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Local News Summary - May 18, 2022 Edition

Lightning causes 2,710-acre wildfire
Michigan Department of Natural Resources firefighters and local partners have been working to contain a wildfire in Montmorency and Cheboygan counties estimated at 2,710 acres. The fire was discovered at about 12:40 p.m., Friday, May 13.

“The fire is fueled by a mix of jack pine, mixed pine and grasses, with a very large smoke plume visible from miles away,” DNR spokesperson, Kerry Heckman said.

The cause of the fire has been determined to be a lightning strike, likely from a May 11 thunderstorm. “It’s not uncommon for a lightning strike to smolder for several days until surface fuels dry out enough to ignite and allow the fire to spread,” Tim Webb, DNR spokesperson said.

Numerous roads have been closed in the area to accommodate the firefighting efforts and protect public safety. They include Blue Lakes Road to East Branch Road; Black River Road to Camp 30 Road; Clark Bridge Road to Black River Road; Blue Lakes Road to Meridian Line Road; and the Black River between Blue Lakes Road and Clark Bridge Road was also closed.

Evacuations occurred at the Black River Ranch, where 12 structures were threatened. Elsewhere in the fire area, an outbuilding was reported as a loss, and one privately owned vehicle was damaged.

DNR spokesperson Kerry Heckman said one department firefighter sustained a minor injury and received medical treatment, and that a group of kayakers on the Black River within the fire area was escorted to safety by a DNR conservation officer.

”We are grateful to report no life-threatening injuries and no serious property damage, as everyone on the scene gives their best effort to suppress this fire,” Heckman said. “Thank you to everyone who has followed reports and steered clear of this area.”

As of 5 p.m. Sunday, the fire was about 60% contained.

The DNR has 43 firefighters, a 13-member incident management team and a spotter plane responding. They are assisted by six U.S. Forest Service firefighters and a hand crew, as well as six local fire departments.

Tri Township EMS, Cheboygan EMS, Michigan State Police, the DNR Law Enforcement Division, Montmorency County Emergency Management and the Montmorency County Sheriff also are assisting.

Friday’s air support included four Fire Bosses, one Air Attack plane, a Type 3 helicopter and a DNR spotter plane.

County to continue with American Rescue Plan Act funding
After the county put a hold on spending funding from the American Rescue Plan Act for fear of an audit, Cheri Eggett, county treasurer, said she has learned the county will not be subject to an audit this year for ARPA spending. The matter was discussed at the regular county board meeting on May 12.

According to Eggett, an auditor’s opinion the funding was spent correctly will suffice. As a result, the county will continue to make payments to individuals eligible for the $500 direct pay program, businesses showing pandemic losses and other commitments made to ARPA payouts. However, the spending will be capped, this year, at $350,000. The county can also claim ARPA funding for revenue losses. Eggett explained the county did not show a loss, this year, but might reflect a loss next year.

On another topic, the high court decision allowing previous owners to receive surplus revenue on foreclosed properties is beginning to take effect. One lawsuit is currently underway for a property auctioned off last year, and a judge will decide if any proceeds will be awarded to the previous owner. From now on, any property auctioned has the potential to require proceeds payments be made to previous owners. Whether a previous owner can claim surplus revenue, retroactively, is still in the court system.

Lady Cardinals defeat Snowbirds
Johannesburg-Lewiston’s Lady Cardinals quickly defeated the Gaylord St. Mary Lady Snowbirds on May 9. Joburg’s Jayden Marlatt shut them out of game one in the third inning, and Autumn Vermilya wrapped up game two in the fourth.

Both teams were scoreless through the first inning of game one, but Gaylord pitching fell apart in the second. If not for the strikeout to finally end Joburg’s side, Vermilya would have made her third trip to the plate. The Snowbirds gave up eight walks and numerous hits and steals, leaving them trailing by 13 runs going into the bottom of the second inning.

The Snowbirds went three up and three down on strikeouts against the fast pitching of Marlatt, and the Lady Cards only needed two more runs for the chance at a third-inning mercy. Vermilya turned a double into a triple before stealing home for one run, and a two-out walk for Gloria House loaded the bases. Kennedy Johnson stole home, Marlatt tripled for two RBIs, and a single and RBI for Emily Crandell helped put the Snowbirds in a tailspin.

Gaylord needed nine runs in the bottom of the third of game one to keep the match going, but Marlatt once again dropped the Snowbird batters in order on strikeouts, ending game one at 18-0, Cardinals. The Snowbirds avoided the shutout in game two, but not by much.

It looked like Vermilya would have a 15-0 victory in the third inning of game two, but Gaylord fans expressed delight when a Snowbird runner made it home for the first time all day, guaranteeing a fourth inning. The Lady Cards added two runs for padding in the top of the fourth, and it was up to the Snowbirds to chalk up seven runs to the see the sixth. Gaylord kicked off the fourth with a lead-off home run, but that was all in the game that ended 17-2, Cardinals.

Death Notices
Full obituaries are in the Tribune print & paid online edition
Vivian M. Ploe
Donna M. Dick
Edna M. Hewitt
David J. Anderson
Ruth M. Luebs
Diana L. Belanger

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