2018-06-13 / Community View

SIDE ROADS

The County Press STAFF

A new report finds Michigan’s suicide rate increased by a third over the last 20 years. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports between 1999 and 2016 Michigan’s suicide rate increased by 33 percent. That’s slightly higher than the 30 percent rate of increase nationally. Last week in Lapeer County two people died as the result of suicide. The increase was even higher in more than 20 other states. North Dakota posted a nearly 60 percent increase in suicides during the past two decades. Only Nevada saw its suicide rate decline since 1999.

The CDC report says more than half of people who commit suicide have no known mental health condition. Relationship issues, substance abuse and health problems were the commonly cited factors.

The County Press will speak to local medical and mental health experts about suicide in Sunday’s (June 17) edition of the newspaper.

Jeff Hanson of Oxford was in downtown Lapeer last Thursday for Swing Out to watch his granddaughter walk in the celebration. He lost his wallet during the evening. He figured he dropped the wallet when he went to give a few dollars to another grandchild to purchase a bottled water at Rogers Pharmacy. He also figured it was gone forever. To his surprise, not 30 minutes later he got a call from a Lapeer teenager who found the wallet. She and her father used social media and were successful in tracking down Hanson, all using their cell phones. Hanson called The County Press on Monday and wanted to say, “Thank you to the wonderful Lapeer girl who found my wallet and got it back to me. There are great people in Lapeer.”

Gina Hudson of South Haven is visiting Lapeer County this week with friends who will perform Friday and Saturday during the inaugural Michigan Busker Festival in downtown Imlay City. “We’ve met a lot of cool people and we’ve visited many of the restaurants and shops in your community. It’s a really lovely community,” she shared via social media to a friend in Almont. Michelle Coldwater said it has been her pleasure to take Hudson and her friends around Lapeer County and the region. “We’re excited for the Busker Festival and think it’s going to be a great time. It’s something new, and I think people are going to have a lot of fun.”

Sixty-five years ago Friday, Michigan was struck by one of the deadliest tornados in U.S. history. A powerful F5 tornado touched down north of Flint just after 8:30 p.m. on the night of June 8, 1953. The twister’s 27-mile path of destruction tore through the small community of Beecher, home to 113 of the 116 people who died. Nearly a thousand people were injured. According to the National Weather Service, 340 homes were destroyed, 107 suffered “major damage,” and 153 suffered “minor damage.” Another 66 buildings destroyed or damaged to farms, businesses and other buildings.

The Beecher tornado was part of a violent string of storms across the Lower Peninsula on June 8th, 1953. Those other storms produced 10 additional fatalities.

Michigan is projecting a continued decrease of its prisoner population this year, and with that comes a decrease in prisons. The state House and Senate budget committees last week both recommended a prison closure for the 2018-2019 fiscal year. The Thumb Correctional Facility is located in Lapeer. The local facility houses youth violators as well as adult prisoners, and for that reason officials believe it’s in no danger of being closed. The County Press will continue to follow this story.

Governor Snyder’s original budget proposal, submitted in February, did not include a prison closure. However, as the number of prisoners in the state continued to fall throughout the year, the legislature determined the Michigan Dept. of Corrections could safely close a prison. This would be the third prison closure in the state in two years.

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