Looking back at 2010

Published 5:29 pm Thursday, December 30, 2010

April 6’s sudden rush of high wind twisted the roof of Lake X-Ray next to Creative Vinyl on M-51 North so violently that part of it almost landed on the house next door. The rest remained balanced precariously on top, like a crooked cookie jar lid. (The Daily News/John Eby)

April 6’s sudden rush of high wind twisted the roof of Lake X-Ray next to Creative Vinyl on M-51 North so violently that part of it almost landed on the house next door. The rest remained balanced precariously on top, like a crooked cookie jar lid. (The Daily News/John Eby)

Kathy Johnson March 1 succeeds Mike Shamalla as Dowagiac District Library director.

Cass County commissioners March 4 approve issuing $13.2 million in bonds to finance a water system which since January has grown from serving Maple Grove mobile home park in Penn Township to encompass Jefferson, LaGrange and Calvin townships.

Jose Miguel Plaza de los Reyes, 24, of Santiago, Chile, who completed a management internship at Lyons Industries while staying with host family Don and Clare Wolford on Nubour Street, survived an earthquake which rocked his South American homeland. In 1968, his father was an exchange student in Sawyer in Berrien County when Don lived in Galien.

St. John’s Lutheran Church closes its K-8 educational program for the coming school year, but will expand day care and preschool programs, Pastor Jeff Weber reports March 4.

Michigan State University Extension undergoes a statewide restructuring that attempts to reduce administrative overhead while refocusing its mission to make it more responsive at the grassroots level. Across Michigan, 91 administrative positions are cut to 17.

Former congressman, state agriculture director and senator and six-year Court of Appeals judge Bill Schuette of Midland brings his attorney general campaign to Cass County Republicans in Edwardsburg March 6.

The GOP, at its Lincoln Day dinner, designates Patricia LaBre a “Diamond.”

By telephone from Florida March 6, an eight-member majority of the Board of Commissioners receives verbal acceptance as interim Cass County administrator Charles J. “Chuck” Clarke of Beulah, who has a house in Kalamazoo County. Benzie County’s 11-year administrator works up to 24 hours a week the rest of 2010.

Cass County Road Commission Manager Louis Csokasy visits new partner Dowagiac City Council on the eve of his first anniversary March 9.

John K. Gore, Penn Township supervisor for 22 years, took early retirement from Bendix in 1983 and apparently decided he’d had enough traveling because he rooted himself in Cass County and couldn’t be “pried out with dynamite,” his son, John S. Gore said March 8 at Cass District Library, where Capt. Samuel Felt Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution honored him posthumously with its community service award.

In June 2008 he became the fourth non-Rotarian presented a Paul Harris Fellow by the Dowagiac club. Mr. Gore dies March 21 at 79.

Dan Hicks and his Hot Licks play Wood Fire March 13.

Mr. Blossomtime is Micheal Semenic of Three Oaks. Miss Blossomtime Kyra Heit of New Buffalo, daughter of Berrien County Undersheriff Chuck Heit, becomes her community’s fourth Miss Blossomtime and the first since former Dowagiac resident Nina Ritter was the 50th bud queen in 1982.

Kyra’s court includes Miss Cassopolis Paige Breden, Miss Eau Claire/Sodus Megan Head and Miss Hartford Kali Drake.

Mayor Donald D. Lyons proclaims March 22 that in memory of Ed Darr, a 1945 graduate who dies March 7 at 82, “This Arbor Day and all Arbor Days thereafter will be dedicated in his name no behalf of the City of Dowagiac.”

Mr. Darr was instrumental in the city winning Tree City USA designation.

Dowagiac Middle School teacher Meredith Marrs makes her Union High School spring musical directing debut March 27-28 with “Grease.”

Isaac Longden and Kaye Swartz star as Danny Zuko and Sandy Dumbrowski, with Miss Dowagiac Katie Haneberg as Betty Rizzo and Brad Ruminer as Kenickie.

Rizzo’s Pink Ladies include Megan Corey, Taylor Gross and Abby Schuur.


In some ways it replayed the June 19, 2009, assault on the Armory and airport, but high winds which struck suddenly at almost the stroke of midnight substituted Union High and Chris Taylor Alumni Field and cut a wider swath. The concession stand on the visitor side of the football field was reduced to a heap of scrap wood, while DUHS, which was on spring break, suffered roof damage.

Utility poles along W. Prairie Ronde were bent at an angle and wrapped with pieces of sheet metal. Debris and trees came to rest against the of front of DUHS.

Twenty-five percent of Dowagiac customers lost power due to downed power lines which left 600 to 800 in the dark.

April 6’s sudden rush of high wind twisted the roof of Lake X-Ray next to Creative Vinyl on M-51 North so violently that part of it almost landed on the house next door. The rest remained balanced precariously on top, like a crooked cookie jar lid.

Municipal Airport lost three buildings.

“It came out of nowhere. Very sudden and unanticipated” by weather radar city Public Services Director Christopher Bolt followed.

The Tea Party rallied in Cassopolis April 15.

Beckwith Theatre starts its 21st season.

Bob Wagel, a retired Union High School guidance counselor and 16-year county commissioner, including six years through 2009 as chairman, April 8 becomes Dowagiac Rotary Club’s 101st Paul Harris Fellow.

At its second Family and Friends dinner night at the Elks April 15, Rotary hears author and Southwestern Michigan College instructor Dr. Michael Collins.

“There’s no other country in the world that has community colleges and the second chances that America does … to raise people up,” says Collins.

Ferguson Michiana Inc., M-140 North, Eau Claire, expands into Michiana Wind Systems, distributing Century Wind Energy turbines.

Jack Hoogendyk challenges Congressman Fred Upton in the Republican primary.

Dowagiac Board of Education April 19 approves $1.8 million in cuts which will be felt across the district, including not replacing 13 of 23 teachers who accept retirement buyouts — six at Union High School, which after a three-year experiment with trimester scheduling will return to semesters.

Retirees honored by the school board May 17 logged 621 years of service.

Top 10 graduates are announced: Valedictorian Cassandra Stone, Salutatorian Kelsey Foote, Kyle James, Haley Spencer, Isaac Longden, Matthew Collins, Cody Cox, Elisabeth Gokey, Ryan Daly and Michael Bomani.

Dowagiac hosts a jazz festival for 14 schools April 20.

Joanna Pickar wins the John Philip Sousa band award.

Seniors who attended Sister Lakes Elementary School open a 2000 time capsule May 21 with teacher Phyllis Petersen.

The DUHS Class of 2010 is offered $387,650 in scholarships at the 52nd annual honors program in the DUHS cafeteria.


Dowagiac Daily News returns to mail delivery.

Michael Hansen, president of the Michigan Community College Association, speaks at SMC’s 43rd commencement. The college awards 328 associate degrees and certificates. Twenty-one students are conferred bachelor’s degrees from Ferris State University.

Silver Creek Township voters May 4 approve a one-mill police and fire millage proposal for five years, through 2014.

Miss Dowagiac Katie Haneberg and her court ride an Alice in Wonderland float in the Blossomtime Grand Floral Parade. Mayor Don Lyons gives her a key to the city May 10.

Cooking should be therapeutic, but it isn’t rocket science, says Food Network Chef Aaron “Big Daddy” McCargo Jr., who turns Dowagiac Middle School Performing Arts Center into his “House” May 6. He had never worn an apron until Dogwood Fine Arts Festival presented its first culinary figure with one. The next morning he adds a Chieftain shirt and other Dowagiac memorabilia while making a big batch of comfort food, macaroni and cheese, craftier than Kraft’s and crispier, with 30 students.

Dogwood visiting author Dennis Lehane, the youngest of five children, was exposed to storytelling at an early age eavesdropping while seated on Boston barstools and marinating in the violence erupting around him between Vietnam and federal desegregation busing.

Lehane tells Dowagiac May 7, “I didn’t grow up in 1970s Boston, I grew up in 1940s Ireland.”

A Daily News headline describes him as “optimistic in a dark way.”

After listening to constituent concerns for an hour and a half May 10, Dowagiac City Council tables a controversial $500 utility deposit ordinance.

Tuck Langland’s triune is a complete circle of life. “Aunt Millie” Burling, like Dance of Creation and Resting Dancer, danced, too.

On with Life, dedicated May 10 outside the new Borgess-Lee Memorial Hospital Emergency Department, captures Councilman Chuck Burling’s aunt’s sass and determined stride as she dealt with a terminal diagnosis.

Her upraised hand both greets hospital visitors and reaches up as a believer would to God.

The sculpture is Dowagiac’s 12th.

May 5 would have been Leitke’s Grocery’s 63rd anniversary. It survived a 1991 garage fire.

The full-service grocery started in their home on Jefferson Street. It was the last of 28 such stores in the city. Rein and Tina are both 88.

Sarah Palin addresses Economic Club at Lake Michigan College Mendel Center May 13, remembering Michigan as “where I went rogue.”

Even growing up in England, Peter Noone dreamed of a day he would surpass the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and Dave Clark Five by playing Dowagiac. It showed May 15 when he could finally cross that long-awaited concert off his British re-Invasion bucket list.

A consummate entertainer, “Herman” performed Hermits hits, Monkees, Rolling Stones, Hollies and Dave Clark Five, dancing and even impersonating such diverse artists as Johnny Cash, Tom Jones and Mick Jagger.

Dowagiac Middle School Chieftains of the Year include David Brogan, Gabriel Kasper, Nicholas Bogen, Madison Proshwitz, Cassidy Evans and Elizabeth Stockwell.

They’re usually black birds, but Dowagiac gets a Red Raven — “where home and fashion come together” — in the former theater, Woolworth’s and Suite Dreams building. Red is Cheryl Sherman’s favorite color.

The Michigan Legislature honors Tommy James May 25.

Dowagiac’s 2010-2011 fiscal year budget starting Oct. 1 eliminates 2 1/2 more jobs and addresses crumbling neighborhood streets with the Lyons administration’s attempt to “size our city government so that we live within our means” while Michigan recovery lags.