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Top News: What Happened to Mom Who Was Killed at Christmas? - and More

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Here are 10 stories from the past week that had a big impact on Northern Michigan.

1. Unsolved: Life After the Murder of Brenda Martinez

Brenda Martinez was just 23 years old when she disappeared from her home in Flint just before Christmas of 1988. Her body was found several days later at a park in northeast Genesee County. Her death was ruled a homicide, but the case remains unsolved. Police are still searching for answers in this cold case. If you have any information about what happened to Brenda Martinez, call the Richfield Township Police Department in Geneses County at 810-653-3565.


2. Gov. Whitmer Urges Michiganders Not to Burn, Could Extend to Fireworks

With possible rain in the forecast, the extreme dry spell Michigan is in may be cut down but right now state officials are asking everyone to avoid any sort of burning. With the 4th of July holiday coming up, if there isn’t significant rainfall before then, it could extend to fireworks. The state has not offered any official ban and it’s unclear if they could enforce anything outside of public land, but Governor Gretchen Whitmer was asked Wednesday about putting any sort of ban in place given the conditions.

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3. What Happens After a Fire? Here’s What the DNR Thinks About the Wilderness Trail


The dry conditions are allowing the Wilderness Trail wildfire in Crawford County to continue to burn, in small spots, despite being completely contained. Until it is extinguished, the full extent of the damage to the ecosystem will not be known. Will the DNR have to help? Or can Mother Nature handle it herself? Mother Nature is resilient. She will be able to handle whatever is thrown her way, especially a wildfire. But when you look at the aftermath of the fire in Crawford County, it’s hard not to want to do something to help speed up the growth.

4. Tractor-Trailer Loaded with Lumber Overturns on US 131; Driver Reportedly OK

The Montcalm County Sheriff’s Office said Thursday that a semi tractor-trailer overturned Wednesday night at US 131 southbound north of 22 Mile Road in Township of Pierson. Montcalm County Deputies responded to the scene at 9:43 p.m. The investigation revealed that a 2018 Kenworth tractor, driven by a 51-year-old Hulbert man, was traveling south on US 131 approaching the 22 Mile Road overpass. The tractor was hauling double flatbed trailers loaded with lumber.

5. ‘Just Drive’ - Michigan’s Distracted Driving Ban Begins June 30


Put the phones down. In three weeks it will be illegal to have a cellphone - or any electronic device - in your hand while driving. Michigan became the 26th “hands-free state” Wednesday when Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed a distracted driving bill into law. It will take effect June 30, right before the busy holiday weekend.

6. MSP: Man Arrested for Secretly Recording Young Woman Nude, Fired From Benzie Schools

Michigan State Police said Tuesday that a 33-year-old Beulah man was arrested for taking nude photos and videos of a young woman. The man, David Parr, had been working as a probationary bus driver at Benzie Central Schools but was fired when they learned of the arrest. On June 2, a trooper from the Michigan State Police Cadillac Post was sent to a residence in Benzonia for a report of nude photos and videos of a young woman. The materials were found on the phone belonging to David R. Parr from Beulah, state police said.

7. Beloved Kingsley School Secretary Starts Her Next Chapter


A beloved Northern Michigan school employee who’s been around for more than four decades is about to start a new chapter. Kay Wagner has spent 43 years working at Kingsley Area Schools and is retiring at the end of the school year. “I started in 1978, filling in for a lady whose husband got in an accident because the principal came and asked me, and so I’ve never left,” said Wagner.

8. Don’t Forget, Your Trees Need Water as Badly as Your Flowers and Plants

Summer in Northern Michigan has started very hot and very dry. If you planted new trees this spring or last fall, don’t forget to keep them watered. The DNR says dry weather can weaken healthy trees and make them more vulnerable to disease, insects and limb breakage. New trees still setting their roots especially need water. Here’s the best practice for watering your trees.

9. Cute Ducklings Saved After Falling Into Storm Drain

On Sunday, the Grand Traverse Metro Emergency Services Authority rectified a fowl situation by saving nine ducklings. The authority said that the duty crew flew into action when they received a report that some ducklings fell into a storm drain near Hobby Lobby. The crew used a net and were able to safely rescue all nine of the confused ducklings. They were released into a nearby pond to their mother, officials said.

10. Clean Water Act Citizen Lawsuit Filed Against Burnette Foods in Elk Rapids

A Clean Water Act Citizen Suit was filed this week against a company in Antrim County. It’s been filed by several Northern Michigan organizations. Burnette Foods in Elk Rapids have been allegedly excessively discharging fruit processing wastewater to the ground through spray irrigation fields. And while they have a groundwater permit administered through the Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy, the overapplication has lead to discharge reaching a wetland network that reaches Spencer Creek and empties into Elk Lake.

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