Clare County Review & Marion Press

2021 The Year in Review

By Pat Maurer
Correspondent

Following is a selection of the stories I found most interesting in 2021 in the Clare County Review.

January 8 –
County Schools return to in-person learning
At the regular Farwell board meeting Monday evening, Superintendent Steven Scoville announced a celebration that Monday was “the first day back for Kindergarten through 12th grade for in-person classes. He said because of the staff’s hard work, there had been “zero COVID transmission.”
January 15 – with photo


Icy roads land semi in the ditch Tuesday
US-10 west of Farwell was closed down for about five hours Tuesday morning when an extremely icy road sent a semi-truck loaded with glass yogurt bottles into the ditch and spilled about 10,000 of the bottles all over the highway about five miles west of Farwell.
January 29 –
Restaurants set to open for indoor dining on Monday
Monday will be a good day for the many small and family-owned restaurants and bars in the area when they are able to once again open for in-person dining.
February 5 –
City discusses another pared down Irish Fest
City Manager Jeremy Howard, discussing the Irish Festival said, “There won’t be a parade again this year.” He continued, “It is the hope of the Chamber, CVB, City, and businesses that we can do some events possibly if we modify them to adapt to the current environment. It is still our hope that restaurants and businesses will be able to be open in some form and the Irish spirit can still take place during the weekend even in its modified form.”
February 12 photo

February 12 Plane crashe flips northwest of Weidman


Plane crashes north of Weidman
A single engine plane, flying low near Windoga Lake Drive, northwest of Weidman in Isabella County, hit a snowbank and flipped over onto its top February 3rd.
Deputies from the Isabella County Sheriff’s Office responded to the scene to find that no one was injured. The pilot reported that his wheel hit a snowbank and flipped the plane over onto its top.
February 19 – photo


Valentine’s Day fire destroys camper, damages Clare home
A fire Wednesday, the 14th took the life of a pet, destroyed a camper and damaged a home at 408 Hillcrest in Clare. The resident renting the home was Thomas Peak and his family. The home is owned by Dale Walter of Harrison, and the camper was owned by Randy Budd of Clare.
February 26 –
$400k Harrison Library goal met, renovations begun
The $400,000 renovation goal for the Surrey House transition into a new home for the Harrison District Library has been reached and work begun on the old building. Library Director Sheila Bissonnette said they are hoping to complete the renovations and move into the new library location at the end of 2022 or the beginning of 2023.
Clare will get $2.5 million for water service line replacements
Clare City Manager Jeremy Howard told the City Commission at their latest meeting that he has been contacted by the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) to set up a meeting to facilitate the transfer of $2.5 million from the State to the City so the project to replace water line services can begin.
March 5 –
Clare authorizes bonds for Lake Shamrock dredging
Clare City took another step forward in the years-long process to clean up Lake Shamrock at the Commission meeting Monday evening. The board awarded the sale of bonds to finance the $1.3 million project through Mercantile Bank of Michigan at a rate of 1.95 percent and authorized the issuance and execution of the bonds.
March 12 –
Clare City and County celebrate 150 years this spring
According to Clare County Historical Society Member Jon Ringelberg, “On March 16, 1871, before the plat of the Village of Farwell was [even] recorded, the Michigan State Legislature enacted PA 1871, No. 345, and ‘declared’ Clare County to be an organized County and ‘declared’ the Village of Farwell to be the county seat.” The March 16 date was the same for the for the recording of the plat for the City of Clare.
March 19 –
Destination Clare Sculpture Walk coming next year
Jeff Best’s engineer/conductor sculpture in from of the Clare Depot on Fourth Street, the giant chicken in front of the Evening Post, the Pioneer Woman in front of Clare’s Middle School and the “Pioneer” at the Brookwood Athletic Field are the inspiration for a new project to add sculptures to the City.
Carol Santini of the Clare County Arts Council attended remotely the Zoom meeting for the City last Monday evening to present the idea of a “Sculpture Walk” to the Commission.

March 26 Five fire departments fought blaze that destroyed the Bolle Barn


April 2 –
Nearly a quarter of Michiganders have been vaccinated
According to the numbers this week, 22.7 percent of Michiganders have received at least on dose of COVID-19 vaccine, making the state the tenth in total vaccinations and 34th in the Nation for the percentage of the population vaccinated.
April 9 –
Clare City Treasurer is retiring
Clare City Treasurer, Finance and Technology Director Steven Kingsbury announced Monday that his last day with the City will be June 25th. Kingsbury is retiring after nearly 20 years. He was first elected to the Commission in 2002, serving one full term and about a year and a half of his second term.
April 16 –
2.5 million from state will help pay for Clare water upgrades
The City of Clare, approved last September, has received funding from EGLE (up to $2.5 million) to begin to completely eliminate 200 old galvanized water service lines throughout the City.
April 23 –
Clare City and County celebrate 150 years this spring
According to Clare County Historical Society Member Jon Ringelberg, “On March 16, 1871, before the plat of the Village of Farwell was [even] recorded, the Michigan State Legislature enacted PA 1871, No. 345, and ‘declared’ Clare County to be an organized County and ‘declared’ the Village of Farwell to be the county seat.” The March 16 date was the same for the for the recording of the plat for the City of Clare.
Clare buys barge for lake dredging
Monday evening, City Commissioners approved unanimously the $82,700 purchase of a barge which will hold the excavator and container for dredged Shamrock lake material until it can be offloaded onto a truck for disposal. The purchase now will allow the dredging project to begin this summer. The dredging will be a four-to-five-year project and will be a continuing process to clear Lake Shamrock of silt.
April 30 –
Harrison Awarded $3.4 million USDA loan and grant for water system
Harrison has become a vibrant small city with a new Municipal Center, City Market, Town Square, and even a new Splash Pad to refresh yourself on a hot summer day. The City even has a new improved location for the Chamber of Commerce. The Community just got another bonus with the recent announcement of the approval of a USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) Rural Development Loan of $1.2 million and a grant of $2.2 million to fund $3.4 million in upgrades to the city’s aging and undersized watermains, to improve the city well and well pump, improve two water towers and add a permanent generator. The loan will be repaid over 40 years at an interest rate of 1.25 percent.

May 7 Larson Renovation
May 7 Drain project railroad bridge replacement underway in Clare


May 14 –
Farwell will apply for $2 million Block Grant to upgrade sewer system
At their May 3rd meeting, the Farwell Village Council heard a presentation from Brian Rowley of Fleis and Vandenbrink Engineering about a grant opportunity that would provide funding up upgrade the Village sewer system.
May 21 –
Farwell High School earns the highest Score in JPC, RESD
Farwell Superintendent Steven Scoville reported Wednesday, “The Eagles of Farwell are celebrating great news. The U.S. News recently released their 2021 Best U.S. High Schools rankings and the Farwell High School received the highest ranking of all schools in the Clare Gladwin RESD and in the Jack Pine Conference.”

May 21 Former CPD Chief Becker funds police memorial


May 28 –
Harrison will get $1.2 million from USDA for infrastructure upgrades
Harrison recently completed a new Municipal Center, City Market, Town Square, and even a new Splash Pad to refresh yourself on a hot summer day. The City even has a new improved location for the Chamber of Commerce. The Community just got another bonus with the recent announcement of the approval of a USDA Rural Development Loan of $1.2 million and a grant of $2.2 million to fund $3.4 million in upgrades to the city’s aging and undersized watermains, improve the city well and well pump, improve two water towers and add a permanent generator.

May 28 Gas tops $3 for first time since 2014


June 4 –
Sherry Landon – a life well lived
A life well lived. Not everyone can claim that distinction at the end of their years on this earth, but Sherry Landon certainly could. After a gallant struggle, Sherry died just before midnight last Thursday, May 20, at the Saginaw Covenant Hospital, where she fought the last days of her courageous six-year battle with cancer.
A long-time employee of the Clare County Review as a Graphic Designer, Sherry was also the co-owner and publisher of the Winning Edge Magazine; co-owner of the former Click-Click Shoppe in Harrison; co-owner of Top Class Designs and an award winning photographer and artist.

June 25 Saturday fire destroys Prairie Street Home

July 2
Historic Ideal Theatre to be renovated and reopened
Clare’s Ideal Theatre, closed since the beginning of the pandemic, will be getting new life with the planned renovation and reopening by new owners sisters Sandy Wright and Lisa Benic with the help of another sister, Designer Sue Leverence. The sisters all grew up in Clare, the daughters of Polly and Don Collum and like other generations from Clare County, enjoyed movies and events at the theatre throughout their growing up years.

July 2 Clare County tornado damages barn, destroys building, tears off metal barn roof


July 16 –
Five inducted into Clare’s Hall of Fame
For the first time in two years, Clare will have new inductees into the Clare Hall of Fame. Last year’s event was cancelled due to Covid. The 2020-21 Clare Hall of Fame Inductees include Jessie Rodgers (’04); Cameron Allen (’10); Brian Atwood (’07); Matt English (’10); and Dan Haggart (1982).

July 16 Totes McGoats wanders through Clare


July 23 –
Masks, testing, vaccinations will be optional at Farwell Schools
Farwell is gearing up for the opening of a more normal 2021-22 school year with face-to-face learning and without most of the COVID-19 requirements students and staff dealt with all during the last school year. Masks will be optional, except on busses.
July 30 –
Coleman asks voters to approve $21.5 million bond for schools
A $21.5 million bond proposal to renovate and upgrade Coleman’s School District buildings will be on the ballot Tuesday. According to Coleman’s website, “If approved by voters, it is projected that the debt tax rate would increase by 3.85 mills over the 2020 debt levy. If approved, the bond will pay for renovations and an addition to the Junior-Senior High and renovations and updates to the Elementary cafeteria, bathrooms and gym floor; purchasing busses; security and technology.
August 6 –
A $21.5 million bond proposal to renovate and upgrade Coleman’s School District buildings was turned down by 70 percent of the voters in Tuesday’s election. Coleman Superintendent Jen McCormack said, “The result was disappointing.”
August 6 –
MMCAA awarded nearly $2.7 million for Head Start programs
Last Friday July 30, The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced Mid Michigan Community Action Agency in Farwell has been awarded a new grant of $2,691,521 to support its Early Head Start program. Mid Michigan Community Action has provided Head Start comprehensive services for over 30 years and we are dedicated to continuing those services in Clare and Gladwin counties. This continued funding ensures MMCAA will be able to carry the important work of Head Start forward.”
August 13 –
After 35 years, Grant finally gets oilwell royalty check
After pursuing compliance with a contract for oilwell royalty payments on township owned property for about seven years, Grant Township has finally received a small royalty check from the production of the Grant 1-18 oilwell.

August 13 Coker named new Chamber Director


August 20 –
15th Old U.S. 27 Historic Motor Tour comes to Clare Thursday, Harrison Friday
The historic old US-27 Motor Tour, which will be making its 15th annual cruise next week. This year’s tour includes their traditional overnight stop on Thursday evening in Clare and on Friday morning to join in the festivities Friday afternoon in Harrison. This year is not only the 15th for the Motor Tour, but also the 150th anniversary of both the City of Clare and Clare County and a celebration and tour theme honoring the Motor Tour’s founder Craig Parrish, (the tour founder and organizer) who recently passed away.

August 20 Sirpilla named new Clare Finance Director/ Treasurer


August 27 –
Storm destroys two homes, knocks down trees, strands kayakers
A severe thunderstorm that hit the mid-Michigan area Tuesday night knocked down trees that hit several homes, destroying at least two homes and damaging several others, and downed numerous power lines, even stranding a group of Kayakers on the Muskegon River.

August 27 Larson nearly ready for Harrison yongsters


September 3 –
COVID -19 numbers climbing quickly
The number of new cases of COVID-19 has been increasing at a very high rate according to the Central Michigan District Health Department. It is ow recommended that people with certain serious immunocompromising illnesses who have finished a two dose vaccine series, receive a third dose.
Five local hospitals share in $13 million state grant
Five area hospitals including Clare’s will each receive a $257,000 share of a $13 million grant for 51 small rural hospitals in Michigan to help in the pandemic costs. Four MidMichigan Medical Centers in the MidMichigan Health network (MMMC-Clare, MMMC-Gladwin, MMMC- West Branch and MMMC-Gratiot) will each get $257,000 of a total of $1,029,000 and McLaren-Central Michigan in Mt. Pleasant will also get an approximate share totaling $257,000.
September 10 –
Farwell Schools named best in Clare County, Jack Pine and in Clare-Gladwin RESD
At a workshop meeting Tuesday, Farwell Superintendent Steve Scoville told the board that the school has been named as the highest in the area. He said, “According to the website, Farwell High School was ranked as the top high school in the Clare-Gladwin RESD according to the U.S. News rankings.” The rankings include data on nearly 24,000 public high schools in 50 states and the District of Columbia.

September 10 Lake Shamrock barge arrives
September 17 Farwell Bond improvemnet near completion


September 24 –
Farwell awarded up to $3.5 million to improve Mill Pond
The Village of Farwell has been approved to receive a grant for up to 3.5 Million dollars from the state of Michigan to completely dredge the Mill Pond in Farwell, create a new boat launch, beach and swim area and to beautify the surrounding area of the Mill Pond. Any remaining funds will be used in the ongoing replacement of the dam/spillway and bridge and road repair on Mill Street.

September 24 Farwell awarded up to $3.5 million to improve millpond


October 8 –
CACC meets 25K goal for Destination Clare sculptures
The Clare County Arts Council has reached a $25,000 funding goal to put a year-long display of sculptures around the City. The CCAC funds will be matched by $25,000 from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.
October 15 –
Clare okays tiny homes
At their regular meeting October 4th, the Clare City Commission approved an ordinance amendmet allowing and regulating tiny homes in the City.


October 22 –
Woman who allegedly murders four, apprehended
Four kpeople are dead after a shooting Wednesday afternoon at a home in Grant Township. Investigators are looking for Judy Boyer, a 54-year-old white female, in connection with the murders.
October 29
Boyer charged with murders, Beatty as an accessory
Judy Marie Boyer was arrested October 21st in Wexford County and charged with the murder of four people, two family members and two friends. She is facing eight counts including two of first degree murder. Her nephew Ryan Beatty has been charged as an accessory.
November 5 –
Lake man charged for explosion that injured two
An explosion at a storage facility just west of Clare in Grant Township sent two women to the Clare Emergency room October 26th. A Lake man David Hannaford, 36, was charged in connection with the explosion.
Two from Harrison charged in Farwell man’s murder
Two Harrison men, 43-year-old Ronald William McClure II, and 31-year-old Kenneth Joseph Young are going to trial for the July 20 premeditated murder of Brian Leszcz, 39 or Farwell. The murder took place at a home on South Harrison Avenue.
November 12 With photo –
Hayes Township plane crash kills pilot
A 67-year-old Pontiac pilot, Theodore Gauthier, was found dead after his single engine plane went down in a Hayes Township crash November 5th. The plane which originated in Oakland County, came down in a residential yard. Clare County deputies were dispatched to the scene of the crash in the area of Rosina and Townline Lake Roads around 9:30 a.m.
November 19 –
Health services overwhelmed as COVID surges
Jerry Evans, M, MMM, FACEP, and Medical Director of the Region 6 Healthcare Coalition , is pleading with the communities he serves to help reduce the current surge in COVID cases. Michigan now leads the nation in cases with an average of 7,281 new confirmed cases each day based on Tuesday and Wednesday numbers.
December 10 – with photo
Car-buggy crash sends Gladwin man to hospital
A white Buick Rendezvous that crashed into the rear of an Amish buggy on Beaverton road last Friday, sent a 43-year-old Gladwin man to the hospital.
September 17 –
Farwell Bond improvements near completion
Farwell’s more than $20 million bond issue approved in November of 2019 has funded some important improvements for the aging buildings in the school district including new secure entrances to the Middle School shown above. Improvements have included safer drop off an pickup; new windows and doors; lighting; new classrooms; the replacement of aging boilers and much more. The improvements are now nearing completion, Superintendent Steven Scoville said.
December 17 – with photo
Storms knock out power, down trees in area
About1,700 homes in Clare County were among 200,000 statewide who lost power last Friday due to a storm that brought up to l70 mile per hour gusts in some areas, knocking down trees and power lines. Shone is Maple road at Beaver Avenue where downed trees and power lines closed the road.

December 17 Trees and lines down on Maple Road


December 24 – photo?
City Commissioners discuss potential hospital move
A possibility that the hospital will move out of downtown Clare raised concerns at the City Commission meeting Monday evening. MyMichigan Health Clare would like to build a new facility to replace the existing medical center. The facility itself is out-of-date, said Mt. Pleasant and Gladwin President Marita Hattem-Schiffman.

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