.

The event, which will be from 1 to 4 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 14, will have participants going to 30 downtown Ludington businesses, collecting a cookie from each location.

“The businesses came up with the idea for this event,” said Jen Tooman, Downtown Ludington communication and marketing manager. “The Chili Walk and Soup-er Bowl Walks are so popular with both businesses and the event participants, so we wanted to add a similar event during the holiday season. It was also their idea to donate the money raised to a local charity.”

Cookie collection boxes cost $15 each. All proceeds from the sale will be donated to the Youth Resource Center at the Ludington Area School District. This school program provides food and hygiene to students in need.

There are only 100 boxes available for this year’s Cookie Walk.

Boxes are for sale on EventBrite now through Dec. 13. If the event is not sold-out online, remaining boxes will be sold at Red Rooster Coffee, 207 S. James St, Ludington, on Dec. 14, starting at 12:45 p.m.

Many businesses will be having holiday sales and activities during the Cookie Walk and throughout the holiday shopping season.

SANTA VISIT

In addition to the Cookie Walk, on Dec. 14, Santa and Mrs. Claus will make an appearance in the James Street Plaza from 2:30 to 4 p.m. Also, the fire pit will be burning at the plaza, and people can borrow skates for free from the Ludington Library to use at the skate rink.

If kids can’t make it to one of his appearances, Santa’s mailbox is located at the plaza during the holiday season. Letters should have return addresses on them, so Santa can write back.

For more information, a list of participating businesses and to buy a Cookie Walk box in advance, visit www.downtownludington.org/cookiewalk.


Local
LACA to community: Buy tickets in advance

The Ludington Area Center for the Arts announced on Thursday that two scheduled concerts have been canceled due to a lack of ticket sales, and the arts center took the opportunity to emphasize the importance of buying advanced tickets for events at venues in the community.

The concerts — dubbed “A Very Merry Motown Christmas” — were scheduled to take place on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1. LACA and concert promotion company Big Round Sound had tapped Muskegon-based R&B group the Ultimate Taste Band to perform.

“Unfortunately, advance ticket sales for these events were not strong enough and promoters had to make the tough decision not go through with the concerts,” LACA Operations Manager Andrew Skinner said in a statement. “A lot of time and money go into planning high-quality performances and with minimal advance sales we didn’t feel hosting the concert was a wise financial decision.”

Skinner said that a lot can hinge on early ticket sales for local venues like the arts center.

“Buying tickets in advance really helps us gauge an event and how many people to anticipate. It gives us an idea of how many people are coming,” Skinner told the Daily News. “It was a substantial amount of money we were paying for the band, so it’s kind of a big risk for us to take. It was getting close to the time when we could back out with minimal losses, so we (made the decision to cancel).”

Proceeds from events hosted at the arts center are used to fund future activities or to make improvements to the South Harrison Street facility, which usually requires help from donors or fundraisers like the Ludrock concert series.

“We’re a nonprofit, so … we’re just looking to break even. The money we make for events helps put on additional events,” Skinner said, adding that if the center fails to break even financially on one event, that makes it all the more uncertain that something new will be added to the schedule.

“It’s not just this event, but all events, whether it’s (at LACA) or anywhere else,” he said.

Skinner said it’s become a prevailing trend in the area for people to wait until the last minute to purchase tickets to concerts, plays and other arts events, but he said it’s the first time an event has been canceled due to lack of interest since he took on the role of operations manager in 2017.

“For all the events we have, tickets are always slow-selling... but this is the first event that I’ve had to cancel,” he said.

He said ticket sales for recent concerts by Lil Rev and Brian Oberlin have been strong, but noted that most tickets are purchased at the door on the day of a given performance.

He said the arts center will endeavor to make it more beneficial for people to purchase tickets for future concerts and performances in advance.

“We’re going to look over the ticketing policy coming up and maybe extend discounts so there’s more incentive to buy tickets early,” he said. “We try to keep prices as low as they can, but we’ll try to do something.”

Skinner encouraged people to purchase tickets as soon as possible for upcoming events at the arts center to ensure that the cancellation announced on Thursday is an isolated incident.

“Purchasing tickets in advance to events not only guarantees that you won’t miss out, it also helps promoters predict attendance and avoid cancellation of great events such as this one,” Skinner stated.

According to Skinner, full refunds have been issued to those who did buy advance tickets for “A Very Merry Motown Christmas.”

“We really appreciate (those patrons) and hope they can show up and upcoming concerts,” he said.

Upcoming events

Early tickets are now on sale for a performance from Brian Oberlin’s bluegrass band, Full Chord, which will be in town on Dec. 7.

Tickets for that concert are already available on Eventbrite or by calling (231) 845-2787 or stopping by the arts center.

Also in December, LACA will host its annual “We’ll Be Home for the Holidays” showcase on Dec. 14.

In January, Skinner said the arts center is planning to host the Ann Arbor Film Festival’s traveling show, which is scheduled to be shown on a soon-to-be-installed screen in the LACA performance hall.


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Free grief workshop to help during holidays

Free grief workshop to help during holidays

Hospice of Michigan is hosting a Hope for the Holidays grief support workshop from 6 to 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 3, at All Occasions Events and Floral, 110 N. James St., Ludington.

The holiday season can be a difficult time for people going through the grieving process, so this event will offer supportive techniques to comfort those coping with loss, said Hospice of Michigan Grief Support Services Manager Katie Gedraitis.

“It’s going to be about how to get through the holidays without your loved one,” Gedraitis said about the workshop. “It’s a time to remember their loved one and get some support.”

Dinner will be provided, and participants can also create a holiday arrangement, such as a wreath, in memory of their loved one.

The event is free and open to anyone who is dealing with the death of a loved one, but pre-registration is required.

To sign up, contact Gedraitis before Tuesday, Nov. 26, by calling (231) 845-3423 or emailing kgedrait@hom.org.


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Permits OK’d for maritime museum, breakwall

A couple of infrastructure improvements might begin this spring, since Ludington was recently informed that construction permits for the projects have been approved, according to City Manager Mitch Foster.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recently approved a permit needed for the city to address the flooding issue at the Port of Ludington Maritime Museum. However, the city is still waiting for permission for an easement from the U.S. Coast Guard, since the land where a new pipe would be installed is on the Coast Guard station property.

Foster said it’s still exciting to finally get approval from the Army Corps, considering the city has been waiting since July 2018, and it had expected to have to wait even longer.

“Originally, we were told we wouldn’t hear back until July of 2020, so this is significantly better,” he told the Daily News.

The plan is to install a larger outfall pipe for storm sewer drainage, as well as to separate the museum’s drains from the city’s storm sewer. Because the systems are currently connected, the lower level of the museum often floods when storm drains are overwhelmed.

Foster said that even if the city gets the OK from the Coast Guard soon, construction for the project will likely have to wait for warmer weather.

“Based on all this weather we’re dealing with, I think (spring is) probably a good guess,” he said.

The Mason County Historical Society, which operates the museum, leases the building from the City of Ludington, that’s why the city would pay for the project, which has been budgeted to cost $100,000.

BREAKWATER GATE

The Army Corps also recently approved a permit for the city to install a metal gate on the North Breakwater at Stearns Park beach.

No other permits are required for the project to begin, Foster said, but it’s also expected to be installed in the spring due to weather conditions.

The gate would be located near the edge of the beach and would be intended to prevent pedestrians from walking on the breakwater when law enforcement has to close it due to safety concerns.

Foster said the city is still in the process of finalizing the design of the gate. The gate will be removable if the city ever needs to take it off the breakwater, but it will also be sturdy.

“It’ll be something that can’t be easily (broken through), but also something that would still be easy to take care of,” he said.

There’s no estimate yet for how much the gate will cost to build, Foster said. He added that it will look “more practical than majestic.”

The Ludington Police Department closed the breakwater numerous times during 2018 due to sweeping waves and the high water level of Lake Michigan. As the lake level is expected to remain high into next year, the gate might get a lot of use once it’s installed.

“Based on what the (Army) Corps is telling us and what (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) is, they’re expecting between 6 to 10 inches higher next year,” Foster said. “That’s not a positive thing for anybody. And so doing these little things, I think, would be helpful.”

Foster added that the city is still waiting for permit approval for other projects, including repairs to the north pier at the Loomis Street Boat Launch and installing the seawall at Maritime Heritage Park.