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Charlotte

Charlotte

Featured Story

Orioles take down rival Eaton Rapids, keep playoff hopes alive

The Charlotte High School varsity football team was not ready to relinquish the “Little Brown Jug.” Keeping it out of the hands of their rivals from Eaton Rapids feels too good.

Charlotte used a punishing ground attack Friday, Oct. 5 to ensure the jug would remain in Charlotte for at least one more year. Charlotte dropped the Greyounds 45-31 behind quarterback Dominic Ghiardi’s 263-rushing yards.

“It is always nice to keep the Jug where it belongs,” CHS varsity head coach Jeff Finney said this week. “This is a game that both schools look forward to every year and a game that our players are excited to play.”

Seeing the Greyounds line up across the field sparked something in Charlotte, who with the win moved to 3-4 to cling to slim playoff chances. The 45 points was the team’s biggest offensive output of the season by far. Ghiardi ran for three scores, and threw for 94 yards. Fellow senior, Brendan Sine added 66 yards on the ground and also scored three touchdowns in the win. He also added a 39-yard field goal in the win.

The Orioles must win their final two games of the season to become playoff eligible, and Finney said his guys are focused on that goal.

“The players know that we are in playoff mode right now and are preparing well for a very tough Lakewood team this Friday,” Finney said. “We cannot look at it as we need two more wins, we look at it like we need to be 1-0 this week.”

The Orioles were scheduled to head to Lakewood on Friday, Oct. 12 for a 7 p.m. kick off. The Vikings were 5-2 on the season and coming off a 34-14 loss to Olivet on Oct. 5.

“We will need to play a much cleaner game on Friday to beat Lakewood,” Finney said. “Limiting the penalties and turnovers will be a huge step in the right direction.”

The Orioles end the season Oct. 19 at home against Hastings. The game is being billed as the Community Pride game and will feature a fireworks display following the game.

“The upcoming Community Pride game is going to be amazing,” Finney said. “This is an event that we started last year with the fireworks and something that I hope continues for years to come.  I could not think of a better way to say thank you to our senior athletes than having them play in front of packed bleachers for their last game on our field.”

Community support has something Finney said his team has felt all season. In addition to the Community Pride game, and large crowd for the Oct. 5 rivalry game, the Charlotte community came out in full force Sept. 14 for the Victory for Veterans game against Portland. The game raised $7,795 for the Michigan Freedom Center.

“For somebody that has been a part of this community for my entire life I could not be more excited to see all the support,” Finney said. “There is no way that could have been done without the backing of a great community like ours.”

Olivet

Olivet

Featured Story

Olivet College hosts music festival

Saturday, August 25, several Michigan based musicians, bands, and artists came to the Olivet College campus to play for the college’s first music festival. The artists who performed at the festival included Munch, Tiger and Frame, Soul Brother Stef, Modern Adventures, Michigander, Mikeyy Austin, Hope Waidley, and 3D Wright. Olivet college senior Zachary Oshinsky was the student who thought of the idea for the festival, and he believes the effort was a good move for the college and the town.

“Overall I think it was a success and step in right direction for the college and Olivet. A city like Olivet is not known for having events that appeal to a younger crowd,” said Oshinsky.

It was the lack of college student focused entertainment, even on the OC campus, that prompted Oshinsky to work with student activities and administrators to organize the music festival. It was a goal he’d been working toward since about Thanksgiving of 2017. In the end the festival was a team effort that provided the event with professional sound, lighting, and food.

“The people who came loved it,” said Oshinsky. “Tiger and Frame was shocked for a first year festival we were doing everything right.”

The tidiness and efficiency of the festival was not met equally with student attendance, however. Oshinsky and other students were disappointed by the lack of attendance to the festival.

“You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink,” said Oshinsky. “We gave every opportunity to experience it.”

Oshinsky’s disappointment with the attendance wasn’t matched with bitterness. He was grateful for the musicians and students who came to the festival, as well as for the professionalism that drove the planning and operation of the festival. He hopes the music festival will continue in the coming years after he graduates from OC.

Ultimately Oshinsky believes the expression of art and music through entertainment is good for Olivet College and the surrounding areas. With the music festival he wanted to provide entertainment not only for students and the campus, but also for 20 somethings in the Marshall, Bellevue, and Charlotte areas. In the future he hopes the festival will be free of charge, better attended, and carried on by students trying to meet the needs of their peers on and off campus.

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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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Dream becomes reality for new Eaton Theatre owner

Growing up in Leelenau County, the movies always served as an escape for Leann Owen. Heading into Traverse City to see a movie at the State Theatre, or into Honor to catch a flick at the drive in, is some of her most cherished childhood memories.

Her love affair for movies has only grown in the past 18 years as she has worked her way from part-time employee at the Eaton Theatre in downtown Charlotte, to manager, and now owner.

Owen and her partner Tim Conley closed on the purchase of the Eaton Theatre on Friday, Oct. 5, setting in motion a number of plans Owen has for an enhanced community experience.

“I’ve had 18 years to think about what I could do with this place,” Owen said.

She said her first plan is to open the north wall of the lobby with two arched doorways that will lead to a classic 1980s-style arcade. The room located on the south end of the lobby will then transition to a virtual reality gaming room. Owen said she plans to have the gaming rooms open by Thanksgiving.

“At that point we can extend our hours and be a place kids can come after school,” Owen said. “It will be a place for people to hang out … not just teens, but families too. We’ll then add afternoon show times during the week.”

Continuing to be an affordable place for families to enjoy time together is a top priority. Owen has created a lot of community relationships through the theatre over the years. Her children spent countless hours with her there, one of the reasons she stayed on as manager long as she did.

“We’re here because we love it and we can sustain the cost of staying open,” Owen said. “We don’t need to make a lot of money. I want it to always be affordable to this community.”

In addition to being affordable, Owen plans to increase the theatre’s community involvement, building on the free family movies she instituted a number of years ago. Coming up Oct. 27 and 28, the Eaton Theatre gets in the Halloween spirit by offering a free showing of Hocus Pocus. Owen said the announcement of the event has already generated interest from more than 1,200 people, by far the theatre’s biggest event. She plans to show Wreck it Ralph during Small Business Saturday, coinciding with the release of Wreck it Ralph 2.

Her plans for the theatre are big, and will take time to complete. In addition to the new arcade, Owen said she plans to move the ticket booth back to the front entrance, and expand the lobby area to restore a classic 1940s or 50s feel. She also has plans to restore the marquee that was removed last year, though that project comes with a big price tag.

“People are going to see a lot of changes,” Owen said. “But, we have to take them one step at a time.”

The planned improvements are on top of renovations that have taken place in the last several years, which include a new roof, new furnaces, new lobby cooling system, ceiling fans in the main theatre that help circulate heat, digital projectors and new screens, reupholstered seats, and an updated sound system in each booth.

“A lot of what has been done recently isn’t that noticeable to customers,” Owen said. “There have been a lot of little improvements along the way, but I’m excited for what’s to come.”

Eaton Theatre, located at 235 S. Cochran Avenue in downtown Charlotte, is a first run movie theatre with a 500-seat lower theatre, and 150-seat second-floor theatre. For show times, find their weekly ad in The County Journal, and follow Eaton Theatre on Facebook.

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Vermontville

Vermontville

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Vermontville

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Visit Vermontville Day back for third year

Vermontville is a village known for many things. One of those things is its annual Syrup Festival, which attracts locals, as well as visitors from all over the state. The Syrup Festival is a classic Vermontville celebration and community get together, but some village residents were concerned there wasn’t enough community celebrating during the rest of the year. Three years ago a group from the Vermontville United Methodist Church came together to organize Visit Vermontville Day, a weekend dedicated to a summer celebration of the village. Since the recent closing of the church, the group of organizers has carried on, still committed to providing more opportunities for the community to come together.

The 2018 Visit Vermontville Day is set for Saturday, Aug. 4. The day will be filled with family friendly activities and events, according to event organizer Lois Hammonds. The day begins with a community breakfast at the First Congregational Church from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. The day unfolds from there with the Dennis Rodeman 5K Run at 10 a.m., the volunteer fire department waterball tournament at 10:30 a.m., a village meet and greet with free hotdogs from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., kids pedal tractor pull at 1 p.m., a cornhole tournament from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., and a car cruise in and street dance from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Those are only some of the events and opportunities. The day also has paint party options for people of all ages, and other athletic tournaments and games to participate in. The complete list of events can be found at the Visit Vermontville Day Facebook page.

As exciting and full as the Saturday will be, the purpose behind the events are deeper than games, craft vendors, and car shows. Proceeds from several of the event registration fees throughout the day will go directly to Gracie Williams, a fourth grade student from Vermontville who was unexpectedly diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. More information about which events will directly benefit Gracie can be found throughout the day.

Benefitting Gracie is ultimately a testimony to the purpose of Visit Vermontville Day, according to Hammonds. The day is to celebrate Vermontville and its people, but also celebrate the importance of small, tight knit communities that come together around common causes and goals.

“It’s something simple we can do for the family, and that’s what this community is about,” said Hammonds.

It’s not lost on people like Hammonds that small villages and towns like Vermontville are suffering and shrinking around the state, and around the country. Even so, the shrinking communities, like Vermontville, still find the means to provide for families in need, and to even have fun and celebrating as well.

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Potterville

Potterville

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Potterville

Featured Story

Vacancies and budgetary issues at City of Potterville

The news is getting around to Potterville residents and County Journal readers about the dismissal of former city manager Wanda Darrow after an investigation revealed Darrow’s son, Eddy, and former employee of the city had stolen several thousand dollars via unauthorized checks, as well as other city property. The findings of the investigation and the subsequent firing of Darrow appear, however, to be having a ripple effect for the City of Potterville.

Since Darrow’s exit from her position in the city, the city clerk, Tessa Wightman, resigned from her position, leaving the city’s administrative roles quite bare. Brad Boyce, former DPW employee for the City of Potterville, has stepped into the role of acting city manager for the time being, but is operating with hours significantly less than Darrow’s, according to Potterville city councilwoman Katherine Schmidt. She is concerned the city will be unprepared to facilitate the upcoming November election due to the vacancies. The council is taking action to start the hiring process for a city manager, according to Schmidt.

Schmidt’s concern for the city, however, while inclusive of the vacant administrative roles, is more focused on the city’s precarious financial situation. According to Schmidt, the city’s current budgetary predicament includes, but is not limited to, thousands of dollars in bank errors and errors in bank reconciliations, a bookkeeping lag of approximately three to six months, lost revenue from a recent road project, and a projected deficit of as much as $32,000.

Throughout the turbulent tale that’s unfolded in Potterville in 2018 with fire department debates, lawsuits, and investigations, Schmidt, as well as councilman Jeff Bussard, have reiterated that the city had not budgeted for mounting legal fees. At the public forum in which the Potterville City Council reviewed the findings of the investigation involving Eddy Darrow, Bussard insisted again the investigation, as troubling as the findings were, would not be the city’s biggest problem if the budgetary issues were not settled.

Schmidt noted that every year the city has to go through an audit from the state. With as far behind as the city is with the books, an audit won’t be pretty, not to mention time is running out to get the audit done before the end of the fiscal year.

“The clock is ticking for a state audit,” said Schmidt.

Schmidt has spoken at length in the last year about upholding the integrity of office and title within municipal government. At an April 19 council meeting, the Potterville City Council voted not to approve payment of city bills, an action Schmidt tried to remedy by calling an emergency meeting, which was not met with quorum. The trend of financial irresponsibility is one Schmidt fears will not go away without outside intervention.

“We have a deficit, and there’s no plan to fix it.”

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Eaton Rapids

Eaton Rapids

Featured Story

The Greenhouse Project brings tradition and creativity to the ERMC Farmers Market

Brandie Medlock’s family has been creating and selling homemade jams and jellies for over 30 years.

“They’ve been making those since before I was born,” Brandie laughs as she points to a rustic stand stacked with mason jars of preserves. “Jam really was the beginning of it all.”

Brandie is the president of The Greenhouse Project, a nonprofit that focuses on increasing local access to fresh produce.  She sets up shop weekly in a booth at the Eaton Rapids Medical Center (ERMC) Farmers Market. Every week Brandie, her daughter, her parents (and their dogs) arrive at the market with multitudes of delicious preserves, jams, baked goods, and produce in tow.

Even though the Medlock family started out in the business of preserves, these days you can always find a variety of fresh veggies and fruit at The Greenhouse Project’s stand. Brandie told me they grow their produce at a local garden just down the road from Eaton Rapids, in Springport.

“My favorite thing to grow is the Heirloom tomatoes,” Medlock says. “We’ve tried a bunch of varieties, from the older seeds to the newer types, and we always grow them 100 percent organic and GMO free.”

In fact, the current produce offerings from The Greenhouse Project are just the tip of the iceberg. Brandie tells me that their real growing season is just about to begin, and customers can expect to see an abundant variety in the coming months. They expect to have peppers, leeks, onions, melons, and even pumpkins as the season progresses.

“We had a late start to the growing season this year,” she said, “so most of what we grow we haven’t even begun to harvest yet!”

In addition to the wonderful variety of produce The Greenhouse Project sells each week, the homemade jams and jellies on this stand are a prize all their own. Somehow, despite their low-sugar content, these spreads are packed with flavor.

When I ask how they manage to get all that flavor in without the sugar skyrocketing, Brandie said simply, “When you use better fruit, you need less sugar.”

The Greenhouse Project’s booth at the ERMC Market truly is a family project. Brandie’s parents Marie and Terry, her daughter Stephanie, and their beloved pups Hazel and Rosie all attend the market each week with something to contribute. Marie makes a different variety of cookies each week, bringing everything from her famous molasses cookies to oatmeal and brown sugar, and always with an emphasis on local ingredients.

Brandie’s daughter Stephanie contributes by selling her photography in ways both unique and classic. She always brings a few prints of some of her best shots of beautiful spots around the state of Michigan, but she also offers “Portraits with Your Pet” for just $10, a service that patrons love. It’s also important to point out that the family’s dogs are contributing too, because if you don’t have a pet of your own to pose with, you’re always welcome to have a photo taken with their adorable puppy Hazel instead.

The Greenhouse Project has been coming to the Eaton Rapids Medical Center Farmers Market for years, and Brandie says she always gets a lot out of selling local food to local customers.

“I love the engagement with the customers here,” she said. “And I enjoy being able to provide fresh food to them, especially seniors and lower-income customers, for affordable prices.”

It’s clear this family finds joy in providing delicious, healthy food for their community, and it’s wonderful to see that community supporting them in return each week at the market. Stop by The Greenhouse Project any Wednesday now through mid-October, in the Eaton Rapids Medical Center parking lot from 3 to 6 p.m. Whether you’re looking for affordable, fresh produce or authentic homemade treats, you won’t be disappointed with what you find.

Article submitted by ERMC.

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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