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Monday Update: SJPD crack case of rail car vandalism

On January 23, 2017 the St. Johns Police Department began an investigation in reference to a Malicious Destruction of Property (MDOP) complaint where one of the historic railroad cars at the St. Johns Depot was vandalized with spray paint and marker on both the inside and the outside. During the investigation of this incident, it was determined that several other buildings and signs along the Fred Meijer CIS Trail had also been vandalized around the same time period.

Through several weeks of diligent investigation by officers, four juvenile suspects were identified as being responsible for the vandalism. Two of the juvenile suspects were charged with B&E and two counts of MDOP for their involvement in the vandalism of the rail car and some signs. The other two juveniles were charged with MDOP for their involvement in the vandalism of signs and buildings along the FMCIS Trail.

The St. Johns Police Department is working in conjunction with the Clinton County Arts Council, Clinton County Prosecuting Attorney, and Clinton County Juvenile Court to assure that this incident will have the optimal outcome.

The St. Johns Police Department would like to thank those that came forward with information to assist us in solving this case and want to encourage the public to continue to come forward with information in similar situations.

Wilson Center hosts “A Grand Night for Singing”

Memorable music penned by Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein will fill the Wilson Center Auditorium March 23-26 when Homegrown Productions presents “A Grand Night for Singing.” The musical revue features cast members Marci Balogh, Kelly Bitz, Beth Webb, Bob Murrell and Darryl Schmitz performing in the lively and well-choreographed format directed by Susan DeRosa with musical direction by Jeff Richards and choreography by Fran Ludington.

“This is one of the most ambitious works we have done to date,” says Tom Webb, producer. “This promises to be a special night for those who enjoy the music of Rogers and Hammerstein.”

Joining musical director Jeff Richards (piano) in the pit orchestra are Rachael Short on keyboards; Ellen Hoard, flute; Kelly Sandula-Gruner, French horn; and Jill Malusek on percussion. “The addition of these musicians promises to add to the enjoyment for attendees,” Webb says.

The production features numbers familiar to theatergoers of all ages including songs from “Oklahoma!,” “The Sound of Music,” “South Pacific,” “Carousel,” “The King and I,” and more. The revue was originally nominated for two Tony awards and continues to delight audiences with fresh and traditional takes on many familiar tunes that will have the audience members humming along with the cast.

Performance times are 7:30 p.m. on March 23-25, with a 2 p.m. matinee March 26. The Wilson Center is located at 101 W. Cass St., St. Johns. Tickets can be purchased at the door 40 minutes before each performance.

Admission is $20 with proceeds going to the continued renovation of the auditorium to replace outdated equipment with more energy efficient and flexible stage lighting.

St. Johns City Manager resigns

Long time City Manager Dennis LaForest has submitted his resignation from the City of St. Johns effective February 13, 2017. Mr. LaForest has been the City Manager since January 2003.

“I have enjoyed my job as City Manager and enjoyed the people with whom I had the privilege to work. Now I would like to enjoy retirement. This is a wonderful city, and I wish the City well for the future”, says LaForest.

Mayor Dana Beaman who has worked with LaForest for a number of years says, “Dennis accomplished good things here in the City and has made many friends. I wish him well as he pursues whatever the future may bring.

The City will soon undertake the process of searching for a new city manager. Deputy City Manager Dave Kudwa will serve as the interim City Manager.

Dennis Scott has a story – and he’s sticking to it

by Rhonda Dedyne

Nearly three million Americans served in uniform during the Vietnam War and each has a story to tell. Dennis Scott is one of those honored veterans. His stint “in country” from August 1967 to July 1968 is part of the life story he’s sharing in a new book, ” . . . And I’m Sticking to It! A Journey in the Vietnam War through Letters Home.”

The respected, long-time St. Johns resident calls the book “a labor of love.”

“It was really written for my children and grandchildren who have asked questions about my time serving in Vietnam,” Scott says, noting that his father, George, certainly had similar experiences in World War II when he served and was wounded during battles in the Caroline Islands. “It was difficult for him to talk about – he never really wanted to open up and I understand how he felt. Writing this book has been a positive thing for me to do.”

Letters Scott had written to his parents during the war was a logical starting point in the story-telling process. “My mother, Dorothy, had saved all the letters I wrote and she gave them to me a few years ago,” he says. “I sorted through them and put everything in chronological order, and then selected ones I wanted to incorporate into the book.”

In addition, Scott wrote Authors Notes which accompany many of the letters and provide background and historical information about incidents contained in the letters. The notes help readers gain a better understanding of what Scott was writing about in each letter, and personal photographs taken by Scott and his “buddies” are also an important part of the book.

Scott was part of Armored Scout Division of the 2nd Squadron, First Cavalry Regiment during his tour. Stationed near Pleiku in the Central Highlands, Scott’s division ran convoys during the day from the camp to the Mang Yang pass, Kon Tum and Dac To. After dark, units within the division had the assignment of patrolling roads and guarding key bridges which the North Vietnamese Army targeted for “removal.”

One of those regular guard duties involving Bridge Bravo turned out to be anything but routine. In his letter dated Feb. 8, 1968, Scott tells his parents, “Don’t worry too much about the action going on over here. Charlie’s starting his last big push before the monsoons and he’s getting his butt kicked.” Scott’s author’s note provides a detailed description of what happened that night when his unit withstood a NVA ambush and inflicted causalities – without losing any of its men. The unit was ultimately cited for valor , and Scott was honored with a Bronze Star.

Incidents like those that showcase bravery and courage are an integral part of his Vietnam story, as are letters that display Scott’s sense of humor – unique camp food entrees – and a genuine spirit of camaraderie among unit members that continues to this day including regular reunions and meetings of the regiment. Scott has sent copies of the book to several of his buddies, prompting requests from others. “It makes you realize how important it’s been for all of us to talk about Vietnam,” he says. “There’s so much love for one another whenever we talk or get together – it helps a lot.”

Scott is quick to acknowledge the importance of a special person, his wife Janet, in his life before and after the war. “She’s always been there for me,” he says, citing her patience during the past five years as he’s worked on the book. “Our daughter, Elizabeth, had suggestions for the book as did our son, Bill. His wife Kendra is a graphic artist and she was instrumental in putting the book together and helping with publishing.”

Family members, friends and some members of Scott’s 2/1-Cav “Fighting Fourth” Infantry Division are enjoying reading the book; additional copies may be ordered based on requests from other individuals.

Scott will sign copies of the book at a game night March 25, 1-5 p.m., hosted by the VFW Post 4113 in St. Johns where Scott has served in numerous capacities over the years. Donations of $10 per book will be given to the 2/1-Cav Association.

For information on “. . . And I’m Sticking to It!” contact Scott at (989) 224-2601.

Maple River Migration Tour planned – April 1

Join waterfowl experts and enthusiasts at Maple River State Game Area for the Ducks Unlimited Maple River Migration Tour on Saturday, April 1.

The tour will be from 9 a.m. to noon. Attendees can park at the southwest corner of South Baldwin Road and Crapo Road in Washington Township, east of US-127.

Nature lovers, bird watchers and waterfowlers are invited to watch the skies during the busy spring migration season. See how Ducks Unlimited has conserved nearly 800 acres here at this vital migration route since 2011. Take a self-guided tour of this conservation success story.

The event will feature:
· Waterfowl experts throughout the game area talking about habitat and waterfowl.
· Giveaways for kids.
· Photo contest.

For details about the event, contact Steve Wyckoff at (616) 446-0555.

Art Competition open to 4th District high school students

Congressman John Moolenaar invites all high school students from Michigan’s Fourth Congressional District to enter their art in the 2017 Congressional Art Competition.

The winning student from the Fourth District will have his or her art displayed in the U.S. Capitol for a year and receive two round-trip tickets to travel to Washington, D.C for an annual event with Congressional Art Competition winners from around the country.

Regional winners from the Fourth District will have the opportunity for their art to appear in Congressman Moolenaar’s Midland and Cadillac offices.

The entry deadline for this year’s contest is April 17 and entries should be delivered to Congressman Moolenaar’s Midland office at 200 East Main Street, Suite 230, Midland, MI 48640.

More information on the rules and how to enter the Art Competition is online at Further questions can also be directed to the Midland office at 989-631-2552.

LAFCU offers scholarships to high school seniors – deadline April 15

LAFCU is accepting applications for its 2017 “Write to Educate” Essay Contest that will award two $2,500 college scholarships to high school seniors and allow them each to select a local charity to receive a $500 donation from LAFCU. Applications are available online at

One scholarship is for a student who will attend Baker College’s Owosso campus; the other is for a student who will attend Lansing Community College.

“This scholarship program is designed to help each winning student pursue their educational goals and also help charitable organizations in our service area continue to do their good work,” said Kelli A. Ellsworth Etchison, LAFCU vice president of community and business development. “LAFCU’s mission is to support the ideal of ‘people helping people,’ and the Write to Educate scholarship helps us fulfill that mission.”

Submissions will be accepted through Saturday, April 15. The winners will be chosen based on responses to a one-page essay on the topic: Describe how you have demonstrated leadership ability in and out of school and how you plan to grow as a leader.
The two winning students will be selected Friday, April 28.

Each winner will choose one of the following charities to receive the $500 donation from LAFCU:
· Allen Street Farmers Market
· Greater Lansing Food Bank
· The Salvation Army Owosso for its food and nutrition programs
· YMCA of Metropolitan Lansing’s Healthy Living Mobile Kitchen

Applicants must attend high school in the LAFCU service territory, which includes the counties of Barry, Calhoun, Clinton, Eaton, Gratiot, Ingham, Ionia, Jackson, Livingston, Montcalm and Shiawassee. They do not need to be members of LAFCU to apply.

Entries may be uploaded via or mailed to LAFCU, P.O. Box 26188, Lansing, MI 48909. For more information, visit