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ESD talks 'Skills for Success,' more at Peterson Auditorium

Identifying and understanding trauma and fostering success in the classroom were the issues discussed Tuesday by guest speakers during a regional professional learning day hosted by the West Shore Educational Service District (ESD).

Hundreds of educators from local school districts filled Peterson Auditorium to attend presentations by Dr. Stephanie Grant, a developmental psychologist with Developmental Enhancement Behavioral Health, and Nicole Gitler and David Ladd from the Ottawa County Intermediate School District.

Grant’s presentation, held in the morning, focused on trauma and the importance of recognizing trauma in the classroom, and how school districts can take steps toward being “trauma-informed.”

She discussed neuro-developmental trauma, how it affects students and how to rethink responses to students’ unwanted behaviors.

In the afternoon, Gitler and Ladd spoke to the crowd to discuss how to best prepare students for a life after K-12 education, referencing a framework called “Skills for Success.”

“Skills for Success is really our platform that helps us link our teachers to industry to help students prepare for whatever the next step might be,” Gitler told the Daily News. “We want them to really focus on (things like) communication, collaboration, critical thinking so that … all the things they’ve learned in high school, they’ll be able to apply in the real world, so they’ll be able to be the kind of employee that so many of our industry partners are looking for.”

She said continued education and how to prepare for it is also a key component.

“When (students) go on to post-secondary education (we want to make sure) they’re ready for that step and they can actually think through what they need to do, be accountable to show up on time for class and manage their own time,” Gitler added.

Ladd said his focus is on helping to nurture economic awareness and prepare students for their future careers.

“For me it’s about career development … and what activities can be created for students in the classroom that will relate to the 21st century economy,” he said.

The Skills for Success presentation underscored the importance of seven key principles: technology literacy, collaboration, communication, critical thinking, adaptability, ethical citizenship and personal accountability, and Gitler and Ladd engaged in question-and-answer sessions with attending teachers to identify what current practices were being used to foster success in the classroom, and what steps could be taken to better help students and prepare them for the world.

“What do we want to continue doing to create a successful culture … and what, as a classroom, as a school, as a district, do you need to stop doing?” Gitler asked the audience, encouraging honest answers even if it was uncomfortable. “What’s holding you back from creating a ‘skills for success’ culture?”

Some of the answers that arose included offering more opportunities for learning, and “giving ourselves permission to do something different rather than doing the same thing because it’s what we’ve always done,” according to one teacher in attendance.

Gitler said the goal is to brainstorm and provide teachers with useful ideas and tips that they can then take back to their respective schools and implement.

“Our hope is that they really develop a framework that works for their district,” she said.

Ladd said the Skills for Success were developed eight years ago, and are constantly evolving.

The professional development discussions surrounding both how to handle trauma and how to foster success will continue, according to Amy Taranko, assistant superintendent of instructional services at the ESD.

“Dr. Grant will return in October and her focus then will be on how to create a trauma-informed environment that supports student success and how to respond to students’ unwanted behaviors,” Taranko stated. “She will also present ideas for environment design as well as give examples of how the strategies she will present can look in a classroom.”

Gitler and Ladd will return for additional sessions in the fall of 2019 and spring of 2020.

“This is only the beginning,” Gitler said.

$6 million plan? Historical society talks master plan

PERE MARQUETTE TWP. — The Mason County Historical Society headquarters and research library currently in White Pine Village are planned to be moved to downtown Ludington.

That’s one of the big goals in the Mason County Historical Society Board of Directors’ new master plan and Preserving the Legacy fundraising campaign, which it announced during a presentation to society members Tuesday evening at Historic White Pine Village.

“The board is very much committed to this plan,” said Board President James Jensen. “This is a big picture, a big deal, and it’s something that’s going to take a lot of work.”

The new master plan for the coming years includes three phases, each with its own goals toward preserving the history of Mason County, and each phase requires fundraising. The phases would be accomplished as funds become available, not necessarily in numbered order, said Rebecca Berringer, executive director of the Mason County Historical Society.

The total cost of all three projects would be between $5.5 and $6 million, Berringer said, adding that approximately $335,000 has already been raised.

Berringer said the Mason County Historical Society is rather unique in that it is one of the few historical societies in Michigan to operate its own museum, let alone two museums. Its museum campuses — White Pine Village and the Port of Ludington Maritime Museum — are each, the third largest historical museum and maritime museum, respectively, in terms of square footage in the state, she said.


In the first phase, the historical society will purchase the building at 103 E. Ludington Ave. from the Mason County Sports Hall of Fame Board of Directors for approximately $274,000, Berringer said. She said they’ve already signed the purchase agreement, but the transaction has not yet been finalized.

The approximately 10,000-square-foot building would be renovated to hold the historical society’s office, research library, gift shop and more, which would cost an estimated total of $1.25 million, including the purchase price.

“We’ve outgrown our current facility, so we had to either build a new building here (at White Pine Village) or it was find a new location,” she said.

The research library’s ever-expanding archives include more than 100,000 items related to local history. They include an expansive collection of newspapers, which are some of the oldest in the state, dating back to the 1860s, Berringer said. The new facility would include climate-controlled storage to better preserve the collection; whereas at the collection’s current storage at White Pine Village, the papers are vulnerable to changes in temperature and air moisture.

Berringer said that moving the archives to Ludington will allow people to easily access the research library year-round, whereas currently doing research at White Pine Village during winter is challenging.

“This will give us a significant impact to the community to be more accessible so that people can come and do programming,” Berringer said, adding that the historical society will hold subscriptions to websites like, so that community members can do family research too.

The facility in downtown Ludington would also be a convenient place to hold expanded educational programs for students, she said, and it could include walking tours of the nearby historic buildings. The facility would also feature information on many of the other local exhibit locations and encourage people to visit them.

Moving the historical society’s headquarters to Ludington would also be a sort of return home, Berringer said, since the society formed in Ludington in 1937.


The second phase of the master plan entails an estimated $1.5 to $2 million in changes to White Pine Village, in order to make the village appear more inviting, enhance the visitors’ experience and generate more event revenue, according to Berringer.

For example, the current admissions, office and archives building would be demolished. A new admissions center with an adjoining museum would be built, and it would resemble the old Butters and Peters sawmill, Berringer said.

The layout of the village would be reorganized somewhat, and the walking route would be arranged so that visitors can see the exhibits in chronological order, she said. There would also be an increased emphasis on interactive, hands-on exhibits.

A facility would also be developed for events such as wedding receptions, she said, since there are currently about three weddings per year at White Pine’s chapel, but there is no indoor reception space.


The third phase of the plan is to construct a boathouse annex at the Maritime Heritage Park in Ludington west of the U.S. Coast Guard station.

The annex would feature historic boats and a float plane, which the historical society has acquired. The annex would also feature interactive exhibits to tell the history of the local Coast Guard, fishing industry and recreational vessels.

Outdoor pavilions would also be built. Sculptures would be installed in the Maritime Heritage Park in collaboration with the Cultural Economic Development Task Force, she said.

According to estimates, Berringer said, this phase of the plan may exceed $2 million.

Manistee Township pickleball courts enjoy 'amazing' success

MANISTEE — Six pickleball courts have been put down in Manistee Township over the site where two tennis courts used to be.

The project was completed through communicative efforts of township officials, City of Manistee officials, businesses, private citizens and local pickleball clubs.

The first play on the pickleball courts took place on Aug. 9, and the courts are owned by and maintained by Manistee Township.

“The initial project was to refurbish the tennis courts that were in desperate need of repair,” said Manistee Township Supervisor Dennis Bjorkquist. “After several meetings with tennis and pickleball players, the City of Manistee, and several other interested parties, it was decided to repurpose the township tennis courts to pickleball and the city would provide tennis courts. The first conversations took place in March of 2018.

“The total budget for the project was around $60,000. The township received a grant from the Manistee County Community Foundation and the Manistee Pickleball Association held a very successful fundraiser.”

Response to the pickleball courts, said Bjorkquist “... has been very favorable.”

“It’s just been an amazing project,” Bjorkquist said as he watched pickleball players in action. “There have been several occasions when all six courts are busy — 24 players — with other players waiting.”

According to the Sports and Fitness Industry Association, pickleball is the fastest-growing sport in America, enjoying an astonishing 12-percent increase in player participation just in the last year. With nearly 3 million players nationwide — including several hundred in Mason and Manistee counties — the sport mirrors other racket games such as tennis and badminton.

Peggy Acton took a short break from pickleball play to say how much she enjoys the sport. A few years ago, the 83-year-old Manistee woman teamed up with Tom Watkins to win a gold medal in the pickleball doubles age 80 to 85 competition at the Michigan Senior Olympics.

“It’s a wonderful way to keep yourself active,” she said. “It’s easy to learn, easy to play and gives you a good workout.”

Acton, who is a board member of the Manistee Pickleball Association, said “... a lot of young people are picking it up now.”

“It’s a game everyone can play — everyone. That’s what makes it so nice.”

Pete Ramon said residents and visitors take to the courts daily.

“People from all over — Wisconsin, Ohio, California and from all over Michigan — have come here to play,” Ramon said. “It took a lot of hands to make this thing, but everyone worked hard to get it done. I think that’s the way things are done here in Manistee — everybody does what they have to do, to get it done.”

“I would imagine these guys will play until the snow flies,” Bjorkquist said as he watched several pickleball players in action. “Our emphasis here is that our courts are open to everybody. They’re for the public to enjoy.

“We’re excited about it — excited. So many people came together to share ideas, and that was important.”

MCC: Avoid Upper Elementary during training with sheriff's office today

MCC: Avoid Upper Elementary during training with sheriff’s office today

Parents who are looking to enroll their children at Mason County Central Upper Elementary School are being advised by school officials to avoid the school area from 12:30 to 3:15 p.m. today while the school holds an active assailant training in coordination with the Mason County Sheriff’s Office.

MCC Upper Elementary enrollment will conclude for the day at noon, prior to the start of the training, and will resume with normal hours on Thursday morning.

The Upper Elementary is located at 505 Maple St. in Scottville.

Man arraigned for recent thefts

Dennis Ray Howard, 43, of Holland, has been arraigned in connection with a series of thefts from Walmart, Lowe’s, Home Depot and citizens, according to a press release from Mason County Sheriff Kim Cole.

Another suspect, who was apprehended by sheriff’s deputies at the same time, was identified as a 33-year-old Muskegon man, and he was taken to the Muskegon County Jail.

A female suspect, who fled the scene and has not been arrested, remains at large in connection with the thefts. She has been identified as a 29-year-old woman thought to be from California, according to Cole.

According to the sheriff’s office press release, Howard has been arraigned on the following charges:

•Count 1: Stolen property, receiving and concealing $1,000 or more, which is a felony of five years;

•Count 2: Retail fraud first degree with a second offense notice, which is a felony of five years, related to a retail fraud at Home Depot;

•Count 3: License documents / plate forgery, which is a felony of one to five years;

•Count 4: Retail fraud second degree with a second offense notice, which is a misdemeanor of one year, related the a retail fraud at Walmart;

•Habitual offender — fourth offense notice;

Howard has 19 criminal convictions with 14 being theft-related, Cole stated. Howard remains lodged in the Mason County Jail on a $10,000 cash or surety bond.


Mason County Sheriff’s Office stated in a press release that deputies responded to a complaint of a stolen license plate at 10:23 a.m. Saturday in the 2000 block of west U.S. 10. The victim returned from Walmart and noticed the license plate missing from their vehicle.

Deputies reviewed footage from Walmart and identified two people, a man and a woman, allegedly stealing numerous items from the store.

Howard was arrested for larceny, obstructing and receiving and concealing stolen property, and the Muskegon man was arrested for a felony sex offender registry warrant put out by the Fruitport Police Department at 2:14 p.m. Saturday, according to the release.

The Muskegon man was a passenger in the vehicle Howard was driving when they were apprehended.

According to the report, deputies recovered more than 50 items of suspected stolen property. Items included electronics, power tools, fishing equipment, clothing and a stolen vehicle registration. There was $1,200 of recovered property from Lowe’s and $250 from Home Depot.

The report was forwarded to the Mason County Prosecutor’s Office for review and possible additional charges.

Howard was arraigned for the 79th District Court for a probable causing hearing Sept. 4, according to court documents.