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Philipps guilty in reckless driving with injuries case

EagleHerald Staff Writer

MENOMINEE—Ryan Joseph Philipps, 25, of Menominee Township was convicted on two felony counts late Friday, but found not guilty of attempted murder, two years after the sport-utility vehicle he was driving seriously injured Devon Barley, 25, also of Menominee Township.

The jury listened to about a day and a half of testimony before returning a verdict of guilty of assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder, punishable by up to 10 years, and of reckless driving causing serious impairment, punishable by five years. Philipps, who is the son of Menominee attorney Randall Philipps, was found not guilty of assault with a dangerous weapon.

The verdict was announced about 11:30 p.m. Friday, according to the Michigan State Attorney’s office. 47th Circuit Court Judge John Economopoulos declined to revoke bond in the matter.

Assistant State Attorney Robert Hayes is the prosecuting attorney. He did not respond to the EagleHerald’s Tuesday request for an interview.

Sentencing will be scheduled by the Menominee Circuit Court, the state attorney’s office said.

“We were disappointed because we wanted the jury to find reasonable doubt, which we believe the evidence did show. We were seeking an acquittal of all charges,” said Menominee defense attorney Trenton Stupak. However, Stupak said, Philipps was convicted of a less-serious offense than the assault with intent to murder charge the state attorney general sought.

According to media reports from the August 2019 incident, witnesses at the time told Menominee County sheriff’s deputies Philipps drove onto the front lawn at the County Road 577 home where Barley resided about 4:15 p.m. Friday, Aug. 2, 2019. The sports-utility vehicle Philipps was driving appeared to intentionally strike and run over Barley after the two had argued over $140, according to the 2019 media reports. Both men were age 23 at the time.

Deputies searched for Philipps and the SUV using a drone. Philipps surrendered at 6:52 p.m. Aug. 4, 2019 and was arrested and charged with assault with intent to murder and attempted murder, according to media reports.

But Stupak said several witnesses testified during the court proceedings that Barley jumped on the hood of the SUV, and Phillips’ drove over the lawn to get away from a dangerous situation.

“Our position was Mr. Philipps did not intend to cause the result that was caused. That’s what was most disappointing, that they didn’t find this was an accident,” Stupak said.

“The testimony was clear Barley went up to Philipps’ window and there was an altercation while Ryan was in the driver’s seat. That led to Mr. Philipps’ driving on the lawn, and Barley somehow got struck (by the vehicle). We felt it was clear Barley got himself on the hood,” he said.

The evidence showed Barley jumped on the hood of the car and at some point slipped off, Stupak said. “The jury was unwilling to accept it was unintentional. They thought it was intentional and reckless.”

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R.W. Fernstrum nominated for 'Coolest Thing Made in Michigan,' seeks votes
  • Updated

MENOMINEE—Menominee’s own R.W. Fernstrum & Company is receiving statewide recognition for its GRIDCOOLER® Keel Cooler, which has been nominated for the 2021 “Coolest Thing Made in Michigan” presented by the Michigan Manufacturers Association (MMA).

This “Coolest Thing Made in Michigan” is part of MMA’s annual recognition of the exceptional products made across the State of Michigan and a celebration of the contributions manufacturers make to Michigan’s economy and local communities. Thirty-seven Michigan-made products from around the state are included in this year’s competition.

In Voting Round 1, open through Friday, anyone can vote daily for up to four products at coolestthing.mimfg.org. These votes determine which products make it into the top ten in voting round 2. The winner of the “Coolest Thing Made in Michigan” will be announced during the 2021 MFG Excellence Awards event in early November.

“Being nominated for ‘Coolest Thing Made in Michigan’ is a great honor and it would mean so much to our entire team to win the title,” said R.W. Fernstrum & Company President Sean Fernstrum. “Of course, it’s hard to compete with Michigan-made products like ice cream and beer so that’s why we’re calling on our friends and neighbors for their support and votes. Winning would truly be a victory for the entire Menominee area community.”

R.W. Fernstrum & Company is a fourth-generation, family owned and operated business that has been based out of Menominee, since its founding in 1949. The company got its start during World War II when the U.S. Navy encountered engine cooling problems with its landing craft and required a new closed circuit cooling system. After intense research, Robert W. Fernstrum developed and patented the first rectangular tube keel cooler design that is still used today.

Fernstrum’s GRIDCOOLER® Keel Cooler has evolved over the years into a line of keel coolers that offers nearly limitless variations to fit a particular application. Each solution is engineered to meet the requirements of the engine, vessel and operating conditions. Active in all sectors of the workboat and brown water sectors, Fernstrum is also active in wind and tidal energy projects. Although Menominee is its home base, Fernstrum does business worldwide with about 30 percent of sales happening outside the U.S. across six continents and over 53 countries. Notably, R.W. Fernstrum & Company received ISO 9001:2015 certification in May 2018.

Learn more about MMA and the MFG Excellence Awards at mimfg.org. For more information on R.W. Fernstrum & Company, visit www.fernstrum.com.

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Marinette County redistricting plan moves forward
  • Updated

EagleHerald Editor

MARINETTE—A little nip here, a little tuck there and Marinette County’s redistricting plan should be complete.

The Development Committee discussed the topic Tuesday and approved some minor changes. The plan now goes to a public hearing at 9 a.m. next Tuesday (Sept. 14) in the county board room at the courthouse.

As County Administrator John Lefebvre pointed out at last week’s county board meeting, the population of the county hasn’t changed much in the past decade, but where people live has shifted somewhat and that could mean some slightly different supervisory districts in county government.

According to the 2010 Census, the county’s population was 41,749. The population grew by 123—to 41,872—following the 2020 Census.

The Town of Dunbar lost 489 residents, mainly because Northland International University closed, while the Town of Stephenson gained 488 people.

Consequently, those two areas saw a bit of a makeover.

The committee approved a slight change in the Town of Stephenson. Lefebvre said town officials requested the minor change.

“The reason they want to do that (the change) is it looks more like the district they currently have,” Lefebvre said. “What it will do, it will allow them to follow their ward map.”

He pointed out that this change will allow the town not to create another ballot style.

“Ballot styles cost money,” he said, “And so if we can keep the number of ballot styles down, that definitely will save money over a 10-year period.”

Lefebvre added that if a town has a preference and if there’s no reason not to go with that preference, the county should accommodate that town.

The committee also voted to keep the towns of Goodman and Dunbar, along with a small portion of the Town of Athelstane, in one district. One thought was to take a portion of the Town of Silver Cliff (rather than Athelstane), but County Clerk Kathy Brandt pointed out that the Wabeno School District juts into the town of Silver Cliff and that would call for another ballot style (which again is more costly for municipalities).

With this decision, the towns of Silver Cliff and Athelstane both will have two ballot styles. “That’s more fair,” Lefebvre stated.

A slight change in the Town of Middle Inlet also was approved.

“We tried to keep Middle Inlet as whole as we possibly could …,” Lefebvre said.

The committee also looked at the City of Marinette proposed districts. Lefebvre said it is largely unchanged. He pointed out the city follows the county boundaries when drafting its wards.

There are 30 supervisory districts in the county and each should be near 1,396 residents (41,872 divided by 30), according to Lefebvre. He said there is a 5% allowance in each district, high or low. That equates to a plus/minus of 69 residents from the target of 1,396 people.

After the next week’s public hearing, the plan will go to the full County Board on Sept. 21, which also will have the option to modify it.

Lefebvre said once approved, the plan will be sent to local districts for those entities to do their ward maps. It will then be sent to the full county board for final approval.

The six-member committee includes: chairman Ted Sauve, Penny Chaikowski, Robert Holley, Thomas Mandli, Bonnie Lee Popp and Clancy Whiting.

In other matters, the committee:

• Approved a request from Development/Tourism Director Jenny Short to serve on the Bay Area Workforce Development Board of Directors.

• Recommended that Short be allowed to apply for a $31,250 Destination Marketing Grant from the Wisconsin Department of Administration. This will go the the full county board and is subject to approval by Corporation Counsel Gale Mattison.