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The wholeness of the flag

I’ve always been interested in different perspectives and interpretations of the American flag — what people think the colors represent, the place it holds in their hearts, how the country’s history influences their view, etc....

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latest

The wholeness of the flag

I’ve always been interested in different perspectives and interpretations of the American flag — what people think the colors represent, the place it holds in their hearts, how the country’s history influences their view, etc....

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Charlotte

Charlotte

Featured Story

The Hen House celebrates 40 years in downtown Charlotte

Nancy Conn didn’t know she was creating an enduring legacy when she started the Hen House from her home on Pearl Street in Charlotte in 1976. Her eye for primitive fabrics and passion for quilting struck a chord with customers throughout Mid-Michigan and beyond.

Finding success as a business owner, Nancy quickly moved the Hen House to downtown Charlotte before finding a permanent home at 211 S. Cochran Avenue in 1978.

Nancy’s passion also caught the eye of Carolyn Rosier, who joined her staff more than a decade ago. Building upon her own passion for quilting and helping others bring their creative ideas to life, Carolyn didn’t realize at the time that she was preparing to become a business owner herself. Nancy decided to retire in 2014, selling her business to Carolyn and Doug Rosier.

“It’s all consuming,” Carolyn said of being a business owner. “There are days your mind doesn’t stop.”

Whether it’s thinking of what class to offer next, or what new style of fabric to offer, Carolyn has found success in always bringing something new to the table for customers to check out. Since taking ownership of the Hen House, the store has nearly tripled in size, and now occupies three consecutive storefronts. She said the expansion has been a result of the growth in fabric offerings. While Nancy had built a strong customer base on her primitive selection of fabrics, Carolyn has provided a more eclectic mix. The increased inventory allowed Carolyn to double the showroom space.

Offering primitive, reproduction, and folk-art style fabrics and patterns, The Hen House has long been a destination for quilting enthusiasts. Carolyn credits Nancy’s recognition in The Quilt Sampler Magazine in the spring of 2012, where The Hen House was honored a Top 10 Shop, as opening a new era for the shop. The increased exposure led to customers coming in or ordering goods from across the United States as well as international sales.

With the continued success of the business, Carolyn was able to expand again, adding a dedicated classroom space last summer.

“I love interacting with people and helping them create,” Carolyn said. “It’s rewarding to help them expand their knowledge of what they can do.”

Classes for basket making, tole painting, stamping, and other handcrafts have given way to honoring more of the fiber aspect of handmade workmanship, Carolyn said.

“Quilting fabric and supplies are now the mainstay of the shop,” she said.

Moving forward, Carolyn said she hopes to connect more with the younger generation, who may also find the joy in creating their own quilts. She has already felt more connected with her fellow downtown business owners, and sees a growing camaraderie that is benefitting downtown Charlotte.

“We’re here for the community, not ourselves,” Carolyn said of local business owners.

The Hen House is open Monday through Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Thursday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. For more information, including a schedule of upcoming classes, find The Hen House Quilt Shop on Facebook, or call (517) 543-6454.

Olivet

Olivet

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Dave and Lynn Funk say farewell to Olivet Schools ‘one last time’

After 24 years of conducting, band camp, band trips, competitions, and Dave’s famous “one more time” line, the Funks are saying goodbye to directing at Olivet schools. While Dave was the official band director for the schools, he and his wife, Lynn, were an inseparable unit for 19 years in Olivet. Leaving behind a legacy of music, hard work, and family, Dave reflected on their time in Olivet with the County Journal.

“We’ve impacted hundreds of kids over the years,” said Dave. “I always enjoyed watching kids grow and mature into the opportunities band had to offer.”

Dave Funk started his teaching career in Colorado, then later taught in Bad Axe and Buchanan, Mich. It was Olivet that stuck, however. The Funks had been well prepared for the small town environment, and they found a program they could build on and nurture into something greater. Starting with around 40 students in their first year, the program under the Funk’s direction grew to 120 students at its peak and has remained over 100 participants since.

But for Dave it was never about the numbers. He knew that his small town band would likely remain humble and modest, but he wanted to impart something larger on his students.

“My philosophy is these kids aren’t any different than kids from bigger schools,” said Dave. “Just because it’s a small school doesn’t mean you can’t have a big impact.”

Dave’s philosophy was affective for his students. He and Lynn continued to invest and garner the buy-in to the program so that Olivet could have the same opportunities as larger band programs. Olivet bands were regular attenders to larger competitions both locally and nationally, and was a consistent participant in opportunities like their Disney trip, during which the band would march in a parade and record in a real studio.

State festivals, solo and ensemble, jazz band, playing at the Lincoln Memorial were just a few of the opportunities provided for Olivet students over the years. The greater opportunities, however, were in participating with other students in mutual goals, learning to be self-critical and to take other’s criticism well, and finding the beauty hard work and accomplishment, according to Funk. Band offers students not only the skills to play an instrument, but also critical life skills and opportunities to mature into confident members of society.

“The arts provide Humanity. We often underestimate the power of working with each other and creating something of our own. That’s part of nurturing the soul of a child,” said Dave. “I’m worried about how we’re cutting the arts. We need to nurture all the kids in the arts. It’s very valuable for kids to learn how to create and learn together and have feelings about something. I believe in the power of the arts.”

Dave and Lynn are already moving into the next stage of life. It’s a little uncertain, but the couple knows well that the beautiful things in life always start with a blank canvas, or complete silence.

Thursday, May 24 Dave Funk directed his last band concert with the Olivet bands, and provided an opportunity for alumni to play in one more song. Dave’s old line, “one more time,” is now “one last time.” Dave and Lynn are thankful for the immense community support they’ve had over the years, from the schools, from parents, and of course from the students. Dave hopes Olivet will continue to nurture the band legacy in Olivet to bring up the next generation of musicians, music lovers, and artisans.

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Bellevue

Bellevue

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Bellevue students make mural for their hometown

For the last four years Audrey Haddock’s art classes have made murals for the village of Bellevue. The murals aren’t huge, but they’re presented on a roadside billboard off Main Street and Sherwood. The murals have taken several images and designs in the last few years, created by various students of each high school grade. This year, as the school year comes to a close, passersby will see a new mural displaying an underwater view of clown fish swimming in a reef.

According to Haddock, the main work of the mural is not about what is on the billboard, but how the finished product looks. Her students have traditionally made nature scenes, and this year they wanted something that would stand out not only from its surroundings, but also from their previous works. Bright orange and pink against a deep blue backdrop surrounded by the green setting of spring is what passersby will see. The image is bold, beautifully out of place, and a welcome change of pace while driving through the village.

The idea is less than half the work, however. The real work comes in laying out the design, sketching and outlining, then blowing up the image and filling in the lines with color and hue. That’s where Haddock’s students do the bulk of the work, often with minimal supervision from her. Design is projected in sections onto panels, and then is placed piece by piece onto the billboard. Precision is necessary, and Haddock’s students don’t disappoint.

This year Alexis Blevins and Alyssa Phillips led the way on the project, with the helping hands and participation of Cylee Hughes, Rachel Hall, and Josh Stephens. The project took about four months, according to Haddock, and the finished product was worth the time. Haddock sees art, especially that which is made and displayed by students, as essential for a community.

“It’s important on many levels. People need to have art integrated in their lives. The students take total ownership of that. It gives them a boost, and it beautifies the area,” said Haddock.

The question is often asked: how can we get the youth more involved and invested in the community? Haddock found the solution when she gratefully accepted an opportunity four years ago to display a student art project in the community. In the current climate of Bellevue, one in which the state of the downtown is unclear, but the student population is healthy and talented, youth buy in is essential.

“There’s a lot of promising kids here,” said Haddock.

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Eaton County

Eaton County

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Bluegrass Festival appeals to music lovers of all ages

Wes Pettinger remembers falling in love with music at the Eaton County Fairgrounds. He was just a boy when his dad would take him to the Charlotte Bluegrass Festival each summer. There he found his passion for music as he wandered the grounds listening to the “parkin’ lot pickin’ that would take place throughout those June weekends.

As promoter of the Charlotte Bluegrass Festival, which is the second longest-running festival east of the Mississippi, Wes hopes to pass that love of music on to the next generation. Beginning this weekend, folks from throughout the Midwest will start taking up residence at the Eaton County Fairgrounds in preparation of the 46th annual event, which officially takes place June 21 through June 23.

“We’ll have 100 campers or so by Monday,” Wes said. “They’ll stay all week. Many of them will sit around the campfire and jam.”

Those jams (referred to as parkin’ lot pickin’) are almost as big a draw as the festival’s headliners. Aside from those nationally acclaimed acts that will occupy the main stage over the course of three evenings, Wes has organized a number of opportunities for youth to be exposed to the music.

On Wednesday, June 20, one of the pavilions will be filled with musical instruments, and children are encouraged to wander through and test each one of them.

“It’s our version of a petting zoo,” Wes said. “It gives kids a first-hand view of what people are doing on stage.”

In addition to the petting zoo, two different workshops will be held throughout the festival. One is geared towards children, giving them a more in-depth understanding of the instruments. The second is for people of all ages to get the chance to be up close and personal with the instruments and many of the festival’s performers.

Wes said the Charlotte Bluegrass Festival continues to evolve and now includes a larger variety of performers, including Americana and country music in addition to traditional bluegrass.

“We have to walk that fine line of providing music that appeals to a younger generation, while making sure we have something for our hardcore bluegrass fans,” Wes said.

For more information on the 46th Annual Charlotte Bluegrass Festival, including a full lineup of performers and events, visit charlottebluegrassfestival.com or find Charlotte Bluegrass Festival on Facebook.

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Vermontville

Vermontville

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Vermontville

Featured Story

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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Gospel Fest to bring nostalgia and music to Potterville

Fairs and carnivals are out. Music festivals are in. At least that’s the perception one might get from today’s younger generations. Music festivals big and small, folk and EDM, weeklong or weekend long are the rage, and it seems like local fairs and carnivals don’t have the same place they used to. Michigan itself is home to a number of notable music festivals like the Electric Forest Festival in Rothbury, to Charlotte’s own bluegrass festival. But in 2017 one of the County Journal’s communities tried something new, yet something classic and ole timey at the same time. A few creative citizens brought together a handful of oddball ideas into one music festival and carnival hodgepodge that’s become the heir of the beloved Gizzard Festival.

Gospel Fest is Potterville’s newest summer project; an opportunity to bring the family out for a taste of classic American music, while also enjoying the novelties of old American carnivals. Throughout June 8 and 9 Potterville residents, and visitors, can listen between two stages of music, while roaming through craft booths, food vendors, petting zoos, fair rides, and the modest downtown of Potterville. Both Friday and Saturday festivities take place between the hours of 11 a.m. and 9 p.m.

But Gospel Fest won’t just be an event of dusting off old hymns and gospel standards, or the same old same old fair attractions. The Gospel Fest stages will feature contemporary and local music acts like hip hop artist Elohin, as well as comedy from Will McDaniel. Saturday, June 9, from 3 to 5 p.m. there will be an Eaton County’s Got Talent competition, and there will also be a parade Saturday at 1 p.m. Local features and local participation are all included in the 2018 Gospel Fest.

For Clint Dickerson and the other Gospel Fest organizers, the 2018 festival is again about Potterville unity. It’s not lost on them that communities like Potterville are a mix of old and young generations that may not always have common ground in their town. Older folks wonder why teens want nothing to do with them, young families wonder what activities there are to do with their children, and teens and children just want food and excitement. Events like Gospel Fest are opportunities for the middle ground, where the older folks can hear the classic picking and strumming of that old time religion, and younger generations can wear off the school year blues with fair rides and cotton candy. Gospel Fest is a new idea for Potterville, but it’s a testament to days gone by where family, music, and community can all be part of the same event.

Gospel Fest is still in need of volunteers. To volunteer, readers can contact Clint Dickerson by calling (517) 285-2640. To participate in the parade or Eaton County’s Got talent, readers can also call Clint, or email pottervillegospelfest@gmail.com. For booth information, readers can contact Clarissa Newton by calling (517) 604-0390. Gospel Fest is a free, two-day event June 8 and 9.

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Eaton Rapids

Eaton Rapids

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Eaton Rapids varsity softball team advances to state semifinals

2018 has been an exciting season for the Eaton Rapids varsity softball team. Undefeated in league play, and with a record of 36 and 6, the greyhound girls have given every team a run for their money with what head coach Scott Warriner calls “a scrappiness they’ve had all year.”

Saturday, June 9 at the regional championship games, the varsity team took Flint Powers Catholic in an 11-3 game, and then won the regional title in an 11-1 win over Owosso. In the quarterfinal game Eaton Rapids played against Flat Rock, who got the jump on the greyhounds until freshman Shelby Kunkel evened the odds by hitting a triple. Eaton Rapids kept the momentum through the 5th, 6th, and 7th innings and won 12-4. By the time this issue was published, the Eaton Rapids girls played the semi-final game against Escanaba Thursday, June 14 at Michigan State University. Readers can find the scores from that game by visiting greyhoundathletics.com.

Warriner expressed his pride in the girls’ accomplishments not only because they’ve won some games and made it far, but because they’ve pulled out a tough season against several good teams. On top of the tough season the team has relied on the consistency of several underclassman players, a feat that both surprised Warriner and left him confident for the semifinal game.

“We had a little more experience this year,” said Warriner. “We had our starters back from last year, and we did have an outstanding season last year.”

Like in the game against Flat Rock, the greyhounds have played a few other games in the 2018 season where the opposition came out strong, but the girls found their rhythm and came out on top, according to Warriner. Even in their handful of losses, Warriner was pleased by the “high caliber ball” the girls played on the field.

When it comes to Warriner’s coaching strategy, he always aims to be strong defensively.

“We need to be the strongest defensive team we can possibly be, then we’re ready for whatever, and we can put pressure on their defense,” said Warriner.

Warriner was also thankful for his co-coach, Pat Reinecke, who he’s worked with for 14 years to build up a consistent program. But the game always comes back to the players, and Warriner couldn’t be more pleased with his team.

“They’re an outstanding group of young ladies,” said Warriner. “This season is definitely a testament to their grit and competitive spirit.”

Sunfield

Sunfield

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Mulliken

Mulliken

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Dimondale

Dimondale

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