RESTAURANT FIRE… North Berrien Fire Rescue was called to 6410 N. M-63, DiMaggio’s restaurant, at 6:39 a.m. for a reported structure fire on Wednesday, February 20, 2019. Upon arrival, firefighters found heavy smoke coming from the south end of the building. The restaurant was not open at the time of the call and the fire was reported by a passer-by. Fire crews from North Berrien Fire Rescue, Benton Township and Covert Fire EMS were on the scene for approximately three hours. North Berrien Fire Chief Michael Mattix said that the popular restaurant sustained heavy smoke, heat and fire damage to the interior of the building. At this time the fire is still under investigation, but it is believed to be accidental in nature. All fire crews cleared from the scene at 9:07 later that morning. Owner Vince DiMaggio told the Record the restaurant sustained heavy damage and will be closed temporarily. They plan to re-open as soon as possible.
Michigan DNR announces completion of state forest roads inventory for ORV use
After two years of mapping and reviewing the condition of state forest roads maintained by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources across both peninsulas, an initial inventory that provides a snapshot of the road network is complete. One significant result of that work is a compilation of interactive maps showing where off-road vehicle use is allowed on Michigan’s state forest roads, which will be published online at michigan.gov/forestroads and updated each spring after that. “Forests roads are a resource to help people get out and enjoy Michigan’s public forests,” said Deb Begalle, chief of the DNR’s Forest Resources Division. The inventory and road assessment were required by Public Act 288 of 2016, which provided a time frame for inventory and classification of roads. The law focused particularly on which roads should be open to off-road vehicle traffic. Roads in the northern Lower Peninsula were inventoried during 2017, and roads in the southern Lower Peninsula and the Upper Peninsula were inventoried during 2018. “Roads have always been important to forest management, whether you are figuring out how to get forest products out of the woods or if you’re trying to get out there for recreation and all of these activities that people love,” said Scott Whitcomb, unit manager of the Pigeon River Country State Forest in the northern Lower Peninsula, who has been instrumental in the road inventory. The inventory didn’t involve getting out and driving over every mile of road – there simply wasn’t time for that. Instead, the effort to catalog the roads used computer mapping technology to consolidate previously mapped roads into a single, comprehensive database. “We’ve been collecting information on roads for a very long time,” Whitcomb said. “What we did here was flip them into a new platform online.” An interactive map and printable maps were provided online, which were used to solicit public comment on the road inventory and issues connected with opening or closing certain roads to ORVs. Various roads or road segments were proposed to be opened or closed to ORV use. Members of the public could drop a pin on one of the maps to mark an area and express their concern about it. They also could comment by email or mail. Thousands of miles of state forest roads are now open to ORV use. A total of 84 people commented on nearly 5,600 miles of forest roads in the Upper Peninsula. There, 5,582.06 miles (99.1 percent) of roads are open year-round; 50.28 miles (0.89 percent) of roads are closed year-round and 0.48 miles (0.01 percent) of roads are closed seasonally. There were 77 comments regarding nearly 370 miles of forest roads in the southern Lower Peninsula. In that region, 8.95 miles (2.43 percent) of roads are open year-round; 285.92 miles (77.67 percent) of roads are closed year-round and 73.25 miles (19.9 percent) of roads are closed seasonally. There are more than 7,500 miles of state forest roads in the northern Lower Peninsula, with 6,308.6 miles (84 percent) of roads open to ORV use, while 1,213.6 (16 percent) miles of road were closed by a land use order of the DNR director. More than 2,000 members of the public weighed in on that decision. “We had hundreds of pin drops with people telling us everything from, ‘This is a great idea, I can’t wait’ to ‘You guys are crazy, this is going to cause problems,’” Whitcomb said. DNR road evaluations considered user conflicts, the condition of the road and a review of current land use orders. An example is the Pigeon River Country State Forest. It is home to Michigan’s elk herd and focuses on quiet recreation. “There’s a lot of public land where ORVs are the best use,” Whitcomb said. “The Pigeon River management plan differs from other state forests in that it emphasizes quiet recreation and scenic values.” A few other northern Lower Peninsula areas that are focused on quiet recreation also are closed to ORVs. Those include Jordan Valley, the Mason and Deward tracts and the Sand Lakes quiet area. The maps are a work in progress and will be updated annually as DNR staff in the field monitor road conditions or find mapping errors. There are some proposed changes currently under consideration for the northern Lower Peninsula, with a decision pending by the DNR director and Michigan Natural Resources Commission. Roads that are currently open could be closed to ORVs or other vehicles in the future if erosion threatens the forest or fish habitat in nearby waters, for example. “Getting our forest roads into an inventory system on the map gives us a baseline that we can begin working with to manage the forest better,” Whitcomb said. Comments from the public will be evaluated each year. Several criteria will be used to make evaluations, and recommendations will be reviewed by DNR staff members and the public before the DNR director makes decisions. The goal is to have forest roads that are safe and provide access to various users, while ensuring that forests and waterways aren’t negatively impacted. Take a look at the road maps and learn more about Public Act 288 at michigan.gov/forestroads. Check out previous Showcasing the DNR stories in their archive at michigan.gov/dnrstories. To subscribe to upcoming Showcasing articles, sign up for free email delivery at michigan.gov/dnr.
Lakeland welcomes new ear, nose, and throat specialist Paul Judge, MD Spectrum Health Lakeland is pleased to welcome ear, nose and throat specialist, Paul Judge, MD, to the medical staff. Dr. Judge will see patients alongside Stephen Bovenkerk, DO; Deborah Habenicht, MD; and Dennis Thompson, MD, at Lakeland Ear, Nose, and Throat with practice locations in Berrien Springs, Niles, and St. Joseph. Dr. Judge earned a Doctor of Medicine degree from Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit and completed his residency in otolaryngology-head and neck surgery at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. He completed a post-doctoral fellowship in hearing and ear research at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska. Dr. Judge’s clinical interests include ear disease, endoscopic ear surgery, hearing loss, cochlear implantation, and vertigo/balance disorders. He is a member of the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery and the Christian Society of Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgeons. Providers at Lakeland Ear, Nose, and Throat care for patients with hearing, sleep, and sinus conditions and provide treatment and surgery for various throat-related conditions including cancer of the throat, face, and neck, as well as facial plastic and reconstructive surgery. For more information, or to schedule an appointment, call (269) 982-3368 in St. Joseph.
\Rep. Griffin urges governor to revise, reissue plans for DEQ, water safety
State Rep. Beth Griffin called on Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to revise a previous plan and issue another executive order reorganizing the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality in an effort to expand environmental protections, increase access to safe and clean drinking water, and improve the health and safety of Michigan’s citizens. Griffin, of Mattawan, said the Legislature recently rejected an executive order reorganizing the department because a portion of the order overstepped the fundamental division of powers between the governor’s office and Legislature. “The new governor’s decision to eliminate three legislatively established commissions was an overreach of executive authority. The Legislature had a duty to act in its constitutional role as a check on the executive branch,” Griffin said. “I believe that same executive order also included many good ideas for Michigan, but because the Legislature does not have the power to edit individual lines of an executive order it had to be rejected in its entirety.” The review commissions, the governor’s executive order would have abolished, were put into law last year to give citizens a much-needed voice in the rule-making process, increasing the transparency and accountability of the DEQ. Prior to the creation of review commissions, citizens and small businesses had no recourse to appeal new rules made by the DEQ and were stuck with the consequences, unless they decided to pursue costly and time-consuming appeals through the courts. Griffin’s resolution calls on the governor to submit a new and revised executive order that does not include the elimination of these committees. “I’m committed to safeguarding the health and safety of Michigan families by protecting the environment and improving access to safe, clean drinking water,” Griffin said. “I’m asking the Governor to resubmit the Executive Order without elimination of the review commissions that were established by law. I’m confident we will find a lot of common ground if we work together on responsible reforms to protect and improve our water resources for all Michigan families.” House Resolution 26 has been referred to the House Government Operations Committee for consideration.
Lakeland Wound Center opens location in St. Joseph
A second Lakeland Wound Center location recently opened at Lakeland Medical Center in St. Joseph offering patients access to cutting-edge products and treatments to promote optimum healing for severe wounds. Patients also have access to wound care in Niles with an office location inside the Lakeland Medical Suites, Niles, located at 42 N. St. Joseph Avenue. “Many of our patients come to us after they’ve exhausted all other options for their wound care,” said Julian Lewiecki, Manager, Lakeland Wound Center. “Our team of wound care specialists includes doctors, nurses, therapists, and other medical professionals dedicated to helping patients feel better and get back to enjoying life. We are pleased to now offer patients access to this vital service in St. Joseph.” The Lakeland Wound Center recently earned renewal of full accreditation from the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society (UHMS). Lakeland is just one of four health systems in Michigan, including Spectrum Health, to hold the accreditation, which is awarded after a rigorous evaluation of equipment, staff, and training. Hyperbaric treatment involves medical oxygen administered in a pressure chamber at levels higher than atmospheric pressure. This pressure helps oxygen dissolve more rapidly into the blood, promoting healing of wounds, serious infections, pressure-related scuba diving injuries, arterial gas embolism, and other illnesses. Wound specialist, Sharon Rooney-Gandy, DO, FACS, also recently joined the Spectrum Health Lakeland medical staff. Dr. Rooney-Gandy earned a Doctor of Osteopathy degree from Kansas City University College of Osteopathic Medicine. Prior to coming to Lakeland, she worked as a general surgeon and wound care physician at Sturgis Medical Group. For more information, or to schedule an appointment, call (269) 983-8601 or visit www.lakelandhealth.org/woundcare.