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Notable
Notable 10/17/19 PM supervisor interviews

P.M. Twp. to interview six supervisor

candidates today

The Pere Marquette Charter Township Board of Trustees will interview six candidates for the township supervisor position at 6:30 p.m. today at township hall.

The special meeting is open to the public.

The candidates include Jeremy Piper, Chris Tresnack, Tyrone Collins, Lawrence Gaylord, Kelly Smith and Gerald Bleau.

The chosen candidate will serve until November 2020, when the term ends that was vacated by former supervisor Paul Keson.

“If the candidate wants to continue with the position, he or she must run (for election) in 2020,” Township Clerk Rachelle Enbody said.

Keson vacated his role as township supervisor to become the executive director of Ludington Mass Transit Authority.


Local
featured
Council talks deer cull, concerns

The Ludington City Council on Monday talked again about the proposed plan to cull the deer population within the city limits.

The discussion came as Councilor Dave Bourgette provided an update to the council about the recent public safety and utilities committee meeting, which was held on Oct. 2.

“We’ve had numerous complaints within the city in regards to the number of deer within the city limits, so the (committee) is looking at options of doing a deer culling,” Bourgette said, adding later, “Even though this might be a sensitive subject for some, it would be a benefit for others to reduce property destruction, reduce auto accidents and also help supply local food banks with food.”

The proposed cull would remove 30 deer per year from the city, which, according to Bourgette, is a number based on the findings of teacher Mark Willis’ Ludington High School class’ ongoing biology project that has studied the Ludington deer herd since 2017.

Bourgette said that the cull would mainly target doe, not bucks, and that the venison would be donated to local food pantries.

The cull would be done each year during a period of three to five consecutive years, since that is the minimal time frame that would make a significant difference in reducing the deer population, according to the recommendations of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services.

Ludington City Manager Mitch Foster said that many communities hire a crew of hunters from Wildlife Services to perform their culls. To hire Wildlife Services for the task would cost an estimated cost an $15,000 per 30 deer, which is an approximate number based on a recent deer cull in Manistee, Foster said.

Councilor Angela Serna questioned why the cull would cost $15,000 per year.

“What do they do? What’s their process of culling? Where do they justify 15 grand to get rid of 30 deer?” she asked.

The price would include the hunt, dressing the culled deer and processing the venison, as well as any related administrative costs, Foster replied.

“The USDA... (has) the crew that typically do this. They have their own hired folks who come in and harvest the deer,” he said, adding later, “It’s the easiest, simplest way to do that. Other communities have tried to do it on their own or to work with other agencies, but the USDA has a science for that.”

He said the $15,000 estimate is simply a preliminary number, and the city won’t know the real cost until the Wildlife Services crew can scout the proposed cull sites.

“We won’t have a solid number until they do an actual, on-site audit of the locations, the deer that they sight out with trail cams, all of that,” he said.

Foster has also discussed the possibility with Pere Marquette Charter Township of the township paying half the cost of the cull, since the three proposed areas for the cull would all border township property. The cull areas would include near St. Simon Catholic Church, Cartier Park and First Street near Sherman Street.

Councilor Cheri Rozell said that 30 deer per year doesn’t sound like a large enough number to cull.

“I don’t want to sound morbid, but I just feel like 30 per year is not very many. I live right on Second Street, and I have a herd of 15 that come through my yard every night,” Rozell said. “That’s not even getting rid of half in my area.

“The whole process seems to take a really long time, and if we’re spending $15,000 a year, that seems like a lot of funds,” Rozell added.

Foster said that culling a relatively small number of deer repeatedly during several years has been proven to be more effective long-term than culling more deer at once.

If the city were to move forward with the plan, it has been suggested that the cull be executed in January after the bow, rifle and muzzle loading hunting season for deer ends, according to the Oct. 2 committee minutes.


The_scene
featured
‘Frankenstein’ comes to WSCC’s Center Stage Theater

Before trick-or-treating gets underway in Mason County, West Shore Community College will bring out the Halloween spirit with a live, on-stage theatrical production of “Frankenstein.”

The stage adaptation of Mary Shelley’s classic horror tale is being featured as part of the college’s 2019-2020 Performing Arts Series, and it will open at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 24 with an expected run-time of two hours.

Performances on Friday and Saturday, also at 7:30 p.m., will follow, and the production will conclude with a 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday, Oct. 27.

“Frankenstein” is being recommended for adults and children ages 13 and older, due to its dark thematic content.

“Set in the icy polar regions where scientist Victor Frankenstein has chased the creature he brought to life, this highly theatrical and emotional play traces Frankenstein’s path to the final confrontation with his sensitive, intelligent and powerfully violent child,” states the college in a description of the show.

The production is directed by Michelle Kiessel, who said she’s excited about bringing the tale to the college’s stage.

“This is a powerful five-person adaptation of the over 200-year-old story by Mary Shelley,” Kiessel told the Daily News. “In two acts, playwright R.N. Sandberg manages to capture the essence of the novel and brings us a heartbreaking tale of people longing for acceptance and love. We also see what can happen to a being after repeated rejection and lack of love and empathy.”

Kiessel said “Frankenstein” contains an original musical score by Carlos Ortega, who will portray the monster in the production.

“Early in rehearsals when I was discussing music with the cast, Carlos approached me and asked if he could practice his composing skills to help enhance this show,” Kiessel explained. “I agreed, not really knowing what to expect, and I have to say that he has completely blown me away and he far surpassed my expectations.

“Recently, Carlos was able to record his compositions with musicians on piano, clarinet, violin and flute, and the result has been tremendous.”

She added that the musical component is one of the elements of the show that will make it special for theater-goers.

“I cannot wait for audiences to hear what Carlos has created,” Kiessel said. “I believe music can often communicate where words alone might fall short and that is certainly what Carlos has done with his original pieces of music.”

She added that there are some misconceptions about the story told in “Frankenstein” that she hopes to correct, at least locally, through the production.

“The general public tends to have the wrong idea about Mary Shelley’s ‘Frankenstein.’ A common misconception is that Frankenstein is the name of a creature formed by a mad scientist with a hunch-backed assistant named Igor. In reality, Victor Frankenstein is the name of a student who is searching for the essence of life.

“In the wake of his mother’s death, he leaves his home to study at the university and eventually achieves his goal of reanimating a corpse. The nameless creature in this play is not the beast we commonly recognize with a green face and bolts through his neck that speaks in short, one-word sentences through a series of grunts, but is rather an articulate, well-read being who seeks nothing but the approval and love of his maker, Victor Frankenstein.”

She added, “Sadly, Victor is horrified by his creation and leaves him to fend for himself in a world that also rejects him.”

Kiessel emphasized the deeply human elements of the story that she said many people have overlooked in the past.

“While this production is still a thriller and there is plenty of the classic horror that audiences will expect, it is also a deeply moving story chock full of themes from parent-child relationships, to moral considerations regarding using science to artificially create life, to the implications of trauma and rejection,” she said. “This production contains blood, simulated violence, and adult situations and therefore is not recommended for children under age 14.”

The story has been a special one for Kiessel since she was young. She told the Daily News that she’s always been fascinated by Shelley’s book, and she hopes the production will encourage younger readers to explore that world.

“I read this novel when I was a high school student at Shelby and it always fascinated me. ‘Frankenstein’ is a novel that is often studied in high school and college and I believe that seeing a tale brought to life (so to speak) on stage can add to the dialogue in the classroom. It is my hope that many students (high school age and older) will see the production and it will inspire them to read Mary Shelley’s book or add to their understanding,” Kiessel said. “This adaptation closely follows the original story by Mary Shelley but has been made accessible by paring the characters/cast down to only five actors and nine different characters.

“The audience will be taken back and forth through time and will see the story through the eyes of Victor, often in a series of dreams and imaginings.”

She added, “Also, it’s a spooky story and perfect for autumn around Halloween!”

The cast

“Frankenstein” features Nathan Anderson as Victor Frankenstein; Carlos Ortega as the creature; Caleb Duran as Walston, Father and Professor; Kaija Luusua as Elizabeth; and Katherine Catron as Mother, Justine and Mate.

Admission

General admission tickets for “Frankenstein” are $15. Admission is free for WSCC students with a valid student ID or student number.

WSCC and ASM Tech students must put tickets on will-call and pick them up on the night of the event.

Seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Doors for all events open 30 minutes before showtime.

Tickets are available online, except for students and donors.

For more information, visit www.mynorthtickets.com or www.westshore.edu.

What’s next

The college’s Performing Arts Series will continue with the Grammy-nominated Pedrito Martinez Group, who will perform live at the Ramsdell Regional Center for the Arts at 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 9.

The performance is in conjunction with WSCC’s Humankind series, now in its third year and focusing on similarities and differences between life in the U.S. and Cuba.

Tickets are $25 for box seats; $20 for the main floor; $15 for the lower balcony; and upper balcony seats are $10. WSCC students receives one free ticket each with a valid student ID.


Local
featured
Foster calls for erosion control; city needs permit

Ludington might lose a sidewalk to lakeshore erosion if the city doesn’t install a better seawall, which is an estimated $200,000 project, according to Ludington City Manager Mitch Foster.

The seawall would be built at Ludington’s Maritime Heritage Park, just south of the Loomis Street Boat Launch, where several large sections of the earthen embankment along the shore have eroded significantly.

Normally, the embankment protects the sidewalk and benches of that section of the Waterfront Loop from the waves that collide with the shore. But during this year, the water level of Lake Michigan has been hovering around record heights. The waves that buffeted the shore this year have eroded the embankment and the grass all the way to the sidewalk and even under the sidewalk in some sections.

“These last few storms have really caused it to exponentially grow in erosion in the area,” Foster said.

He said the city originally planned to install the seawall next year and budgeted $200,000 for the project, but due to the rapid erosion, which was made worse by recent storms, he wants erosion control in place before the end of this year, if possible.

“It is a big expense, but it is needed,” Foster said during the Ludington City Council meeting Monday. “My biggest concern is, if we do not take care of it before winter time comes along, we will have more issues, and we will lose that sidewalk and we will lose those benches and places to place those benches before next year.”

The seawall would consist of steel sheet piling to defend against the waves and, hopefully, to stop the erosion, Foster said.

Foster said he walks by the area at least once per week, and he has seen how the deterioration has worsened since the spring, with the erosion encroaching increasingly closer to the sidewalk, especially due to the powerful waves during recent storms, which have had winds of upwards of 40 mph.

“I know a lot of residents and visitors alike like to use the benches to watch the Badger going out or the sunset. Right now, after this past weekend, the erosion on that bank is now all the way to the sidewalk,” Foster told the council. “When I went down there last week, (the erosion) was not within 10 feet (of the sidewalk). So over the weekend, we gained 10 feet of erosion. And so what used to be that one larger section of erosion that stretched in, is now multiple sections of erosion that have stretched in.”

Because the area is along the Lake Michigan shore, the city would need approval and proper permits for the seawall from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE), Foster said.

“We have made contact with the Army Corps and EGLE to determine what our next steps are: Can we take emergency action? Do we have to go through the traditional permit process? We’re waiting to hear back on that,” Foster told the Daily News Wednesday.

“We’ve received information from EGLE that, ‘(the city) can go in and do the emergency work and then apply for the permit afterwards, but (EGLE) may take out what (the city installs) because it doesn’t meet (EGLE’s) standard or expectations.’ And so we really want to make sure that we do this right and right once. But if we’re told that the permit won’t be (approved) for six or seven months, then we’ll have to take some action even if it’s temporary just to shore up that area,” Foster explained.

Foster said that if erosion continues, the city will have to consider the added costs of not only the seawall but also replacing the sidewalk and building back up the ground in the park.

“When does it stop? The farther (erosion) gets in, the more that’s going to need to be done,” he said.

Foster said the storm this past weekend eroded so much so suddenly that the city needs to look into implementing erosion control sooner rather than later, but the city is still in the early stages of figuring out what it can do.

“Because it all happened so quickly, we haven’t had time to be able to really sit down and brainstorm some creative options,” he said. “In the meantime here, we’re going to try to look at seeing what the permit process and timeline would look like from EGLE and the (Army) Corps and go from there.”


canada pot

One year in

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — The weed is expensive, the selection is limited, the black market persists, and licensed stores are scarce.

It’s one year into Canada’s experiment in legal marijuana, and hundreds of legal pot shops have opened. While many residents remain proud of Canada for bucking prohibition, a lot still buy cannabis on the sly, because taxes and other issues mean high-quality bud can cost nearly twice what it did before legalization.

Much of the drug’s production and distribution over the years has been controlled by outlaw groups, including the Hells Angels, and replacing such criminality with safe, regulated sales is a key goal of legalization.

Yet legal sales in the first year are expected to total just $1 billion, an amount dwarfed by an illegal market still estimated at $5 billion to $7 billion.

“One customer told me, ‘I love you and I want to support you, but I can’t buy all my cannabis here. It’s too expensive,’” said Jeremy Jacob, co-owner of Village Bloomery, a Vancouver pot store that feels more like a museum gift shop, with its high ceilings, graceful lighting, tidy wooden shelves and locked white cabinets hiding packages of marijuana. “The black-market producers are being well rewarded by legalization.”

The nation has seen no sign of increases in impaired driving or underage use since it joined Uruguay as the only countries to legalize and regulate the sale of cannabis to adults — those over 19 in most Canadian provinces. Delegations from other countries, including Mexico, have visited Canada as they explore the possibility of rewriting their own marijuana laws.

But officials promised legalization would be a process, not an event, and they weren’t wrong. Kinks abound, from what many consider wasteful packaging requirements and uneven quality to the slow pace of licensing stores and growers across most of the country.

Canada allowed provinces to shape their own laws within a federal framework, including setting the minimum age and deciding whether to distribute through state-run or private retail outlets. Some have done better than others.

The result: There now are more than 560 licensed stores across Canada, but more than half are in Alberta, the fourth-largest province.

Ontario and Quebec, which together make up two-thirds of Canada’s population, have only about 45 shops between them. In Newfoundland, Canada’s easternmost province, pot shop owner Tom Clarke said he’s about to hit $1.5 million in sales but isn’t making any money, thanks to rules that limit him to just an 8% commission.

Online sales, designed to ensure far-flung communities can access the market even if they don’t have a licensed shop, have been underwhelming, at least partly because consumers are reluctant to pay with a credit card if that transaction might come to the attention of U.S.-based banks or border guards, said Megan McCrae, board chair of the Cannabis Council of Canada industry group.

Nowhere are the challenges of legalization more pronounced than British Columbia, which has had a flourishing cannabis culture since U.S. military draft-dodgers settled there during the Vietnam War era. They grew what became known as “B.C. Bud,” high quality marijuana cherished by American consumers.

In Vancouver, which has 2.2 million residents and is Canada’s third-largest city, there was tacit approval of marijuana even before legalization. Though storefront distribution of medical marijuana never was allowed by law, about 100 dispensaries operated in the city before legalization arrived.

Around the province, authorities have visited 165 illegal dispensaries in the past year and warned them to get licensed or shut down. Despite some raids, the government has been reluctant to close them all before more licensed shops open.

Licensing has been glacial, though, thanks to a change in power in the provincial government and cities being slow to approve zoning and other requirements, partly because the province has no tax-revenue-sharing agreement with local jurisdictions. Regulatory hurdles have also made it tough for B.C.’s many small growers to be licensed; instead, production is dominated by large corporations churning out pot by the ton from massive greenhouses.

Regulators hoped to have 250 legal shops operating in British Columbia by now; instead, they have only about 80 private stores and seven government-run shops. Through July, legal sales in B.C. were a meager $25 million. Alberta, with a smaller population, hit $145 million.

“Everybody still uses their neighbors and their backyards,” said Susan Chappelle of the British Columbia Independent Cannabis Association.

Nevertheless, the legal market has fans. Vancouver resident Sarah Frank, who used to grow her own marijuana plants, loves that she can walk into a clean, welcoming, legal shop and walk out with a few grams of her favorite cannabis, actor Seth Rogen’s Houseplant Sativa brand.

“You don’t feel like a criminal,” said Frank, 41. “I have friends who can’t travel to the States because 20 years ago they got busted with a joint.”

Some who want to get into the legal business are still waiting. With legalization looming last year, Chris Clay shut down his gray-market pot shop on Vancouver Island for what he thought would be a few months, eager to apply for a license and reopen. A year later, he’s still waiting.

Some of his workers went on unemployment and eventually found jobs elsewhere. He’s barely avoided bankruptcy, and though local officials have finally started handling applications, he says it will likely be another three to six months before he’s back in business.

“It’s very frustrating,” he said. “Tourists have been driving up and down the island all summer, saying, ‘Where can we go? Where can we go?’”

For Mike Babins, who runs Evergreen Cannabis, the Vancouver shop where Frank buys her Seth Rogen-brand weed, it’s just fine that legalization is developing slowly.

“Everyone’s watching us,” he said. “If anything goes wrong here, we’re screwing it up for the whole world.”

___

Gillies reported from Toronto. Gene Johnson, who reported from Seattle, is a member of the AP’s marijuana beat team and can be followed at https://twitter.com/GeneAPseattle. Follow AP’s complete marijuana coverage: https://apnews.com/Marijuana