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Contest winners travel to Corteo

Saturday, Jan. 12 a busload of Charlotte area residents traveled to Detroit to see the Cirque Du Soleil performance of Corteo.  The trip, sponsored by Pray Funeral Home and hosted by Joe E. Pray, was the prize for a contest that...

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A last insight into the Potterville conflict

Being that I am in my last couple of weeks of employment with the County Journal, I wanted to give some final thoughts on the most ongoing chain of stories I’ve followed in my two years with the newspaper: the City of...

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Charlotte

Charlotte

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NuLife Nutrition opens in downtown Charlotte

Ellie Wheeler never envisioned herself as a small business owner. There was never a doubt in her mind, though that she wanted to help others. Her new downtown Charlotte business, NuLife Nutrition allows her to do both.

A recent Ferris State University grad, Ellie was poised to start work for the Department of Human Services, putting her degree in social work to good use. A part time job at a nutritional shake shop in her hometown of Marshall, however, opened her eyes to new opportunities. That’s when she realized she could use her degree in a different way, and still make an impact in people’s lives.

NuLife Nutrition, which opened Jan. 15 at 141A S. Cochran Avenue, offers customers a wide-selection of energizing teas, meal-replacing protein packed shakes, and coffees. Each shake contains 24 grams of protein, 21 vitamins and minerals, and no added sugar all at only 200-250 calories. Ellie said she recommends the white chocolate raspberry cheesecake shake or the Buckeye (peanut butter and chocolate). There are more than 80 different shake flavors, including breakfast flavors, cookies, cakes, and pie flavors, candy bar flavors, coffee lover flavors, snack flavors and fruity tooty flavors.

At the same time, NuLife is more than a shake shop. Ellie said her role for many customers is that of wellness coach.

“My approach is all about personal development,” Ellie said. “I want people to fall in love with themselves.”

Many customers will be intrigued by the weight loss potential associated with the selection of protein, and energy drinks. Ellie said customers are provided the opportunity to receive a full one-on-one consultation to discuss physical, mental/emotional, and long-term goals. Customers can even establish a beginning weight, body fat percentage, water percentage, muscle mass, and metabolic age, and chart their progress utilizing NuLife Nutrition’s private scale in the back of the shop. A free online wellness evaluation is also available at ewheeler.goherbalife.com.

“I absolutely love helping people, being their biggest supporter or a listening ear,” Ellie said. “I was always that person that told myself, ‘I can’t do this.’ I know how to meet them at their level, make sure they aren’t intimidated, and meet their goal.”

NuLife Nutrition is holding a grand opening celebration Saturday, Jan. 19, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. NuLife Nutrition is open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Olivet

Olivet

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Gardener’s grave blankets bring comfort during cold winter months

The December chill doesn’t quite have the same sting as it once did for Monica Lee, a resident of Battle Creek. Kathy Gardener, an Olivet resident, has made sure of that.

It’s been 12 years since Kathy reached out to Monica unexpectedly with a special gift — one that brings Monica tremendous comfort every December.

Kathy, who started making grave blankets more than 30 years for her daughters who passed as small children, donated a grave blanket to Monica in 2006 after hearing how she had tragically lost her only daughter.

“To think she was thinking about someone else at that time,” Monica recalls. “Kathy is a beautiful woman. My baby is warm every year. It gives me a warm feeling.”

Monica has ordered a grave blanket for her daughter ever since, and has added a grave blanket for her mother as well. Monica said it brings her great comfort to know her daughter, who died on Dec. 2, is warmed by the blanket throughout the cold months.

Kathy said she identified with Monica’s story after hearing about it on the news and knew she needed to reach out to her. 

“I’ve been there, losing someone close to you,” Kathy said. 

She started making grave blankets after losing two daughter 35 years ago. Her daughters passed in October and she said she recalls thinking about how they were going to be cold all winter. That’s when she first learned about grave blankets, and the concept brought a feeling of comfort for her daughters. It’s a feeling she said people often convey to her about her creations.

“I hear a lot that blankets are a comfort,” Kathy said. “Our loved ones aren’t with us physically, but they are always in our hearts. The blankets provide a comfort to us and color to the cemetery.”

Kathy donates at least one grave blanket each year, often to a family like Monica’s. 

“It changed my life losing my girls,” Kathy said. “This is a legacy I can carry on through my daughters.”

The blankets are made from fresh pine branches and weigh 25-30 pounds. They are anchored in the ground before it freezes. Kathy said she is very particular about the colors she adds through flowers and bows. Each takes about an hour to create. She said she cuts down about 11 big trees from a local tree farm each year.

To order a grave blanket for your loved one, call Kathy at (269) 274-3266.

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Bellevue

Bellevue

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Bellevue family champions of draft horse competition

Thursday, Sept. 13 through Saturday, Sept. 15, was a horse competition few Michiganders were probably aware was taking place. At the Oklahoma State Fair Grounds, however, was a family from Bellevue, Mich. with their six horses for the Six-Horse Hitch Classic Series World Finals. Doyle and Rene had been to the competition before, and even won the previous year, but they were back for the three-day competition determined for another title. Rene is certain her horses were too.

The Dingmans have owned horses since the 80s, and shown their horses since the 90s. Both Rene and Doyle grew up around horses, and took an interest in draft horses shortly after they moved to Bellevue in 1981. Over 30 years later, the Dingmans, their two daughters, and grandchildren are still showing their horses, but they’re not the only family with claim over the six horses that went to Oklahoma.

Doyle and Rene have shared ownership with two families from Ohio. Nick and Cherie Wagner, and Mike and Tara Supers make up the ownership of the All Star Farms six-horse hitch team. The team took the title of champion at the 2018 competition, a second in a row for the team.

The All Star Farms team, like every other team at the competition, went through a series of other qualifying competitions. The points accumulated from the qualifying competitions determined who went on, but every team started out with equal footing in Oklahoma. All Star Farms points from Oklahoma truly were outstanding. The team with the least amount of points comes out on top, and after the first two days All Star Farms was the only team still in the single digits from a three-judge panel. Their total after the three-day competition was 13, and their closest runner up had 29.

The horse teams are judged on several factors, not the least of which is the uniformity among the horses, as well as decorative flare and animation. Rene was proud to share that her horses display confidence and prestige, and even enjoy the competition and showmanship.

“They all have real heart and drive,” said Rene. “The six we have really like their job. They’re evenly matched and drive well together.”

Ross and Nicole Honsberger, and Kelsey and Andy Gilbert, the Dingmans’ two daughters and sons-in-law, continue to help with the horses as well. Rene expects that competitions like the SHHCL will continue to be a family affair for the next generation.

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Eaton County

Eaton County

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Retro Arcade opens inside Eaton Theatre

Crissta Ames

Contributing writer

After accomplishing her dream of owning the Eaton Theatre, Leann Owen wanted to take it a step further. She has spent the last few months renovating the space they owned next to the theatre and transforming it into a retro 1980s-themed arcade. 

The room was previously rented out to Sue’s Tailoring but has been sitting empty for a few years. Owen opened up the wall next to the mural in the theatre lobby, and then added in some black lights and carpet that glows underneath them to add to the experience. There are also plans to add in some wall art that will be done by her daughter.

The new arcade is packed with classic games such as Pac-Man, Centipede, Mario Bros, and many more, all from Owen’s own collection of arcade games. There are approximately 20 games, all available to play for 50 cents or less. Some games, like the Pokémon game, offer prizes that people can take with them.

Owen said she had always wanted to add more to the theatre so families had more to do after school. The next project is to add a virtual reality gaming room to the right of the front entrance, where the arcade used to be. The virtual reality will be a fun experience that allows people to feel immersed in the game they’re playing as opposed to just watching a screen. She hopes to have the room running shortly after New Years. 

There are more plans to continue repairing the historical theatre. She said she wishes to keep the nostalgic feeling alive in the main theatre building, while adding fun entertainment rooms on the side. 

Weekly showtimes can be found on the Eaton Theatre’s Facebook page and in The County Journal. Doors open an hour before the shows start so there is plenty of time to try out the games before heading into the theatre. 

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Vermontville

Vermontville

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Maple Valley Athletic Boosters supply several improvements

Crissta Ames

Contributing Writer

The Maple Valley Athletic Boosters has helped Maple Valley schools in getting a new scorer’s table, new advertising signs, new iPads, and a special opportunity to participate in athletics without the worry of financial burden.

According to the Boosters president, Tal Gearhart, in addition to the material assets that the Boosters have helped Maple Valley get, the district has also earned enough money to eliminate their pay-to-play policy. Without pay-to-play, students can have the opportunity to play a sport without worrying about it being too much of an extra financial burden. A study done in 2016 by Utah State University shows that the average family spends $2,292 per year on sports. This includes participation fees and travel fees, while some families spend even more for services like personal trainers. 

Many places are still debating to eliminate pay-to-play, but the Boosters’ fundraising techniques have allowed Maple Valley to take that step and allow more opportunity for participation.

The football team at Maple Valley received iPads to help them with their plays. “With the iPads, they can record games, go back, and see what they can improve on,” said Gearhart of the iPads’ purpose. 

Having a visual aid to see how the students are doing can also help the coach find where their weakest and strongest points are and plan accordingly. 

The money the Boosters raise comes from two major fundraisers throughout the year. One of these fundraisers is the annual golf outing they organize, which usually takes place just before the start of the school year. Their other big fundraiser is the reverse raffle where attendees can help fundraise and also have the opportunity to win big! 

Gearhart encourages people to support the local businesses who have supported the schools and is grateful for their continued support as well. Keep an eye on the Maple Valley Athletic Boosters Facebook page for more fundraising events.

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Potterville

Potterville

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Cross Country success a tradition at Potterville High School

Crissta Ames

Contributing writer

Potterville High School boys’ cross-country team placed first at this year’s MHSAA Regionals on Oct. 27 in Jackson. The team narrowly defeated Saranac High School by 11 points, with 64 points altogether. The win marks the second consecutive year that Potterville has placed first at regionals. 

Sophomore Zach Wright ran the quickest time at 16:44.3. Wright also ran last year’s quickest time for Potterville as a freshman.

Potterville High School girls’ cross-country team placed third this year at Regionals with 107 points, following behind Lansing Christian and Fowler. Junior Caleigh Winters was the team’s fastest runner, with a time of 19:56.6. 

Since both teams placed third or higher, they both qualified for the MHSAA LP Division 4 Finals out of 149 other schools in the division. 

At the event that took place on Nov. 3 at the Michigan International Speedway, the boys’ team ended up placing ninth among 27 other schools with 295 points, and the girls placed 24th. 

“For next year, we would like to continue to work very hard in the off-season in order to match or beat our performances from year to year,” Potterville’s cross-country coach Dan Brunk said, discussing the future of the teams and how to improve them. “We have many key athletes returning and look forward to adding a solid group of incoming freshmen.“

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Eaton Rapids

Eaton Rapids

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‘Taco Truck’ to settle down on Main Street

Las Flores, more commonly known as “The Taco Truck” to area Mexican food fans, is moving into a permanent, brick and mortar building on the main corner in downtown Eaton Rapids. The restaurant will go into the space formerly occupied by Madres and the Evelyn Bay coffee shop on the corner of Hamlin and Main Street.

Ady Pintor, who owns and operates the food truck along with her husband Miguel, said they expect to move into the new spot by the end of the month.

“We wanted to move for our customers,” Pintor said. “We wanted them to have a place to sit while they waited (for carry outs) and a place to sit down while they eat. We didn’t want them to have to wait in the rain and snow.”

Having a permanent building, rather than a truck, will also allow them to stay open year-round.

Pintor said both she and Miguel are very fond of their customers.

“Most of them feel like family,” she said. “We know a lot about each other – they care about us and we care about them.

“We really love this community and our customers. It’s what keeps us going. We are grateful for everyone’s support over the years.”

The Las Flores food truck has been serving up delicious Mexican food in Eaton Rapids for the past three years. For the first two years, they were on Main Street. Then they moved to their current spot in the parking lot next to the canoe livery, behind the old fire station.

The Pintors excel at traditional Mexican staples – including tacos, burritos and tamales. Ady Pintor said customer favorites include the tamales and their “taco special.” The special includes three tacos, rice and beans.

The new location will offer both carry out and sit-down dining.

“We are planning on adding some dishes and having a little bigger menu,” she said. “But we are going to continue to keep things simple.”

Las Flores, which means “the flowers” in Spanish, will continue to be open Monday through Saturday. They are always closed on Sunday. Once they move into the new location at 203 S. Main Street, winter business hours are tentatively set for 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. The phone number is (517) 803-1799.

Sunfield

Sunfield

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Mulliken

Mulliken

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Dimondale

Dimondale

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Beloved Dimondale restaurant to reopen

With a sigh of relief and a round of applause, residents of Dimondale, and the surrounding areas, celebrated at Mike’s Village Restaurant Wednesday, June 27 as Lori Conarton announced she’d be reopening the Dimondale favorite....

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