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Lineup announced for Hart Community Performing Arts Series

Lineup announced for Hart Community Performing Arts Series

The Hart Community Performing Arts Series has announced the lineup of performers for the 2019-20 season.

This year will be the 21st for the series, but the first season offered by the new sponsoring organization, The Hart Community Performing Arts Association. The series will be conducted in cooperation with Hart Public Schools, and the Hart Public Schools Auditorium will again be the home for each of the concerts.

The season will begin Friday, Oct. 4 with a performance from the Laila Biali Trio. Multi award-winning Canadian singer-songwriter and pianist Laila Biali has toured with Chris Botti, Paula Cole, Suzanne Vega and Sting.

On Nov. 1, the series will host Boyd Meets Girl, which pairs Australian classical guitarist Rupert Boyd with American cellist Laura Metcalf. They perform selections spanning from the baroque period to the modern day, including many of their own arrangements.

John Riesen and Gillian Lynn Cotter will perform Dec. 6. Cotter’s recent roles include Older Alyce in “Glory Denied” (Pensacola Opera), Sister Helen Prejean in “Dead Man Walking” (Shreveport Opera) and Rinaldo in “Rinaldo” (Fresco Opera). Riesen’s recent roles include Alfredo in “La Traviata” (Gulfshore Opera, Tri-Cities Opera), Younger Thompson in “Glory Denied” (Opera Birmingham, Des Moines Metro Opera), and Candide in “Candide” (Chautauqua Opera).

On Jan. 31, 2020, the series will present award-winning pianist Dominic Cheli.

Internationally renowned bassist and Mack Avenue recording artist Rodney Whitaker will come to Hart with his Rodney Whitaker Quintet on Feb. 28, 2020.

On April 17, 2020, the series will feature the string quartet of international artists Cuarteto Latinoamericano.

The 2019-20 season will conclude on May 15 with a concert with The Peter & Will Anderson Trio, including identical twins who play woodwind jazz.

Season tickets are on sale and can be obtained by contacting Artistic Director Tom Kirk at tomkirk@hartseries.org or by visiting www.hartseries.org. Returning season ticket holders, patrons and sponsors have until Sept. 27 to order tickets on a priority basis but all season ticket requests are being accepted at this time.

Blessing of the Animals to take place Sunday

FREE SOIL TWP. — Blessing of the Animals will be celebrating its 24th year at Circle Rocking S Children’s Farm at 5487 Tuttle Road in Free Soil on Sunday.

The Blessing of the Animals is open to the general public to bring their pets of all sizes, according to Nancy Supran, president of the farm.

“It is a free event and will be held rain or shine,” she said.

The Rev. John Hansen of Peace Lutheran Church in Ludington and Lighthouse Lutheran Church in Pentwater and the Rev. John Brown will be doing the blessing, she said.

“Every year I have done the event, it has been more of a blessing to me than those I have blessed,” Hansen said.

The whole farm area will set up like a chapel, including church pews. The reverends will be in the farm’s main barn, according to Supran.

It’s like sitting in church with a pet, she added.

Supran said it is a non-denominational service.

“It’s a full church service, and it’s like Noah’s Ark,” she said.

Supran said animals will make their way to the reverends two-by-two, such as two horses or two dogs.

She said the animals will be blessed individually with holy water along with music and gospel readings.

“Instead of going through a Communion line, it’s a blessing line,” she said.

The blessing starts at 1:30 p.m. and Supran encourages pet owners to come at 1 p.m.

Supran said people who don’t have a pet can bring a stuffed animal to be blessed as well, or people can participate in the blessing with an animal from the farm.

Blessing the people and animals is a great thrill, Hansen said.

“I encourage anyone who has the time to go,” Hansen said, adding that the event brings true happiness to the community.

“This is a day to thank God for all creations, like the theme all things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small, all things wise and wonderful, the Lord made them all,” Supran said.

If a pet has passed away, people can leave a flower in the vase or a photo near the St. Francis statue in the garden.

“You can also bring your urn of your pet, but please take the urn home,” she said.

There will be a silent auction held from approximately 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. with donated items from local businesses.

“The auction will be closed during the blessing service, but will open again when the blessing is done,” Supran said.

After the blessing, there will be the Fun Pet Show and Farm Olympics Games.

“There are 26 games people and animals can enter,” she said.

These include a dog lookalike game, costume contests, a pie-eating contest and an egg toss.

“There is a ‘Woof it down’ — the dog version of a pie-eating contest,” she said.

First-place trophies will be awarded as well as ribbons for second and third place.

David Chatelain, a retired judge, will be deciding the winners.

The entry fee for the games and pet show is $5, but anyone who enters receives a free T-shirt, donated by Hansen.

The Fountain Fire Department will also be attending the event and tours of the truck will be given.

Live accordion music by Helen Herzberg will be featured, along with wool-spinning demonstrations by Loretta Gunberg.

There will also be a clothes pin game for special needs people, according to Supran, who said all proceeds, the special needs program at the farm.

“It’s for a good cause, not just spiritually, not just for fun,” Supran said. “You are helping out special needs kids.”

Supran said the special needs people did all the decorating for the event.

“Please come out to support them,” she said. “If you love animals, this is the place to come.”

“I also want to say thank you to all the businesses that donated to our silent auction,” she said.

Supran also said that an anonymous donor has offered a matching grant challenge of up to $50, and that participation has been extended to the end of the month. If people can’t attend the event and want to donate to the farm, they’re encouraged to call (231) 462-3732 to arrange a donation.

For more information, visit the Circle Rocking S Children’s Farm website www.circlerockingsfarm.org.

MDOT expected to re-open closed lane soon

A closed lane on eastbound U.S. 10 between South Brye and North Stiles roads could be re-opened by the end of the day today if the rainfall sustained in the area on Wednesday night doesn’t delay roadwork.

According to John Richard, a public relations representative for the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), the 2-mile stretch of road is being reduced to one lane so crews can repair catch basins along the U.S. 10 corridor.

The catch basin repair work has resulted in the closure of the right-hand lane of eastbound traffic along the stretch of road.

Richard told the Daily News on Thursday that the work “is expected to be completed by 5 p.m. (today),” though he noted that the weather could cause delays.

If the work is not finished by the end of the day, Richard said crews would likely re-open the right-hand lane for the weekend and complete the work on Monday.

Because MDOT crews were already on site in the area, they were able to extend their efforts to repair manhole castings just east of Jackson Road near the entrance to the WKLA building, where traffic is also reduced to the left-hand lane. That work is also expected to be completed by the end of the day, according to Richard.

LPD captain to retire, join West Shore ESD

After more than 25 years serving in the Ludington Police Department, Capt. Michael Harrie is retiring to start a new job as the behavior management and safety coordinator for the West Shore Educational Service District.

The West Shore ESD Board of Education approved hiring Harrie during its regular meeting Tuesday evening.

“We were fortunate to have a number of good candidates, but Mr. Harrie ... rose to the top,” West Shore ESD Superintendent Jason Jeffrey told the Daily News, adding that Harrie will start in his new position in October.

Harrie has served in the Ludington Police Department since 1994, and he will retire on Sept. 24, said Police Chief Mark Barnett.

When Barnett joined the department as the police chief in 2001, Harrie had already been serving for more than six years.

“I’ve had the opportunity to serve the majority of his career with him,” Barnett said. “I’ve observed him to be a thorough investigator. He has the ability to get along with a wide variety of people, and he’s got a really good head on his shoulders. He understands concepts very quickly, and he’s a very good problem-solver,” Barnett said, adding, “He’s going to be sorely missed.”

Harrie began in the department as an intern first, and then he served as a patrol officer from 1994 to 1999. He served for one year on SSCENT and as a detective from 2000 to 2002. He was promoted and served as a patrol sergeant from 2002 to 2007, served as a detective sergeant from 2007 to 2009, and then was appointed as the police captain.

The captain is the second-in-command at the police department and assists the chief with a multitude of administrative tasks and acting as liaison with the court.

Harrie has recently been serving as the acting police chief for about four weeks because Barnett was on medical leave for knee surgery, but Barnett will return to work on Monday.

Barnett said Harrie has “done an outstanding job” as the captain.

“(Harrie) has grabbed onto that job and put a lot of his own personality, talents and skills into it,” Barnett said. “Like with anything, (the job) is based on talents and skills, and he had a whole basket of them.”

Police Sgt. Steve Wietrzykowski will fill the role of acting captain once Harrie retires, Barnett said. He explained that, following testing, a permanent captain will be chosen in the coming months from among the police sergeants, and that the department will be also be promoting officers to permanently fill the two open sergeant positions there will be. That includes the position of the sergeant who will be promoted to captain, and the position formerly held by retired Sgt. Dave Maltbie, Barnett said.

“(Harrie is) a great guy,” he added. “He’s dedicated to his family, which is hugely important. I know this (new) position he has taken in large part due to making sure he can provide for his family and to help the needs that they have.”

Barnett said he’s confident that Harrie will excel in his new role at the West Shore ESD.

“I’m sure he’ll do a great job,” Barnett said. “I can certainly understand them ... selecting him. He’s very well suited and qualified for that type of position.”


The primary duties of the West Shore ESD’s behavior management and safety coordinator position are crisis prevention and intervention, Jeffrey explained, which entails providing assistance to students and staff members in classrooms to help minimize disruptions to learning.

Jeffrey said the West Shore ESD operates many programs, including ones for students who have additional challenges, such as physical or mental impairments and students who have experienced trauma.

The coordinator works with employees from the school districts in which the ESD has programs to train them and put procedures in place so that “we don’t get into a situation where we have extreme behavioral outbursts” from students, Jeffrey said.

If an incident does happen, the coordinator will go to the classroom to help de-escalate the situation as much as possible in an appropriate way, Jeffrey said. That means the coordinator will be talking to the student and staff member to find out what’s wrong, to resolve the problem and to learn from the incident so that disruptions can be prevented in the future.

“We really have to be thoughtful, proactive and do our due diligence to make sure we’re taking care of those young people,” Jeffrey said, adding, “We have a responsibility that we take very seriously to make sure we’re looking after those young people. It’s critical for us.”

The coordinator is also key to working closely with the regional school safety committee, which collaborates with local first responders, because “student and staff safety is the top priority anytime you’re in the school environment,” Jeffrey said.

Harrie’s professional background will be helpful, and the ESD feels fortunate to have Harrie joining its staff, Jeffrey said.

“Anytime you have the opportunity to bring in somebody that has the type of training and experience that somebody from law enforcement does, that’s really a feather in your cap, and it strengthens that collaborative work that is already really good (between the ESD and first responders),” Jeffrey said.

Harrie will be filling the position formerly held by Marc Dennis, who was the coordinator for about nine years, Jeffrey said. Dennis is leaving the job to work in a similar position in Osceola County, which is closer to where Dennis lives, Jeffrey said.

“Marc was fantastic,” Jeffrey added. “Marc was a strong contributor. He built solid relationships with students and was well respected by staff.”


Harrie said he’s grateful for the “amazing” support the Ludington and Mason County community shows to law enforcement officers, and for the friendly working relationship among the city police, sheriff’s office and state troopers.

He is going to miss the officers, firefighters and other city employees he’s worked with on a daily basis through the years, both those currently working and those who have also retired.

“There’s so many good people, I can’t say enough about the quality of individuals I’ve been able to work with throughout the years,” Harrie said. “That’s what I’ll miss most — working with the people.”

Harrie said he appreciates that Barnett has been a “mentor” to him, especially during his decade of service as police captain.

“Working with Chief Barnett, he’s been a great mentor ... especially in my administrative role over the last 10 years. He’s been incredibly supportive,” he said.

Harrie said that one of the highlights of his career that he is most grateful for the opportunity to do was attending training at the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Virginia, in 2012. He added that he’s glad he got to serve in a variety of roles in the Ludington Police Department, from as a motorcycle cop to a detective to a captain.

“After 25 years — that’s more than half of my life — leaving was a tough decision, and I definitely lost a lot of sleep (considering it). (But) I didn’t want to pass up the opportunity that presented itself.”

Harrie said that aspects of the new job he’s looking forward to include helping students and interacting with the community.

“When I got into this line of work, it wasn’t necessarily to sit behind a desk,” he said. “I was outside. I was working with the public a lot more in a patrol car, than I am as an administrator in an office. So it’s not that I haven’t enjoyed my administrative role, it’s just not what drove me into law enforcement to start with,” Harrie said.

“It’s a change of pace and an opportunity to work with students, and the safety aspect of the job was obviously a good fit for me as well,” he said.

Harrie feels that his skills have prepared him to take on the new job, but he also admitted, “I have a lot of learning to do.”

Harrie added that the new position will also allow him more free time to spend with his wife and two children.

“I’m definitely looking forward to more time with family and fewer 3 (a.m.) phone calls and that type of being on-call, 24/7,” he said.