CHICAGO (AP) - A U.S. Coast Guard ship loaded with more than 1,200 Michigan Christmas trees has arrived in downtown Chicago. The Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw set sail late last month, traveling from its homeport of Cheboygan down Lake Michigan to Chicago. The ice cutter's voyage carries on the tradition of the Rouse Simmons - known as the original Christmas tree ship - which began delivering trees in the late 1800's. That ship was captained by Herman Schuenemann, who continued the holiday tradition for three decades until his boat sank in 1912 while carrying the evergreens. The Mackinaw paid tribute to Schuenemann's crew during by dropping a wreath into water where their ship went down. The trees will be unloaded at Chicago's Navy Pier on Saturday to be distributed to needy families.
(PORT HURON) -- A grand opening celebration is planned at the second Hunter Hospitality House in Port Huron Saturday, December 7 from 10-11:30 a.m. The second location is now at 2509 10th Street. Jeff and Tracy Willard started Hunter Hospitality House, which is a non-profit bed and breakfast offering rest and relaxation for those with hospitalized loved ones in Port Huron or those in need of a place to rest between out-patient procedures. Many of the overnight guests are from Sanilac County. The event on Saturday commemorates the second anniversary of the first Hunter Hospitality House, which opened at 1010 Lincoln Street in Port Huron on December 7, 2011. It is also a special day for the Willard family, who remember their late son, Hunter, who was born December 7, 1991. For more information visit hunterhospitalityhouse.com
(AREA) -- Legislation that would waive initial state occupational license fees for honorably discharged veterans was approved by the Michigan Senate on Wednesday. The measure is part of a two-bill package sponsored by State Senator Mike Green of Mayville and State Senator John Moolenaar of Midland. Green says these bills will help the men and women in uniform make an easier transition back into civilian life while addressing the high unemployment numbers among Michigan veterans. If the bills are signed into law, initial occupational license fees would be waived for veterans seeking to become private security professionals, accountants, builders, barbers, engineers, surveyors, real estate agents and many other occupations. Senate Bills 671 and 672 now advance to the Michigan House of Representatives for further consideration.
(PORT HURON) -- A Lexington woman charged with falsely accusing two men of rape has been found guilty. Sara Ylen was convicted of making a false report of rape and tampering with evidence Thursday stemming from an alleged attack by two men last September. The jury took about half an hour to deliberate after closing arguments. Ylen declined to testify at the trial in Port Huron. Her bond was revoked and she was taken into police custody. Sentencing has been scheduled for January 17 at 2 p.m.
Ylen has talked publicly about being a rape victim after a jury in 2003 convicted a man of sexually assaulting her. James Grissom served about a decade in prison before his conviction was overturned based on Ylen's credibility. Grissom was in the courtroom gallery each day of the trial.
In a separate case, Ylen is charged with four counts of false pretense, using a computer to commit a crime and health care fraud. She's accused of deceiving a hospice service and many supporters into believing she had cancer for years. Her final pretrial conference in Sanilac County Circuit Court is set for January 27, 2014 with a trial date tentatively scheduled for February 4.
(SANILAC COUNTY) -- The Sanilac County Finance and Administration Committee met Tuesday afternoon and voted 3-2 to designate Eastern Michigan Bank as the county's financial institute, replacing Talmer Bank and Trust. County Treasurer Trudy Nichol says the decision to go with Eastern Michigan Bank was made due to the bank's superior fee schedule. Eastern Michigan Bank will enter a three year contract to handle all of the county's banking needs. Finance and Administration Committee members Donald Hunt and John Hoffman voted against using Eastern Michigan Bank. The decision will be brought before the full board of commissioners next Tuesday.
(AREA) -- The Senate Economic Development Committee this week unanimously approved sweeping reform of the scrap metal industry sponsored by State Representative Paul Muxlow of Brown City. The unanimous approval came after two days of committee hearings at which Muxlow and State Representative Klint Kesto of Commerce Township, testified. Kesto headed up a work group that met on several occasions during the summer to receive input from all the stakeholders. Muxlow stated that the legislation has been in the works for nearly 3-years. He believes they have a plan that will protect both scrap metal companies and victims of theft. The bills now go to the Senate for consideration.
PICTURED: State Reps. Klint Kesto, R-Commerce Township (standing, left), and Paul Muxlow, R-Brown City (seated, right), testify before the Senate Economic Development Committee regarding Rep. Muxlow's bill to reform the scrap metal industry and protect taxpayers, small businesses and utility providers.
PINCONNING, Mich. (AP) - Managed Waterfowl Hunt Areas in Michigan are shifting to hunter self-registration for the remainder of the duck-hunting season. The state Department of Natural Resources made the announcement recently, saying the switch was being made from managed draws. Cold temperatures and widespread freezing in the area have resulted in fewer birds and low hunter turnout. That prompted managers to move to the self-registration system. Nayanquing Point Wildlife Area in Pinconning is one that already has begun self-registration. Instead of participating in a drawing each morning or afternoon, hunters will select zones on a first-come, first-served basis. A self-registration kiosk is set up outside the MWHA office. Self-registration is expected to continue until the end of the regular season on Sunday.
(HURON COUNTY) -- Authorities brought a former Sebewaing area man back to Huron County from Texas last month to face a felony 2nd degree home invasion charge stemming from a break-in that took place a year ago. Sheriff Kelly Hanson says 32-year old Cory Vahovick is accused in the break-in that took place between November 30 and December 1, 2012 at a home on Winters Road in Sebewaing Township. Stolen from the residence was nearly $3,100 in cash and prescription pills. Vahovick was arraigned and bond was set at $20,000 cash. He also had two other unrelated felony charges pending involving breaking and entering and retail fraud. An additional $20,000 cash bond was handed down by the judge on those charges. Sheriff Hanson says Vahovick remains jailed in Huron County.
(SANDUSKY) -- Area residents still have time to donate to the Christmas Toys for Area Kids Drive, sponsored by the Sandusky Lions Club. The Sandusky Lions have been involved in helping needy families during the holiday season for over 25-years. During the drive, new and unwrapped toys are collected in November and December and distributed to the less fortunate. Large collection boxes have been placed inside Sandusky area businesses. Toys are collected for children ranging from newborn to 12-years of age. Chairperson of the toy drive, Sharon Danek says the support of the community has always been overwhelming. Toy donations will be accepted through Wednesday, December 11. To send a tax deductible financial donation, mail checks to the Sandusky Lions Club, P.O. Box 21, Sandusky, MI 48471.The money is spent at Sanilac County businesses to support the local economy.
DROP OFF LOCATIONS:
Big Boy Restaurant
Talmar Bank & Trust
Eastern Michigan Bank
Exchange State Bank
Jensen Bridge & Supply
McKenzie Health System
Sandusky City Building
Sanilac Medical Care Facility
Team One Credit Union
(SANDUSKY) -- Over 25 volunteers from local police departments, EMS services, and fire departments participated in this year's "Shop with a Hero" event Tuesday night at Wal-Mart in Sandusky. The program, which is funded entirely through grants and donations, gives disadvantaged youth the opportunity to go Christmas shopping for their family with a hero. Amanda Wojcik, Administrative Assistant at the Sanilac County Sherriff's Office, helps organize the program. She says this is the third year "Shop with a Hero" has been held.
"It actually began when there was another company that wanted to donate some money in the area because they were doing windmills. So they donated some money and we got some help, of course from Wal-Mart. They still supply the area to have it, cookies, and they do a great job of decorating for the kids--everything is so organized," Wojcik says. "Pizza Hut donates all the pizza and breadsticks for the children who are shopping and the volunteers, and then the Department of Human Services helps us get the list of the kids together, and they go through and pick the children that they bring in to shop."
Wojcik adds that 19 children from around the county shopped with a hero for their family this year, helping a total of over 90 disadvantaged people.
Pictured: Raymond shops with Dep. Thompson from the Sanilac County Sherriff's Department