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Peshtigo event rekindles community's common bond
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EagleHerald Staff Writer

PESHTIGO—In between the parade, the booyah and grilled corn on the cob, the music and mingling, Peshtigo’s three-day Historical Days celebration also provided reminders about the history and the resilience of the community.

State Sen. Eric Wimberger said the Historical Day event is a testament to how a city can recover and come back stronger.

The fire is still in the minds of Wisconsin leadership because it has affected the way “we do things,” he said. “How we live is from what we learned” through disasters and recovery, he said.

“We can never ever let this happen again,” said Preston Cole, secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. “Peshtigo was the foundation for fire management in the state of Wisconsin,” he said. “That tragedy should never be repeated.”

Major Cathi Malke graciously accepted a citation of appreciation on behalf of the city. “We’ve had such a great team of individuals working on it,” she said. “But it’s nerve-wracking” because of the larger size.

For Peshtigo residents, the three-day festival provided a way for the “whole community to come together over something that’s shared,” said Lauren Williams of Peshtigo, who was at the event Saturday with her husband Jay and son Judah.

The fire of 1871 and how the people of Peshtigo overcame it was a cause for celebration. The fire is still taught in school and at the historical museum. It becomes a common bond for residents. “It’s a sad thing, but it bonds people together,” Williams said.

“This year it’s special and it’s different,” her son Judah said about the event’s extended list of activities. He said he got to see old friends who had moved away but returned for the sesquicentennial event. It made an impression on his mother, too.

“Now I won’t forget what year (the fire) happened,” she said. “Now it will be locked into my brain because I have a touchpoint.”


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City investigates PFAS at project site

EagleHerald Staff Writer

MARINETTE—City of Marinette City Engineer Brian Miller announced Tuesday the detection of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in groundwater during preparation for a sanitary sewer repair project.

The City of Marinette contracted Menominee-based Barley Trucking & Excavating, Inc. to install a point dewatering system at Prairie Street and Tenth Street to remove water from the area in preparation for the repair of a sanitary sewer.

The reconstruction project began Aug. 2 when the contractor installed two deep wells to dewater the site, according to Miller.

Prior to turning on the system, Miller said he had had conversations with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Johnson Controls, Inc. (JCI) about possible PFAS contamination in the groundwater at this site. The DNR said the water didn’t need treatment unless foam was observed, according to Miller.

The contractor turned on the dewatering pumps Aug. 5. Miller said the contractor called him the same day and reported the presence of foam in the discharge water. The contractor had put a boom into the discharge ditch to collect the foam, according to Miller.

Miller told the contractor to stop the dewatering at this point, after which he contacted the DNR. The DNR instructed him to turn the pumps back on for a short period of time and collect a sample of the water, which he did Aug. 9.

The test results came back Aug. 13 showing that the water contained 150 parts-per-trillion (ppt) of PFOA and less than 0.46 ppt of PFOS, levels below the permit requirement of 420 ppt for PFOA and 11 ppt for PFOS, which are the current standards in the state of Michigan.

Regardless, Miller instructed the contractor to discharge the water into a manhole, where it would then flow to the city’s wastewater treatment plant.

“Even though the PFAS levels were below the limit of the permit, we thought it best to divert that water to the wastewater treatment system,” he said.

The contractor resumed work on the sanitary sewer Aug. 18. All underground pipework for the project is currently complete, according to Miller.

PFAS contamination in the groundwater may cause similar disruptions for future projects.

The city has one more project—a water main extension through JCI property, with a pipe that will extend from behind the Community REC Center to Woleske Road—planned for 2021, according to Miller. PFAS is already known to be in the groundwater at this location.

In addition, the city is currently investigating PFAS levels in the groundwater at the Main and Ludington Street project location.


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Menominee teen sentenced to 5 years for marijuana-related shooting

EagleHerald Staff Writer

MENOMINEE—Logan Race, 18, of Menominee received a reduced sentence of five to 20 years in prison Friday for shooting Menominee man Craig Walcher in the back with a pistol during an attempted marijuana robbery in December, while a judge agreed to postpone to Oct. 4 the sentencing for a then 14-year-old being held in connection with the incident in part due to a new Michigan law designed to end unjust punishment of children.

Several other felony charges against Race were dropped, including assault with intent to murder and four felony firearms counts, stemming from the Dec. 28 shooting incident.

Menominee County Prosecuting Attorney Jeff Rogg called the shooting “an aberration” for this area. “We don’t get too many shootings here,” he said.

The shooting occurred around midnight Dec. 28, 2020, at Walcher’s residence at 1315 30th Ave. after Walcher allegedly attempted to sell “a bag of weed” to Race and Moxie Barke, then 14, according to documents from the Menominee County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.

Race didn’t have money to pay for marijuana, according to the county documents. When Walcher handed “a bag of weed” to Race, Race pulled the bag back. Race then fired a pistol several times, shooting Walcher in the back, with the bullet apparently exiting near Walcher’s armpit. Menominee Police Sgt. Andrew Bunch also observed a bullet hole in the door at Walcher’s residence. Walcher was treated for a gunshot wound at Aurora Bay Area Medical Center.

Race allegedly was accompanied by Moxie Barke, then 14, who is being held on charges of assault with intent to rob while unarmed.

In Menominee County Court Thursday, Judge Mary Barglind discussed Michigan’s new law as it might pertain to Barke. While the law takes effect Oct. 1, “it’s been written so it affects pending cases,” Barglind said.

The new “Raise the Age” law, which takes effect Oct. 1, raises to 18 from 17 the age at which a teen offender is tried as an adult in Michigan and ensures that teens under 18 in juvenile court receive rehabilitative services as outlined in the Youth Rehabilitation Services Act. The law doesn’t necessarily apply in violent crime cases.

Menominee County Chief Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Gerald Karafa said he consulted with Walcher on the agreement to give Race a reduced sentence of five to 20 years, instead of holding for the state guidelines for a minimum of nine years in prison, in part because the shooting occurred during a drug transaction involving minors.

Race’s defense attorney, Joseph Klumb, said, “He committed this act as a 17-year-old. This was a stupid act by a young man for something he didn’t even want.” Race apparently does not have a drug habit, according to courtroom testimony. “But it’s related to drugs, which was a problem in our area. It was only marijuana, but it was still a problem,” Klumb said.

“Someone was injured. It could have been worse. Thank God, it is what it is,” Klumb said. Race “has fessed up and admitted his wrong.”

Reached by phone Friday, Craig Walcher’s father, Willis Walcher, said Craig was injured “slightly” and he has “no long-lasting effects” from the injury. He described his son’s age as “about 30.”

Karafa said Race wasn’t charged with a drug crime because he didn’t get the marijuana. It apparently dropped to the ground during the shooting, and Race and Moxie left without it.

Asked by a reporter how Race obtained the pistol he used, Karafa said, “He got that gun from somebody.” It wasn’t registered to him.

Before sentencing Walcher, Judge Barglind asked Race how he felt. “I feel sorrow I put him in the danger that I did. I wish that incident had never taken place.”

Barglind addressed Race and told him, “When you made the call to purchase without the funds, you had premeditated to rob him. That was a thought-out, preplanned, premeditated act.”

“I’m thankful we don’t have a dead body here and we don’t have a murder conviction. What happens to you for the rest of your life is dependent on you and what you do” while in prison to rehabilitate.

Barglind also said the sentence of a minimum of five years to 20 years, is four years less than what state guidelines recommend for the offense. Barglind also granted 270 days as time served.


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Menominee man announces bid for State Rep.

EagleHerald Staff Writer

MENOMINEE—State Rep. Beau LaFave (R-Iron Mountain) has reached his term limit as the representative for Michigan’s 108th Congressional district, made up of Delta, Dickinson and Menominee counties, and his seat is up for grabs in the 2022 election. Another young Republican has his eyes on the seat, and people who have lived in Menominee for a while may already know him: Casey Hoffman.

Hoffman grew up in Menominee and is the son of Cheryl Hoffman, the retired director of Spies Public Library, and attorney Wes Hoffman. He graduated from Menominee High School in 2008. He attended both Albion College in Albion, Mich., and Marquette University Law School in Milwaukee, Wis. He is currently a practicing lawyer and a registered Republican.

“I graduated college with the help of scholarships, student loans and a lot of jobs,” he said. “I worked as a bank teller while earning a business degree, and I worked in retail and as a waiter while taking night classes for my law degree.”

Hoffman’s family has been in Menominee for five generations. His father’s parents moved to Menominee in 1968 after purchasing the Holiday Lanes bowling alley on 1st Street, and the Cadieu family, his mother’s side, has been in Menominee for much longer. His twice-great-grandfather, Roy D. Cadieu, opened Cadieu Funeral Home in 1920. “They (my dad’s parents) couldn’t afford both a house and a business, so they raised two kids in a small apartment above the bowling alley. My grandparents worked long hours to give my dad a better life, and my dad did the same for me and my sister. We are proof that the American Dream is not a race or even a marathon—it’s a relay race. Not every generation makes it to the finish line, but we pass the baton forward and hope the next generation carries it further than we did. There’s nothing more Yooper than that,” he said.

“I decided to run because I didn’t like the tone of our politics,” Hoffman said. “I think that we need a pro-life, limited-government, pro-Second Amendment Republican who is willing to work with, respect and appreciate Democrats. I fully intend to be personally attacked in this race, and I will not attack other candidates in response. I attack ideas, not people. I disagree with Democrats, but I know they love America as much as I do. I never say anything I wouldn’t want my 96-year-old grandmother to hear. I don’t even have a Twitter account. I’m no less conservative, just nicer, and I think that’s the change we need to see.”

Abortion

One of the foundational points of Hoffman’s candidacy is on the issue of abortion. Hoffman said he is a pro-life Christian and has gained the support of other prominent voices in the area’s pro-life community. “The Upper Peninsula is a place of faith, and the next state representative needs to have a pro-life stance,” he said. “I was raised with pro-life values, I respect pro-life values and I believe pro-life values.”

Hoffman said the largest growing religion nationwide is “unaffiliated,” particularly among Millennials like himself, and said the consequences of that fact are playing out across the broader culture. “I think the solution to that is for more young people raising their hands to say, ‘I am a Christian, I’m proud of my faith, and my belief in God influences the way I vote,’” he said.

“The Democratic party does not own the Millennial vote, and my candidacy is proof of that,” he said.

One of Hoffman’s closely-held principals is what he calls the “Ford Rule,” modeled after President Gerald Ford. He said Ford knew that his pardon of his predecessor, Richard Nixon, would completely destroy his political career, but he did it anyway. “He pardoned Nixon anyway because the country needed to move on. If there isn’t something you’re willing to lose an election over, you don’t deserve the high honor of holding public office in the State of Michigan,” Hoffman said. “If you’re looking at your ballot and aren’t sure how to vote, ask yourself who is following the Ford Rule. I think it’s a great barometer for leadership.”

State income tax

Hoffman said that, among some of his other goals as a potential state rep, he would support an amendment to Michigan’s state constitution to eliminate state income tax. “I am the only Republican in Michigan with that position. Nine states—Nevada, Washington, Texas, South Dakota, New Hampshire, Florida, Wyoming, Tennessee and Alaska—have all done this already. Michigan should be the 10th to join the list. And I’ll also add that taxes should be simple enough to file on a postcard without the help of an accountant,” he said.

Hoffman describes himself as a deficit hawk, noting that the debt of the United States is more than the nation’s economy, and Michigan’s debt alone is over $33 billion. He said he is in support of elimination of ineffective programs and reform of entitlements for those under 55. “We need to make it easier to get a job and not rely on a government paycheck. That’s an entitlement I intend to do away with,” he said.

He said farmers in Michigan have been the unfair victims of a trade war between the U.S. and China, noting that many family farms have either gone out of business or are very close to it as a result. “Many farms have gone out of business or are teetering on the edge of calamity because of bad economic policy with China. Michigan has a moral responsibility to step in and save them,” he said.

“Small business owners can pick up the phone and call Casey,” said Marjorie Giese, the co-owner of Intrigue Salon in Menominee. “And he won’t ask who you voted for before he tries to help you.”

“He will fight to keep us open,” said Miranda Ott, a server at Berg’s Landing in Menominee. “He wants the best things for working-class Yoopers like me.”

“I have never supported a candidate in my life, and I donated one thousand dollars to Casey’s campaign,” said Heather Olsen, owner of the First Street Academy of Dance. “I’m just a dance teacher who wants more good role models for my students, and Casey stands up for what is right without burning bridges.”

Hoffman’s campaign began accepting donations Saturday, and within 24 hours the campaign had raised a total of $10,000.

Gun rights

He said he is a strong supporter of the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment, recognizing the right of the people to keep and bear arms. “Gun laws and school safety measures should be established by each state, not imposed by the federal government. I support voluntary purchase of gun insurance to mitigate the consequences of tragedies involving the use of a gun, but I don’t support the newly proposed federal gun legislation, with exception to the removal of bump stocks for public sale and an updated background check system, which is in line with the NRA’s (National Rifle Association) opinion,” he said.

Doug Robinson, a U.S. Air Force Veteran and City Council member from Menominee’s Fourth Ward, said Hoffman is the best candidate to protect gun rights. “I’m voting for a man I trust. Casey and I have shot guns together and I facilitated his concealed carry training,” said Robinson. “The Second Amendment guarantees the government cannot infringe on our right to protect ourselves,” said Robinson, “and Casey knows this right was given to us by God.”

Police funding

Hoffman said he would support increasing police funding for body cameras, traffic cameras and for resources to help combat Michigan’s drug crisis. “It’s heartbreaking. The United States needs to pressure Mexico, China and other countries to curtail the flow of illegal drugs into the country. We need to establish better detection at our borders, and we need to stop drug companies from promoting opioids to physicians. We need to make it easier for law enforcement to shut down drug mills that fill obviously false prescriptions. I support establishing more drug courts to help non-violent drug offenders court-supervised treatment instead of jail time,” he said.

Additionally, he said he would also support measures to allow all first responders to be equipped with Narcan in the event they are called to the scene of an overdose to prevent deaths. “Narcan is changing the game. We’ve had an increased amount of close calls with narcotics. Putting Narcan in the hands of every first responder is a critical first step to combating overdose deaths in the U.P and in Michigan more broadly,” he said.

Hoffman also said that on-demand mental health care and addiction treatment is absolutely needed to help in this regard as well. “The problem often spurs innocently; let’s say a factory worker pulls a back muscle on the job. They go to a doctor, who is also well-intentioned, who prescribes a medication that may be habit-forming. The person uses that medication and sadly becomes addicted, and they ultimately turn to other forms of opioids including heroin. That has been a vicious cycle that has to stop. The difficulty is, right now, if you wake up in the hospital after a drug overdose, a social worker will likely tell you there is a two- or three-week wait to get into a treatment facility. That period of time in delay often costs people with addictions their lives. They need to get immediately into treatment,” he said.

Energy

On the topic of energy, Hoffman said he supports greater efficiency standards in cars, trucks and factories to cut down on pollution. He said he supports the utilization of all available resources for energy, including wind, solar, nuclear, hydroelectric and fossil fuels.

“Importantly, the Bible teaches us in Genesis and in Matthew 6:26, to be good shepherds of the one earth God has given us,” he said. “Michigan is one of God’s most beautiful creations, and Michigan’s elected officials have a moral obligation to protect it. The Flint water crisis can never happen again. I support state and federal drinking water standards for PFAS and holding companies who knowingly pollute with PFAS accountable, and I support safe, small and sensible mining projects that give back to Yoopers. We have views that people in the Hamptons pay millions of dollars for, and we enjoy them for a fraction of the cost. And we don’t have to worry about saltwater or sharks, and our neighbors happen to like each other.”

As it pertains to the Back 40 mine operation, Hoffman said he is waiting to hear more information about the company that just bought many of the rights to the project. “We’re in a transition period, learning about the intentions of the new company that owns the Back 40 Mine. I intend to watch them very, very carefully,” he said.

COVID-19 vaccinations

On the more recent subject of COVID-19 vaccinations, Hoffman said Michiganders are smart enough to make their own medical decisions without government interference. He said he would not support a vaccine mandate, but would support everyone’s individual decision to get vaccinated. “I have been vaccinated with both shots, and I intend to get the booster when available to me. Are we free or are we free? Medical decisions belong to individuals. I have a healthy skepticism of government, and I’ve been vaccinated twice,” he said.

“I’m running because I care about the year 2068. That is when I’ll be the same age as President Joe Biden. Politics is not hypothetical to me; what happens today affects my generation tomorrow,” he said.

For more information about Hoffman’s stances on current issues and the rest of his campaign, people may visit caseyhoffman.org, which went live today.


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