Blogs > Sun Insider

News and quick-hit commentary from around mid-Michigan ... from the Morning Sun.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Northern Michigan snowmobile trails in great shape

Photo by Nutrunner

Midweek snow came down in the northern regions of the Lower Peninsula with blizzard conditions in several areas of the Upper Peninsula.
Trails should be in great shape for weekend riding.
Around the Clare area, considerable snow fell during the week, covering the trails with 1-2 inches of fresh cover. Trails are in excellent condition with snow on the ground registering over a foot. Groomers are out on a daily routine.
The Cadillac area received 3 to 4 inches of fresh snow early Wednesday, improving trail conditions. High winds caused some drifting and knocked some branches across the trails, so use caution.
Also watch for plenty of ice under the fresh snow. Trails should be in great shape by the weekend and for the North American Snow Festival.
Traverse City trails remain in good shape even after some very heavy trail activity this past weekend. Groomers have smoothed the edges and conditions are good for another weekend of great riding.
Lake effect snow has covered trails throughout the Benzie area. Fresh powder prevails, leaving groomers plenty of work to do. Trails will be in excellent shape for weekend riding.
Trails throughout the western region remain in good to very good condition. Trails are in excellent shape in Iron County and grooming is taking place on a daily basis.
Trails in and around Houghton and Keweenaw counties are in terrific shape and snow cover remains deep measuring over 32 inches.
Sledders headed to the Ontonagon area can expect some of the best riding of the season taking place. All groomers available are out working trails throughout Gogebic and Ontonagon counties.
In the central portion of the U.P., trails range from fair to excellent. Snowmobilers can expect awesome riding around Grand Marais and the Munising area, where trails are in excellent condition.
Delta, Schoolcraft, Menominee and Dickinson county trails are all groomed and in good to very good shape. Marquette County trails range from fair to very good and all are groomed.
The eastern region of the U.P. has good riding available with conditions ranging from good to excellent. Luce County trails are in good shape with a solid snow base measuring up to one foot. Chippewa County trails are in great shape with several in very good condition.
Mackinac County trails remained in good shape after heavy riding taking place last weekend, and with this week's blizzard conditions, the trails should rapidly be improving for some great riding this weekend.
Remember: Watch for groomers; they have the right of way!!!
Before hitching up your snowmobile trailer and hitting the roads; take a moment to check the latest traffic, road, and weather conditions at
Courtesy Michigan AAA

It's dangerous out there

Dangerous winter conditions are occurring this morning due to snow and blowing snow and high winds.
Travel will be very difficult this morning due to significantly reduced visibility in blowing snow which could create near whiteout conditions at times.
It will be very cold today with steady to slowly falling temperatures and wind chill readings of 5 to 15 degrees below zero.
The Michigan Office of Emergency Management has requested that drivers stay off the roads in northern Lower Michigan due to blizzard conditions and whiteout conditions. That request applies from Roscommon and Gladwin counties north.
Forecasters say high winds will persist through this morning, with gusts up to the 50 mph range, producing blowing and drifting snow, and the potential for scattered power outages. Arctic wind chills in the double digit below zero range are likely.
A second storm on its way has prompted the weather service to post a winter storm watch for late Thursday night into Friday night from mid-Michigan south. The new storm has the potential to produce 6 or more inches of snow.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

CMU Basketball 01/26

Shots from the CMU Chippewas game against the Akron Zips on Saturday January 26.

These 8 photos will be for sale Here.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Best snowmobiling of the winter is right now

Photo courtesy Michigan Snowmobile Association

January 23-27, 2008

Conditions are great throughout the state, according to AAA Michigan.
As a reminder, don’t forget to purchase a 2008 trail permit before hitting the trails.
Houghton Lake trails have a solid 8-inch base and trails are in good shape for the weekend.
Temperatures are hovering around 10 degrees so bundle up for the fun taking place at Tip-Up Town. The lake is frozen registering 12-inches of ice.
All Alpena trails were groomed Tuesday and trails 992 and 464 are in excellent shape. Trails are smooth, flat and in very good condition for the majority of routes.
Trail 4 to Hillman has a few wet sections, but with the cold temperatures, that should not be an issue by the weekend.
In the Mancelona area, trail conditions are excellent and improving on a daily basis.
Currently the area is receiving a good rate of snowfall. Expect marvelous riding this weekend.
Trails throughout Petoskey are in excellent condition with a solid base and light, fluffy snow on top. Groomers are taking care of business to create a great weekend for riders.
Frederic trails received 2 inches of fresh snow Tuesday, and trails are in great shape. Snow is in the forecast for the remainder of the week, and snowmobilers can expect a fun weekend on perfectly groomed trails.
Trails throughout the Grayling area are groomed and rated in great shape. Snowmobilers headed to the area can expect smooth riding and plenty of snow.
Snow was falling Wednesday in the Baldwin area after receiving 6-8 inches on Monday. Temperatures were perfect and groomers were out working the trails. Some of the best riding is taking place right now.
Great riding on perfectly groomed trails is available around Wolf Lake, Wellston, Cadillac, Leroy, Grand Rapids, Empire and Platt Lake.

Western region trails are overall in good to very good condition.
In Houghton and Keweenaw counties, snow cover on the ground measures almost 3 feet. Groomers are working the trails daily and all trail systems are rated in very good shape.
Sledders headed to the Gogebic and Ontonagon areas will find great riding. Snowfall is significant and all trails are in good to very good condition for the weekend.
Trails are in fabulous shape in Iron County where new snow recently fell on already smooth trails. Baraga County trails are in good condition, but watch for a few wet sections that have yet to freeze over.
Great riding overall for sledders headed to the Central region. Trail conditions for Grand Marais are rated awesome, excellent, and fabulous, you get the picture; great riding is in store for the weekend.
Heavy snow and extremely cold temperatures have created the best trail conditions so far this season. Snow base on the trails ranges around 8 inches, three feet on the ground overall and even around town there is a 6-inch base.
Marquette trails range from good to excellent, and all trails are groomed.
Around Alger County, Munising trails are in excellent shape with a snow base registering up to 1 foot. Snowmobilers will find great riding around Manistique, Seney, Dickinson and Menominee.
Riding taking place on the Eastern side of the U.P. will find good conditions in Chippewa County, where trails are rated good. The trail from the Sault to Kinross is closed due to deep water.
Paradise and Drummond Island trails are in good to very good shape. St. Ignace trails boast snow cover between 8 and 16 inches. Trails are rated in very good condition.

Remember: Keep headlights and tail lights on at all times!
Before hitching up your snowmobile trailer and hitting the roads; take a moment to check the latest traffic, road, and weather conditions at

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Winter storm socks mid-Michigan

Snow, locally heavy, will continue today across the region, say forecasters from the National Weather Service.
Travel has become difficult due to snowy and icy roads and reduced visibility, down to a quarter to half a mile at times in snow.
The heaviest snow has fallen near and northwest of a line from Zeeland to Alma where a total of 6 to 12 inches is expected by 7 p.m. Tuesday.
Headed west? Lake effect snow will continue to develop through Wednesday into Thursday with significant accumulations possible, especially near and west of U.S.131.

Mid-Michigan residents awoke to find lots of snow -- like this almost-buried deck at a home in Lake Isabella.

Observers reporting to the National Weather Service measured 8.3 inches of new snow northwest of Mt. Pleasant, and 10.5 inches of new snow southwest of Weidman. At Lake Isabella, 14 inches of snow was on the ground.

It's a winter wonderland -- if you're not trying to drive anywhere.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Snow advisories posted for all of mid-Michigan

Snow advisories are posted for Clare, Gratiot, Isabella and Montcalm counties.
Snow will increase in coverage and intensity tonight and continue into Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service.
Travel will become even more hazardous overnight through Tuesday due to snowy and icy roads and reduced visibility, down to a quarter to half a mile at times, in snow.
The heaviest snow will fall near and northest of a line from Zeeland to Luther where 6 to 8 inches is expected by 7 p.m. Tuesday. Locally higher amounts are possible
Mid-Michigan counties are anticipating 3 to 6 inches of snow.
Lake effect snow will continue to develop Tuesday night through Wednesday into Thursday with significant accumulations possible, especially near and west of U.S. 131.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Wheatland Twp. couple charged with raping young girls

Charity Mathews

William Sackett

A Remus couple accused of raping a babysitter and another girl could face life in prison.
Charity Mathews, 22, and William Sackett, 42, of the Remus area were ordered by 77th District Judge Susan Grant to stand trial during a hearing Tuesday.
Mathews is charged with first-degree criminal sexual conduct with a victim less than 12 years old, third-degree criminal sexual conduct with a victim between 13 and 15, and possession of child pornography, Mecosta County Sheriff’s Sgt. Casey Nemeth said.
Sackett is charged with first-degree CSC and possession of child pornography, Nemeth said.
First-degree criminal sexual conduct involving penetration against a child under 13 is punishable by any term of years up to and including life; third-degree CSC and possession of child pornography are 15-year felonies.
A trial date has not been set, according to court records.
Mathews and Sackett are accused of giving alcohol to their 12-year-old babysitter and her 13-year-old friend at their home July 4 prior to the alleged rapes, Nemeth said.
Both Mathews and Sackett are accused of raping the 12-year-old; Mathews is alleged to have raped the 13-year-old, Nemeth said.
The two girls had asked if they could spend the night at Mathews’ and Sackett’s Wheatland Township home, which was not uncommon, Nemeth said.
Mathews and Sackett, who have two young children who have been removed from their home by the Michigan Department of Human Services, are also accused of having child pornography on a computer that was taken by police shortly after the investigation of the couple began in July, Nemeth said.
Electronic devices taken by a deputy from the couple’s home have been sent to the state police Crime Lab in Lansing, Nemeth said.
Both Mathews and Sackett are free on bond, Nemeth said.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Special delivery

Isabella County Sheriff's Deputy Autume Griffus and Jennifer Rau look over newborn Lily Rau at Central Michigan Community Hospital Monday, Jan. 14, in Mount Pleasant. Griffus delivered Lily in the Mount Pleasant Comfort Inn parking lot after responding to a 911 call from Rau's husband. (Morning Sun/ Lisa Yanick)
Griffus and Deputy Todd Graham were on patrol shortly after 3 a.m. when they were informed that Central Dispatch had received a telephone call from a man that was taking his pregnant wife to the hospital.
That man was Casey Rau. He was taking his wife, Jennifer, to Gratiot Medical Center in Alma, but soon realized that his wife was not going to make it in time. He informed dispatchers that the baby’s head had started crowning.
He was told to pull into the parking lot of the Comfort Inn at 2424 S. Mission Road, and deputies would meet them there.
After arriving at the scene, Griffus and Graham realized that the birth was imminent and they would have to deliver the baby in the couple’s vehicle.
“It was a first for me,” said Griffus, who has worked at the department full-time since October after serving as a reserve deputy for a year-and-a-half. “It was really exciting.”
Once she saw Rau she knew there wasn’t much time to waste.
“It happened very fast,” Griffus said. “Probably less than three minutes. I barely had enough time to get my gloves on.”
“It only took two pushes,” said Rau, 28, of her fast and unexpected delivery.
“The woman deputy (Griffus) moved my body and she came out,” Rau said.
An ambulance arrived just as she was finishing the delivery.
“We tied the umbilical cord off, wiped the baby down and placed her on mom’s chest,” Griffus said. “It was a beautiful baby girl,” she said.
Graham drove the ambulance to Central Michigan Community in Mt. Pleasant while the EMTs looked after the mother, and Griffus followed in the patrol car.
The couple named their baby girl Lily, and they can’t wait until she is old enough to understand how she came into the world.
Rau said her husband was “freaking” out the entire time but said “he did really well.”
“He doesn’t like to see me in pain,” Rau said.
Delivering a baby is something that deputies don’t have to contend with very often, according to Sheriff Leo Mioduszewski.
“Very infrequently do we get into that position,” he said. “Actually it’s nice to have some good, positive news for a change,” Mioduszewski said.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Jeep Cherokee vs Chippewa River

Sun Photographs by RYAN EVON


A woman driving east on Pickard Road west of Littlefield Road lost control of her vehicle and ended up in the Chippewa River at 9:30 a.m. this morning.

The Fremont Township Rescue and Dive Team and Deerfield Fire Department were on the scene. When the dive team arrived the woman was still trapped in the backseat of her vehicle. Rescue diver Dan Wiles pulled the woman from her vehicle. She was not injured in the accident. After her vehicle went into the river, the strong current carried it nearly 200 feet downriver.

“She was scared, cold and wet,” Wiles said as he stood beside the river in his dive suit.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Snow or sleet on its way

Some tricky driving weather is on its way to mid-Michigan overnight, say forecasters from the National Weather Service.Low pressure will move toward southeast Lower Michigan overnight. Precipitation will develop this evening and continue through tonight.
Mid-Michigan's northern highlands are expected to see more snow, forecasters say. One to 6 inches of snow is likely north of a Muskegon-to-Alma line. The forecast calls for 3 to 4 inches of snow in the highlands of northwestern Clare County, with about an inch expected near Mt. Pleasant, Lake Isabella and Alma, and less than a half-inch near Ashley.
Mainly rain can be expected south, with a brief mix of precipitation late tonight. Most of the precipitation will be ended by mid morning Friday.

Snow? Or Sleet?

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Remembering Mary Babb

One year ago today, Morning Sun sales representative Mary Babb was shot to death in front of the newspaper office by her estranged husband. Thomas Daniel Babb now is serving a 50- to 75-year sentence in prison.
Mary's colleagues offer this remembrance for her -- and for other victims of family violence like her.


I lost a friend today...
Call her sister, mother, daughter...Best Friend,
a soul that was like mine.
For me, a kindred spirit,
I called her my friend.

I lost a friend today...
We had a special bond, call it life...
or something in common,
but, she nor I are common.

I lost a friend today...
We share the good times and bad, we shared our
stories and the small tears that were shed,
cried knowing they didn’t deserve our tears.

I lost a friend today...
The bond we had shared showed us
that we weren’t thought, in fear.
Hidden feelings from the world outside.
but, we were not alone.

I lost a friend today...
What was the bond, you may ask?
It wasn’t about group outings, being with friends,
work or family fun...
It was the fear of never being loved or
the abuse that was about to come.

I lost a friend today...
He didn’t care that we saw,
but, he didn’t know we knew...
for if he had, he wouldn’t have done
what he set out to do.

I lost a friend today...
The time I had shared with her is cherished...
and now she is gone...But, I stand here today
to make everyone around me aware


I lost a friend today...

- Michelle L. Bain

Monday, January 07, 2008

Massive hail, high winds and a January funnel cloud

A screen shot of National Weather Service radar shows Monday night's severe January thunderstorm at its height in mid-Michigan. Click on the image for a closer look.
Severe thunderstorms hit mid-Michigan Monday night, producing high winds, huge hail, spectacular lightning, and knocking out power across a wide area.
After a day of spring-like, record-setting high temperatures Monday, a powerful cold front moved through the area, producing spring-like severe weather.
A line of very un-January-like severe thunderstorms marched across the region out ahead of the front.
According to the National Weather Service, hail up to 1.5 inches in diameter was reported near Winn. Other hailstones measuring 1.25 inches, 1 inch and 0.88 inches were reported at Mt. Pleasant.
An amateur radio operator 4 miles southwest of Midland told the weather service hail covered the ground at that location 2 inches deep.
Wind gusts up to 60 mph were reported about 8:50 p.m. at Mt. Pleasant at the height of the storm.
Spectacular, greenish-blue lightning, reflecting off what remained of the snowpack, lit up the sky almost continuously.
Heavy downpours accompanied the storm. Observers measured 1.24 inches of rain at Mt. Pleasant in little more than two hours.
Power was reported out in Mt. Pleasant, including at the main office of the Morning Sun; was being updated off-site. Isabella County Emergency Management Director Marc Griffes said a major substation near Mt. Pleasant caught fire briefly.
No immediate estimate of the number of customers without power was available, but the lights were out from Mt. Pleasant at least as far west as Coldwater Road, nine miles west of Mt. Pleasant.
The National Weather Service issued a tornado warning for Montcalm, Gratiot and Isabella counties after radar indicated a funnel cloud in a severe thunderstorm. There were no immediate reports of touchdowns.
Griffes said sirens were sounded in the area that was under the tornado warning, which included much of southern Isabella County.
The severe weather came in the wake of record-setting high temperatures in the central part of the state.
After dense fog closed or delayed schools Monday morning, temperatures rose rapidly.
The temperature hit 52 degrees at Mt. Pleasant Municipal Airport at 3:16 p.m., shattering the old high-temperature record of 47 set in 1933. Officially, the high was 55 degrees at Central Michigan University, the official weather monitoring station.
Alma topped out at 57, and a report of 58 degrees was reported at Rosebush about 6 p.m. before the cold front producing the severe weather moved through.
The rain, combined with snow melt, has the potential to cause flooding of area creeks and rivers, and the weather service has posted a flood watch for mid-Michigan.
Those living in areas prone to flooding should monitor the latest forecasts, and be prepared to take action if flooding develops, forecasters say.

Wild, wet and unseasonably warm

Showers and scattered thunderstorms are expected today and tonight. A series of low pressure systems will ride northeast along a frontal boundary and produce rain. Heavy rain is possible tonight with localized flooding of area streams and rivers. Mild weather is expected too with high temperatures today in the mid 50s to lower 60s.
That would be a record for Mt. Pleasant.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Credit union robber image clearly shows gun

Mt. Pleasant Police have released an image of the suspect who robbed the Nu Union Credit Union late Friday.
The suspect is a white male, wearing a a ski mask, goggles and a blue winter jacket. The image clearly shows the suspect carrying a semi-automatic handgun.

The man entered the credit union, at the corner of Pickard and Harris streets, about 5:30 p.m. He fled the scene with an undisclosed amount of cash.
The suspect fled on foot leaving through the west side of the building and escaped through a nearby alley.
Officers say they believe the suspect was carrying a maroon Nu Union Credit Union bag.
The Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribal Police called in a K-9 unit to track the suspect.
No shots were fired and no one was hurt in the robbery.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Great skiing this week!

Recent snow this week has improved conditions from good to excellent for most resorts statewide. AAA recommends calling ahead to your favorite resort to verify hours of operation.
XC = Cross country conditions available. Snow base is listed in inches.
Snowsnake, Harrison 10 runs 2 lifts Up to 24”
Hanson Hills, Grayling 100% runs 100% lifts Up to 20”
XC- open
Treetops Resort, Gaylord 16 runs 5 lifts Up to 32”
Apple Mountain, Freeland 10 runs 5 lifts 20-32”
Groomed/packed Powder

Shanty Creek, Bellaire 37 (100%) runs 5 lifts Up to 48”
Tubing open 10-10 Packed powder/groomed

Boyne Highlands, Harbor Springs 55 runs 9 lifts Up to 57”
Tubing Park - Open 12:30-8 pm Groomed/packed powder
Halfpipe open
Courtesy Caberfae Peaks

Boyne Mtn., Boyne Falls 60 runs 11 lifts Up to 45”
XC-20km - open Groomed/packed powder
Terrain & Tubing parks open
Crystal Mtn., Thompsonville 45 runs 9 lifts Up to 70”
Open daily 9-9 Machine groomed
XC groomed

Nub’s Nob, Harbor Springs 53 (100%) runs 7 lifts Up to 72”
Terrain Park open Machine groomed
Superpipe open Fresh cut tracks
XC-28km Packed and track set
Caberfae Peaks, Cadillac 27 runs 5 lifts Up to 74”
Machine groomed
Mt. Holiday, Traverse City Up to 12 100% runs n/a
Tube open 11 am to 7 pm
The Homestead, Glen Arbor 12 runs 5 (100%) lifts Up to 20”
Fresh powder
XC Ski Headquarters, Roscommon: Cross-country conditions are excellent with up to 18 inches of snow in the wooded area, and up to 10 inches on the ski trails. All eight trails are freshly groomed with deep-set tracks.
Cannonsburg Ski Area, Cannonsburg 100% runs 100% lifts 24-48”
Open 9am to 10pm Groomed
Up to 2” of fresh snow
Bring in 2 cans of food per person for discount tickets
Pando Winter Sports Park, Rockford 6 runs 4 lifts 12 to 24”
XC - open Groomed
Tubing Mon-Fri 5-10 pm
Terrain Park - open
Open 10-10 thru Jan. 6
Mulligan’s Hollow Ski Bowl, Grand Haven 100% runs 4 lifts 6 to 15”
Open 11 am to 6 pm Machine groomed

Mt. Holly, Holly 18 (100%) runs Up to 13 lifts Up to 42”
Open (Wed.) 9 am-11 pm Machine groomed
Pine Knob, Clarkston 100% runs 12 (100%) lifts Up to 46”
Two terrain parks open Machine groomed

Courtesy Boyne Highlands

Mt. Brighton, Brighton 18 runs, up to 5 lifts. Up to 34”
Open (Wed.) 9 am to 11 pm Groomed/some powder
Alpine Valley, White Lake Up to 20 runs Up to 10 lifts Up to 36”
Bittersweet Ski Resort, Otsego 15 runs, lifts as needed Up to 32”
Swiss Valley Ski Area, Jones 11 runs, lifts as needed Up to 28”
Terrain Park – Open Groomed
Timber Ridge Ski Area, Gobles 15 runs 7 lifts Up to 32”
Terrain & tubing parks open Groomed
Ski Brule, Iron River 17 (100%) runs 6 lifts 45 to 65”
NASTAR racing daily Power tilled/groomed
White water tubing 1-3 p.m.
Marquette Mtn., Marquette 17 runs 4 lifts Up to 36”
Fun Park – open Machine groomed
Indianhead Mtn., Wakefield 29 (100%) runs 9 (100%) lifts Up to 50”
Open daily from 9 am to 4 pm Machine groomed
Big Powderhorn Mtn., Bessemer 33 100% runs, Up to 44”
XC-17km Packed powder/groomed
Powderkeg Snowboard Park open
Blackjack Ski Resort, Bessemer 20 (100%) runs 100% lifts 16-48” (6 inches new)
Open 9 am to 4 pm Packed powder/power tilled
Half pipe & terrain parks - Open
Mt. Bohemia, Lac La Belle 60 runs 2 lifts Up to 24”
Open Mon-Fri 10:30 am to 4:30 pm
Open Sat and Sun 9:30 am to 5 pm
Pine Mtn., Iron Mountain 20 runs 3 lifts 36-40”
Terrain park 95% open
Porcupine Mountain, Ontonagon 100% runs,1 lift, Up to 24”
Open Mon-Fri 10:30 am to 4:30 pm
Open Sat and Sun 9:30 am to 5 pm
Norway Mountain 15 runs 5 lifts 24-42”
Open Sun-Fri 9 am to 4pm Packed powder
Open Sat 8:30 am to 4 pm
Terrain Park open
ABR Trails, Ironwood: Cross-country conditions are perfect with 22-26 inches or more of snow. Open daily 9 am until dark in the wooded area, and up to twelve inches on the ski trails. Trails have deep classic tracks and plenty of fresh white snow.
Remember: Slopes are crowded with holiday skiers – a little courtesy goes a long way.
(Courtesy AAA Traffic…)

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

The Borden in Winter

SOUND OFF CALLER: The Borden Building is looking wonderful. The restoration of this architectural gem is one of the best things the city of Mt. Pleasant has ever accomplished. Thank goodness for the foresight, courage and tenacity of the voters who supported the project from the beginning, and our city leaders who made sure it came to reality.
Mt. Pleasant

The north side of the Borden Building as the winter sun sets on downtown Mt. Pleasant.

New and re-used brick have brightened the look of the old condensed-milk factory, destined to become Mt. Pleasant's new city hall.

Much of the work has moved inside for the winter at the Borden Building.

(Photos for by Mark Ranzenberger)