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Sheriff: Public's help needed in finding stolen vehicle; Related to fatal fire Monday
  • Updated

The Mason County Sheriff’s Office is seeking the assistance of the public in locating a vehicle that was reported stolen, and it relates to a fatal structure fire Monday morning in Sheridan Township.

Detectives with the office are attempting to locate a 2003 Chevy Avalanche that is black in color with a license plate number of EKN 1646, stated Sheriff Kim Cole in a release. The truck has an aftermarket fog light system on the front bumper, Cole stated.

The vehicle is reported as stolen, Cole stated.

The truck was at the scene of a fatal fire that first responders went to at 9:30 a.m., Monday. A passer-by of the home in the 3700 block of North Morse Road saw the structure fire and alerted authorities. Later, it was discovered a person was dead in the residence.

The identity of the deceased individual has yet to be released by the sheriff’s office.

Anyone with information on the whereabouts of the vehicle are asked to call the Mason-Oceana 911 Center at 231-869-5858, the Mason County Sheriff’s Office at 231-843-3475, the person’s local 911 center or Silent Observer at 888-786-7274.

Information needs to be to the attention of Det. Sgt. Tom Posma of the Mason County Sheriff’s Office.

Tradition returns to Thanksgiving dinner
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The temperatures outside Radiant Church hung in the 30s, and light snow was flying Thursday afternoon.

Inside, though, patrons of the Community Thanksgiving Day Dinner were warmed by the smells of turkey and all the fixings.

Radiant Church took on the dinner last year from Emanuel Lutheran Church because of restrictions from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, Radiant delivered meals and had a drive-through service available for meals. This year was the first where people could come inside and enjoy the meal in the church’s basement below the sanctuary.

Radiant Church Pastor Jerry Theis said the response going into Thursday was good.

“Most people that reached out were grateful that we were having it,” he said.

There was some thought of having reservations ahead of the dinner, but Theis said it made more sense to allow for people to arrive as they wanted.

Theis said 506 meals were served for a total of 622 as 116 were served in-person. It took roughly 100 volunteers to get the meal going both inside Radiant and via delivery, said Gloria Nargis of Gloria Ann’s Catering, who volunteered her work and staff for the Thanksgiving dinner.

She and her staff helped with preparing the food for last year at Radiant as the church not only hosted the Thanksgiving meal but also the Christmas Eve meal. Nargis worships at Radiant, and she decided to volunteer her services to the church.

The COVID-19 pandemic, though, brought its share of challenges for Radiant Church.

“There were some people who called last minute, asking us to deliver a meal,” he said. “We were able to deliver and do it without endangering anyone, and still do it with love.”

Theis marveled at the 30-plus years Emanuel Lutheran did the Thanksgiving meal that now Radiant serves. Because Radiant is hosting Thanksgiving, Theis said he sought out sought out other churches in the community to host the Christmas Eve dinner, and Community Church was the first to step forward.

Pastor Brett Spalding and his congregation will be hosting a community Christmas Eve dinner after Radiant hosted it for the previous seven. Spalding was at Radiant on Thursday, taking in the ins and outs of hosting such a meal. Why step up to the plate?

“Jesus,” he said. “What better way to share in the message of Christ than to host the meal?”

The Christmas Eve dinner is from 2-4 p.m., Dec. 24, and it will allow for delivery and in-person eating. For more information, contact the church at 231-843-9275.

Ribbon cutting for new Ludington Elementary School scheduled for Dec. 11
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Ludington Area Schools announced it will be hosting a ribbon-cutting and open house for the new Ludington Elementary School at 11 a.m., Saturday, Dec. 11, at the school at 5771 W. Bryant Road.

The event will include a short ribbon-cutting ceremony outside of the building, weather permitting, followed by tours of the new school. The open house will conclude at 2 p.m.

The new elementary school completes a big step of the first portion of the 2019 bond issue which was approved by voters in the Ludington Area Schools district to provide improvements throughout it.

“This new facility will enhance the educational environment and support the students of the Ludington community over the next generation,” stated Ludington Interim Superintendent Peg Mathis. “The district is very appreciative of the many individuals who have supported and worked to bring this project to completion.”

The district will transition to the renovation and expansion of the middle school/high school project starting in 2022.

The planned $44 million dollar improvements at the secondary school complex will occur over the next two years. In addition, improvements at Oriole Field are part of the plan as well, with design work beginning soon.

Project partners include construction management from the Christman Company and project architect, GMB Architecture and Engineering.

For more information about the project can be found on the district’s website,

St. Simon hosting Christmas auction to benefit Haitian school children
  • Updated

St. Simon hosting Christmas auction to benefit Haitian school children

St. Simon in Ludington is hosting a Christmas auction to benefit the 850 kindergarten through eighth grade students it sponsors in Haiti starting Saturday, Nov. 27.

The auction is online and opens at 8 a.m., Nov. 27, with the conclusion scheduled for noon, Saturday, Dec. 4. The view and bid on items, the web address is

'We're not allowed to close': Facing lack of staff, Oakview cuts capacity
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Staffing struggles seem to have seeped into nearly every corner of the job market.

But for a place like Oakview Medical Care Facility, which offers 24-hour long-term elder care, the blow of being short-staffed can’t be softened with shortened hours or diminished services.

“We’re not allowed to close,” said Jannice Lamm, nursing home administrator at Oakview. “We just have to stretch the staff that we have.”

And the staffing shortage there is real. Oakview needs more employees, but how many more?

Lamm chuckled at the question. Oakview is missing between 30 and 40 of the staff it had pre-pandemic, she said.

The 96-bed facility is now keeping about 20 beds open to make sure there aren’t too many residents for the staff to care for, she said. She called the situation “very unusual.” Before, empty beds never stayed empty for long.

Lamm emphasized that the facility has enough staff to take care of the number of residents it has now.

“We’re keeping up with the quality of care that we always have,” she said. “(Residents are) still going to activities … and they’re still getting the care that they deserve.”

As the pandemic unfolded, beds that became empty were “strategically” kept empty, she said. Some were moved into the dementia unit, which became a quarantine area. Dementia patients then went into the general population.

The facility had one COVID-positive resident last week, Lamm said. To date, there have been 31 cases among residents and 35 cases among staff.

Until recently, residents’ families have been unable to visit the facility due to pandemic restrictions. Oakview staff can be almost like surrogate families in normal times, Lamm said, but that role was amplified during the pandemic.

“We have great staff here that … have been stepping up,” Lamm said. “We have been the family to these residents through all of this.”

The federal government recently replaced the visitor ban with strict screening guidelines, so families are finally able to visit residents again.

That’s put the facility “in a quandary,” Lamm said — obviously, they are happy that families can be reunited, but it’s also “really scary” as a fourth COVID wave rises in Michigan.

Lamm suggested a few reasons behind Oakview’s staffing troubles. Applications to healthcare positions are dwindling, she said, because the work “is a little bit on the difficult side.”

“It definitely takes a special kind of person to work in long-term care,” she said.

“A lot” of long-term nurses retired from the facility during the pandemic, Lamm said. Nursing students also weren’t able to enter the building for a time due to pandemic restrictions.

She’s hoping the student situation will change soon, as some students from West Shore Community College have since spent some time working there and might come back after more schooling.

Like many other establishments, Oakview has had to offer greater hiring incentives than ever before. Their website lists a $1,000 sign-on bonus, referral incentives, tuition reimbursement and other benefits. Wages for registered nurses start at $29.07 and at $22.83 for licensed practical nurses.

Nurse aide positions are open, as well as housekeeping and dietary positions, Lamm said.

Lamm said she’s hopeful that “people will slowly start coming back” to the healthcare field and the workforce in general.

“That’s what brings me back every day,” she said.

As far as other care facilities are concerned, Lake Michigan Senior Living seems to have gotten through the worst of it, said Administrator Valarie McKinnon. That facility has been “fully staffed” for the past couple of months.

They opened up another building on the property during the pandemic, McKinnon said, which exacerbated the situation. For about six-to-seven months it was “really difficult” as new employees would leave after a couple of days and those who remained had to work overtime.

Now, employees there have more time with family as there are enough of them to work three 12-hour shifts a week.

An administrator at Medilodge of Ludington, another care facility, did not respond to multiple requests for comment.