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LASD Board of Education discusses property bids
  • Updated

Ludington’s board of education discussed Monday the six options it has in terms of bids seeking to purchase the Lakeview Elementary School property.

The district received six bids, and they include Gibson Custom Homes for $240,000; Schultz Excavating for $196,000; JWhite Proporities for $195,000; John Reed and Dan Hunter for $190,000; Todd and Nicole Stowe for $170,000; and, Tim Ferwerda for $50,000.

Kennedy told the board the Gibson Custom Homes bid for $240,000 not only includes the cash price but the company also complete takes ownership of the building so the district does not have to demolish the building itself.

Kennedy said the district has spoken with the City of Ludington and City Manager Mitch Foster attended the finance committee meeting last week to review all the proposals.

“This is a concept that would be fully supported by the City of Ludington,” Kennedy said. “This would provide 24 housing units about 3,000 square-feet each with 12 on the Gaylord Avenue side and 12 on the Lewis Street side and add significant taxable value to the community and impacting the school.”

Kennedy said these are four-bedroom, three bath units that are being proposed. Images of the proposed units can be seen at the district webpage.

Kennedy said this Gibson Custom Homes bid would require one meeting with the city’s planning commission and a $200 fee that the purchaser would have to pay to be able to get approval.

The Schultz Excavating $196,000 bid would include eight residential homes with four on the Gaylord Avenue side and four on the Lewis Street side.

“This would be a substantially more complex process to work through with the city,” Kennedy said. “Because there is 12 plotting lots on each side of the street.”

The board also discussed the bid from J.White Properties in the amount of $195,000 for 12 homes.

“One of the neat things about this project is that they proposed to use some of the brick from the Lakeview Elementary school property in each of the homes,” Kennedy said. “There would be 12 plotted lots with 12 housing units planned for the area.”

Kennedy said a bid for $190,000 was submitted by John Reed and Dan Hunter with 12 housing units on the plotted lots.

“There is the ability for a $12,000 credit that could push their bid $202,000. There is a ton of recycling like the bricks and glass that could be repurposed and recycled. That has value to it.”

Kennedy said the proposal calls for a 12-housing unit but is limited to two-story housing on the Gaylord Avenue side and single story housing, because of costs, on the Lewis Street side.

“The neat thing about this proposal is because of the cost of lumber (is high), they are proposing building the homes out of concrete.”

Todd and Nicole Stowe increased their bid to $170,000 and proposed building 12 homes on the lots.

Tim Ferwerda bid $50,000 with $25,000 down and $25,000 at closing, according to Kennedy. The purpose of the bid is to provide housing on the 12 plotted lots.

Kennedy said he planed to meet with the districts attorney on Tuesday and told the board that he is in favor of making a recommendation to the board on theses bids receive by the district.

“I do believe we have one if not multiple offers that are worth considering here,” Kennedy said. “I do not suspect you are going to get anything more than what you have received in terms of a cash price you have received from Bob Gibson.”

Kennedy said a realtor who has worked with the district in the past and is not affiliated with Gibson said $240,000 price for that piece of property and assuming all of the liability to knock down the school is a significant offer and said the board should seriously consider it.

Kennedy said the decision by the school board could be considered before its next regular meeting.

“I am not sure that waiting until May is the right thing for the board to do,” he said. “I do not want you to lose one of these offers. There may be a need for us to consider a special meeting in the next couple of weeks to review the attorney’s recommendation and to ask for approval for one of the bids to move forward.”

Kennedy said the school properties at both Foster and Pere Marquette Early Childhood Center do have formal offers on them currently.

Kennedy said there is one interested party in the Foster property that would propose to do a housing development. But there has been no formal proposal offer to the district. Kennedy said he is still looking into possibilities for both the Foster and PMECC properties currently and plans to focus on those once the Lakeview property is wrapped up.


Jeff Kiessel | Daily News

Large boulders were brought in to help stabilize Ludington’s Maritime Heritage Park sidewalk from Lake Michigan wave damage during high wind events. This past fall and winter, high winds and damaging waves destroyed the sidewalk at the park. Last week large boulders were brought in, and on Monday, the Department of Public Works were adding smaller rocks to fill in the area in an attempt to help stabilize the area. There will be a sidewalk/bench pad installed later this spring according to Joe Stickney of the Ludington DPW.


Local
LHS Quiz Bowl team places third at state tournament
  • Updated

The Ludington High School Quiz Bowl team capped off another successful season by placing third in the state championship over the weekend.

Ludington coach Amber Nasson said she is proud of the students who competed during the season this year.

Nasson said she is excited because the school district supports the program.

They support two junior varsity coaches, which allows the district to have a freshman team and a regular JV team. There is also a team in the middle school program which helps to create interest early, according to Nasson.

“It really allows every kid the opportunity to play and develop those skill levels,” she said. “Kids get more playing time which helps them to develop in quiz bowl.”

“You have to qualify to get to the state tournament,” Nasson said. “So you are playing against the best teams in Michigan. To place third is a big deal for our kids.”

It is the second time in the past four years that Ludington’s team has placed third in the state competition. They placed third in 2018. In 2019, they came in first place and moved on to the National tournament. In 2020, there wasn’t a tournament because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and in 2021 the team again placed third.

“It is three trophies and three state finals in a row,” Nasson said.

Nasson, who is in her 13th year coaching quiz bowl, thinks not only the tradition helps with the program but also the orange bow tie creates interest.

“The orange bow tie was the kids’ idea and that was created in 2009,” she said. “It creates a sense of pride, it is okay to be smart, we accept ourselves and we are proud of who we are. The acceptance that we value intelligence and knowing things and it is okay to know random facts.”

Nasson said the varsity team begins their season in September with the Central Michigan University Quiz Central episodes, that are recorded September through December.

The team began practicing in December for the season with the first competition in January and runs through March. If Ludington qualifies for the state competition, that is always in April, according to Nasson.

The Ludington Quiz Bowl team was the Quiz Central champion this year defeating Roscommon, 290 to 270.

“This is the first year in the 16 years of Quiz Central that Ludington has won the tournament,” she said. “We appreciated the sense of normalcy the tournament provided us in an abnormal year.”

Nasson said the team went undefeated in league play winning both Division 1 and Division 2 championship.

The season record for the quiz bowl team was 18-2 including going undefeated at the Quiz Central tournament. Their first loss was at the state tournament.

Ludington Superintendent Jason Kennedy, at Monday’s board of trustees meeting, informed the board that the varsity quiz bowl team paced third at the state competition held at Michigan State University.

“Kudos to Amber Nasson and all of faculty members that support the quiz bowl team, parents and most importantly to the students,” Kennedy said. “It is a testament to be able to have such a high quality program like this, to be able to compete at high levels.

“To go third place, first place, pandemic and a third place finish is truly outstanding.”


Chauvin guilty on all counts in death of Floyd
  • Updated

MINNEAPOLIS — Jurors convicted former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin on Tuesday of all the counts filed against him — second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter — in the killing George Floyd, who died after being pinned under Chauvin’s knee for more than nine minutes last May. Chauvin looked stern and glanced around the courtroom as the verdicts were removed from an envelope and read by Judge Peter Cahill. The fired police officer had on a paper mask and showed no significant reaction. When his bail was revoked, he stood up, put his hands behind his back, was handcuffed and gave a nod to defense attorney Eric Nelson as he was led out the back door of the courtroom by a Hennepin County sheriff’s deputy. Cahill thanked the jurors, who each confirmed their votes as correctly read. “I want to thank you for not only jury service, but heavy duty jury service,” the judge said. He asked the attorneys to file written arguments regarding aggravated sentencing factors that could add time to Chauvin’s sentence for restraining Floyd on the pavement at 38th and Chicago, an act captured on bystander video that went viral and played a vital role in the verdicts. Attorney General Keith Ellison, whose office oversaw Chauvin’s prosecution, saluted the “bouquet of humanity” who attempted to intervene and recorded Floyd’s final moments. “They didn’t know George Floyd, they didn’t know he had a beautiful family, they didn’t know that he was a proud father or had people in his life who loved him,” Ellison said to reporters as members of his legal team stood behind him. “They stopped and they raised their voices because they knew what they were seeing was wrong. They didn’t need to be medical or use-of-force experts. They knew it was wrong, and they were right.” Co-prosecutor Jerry Blackwell followed and said, “No verdict can bring George Perry Floyd back to us, but this verdict does give a message to his family that his life mattered, that all of our lives matter, and that’s important.” Matthew Frank, another of the prosecutors, kept his comments brief and said, “First and foremost, this is for you, George Floyd, and for your family and friends.” Nelson left the courtroom without comment. A prepared statement from Benjamin Crump, the Floyd family attorney, read, “Painfully earned justice has arrived for George Floyd’s family and the community here in Minneapolis, but today’s verdict goes far beyond this city and has significant implications for the country and even the world. Justice for Black America is justice for all of America. “This case is a turning point in American history for accountability of law enforcement and sends a clear message we hope is heard clearly in every city and every state. We thank Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison and his team for their fierce dedication to justice for George. But it does not end here. We have not forgotten that the other three officers who played their own roles in the death of George Floyd must still be held accountable for their actions, as well.” One of Floyd’s brothers, Philonise Floyd, was in the courtroom for the verdicts. He hugged prosecutor Jerry Blackwell, Ellison and another prosecutor. Ellison and Blackwell heartily shook hands. The younger brother has been a steady presence on behalf of the family. The Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis responded in a statement that read: “There are no winners in this case, and we respect the jury’s decision. We need the political pandering to stop and the race-baiting of elected officials to stop. “In addition, we need to stop the divisive comments, and we all need to do better to create a Minneapolis we all love.” The statement added in a line geared toward residents of Minneapolis that the federation “stands with you and not against you.” Reaction from leading officeholders was swift, among them Mayor Jacob Frey, who said in a statement: “Today the jury joined in a shared conviction that has animated Minneapolis for the last 11 months: they refused to look away. They believed their own eyes and affirmed George Floyd should still be here today.” A statement from Gov. Tim Walz said, “Today’s verdict is an important step forward for justice in Minnesota. The trial is over, but our work has only begun.” The governor add that “no verdict can bring George back, and my heart is with his family as they continue to grieve his loss. Minnesota mourns with you, and we promise the pursuit of justice for George does not end today.” The foreperson was a white man in his 30s who works as an auditor. He pledged during the jury selection process that he could examine the evidence “from a viewpoint of the law.” He and his fellow jurors remained still and quiet and kept their eyes on the judge until called upon by the judge to affirm their verdicts individually. They departed the courtroom revealing no visible emotion. Jurors, who were sequestered, reached their decision after hearing closing arguments from the prosecution and defense Monday. They started deliberations afterward. Jurors heard from 44 witnesses over 14 days of testimony. The trial began seven weeks ago on March 8 with jury selection, and was livestreamed across the world by several media outlets on multiple platforms. The jurors were asked to decide between the prosecution’s claims that Chauvin used excessive force and an unsanctioned maneuver when he knelt on Floyd’s neck for about 9 1/2 minutes on May 25, 2020, and the defense’s argument that Chauvin was following his training when he arrested an unruly Floyd, who died after being restrained by the former officer. The cause of death became a key issue, with prosecutors telling jurors Floyd, 46, died of asphyxia from low oxygen when Chauvin knelt on his neck as former officers J. Alexander Kueng knelt on his buttock and thigh area and Thomas Lane knelt and held onto his legs. Former officer Tou Thao kept angry bystanders at bay. The officers were arresting him for using a fake $20 bill to buy cigarettes at Cup Foods in south Minneapolis. Hennepin County Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Andrew Baker ruled that Floyd died of a homicide, an act caused by another person, and that the cause of death was “cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression.” He also listed hardening and thickening of the artery walls, heart disease and drug use as “other significant conditions.” Fentanyl and methamphetamine were found in Floyd’s system. Addressing the aggravating factors in an earlier filing, the prosecutors wrote: — Floyd was “particularly vulnerable” because his hands were handcuffed behind him. — Floyd was treated with “particular cruelty.” Prosecutors said at trial that Chauvin remained on Floyd’s neck even though he wasn’t breathing and didn’t have a pulse for nearly five minutes. Bystander video also captured Floyd repeatedly saying he couldn’t breathe before he became unresponsive. — The officers abused their position of authority. — The officers committed the act as a group. — The officers’ actions occurred in front of children. The youngest witness was Judeah Reynolds, then 9. Her cousin, Darnella Frazier, then 17, recorded and shared video of the incident, which many credit for leading to the criminal prosecution. Defense attorney Nelson argued at trial that the bystanders, which also included adults, were hostile toward the officers and created a potential threat. Second-degree unintentional murder is punishable by up to 40 years in prison. Third-degree murder is punishable by up to 25 years in prison. However, Minnesota sentencing guidelines call for identical presumptive prison terms for both counts, starting at 12 1/2 years for someone with no criminal history. Second-degree manslaughter is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and/or a fine of $20,000. The count carries a presumptive sentence of four years for someone with no criminal history. The verdict came at a time of heightened tensions in the metro area following the April 11 death of Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man who was fatally shot during a traffic stop by then-Brooklyn Center police officer Kimberly Potter. Then-Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon, who has since resigned, said Potter mistakenly fired her gun instead of a Taser while assisting in the arrest of Wright, who had been stopped for expired tabs and was found to have a warrant. Potter, who also resigned, was charged last week with second-degree manslaughter. Wright’s death led to several nights of protests outside the Brooklyn Center Police Department, where police fired rubber bullets, tear gas and flash-bang grenades at demonstrators, alarming residents of an apartment building across the street who said they were being impacted. Police also accused some demonstrators of throwing objects, including cans and bricks, at police. The death of Floyd, who was Black, under a white officer’s knee sparked demonstrations across the world and a racial reckoning that prompted calls for defunding the police. It led to alterations to the long-held names of popular musical acts and the rebranding of well-known products that had used racially insensitive terminology or mascots, among other changes. Many activists and community members had looked to Chauvin’s trial as a test of the criminal justice system and a potential turning point in community-police relations, only to be disrupted by Wright’s killing. Family attorney Crump, who helped negotiate a record $27 million settlement with the City of Minneapolis, is also representing Wright’s family. Chauvin was the fourth officer tried in Minnesota for killing a civilian on the job. Former St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez was acquitted in 2017 for fatally shooting Philando Castile during a traffic stop. Former Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor was convicted in 2019 of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter for fatally shooting Justine Ruszczyk Damond while responding to her 911 call about a possible sexual assault in an alley. Noor, who is serving a 12 1/2-year prison term, was acquitted of second-degree murder. Noor’s conviction was upheld by the Minnesota Court of Appeals, a decision that the Minnesota Supreme Court will review in June. Washington County sheriff’s deputy Brian Krook was acquitted last year for fatally shooting Benjamin Evans, who was intoxicated, suicidal and had a gun in his hand but had not threatened to harm officers. Kueng, Lane and Thao are scheduled to be tried Aug. 23 for aiding and abetting second-degree murder and manslaughter in Floyd’s death. All three, who were fired like Chauvin, are out on bond. ——— (Star Tribune staff writer Rochelle Olson contributed to this report.) ©2021 StarTribune. Visit at startribune.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Chauvin guilty on all counts in death of Floyd


Notable
American Legion to hold final takeout pizza night Friday
  • Updated

American Legion to hold final takeout pizza night Friday

American Legion Post 76 will host its final takeout pizza night of the season from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Friday at the legion post, 318 N. James St. in Ludington.

Seating at the post will be limited to 50-percent capacity and takeout is advised.

Orders will start being taken at 4:30 p.m. Call (231) 884-1393 or (231) 845-7094 to place an order. If the line is busy, call back. Do not leave a message. All pizzas are 14 inches with thin crust. Several toppings are available, as are take-and-bake pizzas.

Customers should have their orders ready when they call, and be ready to provide their names as well as the type and color of their vehicles.

The total amount will be given when customers arrive to pick up their orders. Only cash and check will be accepted as payment.

Servers will call when pizzas go in the oven to minimize wait times. Pick up is in the back parking lot.

Do not get out of the car, servers will bring orders out. There will be a sign where you are to pull up. You do not need to be a member to place a takeout order.


Local
MCC approves teacher contracts, talks upswing in COVID-19 cases
  • Updated

SCOTTVILLE — Seventeen teacher contracts were approved by the Mason County Central Board of Education Monday, including four tenure contracts.

High-school science teachers Cynthia Dugger and Matt Millspaugh, fifth-grade teacher Amy Cronk and second-grade teacher Tawnya Miller were each approved for tenure.

The board also reviewed second-, third-, fourth- and fifth-year probationary contracts for teachers from throughout the district.

The board approved every contract unanimously, Mount told the Daily News on Tuesday, and marveled at the quality of teachers the district has seen in recent years.

“We were bragging about the 17 teachers we had up for contracts… We’ve hired really well this last five years. This group of teachers is just outstanding,” Mount said.

COVID-19 UPDATES

The board approved its Extended COVID-19 Learning Plan for the month, and Mount talked to trustees about the recent upsurge in cases in Michigan, which has taken its toll on the school district as well.

MCC has been hit with new school-associated cases on an almost daily basis since students returned from spring break.

Mount said there has been no transmission of the virus from student-to-student. He noted that quarantine protocols are working, though the number of recent positive cases has been taxing on the district.

“After today, since we returned from spring break, we’ve had 18 (school-associated positive cases),” Mount said.

Eight of those positive cases have been discovered since the end of last week, bringing the district’s total up to 49 cases for the year.

Mount said students have been most affected by the recent spike.

“It wasn’t the kids during the November and December (COVID-19 increase), but now, whether it’s the new (B117) variant, or something, it’s definitely impacting the students,” he said. “It’s really kind of changed and reared its ugly head on our kids.”

Mount said about 87 percent of MCC’s teachers have been fully vaccinated, which has helped the district avoid a temporary shutdown. However, staffing continues to be a concern, as the pool of substitute teachers in the area is shallow.

“We have to take it day-by-day, and hopefully, as we get trending in the right direction, we’ll be able to avoid (shutting down a building),” he said.

Mount said county data is showing that local rates might be stabilizing, but he’s “crossing his fingers, legs and toes” about the issue, because that’s been the case before.

“We’re seeing maybe a little light at the end of the tunnel, but in February we really thought we saw a light at the end of the tunnel, and it turned out to be a locomotive coming at us,” he said.

Parents in the district have been “very understanding” about picking up their kids when notified of a positive case and monitoring their children for symptoms, according to Mount.

“I’ll applaud our parents,” he said. “They’ve asked us to stay open as much as possible, but it means for a lot of quarantines. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that we’re on the downhill slide of this.”

ALSO ON MONDAY

The board reviewed a presentation regarding the West Shore Educational Service District’s proposed millage renewal, which will be on the ballot in May.

The renewal is expected to generate $3.4 million to support programs and services for more than 1,400 students with disabilities in Mason, Lake and Oceana counties. It would be 1 mill — or $1 per $1,000 of taxable value — for eight years.

For MCC, Mount said the millage would mean about $250,000 per year for special education and other services provided by the ESD. He said it’s important to approve the millage, and he expressed gratitude to the ESD for the work it does.

“There’s a lot that sometimes people take for granted. It’s under the radar, but critical to everyday work,” he said. “It’s working with our most vulnerable children. It’s a millage that is very much needed by our local districts.”

The board also approved the West Shore ESD’s budget.

The board also entered closed session to conduct one of six segments of its ongoing superintendent review process, and to discuss the district calendar for the 2021-22 academic year with the teachers’ union.


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