2015 in ‘Review’ A compilation of the year’s top local stories

December 30, 2015

Following are some excerpts from the front pages of the Clare County Review in 2015.

January 2
Animal Shelter nearly empty
For the first time anyone can remember, the Clare County Animal Shelter is nearly empty. Through a social media campaign, 77 animals were just adopted, a record number for the facility.

January 9
Frigid weather, storms close area schools
Those making wishes last month for snow had them answered for the first weekend of the year when from six to 14 inches blanketed the area.
Along with the snow came an arctic blast of cold air, which dropped temperatures into the single digits with wind chills of up to minus 20 degrees to mark the beginning of the first week of 2015. Area youngsters got an extra day of vacation when Clare, Farwell and Harrison Schools were all closed Monday.

January 16
New Health Park unveiled
MidMichigan Health Park, combining the Central Michigan District Health Department (CMDHD); MidMichigan Health and the new Michigan Community Dental Clinic is planning an Open House to celebrate the new facility on January 22.

1-16-15 exotic cat copy
Kidnapped African Cat succumbs to pneumonia
An otherwise energetic account of nursing her very sick animal ended in shock early Wednesday afternoon as Jody Bazuin learned of the animal’s demise. Her purebred male African Serval cat that had been missing for nearly a month had been found roaming near Tustin.

January 23
Domestic dispute ends with husband, wife dead
Police have determined that the deaths of a husband and wife found in their Hayes Township home last Friday morning were a murder-suicide caused by a domestic dispute.

January 30
Clare businesses plan facelifts
Eight of Clare’s downtown storefronts will get a new “old look” when they are restored to their historic appearance through a façade improvement program thanks to 25 to 75 percent grant funding from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

February 6
Barbershop quartet serenades for Valentine’s Day
Denny Wissinger and his fellow members of the ABSQ (A Barbershop Quartet) serenade loved ones all over the area for Valentine’s Day. Members include Phil Strouse, Rod Koutz and Dale Kemler. The 35-member Midstatesmen Chorus have been doing singing Valentines for about 20 years.

February 13
Lake man threatens to shoot CCRC plow drivers
Mark Edward Connelly 54 of Lake was arrested Tuesday after he made a threat to shoot two Clare County Road Commission employees over a snow plowing dispute.

February 20
Infection grounds Farwell wrestlers
Farwell Superintendent Carl Seiter announced Wednesday that the Farwell wrestlers would not participate in Team Regionals because of a skin infection confirmed on a couple members of the wrestling team.
Extreme cold shuts down area schools
Predictions of bitter cold complicated by northwest winds of five to ten miles per hours with gusts up to 18 closed all area schools Thursday.

February 27
Bitter cold damages Hayes offices
Winter weather has caused havoc at Hayes Township buildings including frozen pipes, no running water, no Internet or phone service and pipes that burst causing part of the ceiling to collapse.
02-27-15 Century old home burns copyCentury old home burns
Clare Firefighters fought their first house fire of the year Wednesday evening when the more than 100 year old stone farmhouse of Jeff and Cindy Best was totally destroyed.
St. Cecilia School to close
St. Cecilia Principal Elizabeth Kindermann said Tuesday, “Last week, after several months of deliberation, the Our Lady of Hope Parish leadership recommended that St. Cecilia Catholic School be closed at the end of the current school year.

March 13
Harrison honors Jim Cooper
Jim Cooper, who served the Harrison School District for almost 40 years as an educator, long-time athletic director and coach, was honored at an event celebrating his retirement.

March 20
Knife welding man arrested in mother’s death
Scott Pouillon of Owosso, has been charged in his mother’s death and with stabbing injuries to his father at their Greenwood Township home Sunday March 15. He was charged with homicide, murder first degree premeditated and assault with intent to murder and bond was set at $1.5 million.

March 27
Shooting leads to Franklin Township standoff
Two area men, James Compton, 54 of Gladwin, and John Gallaty, 67, of Harrison were charged with felonies after Gallaty, allegedly shot Compton’s son. Following the incident, Compton and his 32-year old son help police at bay for an hour before surrendering to officers.

April 10
Pirnstill named “Hometown Hero”
Tom Pirnstill, who together with his wife Paula founded the Paula Pirnstill Memorial Health and Safety Fair in Farwell, has been chosen to receive a 2015 Hometown Hero award.

April 17
9-year-old hospitalized after dad cooks meth
Daniel David Wilson of Lake George was arrested after his nine-year-old son was taken to MidMichigan Medical Center-Clare and treated for Methamphetamine exposure.

April 24
Lake grandmother, Bigford charged with shooting
Mary Lou Bigford of Lake is facing first degree murder charges after she allegedly shot the father of her grandchild last Sunday at the Chase Run apartment complex where her daughter and grandchild lived.

May 1
Foote name new Harrison Supt.
Long time district employee Richard Foote is the Harrison Board of Education’s choice as the new Superintendent for the district. Foote has been the Middle School Principal for nine years and with the district for 29 years, filling many positions.

May 8
Voters say NO! to State proposal
A proposal that would have Made Michigan’s sales tax the second highest in the nation and amended to constitution to raise funds for transportation was voted down 15-1 last Tuesday. Clare County voters said no 5,009 to 596.
Naked woman driving wrong way on U.S. 127
A Harrison couple are behind bars after a bizarre car chase early Tuesday. After Jessie Kay Schwaub-Devault allegedly left her husband John Devault and their child at the Clare Welcome Center and fled north in the highway southbound lane, eventually stopped and fled on foot. She was charged with indecent exposure, child abuse and fleeing and eluding police. Her husband was arraigned on charges of child abuse and indecent exposure.

5-22-15 Hundreds run in Clare Photo by Steve Landon out copyMay 22
Hundreds run in Clare
Hundreds came to Clare last weekend to participate in and watch the Girls On The Run 5K event, which helps provide scholarships for girls to be in GOTR-Central Michigan.

May 29
Former police chief to meet birth mom after 72 years
After years of searching, on June 4th Mike Becker will board a plane to Oregon to meet his birth mother and the family he didn’t know he had. He has been searching for them for ten years with help of his daughter Cheylene and friend Earline Bowen-Long.

June 5
Teen uses bat to send naked intruder running
A 17-year-old South Clare Avenue teenager used a baseball bat to send a naked intruder “packing” out of his home May 30th. Police are searching for the suspect, described as a 50 to 60 year old naked man, about 5 foot 11 inches and weighing about 300 pounds, who left the scene in a white Buick Enclave with the left front headlight out and damage to the hood from a baseball bat.

June 12
Neighbor saves couple from burning home
A Harrison couple would have died Monday morning if quick thinking neighbors hadn’t pulled them from their burning home on Oakcrest Drive in Hamilton Township. Neighbors said they believed the initial explosion was caused by a fuel leak in the vacation home of Pam and Bob Blackmore.

June 19
Jail worker sentenced
Rebecca Haskin, a former Clare County Sheriff’s Department employee, was sentenced Monday for embezzlement from the CCSD. She was arrested in October 2014 at here Florida home, extradited to Michigan to face the charges. She was sentenced to 11 months in jail, five years’ probation plus restitution, fines and costs.

July 3
Farwell farmer blames feds for ostrich demise
From 1995 to 2005, Richard Sills had an ostrich farm, raising the birds for meat. He feels that the Federal government, spurred on by the “traditional” meat industry lobbyists, is one of the reasons the farm is no longer operating.

July 10
$23K raised for Clare Skate Park
After two years of planning and fundraising by a small committee, the Clare Commission gave their unanimous approval Monday evening to set a new “Skate Park” in the city. Initially the park was to be installed at Brookwood Athletic Field, but the site was changed to Stamina Stadium, a temporary site until a new park is built in the Recreation Complex on the south side of the City.

July 17
Doherty Hotel is centerpiece of infamous Clare History
In the 1920s and 30s Clare’s color wasn’t green it was black. That when people say the Purple Gang had7-10-15 Doherty - Sandy and AJ in front of hidden tunnel copy a strong presence in the city and throughout the area. The basement of the old part of the Doherty Hotel provides the mafia evidence with secret tunnels and gambling rooms remembered by A.J. Doherty who was a youngster at the time.

July 31
Farwell woman saves best friend’s life, donates kidney
DeAnn Eichhorn and Kelly Jarstfer of Farwell have been friends for more than 21 years. In fact they are friends for life – and for DeAnn’s life as well, after Kelly gave her BFF the ultimate gift. She donated one of her kidneys to save her friend’s life.

August 7
Teen sweethearts reunite 63 years later
Virginia Dalton and Darrel McCauley saw each other just last month for first time in 63 years. They were teenage sweethearts separated by a secret military deployment. Although after about eight months they started corresponding again, but gradually lost contact, married others and led separate lives until, after they both lost their spouses, Virginia found Darrel on the Internet. The rest is history, as they say and the couple now live just across the street from each other in Farwell’s Oakridge Subdivision.

August 14
Closed hotel becomes ‘Oakridge’ Veterans’ Shelter
Homeless veterans now have not only help available here, but a safe and comfortable place to stay in Clare. On June 30th the old original Days Inn building became the new Oakbridge In LLC, a nonprofit transitional veterans’ living facility with services, support and a temporary home for former service men in need.

9-20-13 doni pummel headshotAugust 21
Clare Superintendent Pummell suddenly resigns
Doug Fillmore, retired Superintendent of Meridian Schools, was approved for an interim position as Superintendent of Schools at the Clare Board of Education meeting Tuesday evening after the board accepted the resignation of former Superintendent Doniel Pummell. Board President Tom Weaver said Monday that it (her letter of resignation) was a mutual agreement between Pummell and the board.

August 28
Former Clare Superintendent questions Pummell resignation
Former Clare Superintendent Greg McMillan questioned why Clare Superintendent Doniel Pummell resigned suddenly. McMillan said, “As a community member and tax payer I would like to know why the superintendent of schools in Clare resigned.” He continued, “If in fact the school district and board are transparent, we should have been provided that information as well.”
Classic Cars take over Clare
Hundreds of classic cars rolled into Clare last Thursday when the annual US-27 Motor Tour arrived on its trek from Coldwater to Cheboygan. Their slogan was “Back in The Day, It Was the Way.” After an overnight in Clare the tour went on the Harrison for a four hour visit.

September 4
Bigford ruled competent for murder trial
Mary Lou Bigford of Lake, charged with the April 18 murder of Lawrence Howard Jr., the father of her three-year-old granddaughter has been ruled competent to stand trial. Police said Howard was shot six times including once in the head in the parking lot of Chase Run Apartments in Mt. Pleasant.

September 11
Clare, Surrey get new firetrucks
Both Clare City and Surrey Township have approved the purchase a new firetruck for each department. Clare will take possession of a 2015 demo, costing $680,000 to replace a 25 year old ladder truck and potentially one other engine. Surrey Township got their brand new Pumper truck just before the Labor Day Parade at a cost of $506,616. It will replace two trucks which will be traded in on the new vehicle.

September 18
Terex to close Farwell plant
Terex, located in the Farwell Industrial Park will be moving their operation to New Hampshire. Their last day of operation in Farwell will be November 1, according to Kathy Methner of Middle Michigan Development Corporation.

September 25
Hunter says bear attacked him
A porcupine hunter said he was attacked by a black bear while in a greenwood Township blind last Thursday. He said he was alone in the blind around 7:30 p.m. when the bear came from behind, knocked him over and attacked him. He said the bear ran off after he stabbed it in the shoulder with his hunting knife.

October 2
Despite opposition Walmart can’t be stopped
Another step in the multi-year process of developing a new Walmart Supercenter in Clare came with the Planning Commission’s approval of the multi-acre site plan on the City’s north end. A Public Hearing and site plan review was held Wednesday. Several people were at the Planning commission meeting to voice opinions and express concern over potential traffic problems at the site.
Horwood passes
William (Bill) Horwood, longtime Clare resident and community leader died at his home Tuesday evening. He was 81.
October 9
Consumers opens new Service Center
Today, Friday, October 9th is the day that marks the dedication of the new $8.7 million Consumers Energy Service Center, no complete and in operation in the new Clare-North Industrial Park on Colonville Road. The recently completed 17,600 square-foot center sits on 19.5 acres of the 60 acre Industrial Park.

October 16
Two Clare Businessmen pass – John Bicknell and Neal Erickson
John Bicknell, 81, a prominent community member and former businessman in Clare, died at his home Sunday. He was a life-long Clare resident, a former employee at Citizens State Bank and previous owner of Allen’s Department Store in Clare.
Neal Erickson, 66, the former owner of Gateway Chrysler of Clare, died at his winter home in Mexico last Saturday. Neal and his brother Mark took over the Clare business after the deaths of their parents. Later he became sole owner of the dealership for many years.

October 23
Landfill opponent Elliot demands BOC take care of noxious odor
At the County Board of Commissioners meeting Wednesday, Hayes Township resident Ray Elliott claimed the Norther Oaks Landfill located near his home is a “massive problem” and insisted the county do something about it. He cited a recent shutdown of the new Health Department building. He begged the county for help.

Left, John Scherrer and Terry Acton pose outside the new Hayes Township government office and community center. Acton is the current township supervisor and Scherrer is a former supervisor who is a current trustee.

Left, John Scherrer and Terry Acton pose outside the new Hayes Township government office and community center. Acton is the current township supervisor and Scherrer is a former supervisor who is a current trustee.

October 30
$2.3 million Hayes Civic Center opens
The new Hayes Civic Center is now open. The building has been reshaped and remodeled with a contemporary design. The $21.3 million building, which includes offices, critical document room, kitchen-break room, board room-multipurpose room, exercise room, restrooms, and community center/gymnasium. Some of the new building won’t be finished for several months.
Investigation clears Sheriff
An investigation into complaints about procedures, evidence and misuse of funds at the Clare County Sheriff’s Department has turned up no wrongdoing on the part of Sheriff John Wilson and his staff, a release from the Michigan State Police said.

November 6
Oakbridge Inn now housing parolees and veterans
A report on 9 & 10 News that the Oakbridge Inn, a shelter for homeless veterans on the north side of Clare, is now also a housing facility for parolees has at least one local veterans’ organization concerned, despite assurances that both facilities are separated. Reportedly officials from the American Legion Post in Harrison were told the facility would serve only veterans. Executive Director Dave Homan said that mission is still their primary focus. He said re-entry individuals are in a different part of the building and do not share care, donations or services with veterans.
Clare City millage defeated
A proposal adding 3 mills to Clare City taxpayers’ bills for five years to help fund road repair was voted down by just 4 votes, 143 to 139. The measure would have added $266,529 to the City’s coffers for road work in the first year.

November 13
First ceremonies held at Freedom Park
The new Freedom Park in Harrison was overflowing with visitors for the first ceremony on Veterans’ Day Wednesday. The park will officially open in May.

November 20
Wednesday Fire destroys Clare home
Six area Fire Departments fought a fire early Wednesday morning that totally destroyed the home of 11-20-15 5 lakes fire copyTim Zahn on Five Lakes Drive northwest of Clare, but five people and several pets were able to escape without injury.
Adult Day Care planned in Harrison
Clare County Senior Services plans to establish an adult day care center in a section of the activity center meal site in Harrison, formerly the Knights of Columbus building. The goal is to have the center open by October 1, 2016.

November 27
Gas prices continue nosedive
Gas prices around Clare were the lowest in this part of the State this week. No one seems to know exactly why Clare is lately one of the best places in Michigan to buy Gas. Prices were as low as $1.59 at press time.

December 4
Five children get new homes
Clare County Adoption Day was presided over by Family Court Judge Marcy Klaus the Thursday before Thanksgiving. This year Judge Klaus finalized the adoption of five children, two girls and three boys ranging in age from 3 to 14 years old.
Man pulls gun on Farwell driver
Neil Endsley, 58 of Greenville was arraigned on a road rage incident Tuesday, the second such incident in just over a month. Endsley reportedly pulled a gun on a Farwell driver on US 127 north of East Rosebush Road Monday. Last month 19-year-old Slade Davis of Clare was arrested for allegedly shooting at another vehicle on Rogers Road.

Local Business man Tommie Bauer

Local Business man Tommie Bauer

December 11
Farwell businessman, motor sports enthusiast laid to rest Dec. 8
Longtime Clare County businessman, car, snowmobile racer, race volunteer and race team owner Tommie Bauer died December 8. He was the long-time owner of Tommie Bauer Excavating between Clare and Farwell.

December 18
Train derails in Clare
A switch that was slightly open apparently caused a Great Lakes Central Railroad engine to derail in Clare Monday afternoon. Ann Arbor Trail was closed while railroad workers and a large crane worked to get the train back onto the tracks Tuesday.
Mother dies, three children injured in van-buggy crash
A Sheridan Township woman, Sarah Stutzman died Monday evening when the Amish buggy she and her three children were in was hit from behind by a work van driven by Kevin Toner of Coleman. Her three children were taken to Midland and transported to Covenant Hospital in Saginaw with injuries. Weather and traffic conditions were a factor in the fatal crash, police said.

December 24
Fire destroys family’s home the day after move in
A fire just one week before Christmas did significant damage to a home near Springwood Lake. The fire happened in the early morning hours the day after Tiffany Clodfelter and her five children moved in to their new home. The family was not injured. The family dog woke them around 2:48 a.m. December 18. Investigators believe the fire started in wiring in the kitchen wall.

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