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2 charged with 1st degree criminal sexual conduct in connection to preteen girl

Four criminal sexual conduct, first degree, charges were issued against a Muskegon man and a Muskegon teen for allegedly engaging in sexual activity with a preteen Oceana County girl.

Dwight Bernard McKinney, 17, of 954 Plymouth St., Muskegon, was arrested by the Oceana County Sheriff’s Office. He is charged with three counts of criminal sexual conduct, first degree and faces a maximum life prison sentence if convicted. His bond was set at $75,000 and was posted, Oceana County Sheriff Craig Mast said. The second individual arrested, Robert Iree Mallard, 22, of 2115 Austin St., Muskegon, faces one count of criminal sexual conduct, first degree. His bond also was set at $75,000 and had not been posted as of press time Tuesday. He also faces a maximum life prison sentence if convicted. A warrant for a third suspect has been issued, Mast said, but has not been served. Mast said he believes the third suspect was in custody in Muskegon County. Future arrests might be forthcoming.

“I really expect nine arrests total,” Mast said. “It appears it had been going on for quite some time.”

According to Mast, the alleged victim and her siblings have been removed from the family home by Child Protective Services and were taken out of the area. Oceana County Prosecutor Joe Bizon said the alleged victim’s parents have been cooperative, and he doesn’t expect any charges against them.

“I would say here, I do not have a human trafficking case,” Bizon said. “I have a CSC case.”

According to Mast, deputies were dispatched to a New Era address at 6:31 a.m. July 23 for an unwanted, adult male intruder with the caller’s preteen daughter. Mast said while en route, deputies learned that the male suspect had fled the scene into the woods. A search for the suspect began and a K-9 tracking dog led deputies to an area where a vehicle was waiting or had been parked. Mast said sheriff’s deputies spoke with the alleged victim’s father, who had spotted a hairy leg under his daughter’s bed and realized the suspect was in his daughter’s room. Mast said the alleged victim later admitted to having engaged in sexual activity with multiple men from Muskegon County.

As the investigation progressed, the Michigan State Police were contacted as the alleged incident involved multiple jurisdictions. Mast said state police detectives found huge amounts of digital evidence, which revealed the identity of several suspects and allowed police to make several arrests. State police Detective Matt Nobliski said two arrests have been made in Muskegon at this point. He encouraged any other potential victims to contact the Muskegon County Silent Observer at 231-722-7463.

Parks and Outdoor spaces dominiate Hart City meeting

On Tuesday, Sept. 8, the Hart City Council was made aware of some concerns from the seasonal campers at John Gurney Park (JGP). “Wayne”, a spokesman for the campers, joined the meeting via Zoom and said he was asked to bring the concerns on behalf of 80 percent of the seasonal campers there.

He asked, “What is going on with the rates? We haven’t been told what our rates are. We used to get contracts prior to camping, but with COVID we were locked out. For those of us who have sent checks, why aren’t you cashing them? We’d like to balance our checkbooks.”

City Manager Lynne Ladner replied, “The managers should be handling the contracts and bringing any deposits to city hall. I will need to address these issues and make sure to outline in the new Request for Proposal to be posted soon.”

Seasonal camper, Wayne, continued, “We feel rates should be pro-rated as well. We usually camp from April 15 to October 15, but with the COVID shutdown we were locked out. We’d like to meet with the city council on a Saturday and get some of these questions answered.” Ladner continued, “I’d like some time to meet with the park managers. The six weeks that the campground was closed was beyond anyone’s control. If we could get your questions in writing we will try to address them.”

Resolution 2020-51 Extending Authorization for Temporary Social Zones was approved by a vote of 6 — 1, with Mayor Ron LaPorte casting the lone no vote and Councilor Jason LaFevre absent. “I thought October 31 was being generous,” said LaPorte.

There was concern that the weather after October 31 could include less than favorable weather including rain, ice or even snow. “We would want, as I’m sure businesses would want, to protect the public,” said Councilor Vicki Platt.

“Owners would have increased responsibilities in inclement weather.” Ladner added, “Concerning the space behind Kristi’s, the ingress/egress is a city alleyway easement and would fall under the city’s responsibility and liability. The state is allowing businesses to submit a conversion permit, to extend the temporary area to a permanent zone. Something like that would need to go before the Planning Commission first.”

Councilor Joe Frontiera expressed, “Maybe extending the time frame another 30 days would reveal how much interest is out there before making the change permanent.”

In the interest of promoting business, the majority of the council voted to extend the temporary social zones to November 30, 2020.

The council also discussed numerous items that have come up in the past several months. The installation of a water service line at the John Gurney Park boat launch has been requested for over a year. DPW supervisor, Brad Whitney, had received two estimates from Gustafson’s. Their first estimate was $4625.01 which would include running a new water line from Woodlawn Ave. Another option would include running a new line from the JGP at a cost of $4,680 and would cut through the new asphalt road. There was discussion about where best to put the city’s money at this time. The question was asked if there is state funding available to help with installation or could city employees install when they have the time? The mayor suggested the project be incorporated into the next five-year Parks Plan in 2021.

A handicap accessible parking spot at the John Gurney Park boat launch, is another project the city thought they might want to include with their Parks plan and get DNR input. The one estimate received from Hallack Contracting totaled over $12,000 to clear brush, place fill, put down aggregate and then finish with top soil and seed. Mayor LaPorte said, “It’s an issue, that’s why we passed what we did (for parking). There’s not enough space and we need to leave the green space for people to recreate.” Councilor Rob Splane said, “The plan needs to be reviewed every 5 years. Next year when the plan is reviewed, the community will have the opportunity to express what they want done. I’d encourage them to share ideas and express their wants for city parks. We serve at the pleasure of the taxpayers.”

To offer relief to taxpayers, President Trump is offering to defer the withholding of certain payroll tax obligations for those “opting out” of payroll taxes due from September 1 — December 31, 2020. It is uncertain at this time if this action would become permanent. If it does not, employees choosing this option would need to repay the tax. As well, the city would be responsible for paying any unpaid withholding taxes if an employee would leave their job at the city. Even though the program is being offered to help people with their income now, the feeling is that the city should not participate. This action would affect social security, medicare and medicaid. Also, if the program is not made permanent, taxes would need to be repaid at some point, by someone.

A city-owned lot on the corner of Wood and Water Streets is being considered as a possible neighborhood space. Currently the city is already mowing it and a Historic District sign is on the lot. Ladner and HEART Director, Nicole Steele, have been discussing that adding a couple of picnic tables and a trash receptacle would create another space for people to gather. It would be a small project that could be the beginning of something more developed in the future. The council was in favor of the idea and suggested the space be reviewed with the Parks Master Plan.

Lastly, Councilor Platt asked about the swimming hole on East Main. “Is there anything we can do to clean that up? I was really hoping when Lynne was talking about cleaning up the lagoons she was referring to that.” Mayor LaPorte replied, “Unfortunately there is only so much we can do to regulate the water in and out of that area.”

Chadwick receives stone nearly 100 years later

A few members of the Oceana County Historical and Genealogical Society (OCHGS) were present Wednesday, Sept. 9, when the great-granddaughter of Hart icon, Dr. Harvey J. Chadwick, Kathleen (McLenithan) Longcore, of Waterford, Mich., visited the Hart Cemetery to commemorate the placement of her great-grandfather’s gravestone. Chadwick (1857-1922) practiced as a physician in Hart for about 12 years in the late 1800s and forever became a part of the rich history of Oceana County. Longcore began her presentation with the singing of a song and the recitation of two brief prayers before sharing how the Chadwick family had come to settle in Hart.

“In 1868, at age 11, my great-grandfather moved from Indiana to Hart with his family. His father, my great-great-grandfather, Dr. Michael R. Chadwick, wanted to be a part of Hart’s expansion. He came with the idea of purchasing land, which he eventually divided and sold in smaller lots. He also began a medical practice and drug store in downtown Hart. My great-grandfather, Harvey, and his brother Ira both worked in the family’s drug store and at their father’s doctor’s office. Harvey became determined to go to medical school and get a degree. After medical school he returned home and taught school until he was established enough to set up his medical practice and marry the love of his life, fellow school teacher, Laura Teeple. Their oldest daughter Eva was my grandmother. They also had a daughter Zela and a son, Jenner Harvey, whose name was the reverse of my great-grandfather’s name.”

According to the book “The Story of a House”, written by Longcore in 1986, in cooperation with the OCHGS, Longcore said, “While the family lived in Hart, they built several homes, each one grander than the last. The last one is the beautiful stone structure on the corner of Dryden and Lincoln Streets (proudly now the home of the OCHGS). Chadwick had the home built in 1892 using local stone mason, George Dennison, whose technique involved cutting the stones into a rectangular shape. The Hart Journal reported on March 2, 1894 ‘Dr. Chadwick is now to be congratulated with his new boy and an elegant stone mansion. With the reputation and practice second to none, he certainly has the world by the horns.’ By the end of 1894, in search of greater opportunities for his family, Chadwick had moved his family to Grand Rapids where he set up his practice in downtown Grand Rapids in the Porter building on the corner of Monroe Street and Division Avenue.”

Longcore continued, “In April of 1900 his wife Laura died of pneumonia. Prior to the invention of antibiotics, it must have been very difficult not to be able to help her. Several years later, after his children were grown, he remarried the Dutch woman who had been his nurse and housekeeper when the children were small. The family later moved from Grand Rapids to Grand Junction where my great-grandfather had a country doctor practice, calling on patients with his horse and buggy. Suffering from diabetes and heart problems, he died November 5, 1922. Insulin was developed just two months later in January of 1923. I never knew my great-grandfather, He died almost 100 years ago. I only know him from pictures. But his obituary states that there was a committal and he was buried in the Hart cemetery, however there was never any official gravestone placed.” The family plot holds the “Chadwick” family stone as well as stones for Chadwick’s first wife Laura Teeple Chadwick and Chadwick’s mother, Caroline Chadwick . “Doing this has been on my bucket list for a long time. I felt it was something I could do for the family. It’s nice to finally check it off. It took some time to convince people that he was in fact buried here. Official burial records were never found. There was a flood at one time in the room where those records were kept. What it came down to was, we have his obituary, there was an empty space next to where his first wife was buried and a probe by cemetery personnel did not locate any type of vault in that area, so they allowed us to place the stone.”

Those wanting to know more about the Chadwick family, or any other with roots in Oceana County, are invited to visit the OCHGS any Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Chadwick-Munger House is located on the corner of Dryden and Lincoln Streets in Hart and can be reached by phone at 231-873-2600 or via email at

Rockford man injured on motorcycle crash

A Rockford man was transported to Mercy Health Partners Hackley Campus following a motorcycle accident on west Monroe Road near the US-31 expressway in Weare Township Sept. 11.

According to the Oceana County Sheriff’s Office accident report, Jeffrey Richard Tow, 47, of 151 Courtland St., Rockford, was westbound on Monroe on a 1984 Honda VF700 when he swerved to miss a possum, overcorrected, causing the motorcycle to fall onto its right side and slide approximately 20 yards down the roadway. The report indicated Tow sustained several broken ribs and a dislocated shoulder.