Comments flicker The Torch

The first Amendment gives Americans the right of free speech;  but you can’t yell “Fire” in a theatre.  In an unprecedented conference yesterday, at the Ludington Police Department, Chief Mark Barnett revealed results from an investigation of the local website known as The Torch.  Editor and founder Tom Rotta was accused of allowing threatening posts regarding city manager John Shay and alderman Mike Krauch. Both Shay and Krauch felt threatened by the postings on the website, concerned that even if the person making the comments did not act, that another might be incited to violence against them or their families.  Complaints to the Ludington Police Department led to the investigation.  The screen names of two posters were revealed as Ed Thompson and John Chippi.  Councilor Krauch accepted an apology on the phone from Mr. Chippi. Chippi also went onto the torch to apologize again, saying “Please watch your words, the written word does not come with a face gesture or tip of intent like a spoken word does. Again I am sorry.” Thompson refused to be at the meeting or be on conference call, but later responded to Chippi’s apology, saying, “the fact of the matter is, sometimes anyone on a talk forum can get a little carried away with simple frustration and grief about our local officials in the way they run things around here nowadays. In my case, I would also like to apologize for similar posts I made, due to bad past experiences with Shay on numerous occasions the last 10 years+.” The prosecuting attorney has declined to file any charges.   Rotta was asked by Chief Barnett if he would make modifications to his website and policies after this matter.  He said his website is protected by first amendment speech and called the investigation a “witch hunt”.   City Manager Shay blurted out "You're a liar" and “You’re Despicable” to Rotta.  The meeting concluded with discussions of what constitutes a physical threat and accusations of mental instability against Rotta. Observers say that the Ludington Police Chief maintained order by concluding the meeting before it escalated any further.

Electric Forest expanding

 Electric Forest is expanding their celebration. Festival organizers call it "An Intimate Expansion of Community,"  explaining that “Rapid growth of the venue has the potential to undermine the values of The Forest. Instead of moving toward one larger weekend, the most thoughtful choice was the creation of two smaller capacity weekends."

The 2017 festival will be on June 22-25, and June 29-July 2 at Double JJ Ranch in Rothbury. Festival-goers can attend both weekends, but must leave the site in between. Some performers will be at both festival weekends, but performances will differ. The Electric Forest web site states "Each weekend will have its share of surprises, but as always, the goal for any Forest veteran or newcomer is to participate in an amazing experience, regardless of which weekend they attend. Hopefully, the inevitable discussion around 'which weekend is better' will become a pointless exercise. This is because it is ALL Electric Forest." They have also committed to expand additional existing programs including a larger Road Improvement Fund, growth in efforts to support the annual Roy Price Memorial Food Drive, and expansion of the Electric Forest Music in Schools program in order to strengthen and deepen ties to the community. More community programs will be announced in coming months. For more information, go to

Electric Forest

photo courtesy of Electric Forest Festival-2016

Jebavy Road Construction complete

All work on Jebavy Road has been completed, according the Mason County Road Commission.  Several local citizens have contacted MOM news to express their displeasure with the job that the contractors have done.  The road commission office said that no further work is planned this fall.  The contractors were in the area on August 24th, 25th and 26th.  The commission confirmed that at least a dozen complaints have been lodged at the road crew.  They say resurfacing caused loose tar to stick to their cars. The commission said that insurance claims should be made to Pavement Maintenance Systems of Imlay City.  MOM news contacted them and they confirmed that their portion of the work is completed.  They referred us to a corporate office in Indianapolis, which did not return our call.  The Mason County Road Commission says that the contractor has not been completely paid yet.  If your car was damaged during the Jebavy Road maintenance in last month you can place a claim at 810-724-4767.

Rotta rally request withdrawn

The city of Ludington’s most vocal opponent has sent a complaint to city manager John Shay.  Tom Rotta is cancelling a planned rally on September 29th at the Stearns Park beach.  Rotta claims that he submitted a  written request on August 12th to hold a camp fire event in September.  He further asserts that it was left off the commission meeting agenda last week. The "Rotta for Third Ward Councilor Committee" set the deadline of August 30th for a meeting with the city and no action was taken to allow the bon fire to occur.  Rotta sent the letter late last night withdrawing the request to hold the bonfire.  Rotta has made numerous F-O-I-A requests and has engaged the city in several lawsuits.  Councilor Les Johnson spoke out against him at last week’s council meeting.  Rotta is challenging Johnson for his seat on the council in the upcoming general election.

Rural fire authority lapse in funding

The rural fire authority millage expired at the end of 2015 and there is no millage that covers the 2016 calendar year.  Language in the previous authority vote assumed 2016 funds would be collected for disbursement in the 2017 calendar year.  WMOM obtained a sample ballot that covers the language in the gap for the proposed one year renewal.  If the levy is passed, it will raise over $750,000 so that rural areas of the county will have fire protection after December 31st, 2016.  If it’s voted down in the upcoming November 8th election, those areas will have to wait until January 1, 2018 for funding.

Areas protected by the rural fire authority:
Townships: City: 
Amber Scottville
Custer Villages:
Eden   Custer
Free Soil Fountain
Grant Free Soil

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