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Featured Story

‘Quality’ more than just a motto at PAE Plumbing

Tim Comer, the owner of PAE Plumbing, knows exactly what he is doing and does it well. He has been a licensed plumber for almost 20 years and is proud of the business he has built here in Charlotte.

The company recently celebrated its seventh year in business, and Comer brought his family with him when he spoke on Fox47 News’ “Morning Blend” show last month. He explained he brought his three children with him because “they are PAE.”

PAE is named after the kids — Patrick, Anna and Ella.

The company motto is “quality at its best” and Comer says that idea is much more than just a motto.

“PAE Plumbing fixes any plumbing problem and trust me when I say that I’ve seen them all,” he said.

“Our goal is to earn your long-term business by completing your plumbing projects and repairs on time, to your satisfaction, and at the price we quote before work begins. We guarantee our plumbing services will meet or exceed your expectations.”

Comer said the business started with “just me and a van.”

It has since grown to eight service technicians in the field and two office staff.

“Things have definitely grown nicely,” he said.

PAE offers a wide variety of plumbing services, including sewer and drain work, repairs and installations and remodeling services.

PAE recently welcomed Sarah Kopulos to the team. Kopulos, the office manager, is a long-time area resident. She has demonstrated a strong commitment to supporting local businesses, both in her current position as president of the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce and through her previous job as a sales representative at The County Journal.

PAE Plumbing is a full service business that handles residential and commercial property. In addition to handling regular service calls, PAE is available 24 hours a day for emergency service work. PAE is located at 119 S. Cochran in downtown Charlotte. Regular office hours are Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information or to schedule service, call PAE Plumbing at (517) 331-7442. More information can be found at the company website at



Featured Story

Olivet dentist contributes to students’ dental health

By Deb Malewski

Contributing writer

— With most dental visits on hold right now, it’s still very important to maintain good dental health, says Dr. Lana Lewis of Main Street Dental, PLCC, in Olivet. Feeling very strongly about this, she decided to donate 400 toothbrushes, dental floss and toothpaste to be passed out with the free breakfast and lunches at the Olivet schools.

Lewis wanted to do something to help the community maintain their oral health during social isolation, she explained. Governor Whitmer’s executive order has limited dental health care to emergency services only, Lewis said, so it is more important than ever for people to take their oral health care into their own hands. 

“The need to limit close patient contact to decrease the spread of the coronavirus makes scientific sense,” Lewis said. “This has led me to think outside the box on ways to reach out to my community and my patients.” 

Lewis has been practicing in Olivet at Main Street Dental for almost 15 years and considers the community her home.

“We miss our patient family and hope to see them all soon. By promoting oral health, I am promoting whole-body health.”

For this special project, Lewis teamed up with Crest Oral B, who provided 10 percent of the supplies, with Lewis supplying the rest.

The dental hygiene supplies were handed out May 18 in the breakfast and lunch distribution program through the Olivet schools.

Parents and the community have been incredibly supportive and appreciative of this outreach effort to get oral hygiene tools in the hands of local kids, she said.

“I hope that everyone stays safe and continues to take every aspect of their health seriously.”

In keeping with the governor’s orders, Main Street Dental is temporarily closed through May 28. For dental emergencies, Lewis encourages patients to call the office at 269-749-9477. Lewis can also be reached through her website at and on Facebook.


Photo provided

Sasha and Avi Kelly (daughters of Dr. Lana Lewis of Main Street Dental) are shown packaging dental hygiene supplies.



Featured Story

Best Friends & Food in Bellevue holds grand opening

By Amanda Popp

Contributing writer

The grand opening of Best Friends & Food, a bakery and catering business, is set to take place on Friday, July 10 and Saturday, July 11. Long-time best friends and experienced bakers Krisi Crandall and Brandy Morris are excited to finally invite customers into their Bellevue location. Morris says the grand opening will feature food specials and baked goods for residents on both opening days.

“On Friday, we are going to have a variety of stations to showcase what we do as far as catering,” Morris said. “On Saturday, we are going to be featuring a couple of breakfast items. We will also be doing a specialty sandwich.”

Morris says COVID-19 has made opening more difficult, due to the many different rules for food handling, so they are using this weekend to give people a small glance at what they will soon be offering on a regular basis.

“We are using this time to let people see what we will be offering,” Morris said.

Morris says Best Friends & Food will feature many different items off their catering menu on both days of the grand opening.

“We are going to do pulled pork sandwiches with a slaw on Friday night, including a mashed potato and macaroni and cheese station,” Morris said. “On Saturday morning, we are going to have biscuits and gravy for breakfast and for lunch we are going to serve a Mexican bowl. We will also have pies, cupcakes, cinnamon rolls, and different baked goods for both days.”

Crandall says the two have been friends for many years and decided to open the business together years ago.

“We decided that one day we were going to have our own bakery and catering business, because we have always done that together,” Crandall said.

The two area residents have lots of experience baking and catering, having worked in the industry for a long time.

Crandall says one of the things they will offer that residents will be excited about is pies using Charlotte’s former Sharon’s Café recipe, available for customers every day once they fully open.

Crandall and Morris have always dreamed of opening their own catering and bakery business, and consider now the perfect time.

“It’s just been a dream that we’ve had, and we’ve always said someday it will be the right time, and now it’s just the right time,” Crandall said.

Best Friends & Food is located on 110 N. Main Street in Bellevue. After the grand opening, the bakery and catering business will be open by appointment only until further notice. They can be found on Facebook and reached at 517-983-0338 or 517-213-6154.

Eaton County

Eaton County

Featured Story

Eaton County tax foreclosures suspended

— Eaton County Treasurer Bob Robinson has suspended tax foreclosures of occupied properties and businesses and has extended the redemption period for property owners facing tax foreclosure in Eaton County until 2021.

“It’s the right thing to do,” said Robinson. “The COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented financial catastrophe for many homeowners, renters and business owners.

“Halting foreclosures on occupied properties is the best way to balance my responsibilities to state foreclosure law and to the citizens of Eaton County. We need to assist our households and businesses to get through this difficult time.”

Foreclosure for 2020 will continue for properties that pose a threat to public health, safety and welfare. Interest will continue to accrue on delinquent taxes.

Tax foreclosures in Eaton County have declined by 50 percent since 2013 — from a historical high of 60 to less than 30 in 2019.

Although the county treasurer’s office is closed to the public, all staff are working 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday with added safety precautions to help taxpayers work through their tax debts.

“Anyone having difficulties paying their delinquent property taxes should call us at 517-543-4262,” said Robinson.

Delinquent property taxes can also be paid by mail and online by credit card, debit card or e-check by going to the website at and following the “pay delinquent property taxes” link at the bottom of the page.

Article submitted by Eaton County Treasurer’s Office.



Featured Story

Maple Valley exchange students create positive impact

By Amy Jo Parish

Contributing Writer

Exchange students give up their home and their family for a year in order to gain new experiences in a foreign culture. Those experiences, however, can last a lifetime. This year, the Maple Valley School District welcomed nine exchange students into their halls. Though the students come from all around the globe, all were eager to experience America for themselves. For some, it was an eye-opening experience to come to the very rural setting of Maple Valley.

“I imagined it would be like the High School Musical movies, and it’s a lot more different,” laughs Julia Schnull from Germany. “It’s a lot more country life, but I really like it.”

Maria Sousa of Brazil made the journey without any preconceived notions of American life.

“I thought, it will be what it will be – no expectations,” said Sousa. “It is better than I could have expected.”

Along with a new language, the students have also been experiencing new cuisine. For the German students, they are used to sweet popcorn and the salty varieties have taken a bit of adjustment. Overall, the students said they have been enjoying the food.

“I’m gaining weight every week,” said Sousa.  a

A few students have found a new favorite food.

“Deep-fried pickles, they are so good,” said Sofia Kärki of Finland. “I would eat so many of them.”

The course work has been easier for all of the students, making it easier to adjust to new schedules and time zones.

“School here is so much easier, but it’s so different,” said Matilde Lenzi of Italy. “We don’t change classroom; teachers change, and we go on Saturday.”

Through all the differences and adjustments, Maple Valley High School Principal Michael Knapp said welcoming exchange students into the district creates a positive impact for not only the students but the community as well.

“It allows our students that don’t leave the area to get to experience other cultures,” said Knapp. “They get involved with extracurricular activities and in our school community, and our students just really embrace them.”

Maple Valley typically welcomes anywhere from 10 to 15 exchange students each year, some stay for a semester, others an entire year. The district works with CET USA, Share and other exchange programs to bring the students into the community. The organizations works with local families to match students’ interests with the families and ensure a positive experience for all those involved. Knapp said Maple Valley will continue to work with exchange student companies well into the future and is certain the host families and students are changed for the better because of the programs.

“In many cases, students and host families will visit each other down the road,” said Knapp. “It just spurs on what can be a lifelong friendship.”

The commitment of leaving family and friends for a year can be daunting, explained Knapp, but the experiences and memories make for an unforgettable 12 months.

“It’s a huge step for that student to commit to leaving their homes for a year,” he said.

The students could not agree more and would encourage other students who might be interested in becoming an exchange student to take the chance.

“It’s hard sometimes, but it’s worth it,” said Schnull.


Photo by Amy Jo Parish

This year’s Maple Valley High School exchange students include (front, from left) Veerin Yimsmerjit, Thailand; Matilde Lenzi, Italy; Leo Roskouetz, Germany; Luisa Pidun, Germany; Julia Schnull, Germany; Maria Sousa, Brazil; (back, from left), Vilma Viitanen, Finland; Sofia Kärki, Finland; and (missing from photo) Sally Park, South Korea.



Featured Story

Potterville’s Jake Briney named All-State 2nd Team Coach

By Travis Silvas

Sports Writer

By most standards, the Potterville High School boys varsity basketball season was a tremendous success. By the Associated Press’ standards, it was All-State-worthy.

In guiding the Vikings to a 17-5 record, a 10-win improvement from last year, first-year head coach Jake Briney received AP Div. 3 All-State 2nd Team Co-Coach of the Year honors.

“Ultimately, it comes down to the people around you,” Briney said of the recognition. “You have to have a good staff.

“We had a lot of guys doing a great job implementing a brand new system. I was fortunate to have a great junior high staff and great high school staff. It’s the team around me that allowed me to get the award.”

While taking a moment to reflect on the team’s success, Briney can’t help but see the what-ifs in a season cut short by a global pandemic.

The season was put on hold just before the MHSAA Div. 3 District Finals, where the Vikings had the opportunity to match-up with defending state champs, Pewamo-Westphalia, for the third time.

“It’s always hard to beat a team a third time in a season,” Briney said of Potterville’s District-Finals match-up with Pewamo. “The coaches and I really feel we could have defeated PW that Friday.

“The regional had really opened up, too. We could have had a chance to make a run.”

Potterville, which only suited up a full roster once in 22 games, finally had its full lineup intact. The team was missing its second-leading scorer in both previous losses to the Pirates. Junior Adam Pickelman had returned in time for the MHSAA playoffs and had provided a spark.

“I was really confident going into that Friday game,” Briney said. “The way we played the first two games in the Districts, scoring a lot of points, it’s tough not to think of the what-ifs.”

Briney said, through injuries and ineligibilities, his team came together through a lot of adversity.

“We were constantly adjusting,” Briney said. “We wanted to do a lot more full-court stuff, but unfortunately couldn’t with our lack of depth.

“It’s a huge compliment to the boys who were constantly adjusting their roles and expectations.”

The sting of the what-ifs may fade with time, and Briney will be able to look back on the success of his first year and enjoy the recognition. Helping to ease the sting is the excitement now surrounding the program. The team will return 10 players next season and could see an influx of talent from a few underclassmen.

Briney also acknowledged the support of the Potterville administration and community as a whole as crucial factors in the program’s rebuild.

“We are fortunate to have an administration that trusts what we’re doing and allows us to do what we need to do to build this program,” Briney said. “A majority of our games, our gym was packed, which made it special.

“On top of that, for a very small school, we traveled well. Everyone, from the student section, cheerleaders, band and local businesses, was outstanding. We had a great place to be on a Wednesday or Friday night. Thanks to the community and administration for allowing us to build a program that everyone can be proud of moving forward.”

Eaton Rapids

Eaton Rapids


Eaton Rapids

Featured Story

Finally, a graduation

By Bill DeFrance

ERPS Superintendent

— For those of us who have been at graduations in recent memory in Eaton Rapids, they have always been at the end of the week of Memorial Day.  This year, we changed it up a little as things were changed up for us due to the health pandemic we faced.

Lots of school districts held graduations “on time” with virtual zoom graduations, a car convoy in  drive thru graduations, television shows, and even videos. Some districts held out that the environment would change. For close to three months, inside and outside school facilities were closed to the public.

We thought we got a window where we could hold outdoor events of up 100 people with social distancing. On June 26th, we had our Greyhound Central Performance Academy graduation in the concourse of the stadium. While some of 22 graduates chose the drive by route, half of the young men and women chose to have a personal graduation in front of their families.

On that Friday night and Saturday morning and afternoon (over 8 hours of graduation) skirting some thunderstorms, we held 16 small ceremonies for groups of graduates. Graduates were on the football field with groups of family and friends in the bleachers. Senior class advisor, Stacy Surato, had it well organized with a ceremony every 30 minutes.

Senior class President, Grace Lehto, was amazing in her enthusiasm and personal stamina.  Over two days, she introduced each graduate, named family members, recounted his or her memories, and talked about their future plans.  It was quite personal given that she had over 160 stories to tell.

Students and staff had constructed an arch of balloons near the school for some great pictures.  It was quite a production. I close this article with the welcome that I gave to groups of graduates on June 27th at the stadium:

On behalf of the Board of Education and Eaton Rapids Public Schools, we want to welcome you to one of the most unique and intimate graduation ceremonies in our history. We are mindful that the world and the everyday look different for all of us as we have dealt with the COVID-19 impact.

What matters most to us is the health and safety of you, our graduates, your families, and the broader community where you grew up. We have seen many of you step up during this crisis. Thank you for your hard work, especially during the last three months.  We wish you continued success on the next leg of your journey which will occur in some rather remarkable and unprecedented times.

Congratulations to our 2020 Eaton Rapids High School graduates!




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