Money on the mind: Districts look to increase students’ financial know-how

Instructor Ted Hendricks leads a personal finance class Wednesday at St. Joseph High School. Hendricks says he approaches the class as an open book for students to learn from his past mistakes. (Don Campbell | HP staff)

Instructor Ted Hendricks leads a personal finance class Wednesday at St. Joseph High School. Hendricks says he approaches the class as an open book for students to learn from his past mistakes. (Don Campbell | HP staff)

By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium

ST. JOSEPH — Standing before his classroom on a Wednesday afternoon in early February, Ted Hendricks writes a story problem on the white board.

It’s only the third time this personal finance class has met this semester, but his students are about to learn one of life’s hardest lessons: How to save money.

Hendricks’ personal finance class, which he’s been teaching for more than 20 years, seems to always draw interest from students each year.

“I go through everything I did wrong or everything I learned from and try to open up my life so they don’t make the same mistakes I did,” Hendricks said afterward. “It gives them a better insight. I tell them, ‘Your parents don’t tell you things sometimes. I’m an open book.’”

College graduates these days are considered the most tech-savvy of all time. However, many have trouble balancing their own checkbook.

A new study conducted by George Washington University confirmed millennials have a low level of financial literacy, which could hurt the economy.

The study broke down the financial characteristics of more than 5,500 people born between the early 1980s and the mid-1990s. Of the group of millennials surveyed, only 8 percent answered five out of five questions correctly and 24 percent answered three correctly. With this dilemma in mind, more schools are looking to add financial courses to their curriculums.

When Hendricks came to St. Joseph High School, he inherited a year-long records keeping class.

“The students were bored and I was bored,” Hendricks said. “I had personal finance when I was in college, so I convinced the school to turn it into the class we have today for only one semester.”

Hendricks tweaks the curriculum for his finance class every year because the material is ever-changing.

He hasn’t used the book that comes with the course for a few years because there are better resources out there. Fifth Third Bank provides the class with a financial literacy course that was created by Dave Ramsey – the guru of personal money management.

Hendricks said he uses Ramsey’s material supplementary with his curriculum.

“The kids know there are some Ramsey things I enjoy and some Ramsey things I discuss that I’m a little different on,” Hendricks said.“He doesn’t like to use escrow, but sometimes you don’t have a choice.”

Dollars and cents

At Bridgman High School, students are offered business math, accounting, business management, economics and college economics.

Among those financial classes, Principal Chris Machiniak said, the one that seems to teach more about real-life experiences is business math, which incorporates Ramsey’s many teachings.

The year-long class has become a popular choice among Bridgman students the last couple of years, as it doubles as a senior math class.

“They talk about mortgages, business wages and budgets,” Machiniak said. “They go through loans and talk about some of the things Dave Ramsey does. One of the credit unions got us set up with that curriculum.”

Berrien Springs High School is in the process of evaluating its curriculum, and Principal Ryan Pesce said they are looking into adding more financial classes.

Pesce said the school added a personal finance class in 2011, about the time the state required schools to provide math classes for seniors. The high school’s accounting class was cancelled, but Pesce said the district is trying to bring it back.

“We had an accounting class, but I don’t think there was enough interest. Everything is decided on what course will gain the most interest,” he said. “This is an important subject when you look at kids who have financial debt from student loans. The financial ramifications of making mistakes early are huge.”

Machiniak said he believes students should learn the basics of the financial world in middle school, especially when it comes to checking and savings accounts. As far as the stock market and investing funds, Machiniak said it’s best to wait until the later years in high school to ensure students can comprehend everything.

“Some of these kids are dealing with car loans by their senior year,” he said. “They have to understand what is going into these things by that point because they have college coming up.”

Difficulties teaching finance

The concept of time is an important thing to remember in Hendricks’ class.

He preaches to his students nearly every day that time can be the biggest factor on an investment’s return. When Hendricks goes over a story problem with students during their first week in class, many make a mistake by not adding an extra year into the equation. The story problem proves it can never be too early to begin saving.

“It’s too above them right now. It’s not on their radar as one of the biggest issues,” Hendricks said. “Right now they’re thinking, ‘What’s for lunch today? What did someone just Snapchat me? What am I doing this weekend?’”

Some students don’t take Hendricks’ class because they are not interested while others simply have too many commitments and a loaded class schedule.

“A lot of our kids don’t have the time in their schedule to do it,” he said. “I used to have seven sections at one point, but now I’ve got two. They either don’t have the time or they don’t know the benefits.”

Lakeshore High School Principal Brad Brunner said the personal finance class uses the Ramsey curriculum, and it has become a popular choice among students.

However, Brunner believes the trick to being more fiscally responsible comes from other math classes as well.

While reading a report from the Wall Street Journal, Brunner discovered the people most responsible with their finances continue to take regular classes in high school and college – regardless of their major. The simple building blocks of algebra and calculus go a long way, Brunner says.

What remains to be the biggest challenge is getting students to understand the value of a dollar.

“There is a theory called ‘The Future Self,’ where the student makes decisions that are better off for them down the road,” Brunner said. “That part of their brains at 18 is nonexistent. Getting them to understand they will make decisions now that will affect the rest of their lives is the main hurdle.”

There’s still time

Among the other findings in the GWU survey, 30 percent of millennials have overdrawn their checking accounts, and 42 percent used “alternative financial services” such as pawn shops, auto title loans and payday loans.

As of today, four out of five millennials have major debt.

Millennials’ heavy debt burdens are causing them to compromise their future security. Some 17 percent of those with a retirement account took loans against it in the past year, while 14 percent took out a hardship withdrawal.

Schools are already teaching the newest set of students known as Generation Z or Boomlets, for those born after 2001.

Mackenzie Holden and Dylan Lawrence are both St. Joseph seniors who took Hendricks’ class last semester.

Holden said she expected the class to go over the basics on the stock market, but was surprised to learn about things like building one’s equity and buying a car.

“I thought it was going to be a lot of how to write checks and open a bank account, but it was a lot more real-world situations,” she said. “We did a lot of mock interviews and even had a unit on how expensive weddings are. Ever since I got a job my sophomore year, my dad has been hounding me about putting money away.”

Lawrence was recommended the class by his father, as both his older siblings took the class and have benefited greatly.

Both students said they feel more comfortable with student loans looming and are prepared to buy a car or rent that first apartment.

That comfort was established through a more hands-on lesson with Hendricks.

“They helped me buy a car. They knew exactly what dealer I went to, they knew what kind of interest I paid,” Hendricks said. “It was a great opportunity to address a person’s credit score. From there we learned what the credit score affects and how to maintain it.”

Lawrence added: “Before taking the class I probably would have wanted my first car to be a really nice one. Now I’ve learned that it’s probably not the best idea to do that. I mean, we even learned what we should buy for our kids’ first car.”

At one point, Hendricks had students create a life page. It had them examine what they needed as an adult and where they wanted to be at a certain point in life.

Hendricks said the state is moving in the right direction as they are considering a mandated financial literacy course. The course hasn’t been put in place, but Hendricks remains hopeful when the state revamps graduation requirements.

“There wouldn’t be a high school curriculum for Dave Ramsey if there wasn’t a problem out there,” Hendricks said. “When I tell the parents there is going to be a Ramsey curriculum involved in my class, it hits home right away. People are backwards on debt and they know it.”

Contact Tony Wittkowski at or (269) 932-0358. Follow him on Twitter: @tonywittkowski.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on Feb. 7, 2016)


One dead after residential carbon monoxide leak in Jefferson Twp.

By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium

EDWARDSBURG — One man died and five people suffered injuries Friday in an apparent carbon monoxide poisoning in Cass County, the Cass County Sheriff’s Office reported.

Cass County Central Dispatch at 5:30 a.m. heard from a caller who felt dizzy, faint and exhibited shortness of breath. Life Care ambulance was dispatched to the home along Indigan Lane in Jefferson Township. Upon arrival, deputies found multiple victims suffering from apparent carbon monoxide poisoning.

Sheriff Joseph Underwood Jr. said medics checked the house and found five family members inside.

Elizabeth Weston-Hammang, 41, David Hammang, 46, and three children ranging from 3 to 5 years old, all suffered from poisoning. These five family members had been on the first and second floors of the house.

Medics found Andrew Weston, a 43-year-old from Columbus, Ind., in a basement bedroom. He was unresponsive and pronounced dead on scene.

A Cass County medical examiner investigator was called to the residence and an autopsy is pending to confirm the cause of death as carbon monoxide poisoning.

Weston was found near the suspected source of the poisoning, police say.

The initial investigation indicated the source may have been an enclosed pool heating/boiler system. The pool room and equipment room is attached to the basement.

Underwood said the investigation is ongoing.

Columbus Indiana Police assisted in notifying Weston’s wife, Jennifer, of his death.

Edwardsburg Fire Department responded to the scene and cleared the residence of the carbon monoxide by venting the house.

Life Care Ambulance was assisted on scene by Edwardsburg Ambulance and SMCAS Ambulance. The Hammang family was transported to hospitals in South Bend.

Contact Tony Wittkowski at or (269) 932-0358. Follow him on Twitter: @tonywittkowski.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on Feb. 6, 2016)

Lawmakers see confusion with House Bill 4540

By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium

LANSING — There’s been much discussion over what the true intent is for House Bill 4540.

HB4540, commonly referred to as the “pipeline secrecy bill,” would allow energy companies to conceal information about oil and gas pipelines, high-powered electrical lines and other critical energy infrastructure from both terrorists and the public.

The bill was introduced by state Rep. Kurt Heise, R-Plymouth Township, back in May 2015. Discussion of the bill had fallen off until recently, when the Flint water crisis began making national news.

State Rep. Al Pscholka, R-Stevensville, said the bill’s main purpose is to keep terrorists away from the state’s energy infrastructure – not residents or the media.

“I think this bill is being politicized for very strange reasons. This has to do with our energy infrastructure. That’s the power lines, not pipelines,” Pscholka said. “Things like this get skewed all the time. Everyone is hypersensitive to water lines right now. There are environmental groups that will take an issue like this and politicize it for their own purpose.”

Pscholka said the water lines wouldn’t fall under the bill’s criteria, as residents could still visit their municipality’s town hall to be shown the schematics of the city’s lines.

The bill sits in the House Committee on Oversight and Ethics.

HB4540 is not on the fast track either, as Pscholka said there appears to be no support or opposition on the bill’s analysis report within the House.

“You want to have some degree of security for your substations. You don’t want terrorists to FOIA where these things are,” Pscholka said. “It’s unfortunate because the public is misinformed. There is no angle of hiding necessary info of water lines.”

Critics of the bill have said it protects oil and gas companies from public disclosures about safety and other records.

The bill would be exempt from disclosure under the state’s Freedom of Information Act information about existing and proposed energy infrastructure.

State Rep. Dave Pagel, R-Berrien Springs, said he hasn’t had a good chance to review the bill because it hasn’t gone through committee yet.

However, Pagel agrees the bill would not affect the public’s information access to water pipelines.

“It’s time to walk that tightrope between that line of respecting the public’s access to the state’s infrastructure and maintaining the public’s safety,” he said. “But it’s not a blanket exemption where everything can be hidden from the public.”

While the bill has not entered Michigan’s Senate, state Sen. John Proos said he has kept an eye on it.

Proos, R-St. Joseph, said the bill would no doubt come his way as he is the vice chairman for the Energy and Technology Committee.

The bill was last heard before the Natural Resources Committee in December 2015. Proos said the bill has been through many iterations, as the bill’s history shows eight different drafts from the original bill of introduction.

“I think it’s important the public understands the state’s infrastructure is often under threat by those who would like to bring it to a grinding halt through a terrorist attack,” Proos said. “There were over 2.5 million web browser attacks in 2013. According to the Department of Homeland Security, 53 percent of those attacks were against the energy sector.”

Contact Tony Wittkowski at or (269) 932-0358. Follow him on Twitter: @tonywittkowski.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on Feb. 6, 2016)

A sense of family: Whirlpool employees get back to their roots

From left, Diana King, Damita Burton and Ervin Poncho Eddie, pictured Friday, are key leaders in the Whirlpool African American Network (WAAN). (Don Campbell | HP staff)

From left, Diana King, Damita Burton and Ervin Poncho Eddie, pictured Friday, are key leaders in the Whirlpool African American Network (WAAN). (Don Campbell | HP staff)

By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium

BENTON HARBOR — Diana King found her place at Whirlpool Corp. when she attended an event put on by one of the company’s oldest employee resource groups.

Years later, the training analyst became one of three co-leads for the Whirlpool African American Network after her first Jazz Night.

“We always try to pull new people in to get them to plan next year’s Jazz Night and that’s how I got pulled into the network,” said King, who is from Illinois. “The network gives me a sense of family. For me not being from the area, it was great having a place to go for dinner or during the holidays when you couldn’t make it home.”

The group, which serves as a platform for the home appliance maker’s African-American employees, was created in 1998.

The whole premise behind the network is to provide an atmosphere within Whirlpool and a culture within the company that supports each demographic.

“We wanted to make sure we are not only providing a driving and engaging atmosphere, but specifically the community,” said Damita Burton, a supply demand manager for top load laundry and co-lead for WAAN. “We are also driving cultural awareness throughout the company.”

Jazz Night is the network’s capstone event for Black History Month. Employees and members of the community are invited to the annual event, which includes a formal dinner, a performance from a jazz band and a chance to recognize a few organizations in the community.

This year’s Jazz Night is Feb. 27 at the Mendel Center. Those interested in attending can email the network’s co-leads at

The network sends its information to more than 250 people in the Twin Cities area. From an active member standpoint, the network has 25 involved with its events.

King said one of the main reasons an employee should join WAAN is for the welcome mat it lays out.

“If you’re not from a small town you can very quickly drift away,” she said. “We don’t want to bring in people who leave in a year because they felt like they didn’t have someone to talk to or hang out with after work. The network is good at holding onto people.”

One of the network’s key focuses is community.

Burton said one of the easiest ways of discovering the Twin Cities is connecting with WAAN members – since some members are originally from the area.

Ervin Poncho Eddie, a brand manager for Whirlpool and community lead, said the network was a good place for him to stay in touch with the community he was born in.

Eddie returned to corporate from New York in 2012, after his career with Whirlpool began as an intern. The Benton Harbor native came back and immediately was immersed in WAAN.

“It’s great being a part of this organization because it gives you a place to have an extended family,” Eddie said. “I enjoy all of the events we have and bringing the community and corporate office together. It is vital to become active in this organization and establish those roots in the community.”

As one of the oldest employee resource groups, changes have been made, Burton said. Over the years, they evolved the type of initiatives they have held.

“We would tend to have a strong, primary focus on community bits,” Burton said. “What we noticed is as we would bring in more African-American top talent, we weren’t spending enough time on driving the engagement to those employees. We shifted our focus to make sure we were taking care of employee membership.”

In the coming years, Burton said she wants to see an increase in the network’s membership.

She said it also would be nice to see an increased collaboration with other employee resource groups.

“A lot of the engagement is coming from the newer employees, but we would like to see it from the employee base as a whole,” Burton said. “There are several ERGs at Whirlpool, and it’s easy to focus on one, but what we would like to do now is leverage several networks and their best practices.”

Contact Tony Wittkowski at or (269) 932-0358. Follow him on Twitter: @tonywittkowski.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on Feb. 8, 2016)

Discipline and honor: Two children learn life lessons through taekwondo

Donovan Frazier, 11, warms up during a class at R.E.A.D.Y. Taekwondo in Benton Harbor Thursday night. Donovan is one of the children being sponsored by a Whirlpool Veterans Association member. (Don Campbell | HP staff)

Donovan Frazier, 11, warms up during a class at R.E.A.D.Y. Taekwondo in Benton Harbor Thursday night. Donovan is one of the children being sponsored by a Whirlpool Veterans Association member. (Don Campbell | HP staff)

By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium

BENTON TOWNSHIP — Inside a taekwondo studio that rests amid various outlets within Pipestone Plaza, Donovan Frazier and Marlajah Mullins put in the work they need for a better life.

It’s not just the leg kicks and palm attacks that they are practicing at the Benton Township dojo. They’re learning how to stay on the correct path in life.

While the two have been in a similar situation, their personalities could not be further apart.

Donovan, 11, addresses his superiors with his chin up accompanied by a “yes, sir.” Donovan struggled to keep his grades up before taking classes at R.E.A.D.Y. Taekwondo from Grandmaster Al Smith.

“He’s an extraordinary young man who’s gifted in many areas,” Smith said. “What I always said to (Donovan’s) grandfather was that we have a choice with this kid. He will either be one of the most sophisticated criminals you will ever meet or a he will be a doctor. We either do this now or let the streets have him.”

Since he began his training, Donovan’s study habits changed and he began to pull in all A’s on his report cards.

Marlajah, 10, is shy and softspoken. She, too, was struggling in school, but was also forced to deal with bullying.

“There was a lot of bullying, but she’s been able to control that part of her life,” Smith said. “Marlajah will become a very successful professional because she’s got that courage. She had been beaten down to a shell of herself, not really feeling she had much worth. Now she is an example of a great leader. She knows what she wants to do with life.”

Both earned their recommended black belt, which is one step away from gaining a first-degree black belt. While Donavan and Marlajah have come a long way in their training and school work, both still struggle to pay dues for taekwondo lessons.

Smith set up an arrangement with his students, which required them to bring in report cards with good grades before they were allowed to test or go to tournaments. The two soon improved in the classroom and on the mat.

“Even though I would reduce the rate, (Marlajah’s’ mom) would sometimes have to go months without having to pay anything,” Smith said. “It was a real strain on her. So, I told them to bring me a good report card. I needed to see behavioral improvement, and that I better not hear about any fights in school.

“I could see there was something special about these kids. These two were good examples of who you could become.”

A veteran’s presence

There are myriad costs involved with each student, which includes getting their rank promotions, uniforms and entering into tournaments.

R.E.A.D.Y. Taekwondo does get funding from the Upton Foundation and Berrien Community Foundation. However, these costs began to stack up and Smith, who has a ninth-degree black belt, could only do so much.

That’s where Bob Lemyre came in. As a co-lead and one of the founders of the Whirlpool Veterans Association, Lemyre approached Smith with the interest of sponsoring a few students.

Smith chose Donavan and Marlajah, based on their dedication to the sport and the financial strain their families were under.

Lemyre initially found out about the children through a Michigan Works employee who was familiar with Smith and his dojo. Once he heard the grandmaster was also a veteran, Lemyre decided to pay Smith a visit.

After two sessions, Lemyre was impressed.

“Grandmaster Smith is very humble, but very steely and disciplined,” he said. “At the same time he is very encouraging. I was impressed and very pleased to be able to help.”

As a result, the WVA would collectively sponsor Marlajah while Lemyre and his wife sponsored Donovan.

“The approach (my wife and I) took was, instead of giving each other Christmas presents for the year, we took the money and put it toward paying for Donovan,” Lemyre said.

Toward the end of 2015 – right before Christmas – the WVA made it official. The two were given a sponsored certificate during a special ceremony stating they wouldn’t have to worry about paying for classes.

Both were surprised and overwhelmed.

“I was really excited that someone wanted to sponsor me,” Donavan said toward the end of his training session Thursday night. “I hope that sponsorship leads to a brighter future.”

Contact Tony Wittkowski at or (269) 932-0358. Follow him on Twitter: @tonywittkowski.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on Feb. 5, 2016)

Building a future: Kinexus program begins renovating Benton Harbor home

YouthBuild trainees Aziz Dixon, left, and Amari Williams clean up at a renovation project Thursday along Pearl Street in Benton Harbor. (Don Campbell | HP Staff)

YouthBuild trainees Aziz Dixon, left, and Amari Williams clean up at a renovation project Thursday along Pearl Street in Benton Harbor. (Don Campbell | HP Staff)

By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium

BENTON HARBOR — Despite the cold temperatures, several young men and women spent their Thursday tearing down remnants of a Benton Harbor house.

These trainees were there to remodel a home on Pearl Street as part of Kinexus’ YouthBuild program.

The house, which was acquired from the Berrien County Land Bank, is being remodeled for a local low- to moderate-income family with a completion date set for the spring of 2017.

Benton Harbor resident Leqiesha Wright was in the house’s bedroom dismantling portions of the drywall, while being careful not to tear out anything that was in good condition. She said the training she had gotten helped in more ways than one.

Wright said she entered the program to get a better feeling of what construction was – especially because her grandfather had worked the profession for years.

“I wanted to continue the legacy since he has now passed away,” Wright said. “I wanted to show him I can do it, too. I thought it would be nice to see how I could help families in the future, or to see if I could build my own house. There’s been a lot of learning.”

When the U.S. Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration gave Kinexus a $1.1 million grant in September, the Benton harbor-based nonprofit chose to use that money for its YouthBuild program for the next three years.

Kinexus has been executing the grant through its Bridge Academy, which is a vocational training center dedicated to preparing refocused youth that range in age from 16-24.

Stephannnie Harvey-Vandenberg, general manager of the Bridge Academy, said the YouthBuild program has been helping young adults since 2007.

Marcus Jackson helps renovate a home Thursday along Pearl Street in Benton Harbor as part of a YouthBuild project. (Don Campbell | HP Staff)

Marcus Jackson helps renovate a home Thursday along Pearl Street in Benton Harbor as part of a YouthBuild project. (Don Campbell | HP Staff)

“We’re really proud of the progress the trainees have made,” Harvey-Vandenberg said. “To see this transformation happen in a short period of time is priceless. We owe a great deal of gratitude to Edgewater Bank. They are the financier of this home.”

In addition to Edgewater, Harvey-Vandenberg said Lowe’s and Home Depot donated construction material to the cause.

Larry Jackson, construction manager of the YouthBuild program, said he and the 15 to 18 trainees began chipping away at the house about two weeks ago.

Trainees will be expected to renovate the interior and demolish all the drywall on the walls and ceiling, while replacing the electrical, plumbing and heating systems. With new windows installed, the crew will do some landscaping and concrete work.

“They are doing 10 to 12 different facets of the construction industry in this one house,” Jackson said. “They have a lot of energy. I remember when I was 18-19 years old and had that energy every day.”

The program had an open house in the beginning where trainees were assigned a specific room to write down what all needed to be done. They proceeded to hang posters in each room, which listed everything that would be renovated.

With another 18 months to get the house refurbished, Jackson said they will work on it three to four days every week until they reach that goal. Once done, the house is put up for sale.

“This is just another step to help them get their GED, to get that pay wage to afford a mortgage,” Jackson said. “We’re trying to give them an opportunity to become home owners and tax payers of this community.”

Xavier Norman, who is originally from South Carolina, was taking out chunks of wall paneling Thursday afternoon in the living/dining room of the home.

Norman said he has been doing this work since he was a kid and jumped at the opportunity to take part in the program.

“I’m a southern boy, so I like getting dirty,” he said. “I’ve done landscaping in high school and my godfather had a construction business I started working for when I was 14. I found this program and went for it.”

Contact Tony Wittkowski at or (269) 932-0358. Follow him on Twitter: @tonywittkowski.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on Feb. 5, 2016)

Dog rescued from lake by firefighters

By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium

STEVENSVILLE — Lincoln Township firefighters scrambled Thursday to rescue a dog that fell through the ice at Grand Mere North Lake.

Firefighters responded to a 5:30 a.m. call about a 7-year-old cattle dog named Bessie that was found in 4 feet of water, about 100 feet off shore. The dog was eventually saved and appeared to be unharmed after she was dried off and warmed.

Upon arrival, Fire Chief Ron Burkett called for assistance from the St. Joseph Department of Public Safety for ice rescue suits.

“The dog was partially submerged to the point where we could still see her,” Burkett said. “The dog’s front legs and upper portion were still visible.”

Lt. Joe Ehrenberg arrived on scene, where firefighters rigged ropes and a basket to get the St. Joseph lieutenant to the dog.

The rescue took about 20 minutes to get Bessie to shore and back with her owners.

Burkett said it is believed the dog was in the water for nearly an hour. The dog’s owners told firefighters she never ventures out toward that area, so they went looking for her when she didn’t come back to the house after 20 minutes.

All units cleared the scene by 6:15 a.m.

“The quick action in a cooperative effort of both departments worked flawlessly,” Burkett said. “Lincoln Township doesn’t typically do water rescues, so we called St. Joe and they came in a pick-up truck with their wetsuits. We highly recommend that residents monitor the ice conditions and keep animals away from the shores.”

Contact Tony Wittkowski at or (269) 932-0358. Follow him on Twitter: @tonywittkowski.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on Feb. 5, 2016)