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Charlotte

Charlotte

Featured Story

The story and life of Darryl Miller

Renee Sevenski
Contributing Writer

(Photo Provided)

In June of 2024 I was given a task to put together a few words to announce in a press release that The Ella Sharp Museum in Jackson, MI has accepted a sculpture created by Darryl Miller, a 1968 graduate of Charlotte High School. In beginning the process of putting such an article together and gathering information I reached out to Darryl Miller directly, thinking that I would receive the information straight from the sculptor himself. He spoke to me in a humble way as I carried on asking questions. I quickly found myself intrigued with the account of his journey toward becoming a sculptor. I scribbled many notes and ended the conversation saying that I would be in touch with final article for him to proof. I started writing and putting my notes together. This included me not having trust in myself to correctly spell a few names of places, people, an artist that he had mentioned. A few spell checks turned into hours of enjoyable reading and ended up sparking more questions for Darry Miller. I immediately identified that this would not be a simple story about a local museum receiving a local sculptor’s piece of art.

This is a story of Darryl Miller, one of Charlotte’s own, a local sculptor, who has traveled internationally, and would like to share his work etched in history.

I invite you to take a walk through the life of Darryl Miller with me.  Here is where his story begins.

Darryl Miller was born in our beautiful town of Charlotte in 1950 at the old mansion Hayes -Green -Beech Hospital. His mother said at the exact moment of his birth, a train sped by blowing its whistle. He was born into a working-class family. His father worked as a letter carrier to provide the necessities of life for his family.  His mother was a hard worker as well, at jobs including Murphys Dime Store and Wilcox Gay Company where they made radios and transcription recorders here in Charlotte. Darryl has a brother who is retired from GM, and a sister, a talented ballerina, who tragically died at the age of 22 leaving behind her husband and two young children. Darryl adds that he has taken inspiration from her as many of his works involve the dance.

Darryl attended Galewood Elementary where he was praised for his drawings by his classmates and teachers at a very young age. He mentions that he liked the feeling of that praise which spurred him on, and that art was the only thing he thought he could do well. He was an average student, very small and although he loved sports was terrible in playing them.

At the age of ten Darryl discovered the work of Michelangelo Buonarotti (1475-1564), an Italian Renaissance artist and inventor known as one of the most highly productive painters and sculptors in history. Michelangelo once said, “Every block of stone has a statue inside it and that it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.” Darryl was thunderstruck by Michelangelo’s abilities. He could identify with Michelangelo’s depictions of suffering and his power to portray it whether in fresco or marble.  Here was someone to learn from!

While attending Galewood Elementary, Darryl was nurtured by his 6th grade teacher, Louise Barbour who encouraged him to draw.  He remembers her covering the wall with eight foot by three foot paper and letting Darryl work on his drawing as others studied academics.  After spending an hour a day for a few weeks, he had completed his own masterpiece. At the Parents-teacher conferences Mrs. Barbour displayed Darryl’s work, “The Sistine Chapel.”  One of Darryl’s classmates stated that Mrs. Barbour was overheard telling another teacher as they were admiring the artwork, “Darryl will do great things.”  Years later when Louise Barbour heard that Darryl had received his master’s degree, she broke down and cried.

Darryl attended Charlotte High School, and once again in his senior year, 1968, was encouraged by his art teacher Leta Sullins. She allowed him to paint a copy of Michelangelo’s, “Creation of Adam” on the art room wall. Darryl holds fond memories of how Louise Barbour and Leta Sullins were great influences; both saw great potential in him. After Darryl discovered Michelangelo, he was determined to be an artist.  His other influences are the ancient Greeks, Renaissance sculptor Donatello, modern artist Giacomo Manzú, and the sculptor August Rodin.

After graduation Darryl received a call from a sign shop saying that they had found his sketchbook in a building at the Eaton County fairgrounds where he had been working designing the Charlotte homecoming football float. After seeing his drawings, the sign company was determined to hire Darryl as an apprentice sign painter. Darryl accepted their offer.  At the same time, he entered a new government program which required that Darryl must take a class at Lansing Community College. There he took his first class in sculpture. Upon taking this class he met a professor who saw his work and called him brilliant. He had never heard this before! From there, he created a sculpture called “Struggle,” inspired by the riots at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago that same year he graduated from high school.

This is only the beginning of Darryl’s fascinating journey which will take us  across the country in many ways. It all started right here in Eaton County. Stay tuned for more!

Olivet

Olivet

Featured Story

Olivet’s new restaurant

Kelsey Klont
Contributing Writer

(Photo by Kelsey Klont/TCJ – Photo (L to R): Head Chef Ethan Smerdon, General Manager Kyle Ritenburgh, Chef David Joyce.)

Block House owners, Nick Lux and Anthony Collamati, opened their second location in Olivet on Tuesday, April 30th, after having opened their first location in Alma. Kyle Ritenburgh, General Manager for Block House, told me “Our soft opening went extremely well, and we are excited to be a staple restaurant here in Olivet. Being able to serve as a place where both college students and community members can come together for an entertaining night is very special to us.” 

As many locals know, the University of Olivet and Alma College are sister schools, during one visit to Alma College, Olivet’s President, Steven M. Corey, Ph.D., had visited Block House, which is the host for Alma College’s Esports team. 

That same principle carries over to their second location, as Block House also has a partnership with the University of Olivet to be the host of the university’s Esports team. The Esports possibilities at Block House are not meant for only university students, they are extended to the community as there are three separate gaming console areas that small groups can gather around as they dine. As well as a private rental room for groups celebrating any occasion, PC gaming on the stage, and the golf simulation area that they will have available soon. Block House will be offering leagues this fall for local high school and middle school Esport athletes. Block House is available to help set up teams at all high schools in the area. With their streaming services of competitions and advertising opportunities there is something for gamers and businesses to celebrate around. With all the interactive capabilities, Block House will start doing weekly trivia and gaming events, international wine tasting events, outdoor BBQ and brew events to name a few events they will host. So, join their socials or email newsletters to be the first to sign up for these fun unique events.  

The dining menu at Block House carries over the gaming theme onto the menu. As you view their menu it becomes visually clear that the menu is set up into three different columns (American, European, and Asian) mimicking the various online servers. 

The impressive dining menu, crafted by Head Chef Ethan Smerdon, has something for everyone ranging from their Linguine Carbonara, a Block House favorite, to smash burgers and their endless pizza options. Chef Smerdon said that “these dishes are traditional regional plates with a Block House spin to them.” Specifically at this location pizza will be their specialty, where you can order top picks such as BBQ Chicken, Veggie, or Fig and Prosciutto off the menu, or you can build your own pizza with their endless options of toppings, proteins, and sauces.  

Even the design of the exterior of this bar and restaurant is well suited for the gaming and dining atmosphere of Block House. Across the front face, middle section, and back of the building are iridescent square tiles, though eye-catching, resemble individualized pixels from video games. Inside you can watch your favorite teams, shows, videogame streams or movies on their specialty curved barrel vaults and cinema screen. 

To taste test their delicious dishes or enjoy a beverage from their full-service bar, which offers non-alcoholic options as well as cocktails, visit their brand-new location at 714 S Main St. in Olivet. Where their kitchen hours are Tuesday-Thursday 3 p.m.- 9 p.m., Friday-Saturday 3 p.m.-10 p.m., and Sunday 3 p.m.- 8 p.m. Once Block House is fully staffed, they will start serving lunch. If you have a gathering or party, hungry for a great meal, thirsty for a craft cocktail or mocktail, wanting to game with friends or looking for something new, Block House is here for you, so give them a call at 989-944-8962 or email at thehouse@blockhouse.live.

Bellevue

Bellevue

Featured Story

Barnes Insurance Group welcomes community to their new location

Kelsey Klont
Contributing Writer

(Photo provided)

Passing through Bellevue on Capital Avenue you may see a familiar face in Bellevue in a new place in town. 

Barnes Insurance Group of Bellevue, formerly King Agency, Bellevue, has moved from their previous location on Main Street to the former Independent Bank. Last January, the opportunity arose for longtime King Agency Producer, Randy Barnes, to purchase the Bellevue branch from David King. Having the work experience of 27 years at King Agency the camaraderie between Barnes and King made for an easy transition into what is now Barnes Insurance Group. Carrying over the employees and same exceptional service from this independent insurance agency, Barnes Insurance Group experienced a smooth transition from King Agency and into their new building, which they moved into over Thanksgiving weekend.

As Bellevue’s independent insurance agency, Barnes Insurance Group provides services for home, auto, farm, retirement, business, recreational vehicle, and life insurances through multiple reputable carriers. Listed here are a select few of the many carriers that Barnes Insurance Group offers services through: Auto Owners, Hagerty, CNA Surety, Progressive, Hastings Mutual. 

With the newness of Barnes Insurance Group, owner Barnes told me, “We are all truly blessed and could not ask for a better community here than the one we have here.” As a way to say thank you and welcome the community to their new office location, Barnes Insurance Group is having an inaugural open house on Friday, June 21 happening from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Where there will be a grill out and Moo-ville ice cream.

If you are needing a new insurance agent, look to Barnes Insurance Group where they stick by their mission statement, “Right coverage at a reasonable price.” Their new location is at 204 W. Capital Avenue in Bellevue, where the open house will be held, and also where you can find them for all your insurance needs. To give them a call their phone number is 269-763-9422 and visit their website at www.barnes-insgroup.com. 

Eaton County

Eaton County

Featured Story

The story and life of Darryl Miller

Renee Sevenski
Contributing Writer

(Photo Provided)

In June of 2024 I was given a task to put together a few words to announce in a press release that The Ella Sharp Museum in Jackson, MI has accepted a sculpture created by Darryl Miller, a 1968 graduate of Charlotte High School. In beginning the process of putting such an article together and gathering information I reached out to Darryl Miller directly, thinking that I would receive the information straight from the sculptor himself. He spoke to me in a humble way as I carried on asking questions. I quickly found myself intrigued with the account of his journey toward becoming a sculptor. I scribbled many notes and ended the conversation saying that I would be in touch with final article for him to proof. I started writing and putting my notes together. This included me not having trust in myself to correctly spell a few names of places, people, an artist that he had mentioned. A few spell checks turned into hours of enjoyable reading and ended up sparking more questions for Darry Miller. I immediately identified that this would not be a simple story about a local museum receiving a local sculptor’s piece of art.

This is a story of Darryl Miller, one of Charlotte’s own, a local sculptor, who has traveled internationally, and would like to share his work etched in history.

I invite you to take a walk through the life of Darryl Miller with me.  Here is where his story begins.

Darryl Miller was born in our beautiful town of Charlotte in 1950 at the old mansion Hayes -Green -Beech Hospital. His mother said at the exact moment of his birth, a train sped by blowing its whistle. He was born into a working-class family. His father worked as a letter carrier to provide the necessities of life for his family.  His mother was a hard worker as well, at jobs including Murphys Dime Store and Wilcox Gay Company where they made radios and transcription recorders here in Charlotte. Darryl has a brother who is retired from GM, and a sister, a talented ballerina, who tragically died at the age of 22 leaving behind her husband and two young children. Darryl adds that he has taken inspiration from her as many of his works involve the dance.

Darryl attended Galewood Elementary where he was praised for his drawings by his classmates and teachers at a very young age. He mentions that he liked the feeling of that praise which spurred him on, and that art was the only thing he thought he could do well. He was an average student, very small and although he loved sports was terrible in playing them.

At the age of ten Darryl discovered the work of Michelangelo Buonarotti (1475-1564), an Italian Renaissance artist and inventor known as one of the most highly productive painters and sculptors in history. Michelangelo once said, “Every block of stone has a statue inside it and that it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.” Darryl was thunderstruck by Michelangelo’s abilities. He could identify with Michelangelo’s depictions of suffering and his power to portray it whether in fresco or marble.  Here was someone to learn from!

While attending Galewood Elementary, Darryl was nurtured by his 6th grade teacher, Louise Barbour who encouraged him to draw.  He remembers her covering the wall with eight foot by three foot paper and letting Darryl work on his drawing as others studied academics.  After spending an hour a day for a few weeks, he had completed his own masterpiece. At the Parents-teacher conferences Mrs. Barbour displayed Darryl’s work, “The Sistine Chapel.”  One of Darryl’s classmates stated that Mrs. Barbour was overheard telling another teacher as they were admiring the artwork, “Darryl will do great things.”  Years later when Louise Barbour heard that Darryl had received his master’s degree, she broke down and cried.

Darryl attended Charlotte High School, and once again in his senior year, 1968, was encouraged by his art teacher Leta Sullins. She allowed him to paint a copy of Michelangelo’s, “Creation of Adam” on the art room wall. Darryl holds fond memories of how Louise Barbour and Leta Sullins were great influences; both saw great potential in him. After Darryl discovered Michelangelo, he was determined to be an artist.  His other influences are the ancient Greeks, Renaissance sculptor Donatello, modern artist Giacomo Manzú, and the sculptor August Rodin.

After graduation Darryl received a call from a sign shop saying that they had found his sketchbook in a building at the Eaton County fairgrounds where he had been working designing the Charlotte homecoming football float. After seeing his drawings, the sign company was determined to hire Darryl as an apprentice sign painter. Darryl accepted their offer.  At the same time, he entered a new government program which required that Darryl must take a class at Lansing Community College. There he took his first class in sculpture. Upon taking this class he met a professor who saw his work and called him brilliant. He had never heard this before! From there, he created a sculpture called “Struggle,” inspired by the riots at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago that same year he graduated from high school.

This is only the beginning of Darryl’s fascinating journey which will take us  across the country in many ways. It all started right here in Eaton County. Stay tuned for more!

Vermontville

Vermontville

Featured Story

A Neighborhood Garden Growing the Community

Stacy N. Holbrook
Contributing Writer

(Photo Provided)

What happens when a community comes together to encourage a healthier life style, a better social environment and building community connections? We have a community that is a happier, healthier, and more content. Commissioner Mike Callton (Chiropractor, County Commissioner of the Nashville and Woodland areas, former Michigan House Representatives, former Vice-Chair of the House Health Policy Committee, member of the Insurance Policy Committee and the House of Military, Veterans’ Affairs and Homeland Security Committee), and Commissioner/Blue Zones Executive Director Catherine Getty (Berry County Commissioner District 2, Executive Director of Blue Zones Activate Barry County, formerly the Planning and Zoning Administrator for Thornapple Township); along with Dillon Catlett and about 15 other residents of Nashville, Michigan have formed a group of neighbors entering the Blue Zone.

Just what is the Blue Zone? Over 20 years of research and identification of the world’s longest-lived and happiest populations, which live clean and healthy.

Commissioner Mike Callton and Blue Zones Executive Director/Commissioner Catherine Getty, introduced an idea to create a plan for social connections, better health, and improved life. Presenting this idea to the village committee, the proposal involved finding a piece of ground, funding, and planting a neighborhood garden. People of the community are encouraged to get involved in maintaining the garden and everyone will benefit with fresh fruits and vegetables. Mike, Catherine and Dillon have met many neighbors, and enjoyed the social connection getting to know them.

With the help of the Blue Zone committee, The BCC Foundation, MSU Extension, Farm Bureau and the Food Pantry, these neighbors are learning to live healthy, work together for the same goal and provide services to the community. The Blue Zones have provided great leadership, directing this small group to the right connections.

he Garden is fenced in to keep wildlife out, it has raised plant beds with green beans, strawberries, pumpkins, melons, peppers (both sweet and hot), marigolds, herbs and sunflowers. Mike has left his phone on a post in front of the garden for anyone that may want to contribute to this project, either by funds or labor.

They are very excited with the progress of the garden and all the people that are becoming involved. When the produce starts coming off the garden, they already have a plan for harvesting, fair distribution and they are excited to be able to share some of the bounty with the local food bank.

Catherine shared, “Delton County School and community started this idea of a community garden and has sense inspired two other communities, Johnstown and Nashville, to start a garden in their towns/villages. These programs provide fresh produce, social connections, and longer, healthier lives.” Mike Shared the planning map provided by the MSU Extension and encourages other communities to have “Neighborhood Gardens” where a community can grow together with an attitude of gratitude.

Watch for more inspiring news about Nashville, MI as they share the growth in their community

Potterville

Potterville

Featured Story

Potterville football staying busy this summer

Ben Murphy
Contributing Writer

The official start of the high school football season isn’t until August, but that hasn’t stopped the Potterville football team from working hard this summer, preparing for things to come. The Vikings have been busy with summer workouts and are training hard for an upcoming camp and of course their first live action in August.

“It’s going good,” head coach Jason Baker said. “What we do is hard, we put them through a lot, we expect a lot out of them, and we have a lot of potential there this season to be competitive in a lot of games that Potterville hasn’t been competitive in historically. We have a pretty unique opportunity to change that this year. We aren’t going to win every game, but there’s games we will win that the school hasn’t won the last 14-to-15 years.”

The Vikings played a mix of varsity and junior varsity games last fall due to their youthful roster. Jump ahead to this season and the team plans to play a full varsity schedule; with a complete slate of Central Michigan Athletic Conference games.

“Aside from beating Saranac in 2020, that was the last real CMAC win that they had, but I feel like we can change that this year if the boys continue to work hard and we develop as a team like we did last year,” Baker said. “There’s a lot of excitement with what we were able to do and we just have to build on that and keep moving forward.”

Potterville opens the season with three straight home games: opening with Maple Valley and then taking on Dansville and then Bath.
Maple Valley has a new head coach and is also making a transition back from 8-player to 11-player football this fall.

“They will be a challenging match-up for us, we don’t know what their offense will look like or their defense,” Baker said of their week one foes. “It will be interesting, but we will do our best to scout and we will see what we can find out about them.”

Their week three home match-up against Bath will double as their military appreciation night. They’ll have special uniforms and paint markings on the field; but that’s just scratching the surface for what they have planned.

“We are trying to get as many active duty and retired military members there as possible, so we can say thank you,” Baker said. “We have a lot of things that we are doing to try and show our appreciation for the military. There’s a lot of excitement for that this year.”

Baker is also hoping to have his hand in more than just football at Potterville. With three open spots on the school board, he is throwing his hat in for that role too.

“Ultimately, I just want what is best for the school,” he said. “I’ve invested a lot of time and resources into improving the school and I want to make sure that the district is in the best situation moving forward. There has been a lot of negative press on the school board recently, and I want to get rid of that… We don’t have to agree on every topic but we have to be rational with things and do what is best for the district and not having our personal agendas in there. Ultimately the education of the students is what is most important.”

As for the football season, they’ll take some time off in early July and then it is all systems go.

“We take a week off for the Fourth of July and then we go back to our three day a week schedule with weightlifting and conditioning,” Baker said. “We are excited, but conditioning wise we have to be ready to go, we have to be ready to play a full game of football.”

Eaton Rapids

Eaton Rapids

Featured Story

An Inspiration to a Call of Action

Stacy Holbrook
Contributing Writer

(Photo provided)

Lee Ann Maul personally knew the struggles of life, as many of us have, and recalls how the community and family helped her and her family through hard times. Now, her children are grown, thoughts of how to give back to her beloved community, in a different way utilizing services and bring people together. Lee Ann felt a calling and had a vision which included community involvement, non-profit, and food supplies. The Earth to Table Urban Garden came to life. Now in the fourth season, Lee Ann (Founder) started solo, with ten raised beds. Mary Brewer (Treasurer), Wayne Ash and community people joined her team; forming a committee of five to visualize, plan and implement action. This year, Earth to Table grows 100 hot and sweet peppers, 80 tomato plants, multiple types of squash, cucumbers, a verity of greens, potatoes, strawberries, sunflowers, green beans, herbs and melons. A pollinator garden and food forest, including apple trees has been added. They post on their Facebook Page, Earth to Table Urban Garden, a Community Volunteer Day twice a month, inviting people join in and help, young and old, families. No one is turned away.

The “Earth to Table” puts up a booth at the Community Farmers Market handing out free produce, donations are accepted and appreciated. This year, part of the garden was started from seeds, and some came from local people donating plants. Some of the seedlings were sold for donation as a fundraising effort, at the farmers market. Everything in this project is 100% donated. They offer monthly presentations for free with the assistance of Liam Britton to learn and grow together.

Lee Ann would like to see this be a destination location in this area; a cottage/urban atmosphere with fencing and gates, beautiful flower areas. A temporary Eden on Earth. She has seen this garden has connected people, built friendships and bonds, building life skills, pride and value in accomplishments and community. Additional plans include adding mulberry trees and cherry trees, a library for people to learn and share different ways of gardening, and other life lessons, the pollinating garden with patio viewing, a pantry built by the Teen Space in the downtown area, with approval from the city, a children’s garden, additional work with students in horticulture, the FFA club, and the Lions club, showcasing a greenhouse and other types of gardening.

A special recognition and thank you to: Steve and Sue Nobach (landowners) for the use of this land; Caleb (The Flower Garden) for donations; Lions Club for volunteering and assisting with the non-profit side; Marilyn (Pettit Hardware) for equipment and support; Laura (DeLong Real Estate) and Korey (City Consignment) for pantry and support; Wayne Ash (Teen Space, Park and Planning) for our garden needs and extensive time; City of Eaton Rapids for water hydrant; Eaton Community Bank and the Community for volunteering and support; Liam Britton (MSUE Master Gardener) for guidance. Brooke Aclala (EtT VP), and Taylor Vanderpool (Secretary).

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