News for the Week of 8/9/17

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Saline Police Nabs Two Suspects Passing Fake Bottle Return Slips

By Angelo Parlove,

A warrant and misdemeanor complaint was issued July 30 for two Lansing suspects who passed counterfeit bottle return receipts at Busch’s grocery store on East Michigan Avenue in Saline.

With the individuals believed to have also used fake slips in other areas, the Saline Police Department is working with other jurisdictions to investigate the extent of the fraudulent transactions, in which the current misdemeanor charges for false pretenses less than $200 against the suspects could be bumped up to felony charges, Sgt. Jay Basso said.

Between July 16 and July 28, a man and woman with last known addresses in Lansing cashed counterfeit bottle receipts three times at Busch’s. The store manager, a 40-year Saline resident, reported the fraudulent transactions to the Saline Police Department on July 29, in which an officer was dispatched to the location that morning about 9 am.

The store manager stated on July 16 at about 7:50 pm the woman went to a U-Scan and cashed a bottle slip worth $90, while at the same time the man went to a cash register and cashed a bottle receipt for $40. Both individuals exited the store separately and got into a Ford Crown Vic and Mercury Marquis.

On July 21 at 7 pm, both suspects returned to Busch’s, with each cashing out a $40 slip at different registers. The individuals then exited the store and got into a blue Pontiac G6. On July 28, the man and woman again cashed out counterfeit receipts, with the suspects cashing in slips of $14.50 and $10.50 each.

Busch’s had surveillance video of all the transactions.

The store manager showed the officer the four bottle receipts from the July 28 transactions. According to the police reports, the slips “are two exact copies of two separate slips.” The manager further showed the officer the bottle receipt log, in which the original slips were issued on July 28 around 1 pm.

The surveillance video from July 28 showed clear video of the faces of both individuals exiting the store and entering a white van with lettering along the side, the police report said.

While on patrol later the same morning of July 29, after meeting with the Busch’s manager, the officer observed a U-Haul box van with lettering which appeared to be the same vehicle as in the surveillance video. The officer pulled alongside the van to get a look at the occupants. According to the police report, the officer got “a clear unobstructed view of both occupants,” in which the individuals matched the two suspects on the video.

The officer pulled behind the van and watched it enter the Busch’s parking lot; a traffic stop was then conducted. Approaching the vehicle, the officer noticed the man place a cognac bottle in the glove box. The officer further saw a bottle receipt in the woman’s phone case while she was retrieving her identification, as well as multiple bottle slips on the floor of the vehicle.

Both individuals were arrested. Based on plain view, probable cause and impound inventory, the U-Haul van was searched, the police report further said. Items found during the search included: Busch’s bottle receipts, a brown Kroger bag with two rolls of Kroger bottle receipt paper, a box containing multiple Kroger bottle receipts, 23 Kroger slips in the glove box, and 20 Kroger and Busch’s bottle slips taped to and copied on full 8×11 sheets of paper, which according to the police report, is believed to be the “templets used for making the counterfeit notes.”

The search also turned up a list of 10 Kroger store locations and miles as well as another list of 10 Busch’s store locations and miles. A small bag of suspected marijuana was also found inside a purse.

The van was impounded by American One, with the evidence and property brought to the Saline Police Department. Both suspects were also transported to the station. After separate interviews, each individual was then transported to the Washtenaw County Sheriff Department Jail and later released.

Authorities are waiting to arraign the individuals while further investigation is coordinated among the different jurisdictions and the upgraded felony charges are evaluated. At the time of arrest, only the misdemeanor counts for false pretenses under $200 for the local transactions at Busch’s in Saline were able to be charged, Basso said.

According to the police report, the woman said she currently lives in California, and the man advised he does not live in Lansing anymore. It is unknown where the man currently resides.

In addition to the charges for false pretenses less than $200 against each suspect, the woman was also charged with operating a vehicle with a suspended license, while the man was charged with an open alcohol container in a vehicle. Both additional charges are misdemeanors.


5th Annual Chelsea Chalk Art Contest Showcased 64 Contestants

From Bridget Favre

The Sounds and Sights Festival held its fifth Chelsea Chalk Art Contest during its line of activities on Saturday, July 29, 2017.  Over 64 participants of all ages transformed the Clocktower parking lot, located at 310 North Main Street, into colorful renderings from 8am until 4pm. Chelsea Area Festivals & Events awarded over $1,000 in prizes across 10 contest categories.

The winners included: Best in Show and Best Art Reproduction – Terralynn Lake; Best Use of Color – Samantha Herter; Best Original & Artist Choice Award – Faith Serio; Best Nature Inspired – Chris Monaghan; Best Cartoon/Comic – Gates Domeier; Best 3D – Shawn Campbell; Sponsor Choice Award – Alexis Kole; Children 1st Place – Caleb Cameron; Children 2nd Place – Gabriella Burgess

The event also featured professional street artists Dave and Shelley Brenner of Pigment of Your Imagination.  Together the duo completed a 10 foot high by 8 foot wide by 14 feet long 3D anamorphic street painting of gnomes swinging a jump rope in front of a fairy house. Spectators could stand on the drawing, giving the appearance they were “inside” the drawing itself.

Professional street artists Dave and Shelley Brenner of Pigment of Your Imagination with their 10 foot high by 8 foot wide by 14 feet long 3D anamorphic street painting of gnomes swinging a jump rope in front of a fairy house.

Shelley and Dave Brenner discovered chalk painting through the first Chelsea Chalk Art Contest five years ago.  The couple has since participated in over 20 street painting festivals including the International Chalk Fest in Venice, Florida, the Street Painting Festival in Lake Worth, Florida, the Arbor Lakes Chalkfest in Minnesota, and the Chalktoberfest in Georgia. This summer they were recently featured artists at their first international event, Cambridge International Street Art Festival, in Ontario, Canada.

The Chelsea Chalk Art Contest event is sponsored by Healthy Smiles Dental of Chelsea and is also made possible by donations of over one hundred Sounds and Sights sponsors.  For more information, please contact the chalk art coordinator Denise Cugliari at or call 734-276-4206.

(Pictured Dave & Shelley Brenner interacting with their 3D anamorphic street painting at the 2017 Chelsea Chalk Art Contest during the Sounds & Sights Festival.)


Saline Mayor Announces Upcoming Coffee Hour

By Angelo Parlove,

Saline Mayor Brian Marl will continue his tradition of hosting coffee hours throughout the year, announcing his newest hour at Carrigan Cafe on Saturday, August 12.

“As is my custom, I will discuss a number of important issues that have a direct bearing on our citizens’ quality of life,” Marl said.

At the upcoming event, the mayor is expected to tackle Saline’s infrastructure needs, most notably the city’s sidewalk program. City staff will also join Marl at the coffee hour.

“My main focus will be our infrastructure needs, specifically the city’s recently established sidewalk program,” Marl added. “As such, I will be joined by staff to ensure that we have a detailed and thoughtful discussion on the topic, which is critical to our community’s well-being.”

The mayor traditionally hosts these events several times throughout the year, and Marl continued the tradition in 2017 with his first coffee hour at the Saline Area Senior Center on January 12, where he talked about the importance of organizations like the Saline drug task force and Saline Area Social Service.

In back-and-forth dialog with residents in attendance at the senior center, Marl also tackled such topics as the proposed boutique hotel, Emagine Theater, the police dispatch overhaul and the expanding housing market within the city.

The mayor then held a pair of events at the Saline City Hall and Saline District Library on April 28 and May 23, respectively, where the city’s infrastructure also dominated the conversation. Marl and staff presented the city’s needs to maintain its road network, including various scenarios to fund the roadwork, such as issuing debt or increasing the local operating millage.

All residents are encouraged to attend the upcoming coffee hour at Carrigan Cafe on August 12; reservations are not required. The event will start at 10 am and last about an hour. Carrigan Cafe is located at 101 South Ann Arbor Street in downtown Saline.

Attendees are also invited to stay in the downtown area after the coffee hour to enjoy the farmers market and Saline Summerfest.


Saline Football Opens Season With Battle At The Big House

By Angelo Parlove,

With the new season fast approaching, the Saline football team will carry their 25-game win streak during the regular season into the Battle at the Big House later this month.

The squad will open the 2017 season with a match against Rockford at the University of Michigan Stadium on Thursday, August 24. Kickoff will be 4 pm. The Brighton versus Belleville game will follow the Saline contest at 7 pm.

Ticket prices are $10 per day. Paid parking will be available at the Michigan Stadium and Pioneer High School. Tailgating is not allowed at either parking areas.

Saline beat Rockford 37-24 at Hornet Stadium in 2015, and then earned another victory in 2016 on forfeit after Rockford was unable to host the game. Saline is currently on a 25-game win streak during the regular season. The Hornets went 11-1 last season, falling to Cass Tech in the MHSAA regional final.

Michigan Stadium is located at 1201 South Main Street in Ann Arbor.


Letter to the Editor 

In response to the Ian Cummins’ letter of 2 August 2017:

I am a Chelsea resident. I have attended three of Representative Walberg’s “coffee hours” this year (driving to those in Hillsdale, Eaton Rapids and Saline). I missed the Chelsea meeting as I was out of town. Here are my observations:
The meetings are scheduled in the morning when most working people cannot attend.

Very little advance notification of meeting dates, times and location is published on his web site.
My wife and I have not paid to attend, and I have yet to meet anyone who has been paid to attend.

Several of his meetings have had a police presence that was intimidating.

We have no trouble hearing Walberg at his meetings. I suspect that some of his constituents are not interested in hearing and more importantly listening to their fellow citizens who have opinions that are not defined by church affiliation, membership in the N.R.A., different societal beliefs or fake news sources.
In a free exchange of ideas where the goal is discussion not argument, all parties need to be able to express their opinions. At these meeting only Walberg’s opinions are permitted to be expressed. That is why some of us use the small “agree” or “disagree” signs. Often frustration with Walberg, who hears, but does not listen to the majority of the constituents present, leads to sometimes loud expressions of displeasure.
We are all American citizens despite differing opinions and we should be properly represented. For example, it appears to me that a majority of his constituents want the ACA to be improved or a “Medicare for All” plan adopted, and that many, many people are disappointed with the “arch conservative (Walberg’s own words) approach to other issues is not desired.  Critical thinking citizens are angry, disappointed, embarrassed and frustrated with the Republican leadership in Congress and the Executive Branch.

My wife and I will continue to attend any forum hosted by Walberg in an attempt to get him to actually listen to us and properly represent us. I have personally offered to travel to his office in Washington, D.C., and publically invited him (on his Facebook page) to stop by my home anytime.

Bill Christen



Popular Drum Corps Joining Chelsea Parade

The Great Lakes Drum Corps Alumni announces their participation marching in the Chelsea Fair Parade on August 26, 2017. Following their parade performance, the corps will also perform a short concert on the south side of the fairgrounds near the ticket entrance.

Great Lakes Drum Corps Alumni w-banner (3)

Great Lakes Drum Corps Alumni members come from all over the state of Michigan as well as Ohio, Arizona, and Missouri. The average age is over 40. Although small in numbers their sound is full and dynamic playing G tuned bugles. The corps plays music ranging from classical to rock.

Most of the members marched in drum and bugles corps during their teen years and decided to once again come together and have fun performing for audiences around Michigan.

The corps has marched in parades at: St. Clair Shores Memorial Day Parade, Wyandotte Fourth of July Parade, Grand Haven Coast Guard Parade, Madison Heights Memorial Day Parade, Frankenmuth Bavarian Festival Parade, and the Richmond Good Old Days Parade.

The Great Lakes Drum Corps Alumni was awarded the “Best Band” trophy at the 2017 St Clair Shores Parade.

Marching with the corps (and corps President) is retired Chelsea High School teacher, Mr. Phil Jones. Mr. Jones was instrumental in organizing the Great Lakes Drum Corps Alumni and is now in his fourth year as group President.

Great Lakes Drum Corps Alumni is excited to be a part of this Chelsea Community event and look forward to entertaining those attending.


Sounds & Sights on Thursday Nights

From Bridget Favre

Now in its tenth week, Sounds and Sights on Thursday Nights, presented by Golling Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram of Chelsea, continues its free summer concert series Thursday, August 10 from 6:30 until 8:30pm. Professional artists perform at eleven staged areas located throughout downtown Chelsea featuring music, dance, and family entertainment.

This week, newcomers GFL Trio performs funk at Katie’s Korner on the library lawn.  At South Street, Bus Stop Poets present American acoustic rock while Victor McDermott and the New American Standard sings originals at the East Alley stage.

The Blue Light Band performs a mix of pop, blues, and rock on East Middle Street, and folk group John Ponder Band take the stage in the West Side Gym lot on West Middle Street.

Just north of the railroad tracks, The Devil Elvis Show perform a rockabilly tribute to Elvis at the Glazier Building while traditional acoustic musicians, Strings and Things, return to the Clocktower Gazebo.

Fun for the whole family continues with Colors the Clown at the Clocktower Courtyard stage, and 3 Generations Twisters for the kids at Main Street Alley.

Chelsea Chalk Art, beneath the Chelsea Clocktower on Main Street, provides chalk and drawing examples for all ages and levels of expertise.  The theme this week is “Super Heroes”.

Visitors are also encouraged to take in the sights of the Chelsea SculptureWalk, and the Chelsea Portrait Project installation on Jackson and Main St.

After Sounds & Sights on Thursday Nights, SRSLY Cinema presents free outdoor movies at dusk. This week SRSLY presents Independence Day: Resurgence (PG-13).

For a complete schedule, visit


Webster Township Will Seek Millage Increase For Public Safety This November Election

By Lynne Beauchamp,

Webster Township Board members, during a special meeting August 1, approved resolution ballot language for its proposed millage increase for public safety.

The resolution was approved by a slim margin, a vote of 4-3; with Carol Whitney, Richard Kleinschmidt and Gary Koch voting against.

The millage request is an increase of 1.42 mills to equal 3.4 mills and will be levied for five years (2017-2021). The current millage rate to fund the township’s public safety service is 1.98 mills. This funding covers a contract with the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office to provide two deputies to the township and provides fire service through the Dexter Area Fire Department (DAFD).

At the current rate, the township will experience a shortfall in funds due to increased costs imposed by DAFD.  The proposed increase would cover the current public safety service and would also allow for manpower funding and utilities if the township board decides to build a fire station next to the town hall. A new fire hall is still in the proposal stage but has been a topic of conversation on how to reduce response time for the DAFD.

In a previous interview with Webster Township Supervisor, John Kingsley, Kingsley stated the township has set aside funding in the form of a capitol improvement fund to build a fire station near the town hall. This funding is separate from the public safety service millage. He added there is close to enough money in this fund to build the fire station, but added that the cost of commercial labor has increased due to the demand for labor in the Detroit area. The cost to staff this for 24/7 fire service coverage in the township would be approximately $90,000/year plus the cost of utilities for the building.

During the special meeting, Whitney stated she felt the millage request was too high and said that was why she voted against it.

“This is what it takes to fund public safety,” said Kingsley. He added that the current millage of 1.98 for public safety runs through 2019 but at that rate, there will be a shortfall.

Kingsley said he would prefer to not seek an additional millage request this early but is concerned about a bill in state legislature that, if approved, would limit municipalities to requesting millages in November of even number years only.


Sylvan Township to Appoint Water Committee to Explore Use of $2.2 Million Settlement

By Melinda Baird,

Over two and a half years after a law firm agreed to settle a dispute with Sylvan Township, township officials are now taking measures to decide how to best use roughly $2.2 million in malpractice settlement money.  Supervisor Tom McKernan announced August 1 that the Board of Trustees will appoint a six-person “water advisory committee” to explore and recommend ways in which the money could alleviate some aspect of the township’s roughly $13 million water and sewer debt owed to Washtenaw county.

The announcement came after a June meeting between McKernan and Washtenaw County Treasurer Catherine McClary, during which McClary affirmed the township may be permitted to use the lawsuit funds to reduce a 20-year, 4.4 millage residents have been paying toward the debt since 2012.

“My feeling is, if in 10 or 15 years the bond is all paid off and the $2.2 million is still sitting in the bank somewhere, then I don’t think that’s where it ought to be,” McKernan said.

Because the dispute dealt directly with how the law firm, Foster, Swift & Collins, wrongly counseled the township regarding two residential development agreements that never actually produced homes—and therefore never produced a return on the township’s new, expensive water and sewer system—residents have long held the money should relieve their individual tax burdens. In fact, the majority said as much during a public forum on the matter in June 2016.

Committee chair Kurt Koseck along with five volunteers awaiting official appointment will first need to review the current debt structure, which consists of a repayment schedule to the county for a $12.5 million bond it issued as well as a $1.2 million advance it fronted the township to cover delinquent bills.

The question is, should the money help reduce the number of mills taxpayers pay, help reduce the term of the loan, be applied to the county advance, or some combination thereof.

Residents Patrick Zieske and Jan Carr both said they’d prefer the money provide immediate relief to taxpayers; in other words, reduce the millage rate.  Treasurer Kathleen Kennedy pointed out that, while she’d like to provide that relief, she’s not convinced that’s the most fiscally responsible route.

“If we do decrease the millage, we are still carrying over a million dollars that is being charged interest to the county, currently at 1% and about to go up to 1.89%.  In the end, [reducing the millage] may end up costing us more,” Kennedy said.

McKernan brought out the fact the 4.4 mills represent just 6.5 to 7% of residents’ tax bills, so “even if it went away, it would be more like a trickle than a big splash.”

What the $2.2 million shouldn’t be used for, many agreed, is water system operations.  Still, the chronic shortfall in the water budget—hovering around $200,000 per year–will eventually need to be reconciled if the township hopes to avoid being forced to later raise the millage.

Committee volunteer Bill Verge suggested the committee’s purpose be more all-encompassing than simply exploring uses of the settlement money.  He advocated for a long-term look, say 12 to 15 years, at water system finances to address the shortfall.

“Ultimately, what I want to convince everybody of is the fact we will never, ever grow ourselves out of this problem.  Never.  That’s why I’d like to make it a longer-term discussion so that if we get a chance to give this system away, we actually realize that would be great idea,” Verge said.

McKernan said that keeping the committee’s charge more narrow and specific will more likely result in successful completion, but that shouldn’t preclude the committee from staying aware of the larger problem or the township from seeking solutions.

The $2.2 million is currently invested in bonds at an interest rate averaging 2% for a five-year term.


Local Farmers Band Together Give Selflessly to Those Who Lost Everything in Spring ’17 Wildfire

By Melinda Baird,

In a world where many believe information is our greatest commodity and knowledge workers our most valuable asset, the humble farmer still has much to teach us.

Farmer Convoy

When news spread March 6, 2017 that the largest known wildfire outbreak of the modern era was sweeping across the southern Great Plains and consuming more than 1.2 million acres, thousands of cattle and at least seven human lives, farmers throughout the United States and Canada loaded their semis with supplies and headed straight to the devastation.  John Schiel of Manchester is a third-generation farmer who was part of that relief effort, and only now can start sharing his story without choking up.

“It was the most gut-wrenching trip of my life,” said Schiel, 43, who in early May drove 1,495 miles straight away to Knowles, Oklahoma with friend and local farmer Butch Richmond.  Schiel had led a small convoy of volunteers in a truck stuffed with bales of hay, barbed wire, jumpsuits, food, cash donations, and a Michigan state flag donated by state Rep. Donna Lasinski.

Knowles, with a population of 12 sandwiched between Kansas and the Texas Panhandle, was at the heart of a particularly ravaged area.  As the two men grew closer, Schiel recounted, rolling green hills turned to wasteland.  Roads and trees turned black; fields were charred as far as the eye can see; barns, tractors and combines were blackened heaps of debris; thousands upon millions of acres of fencing was destroyed; and scorched, lifeless cattle lay on the ground.

And yet, the residents were the most joyful, grateful people Schiel had ever met.

“Someone once told me:  you think your life is messed up, then go talk to your neighbor.  After this trip, I see that as 150% correct,” Schiel said.  “It gave me a whole new outlook.”

The little town of Knowles boasts one grain elevator and one community center.  Over the three months following the fire, that center became a place of hope and restoration where 15,000 meals were donated and served, five temporary bunker houses were set up for a steady stream of volunteers, and tears gave way to laughter as farmers shared their stories.

“The fire’s effect was overwhelming and torturous.   People say it looked like a huge dragon spewing fire, but three months after such a cruel and unforgiving disaster, that dragon was slayed.  It will take years to fully recover, but the continuous flow of volunteers made our area and people come back to life,” Knowles resident Kerry Hamilton later wrote Schiel.

Schiel traveled a bit further south alone, only to endure a more personal trauma.  His family in Texas had lost their farm.  Two newly engaged family friends lost their lives while attempting to outrun the fire by horseback. His 52-year-old cousin, emotionally crushed and overwhelmed at what seemed a livelihood forever lost, took his own life.

Driving back home through Kansas with his cousin’s remains, Schiel met a farmer in Ashland who lost 800 cattle that day, plus all his barns and equipment—a roughly $7.5 million loss.  He’d also heard of a couple in their 90’s who, Bible in hand, refused to budge as the fire got so close they were sweating from the heat.  The fire suddenly shifted just two miles shy of their ranch as hundreds of cattle bawled and bellowed, breaking through the fence, Schiel recalled.

There was one more thing he saw before the blackened fields turned green again –  two scorched beams had fallen from a large incinerated barn into the shape of a cross roughly 80 feet tall.  He’d stopped to take a photo of a few farmers gathered around the beams, hoisting and fastening the cross with barbed wire into perpetuity.

When Washtenaw County 4-H leader of nearly 30 years Cathie Mason first heard of the crisis, she gathered her 4-H kids and asked them to imagine running for their lives from their homes.  Then she instructed them to make a list of everything they’d used to get ready that morning.

“You’ve got to think in terms of nothing.  They have nothing,” Mason told them.

With the help of her daughter, Channon, and some money they were lucky to have leftover that month–plus donated funds from colleagues, neighbors and local storeowners – the group got busy.  They filled totes with women’s products, men’s jeans of every size, diabetic and over the counter medications (including allergy meds for those allergic to smoke), calf milk replacers and bottles, children’s toys, canned food and can openers, flashlights, dog and cat food and cases of water.

The goods were transported to Perry where a police-escorted Michigan Relief Convoy of 60-plus semis (much larger than Schiel’s convoy which would depart over a month later) would deliver them to the Great Plains.

Local farmer Cody Robbins learned of the disaster and scheduled Michigan convoy through Facebook.  Robbins lay in his bed for a long while looking at photos and reading stories of farmers who’d lost fourth and fifth generation ranches and 89% of their herds.  Then, recruiting his dad, Steve Robbins, he also got busy.

Robbins couldn’t make the trip to Kansas right then, but he could help pick up available donations and deliver them to the Perry truck yard in time for departure.  Many small farmers throughout Michigan had some extra hay bales, gates, clothes and boots to give, but couldn’t get to the donation site.  That’s where father and son filled the gap.

The men, like most who witnessed the convoy, were brought to tears by the long line of trailer trucks filled to the brim with supplies donning American flags.  When the trucks pulled out of the yard, it was about 15 minutes before the last one was out of sight, he said.  And he and Schiel noticed the same thing about that convoy:  “It was the small farmers helping the small farmers.  It wasn’t the bigs in that line,” he said.

The feeding camp in Knowles has since closed and the bunker houses stand mostly empty, but the flag gifted by Schiel hangs from the center’s chain-link fence (the town’s flag pole was wrecked during a 100-year, January ice storm).  Meanwhile, small farmers across the nation stand ready, watchful and waiting for a relief call as the threat of major wildfires in our northern Great Plains grows stronger.

John Schiel will be available with his photo album during the Waterloo Farm Museum Antique Tractor and Equipment Show Saturday, August 12 10am to 5pm and Sunday, August 13 noon to 5pm.


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Seth Kinker

Reporter/Digital Media for The Sun Times News

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