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This one’s for the students

Generally when I write columns I try to keep the content for readers of all ages, or I lean into the adult ages around election time. This column, however, is for the local students as they move back into the school year with...

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Charlotte

Charlotte

Featured Story

Windwalker to host illusionist Caleb Johnson’s new show, The Ruse

His illusions serve as the vehicle in which Caleb Johnson connects his story to his audience. No story he’s ever written has more personal meaning or powerful impact than the one he will debut at Windwalker Underground Gallery in Charlotte on Oct. 5 and 6 — The Ruse.

An illusionist for the past 10 years, Johnson’s career and life reached a turning point last year when he shared with his church community that he is gay. The revelation cost him his job at the church, where he had been a pastor for five years.

The following year was one of soul-searching and self-discovery.

“That definitely took a toll on my personal life, my motivation, and my business,” Johnson said. “I realized during that time that my audience was maybe limited to the religious community. I realized I had fallen for a trick myself, allowing my worth to be tied up in the faith community. It was the toughest thing I’ve dealt with in my life. It showed me that I was limiting myself to such a small segment of the world.”

The Ruse represents Johnson’s transformation and his drive to live his dream of being a storyteller and illusionist. His passion for storytelling started with his father, who often captivated people with his stories. Johnson said he learned so much about his father’s character through those stories. He realized he could reach others in the same way.

The Ruse, Johnson said, is about his Journey.

“I fell for a trick, and wore a mask trying to be who others wanted me to be,” he said. “In the end, I stumbled upon a really beautiful truth, that free to be who I am made to be.”

Johnson said the story will connect with people who struggle with living a life they don’t want to live, all because of other people’s expectations.

“It caused me to realize one I’m not alone, connect with other people in a real meaningful way,”

Johnson said he is excited to bring his story to live on a stage that has a unique story of its own at Windwalker, located at 125 S. Cochran in Charlotte.

“Caleb, his story, and his amazingly talented way of sharing that story through expert illusions mesh perfectly with the energy that flows through the Windwalker building,” said Kalli Dempsey, Windwalker board member. This will be the largest production we have brought to the Windwalker stage, and we are honored that Caleb will be debuting this show in downtown Charlotte. This is a must see event that you will not want to miss.”

Tickets are just $15 and can be purchased at Windwalker or online at winderwalkerunderground.com/events/theruse.

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.

Advertisement: Readers: since many ads are from outside the local area, please know what you are buying before sending money.

Bellevue

Bellevue

Featured Story

Bellevue Antique Tractor Show Committee donates to local organizations

Stan Bryner couldn’t be more overwhelmed by the support sponsors showed the 15th Annual Bellevue Antique Tractor Show. Bryner, who serves as the committee chair, was able to make four separate donations Wednesday, Aug. 22 on behalf of the committee.

The Village of Bellevue, Bellevue Fire Department, Bellevue First Baptist Church and Bellevue Historical Society each received a $300 donation.

“Our sponsors were real good to us this year,” Bryner said.

Sponsorships cover the full cost of the event, which is held each August in Bellevue free of charge to spectators and participants. This year, more than 90 tractors lined Main Street in downtown Bellevue Aug. 10-12.

“The silent auction helped raise a lot of money this year as well,” Bryner said.

The event features a tractor parade, tractor games, kiddie games, good vendors, and a flea market. In addition to the silent auction, people can participate in a 50/50 drawing and many attendees received door prizes.

Advertisement: Readers: since many ads are from outside the local area, please know what you are buying before sending money.

Eaton County

Eaton County

Featured Story

Windwalker to host illusionist Caleb Johnson’s new show, The Ruse

His illusions serve as the vehicle in which Caleb Johnson connects his story to his audience. No story he’s ever written has more personal meaning or powerful impact than the one he will debut at Windwalker Underground Gallery in Charlotte on Oct. 5 and 6 — The Ruse.

An illusionist for the past 10 years, Johnson’s career and life reached a turning point last year when he shared with his church community that he is gay. The revelation cost him his job at the church, where he had been a pastor for five years.

The following year was one of soul-searching and self-discovery.

“That definitely took a toll on my personal life, my motivation, and my business,” Johnson said. “I realized during that time that my audience was maybe limited to the religious community. I realized I had fallen for a trick myself, allowing my worth to be tied up in the faith community. It was the toughest thing I’ve dealt with in my life. It showed me that I was limiting myself to such a small segment of the world.”

The Ruse represents Johnson’s transformation and his drive to live his dream of being a storyteller and illusionist. His passion for storytelling started with his father, who often captivated people with his stories. Johnson said he learned so much about his father’s character through those stories. He realized he could reach others in the same way.

The Ruse, Johnson said, is about his Journey.

“I fell for a trick, and wore a mask trying to be who others wanted me to be,” he said. “In the end, I stumbled upon a really beautiful truth, that free to be who I am made to be.”

Johnson said the story will connect with people who struggle with living a life they don’t want to live, all because of other people’s expectations.

“It caused me to realize one I’m not alone, connect with other people in a real meaningful way,”

Johnson said he is excited to bring his story to live on a stage that has a unique story of its own at Windwalker, located at 125 S. Cochran in Charlotte.

“Caleb, his story, and his amazingly talented way of sharing that story through expert illusions mesh perfectly with the energy that flows through the Windwalker building,” said Kalli Dempsey, Windwalker board member. This will be the largest production we have brought to the Windwalker stage, and we are honored that Caleb will be debuting this show in downtown Charlotte. This is a must see event that you will not want to miss.”

Tickets are just $15 and can be purchased at Windwalker or online at winderwalkerunderground.com/events/theruse.

Advertisement: Readers: since many ads are from outside the local area, please know what you are buying before sending money.

Vermontville

Vermontville

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Vermontville

Featured Story

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.

Advertisement: Readers: since many ads are from outside the local area, please know what you are buying before sending money.

Potterville

Potterville

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Potterville

Featured Story

City officials comment on former city manager’s dismissal

Tuesday, Aug. 28 the Potterville City Council moved to remove the city manager, Wanda Darrow, with cause, despite her submission of resignation. The move by the council followed a lengthy meeting, during which the council publically reviewed a 15-page document from the law firm Foster Swift, which represents the City of Potterville, that listed the findings of a month long investigation into the city manager’s conduct within her role with the city.

The findings of the investigation included mismanagement, and theft of city funds, theft of city property, mismanagement of city employees, and inappropriate handling of public records. The thefts pertained specifically to the former city manager’s son, Eddie Darrow. For more in depth coverage of the investigation’s findings, readers can read the article titled “Potterville city council moves to remove city manager with cause” from the September 1, 2018 issue of the County Journal. The document from Foster Swift can also be found online.

After hearing a dozen or so letters from community members defending Darrow’s character, and before the meeting closed, city council members weighed in briefly with their thoughts on the investigation and appropriate action moving forward. While the vote to remove Darrow from the position of city manager was unanimous, there was some debate as to whether or not she should be removed with cause. Councilman Duston Twichell was the first to weigh in.

“Although there was about 30 pages of letters in support of the city manager, almost none of them have anything to do with what’s going on here,” said Twichell.

Twichell recounted how financial auditors over roughly the last 10 years have recommended that “internal controls be put on the finances and that checks and balances be put in place because we (the city) were open to fraud.” He also noted how other city officials, like the city clerk and other council members, had inquired about some of the inconsistencies found in the investigation, but were kept in the dark.

“She knew, well ahead of this, what was going on. She’s continually hidden information from council members,” said Twichell. “Any information that we’ve tried to ascertain from her has been skewed, not conveyed, or just erroneous information. It’s disgusting to me that this could’ve happened… she refused to acknowledge that these things were going on.”

Councilwoman Schmidt followed with her own take on the findings, and was hesitant to approve the motion to remove Darrow with cause.

“Regarding the motion on the table, I have mixed feelings about various things. I would agree there has been some element of neglect, negligence, mismanagement, misappropriation, etc., but the point where the wording, ‘intent to fraud,’ or, ‘intent to conceal the theft of property,’ those particular points I’m not sure that I agree with substantial proof verifying her intent…” said Schmidt. “That’s a grey area at best.”

Schmidt also expressed concern over “…potential reactionary litigation, financial restraints, and consequences that (removal with cause) could bring to the city.”

“I’m not sure that’s the safest option to achieve the same result,” said Schmidt.

Councilwoman Jennifer Lenneman followed Schmidt’s concerns with her own rebuttal.

“I feel that none of this, the deposits wouldn’t have been made and the emails, wouldn’t have been done if she wouldn’t have known that she was going to be (removed), or that we already had the resolution in place and that we were going to be removing her on the 19th,” said Lenneman.

Lenneman then referred to Darrow’s actions preceeding her initial suspension from office, implying that Darrow was indeed intent on concealing information from the council.

“The stuff that her son did… she tried to cover it up. It’s plain and simple,” said Lenneman. “She had an obligation to the city and she let that obligation go.”

“This has been a crappy day,” said councilman Bussard. “I feel I’ve worked with her through far more contentious situations than this check situation, to be honest. I’m bewildered on why I didn’t know about it.”

Bussard went on to note how he and the city clerk went to Darrow about the inconsistencies in bank reconciliations, but were told by Darrow that they were “bank errors.”

“Considering everything that’s happened in the last 10 years, this is actually not that big of a deal considering other things that have happened,” said Bussard.

Councilwoman Rebecka Jo Lewis then put forth her thoughts on the investigation.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that Wanda has done some nice things for this city, some I’ve witnessed, some I haven’t witnessed… but since I’ve been on council, multiple times things have come up and Wanda has lied to us, and it’s always come out. We tried to work with Wanda, we’ve tried to do everything we could with Wanda, and we always got the same thing over and over again,” said Lewis. “She chose to lie to us again, and again, and again.”

Lewis then expressed her interest in keeping the motion on the table to remove with cause.

“I agree with just about every statement every council member has made,” said Potterville mayor Bruce Kring. “I agree with a lot of statements about Ms. Darrow and the good things she has done around the community. But all the good things do not excuse what’s taken place in the last few months. The people in the city have basically been lied to.”

Kring, and Lewis, spoke to the rumors that members of the sitting council had an agenda to remove Darrow as city manager, and both denied the rumors.

The council then voted on the resolution to remove Darrow with cause. As mentioned, the vote was unanimously in favor of the resolution.

Advertisement: Readers: since many ads are from outside the local area, please know what you are buying before sending money.

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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