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Charlotte

Charlotte

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Charlotte

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Chamber of Commerce introduces a refreshed festival to celebrate Charlotte

The Chamber of Commerce has teamed-up with CanDo!, Courthouse Square and the City of Charlotte to re-imagine a broader, more regional future of the “Celebrate Charlotte” festival.

“What began as a small gathering of locals at Bennett Park has grown into one of the largest events in the community,” said Tyler Pray, president of the Chamber of Commerce Board. “It’s time to appeal throughout mid-Michigan and offer a large-scale festival that celebrates the core family values and small town successes that define our community.”

The festival is being renamed Charlotte Celebrates!

“The action-oriented name may not sound much different, but it lends itself perfectly to our city’s revitalization and its new brand,” Pray said.

The Chamber Board, as well as its festival planning committee participated in the development of the new regional branding system for Charlotte that will be unveiled Tuesday, April 24, on the billboards located across from the Charlotte Performing Arts Center.

Charlotte Celebrates! will be the first major event to embrace these exciting new developments.

“We wish to express a great deal of thanks to the CanDo! Marketing Advisory Committee,” says Courtney Anderson, the Chamber’s executive director. “They spent more than a year hosting study groups and brainstorming with creative professionals to re-create our community brand. In doing so, they reached out to our festival planning committee and our board to help us implement these new developments in relation to the changes we wanted to make with the festival.”

The Father’s Day holiday is a significant weekend in Charlotte, which hosts multiple events throughout the community traditionally centered on “Celebrate Charlotte.”  The Chamber will continue the tradition of holding the festival on this weekend and incorporate a broad range of activities focused on celebrating family.

Charlotte Celebrates! is Thursday, June 14, through Sunday, June 17 this year. Many of the same, familiar events will take place downtown, including Touch-A-Truck and Savor Charlotte, on Thursday from 5 to 8 p.m.  Friday from 6 to 9 p.m., downtown streets will close for a cruise-in car show and exciting new motorcycle performance, followed by Windwalker Underground Gallery’s famous open-mic night at Beach Market to kick of Brews and Blues. Friday will also include “Arts Night Out,” hosted by the Greater Lansing Arts Council and CharlotteRising. A variety of activities Saturday will be on the Courthouse lawn and a concert at Beach Market during Brews and Blues will feature the band “Be Kind Rewind.”

The Chamber is still developing sponsorship opportunities for these large-scale events.

“This is the festival’s 20th year and the planning committee is working hard to continue the excellence of two decades of family fun in Charlotte,” Anderson said. “I am thankful for all of the help form our board, ambassadors, Courthouse square, and the many volunteers who make this event possible.”

More information will be available on the Chamber’s social media outlets and on the website at micharlotte.org.  Look for a published order of events in the County Journal closer to the event.

Article submitted by the Charlotte Chamber of
Commerce.

Olivet

Olivet

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Olivet

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Proposed curriculum changes won’t affect Olivet band program

A number of concerned community members voiced their opposition Monday, March 12 to proposed curriculum changes they felt could affect the Olivet Community Schools band program. The Olivet school board received a proposal that showed a slight change to how electives were scheduled at the middle school level.

Olivet Community Schools Superintendent Rocky Aldrich said the crux of the issue centered on the elimination of fifth grade band, which he said was never on the table.

“Fifth grade band was never going to be cut,” Aldrich said. “I think there was some misunderstanding. We’ve already developed a schedule the band director can support.”

Aldrich said changes to the schedule were necessary to allow for more electives for the middle school students.

Members of the teaching staff and community spoke passionately March 12 about the need for a successful band program in the district and its impact on student achievement.

Olivet teacher Randy Smith, who has had four children go through the band program said, “When I hear a proposal that has the potential to reduce the amount of engagement not just academically, but some of the social and behavioral pieces, I’m really leery of when we have something that works really well then we are thinking of maybe solving a short term problem, but maybe we’re creating a long term problem down the road.”

Aldrich said he appreciated the passion shown for the band program and is happy to report band director Dave Funk will have fifth grade band students three days a week.

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Bellevue

Bellevue

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The changing face of Bellevue

It’s difficult to imagine sometimes, what it would be like if our own hometown was losing some former glory, dwindling in population, or not being invested in the way it should be. Stories like that unfortunately exist in so...

Bellevue

Featured Story

The changing face of Bellevue

It’s difficult to imagine sometimes, what it would be like if our own hometown was losing some former glory, dwindling in population, or not being invested in the way it should be. Stories like that unfortunately exist in so many cities and towns, both large and small. For Bellevue, Mich. the reality of getting smaller and losing some of the old familiarities is one that longtime residents know well.

In recent weeks citizens of Bellevue watched as the old bank and former township building was gradually demolished, it’s ornate façade the last to be pulled down. The sight was a painful reminder for some that the old days of the small village have drifted into memory; the last remnants of glory days when Bellevue was a bustling town with multiple grocery and drug stores, car dealerships, and more.

The old bank building was torn down to make way for a drive thru for Hometown Pharmacy. While the loss of the building is a sign of losing some history, it’s also a sign that the village is still adjusting for the times. One thing dies and makes way for another. Every town has its own circle of life in that way, for better or for worse.

But, there are other parts of town that stand empty, vacant because of a lack of interest and traffic in town. Residents know this, many would even like to do something about it. Mark Goodrich, owner of the Village Bar, along with his business partners, started a renovating project a few doors down at the old Plezall building in the hopes of possibly having a beer garden and a separate banquet hall. Goodrich was unavailable for comment, but spoke to the County Journal about the plans in a January 2017 edition.

Bobbi Easter is another local business owner looking to raise more interest in Bellevue’s downtown. Easter and her two daughters, Pam Steele and Becka Dunne, plan to open their new bakery, Main Street Eatery, in April. The bakery will specialize not only in desserts such as cakes, cookies, and donuts, but will also serve breakfast and lunch with Easter’s own flavor and spice. She doesn’t plan to open any run of the mill diner, but a restaurant with one of a kind recipes.

But Easter’s eatery isn’t just about sharing her special treats with her neighbors. For her, opening a restaurant in Bellevue is about breathing some life back into a once thriving community. She lamented the building Main Street Eatery is moving into stood vacant for five years or so, a sure tell sign in her mind the town isn’t being properly invested in.

“Nobody wants to invest in Bellevue,” said Easter. “Everybody wants new. Nobody wants to preserve the old.”

Easter has many years of ownership and management behind her. Along with investing in one building in town, she’s also owned an adult foster care home in Battle Creek, as well as a bakery in Kalamazoo. But as it relates to Bellevue, Easter saw the rich history, and she hopes for a bright future as well.

“My daughters and I have a dream for making Bellevue a destination village,” said Easter. “I just see the potential.”

In the end, hopes and dreams are what are what make the stuff of reality. It takes an idea, a simple plan, and some hard work to make new and exciting things for ourselves and those around us. Bellevue won’t look the way it did 50 years ago, but that’s part of its story; discovering and shaping how it will look for the next generations.

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Eaton County

Eaton County

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Sunset Acres Bakery to celebrate 1st year of business with open house

At the intersection of Vermontville Highway and Chester Road is a small bakery. The building is simple, surrounded by fields and an Amish farm next door. Henry and Edna Mae Detweiler, a modest couple with two small children, own the farm and the bakery.

Inside the bakery visitors are welcomed by the scent of baked goods, shelves of sweets and crafts, and the kind faces and words of the Detweilers and their relatives. The environment is simple and quiet, reflective of the lifestyle of the owners.

Sunset Acres Bakery opened one year ago when Henry and Edna Mae realized a vision Henry had carried for several years. Henry had long seen the potential of the intersection property as a good place to start a business. Combining the potential of the location with Edna’s desire to open a coffee shop, the couple opened a coffee shop and bakery in their yard, off the beaten path of town, away from the clutter and the noise.

Esthetically speaking, the location is perfect. One would be hard pressed to find a calmer spot for coffee, a good morning read, and silence in their own home, let alone at another coffee house/bakery. It could be a lengthy drive for some, but for Amish baked goods, hearty breakfast sandwiches, reasonably priced coffee, and a calm atmosphere, who would complain?

On the shelves customers can find cinnamon rolls, varieties of cookies, coffee cakes, syrups, jams, and other assortments of sweets. Sunset Acres not only offers their own homemade goods, but also some of other Amish neighbors and local crafters. There are the staple goods, but Edna and her help rotate recipes and try new things as well. According to Henry, the bakery also takes special orders for various needs and events.

The product, the atmosphere, and the location are all major bonuses to the ownership for Henry and Edna Mae. But for Henry the real joy is being close to his family.

“The best thing for me is being home with my son and daughter,” said Henry.

But the community component isn’t limited to Henry’s family. The camaraderie of everyday visitors from surrounding towns and communities makes ownership of the year old business enjoyable as well. From Charlotte, Middleville, Vermontville, and beyond visitors come to buy treats for home and a coffee for the day. After one year the Detweilers’ little stop has fallen into the place and routine they envisioned.

Saturday, April 14 Sunset Acres will have an open house celebrating their first year of business. All day visitors can come out enjoy some free ice cream and other desserts while seeing how the country bakery has grown over the last year. As Spring rolls back over Michigan and County Journal readers are stepping back into the sunlight and looking for warm weather activities, it would be well worth the visit to Sunset Acres Bakery to welcome in the warm weather and celebrate one of Eaton County’s best-kept secrets.

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Vermontville

Vermontville

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Vermontville

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Kelsey Grand Marshal of 78th Annual Vermontville Maple Syrup Festival

Doug Kelsey has never been far from the Maple Syrup Festival fun, living for years just a block from where the action takes place. But, he’s never been quite front and center as he will be this year, having been named the 78th Annual Vermontville Maple Syrup Festival Grand Marshal.

A Vermontville native, Kelsey graduated from Maple Valley High School in 1967 and chose to remain an active member of the community. His involvement includes an impressive list of boards and committees, but his dedication to the Syrup Festival, where he served as Master of Ceremonies for 35 years, is rivaled by only a handful of residents.

It is for his years of dedication that organizers of this year’s festival have chosen to honor him.

The 78th Annual Vermontville Maple Syrup Festival will take place Friday, April 27 through Sunday, April 29 in downtown Vermontville.

This year’s festival officially gets underway with the opening ceremonies on Friday, April 27 at 6 p.m. on the main stage.

Included in the Friday festivities is the annual talent competition, which features a number of local acts showcasing a variety of skills. You will also find some of the best pancakes around being served up by the American Legion and Nashville Lions Club at the American Legion (located above Independent Bank) from 4 to 8 p.m. or the Maple Valley Band Boosters at the fire station from 5 to 7 p.m.

As always, Mid-America Shows will be on hand providing entertainment on the “Midway,” including rides and games for everyone on the family to enjoy.

Start Saturday off right with a second helping of pancakes smothered in your favorite syrup. The American Legion, Lions and band boosters begin serving pancakes at 7 a.m. and will serve them throughout the day. The community is filled with activity all day long, including the Vermontville arts and crafts show, flea market, a petting zoo, performance by the Maple Valley Jazz Band, Maple Valley Choir and the Glen Erin Bagpipe Band, among others. The children’s parade: “Maple Syrup is Springtime Sweetness” takes center stage at 11 a.m. The grand parade, “Maple Syrup and Sunshine,” begins at 3 p.m.

The celebration continues through Sunday as the streets of Vermontville will be filled attractions such as various displays, games, free entertainment and arm wrestling. Local syrup producers are located throughout the village selling syrup, candies, crème and the ever-popular maple syrup cotton candy.

Of course, you can learn all about the Maple Syrup process throughout the weekend at Maple Manor, where a number of exhibits showcase the tradition and history.

For more information on the 78th Annual Vermontville Maple Syrup Festival, visit VermontvilleMapleSyrupFestival.org or call toll free (888) 482-8780.

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Potterville

Potterville

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Potterville

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Conflict between Potterville city manager and council member

Friday, March 30, at 11 a.m., Eaton County Circuit Court judge, John Maurer, presided over a legal dispute involving Potterville City Manager, Wanda Darrow, and Potterville City councilman, Dustin Twichell. Due to a largely personal conflict, which both Darrow and Twichell identified as spanning several years ago, Darrow requested a personal protection order (PPO) against councilman Twichell for what she, and several others, have described as “belligerent,” “harsh,” “intimidating,” and “concerning” behavior.

During the Friday hearing, Darrow began to describe to Judge Maurer the circumstances that led her to request the PPO against Twichell. In the few minutes she was allotted for her testimony, Darrow described one of two specific scenarios in which she felt threatened by councilman Twichell.

The first, heard briefly by Judge Maurer, involved a situation on Monday, March 19 in which councilman Twichell arrived at Potterville City Hall to acquire documents he believed were wrongly being withheld from him, and other council members. By Twichell’s own recount, the city manager, and by extension the city clerk, were under the direction of city council to provide the document in question by a specific date and time. When the documents were not sent, Twichell called City Hall to make an inquiry. When his inquiry was met with resistance, Twichell decided to visit City Hall in person.

Upon arriving at City Hall, Twichell encountered Darrow, who was leaving to visit the bank. According to Darrow, she made it clear that she was leaving the office for about an hour, but would be back later to address any business Twichell felt pressing. Her departure was met with resistance from Twichell, a resistance that set the tone for the rest of the day at City Hall. It was unclear by any of the testimonials of the day whether or not Twichell acquired the documents.

After briefly hearing Twichell’s own side of the story, Judge Maurer turned back to Darrow.

“How has he threatened you?” asked the judge.

After hearing Darrow’s short reply, the judge dismissed the hearing and request for a PPO due to lack of substantial evidence for physical or verbal threat.

“You may not like the way he’s doing his job, but that’s for the voters to decide,” said Judge Maurer.

The second scenario, not heard in the March 30 hearing, occurred later the same evening of March 19, however. Part two of this story will be published in the April 14 edition of the County Journal.

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Eaton Rapids

Eaton Rapids

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Emily’s Farm continues to win young business competitions

Emily Newborn is a fourth generation farmer from Eaton Rapids. Her family has long raised chicken, beef, and pork to sustain the family, and eventually provided meat to neighbors and friends looking for locally raised food. Taking into account her own health needs for clean meat, as well as the growing national trend of buying locally grown food, Emily decided to start Emily’s Farm, a business committed to providing meat without preservatives, antibiotics, or steroids.

The start of Emily’s Farm coincided with Emily’s participation in FFA. Now a senior in high school, Emily started building and promoting her business in 2016 after seeing a presentation about the 5 Minutes Tops program, an opportunity for mid-Michigan students to pitch business ideas to local business owners for cash prizes. Emily won the 2016 regional competition, but her 2018 efforts are taking Emily’s Farm above and beyond 5 Minutes Tops.

During the 2017-2018 school year, Emily participated in the Grand Ledge Fledge competition, placing first. She continued to the LCC regional competition and placed first again and won $250. She then participated in a LEAP (Lansing Economic Area Partnership) competition, winning the overall competition with a $1,000 prize, as well as two second place cash prizes of $300 each in best business plan and best table pitches.

Wednesday, April 18 Emily competed in a competition with the Michigan Chamber of Commerce and won an additional $1,000 prize. The MCC competition placed her on the next track to compete nationally at a competition in Rochester New York. The New York competition is set for May 3-5, and if Emily’s Farm comes out on top, she’ll be eligible to compete on the business pitch TV show, Shark Tank.

Emily’s achievements in the student business pitch competitions are no small feat. She’s prepared over 20 pages of business plan, created speeches, presentations, and booths setups with meat samples and visuals. Her competitive work was all done alongside her schoolwork and tasks as president of Eaton Rapids’ FFA chapter.

Beyond the competitions and schoolwork, Emily hopes to continue expanding the scope of Emily’s Farm. In fall of 2018 she will attend Michigan State University to major in Veterinary Medicine with a minor in Agricultural Business. Emily hopes to one day open her own USDA processing plant, grow her business, open her own veterinary clinic, and continue to promote a culture of healthier eating. Already Emily is getting offers from meat markets to regularly buy bulk of her meats.

Readers wanting to learn more about Emily’s Farm can visit the Emily’s Farm Facebook page, or follow Emily’s Farm on Instagram and Snapchat.

Sunfield

Sunfield

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Mulliken

Mulliken

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Dimondale

Dimondale

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