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#minorsextrafficking | Year in ReVIEW: A look at the stories that helped shape 2022 in the county | #childsafety | #kids | #chldern | #parents | #schoolsafey

HURON COUNTY – In an attempt to recap the year 2022, the Huron County VIEW presents its 2022 Year in Re-VIEW. Read along for some of the important stories that took place over the course of the year, along with some photos, selected by VIEW staff.


Port Austin State Harbor in line for some needed upgrades

PORT AUSTIN – It won’t happen overnight, but Port Austin State Harbor will begin an improvement process by year’s end. During a virtual meeting last month, Michigan Department of Natural Resources officials unveiled preliminary redevelopment plans for the harbor. The meeting, held in conjunction with project consultants Edgewater Resources, included an overview of the results of a harbor wave study and marketing analysis, as well as preliminary redevelopment and design plans for the proposed docks and new breakwater options at the harbor.

Huron County Nature Center celebrates 80 years and major progress in 2021



HUME TOWNSHIP – During 2021, the Huron County Nature Center observed the 80th anniversary of its land being set aside for the enjoyment of the people of Huron County. According to longtime board member and outgoing president Kathy Kent, the land was given to the county by the State of Michigan, when the former owner failed to pay taxes. Instead of developing the land, the Huron County Women’s Clubs petitioned to take it over and create a wilderness arboretum, where the public could walk the trails and enjoy the outdoors. The group successfully managed the park from 1941 until 1991, when Huron County CompareNature Center,our CD RatesInc. was formed into a 501c3 nonprofit organization. Also, 2021 marked the 30th anniversary of the incorporation. So, 2022 was a year to look back to the past – and ahead to the future!

Longtime BAPD Chief Rothe announces plans to retire

BAD AXE – At a recent Bad Axe City Council meeting, longtime Bad Axe Police Chief David Rothe announced his intentions to retire later this fall. According to Rothe, the announcement came several months in advance, in hopes of solidifying the department going forward. Rothe will retire Sept. 15.




Huron Behavioral Health looks back on 50 years of service to the county

BAD AXE – More than 50 years ago, a group of local citizens saw the need for mental health treatment in Huron County. Through the initial vision and efforts by those individuals, community mental health services for Huron County were officially approved on Feb. 26, 1971. Huron Behavioral Health officially opened its doors as Huron County Community Mental Health Services (HCCMHS) on Dec. 1, 1971 in two rooms on the third floor of the Huron County Building, in Bad Axe.

Bad Axe names new chief of police



BAD AXE – Last month, current Bad Axe Police Chief David Rothe officially announced his plans for retirement, after 30 years with the department, including 12 years as its chief. Rothe also indicated he would like to see his successor come from within the department. At the latest Bad Axe City Council meeting, Rothe got his wish, and the city promoted one of its own – announcing current Bad Axe Police Officer Shawn Webber as its future chief of police. Webber will take over for Rothe Sept. 15, after the longtime chief’s retirement.


State awards clean water grant to Port Austin

PORT AUSTIN – A total of $548,950 has been awarded to the Port Austin Area Sewer & Water Authority (PAASWA) by the State of Michigan for verification and improvement to its water infrastructure. Governor Gretchen Whitmer recently announced the state had awarded $3.5 million in MI Clean Water grants to nine Michigan cities and villages to help reduce the risks associated with lead in drinking water and other improvements to better ensure safe, clean tap water for residents.




Routzahn honored for 46 years of service

BAD AXE – Craig Routzahn spent the majority of his life delivering the news of the day to Huron County. But he never had any desire to actually be the news. But after more than 46 years on the job, the well-respected broadcaster and journalist for WLEW radio station in Bad Axe decided to sign off for the last time, April 1.

Commissioners approve county’s hazard mitigation plan

BAD AXE – It took a little longer than expected, but the county now has an updated hazard mitigation plan. At the recent Huron County Board of Commissioners meeting, officials voted to approve the new plan, following a four-year process. The plan will now allow the county to apply for grants and funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to execute hazard mitigation strategies included in the plan.



Harbor Beach Artists in Residence Program returns

HARBOR BEACH – The Harbor Beach Artists in Residence Program recently announced it was seeking applicants for its 2022 program, following a two-year absence from the area. The Artists in Residency program got its start in 2019, but was derailed during the 2020 and 2021 seasons, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2019, the program hosted three artists in the city during October and November.

Harbor Beach Community Hospital to undergo $2.9 million expansion project

HARBOR BEACH – Harbor Beach Community Hospital is excited to announce that its facility will be undergoing an expansion project that will increase access to health care services in the local community and improve traffic patterns within the hospital. The $2.9 milliondollar plan includes a 4,521 square foot addition that will include a new lobby and registration area, relocation of Health Information Management (Medical Records) to next to registration, consolidation of diagnostic imaging services, relocation of the Walk-In Clinic to a more accessible location, and creation of an area dedicated to Surgical Services patients. In addition, renovation of 3,387 square feet of the existing facility will allow for the relocation of Nuclear Medicine, Blood Draw, and Lab Office.



Harbor Beach Gameshow to conclude with grand finale

HARBOR BEACH – The good news is the popular Harbor Beach Gameshow Series (HBGS) is back in 2022, after being sidelined due to COVID-19 for the past two years. The bad news? This year will be the final show. The show is scheduled for 7 p.m. May 14, at the Harbor Beach Community Theatre.


‘Bad Axe’ provides an emotional homecoming



BAD AXE – David Siev has been screening his film ‘Bad Axe’ all over the country. At nearly all of those stops, viewers have either had to ask Siev where Bad Axe was or do a search for it on Google Maps. Sunday, Siev didn’t have to explain where his hometown was, as his first feature film premiered at the Bad Axe Theatre.

Thumb Industries has grand opening for new thrift store

BAD AXE – To a good amount of fanfare, Thumb Industries held a grand opening for its new thrift store location, at the former McDonald’s Food & Family Center location in Bad Axe. The opening took place April 26. “We were extremely busy,” said Thumb Industries Executive Director Rhonda Wisenbaugh. “We were very pleasantly surprised the number of customers that came out on our opening day.”

Ukrainian couple flees to Harbor Beach following Russian invasion

HARBOR BEACH – A Ukrainian couple found refuge in Harbor Beach this spring, after fleeing their homeland during the Russian invasion of Bucha, a city in the country’s Kyiv region. Liudmyla Denysiuk and her husband Oleksandr Viinnytskyi escaped to Michigan where friends Gene and Tatyana Brayman own a vacation cottage outside Harbor Beach. The Braymans have built their lives in the U.S., but Gene and Oleksandr have been friends since their school days in Ukraine’s capital city of Kyiv. Now, the couples are reunited by war.



Thumb firefighters experience aircraft disaster training

BAD AXE – About 40 firefighters from across the Thumb Area gathered in Bad Axe last week to take part in a unique training opportunity. The training, which prepares fire department personnel for potential aircraft disasters, was conducted by Louis Kurtz, owner of ARFF Specialists, out of Carlton, Minnesota. Kurtz has 25 years of firefighting experience and has been running the company since 2010.

Major improvements complete at Caseville Municipal Harbor

CASEVILLE – With the onset of boating season in the area, the Caseville Municipal Harbor is open, having seen major improvements over the course of the last several months. In September of last year, the Caseville Harbor Commission announced the closure of the harbor, about a month earlier than normal. The decision came as efforts began on a project to replace the harbor’s more than 30-year-old fueling dock. After closing at the beginning of September 2021 to start the project, new main docks were installed by early October. By April 1 of this year, the project was nearly 100% complete, with the bulk of it being the replacement of the old fuel tanks. In addition, the main docks were completed with all brand-new, stateof the-art equipment and systems, including new gas pumps and pedestals, and new safety and emergency features.


Relay for Life will have a new venue this year

PORT AUSTIN – Huron County Relay for Life will return this summer with a brand-new lakeside venue. The event, traditionally hosted in Bad Axe, will take place at Gallup Park in Port Austin from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, June 25. “We weren’t attracting people coming to Bad Axe,” said Jeannine Ehlrich, event coordinator. “This year we decided to try something new.”

Sheriff Hanson named POAM’s Administrator of the Year

BAD AXE – The Police Officers Association of Michigan (POAM), which serves as labor representation for more than 10,000 law enforcement officers throughout the state, recently recognized Huron County Sheriff Kelly J. Hanson as its 2022 Administrator of the Year. Hanson originally started working at the sheriff’s office in 1982 while still in high school. He was elected sheriff in 2008 and began working the role in 2009.


Port Hope war veteran, Olympic gold medalist, honored by village

PORT HOPE – Just hours prior to the start of Port Hope’s popular 4th of July Festival, an exciting event was already taking place in the village. At a morning gathering Friday, July 1, the village officially dedicated a roadway sign at the M-25/Kinde Road entrance into town, to Port Hope native Joey Woodke. In March, Woodke helped lead Team USA to the gold medal at the 2022 Winter Paralympic Games. Under the Port Hope Village Limit sign is now another that states: “Home of the Beijing 2022 Winter Paralympic Games Gold Medalist Joey Woodke”.

Huron County reaches agreement with DTE over taxation of wind parks

HURON COUNTY – Following several years of litigation, an agreement regarding the taxation of several DTE Energy wind farms in Huron County has been reached. In a recent announcement, the Michigan Renewable Energy Collaborative (MREC) and DTE Energy (DTE) indicated both sides have reached an agreement ending litigation involving the taxation of nine DTE wind parks located in Huron, Gratiot, Sanilac and Isabella counties. Of the nine wind parks, six are located in Huron County (Big Turtle, Brookfield, Echo, McKinley, Pinnebog and Sigel) and one in Sanliac County (Minden).

Task force being created in Thumb in effort to target human trafficking

BAD AXE – The arrests of three Huron County men for allegedly targeting underage children for the purpose of sex may have been a first of its kind at the local level. But it may not be the last. The unique and intricate operation that led to the arrests was heavily coordinated by a specialized team called GHOST (Genessee Human Oppression Strike Team) from the Genessee County Sheriff’s Office. The effort helped Huron County Sheriff Kelly J. Hanson see the need in the area for such an operation and has since teamed with Sanilac as well as the Tuscola County Sheriff’s Office. Eventually, the plan is to take the guidance of GHOST members and form a tricounty version of the team to target human trafficking in the Thumb.


Caseville officially awarded state funds for Riverside Park development

CASEVILLE – Gov. Gretchen Whitmer recently signed legislation that will award $45.6 million in Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund grants to municipalities across the state. Among them is the City of Caseville, which is set to receive $298,800 for the development of its Riverside Park and Water Trailhead. The project includes a fishing pier along the Pigeon River, an ADAcompliant kayak launch to access the Tip of the Thumb Heritage Water Trail, and a boat launch with a lift to assist boaters.

Bad Axe cuts ribbon on new splash pad

BAD AXE – The community gathered in Bad Axe last week at a ribbon cutting ceremony celebration for the city’s new splash pad. The official opening of the splash pad took place Aug. 10, and featured the ribbon cutting, splashing in the pad, a performance from “The Bill Denbrock Band”, and a visit from two local food trucks. “This has been a long time coming, but it’s finally here,” said Bad Axe City Mayor Kathleen Particka to the crowd, prior to cutting the symbolic ribbon to open the park.


Friends of Grindstone working to bring early warning siren to area

GRINDSTONE CITY – A local nonprofit group is currently in the process of securing at least one early warning siren for the Grindstone City area after securing a sizeable donation from an area business. The group, Friends of Grindstone (FOG), recently received a donation of $20,000 from Pigeon-based Agri- Valley Communications, Inc. (AVCI) and the company’s lending partner CoBank. The agreement became official during a check passing ceremony at Grindstone Harbor.

Work beginning on restoration of Port Austin lighthouse

PORT AUSTIN – A major renovation project begins this week on the Port Austin Reef Light, the recognizable lighthouse that sits 2.5 miles offshore, north of Port Austin. Dubbed “Port Austin’s Castle on the Lake”, the lighthouse will be nearly completely renovated from the insideout, thanks in part to a $660,000 grant from the Michigan Department of Transportation’s Transportation Alternatives Program.

Brookfield Township looking to build new hall

BROOKFIELD TOWNSHIP – A lot has been purchased and Brookfield Township officials are looking to build a new hall on a site on Owendale Road, bounded also by Montague, Fifth and Hartman streets, a location offering many advantages. Brookfield Township Treasurer Ervin Haley said the project has been in the planning stages for a few years. The current facility, shared with the Village of Owendale, was built in the early 1970s.


Group looking to verify county’s 2020 election results

BAD AXE – At its recent meeting last week, Huron County Commissioners heard from a group seeking to confirm Huron County’s 2020 election results and for the county to move to hand-counted ballots in the upcoming November general election. Luke Deming, director for We the County Huron, was on hand at the Sept. 29 meeting to address the board. Deming and other representatives for We the County have been consistently present at board meetings, including a Sept. 13 meeting, where commissioners voted to preserve the county’s voting records from 2020 for an additional two years, following a previous request from the group to do so.

Pigeon One Stop, others, joining the Pigeon community

PIGEON – The community of Pigeon will soon benefit from having many necessities close at hand. Jerald Ignash and his fiancée Melissa Mell are redeveloping the corner of Caseville Road and Michigan Avenue, in Pigeon. The location, now the home of the Pigeon One Stop Shop, Frankenmuth Credit Union and Cottage Inn Pizza, was formerly the site of Pigeon IGA and the Pigeon Family Market.


Thumb Area Transit receives perfect audit from FTA

BAD AXE – On its website, Thumb Area Transit (TAT) states its goal is to provide safe, reliable, efficient, and effective transportation to the residents of Huron County. Based on an audit by the Federal Transit Authority (FTA), TAT is certainly achieving that goal. Following an extensive FTA State Management Review of TAT this year, the FTA gave the service a zero-deficiency determination, meaning TAT is operating in full compliance with all FTA requirements.

Recapping Huron County’s 2022 Election Day results

HURON COUNTY – There were plenty of issues to decide on in the 2022 Michigan general election. In Huron County, several proposed millages across the county were on that ballot, along with a local school bond. Additionally, there were multiple contested races for voters to decide on, with several village trustee and school board positions up for grabs. At the county level, both the Huron County E911/Central Dispatch millage proposal and the Huron Transit Corporation millage renewal both passed. Caseville’s school bond proposal also passed, along with proposals in Hume, Sand Beach and Lake Townships, and the Village of Pigeon.

Human Development Commission granted money for lead removal

UPPER THUMB – The Human Development Commission (HDC), which services the Upper Thumb region, was recently awarded more than $1 million to put toward residential lead removal. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) awarded more than $7 million in community grants to expand residential lead hazard control services to eligible households with a Medicaid-enrolled resident. Among the grantees was HDC, in the amount of $1,062,900 for use in Huron, Tuscola, Sanilac, Lapeer and Bay counties.


Historic venue struggling to keep doors open

HARBOR BEACH – The focus of the Harbor Beach library board is finding ways to keep the doors of the theatre open – giving residents a portal to other places and times. The recent economic waters have been precarious and, telescoping into 2023 through 2028, the economic coastline has some shoals to be avoided. Library Director Vicky Mazure said, “Prior to Covid, our theatre was struggling, but holding its own. Since Covid, our attendance numbers have not bounced back to where they need to be in order to make a profit and sustain the theatre. We want to make the community aware of the fact that if we cannot bring our attendance numbers up, we will not be able to keep the doors open.”

Huron County Shop with a Hero program now largest in the state

BAD AXE – In his first year as Huron County Shop with a Hero Organizer, Jeffrey Rubin had some big shoes to fill. Under the leadership of former Bad Axe Police Chief David Rothe, along with other crucial volunteers, the Shop with a Hero program had seen continual growth over the years. In 2021, Rothe’s final year with the program, Shop with a Hero helped 130 children have a better Christmas. It was the largest amount for the program ever. Following last year’s unprecedented number, Rubin found himself helping coordinate a total of 164 kids – not only the largest event Huron County has put forth – but the largest Shop with a Hero event in the state.

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