Benzie County

Dan Wanschura / Interlochen Public Radio

This week on Points North, the water is so high in Michigan this summer that shorelines are disappearing, docks are underwater and rivers are overflowing. Plus hear how high water is affecting public access to beaches and research on avian botulism. 

 


Benzie County Sheriff's Office

Investigators have still not found a missing plane in Lake Michigan. They suspect it crashed Sunday night about four miles off the coast of Frankfort

Benzie County Sheriff Ted Schendel says the pilot contacted air traffic control to say he was having issues.

“The last thing they heard from the pilot was that the engine had locked up and was dead, and then it was shortly thereafter that that they lost radar contact with them,” says Schendel.

Dan Wanschura

Elections were held across Michigan on Tuesday, and school bonds were on many ballots.

Unofficial election results show that school bonds in Ludington and Leland passed, but a $47.8 million proposal for Benzie County Central Schools narrowly failed by 114 votes, or just under 2 percentage points. Another proposal in Kingsley Area Schools overwhelmingly failed with 73 percent of voters saying ‘no.’

Dan Wanschura

More than 50 Michigan counties will hold elections Tuesday, May 7. School funding is the focus of most of them.

Benzie County Central Schools district is asking voters to approve $47.8 million for a new elementary building and an addition to the middle and high school. Ludington, Kingsley and Leland school districts also have bond requests.

Kalkaska County wants to improve the Kaliseum Recreational Complex. It’s asking for a 1.5 mill increase to its facilities millage.

Benzie Central Schools got a cop in the district in January. The position is funded by a county millage and will last four years.
Morgan Springer / Interlochen Public Radio

This week on Points North, learn about how one northern Michigan county tackled school safety by putting police officers in their schools. Plus, head out to Lake Leelanau to watch ice boaters enjoy the final days of the season.


Morgan Springer / Interlochen Public Radio

After 17 students were shot and killed in Parkland, Florida last year, Benzie County wanted to make their schools safer. They decided to address that by putting cops in their schools, and taxpayers agreed to pay for it. That sounds like a good thing but it turns out it was more complicated than it seemed.

 

Benzie County Sheriff’s Deputy Jeff Miller started in the schools in January. He serves 1,400 students in the Benzie County Central Schools district and deals with any criminal activity.

This You Should Know: Balloon man

Jan 5, 2019
Cheryl Bartz

Mike Webb says he’s always been fascinated by balloon twisting – the shaping of ordinary-looking balloons into extraordinary things. The Benzonia resident is the self-styled "chief entertainment officer" for Balloon Dog Productions. In other words, he’s a professional balloon twister.


Nearly 100 people gather to hear the Benzie Central Chamber Choir perform at Michigan Legacy Art Park in Thompsonville on Saturday.
Dan Wanschura

A quarter mile into the woods at Michigan Legacy Art Park in Thompsonville, you’ll come across an outdoor amphitheater surrounded by tall trees. Around dusk on Saturday, the Benzie Central Chamber Choir filled the woods with Christmas songs.


O'Malley wins 101st house seat

Nov 7, 2018
David Cassleman

A former radio personality has won the race for the 101st state house district.

Jack O’Malley was the longtime morning host on radio station WTCM in Traverse City until he signed off earlier this year. O’Malley and his opponent – Democrat Kathy Wiejaczka – are both political newcomers.

Tuesday night, Wiejaczka said she was not ready to concede the race until the results are official but she enjoyed the experience of running for office.

Polestar LGBT+ Community Center of Traverse City/Facebook

Polestar LGBT+ Community Center of Traverse City opened its doors Saturday. It's the first of its kind in northern Michigan.

Mason County

Voters in a few northern Michigan counties will be asked to approve more money for police officers. Wexford, Benzie and Mason counties all have public safety millages on their August ballots.

In Mason County, they’re asking residents to fund four new road patrol deputies. Residents would pay a millage of $30 for every $100,000 worth of property they own.

JJ, Flickr

Police have stopped two kilograms of cocaine from being sold in northern Michigan. The cocaine was allegedly mailed from an address in Texas to James Lopez of Benzie County. Law enforcement intercepted the package at a local post office before it reached Lopez.

Michigan State Police Lt. Dan King, head of the Traverse Narcotics Team (TNT), says they rarely see drug packages this large in northern Michigan.

“To my memory, it’s the largest seizure and arrest of cocaine in Benzie County,” says King.

St. Ambrose Cellars told to stop hosting events

Feb 7, 2018
St. Ambrose Cellars

A business that makes wine, mead and beer in Benzie County has been told to stop holding events. 

St. Ambrose Cellars has hosted open mic nights, fundraisers and even weddings on the property for several years. But a letter from the Homestead Township zoning administrator said the business is not allowed to do that in their zoning district. 

Sam Corden

The Crystal Café in Benzonia has been a popular breakfast spot for 20 years. The café serves standard diner fare like corned beef hash, but also get creative – with dishes like Hawaiian omelets and bread pudding French toast.

Michigan Sheriffs' Association

Law enforcement officials in Michigan are talking about what President Trump’s immigration policies mean for them. 

The Trump administration has made a priority of deporting people living in the country illegally. Normally immigration enforcement is the job of the federal government – not local sheriffs. But sheriffs and local police departments do sometimes play a role in the process. 

Morgan Springer

Low-performing schools throughout Michigan have to turn in transformation plans to the state that show how they will improve. They are due Monday. Forty-five schools were identified by the state's School Reform Office in January. Betsie Valley Elementary in Thompsonville is one of two schools in northern Michigan on the list of schools. The other school is Bear Lake High School in Manistee County.

Benzie County Central Schools

A school board in Benzie County will consider closing Platte River Elementary School later this month. The head of Benzie County Central Schools says the district needs to save money.

Crystal Mountain ski student dies in accident

Jan 3, 2017
Crystal Mountain Resort

A 10-year-old skier from Chicago died Monday after a crash at Crystal Mountain Resort. Resort spokesman Brian Lawson says the girl was part of a group taking a ski lesson on an intermediate trail.

“The skier skied slightly ahead of the class, apparently lost control briefly and then struck a tree,” says Lawson.

The girl was considered a "level four" intermediate skier and she was wearing a helmet. Lawson says snow conditions were good Sunday, but the girl may have hit an icy patch.

Sam Corden

Larry Bordine grew up a surfer in California, but when he moved to Michigan in the 80s, he left the surfing lifestyle behind.

 

After a trip to Hawaii, Larry’s childhood passion was reignited, and he wanted to bring that passion back home to Michigan. He bought a surfboard but it didn’t work with the fresh water waves – so he designed his own board just for the Great Lakes.

 

David Cassleman

There aren’t many businesses left in Thompsonville, and one of the few that remains is closing.

Paul’s Party Store is a place to grab a gallon of milk or buy a pack of cigarettes. But you can also find a more hard-to-find item, like balsamic vinegar.

The store is a small, blue pole barn. It used to be a fishing shop — you can still find fishing gear for purchase — and it’s retained the feel of a tackle shop, dark with a concrete floor.

David Cassleman

Thompsonville is a small town of roughly 450 people. The village center is just down the road from Crystal Mountain.

And while some people are enjoying the quiet life of a small town, Ron Osga is worried about police protection and a rise in drug use.

He says things got really bad in Thompsonville when heroin hit five years ago.

"For a while they were burying somebody once a year from an overdose," he says.

 


The Benzie County Players rehearse "God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater."
Daniel Wanschura

Forty-five years ago, Andy Mollema participated in his first readers theater production. He was a graduate student at Central Michigan University. The show was adapted from Kurt Vonnegut’s 1965 novel, "God Bless You Mr. Rosewater."

Today, Mollema is the one directing his own version of the novel, again in readers theater format.

“What’s going on with society today with this wealth versus disparity sort of thing, just brought me to want to resurrect this script,” says Mollema. “It’s absolutely pertinent, if not more so, today than it was then.” 

Linda Stephan

A Traverse City-based program that helps victims of child abuse will expand into another county.

The Traverse Bay Children's Advocacy Center will partner with the Benzie County Sheriff’s Office and Frankfort Police Department.

Linda Stephan

At Interlochen Public Radio, we first met Mike and Stacey Fekete at their Benzie County home last spring, when their grief for their son was very raw. Jake Fekete had died only weeks before of a drug overdose. His family believes Jake was trying to medicate his depression with drugs that had not been prescribed for him.

His parents shared their story as part of an Interlochen Public Radio series looking at the community response to a number of drug-related deaths in the close-knit county. 

New York (magazine)

Kelli Stapleton is on the cover of this week’s edition of New York (magazine).

The Elberta woman was sentenced earlier this month to at least 10 years in prison for trying to murder her autistic teenage daughter in September 2013.

Hanna Rosin, a journalist based in Washington, D.C., wrote the cover story after months of reporting and interviewing Stapleton and her family.

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