John Forte, owner of What’s Your Forte Salon, is opening a new cosmetology school in downtown Charlotte. His wife Angela will be running the program, a dream they have shared together for a while. Affordability, location, quality materials and a small class size are benefits students who enroll can look forward to.
The new cosmetology school will be unique. With a class size of ten, students can look forward to more one-on-one attention than they would receive at larger schools. What’s Your Forte will also be just a short drive for Eaton County residents rather than the current 25-30 miles.
Tuition for the new school will be around $17,000, which includes an extensive and quality kit of tools for the industry. “We put a lot of time into finding tools that will last our students a long time. This is stuff that I would really love as a professional and they will be able to use when they start their careers,” explained Forte. Payment plans are available and with typical tuition at cosmetology schools ranging from $17,000-$46,000; it really is a great deal.
Another exciting part of the school will be a lash extension program. “Most cosmetology schools don’t offer that, but it’s part of our industry. I don’t want my students to have to spend more money when they get done with school, when they can just learn it here,” said Angela.
To be licensed with the state board, students have to have 1,500 hours of experience and take a test. While the test can be nerve wracking, Angela plans on spending a lot of time during school preparing students to be able to pass with flying colors. “I really want my students to be calm and confident when they go to take the test.”
Angela grew up in Laingsburg and dreamed about becoming a cosmetologist since she was three years old. She attended the Douglas J Aveda Institute, later becoming an instructor there. “I have wanted to open a cosmetology school from day one, and I want to pass on the skills I learned at Douglas J here. It’s all about the value-added services and giving customers an experience they aren’t used to like massages and steamed towels.”
Angela later owned Agape Salon in Eaton Rapids for several years until she sold the business in 2012. When one door closes, another one opens though. Angela visited What’s Your Forte Salon looking for a job after selling Agape Salon but didn’t realize that she would also meet her future husband there, John.
Now they have been married for five years and are about to realize a dream that they have both had for a long time. John is a Charlotte native and opened his salon in 2004 when he was just twenty-one. With a huge attention to detail, he prides himself on quality cuts for men. “John will definitely be a guest speaker at our cosmetology school, lecturing on men’s cuts.”
Soon, the Forte’s believe they will quickly outgrow their space. John and Angela will then have to switch spaces, with the cosmetology school moving to the front and John’s salon moving to the back of the building. They also would like to work on partnering with local schools in the distant future to create a co-op program. “We are just excited to finally be doing what we are supposed to do. God is moving us in a direction to glorify him and serve our community,” Forte said.
Applications for the cosmetology school are available at the salon. Applicants can also take a tour, ask questions, and meet their instructor. Students will also need to pass a criminal background check. For more information, you can give the salon a call at 424-284-9363 or visit their website: at vagaro.com/whatsyourforte. Spots are filling quickly, so interested students should enroll now.
Whitetail Farms Farm Fresh Market, a unique, quality meat market, has seen much expansion since it opened in 2015 in Olivet. Starting as a deer processing and butcher shop, expansions have included a barbecue smokehouse, a broaster and the Whitetail Farms barbeque shack.
Owners Greg and Karen Saltzman take pride in offering a wide variety of options for their customers. “We smoke ribs and chicken daily on our Southern Pride Smoker,” said Karen Saltzman. “We stock our hot case with fresh smoked ribs and chicken from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and from 4 to 6 p.m. each day.” Be sure to stop in for lunch daily, and pick up their delicious broaster chicken.
“We are a meat market with 29 kinds of brats made in-house. We also do our own signature smoked hunter’s sticks, summer sausage and ring bologna,” said Saltzman.
Whitetail Farms features their own smoked bacon, with flavors that include hickory smoked, peppered, jalapeno, honey whiskey and apple brandy.
For DIY home cooking, Whitetail Farms Farm Fresh Market offers a full line of USDA choice beef and pork in their serviced meat case. They also carry a customized line of fresh chicken; fresh ground beef made in-house daily; along with marinated chicken breast with choices of lemon pepper, BBQ, mesquite and garlic butter.
A complement to any meal, Whitetail Farms offers fresh Amish baked goods, fresh produce, milk and dairy products and a deli. Whitetail Farms also offers local honey and local maple syrup products, as well as propane filling and a choice of Whitetail Farm’s selection of Lumber Jack grilling pellets.
Whitetail Farms offers a full range of catering options for weddings, graduation open houses, memorial services, birthdays, and any other special occasion. They feature pulled pork and beef brisket, both smoked in-house; macaroni and cheese; baked beans; and many more additional selections are available. For more information on their unique catering options, call them at 269-749-2005 Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m.. to 7 p.m.
For those interested in shopping at Whitetail Farms Farm Fresh Market, their website (whitetailfarmsffm.com) has great information about what all this market has to offer. Check out their deli menu to see sandwiches, paninis, wraps, and salads. Also available is their hot case—stocked with their daily meals—and their broaster menu.
If you are active on social media, you can also follow their Facebook page that posts updates on the daily menu as well as closings. Whitetail Farms Farm Fresh Market is open Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. and closed on Sunday. The building is located at 4506 West Butterfield Hwy, in Olivet, across the street from Olivet College’s Cutler Event Center.
Be sure to stop in for something to eat from their hot case or barbecue smokehouse, and treat yourself to flavors you will want to repeat over and over.
It’s a shake-y business, but someone’s got to do it! Rebecca Whitson just opened The Mix in Bellevue on July 10, where she serves energizing teas, healthy shakes, protein coffee, and other refreshing drinks which feature Herbalife products. The Mix is located at 110 North Main Street, right across the street from Boondock’s Pizza.
Whitson was a schoolteacher in Olivet but decided that she wanted to find more joy in her life and be able to choose her own surroundings. She left teaching, and allowed the Lord to guide her, she explained. Her sister, Amanda Whitson, is also in the Herbalife shake business and owns Main Street Mixers in Olivet.
Whitson puts in some long hours at her shop. The store is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. She works in the shop along with two high school girls whom she has trained, “And they are just phenomenal!” she gleefully added.
“Each day is what I make it,” she said. “I can choose my own destiny. I love the interaction I get with the public,” she added. “And I especially like being my own boss!”
Tea Bombs and shakes are the main items on her menu. Some Tea Bomb standouts include the Razzle Dazzle, which is the top seller, Captain America, and Tropic Like it’s Hot. They’re not only tasty but are very pretty layers of colors. Oatmeal Scotchie, Banana Split, and the Salted Carmel Pretzel are some of the top-selling shakes.
“I really recommend the shakes and Tea Bombs as they are low-calorie and give great, amazing energy,” Whitson said. “When I gave them up for a while, I noticed that I just didn’t feel as great. The Tea Bombs even seemed to prevent that ‘mid-day drag’ when I was teaching.”
Whitson has poured her enthusiasm into the building, also. The outside is brick with a band of teal across it. Before the paint dried, Whitson flung glitter into it. “People can’t help but notice,” she enthusiastically exclaimed. “I just love it.”
“I really love the small-town vibe in Bellevue. I am plugged into the community, support the community, and want to get even more involved in Bellevue.”
Visit The Mix on Facebook at @110themix, on Instagram at 110themix, or email 110TheMix@gmail.com. Orders can be placed by phone at 269-339-1005.
Eaton county offers tons of fun summer activities. Summer is an exciting time of year with the kids off school, and warm, inviting weather. Lots of people go on long camping trips or on faraway adventures. But there is a surprising number of things that can be a day trip or even just a small outing nearby.
Fitzgerald Park in Grand ledge has a complete 18-hole disc golf course, hiking, and fishing. It’s a great place for families to spend the day with a playground for kids, hiking trails with a view of ancient ledges, and fishing off the Grand River. No doubt, there is something for everyone and it’s easy to spend hours at the park, lost in its beauty.
Crandell Lake, Charlotte, has a couple similar offerings. It is a popular fishing spot (catch and release only) and hiking as well. The lake is Eaton County’s largest, at an impressive 160 acres with depths up to 35 feet, perfect for a dip to cool off on a hot day. The path that goes around the lake is a great hike, run or walk. Non-motorized boats are allowed and lots of people enjoy bringing kayaks, canoes, and even paddle boards. “Crandell lake is a chill fun place to go to, usually there’s not a lot of people there and it’s a nice place to spend your day,” Avery Jones said. He enjoys going there to run and even swim. With boating, fishing, trails, and a refreshing lake, it makes a great day trip.
Many people are enjoying facets of summer that were closed last year due to COVID. Mooville, Eaton Rapids, now offers in door seating. This can be a sweet relief on hot days to cool down in the air conditioning and get a cup of delicious ice cream. They also have a couple of tables outside to enjoy the sun, or just take it on the go and head to one of the Eaton Rapids playgrounds. “Mooville has such a warm welcoming atmosphere that always smells delicious,” Janelle Ostrowski said. It’s a lovely place and the staff is sure to make you feel right at home.
Eaton Theatre in Charlotte is another place that offers air conditioning. Last summer most movie theaters weren’t open, which makes a trip to local Eaton Theatre all the sweeter. On a hot summer day, taking a trip to see a movie at the theater and enjoying a walk in Charlotte’s charming town is a relaxing way to spend some time.
Fitzgerald, Crandell Lake, Mooville, and Eaton Theatre are just a few of Eaton County’s summer delights and there is sure to be something new and exciting to do without traveling far. Summer is a wonderful time of year, and the joys Eaton County has a lot to offer make it all the better.
It’s summertime, COVID-19 worries are reduced, and the festivals and events we look forward to are returning to Eaton County. The fifth annual Visit Vermontville Day will take place on August 7 in the village of Vermontville. It promises to be a fun day with lots of activities for the whole family, including a flea market, kid’s games, a farmers’ market, a pancake breakfast, musical entertainment, and more. Vermontville is jumping back into living life after the pandemic and is hosting several exciting events this summer. The Visit Vermontville Day team is busy making all the final arrangements for a lot of fun events for all ages. The team is composed of members of the community and the events are not sponsored by the Vermontville Village Council and/or their employees. The summer events kicked off with a new event; an Amish Visit Vermontville Day was held on June 26. The Vermontville Amish community offers a wide variety of businesses that many are not aware of, so this event was initiated to help everyone realize that they are there. They include bakeries, gift shops, groceries, bulk stores, cabinetry, and fencing installers, and much more. Nineteen businesses participated, and from all accounts, everyone had a great day despite the rainy weather, with many visitors, with groups of five to ten people at a time. Maps are still available at Sunset Bakery on Vermontville Highway, JoLei’s Diner in Vermontville, and the M-79 Grocery on the corner of M-79 and Ionia Road for those interested in visiting the businesses. Coming up soon are community garage sales on July 15, 16, and 17 from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. To sign up for your sale visit their Facebook page #VisitVermontvilleDay, by email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 517-231-5629. Due to some work being done involving gas main and water works, it may require a little extra walking, but all sales will be accessible. Visit Vermontville Day is happening on August 7. There will be a flea market, kid’s games, and lots of entertainment. There are still spots available for flea market vendors on Main Street; call or message #VisitVermontvilleDay on Facebook to get more information or call 517-231-5629. The Maple Valley Band Boosters will be serving up pancakes with pure maple syrup from 8 a.m. until noon at the Community Center. The Vermontville Town Library will be in the park with activities, including a story walk. They will be joined by the Farmers Market. Those with tractors are invited to bring them to share with the public during the event. Always a favorite, there will be a Pedal Tractor Pull for kids at noon. Even more exiting will be the bike give-away for kids ages two to fifteen. The last giveaway had 20 bikes to give to children, and the Team is hoping to repeat that again this year. They are still seeking donations of new bikes, from tricycles up to adult size. Contact the Team if you can help. Music will be provided for Visit Vermontville Day by the Voodoo DJs. There is a dancing area in front of the stage, along with benches to just sit and watch. There will be a car cruise on Saturday, September 25. It’s the second annual Classic Car Cruise and will also feature a street dance. No registration is required; just cruise in and join the party. Music at the Car Cruise will be provided by Blind Ambition.
Prominent on the Potterville city flag is the motto “City of Helping Hands.” That is definitely the case when it comes to organizing a big event in a small town like Potterville. The 2021 Gizzard Fest is just around the corner, on June 11 and 12, and Brandy Hatt, Potterville Zoning Administrator and a member of the festival planning committee, says it’s been entirely a team effort, involving the City, citizens, and the Potterville Chamber of Business.
“It wouldn’t have happened otherwise,” Hatt said. Many years ago, the event started out as Potterville Days. In 1994, it became the Gizzard Fest. The last Gizzard Fest was held in 2016 and ended because there were no funds and no volunteers, she explained. The event was missed by many, and last year a committee was formed to bring it back. The event was all ready to go, but due to COVID-19, it had to be canceled.
It’s back on the calendar for 2021, though. This year features festivities all day on Friday and Saturday,” Hatt said, and thousands are expected to attend. The festival, and the Potterville restaurant Joe’s Gizzard City, made national news when it was featured on the second season of the Food Network show Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives.
“It has been a real team effort,” Hatt said. “The event has brought the citizens of Potterville together to make sure that it happens. Everything is being sponsored by someone in town.”
The fun starts Friday morning with vendors on Main Street at 9 a.m. and goes all day, culminating with a chicken-themed parade at 6 p.m., followed by Another Clucking 5K run at 7:30 p.m., and a Block Party on Main Street at 8 p.m. The Block party features Be Kind Rewind band, a Boston-based ‘90s Alternative Tribute band. This is a family-friendly event and will have food trucks and vendors.
The parade committee selected Maureen Storie as the Grand Marshall for the parade. Storie has been active in the community and created Potterville Gives Back, a non-profit that sponsors food drives, toy drives, backpack drives, and Earth Day cleanup. The group will be doing a cleanup event after Gizzard Fest.
This year’s event also features a Gizzard Fest Queen. Selected for the honor is Georgia Fry, a real “sassy pants,” according to Hatt. Fry has been very involved in Potterville for years along with her late husband Ken Fry. “She just loves Potterville!” Hatt said.
There will be gizzards to eat, of course, including a gizzard eating contest where the first person to devour two pounds of deep-fried gizzards is the winner. For those with a sweeter tooth, the pancake breakfast on Saturday morning will be something you will enjoy. Along with the breakfast, there will be a silent auction with lots of special treasures to purchase.
Gizzard Fest won’t disappoint those who are into music. Saturday will feature three different bands, and headlines Global Village, “premier party band of the Lansing area” that plays 70s, 80s, and 90s music. Smooth Street Variety Band and Stone Street Revival Band are also performing.
A carnival, a beverage tent, vendors, fair rides and carnival food, a classic car show, a corn hole tournament, line dancing, and a softball tournament are all on the schedule.
For more information, or to volunteer or donate, call 517-281-5659. For a complete schedule of events and information visit the festival website at gizzardfest.org.
COVID-19 isolation was hard on everyone, but especially those who live alone and are older. Being stuck at home can affect one’s mental, emotional, and physical health. Many of the members of the Jean Bradford Kline Senior Center were hit hard by almost a year and a half of social isolation. The good news is that it appears to be ending, and the senior center is re-opening for a full schedule of activities once again.
“This is what we are here for, with or without a pandemic going on,” said Center director Rita Honeysett. “We’re here to serve seniors. We provide a place to come to socialize with other people, to have some fun, to enjoy a meal, games, and music with friends, and to just get out and live a little bit.”
Sixteen months went by without any card games, bingo, lunches, trivia, or interaction with friends at the senior center. But that’s all changing. The doors are open Monday through Thursday, lunches will be launched soon, and on Wednesday nights you’ll hear your buddy yelling “bingo!”
“We’re happy to be back open,” Honeysett said. “It’s great to have people back in the building.” They’ve already had a “welcome back” lunch with pizza, cake, and music from the Emards, Jinny and Allen, who perform country and bluegrass music.
One stumbling block is putting a damper on re-opening, and that is the lack of a cook/kitchen manager. Honeysett has been searching for someone to prepare lunch for the seniors who drop in, without much luck. “As a small non-profit business, we can’t possibly compete with Chik-fil-A that pays $13 an hour,” she said. “We’re hoping to find someone local who loves to cook and would be willing to help us out for a little less.”
It’s a part-time job, 20 to 29 hours a week, Honeysett said, for lunch and some special occasion meals. The person would handle menu planning, food shopping, meal preparation, special event cooking, and ensuring that the kitchen is clean at the end of the shift.
“It’s a great job for someone who loves to cook and loves people,” Honeysett said. “The most popular menu choices are comfort foods, things that mom used to make, like meatloaf, goulash, pasta, and soups. Nothing complicated or fancy.”
“For some, we know their lunches at the senior center are their only full meal, and one they don’t have to eat alone at home. So, we are glad to be able to provide that nutrition and sense of belonging,” Honeysett said.
The senior center, officially known as the Rocking Chair Deserters, started in 1977 as a nutrition program under the direction of the Continuing Education Program of the Eaton Rapids Public Schools. It’s evolved over the years to having its own programs and building. The program is self-supporting; no governmental funds are received so there is a lot of fundraising done to keep the place going.
There is a temporary volunteer who is helping in the kitchen. Andrew Holzchu, a former executive chef for the State of Michigan in the prison system, has offered to help out for a few lunches, along with his wife.
Many of the center’s regular activities have started back up. Bingo is still on Wednesday nights. There are two knitting groups, one on Tuesday and one on Wednesday. Penny Bingo is still on but is lacking a caller. Euchre is always popular and well attended. The Beltone Hearing Clinic and the foot clinic with Misty are continuing weekly. Music is always popular at the senior center, with visits from Thick n Thin, The Fabulous Arthritics, the Emards, and more, are on the schedule. Swiss Steak Supper will return to “eat-in” in September.
“We want to see people. You don’t have to be a member to just stop in and have a coffee and visit with us,” Honeysett said. There are also opportunities to volunteer. You can reach the Jean Bradford Senior Center, located at 201 Grand Street in Eaton Rapids, by calling 517-663-2335.