Mason Man still at-large in Animal Abuse Case

Benjamin Conley has been on the run for three weeks now and has a warrant out for his arrest.

Benjamin Conley has been on the run for three weeks now and has a warrant out for his arrest.

By Shane Stockwell
The Mason Times

Three weeks later and the search is still on for Benjamin Conley, who disappeared from the Ingham County courthouse minutes prior to his sentencing. Benjamin Conley was found guilty of animal torture, along with his brother Nicholas, in August. Nicholas Conley is currently serving his sentence in Ingham County jail, while the Lansing Police Department continues its search for brother Benjamin.

The brothers were being charged for the malicious torture of their mother’s pit bull. People saw the brothers hanging the pit bull from the roof of their house with a chain and noticed stab wounds.

Deputy Kyle Hanney was called to the house, 1717 Illinois Ave., Lansing, Michigan, on Sept. 6, 2013. Hanney saw the battered dog fighting for its life with a chain around its neck. Attached to the chain was a cinder block, restricting the dog from pulling its head up. The pit bull was later euthanized at Ingham County Animal Control.

This isn’t Benjamin Conley’s first run in with the law. He has also faced charges for unlawful imprisonment and assault and battery. Nicholas has a felony conviction as well.

Hanney says it’s not a matter of whether Benjamin Conley is found, but when. There is currently a bench warrant out for Conley’s arrest. Deputy Hanney stated that this is the most horrid case he has worked on.

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Arrests are down, police approval is up in Mason

By Brian Bobal
Mason Times staff writer

photo (66)Over the past decade, arrests have gone down in Mason.

Arrests for driving under the influence are down from 41 to 17 in 2004 and 2013 respectively. Arrests involving drug offenses are down to four in 2013 compared to 30 in 2004. Finally, in 2013, arrests for retail fraud totalled 12. This is down 18 counts from 2004 when total arrests were 30.

Chief John Stressman attributes this to a few things.

“One is we have a retention issue and we’ve been short staffed. I don’t think we’ve been at full strength for the last two years,” said Stressman, who has been chief since 2004. “There is a lot of movement between police departments. Officers go from one place to the other looking for something better, or a better fit for them.” Continue reading

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Prescription drug abuse: The new face of addiction

By Daniel Hamburg
Mason Times staff writer

“It can happen to anyone. I’ve seen it a lot,” Aaron Emerson said. Unsuspecting teens are becoming addicted to prescription pills, and moving on to more dangerous drugs.

It’s in our medicine cabinets and prescribed by doctors. Prescription drugs, such as opioids, are available for helping people overcome pain and other medical issues, yet sometimes lead people down an addictive road.

Aaron Emerson, a 22-year-old Mason resident, was a sophomore in high school when he began experimenting with drugs. He had a bright future with friends by his side, and a loving family surrounding him.

Feeling the need to fill a hole in his life, Emerson said he smoked marijuana, took prescription painkillers, and eventually became addicted to heroin. Continue reading

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Ready or not? Residents are stocking up on salt and shovels

Dentist Dave Golder bought bags of salt to prevent ice and snow from building up at his home and office

Dentist Dave Golder bought bags of salt to prevent ice and snow from building up at his home and office

By Daniel Hamburg
Mason Times staff writer

At Ace Hardware on Cedar Street, Manager Chris Iott says if you wait too long, it’s too late.

That’s the case for hundreds of residents in Mason, who have snow- and ice-covered sidewalks and roadways. Part of the problem is people not adequately prepared, according to Iott.

“People will prepare for summer because they know they’re going to have to mow the lawn,” Iott said. “People don’t prepare as much for winter because you may or may not get big snow. When it happens, then they react.”

Despite the city road commission clearing the roads, many people are left with more snow dumped on their property. Continue reading

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Mason Fire Department open house

By Erin Ehlke
Mason Times Staff Writer

About 500 people came to the Mason Fire Department on Oct. 5 open house. The fire station has this open house every year to start fire prevention week.

Fire Chief Kerry Minshall said this event began before he had even started working there in the 1980’s.

Activities included fire truck rides, a game with fire hoses, dressup, lunch provided by A&W, a fire safety house, door prizes and a demonstration of a car being taken apart.

Firefighters don’t just handle fires, but car accidents as well. The demonstration showed how firefighters rescue people who are trapped inside vehicles.

“We do a lot of accidents, especially Michigan in the wintertime” said Minshall.

Right next to the car demonstration were the fire hoses. Kids got to spray a fire hose (with adult help) at a wooden house with fake fire in the windows.

On the other side of the station, kids were getting dressed up in fire gear. Aleasha Wood, a planner of the event, made sure to point out how these dress-up clothes were not something you would buy at a Halloween store.

“They’re not the kind made out of plastic. It’s what they (the firefighters) would wear but smaller, and not fireproof.”

One of the more popular activities at the open house was the fire safety house.

The fire station purchased this fire safety house after the James Malcolm fire in 1995. James Malcolm died after hiding in a closet during a fire.

The fire safety house is a trailer built like a house. Once all the kids are in,firefighters fill it with smoke and have the kids find their way out to safety.

fire8What would a fire station be without a Dalmatian? The Mason fire department has a Dalmatian named Ember that made an appearance at the open house.

The Mason Fire Department has 38 volunteer firefighters, one of whom is Dennis Howe. Howe,who is also a sixth-grade teacher, decided to become a volunteer very spontaneously.

“I was walking around downtown one day after church and thought to myself I could do that.”

Howe stood in full fire gear and showed the kids some of the equipment the firefighters//The way you have structured this sentence, this pronoun would take readers back to kids. Say fire fighters instead.// use.

A lot of classes in Mason are coming in to tour the fire station to learn more about fire safety.

Howe said his class probably won’t visit the station, though.

“They get their fair share in class already.”

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Kosovo delegation visits in early April

By Henrik Blix
Mason Times staff writer

MASON—The city of Mason will host visitors from sister city Vitina, Kosovo, next week for tours and discussion of American business and government .

City Administrator Martin Colburn said there will be three visitors, including Mayor Nexhmedin Arifi, the mayor of Vitina.

“I’m just excited for them to be here,” said Mayor Leon Clark. “We were there for a week and they are such wonderful people. We became friends in a very short period of time.”

Colburn said the guests from Kosovo will fly in Saturday afternoon and on Sunday they will visit people in Mason who immigrated from Kosovo in the late 1990s.

Colburn said although the itinerary is not finalized, they have several events planned. Continue reading

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Mason reacts to December shootings

By Katarina Vella Lingl
Mason Times staff writer

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Simone Jardim and her daughter, Alexas

MASON—The Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in December 2012 shocked parents and school administrators in the Mason area.

Resident Simone Jardim said her 3-year-old daughter Alexas attends preschool and childcare in Mason. She said she was “glued to the television” after hearing about the shooting.

“I actually cried and felt heartbroken because those innocent kids lost their lives in such a tragic and unfortunate event,” Jardim said.

“Alexas is my world and I am not sure what I would do without her,” she said. “Our children are not supposed to die before us.”

Jardim said parents should keep their children informed, but not scare them. She said there is always evil in the world, but we cannot allow that to take our children’s innocence away.

Jardim said if Alexas asks about the incident in the future, she would talk to her about it.
She said security should be stronger, making it harder for a complete stranger to enter the grounds of any school.

“Most of the time it seems like problems are with high school students bringing weapons to school. However, for elementary and middle school, problems would include the supervision of who comes in and the people that work there having contact with the children,” Jardim said.
Continue reading

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Mason Police Department releases five-year use-of-force study

By Henrik Blix
Mason Times staff writer

MASON—A study by the Mason Police Department revealed that most incidents involving a use of force by police occur at night and involve people using drugs or alcohol.

The study documented every incident in which officers used force on subjects and categorized each incident by level of force used, contributing factors and time of day.

The types of force used by the Mason P.D.

The types of force used by the Mason P.D.

Levels of force were categorized as soft empty hand control, hard empty hand control, pepper spray deployed, Taser pointed, Taser deployed and firearm pointed. According to the report, a firearm has not been discharged at a subject since 2008.

Sgt. Don Hanson said the data mostly reinforced what officers already know, but any information can only help.

“It shows we’re doing our job and we’re a transparent department,” said Officer Matt Thorne, a defensive tactics instructor for the department. Continue reading

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ServiceMaster Clean Disaster

By Katarina Vella Lingl
Mason Times Staff Writer
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ServiceMaster Clean prides itself on helping businesses and homes recover from fire and water damage.
On July 11, 2012, employees found themselves working with a client that was all too familiar; their own building had burned to the ground.

Vice President Desiree Howard received a phone call at 3 a.m. and rushed to State Street to see her business engulfed in flames.

“My immediate reaction was to cry,” Howard said.

Howard said news stations arrived when she did and they watched firefighters try to manage the fire. The way the building was constructed there was no saving it, she said.

Howard said their vehicles contain all the essential equipment for their business and they were parked outside the building that day.“Unfortunately the keys were in the building so we needed a key maker to replace them all,” she said.Howard said they were as prepared as they could be because refurbishing fire damage is what their business is known for.She said the fire devastated the staff, but ServiceMaster did not close their doors.

“We actually closed out our best year,” Howard said. Continue reading

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Gift of fire truck may lead to bigger things

By Alena Davis and Marissa Russo
Mason Times staff writers

MASON–On Jan. 4, city officials will show pictures from their trip to deliver a fire truck to Kosovo last October.

The meeting at the high school will also include details about the possibility of forming a sister city alliance with Vitina, where the truck was delivered, said Mayor Leon Clark.

“There were four of us that went on this trip to Kosovo,” said Clark. “Between the four of us, we took over 1,800 pictures. The fourth of January we have the auditorium at the high school lined up and we are inviting anybody that is interested to come between 7 p.m. until 9 p.m. We are going to show all the pictures and tell the story of how this project got started.”

This project was started a few years ago when the former mayor of Vitina came to Mason to visit his son. He received a tour of the fire department and was astounded by the equipment. Continue reading

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