Ludington

Bronte Cook / Interlochen Public Radio

This week on Points North, the U.S. Forest Service tried to ban alcohol on three popular northern Michigan rivers, but they backed off after public outcry. Now they say they will ramp up enforcement and education to curb drunken behavior.

Plus, how the Nordhouse Dunes in the Huron-Manistee National Forests is dealing with summer tourism.

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.’

Ludington Area School District

School districts across Michigan have bond proposals going to a vote on May 7.

Ludington Area Schools district is asking the community for a new elementary building, renovations to the middle and high school and improvements to technology, transportation, arts and athletic facilities.  

District Superintendent Jason Kennedy says the district needs signficant renovations.

"The average age of the facilities in Ludington is 64 years old," Kennedy says. "We need to consider doing more than just fixing and repairing the facilities."

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.

Michigan House

A northern Michigan lawmaker wants to allow lottery winners to remain anonymous. Senator Curt VanderWall (R-Ludington) introduced a bill last week to accomplish that.

Right now, Vanderwall says, if you win the lottery, the state publishes your name, what county you live in and where you bought the ticket.

Ludington has installed a new synthetic ice rink at the James Street Plaza.
Dan Wanschura

The city of Ludington recently installed a new synthetic ice rink downtown, right in the middle of James Street Plaza.


Michigan Department of Natural Resources

The state of Michigan is buying part of a controversial sand mine near Ludington. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources will buy 100 acres of sand dunes, wetlands and forests for $17 million from Sargent Sand, a sand mining company.

"This purchase will permanently protect a beautiful tract of critical sand dunes, conserving a unique landform and its plants and animals for public enjoyment," DNR Director Keith Creagh says in a press release.

Ludington Area Schools will put a bond before voters for new buildings and major renovations. The school board moved forward with a $101 million proposal this week.

With the weather warming up and the sun chasing away memories of the long stretch of cold, icy weather that lasted well into April, many Michigan communities are ramping up for tourist season.

That season is the economic lifeblood of many areas in Michigan, like Ludington, for instance.

The Pere Marquette Township Board voted to sell the Pere Marquette cross memorial to a local private group for $800.
Todd and Brad Reed Photography

A private group will buy a 40-foot cross memorial near Ludington for $800.

Last night, the Pere Marquette Township Board of Trustees voted to sell the one-acre property containing the cross to the Pere Marquette Memorial Association, which plans to maintain the cross.

The cross memorial was built in 1955. It honors Pere Marquette, a Jesuit missionary who came to Michigan in the 17th century.

Aaron Selbig

A state board recommends the State of Michigan buy 300 acres of Lake Michigan shoreline that’s currently owned by a sand mining company. The Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund board of directors has voted to spend $7.5 million toward a new deal with Sargent Sand Company.

Sargent Sand has been mining sand on its property inside the borders of Ludington State Park since the 1930s. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has tried several times to buy the land back from the company but the deals have always fallen through.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

The City of Ludington is thinking about its future. City leaders have come up with a 20-year master plan that’s meant to guide development in Ludington over the next two decades. It lays out challenges and opportunities the city is expected to face.

One of those challenges is climate change. The master plan predicts higher temperatures in the future, along with less snowfall and more frequents storms.

Aaron Selbig

When you think of hydraulic fracturing, Michigan may  not be the first state that comes to mind. But according to The FracTracker Alliance in Cleveland, Ohio – a group that studies the global oil and gas industry – Michigan is playing an increasing role in fracking.

That’s because the fracking process requires a special kind of sand that’s found near the Great Lakes.

Since the 1930s, Sargent Sand Company has held a permit to mine sand from its property that's surrounded by Ludington State Park.

For years, the 400 acre mine was dormant as the company negotiated to sell its land to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

That sale fell through.

Last year, the mine cranked back up again, and the neighbors aren’t too happy about it.

Tom Carr

The largest coal-fired passenger ship still operating in the United States is the S.S. Badger in Lake Michigan. It’s a beloved 1950s car ferry that sails between Ludington and Manitowoc, Wisconsin.

For years it was the subject of an environmental controversy because it was polluting the lake.

This year, that’s changed.


https://www.facebook.com/pages/History-Prize/146759932084035

Plans for a massive history festival in Ludington have hit a massive snag.

History Prize is modeled after ArtPrize, the massive art competition in Grand Rapids. Instead of art, this 19-day event would celebrate history.

Small community, big event

The small lakeshore community of Ludington won a competitive bid process to host History Prize, which is still scheduled to launch in the summer of 2016. But if it does, it will move forward without the support of some key players – including the Ludington Area Convention and Visitors Bureau and the local board that formed to build History Prize.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/History-Prize/146759932084035

Ludington will host a new 19-day history festival when it launches in the summer of 2016.

Several Michigan communities were vying for the festival, called History Prize. Organizers are modeling after the hugely successful ArtPrize competition in Grand Rapids.

“We’re still early in the planning stages but very hopeful this is going to have a huge impact, not only for Ludington and Mason County, but the surrounding region as well,” says Brandy Henderson, of the Ludington Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.

A judge says there’s no clear evidence Baby Kate was murdered when she went missing three years ago. The Ludington Daily News reports a murder charge against the baby’s father has been dismissed.

Sean Phillips is in prison and will remain there. He’s already been convicted in the case of his daughter’s disappearance. The charge was “unlawful imprisonment.”

Ryan Spencer Reed

Ryan Spencer Reed is a photographer from Ludington whose work falls into the category of “social documentary.”

In 2011, Reed entered the Grand Rapids ArtPrize with a collection of photographs documenting the human tragedy of civil war and genocide in Darfur and South Sudan.

This year, Reed is back at ArtPrize, this time with photos he took while embedded with the U.S. Army in Afghanistan.

IPR’s Aaron Selbig asked Reed how he managed to get the OK from the Army to tag along with the 101st Airborne Division in a war zone.  

Linda Stephan / Interlochen Public Radio

 Sand dunes immediately surrounded the Lake Michigan Beach House when it was first built back in 1935. These days almost a million visitors trample the shore every summer at the Ludington State Park Beach and that traffic has flattened the immediate dunes to sugar sand beach.

But a piece of that 1930s landscape has been restored, the beach house itself has stepped back in time after a painstaking restoration that began back in 2008.

Winds Wearing Away History

Alan Cleaver/Flickr

A new report shows the Ludington and Petoskey areas are among some of the hardest areas in the state to get help with mental health problems – including anxiety and depression.

The report highlights problems with access to mental healthcare providers, even as mental health insurance coverage is expected to improve at the start of the year with the Affordable care Act.

Consumers Energy

Consumers Energy will defend its wind farm before a Mason County appeals board Wednesday night. The utility is resisting an order by the county to tone down the noise from several of its turbines.

Last summer, a consultant found that noise from four of the eight turbines it tested exceeded what’s allowed by Mason County’s wind ordinance. In September, the planning commission ordered Consumers Energy to submit a plan to reduce the noise.

Murder Charge Filed Against Father Of Baby Kate

Oct 4, 2013

Murder is being charged in the case of missing Ludington infant Baby Kate, though the child’s body has not been found.

Today Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette was in Ludington together with the Mason County prosecutor, announcing a charge of open murder against the child’s father Sean Phillips.

Officials say they have new evidence in the case, but will not give specifics.

For two years police have been searching for the remains of Katherine Phillips who was last seen when she was four months old on a summer day in 2011.

Baby Kate Search Narrows

Sep 10, 2013

Police in Ludington have narrowed the search for the remains of Baby Kate. Katherine Phillips was last seen with her father, Sean Phillips, in June 2011.

After volunteer assistance this summer, the search area has now been confined to less than one square mile. Volunteers searched for a rare mix of plants that had been found in the soil caked into the bottom of Sean Phillips’ shoes.

Investigators Cover New Ground With Baby Kate Search

Jul 1, 2013

The search for Ludington infant Katherine Phillips resumed over the weekend. ‘Baby Kate’ was last seen two years ago with her father, Sean Phillips. He’s now serving a 10-to-15 year sentence for her “unlawful imprisonment.” But investigators believe this is a homicide. In hopes of locating the baby’s remains, they’ve taken a unique approach to the investigation. They hope their biggest clues will come from the dirt caked inside the soles of Sean Phillips’ shoes.

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