Reflecting on 2013: Taking a look at the top stories of the last year

ESCANABA – 2013 was a busy year in the Delta County area – a year of highs and lows.

There was cause to celebrate. Escanaba was full of life in July when residents present and past and visitors celebrated the city’s sesquicentennial. Bells Brewery decided to make Escanaba the home of its newest brewery. The Delta County Historical Museum got a facelift and John D. Besse Park came into existence.

The year, though, was not without its tragedies. In April, it came to light an Escanaba couple had been torturing, abusing, and sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy while he had been kept in a north Escanaba home for four years. Susan Marie Bardo, 46, the victim’s mother, and her boyfriend, Carl James Pellinen, 47, were eventually sentenced to up to 50 years in prison.

Here is a look at the events that shaped the last 12 months in Delta County.

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3 – OSF St. Francis Hospital’s first baby of the new year, Zophia Virginia Wallace, was born Jan. 3 at 6:38 p.m.

8 – James Andrew Mileski, 22, of Marinette, accused of stabbing a man in Marinette on New Year’s Day.

8 – A pilot who had to make an emergency landing on an Escanaba road attributes the safe stop to practice landings he performed in training. Pilot Steve Atkins and passenger Donald Poe, both of Gladstone and both members of the Civil Air Patrol, were forced to land around 8:30 p.m. on Danforth Road after the plane’s engine lost power.

9 – The community honored a long-time advocate for special education when Lou Maniaci retired from the Delta-Schoolcraft Intermediate School District (DSISD) Board.

10 – The Michigan State Police announced the assignment of 1st Lt. Gregory S. Cunningham as commander of the Gladstone Post.

15 – It appears Gladstone’s Delta Avenue will be getting a facelift. Officials discussed a “complete rebuild” of the street during the Gladstone City Commission meeting.

15 – A Garden snowmobiler who ran over an ice fisherman nearly a year ago was sentenced to up to five years in prison. Douglas Duane Barbeau, 27, pleaded no contest to purposely running his snowmobile into Parker Bambenek, 22, of Marquette.

23 – An Escanaba man, accused of robbing a local gas station attendant at knifepoint, was arraigned in Delta County District Court. Marc Allen Grove, 19, of Escanaba, was arrested for armed robbery and possession of a controlled substance.

24 – David Lord was named the new president and CEO for OSF St. Francis Hospital & Medical Group.

28 – A two-vehicle crash resulted in the death of Ryan Robert-Raymond Harper, 23, of Rapid River.


6 – A group of concerned citizens, in cooperation with the city of Escanaba, is progressing on its goal of addressing homelessness in the area. The Homeless Task Force, formed in December 2012, will request city council amend Escanaba’s zoning ordinance to allow transitional housing for homeless in multi-family districts.

12 – A fatal snowmobile accident claimed the life of a 24-year-old Spalding man. Timothy Dean Graham was operating a snowmobile on the Cedar River waterway, east of Kell Road, when his sled struck some trees.

12 – Escanaba Public Safety Department is asking for the public’s help in finding a missing woman. Jean Marie Lawrence, 56, was last seen in Escanaba on Feb. 6 at approximately 8 p.m. in the 500 block of South 22nd Street when she walked away from her adult foster home.

21 – NewPage Corp., owner of the paper mill in Escanaba, announced the lay-off of 300 employees company-wide.

25 – Approximately $30,000 has been raised from the annual Walk For Warmth in Delta County.

27 – Residents of the Gladstone School District voted to pass a millage proposal which was reintroduced after failing during the November General Election. The proposal will provide the district with more than $1 million.

27 – Voters in the Mid Peninsula School District approved a renewal of 18 mills during a special election.

27 – Residents of the Rapid River School District have voted to pass a bond proposal that will provide the district with more than $3 million for facility improvements.


8 – Lockheed Martin Corp. and Littoral Combat Ship partner Marinette Marine Corp. were awarded a contract to build the next two Freedom Class LCS combat vessels at the Marinette shipyard.

9 – Construction of a public park on Escanaba’s southwest side will become a reality thanks to the donation of a Gladstone couple. A $280,000 gift from John and Patt Besse was accepted by the Escanaba City Council. The new recreation area will be named the John D. Besse Public Park.

13 – Public transportation systems in Delta and Schoolcraft counties entered into a costs-saving agreement to share one executive director.

18 – A Bark River contractor was fined $10,000 and ordered to pay more than $100,000 in restitution for state code violations on a home he constructed in Rapid River. Jason Bradley Ives, 33, owner of North Country Construction, has been under scrutiny by the Department of License and Regulatory Affairs for more than a year.

21 – Thomas Swift, 73, of Escanaba, was killed in the accident involved two passenger vehicles and a semi truck in Gladstone. Swift’s wife, Barbara Swift, also 73, died later.

25 – Local shipyard Basic Marine, Inc. was granted approval by the city of Escanaba to create an industrial development district in Little Bay de Noc.


3 – Escanaba’s proposed budget for 2013-14 contains no rate hikes for utilities and garbage, no millage rate increases, no layoffs, and no decreases in services.

3 – A 23-year-old Escanaba man, Scott Allen Wahl, was sentenced to up to five years in prison for his role in the assault and attempted robbery of a Bark River man last December.

4 – Delta County Airport Manager Connie Ness announced her plans to retire.

12 – Two years ago this week, the body of 26-year-old Adam Campbell was found in a burning vehicle in Escanaba. The police investigation into his unexplained death remains open.

13 – A ribbon cutting ceremony was held for the new Schoolcraft Memorial Hospital.

16 – An Escanaba couple accused of torturing, abusing, and sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy were scheduled to appear for a preliminary hearing in Delta County District Court. Susan Marie Bardo, 46, the victim’s mother, and her boyfriend, Carl James Pellinen, 47, were arrested on three felonies connected to the alleged abuse.

17 – The Delta County Board of Commissioners approved hiring Dan Menacher, of Wallace, as the new building and zoning administrator for the county. Building and zoning administrator Tim Callahan will retire June 1.

23 – It was standing room only during the Gladstone City Commission meeting as residents voiced concerns over special assessments and street projects on Delta Avenue and 9th Street.

25 – The relocation of the Delta Animal Shelter has moved one step closer to reality. The shelter was presented with an opportunity to purchase land for building a new facility from Tom and Terry Brayak of Bichler Gravel and Concrete.

26 – Bell’s Brewery announced plans to construct a brewery in Escanaba.


2 – Escanaba Area Public Schools is anticipating a $1.8 million shortfall for the 2013-14 school year, which could impact multiple jobs district wide.

7 – Jeffrey William Dickerson, 31, Escanaba, was sentenced to up to 10 years in prison in connection with the assault of a Bark River man during an alleged drug deal last year.

7 – Munising City Manager Doug Bovin announced he will retire. From 1998 to 2003, he served two terms as state representative for the 108th District. He also previously served on the Gladstone City Commission and Delta County Board of Commissioners.

8 – The Delta County Board of Commissioners hired Kelly Smith as the new Delta County Airport manager.

14 – Manistique was presented a trophy for having the best tasting water in the U.P.

15 – Approximately 30 positions at Escanaba Area Public Schools have been cut for the 2013-14 school year as part of a number of budget reductions approved by the Escanaba School Board.

23 – A Wisconsin man accused of breaking into Subway restaurants in Escanaba last year was officially charged with five felonies. Brook Evan Grzelak, 51, was extradited from Dodge Correctional Facility in Waupun, Wis., to Delta County Jail in Escanaba.

24 – Manistique Area Schools senior Kenner Broullire was named the Daily Press Student of the Year for 2013.

31 – The Escanaba School Board has approved a resolution to lay off teachers due to decreased state funding and increased expenditures.


6 – Tyler Benjamin Sanders, 19, Escanaba was sentenced to up to 15 years in prison on one count of criminal sexual conduct.

8 – Robert Jason Turner, 35, of Escanaba, was sentenced to 25 to 40 years in prison in Delta County Circuit Court Friday on four counts of criminal sexual conduct.

11 – Gladstone residents will soon be paying more for water, wastewater, and solid waste removal due to rate changes approved by the city commission.

14 – A jury found the former commander of the Michigan State Police Post in Gladstone not guilty of drunken driving. William H. Smith, 43, was arrested for operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated after he crashed his vehicle on July 7, 2012, in Chippewa County.

17 – Brady Nelson, an Escanaba City Council member, died from cancer.

24 – Another year of the Bark River Off-Road races are in the books, and despite a little rainfall on Saturday, it turned out to be a very successful year.

28 – An Escanaba woman and her boyfriend admitted in court to abusing her teenage son for years, confining him to a tarp-lined upstairs bedroom where he was sometimes tied to a chair and fed one meal a day. The boy also was the victim of sexual abuse. Susan Marie Bardo, 46, and her boyfriend, Carl James Pellinen, 47, each entered pleas during separate hearings in Delta County Circuit Court.

28 – Marc Tall, of Escanaba, was appointed to fill a temporary vacancy on the Escanaba City Council.


5 – The company planning to buy Escanaba’s power plant is seeking an alternative lender as a backup in the event its current financer cannot resolve issues delaying funding.

5 – Escanaba’s Sesquicentennial Celebration started with a parade down Ludington Street. Thousands of people enjoyed the 10-day event.

9 – The expansion of the Delta County Historical Society’s museum and John D. Besse Public Park were dedicated.

10 – A woman held hostage at gunpoint inside her home Tuesday safely escaped with the help of police who later arrested her husband in a standoff in Flat Rock.

11 – An event at Harbor Hideout in Ludington Park celebrated the playground’s 20th year.

12 – The Big Bay de Noc School District hired Ken Groh as its new part-time superintendent.

13 – Gov. Rick Snyder made a special appearance in Escanaba to kick off the Maritime Festival.

16 – A 20-year-old Escanaba man, Marc Allen Grove, was sentenced to spend up to 15 years in prison Monday for his role in a gas station robbery in Escanaba.

17 – Johnathan Whitehouse, 13, drowned while swimming in the bay off Aronson Island.

20 – Delta County Road Commission Managing Director Rob Van Effen announced his plans to retire.

25 – Annaelise Marie Ambrose, 23, of Escanaba, the store clerk who allowed her friend to take money from the cash register at the Grain “N’ Grape nearly a year ago was sentenced to five months in jail.

29 – Local philanthropist and businessman John Besse died.

30 – Former Delta County administrator Thomas Boyne died.


4 – The fourth annual Daily Press Children’s Back-to-School and Health Fair has marked another successful year.

6 – The only professional golf tournament in Michigan or Wisconsin will be held at Sweetgrass Golf Club for the next three years. That was confirmed when the Hannahville Indian Community tribal council approved a new three-year contract with the Symetra Tour, which is the road to the LPGA Tour in women’s golf.

12 – The Upper Peninsula State Fair opened featuring a variety of entertainment, exhibits, games, carnival rides, food, and events throughout the week.

14 – After torturing and abusing her own child while imprisoning him in his room for years, an Escanaba woman was ordered to spend up to 50 years in prison during her sentencing in Delta County Circuit Court. Susan Marie Bardo, 46, sat with her head down while Judge Stephen Davis went above and beyond the 17.5-year sentencing guidelines recommendation.

14 – The grand champion and reserve champion of this year’s beef cattle junior show at the U.P. State Fair were named. The grand champion steer was raised by Denham Miron of Escanaba and the reserve champion steer was raised by Justin Ernest of Powers.

15 – A Negaunee man was named the 2013 Upper Peninsula Veteran of the Year at a ceremony at the U.P. State Fair. Philip Taskila of Negaunee received this year’s recognition.

20 – An Escanaba man was ordered to spend up to 50 years in prison for convictions of child abuse and criminal sexual conduct against a teen boy. Carl James Pellinen, 47, was sentenced to 17.5 years to 50 years on one count of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and 25 years to 50 years on one count of first-degree child abuse towards his girlfriend’s child.


2 – The Grand Marshal in the Rock Labor Day Parade was Frank Salmi.

3 – A 19-year-old Escanaba man, Tyler Austin LaPalm, was recently sentenced to up to 10 years in prison for sexually assaulting a teen.

7 – The 68th Annual Lake States Logging Congress & Equipment Expo was held in Escanaba.

10 – A Bark River man accused of scamming a Hermansville couple on a home-remodeling project was assessed $10,000 restitution for not being a licensed contractor. Jason Bradley Ives, 34, pleaded guilty to being an unlicensed contractor while remodeling the home of Cole and Misty Nehring.

18 – The fifth U.P. Honor Flight will be departing from the Delta County Airport.

25 – Schoolcraft Memorial Hospital Board of Trustees announced the appointment of Sherry Arnold, as interim chief executive officer.


2 – Commissioner Ryan Holm announced plans to resign from the Delta County Board.

12 – Ground was broken to ceremoniously commence construction of the Upper Hand Brewery on Airport Road in Escanaba.

18 – A New Year’s Eve fireworks display is planned for Escanaba courtesy of the Esky150 Committee.


2 – Escanaba Public Safety has confirmed remains found are that of Jean Lawrence, 56, who was reported missing Feb. 6 within the city of Escanaba. Preliminary information indicates the cause of death is likely from exposure.

6 – Voters approved all three incumbents seeking re-election for three, four-year terms on the Escanaba City Council in the election. Leo Evans, current mayor, received the most votes, tallying 1,083. Marc Tall had the second-highest number of votes with 933 while Patricia Baribeau received 749 in her favor, according to unofficial results.

6 – Of the 10 candidates son the ballot for the four open Gladstone City Commission seats, voters selected both new and familiar faces to represent them. Incumbents Joe Maki and Hugo Mattonen secured their seats for another four years, and will be joined by Jay Bostwick. Bostwick, Mattonen, and Maki received 536, 387, and 369 votes respectively. They defeated Jessica Ebner, who received 302 votes; Rick Micheau, who received 195 votes; and Steven Viau, who received 241 votes.

6 – The Escanaba Downtown Development Authority (DDA) hired Ed LeGault, of Escanaba, as the agency’s new director.

12 – Newly-elected council member Marc Tall will be serving Escanaba as its mayor, council decided in a 4-1 vote.

12 – Joseph Maki became the Gladstone’s new mayor

16 – Approximately 10,000 feet of an abandoned gill net has been removed from Lake Michigan, east of the Garden Peninsula, following a lengthy joint law enforcement investigation.

19 – A missing family from Texas – being sought by the FBI and El Paso police – were located in Escanaba minus one family member. A five-month-old child remains missing. Jeffrey Farrey, 22, and his wife, Jenna Farrey, 20, of El Paso, Texas, were arrested and lodged in the Delta County Jail after police located them at the Eagle’s Nest Motel in Escanaba. The child was later found dead in New Mexico. The couple has since been sent to Texas to face charges.


3 – The deer harvest during the 2013 firearm season appears to be down compared to last year’s numbers, according to statistics being tallied at Department of Natural Resources deer check stations in the Upper Peninsula.

10 – A Gladstone man – accused of seriously injuring his sister who was riding his motorcycle in a 2011 crash – will be sentenced in Menominee County in one month. Steven Dennis Parrett, 44, pleaded no contest.

18 – The Rev. John Doerfler, vicar general of the Diocese of Green Bay, has been appointed by Pope Francis as the 13th bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Marquette.

21 – Michigan Department of Natural Resources law enforcement officials have confirmed a cougar was illegally killed in Schoolcraft County. DNR conservation officers and Special Investigations Unit detectives were able to successfully recover evidence and identify and apprehend two suspects from Bay County.

23 – A former Bark River contractor, convicted of scamming clients, was recently ordered to pay $10,000 in fines to the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. The agency recently released disciplinary action against Jason Bradley Ives, 34, and his business, North Country Construction, in connection with two home projects in Menominee County.

26 – A head-on crash claimed the lives of two motorists in Harris Township. Lee “Dobbs” James Polfus, 29, of Escanaba, and Curtis Joel Grondin, 35, of Wilson, both died in the head-on collision.

28 – The child who died in a house fire in Menominee County early Friday has been identified as eight-year-old Nelson Charles Williams. The boy, along with his parents, Duaine Daniel WIlliams, 35, Dawn Marie Williams, 34, and his twin sister, Hailey Marie Williams, were asleep when a fire broke out at around 1 a.m. in their mobile home.