06-22-2017 A grand guy gets a grand honor; Lou Brule named “Top Pop”; Busy times for emergency respo

A grand guy gets a grand honor

By Kristy Noack

Michael Zehner, a Watervliet local born and bred in this small town, has been selected by the organizers of the city’s annual Independence Day Celebration to be the Grand Marshal in this year’s parade.

You might not know him by name, but you will recognize Zehner as he sits atop a shiny convertible in the parade, which will be held Saturday, July 1 at 1:00 p.m. He is the man who is always helping someone else. He has an infectious laugh and a bright smile. He makes others feel better about themselves just by being in the same room with him. He is proud he can help others, he is proud of his hometown, and he is proud to be this year’s Grand Marshal.

Zehner is a popular man about town. He spends his time volunteering at Lakeland Hospital Watervliet. His assignment there is helping visitors in the waiting room and walking to patients’ rooms with books and magazines for them to enjoy.

Zehner’s zest for helping others doesn’t end when his shift at the hospital is over. He is also a volunteer at the Watervliet Veteran of Foreign Wars hall. He visits local nursing homes with friend Billy Loshbough and sits and talks with the residents. Also, Zehner can often be found volunteering at the Watervliet High School or walking or riding his bike through town.

In the late 1980s, if you headed to the Loma Theater in Coloma to catch a flick, Zehner might often be the gentleman who held the door open for you. No, he didn’t work there but it gave him pleasure to help people and meet new friends.

Zehner was the overwhelming favorite selection of this year’s festival organizers, who had the daunting task of finding a candidate who exemplifies all that is good within a person.

Amy Loshbough, co-chair of the festival, said, “Mike doesn’t know a stranger. He’s friends with everybody.”

Rochelle Ulleg, also co-chair, shared, “You think of ‘grand marshal’ and you think of the impact they have on the community. You generally think of a business, but this year Michael’s name came up.”

“We couldn’t have picked a better marshal!” Loshbough added.

Zehner himself couldn’t believe he had been selected. “I’m in shock! I’ve never been a grand marshal before, not for any city.”

Wistfully, Zehner added, “I just wish my mom was alive to see it.”

Zehner is clearly a people person. Every morning he gets up between 5:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. and heads to the Sidetrack Café in downtown Watervliet. He has coffee – no breakfast – with his friends before he begins his day walking around town.

He often catches his favorite television show “The Chase” but volunteering is what he likes best. “I like all the people and Watervliet.  My favorite is volunteering at the hospital.”

Zehner is no stranger to parades, either. For years he decorated and rode his bike in the parade. In the late 1990s, “I would dress up like Uncle Sam,” he shares with a sweet smile.

Zehner will certainly have the thrill of a lifetime on July 1. And, with a shake of his head, he still can’t believe he was picked as the marshal.

Get your duck tickets now!

You still have time to purchase your duck tickets for the duck race down Mill Creek on Sunday, July 2. Tickets can be purchased at most local businesses.

Charge your batteries for the golf cart parade

A new event during this year’s festival, which will be held Friday, June 30 through Sunday, July 2, is the decorated golf cart parade contest allowing any golf cart or side-by-side vehicle. If you have a golf cart or Gator or the like, plan your decorations and get registered now!

The parade will start at North Elementary School on Baldwin just north of the city and will wind throughout area neighborhoods. The colorful carts will head down Forest Beach Road, Huntoon Avenue, Riverside Drive, downtown, Silver Terrace, and end at the Main Stage on Main Street. It’s quite a route and parade organizers are working closely with Dan Jones, Chief of the Watervliet Fire Department.

Bean bags, Mudd Run, Boosters, oh my!

Sign-up is also ongoing for the 64-team bean bag elimination tournament register at Tri-City Record.

The Mudd Run is also seeking power wheels entries for the kids’ division as well as quads for the adults’ division.

The Watervliet Athletic Boosters will be set up downtown, so be sure to get your Panther apparel during the weekend.

Pam Quinn is heading up the Kids Zone area and needs a few volunteers to watch the bounce house. Give Quinn a call at (269) 208-2415 if you are able to assist.

The Hooterville Hitters have put out a final call for players interested in participating in the vintage baseball game against the House of David Echoes Saturday, July 1 at 6:00 p.m. at Hays Park. No experience is necessary! Visit the Hooterville Hitters Facebook page or email kristynoack@gmail.com to get on the roster.

Stop by the Tri-City Record to register for most of the events including the golf cart parade, grand parade, bean bag tourney, Mudd Run, and more.

A complete rundown of the 4th of July festivities will be in next week’s Tri-City Record.

EXTENSIVE DAMAGE…was caused when a tractor trailer careened off I-94 and plowed into the front offices at Lane Automotive

Lou Brule named “Top Pop”

By Annette Christie

He came into her life when she was two years old and became what she describes as “the best thing that ever happened to me.”  Casey Brule nominated her dad, Lou Brule for the 2017 Tri-City Record Top Pop.

Lou was introduced to Casey when he began dating her mom.  Lou says of Casey, “She has always been my daughter.”  Now 31 years later, the two have an abundance of things they do together including concerts and sporting events and just spending time together not doing anything. “Simple people require simple things,” said Lou.

While he was praised plenty in her nominating letter, he passed out some praises of his own of his daughter. “Casey is the daughter every father would want,” Lou said.  He added that being a dad has provided “always enough problems to make you feel needed and always enough accomplishments to make you feel proud.”

He now has the pleasure of being “Papa” to Casey’s daughter Makena.  In her letter she describes their relationship, “If it weren’t for my dad, my daughter wouldn’t have a babysitter, a playmate, a doctor, a disciplinarian, etc.” The bond shared with daughter and father has passed on to granddaughter and papa which was clear as Lou showed off their photos together and talked about doing everything from playing Barbies to playing softball with Makena.

For being selected the 2017 Tri-City Record “Top Pop”, he receives gifts from area merchants. The gifts include a Double Papa Mo from Mo’e Pies located inside JW Morlock & Girls Farmstand, pizza gift certificate from DiMaggios Pizza and Burgers, ten $1 instant lottery tickets from Hartford Harding’s, 25-foot Channel Lock tape measure from Big C Lumber in Coloma, and a special gift from B&B Outlet in Watervliet.

Casey’s nominating letter from the June 8 issue of the Tri-City Record is as follows…

Dear Editor,

When I think about what it takes to be the perfect dad, my dad’s name always crosses my mind. Thirty-one years ago, when I was just two-years-old, the man that I now call Dad walked into my life. Little did I know that he would be the best thing that ever happened to me.

It has been said that being a dad isn’t defined as the man who makes the child, but rather a man who extends his hands and time to help raise that child and gives his heart and love as well. That is exactly what happened for me. Not only am I proud to call him my father, but super proud to call him my daughter’s Papa. If it weren’t for my dad, my daughter wouldn’t have a babysitter, a playmate, a doctor, a discipliner, etc. I pray every day that I can be half the parent that he was and is for me still.

He deserves so much more than winning The Best Dad Contest, but with how rough things have been for our family, I cannot think of a better way for him to take some time for himself and relax instead of stressing over who he needs to help next or what needs to be fixed next.

Help me give my dad, Lou Brule an awesome Father’s Day!!!

Casey L. Brule

Busy times for emergency responders and police with vehicle accidents, airplane crash, and embezzlement by sexton

By Annette Christie

Semi plows into Lane Automotive

On Thursday, June 15 at approximately two in the morning, Berrien County Dispatch received a call for service due to a semi-tractor trailer hitting the Lane Automotive facility located at 8300 Lane Drive in Watervliet Township.

Responding units were advised that the semi left the roadway of eastbound I-94 near the 41-mile marker and crashed into the building. An employee of Lane Automotive made contact with the driver of the semi-truck and assisted him from the semi.  There was also a passenger sleeping at the time of the accident.