Category Archives: Community


Rachel’s Challenge

Rachel’s Challenge
An organization to help fight against bullying
Isabella Harrison
Guest Writer

On Tuesday Feb. 10, an assembly titled, “Rachel’s Challenge” took place at Fort Gratiot Middle School. This assembly told stories about not only the tragedy that happened but the story of a young girl, Rachel, and her stories about spreading kindness.
Rachel Joy Scott was the first victim of the Columbine High School shooting that took place on April 20, 1999. Sadly, the two students that started the shooting took her life along with 12 others.
But Rachel’s legacy lived on.
When Rachel’s dad was moving all of her belongings out of her room, he found a crumpled up piece of paper. The paper was for her English class and was all about spreading kindness to others. Also in her paper, Rachel included 5 challenges that she challenged the reader to do.
The 5 challenges are dream big and believe in yourself, be kind to others, practice positive gossip, show appreciation to those you love, and be the answer.
Rachel also wanted the reader to start a chain reaction, once you start doing Rachel’s challenges, try to get others to join you.
Rachel was always spreading kindness to others in her school and always had good ways to look at life.
A few days after Rachel’s funeral, Rachel’s parents got a call from a man they didn’t know saying that he was very sorry about what happened to their daughter. He also told them about a dream he had. Her parents didn’t think much about what the man that called had said, until they got another call from the police saying they could come pick up Rachel’s backpack. After her dad got Rachel’s backpack, he looked at the last thing she had written in her journal. He was shocked to see what was on the page. It was a drawing of Rachel’s eyes crying onto a rose, the same way the man had described his dream. When he looked closer, he counted 13 tears, which is how many people were killed in the shooting at her school.
There are so many great stories from the “Rachel’s Challenge” assembly, including her ideas on starting a chain reaction about being kind to everyone. Rachel wanted to touch the hearts of millions of people, and she did.
Her essay for her English class and her inspiring quotes are continuing to inspire people all over the world to treat people with kindness.

Bearing the cold for a cause

polarp1St. Clair hosts Polar Plunge

D.J. Palm

Staff Writer

One by one, brave and selfless souls from the blue water area traveled to St. Clair to take a quick splash in the water on a frigid 19 degree day.

The “Polar Plunge” is an annual fundraising event organized by Wertz Warriors, a charity organization that nearly supports a hundred percent of all funds needed for Special Olympics Michigan Winter Games.

polarp2The plunge took place on the boating docks just southwest of the Bowling Alley where a rectangle shaped chunk of ice was carved out, creating a lung flattening 24 degree lake.

Shock,” said Jason Markel, a resident of Marine City, enjoying his second polar plunge in two years. “Your whole body just tightens up on you, it’s a good thing they have the divers in the water.” Markel would also go onto add that he loves the cause that the event is for, “I’m part of the Wertz Warriors we do the Jet Ski ride from Mackinaw to Harsens Island. My sister is an athlete so I’ve seen firsthand what the money helps.”

The St. Clair County Sherriff Dept. Dive team along with St. Clair Fire Dept. Divers and firemen floated in the lake to monitor the event, waiting to help participants quickly get out of the water.

As soon as they go in they pop right up. There is a warming station provided by Wertz Warriors so it’s quite safe,” said Sheriff Tim Donnellon.

Ann Plegue, the head chairperson organizing the event for Wertz Warriors, said they were looking for additional fundraisers that might work.

We saw there was an area that we could have a good draw from, the people are wonderful here helping us raise money, we thought it was a wonderful idea, and it is. Last year we raised $18,000 and currently right now we are over $18,000,” Plegue said.

According to Plegue, the estimated total of the Polar Plunge helped raise about $21,000.

Wertz Warriors was founded back in 1981 by Detroit Tiger great Vic Wertz. Since its existence it has helped raise almost ten million dollars to fund the Special Olympics of Michigan.

Port Huron’s oldest bar, The Roche, vandalized

IMG_0011You know you’ve had too much to drink when…
Nick “Chico” Hernandez
Managing Editor

Not everyone is nice when they drink, but not all decide to commit malicious destruction of private property either. Jan. 4, a Wednesday, seemed like a normal night to John Roche, 50, and owner of the Roche bar, including cutting off and throwing out two men who had too much to drink. The men had gotten rowdy and were trying to start fights with other patrons of the bar.
The two men were thrown out at around 1 a.m. on Thursday, Jan. 5, but returned around 3:30 a.m. armed with sledgehammers and dressed in ski masks and snow suits. They proceeded to break and destroy the windows, which had been in place since the 1930’s, and attempted to break down the front door.
The two men were caught by police officers and are looking at a felony charges for malicious destruction and attempted breaking and entering. The trial against them has not yet started.
Roche’s son lives above the bar and, upon hearing the commotion, called the police. According to an article from the Times Herald, “Port Huron police were able to locate and arrest the men.”
While the Roche has insurance, they still need donations to help pay for the deductible and getting the right type of glass, as the glass is from a time now past. They have set up a GoFundMe account ( where people can donate money to help fix the damage to the windows. The link is also available through The Roche Facebook page.
They currently have raised $2,295 from the GoFundMe alone.
Roche was taken aback from what happened stating that the incident was “Uncharacteristic” for a Wednesday. Nothing like this has happened to the 166-year-old bar.
While Roche isn’t sure on the exact cost of replacing the windows, he is happy about the backing the bar has gotten, saying, “The people have been great,” Roche added, with a slight frown, “We might have to wait until after Pub Crawl to fix the windows.”
The windows will be fixed once a suitable replacement is found.
Pete Norager, owner of Goodfella’s and friend of Roche, said “When a bar cuts you off, they’re trying to keep you safe. One jerk can ruin it for everyone,” Norager said, and with a smile added, “I wish this was like the old days, where we could take a ball bat to them.”

Are you primed and ready to go?

SC4 Alumni hiring student painters
Gregory Garofalo
Guest writer

Are you looking for a job? Well look no further, Student Painters House Painting is here for you.
Run by SC4 alumni Kaylee Bert, Student Painters is an exterior home painting business that provides local home owners with free estimates and a new coat of paint. Most importantly though, they’re hiring.
“I’m looking for highly motivated and friendly people who are between the ages of 18-25, and easy to work with,” says Bert.
Student Painters is a business set up by Independent Youth. According to their website,, they have one goal: “Empower today’s teens to become tomorrow’s business leaders and entrepreneurial innovators.” The organization sends students to their home town to give them the opportunity of real life business experience.
The two positions available are Cold Calling and painting. For those who don’t know, Cold Calling entails going door to door within a designated area and offering free estimates of exterior painting. Cold Callers would work part time and need to have flexible schedules.
Painting on the other hand would be a full time position and applicants need to have an open schedule. Payment up to $8.50 per hour for both jobs is obtainable, not including potential raises. Cold Callers start the last week of February, while Painters start in May.
For any questions call Kaylee at (810) 304-3681, or email her at

Part of the Craft

New brewery moving into Marysville
Jamie Koebke
Staff Writer

New brews are coming to the Port Huron area! Harsens Island Brewery will open in Marysville, at the old Hostess store on Gratiot Boulevard.
Harsens Island Brewery will focus on more traditional beer than craft beer. Not only do the father and son owners Spencer and Brian Phinney plan to brew their own beer, but they plan to distribute it, in cans. Choosing cans for distributing craft beer is rare but keeps longer and has a different taste than bottles.
Port Huron is also home to Thumb Coast Brewing Company, located on Quay Street in downtown Port Huron. Thumb Coast offers original craft beer. The beer is brewed right there in the building, you can see the equipment from the bar area.
Thumb Coast offers an option called “The Flight.” “The Flight” has six different Thumb Coast original craft beers for $6.
Harsens Island Brewery will give Port Huron area even more options for non-mainstream beer like Bud Light and Budweiser.
Jim Fisher, 45, of Port Huron said “Not only do we have a great brewpub with Thumb Coast and the potential of a great brewery with the new Harsens Island brewery but there are a number of hop farms sprouting up in the area as well. Great water and a great location make Port Huron uniquely qualified to be the beer capital of Michigan!” Fisher brews his own craft beer.
Right now, Grand Rapids leads Michigan in craft beer with Founders Brewery, Grand Rapids Brewing Co., The Mitten Brewing Company, just to name a few that are at the top of production.
“I don’t think Port Huron could ever be as big as Grand Rapids, but I think it could have potential to be something similar. Even Detroit isn’t where Grand Rapids is with brewing,” said Korey Bartos, 22, of Port Huron. Bartos currently resides in Petoskey.
Port Huron has a lot to offer in terms of bars. Most of the downtown bars offer Michigan craft beers on tap. Lynch’s Irish Tavern, Freighter’s, and Fuel Woodfire Grill are just a few non-breweries that offer them.
If you’re 21 years of age or older, enjoy beer, and want to support local business, check out Thumb Coast Brewing Company. Although there isn’t a set opening date for Harsens Island Brewery, it’s estimated to open after Oct. of 2015, so be sure to keep an eye open and go check it out.

The Sound of Change

Dirty-HeadsDownload4The different sounds of Dirty Heads
D.J. Palm
Staff Writer

If you take rock music, add some rap, a lot of reggae and subtract the country, what do you get? You get a band called the Dirty Heads. What’s so special about these guys? They’re a band that you cannot fully pinpoint what genre of music they are.
The range of music these guys play is astonishing. For example, the song titled “Your Love” is a nice soft slow pace of a “hippy” tune with acoustic guitar and bongos serenading throughout the track. The song features Bob Marley’s son Ky-mani who brings an authentic Jamaican feel to the tune. And then three songs later BAM!! The track “Hipster,” is a fast paced rap song with a drum pounding beat, with a soprano saxophone in the chorus.
The best song, in some fans’ opinion, is called “Franco Eyed” currently on their newest album called “Sound of Change.” The beat makes you feel as if you’re about to hear another 50 cent or Jay-Z track but no! What you hear is some grunge looking hippies rapping, and rapping great. Nothing auto tuned, no voice synthesizers, just Grade-A quality music from a Grade-A quality band. How more people don’t know about them is still a mystery.
The Dirty Heads appeared at the Fillmore Theater in Detroit back in July of 2014 for their “Sound of Change Tour” to promote the release of their newest album with the same title.
Local Port Huron native and current student at SC4, Anna Taravella didn’t even know who the Dirty Heads were when she attended their concert just across the street from Comerica Park.
“Honestly that was the best concert I’ve ever been to,” Taravella said. She’s attended concerts including Metallica, Ted Nugent, and Kid Rock. “I couldn’t believe how they were so easy listening and fast paced. One song people were putting their lighters up side to side, and on the next song people were dancing like they were at a nightclub.”
The Dirty Heads “Sound of Change Tour” is currently in a 2 week break as they commute from Boulder, Colorado to Miami, Florida. The next time they come to Michigan is still to be determined. Their current tour is coming to a close with only 6 stops left with the grand finale in Anchorage, Alaska.
If you want to hear a few tracks from the Dirty Heads, you can YouTube them on your own time, download the album or listen to 91.3 FM WSGR Port Huron from 12-2 to hear them on the SC4 radio station.

Chili Fest puts an end to cabin fever

Ice sculptures decorate downtown Port Huron
Angie Stoecklin

The harsh Michigan winter was not enough to keep Port Huron residents, and other citizensIMG_0123 from around Michigan shut in their houses on Friday Jan. 23 and Saturday Jan. 24. Chili Fest, an event in downtown Port Huron and McMorran advertised as “Extreme Winter Fun” did not disappoint attendees like Sherry Levery of Port Huron.
“It’s nice that you get to see people you haven’t seen all winter cause you’ve been cooped up,” Levery said.
Grayson Sudia, 6, who accompanied Levery, had a different opinion of the best part about Chili Fest. “My favorite thing is looking at the ice sculptures,” Sudia said.
The ice sculptures, provided by Michigan Ice Carvers in Redford, Michigan, were live carved by the company’s owner Matt Sokolowski.
Sokolowski learned to sculpt at Schoolcraft College in Livonia, and has been doing it for 15 years. “We did 40 single life sculptures and 8 multi-block ice sculptures. We brought all the ice up from Redford,” said Sokolowski, who didn’t mind the 3 day getaway to Port Huron.
“I’m glad to get out of town for a couple days. When I’m out here I blocked out everything I didn’t know who was behind me or how many people were here, I wouldn’t have known what time it was if it weren’t for that big giant clock behind me,” Sokolowski said as he motioned towards the big clock on the front of McMorran.IMG_0169
Other than ice sculpting, Chili Fest featured an array of events including horse and trolley rides, a chili cook off, night concerts by The Poltroon’s, Ian Smith & Co., and the Lookin’ Back band. One of the events, the 4th annual Bed Races sponsored by the Blue Water Young Professionals, seemed to draw a high number of spectators.
Local businesses participated in the bed races, but they also featured a bed by SC4 club Marketing and Management. According to Dan McCarty, M&M club advisor, Ben’s Mattress Company donated the mattress for M&M club, and Napa donated the wheels as well as a garage to build it in.
“The main thing is that the M&M club is defending SC4’s honor,” McCarty said.
According to SC4 student government president William Warne, the M&M club placed midrange in the races.
Chili Fest is a reoccurring winter festival in downtown Port Huron, and according to the festival’s Facebook page, will be around next year.

American Idol recognizes Port Huron talent

Alex Shier performs at Goodfella’s
Angie Stoecklin

Port Huron native Alex Shier, 19, is one step closer to achieving his dream of being a famous musician after auditioning on “American Idol” and receiving the coveted ticket that sends a competitor to Hollywood.
Despite the pressure of going to Hollywood to perform in front of millions, Shier wanted to do one last show in his hometown of Port Huron. Pete Norager, the owner of Goodfella’s, said that Shier came to him and asked to perform in his restaurant. Then on Friday, Feb. 16, supporters of Shier filled the seats at Goodfella’s Grill in downtown Port Huron.
“He was looking for a place to perform in town and he said that he liked the theme (of Goodfella’s),” Norager said.
Shier said that he decided to play at Goodfella’s after he walked in the door and instantly pictured performing a show at the front of the restaurant.
Shier started playing shows last year after he was rejected from “American Idol.” According to Shier at the 2015 “American Idol” auditions in Nashville, he had never played a live gig before his first audition; since then, he’s played over 200 shows.
“They really recognized that I took some time to get experience and that’s what they appreciated the most,” Shier said regarding the judges opinions of him on “American Idol.”
At ten years old, Shier started playing guitar. His father, while he has never been musically inclined, has a great playlist, according to Shier. “I grew up with some really good music and it’s gotten me through every hard time and that’s the best part about it.”
Other than being inspired by famous musicians such as John Mayer, the Dave Mathews Band, and Ed Sheeran, Shier draws most inspiration from his uncle Cliff Erikson.
Unable to put the reason why his uncle is such a driving force in Shier’s musical life, he simply said, “Go see one of his shows, and you’ll understand why.”
One by one, Goodfella’s customers approached Shier, congratulating him and even requesting autographs. But despite all the publicity, Shier says he does not want to lose sight of who he is.
“I don’t like to think of myself as too much of a big deal cause that’s when I don’t stay grounded,” said Shier humbly. “I asked for all of this, so I need to handle it the right way.”
Tune into season 14 of “American Idol” to see Shier perform in upcoming episodes. Follow him on twitter at @AlexShiermusic.

Hockey for a cause

Wings alumni come together to support the Y’s Night of Champions
Angie Stoecklin

400 people rallied into McMorran Place Arena on Nov. 20 in support of the YMCA’s charity event the Night of Champions. The combination of $100 dollar tickets, and the live and silent auctions featuring wings memorabilia raised a total of $30,000.
Former Red wings players took time out of their busy schedules to support the Y charity and took turns auctioning off their famous jerseys. In addition to the famed members of the “Grind Line,” Kirk Maltby, Darren McCarty, and Joe Kocur, Wing’s alumni Jason Woolley, Petr Klíma, John Ogrodnick, Brent Fedyk, and Eddie Mio added to the excitement of wings fans across McMorran Arena.
Keelly Baribeau, the Community Relations director for the Port Huron area school district, said that she is a big supporter of the YMCA and that she was excited to see some of the Red Wing’s players that she grew up watching as a teenager. “I thought, this would be a fun way to support an essential service and agency in our community,” Baribeau said.
The Blue Water YMCA, according to their website, promotes healthy living and fosters a sense of social responsibility. The money raised at Night of Champions went directly to the Y’s Open Arms program; a financial assistance program that allows those who cannot afford YMCA membership the opportunities that the Y offers.
While many highlights of the event took centerfold, the former Wing’s players were some of many who did not lose sight of the event’s true meaning.
“At the end of the night the major highlight is going to be how much we were able to raise for the YMCA, which is a great community place for people to use and have access to,” said Red Wing’s alumni Kirk Maltby.
Maltby, although his schedule is just as busy as the other alumni members, says that his attendance of the event was made a bit easier by the fact that he lives just 45 minutes away. Darren McCarty on the other hand, made the drive from his home in Florida to be a part of the Y’s charity and to visit the town he referred to as, “a big part of the Red Wings nation.”
McCarty say’s that the hospitality in Port Huron, as well as the turnout and the support in the Community made the long drive from Florida well worth it.
“I know this area pretty well so I’m grateful for the opportunity to come and give back for such a great cause,” McCarty said.

Start the Christmas season the right way

McLaren Foundation hosts the 26th annual Festival of Trees
Tyler Smith
Staff Writer

Patrons of Port Huron trekked into McMorran Place this weekend for the 26th annual Festival of Trees. The Festival of Trees has raised more than 1.5 million dollars since its genesis in 1989.
The Festival of Trees is presented every year by the McLaren Port Huron Foundation to raise funds for medical equipment and services such as infant cardiac monitors, birthing beds, Emergency Center components, and many more.
With trees grouped together on display for all to see, families and friends ambulated while lavishing the twinkling lights and creativity while listening to live Christmas music, as well as the sideshow of figure skaters displaying their icy skills. The Festival of Trees became the true kick start of the Christmas season.
Raffle buckets sat next to the trees giving families a chance to win a variety of gift items. The winners of the raffle would also be able to bring a tree home to enjoy for Christmas.
“I would like the ‘Frozen’ tree with the Olaf doll cause I like the movie,” said Beth Smith, 4.
But trees weren’t the only items to raffle. Electronic toys and other items where displayed almost like the toy stores and featured extravagant window displays.
People stood in front of the gift raffle eyeing the new technology of our age. Teenagers like Alex Stalker, 16, mostly kept their hopes on the 40 inch HDTV. “I really want that TV to able to play my new Xbox console,” said Stalker.
Trees and gifts was not the only attention that snagged everyone’s eyes. Traveling all the way from the North Pole to the Festival of Trees was good ‘olé Saint Nicholas, spreading Christmas joy and cheer.
The festival drew numerous guests to McMorran helping McLaren raise funds for the Miriam F. Acheson Family Birth Place at McLaren Port Huron. The family birth place houses 17 private labor, delivery, recovery, and post-partum suites and has state of the art labor and delivery rooms, while offering pleasant, comfortable and convenient surroundings, making the Festival of Trees a noble event for a noble cause.