The CharlotteRising board of directors announced June 8 the hiring of Dillon Rush as executive director of Charlotte’s Michigan Main Street program. Rush, a 2017 graduate of the University of Michigan and Charlotte native, served as the CharlotteRising economic development intern in 2016 and was instrumental in moving the city’s Main Street Select Level application forward.
“We looked at Dillon’s previous training in Main Street programming and how his degree from U of M is closely aligned with the area of expertise for this position,” said CharlotteRising Board President Joe E. Pray. “Then we looked at his experience and familiarity with our community. At that point we felt he would be a good choice.”
Charlotte is not the same community Rush remembers from his childhood. That fact excites him. It’s also what turned his hometown into a potential landing spot after graduating this past spring.
“Economic development was a new experience for me,” Rush said. “It really opened my eyes to the change that could be made in a community, especially one I grew up in.”
Rush said he sees his role in the community as one of communicator, collaborator and coordinator. He has spent his first few weeks on the job re-introducing himself to many key community stakeholders and downtown business owners. As executive director, Rush will be the point person for many Michigan Main Street projects moving forward. As such, he will spend a lot of time in volunteer development, something he says he is very comfortable with.
“From the start CharlotteRising has always been a grassroots, volunteer driven organization,” Rush said. “Right now we are looking for some small wins while in the midst of our strategic planning process. That doesn’t mean we stop the momentum that has already been building.”
Rush said he plans to ramp up volunteer recruiting efforts in the next couple months.
Pray said part of what captured the board’s attention during the interview process was Rush’s attention to detail and enthusiasm for his community.
“When he presented his proposed plan of action for his first 90 days on the job during his final interview, we knew he would be the best person for the position,” Pray said. “He really understands the vision.”
Rush and CharlotteRising will be headquartered at 105 S. Cochran Avenue. You can contact Rush at (517) 258-2362 or find out more about Charlotte
Rising at charlotterising.com or on Facebook.
For the first time in the history of Olivet Community Schools, students have the opportunity to join a trap shooting team. Saturday, June 17 the 27-student strong team attended the state trap shooting tournament. Part of the USA High School Clay Target League, Olivet competed against 22 other Michigan teams and placed fifth. With a handful of other notable placements in the tournament, Jamie Bartley is proud of the team’s accomplishments in its first season.
Bartley was one of a few Olivet Eagle dads who saw the potential for an Olivet Community Schools Trap shooting team. They had heard about the sport growing in Michigan, which is one of about 20 states around the country that participate in the USA High School Clay Target League. Bartley started doing his research. He and the other dads wanted to see what it would take to get Olivet students such an opportunity.
“Some kids don’t do contact sports,” said Bartley.
Out of the 27 student participants, Bartley noted that several were not involved in contact sports of any kind. The trap shooting team provided an entirely new area for kids to get out of the house after school and be involved in something. The new sport also gave kids with previous gun and hunting experience another avenue in which to be involved. Some of the teammates had been shooting since they were little kids, according to Bartley.
Previous experience was noticeable among some of the students. Levi and Ty Krauss were two exceptional shooters on the team who also participate in other scholastic shooting events. Bartley was highly impressed by the improvement of the new shooters on the team as well. One of the novice teammates, Nathan Powers placed second out of 87 in the novice division, hitting 87 out of 100 shots. The state tournament brought several “firsts” out the students. Daniel Higgins shot his first 50 in a row on Saturday, and Bartley’s son Gavin shot 25 in a row and placed third in his division for hitting 95 out of 100 shots.
The progress of the team in its first season is exciting for Bartley and the other coaches and dads involved. Already they have students and parents asking about joining for the next season, registration for which will begin August 1. Trap shooting is also a rapidly growing sport across the country and in Michigan especially. Last year the Michigan State High School Clay Target League had seven teams. This year Olivet was one of about 20 schools in the league, and at Saturday, June 17 state tournament it was announced that there are an expected 40 more Michigan schools to join the league in the next season.
Bartley sees the great potential for students who are involved in trap shooting. Colleges with trap shooting teams, like Hillsdale College (which won a division three national title for its trap shooting team), offer scholarships to top-notch trap shooters.
The Olivet trap shooting team is like every other team at the school. Students are expected to attend one of the two weekly practices, they’re expected to keep their grades up, and student safety is paramount. The team is coed, and currently involves students from grades eight through 12. All students who pass their online certification or hunter safety course are allowed to participate.
And like other teams, the trap shooting team is in need of sponsors. There are currently no school dollars going to the team. Bartley hopes for more contributions in the future. Likewise, Bartley and the other coaches and dads are hoping for more student participation.
This list of accomplishments seems endless for the Bellevue boys varsity basketball team. Along with a 23-2 season, a new school record, the Bellevue boys took their fifth consecutive district championship tournament, and won the second regional game in the program’s history.
As co-captain of the varsity team, Wyatt Waterbury also passed a number of personal goals during the season, which earned him Associate Press All-State honorable mention, as well as first team All-Area recognition and Bellevue’s offensive player of the year.
“Offensively he’s a very skilled player, but he’s also one of the best two-way players I’ve seen in my seven years coaching at Bellevue,” said varsity head coach Joe Costello. “He takes pride in playing defense.”
After the 2015-2016 season Waterbury won Bellevue’s defensive player of the year. Waterbury is a sophomore, a two-year starter, and team captain. He proved himself right from the start, as did many of the underclassman players. Waterbury averaged 15 points per game during the 2016-2017 season, scored 386 points overall, led the team in steals with 95, led the team in assists with 85, and also reportedly led with deflections on defense. Costello noted how impressive it is that Waterbury achieved such stats when he plays only 20 minutes a game.
“I’m not a huge individual player. Working on breaking more records for school is the big deal to me. The team should focus on buying in. Once that happens the possibilities are endless for us,” said Waterbury.
Along with his remarkable skills and abilities, Waterbury has proven himself a worthy leader, according to Costello.
“He’s a natural leader. People follow him. All the younger guys are leaders,” said Costello. “You have to teach them at a young age it’s not about yourself, it’s about other people.”
Waterbury is a 3.9 student. He, along with his fellow players, brings progress reports to coach Costello from their teachers. Focused practice is only one piece of the success puzzle for Waterbury and the rest of the team. Academic rigor, community service, and off-season practice are all important components as well.
In the near future Waterbury plans to continue honing his skill. Costello encourages him and his fellow players to weight lift and keep getting beefed up for the larger teams they play. Waterbury hopes to eventually move on and play college ball. Before that, however, he has two promising years left in Bellevue. In Waterbury’s own words, “the possibilities are endless for us.”
Eaton CountyFeatured Story
Crandell Park officially became Eaton County’s 10th public park Tuesday, May 30 as county officials cut the ribbon at the park’s Grand Opening event.
“Some people did not think this was going to happen,” said Eaton County Parks Commission chair Bob McConnell said. “This is a wonderful day, and it’s the culmination of the work of three very diligent park directors. Anything like this that happens is the culmination of the work of a whole lot of people, and this is no different.”
The 432-acre park was purchased by Eaton County through a Michigan Department of Natural Resources Trust Fund Grant, which accounted for 75 percent of the $3.9 million purchase. The remaining 25 percent of the purchase was donated by the Crandell family, which previously owned the property. The jewel of the new park is the 160-acre lake that resides at its center.
“I want to thank the Crandell family,” said Eaton County Commissioner Brian Lautzenheiser prior to the official ribbon cutting. “Me and my family have been the beneficiary of their generosity many times in private situations, you all as families in this community now get to experience their generosity here at this wonderful piece of land.”
The park, located at the corner of M-50 and Stewart Road in Eaton Township, is currently open from 8 a.m. to dusk for what Eaton County Parks Director Clay Summers called passive recreational use — walking/hiking, carry in kayaking and canoeing, or mountain biking. There is no fishing allowed currently, as the county is waiting to have a fish study completed by the DNR Fisheries Department in an effort to get a baseline understanding of the lake’s fish population. The fish study should be complete in the next few weeks, Summers said.
The future of the park will be guided by community input, Summers said. County officials have conducted four community input meetings at various locations in Eaton County and have two more planned in June. The information and suggestions garnered from those meetings will serve as the basis for recommendations made by a Crandell Park visioning committee.
“The next phase will be the result of the work of many people, and we call upon all of you to be a part of that,” McConnell said.
There is no established timeline for development of the park. Summers said any development in the near future would require public/private partnerships and grant dollars.
Jack and Judy, owners of the Country Kettle Café, have changed things around near their locally favored restaurant. The building next door was torn down, a small walk way was made for easier access to customers with wheelchairs, and recently a new art project was unveiled. The Nashville pride mural, made by Maple Valley High School students in Jessica Droscha’s art classes, is the recent talk of the town after a ribbon cutting ceremony on Monday, June 12.
In the nearly 90 degree weather, between the Country Kettle and the new, brightly painted mural spelling out Nashville, parents, teachers, students, and intrigued community Nashville residents gathered to hear Droscha talk about the work she and her students had put in over the last several weeks. Droscha and her students wore matching t-shirts to signify that they had worked together on the community art project. As she explained the chain of events that led to the creation of the mural, the ribbon was stretched and the scissors were closed.
Jack was present at the event and expressed his sincere amazement at the work the students accomplished. Droscha gifted him with the framed original sketch of the mural, which Jack and Judy have hanging at the Country Kettle.
A few days later on Jack’s 82nd birthday, he and Judy reflected on the change they’d seen over the last 30 years. They are pleased they could contribute to making the town look a little more beautiful by providing an idea, a space, and funds for the art project.
“We wanted a mural, but we didn’t know what we wanted. We wrote down some ideas of what she could do, and she did it all,” said Jack.
Jack and Judy were impressed that Droscha was able to include so many characteristics of the town, and just as impressed that her students were capable of making the idea come to life. It was important to them that Maple Valley students contributed to the mural, so that they can have a stake in the pride of the town. At the far end of the mural is the image of a girl and her dog in a canoe, which came from an actual photo of one of the students with her own dog. It’s those kinds of details that Jack and Judy know will continue to keep students coming back to view the mural long after they leave high school.
Jack and Judy hope that all Nashville residents will take time to view the mural and take pride in their town. In the same way they hope that younger students will see what their older peers contributed to the town, and someday take interest in community art as well.
The disappointment of losing Gizzard Fest was closely followed by exciting rumors of a possible music festival. The idea brought about by Dave Dickerson and a few other friends to have a gospel festival in Potterville came just a few weeks after the Potterville Chamber of Business unanimously voted to hold off on the beloved Gizzard Fest for summer 2017. Dickerson and friends are pleased to announce the coming of the Potterville Gospel Festival June 9 and 10.
The Potterville Gospel Festival will feature a number of artists known locally, across the state, and nationwide. Artists DC Johnson, and Randy and Sue Leiter, who are recognized in the Michigan Country Music Hall of Fame, will be headlining the festival. Other well-known Christian artists like Savior’s Army, Chosen, and Faith 4 will be playing at the festival as well.
Also gracing the stage will be several very local groups. West Windsor Praise from West Windsor United Brethren Church, Real Life Worship from Real Life Church in Charlotte, and Whoa Nelly are just few of the most local groups to play at the gospel festival. Other performers will include Throne Together, The New Melodaires, Lansing Teen Challenge, Family Street Dance, 4G Music Ministry, Stephen Hammes, a Veterans Tribute Show, Chris Young, and Strength for Battle.
Local pastors and church personalities will also have a few minutes of stage time while bands and artists tear down and set up equipment. These local pastors will reinforce the gospel festival esthetic by bringing a few minutes of the spoken and revealed word of God alongside what is preached through song.
Even with the gospel theme and church presence, the event is open to everyone, with plenty of family-friendly activities. There will be a flea market, covered wagon rides, hot air balloon rides, bounce house and inflatables, a pie-eating contest, a car show, a small parade, and more. With all the events the music will not stop. Both days the gospel music will continue from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
-For organizer Dave Dickerson, the gospel festival is about unity within the community.
“Something that’s lacking today is community celebration,” said Dickerson. “It seems like the community is coming together.”
Right now Dickerson isn’t sure whether the Potterville Gospel Festival will turn into an annual event. For now, he wants to get the word out and have a successful trial run. He hopes the community will enjoy it enough to want it back in the future.
“Help us come out and make our first gospel fest a success,” Dickerson tells readers.
The Potterville Gospel Festival is a completely free event, as are any of the smaller subsequent events. Bands will be playing under the pavilion.
Organizers are still looking for volunteers for things like grounds maintenance. There are also still open spots for vendors. For more volunteer information readers can call (517) 285-2640, or call (517) 604-0390 for more vendor information. For updates on the event readers can visit the Potterville Gospel Festival Facebook page. For more general information readers can call Clint Dickerson (517) 285-2640, or email questions to email@example.com.
Eaton RapidsFeatured Story
Tuesday, May 30 Eaton Rapids residents were welcomed to attend a public hearing at the Eaton Rapids Library regarding upcoming renovations to the library. ERPL has been receiving donations for a remodel for some time, and recently library director, Anna Curtis, selected an architect for the project. With these strides forward, the next step was to provide an informational meeting for the public, and to hear what residents would like to see in their local library.
Architect Daniel E. Whisler, who has worked on a number of specialized and award winning libraries, provided the 13 attendees to the hearing information on what ERPL is lacking, ways to improve the space, and components that have benefitted other libraries. Included in the information were statistics of comparison between ERPL and other libraries of similar sizes in Michigan. These statistics, according to Anna, indicate that ERPL is “sorely lacking in a number of areas.”
The information from Whisler affirmed many of Curtis’ concerns. In her two years as library director she’s done what she can to update the library’s services and programs, but still recognized significant holes in its offerings. Like many librarians and library directors, Curtis sees the library as a community information center, not just a place to store books. Visitors shouldn’t just come to the library for a book about cooking; they should be able to learn how to cook. Visitors shouldn’t come to the library only for a book on the Korean War; they should be able to hear stories of the Korean War from real veterans.
According to Curtis, the 13 or so attendees to the hearing were in agreement that the library is lacking in a number services. Curtis also noted, however, that those in attendance are individuals who regularly use the library. Although she was pleased that Whisler’s information was shared, she is hoping to reach other people in the community who may not know what the library currently offers, or what it has the potential to offer.
“A lot of people didn’t know the library existed,” said Curtis.
Wednesday, May 31 (the day after the public hearing) Curtis posted a survey online for Eaton Rapids to use and share. The purpose of the survey is to gather thoughts and concerns regarding the library from those who were unable to attend the public hearing. The survey can be found on the ERPL Facebook page.
The next step after the public hearing and the survey will be for Whisler to create a schematic drawing of potential library renovations. Along with the drawing will come a budget/price estimate for the renovations, according to Curtis.
There is still time to give input and ask questions. Curtis welcomes readers to contact her at the library, share concerns, share insights and ideas, and generally participate in the changes coming to ERPL.
“There’s something for everybody if we’re just willing to look for it,” said Curtis.
The next public meeting regarding the library renovation will be Monday, June 12 at 9:30 p.m. To follow and hear more about the Eaton Rapids Public Library is doing, readers can like the ERPL Facebook page, or call the library (517) 663-8118.