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Declare this 4th of July

Sometimes I wonder if the Founding Fathers had any inkling that the 4th of July would become a day of national celebrating with fireworks, parades, and hotdogs. (I’m sure if they thought about future celebrations it didn’t...

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Charlotte

Charlotte

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OneMain Financial to host free family-friendly block party to celebrate coming Pocket Park

OneMain Financial will host its third “Made on Main Street” event on Saturday, Aug. 4 in Charlotte to celebrate the $25,000 grant awarded to CharlotteRising. “Made on Main Street,” a partnership between OneMain Financial and Main Street America, provides community action grants for innovative neighborhood transformation projects across the country.

In Charlotte, the money awarded through this philanthropic initiative will be used to transform a vacant lot into a pocket park, which will host public events and programs. Six additional grants have been awarded to organizations across the nation.

“We’re thrilled to award this grant to Charlotte Rising. At OneMain Financial, we believe that individuals thrive when communities thrive, and we feel this project aligns with that vision,” said OneMain Financial Chief Marketing Officer Kim Wijkstrom. “The pocket park will rejuvenate the Charlotte community, and we hope the celebratory event will be a great time for everyone.”

The pocket park, which is a collaboration between Charlotte Rising and the City of Charlotte, will be created across the street from City Hall. The building that once stood there was demolished, and the lot has remained vacant ever since. The grant will be used to create an experience-based space with café tables, games, a performance stage, and a new art piece. Local organizations will use the space for events and programming that will drive positive activity within the community. Weymouth Child Development Center plans on hosting outdoor classes, while Charlotte Community Library hopes to conduct crafts, yoga and story time programs in the park.

“This pocket park is a great embodiment of our community’s transformation over the past few years. A physical and emotional eyesore in the heart of our downtown is now evolving into a focal point of positivity, rooted in collaboration, creativity, and action,” said Charlotte Rising Executive Director Dillon Rush.

OneMain Financial will be hosting a free, family-friendly block party to celebrate the grant award and the upcoming transformation project. The Aug. 4 event will be held at Courthouse Square, 100 W. Lawrence Avenue, from 2 to 6 p.m. Festivities will include complimentary food, games, crafts, artisan vendors, and live music.

“Made on Main Street” is free, and all community members are invited to attend. For more information, please visit: MadeonMainStreet.com.

Article submitted by OneMain Financial.

Olivet

Olivet

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Olivet Fireman’s Festival to take place July 27 and 28

Fire departments are not always in the forefront of people’s minds. They’re often in the background, staying silent and waiting until a community’s next emergency. They don’t patrol, or stop people on the street, or make social media movements for the good work they do in keeping the public safe. They wait, they gear up, and they go when they’re needed, but they’re presence can be the defining factor in emergencies of many kinds. The town of Olivet is one place that doesn’t forget the brave work of its fire department. Indeed, Olivet has chosen its fire department to be the crown jewel of its biggest summer festival.

The Olivet Fireman’s Festival is ultimately about celebrating as a community, but the proceeds go to the fire department, and the fire department is the center of the activities. Fireman’s Festival has been the big summer bash for the last 22 years, according to Scott Piepkow, president of the Olivet Firefighters Association. Scott has been a firefighter in Olivet for the last eight years. The department is entirely volunteer, so the support from the community is something he and the rest of the crew are thankful for every time they go out for a call.

“It’s the biggest fundraiser for the fire department every year,” said Scott. “It helps us buy gear and equipment. We love it, and it’s why we do it.”

The fire department has used the funds from the Fireman’s Festival to buy everything from basic supplies like air tanks, to helpful tools like Jaws of Life. At the end of the day the Fireman’s Festival isn’t just about appreciating the fire department its firefighters, it’s about keeping the community safe.

“Everybody knows there’s a common purpose for the festival. The funds go to the fire department, and in turn goes back to the community,” said Scott.

The festivities start at 5 p.m. on Friday, July 27 with Waterball and the carnival. The festivities pick up again Saturday morning at 9 a.m. with a community breakfast at the Congregational Church, accompanied by a rummage sale, also at the church. Things really kick off at 10 a.m. with the raising of the flag off East Street, Horse Pulls, vendors and inflatable playsets for kids at the City parking lot, the continuation of the carnival, various kid related activities at City on a Hill Church, and the Olivet Lions Club car show. The waterslide opens at 11 a.m., and the parade begins at 1 p.m. At 5 p.m. will be the chicken dinner at the fire station, followed by a magic show, the fireman’s raffle, community singing of the National Anthem, and fireworks at dusk.

With a little something for everybody, and a the accompaniment of a good cause, Fireman’s Festival is sure to be a weekend of fun and celebration.

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Bellevue

Bellevue

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Main Street Eatery opens in Bellevue

Monday, July 9 was the official opening of Main Street Eatery in downtown Bellevue. For several months Bobbi Easter and her team have worked to transform the small space on the east side of Main Street into a quaint and welcoming village diner and bakery, with home-style food complimented by Bobbi’s unique touches and twists. With a diverse menu and only a week of being open, Main Street Eatery has all the potential and new-business obstacles ahead of it.

The last hump before the restaurant’s opening was an inspection from the health department. By Friday, July 6 Bobbi’s anticipation was boiling over.

“We’ll be ready to open by tomorrow!” said Bobbi on Thursday, July 5.

“Ready” was a loose word as there was still some cleanup and setup to do before the neon ‘Open’ sign would be lit. Even after the opening there were still quirks to be worked out with the menu, with some items not yet available for visitors. Even so, the eatery was a longtime coming for the village of Bellevue, and it is already reflecting the original vision of Bobbi.

Homey. Diverse, home-style fare. Pictures on the walls. Bobbi Easter envisioned a pretty simple diner and bakery. There didn’t need to be a lot of flash and flair to the esthetic, but the menu needed to have her stamp of originality. The entirety of the experience also had to reflect the greater context of Bellevue, hence being named “Main Street” Eatery.

Main Street Eatery hits Bobbi’s vision and values well. The idea came to her, in part, because she was concerned about the lack of investment in Bellevue. Lack of money, business investment, and outside interest is what she and her daughters, Pam and Becka, identify as the primary causes of downtown Bellevue’s steady flat line and decline in recent years. But their concern didn’t end with negativity, rather it blossomed into action. Main Street Eatery isn’t just a vision for a small town restaurant. It’s part of a bigger vision for the future of Bellevue.

“My daughter and I have a dream for making Bellevue a destination village,” said Easter. “I just see the potential.”

Bobbi has a history as a starter and initiator. She’s owned her own bakeries and adult foster care homes in the past. She sees a need and follows through with a vision.

“You just need guts,” said Bobbi about opening one’s own business.

Having the “guts” is an inadequate way to describe Bobbi’s big dreams for her businesses and hometown. She has resolve, determination, a dream, hard work, and optimism. Those characteristics aren’t just the stuff of major athletes, artists, and public figures. They’re true of local business owners, neighbors, and bakers.

Readers are encouraged to visit Bellevue between the hours of 5:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. to grab breakfast or lunch at Main Street Eatery.

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Eaton County

Eaton County

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Eaton County

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Primary candidate listings for Eaton County voters

Election cycles can be difficult to navigate. Not all voters closely follow local politics, and even those who do don’t always fall into the straight Republican and Democrat categories. Primary elections can be even more difficult to navigate due to multiple options in each party. In Michigan, primary voters can only choose from either the Republican and Democratic ticket. Those hoping to vote in the Aug. 7 primary need to be registered, but should also know who and what they’re voting for. The following is only a surface level view of the candidates on the Eaton County primary ballot. Readers are encouraged to only start with this information and do more digging into each candidate online, or by contacting candidates themselves.

At the county level, there are contentious races in 11 of the 15 county districts, and only five of those districts have more than one candidate running from the same party. For the open seat in District 1, there are two candidates running from the Republican Party, Tim Barnes and Sheri Forell. Rob Piercefield is running as a Democrat.

District 10 also has two Republicans, incumbent Roger Eakin and Lynn Forell, running for the commissioner seat, and Matthew Bowen is running as a Democrat.

In District 11 there are only two Republicans running for the seat — incumbent Wayne Ridge and challenger, Rick Waara. District 13 has two Republicans running for the seat — incumbent Kent Austin, and challenger, Jim Mott.

District 15 is the only district with two Democrats, Helen Broom and Dan Wyman, running against Republican incumbent, Barbara Rogers.

The other six districts are uncontested primary races featuring one Democrat and one Republican. District 2’s seat is between Republican incumbent Blake Mulder and Democrat challenger, Susan Anderson. The open seat in District 4 is between Republican Rick Olivarez and Democrat Brandon Haskell. Democrat incumbent Jane Whitacre is defending her seat in District 6 from Republican challenger, Titus Merriam. In District 7, Democrat incumbent Glenn Freeman is defending his seat from Republican challenger, Frank Egeler. Republican incumbent Brian Lautzenheiser of District 12 is defending his seat from Democrat challenger, Chris Laverty. The seat in District 14 is between Republican incumbent Heather Wood and Democrat challenger Tim Cattron. The Eaton County districts not listed here are single contender races, though readers are still encouraged to visit eatoncounty.org to find those candidates. County commissioner terms are two years long, and are limited to two terms per commissioner.

There are no contested township clerk or trustee seats to announce, though readers are encouraged to visit the county website to view those single candidates running for the few that are open.

For Eaton County voters there are also state legislature seats to fill in 2018. For the 24th state senate district, Tom Barrett (former state representative in the 71st representative district), and Brett Roberts (former state representative in the 65th representative district), are running as Republicans. Kelly Rossman-McKinney is the Democrat running for the state senate seat, and Katie Nepton is the Libertarian running for the seat. For the empty seat in the 65th state representative district, Todd Brittain, Matt Eyer, Sarah Lightner, and Carl Rudolph Rice Jr. are the Republican candidates. Terri McKinnon and Val Cochran Toops are the Democrat candidates, and Jason Rees is the Libertarian candidate. In the 71st state representative district, Christine E. Barnes, Chuck Cascarilla, Chris Stewart, and Clarisa Trevino are the Republican candidates. Beth Bowen, Dominic Michael Natoli, and Angela Witwer are the Democratic candidates.

The candidates for Michigan’s United States Senate seat are Democrat incumbent Debbie Stabenow, and Republicans John James and Sandy Pensler. The candidates for the 7th congressional district seat are Republican incumbent Tim Walberg, and Democrats Gretchen Driskell and Steven Friday.

For the gubernatorial race there are four Republicans, current Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley, state attorney general Bill Schuette, Patrick Colbeck, and Jim Hines. The three Democrat candidates are Abdul El-Sayed, Shri Thanedar, and Gretchen Whitmer. The two Libertarian candidates are Bill Gelineau and John J. Tatar.

The listing of the aforementioned candidates are specifically for those readers who may not be technologically savvy enough to find the list of candidates online, but all readers are still encouraged to research the candidates relevant to their respective districts. Many of the candidates, even those at the county commissioner level, have Facebook pages and websites to present their platforms on key issues in their districts. Voting along party lines is required for the Michigan primary.

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Vermontville

Vermontville

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Vermontville

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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.

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Potterville

Potterville

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Potterville

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Kevin Robydek the new superintendent of Potterville Public Schools

The Potterville school board was hard at work for several months trying to find a suitable person to fill the role of superintendent. Timothy Pillar was brought on as the interim superintendent, but in March the school board had selected a list of candidates and prepared for open interviews. By April, the board had narrowed down the list to two candidates, one of whom was Kevin Robydek, who started in his role as superintendent July 1.

Robydek came to Potterville from Portland Public Schools where he served the last five years as principal of Portland Middle School. For the last 10 years Robydek worked in education, not only as principal, but also as a special education teacher, a coach, and briefly as an assistant principal. Prior to his experience in education, Robydek was a social worker in detention centers and residential treatment programs. Although he originally sought to be a social worker because of his own background in the foster care system, he always hoped and planned to become a teacher.

“I always had a dream of being a teacher,” said Robydek. “I wanted to get into a school setting and connect with kids at a different level.”

Robydek finally decided to make his move and worked on his teaching degree, earning his masters from Aquinas College. Beyond simply teaching, however, Robydek thought he’d eventually go into administrative work. His opportunity to move into administrative roles arrived faster than he anticipated. Portland offered him the opportunity to be interim assistant principal for a few weeks. After those few weeks were up he found himself as the principal of Portland Middle School.

“I was thinking 10 to 15 years down the road,” said Robydek. “In life, sometimes the ball bounces a different way, and you take things and you go with it.”

From his experience in Portland, Robydek learned the value of collaboration with his fellow staff, as well as the benefits of positive reinforcement with students.

“The biggest thing is pushing ego aside and not letting that get in the way. If you work together as a team you can accomplish anything,” said Robydek.

It was that collaborative mindset that he identifies as the main reason in school detentions and out of school suspensions went down during his years in Portland. His staff came together to implement PBIS (Positive Behavior Intervention Supports), an effort that is also being taken on by Potterville Public Schools.

“I want to get as many answers as we can to come up with the best solutions… it has to be the best thing for the kids,” said Robydek.

While he prepares to collaborate with staff and provide positive supports for students, Robydek also plans to push Potterville Viking pride.

“We want to make sure students understand what that pride means- how carry ourselves as teachers and administrators, how does community perceive us…,” said Robydek. “We’ll work really hard to make sure the culture is inclusive and welcoming to everybody.”

School starts for Potterville students and staff Monday, August 20.

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Eaton Rapids

Eaton Rapids

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Eaton Rapids

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Declare this 4th of July

Sometimes I wonder if the Founding Fathers had any inkling that the 4th of July would become a day of national celebrating with fireworks, parades, and hotdogs. (I’m sure if they thought about future celebrations it didn’t include the hotdog.) More so, I wonder if they assumed such a national holiday would become cheapened, not just by activities and leisure, but by the attitude of countrymen and women who despise each other, and have little respect for each other’s liberties.

I’ve written several columns about the current national climate, politically, societally, and indeed morally. I’m by no means an authority on these topics. Reporters, strictly speaking, aren’t necessarily authorities. But we are observers- observers of attitudes, patterns, communication, and happenings. As I continue to observe the national state of affairs, my optimism that our country can overcome its ideological, political, and philosophical divides continues to diminish…

Until I read about the lives, opinions, and positions of the Founding Fathers themselves, anyway. Those men who painstakingly drafted the Declaration of Independence, and carved the foundations of our democracy and freedoms out of human barbarism, were not always unified. Their opinions on government, loyalty, religion, public life, and indeed personal freedom were diverse and divided. They squabbled, bickered, and spewed vitriol at each other with a tenacity that would put today’s Twitter battles to shame.

In spite of their division, the Founding Fathers managed to find consensus in a few simple agreeances, that men shouldn’t live under tyranny, that citizens should be fairly represented, and that there should be a balance of power in government. That consensus was invariably tied to “self-evident” and “inalienable rights” of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” To reinforce their consensus and belief of human rights, the Founding Fathers declared that freedom of religion, of speech, and assembly were necessary possessions of their citizens.

The 4th of July is the day we as citizens of the United States celebrate a declaration of independence, not just in the form of a document sent to a British monarch over 200 years ago, but a continuing declaration for the ages that “all men are created equal.” We declare on the 4th of July that the United States of America is the land where the freedoms and rights we enjoy also belong to our neighbors, despite our disagreements with them, or differing lifestyles. July 4th is the time to remember that the Founding Fathers declared and made safeguards for citizens and people they did not know, for societies and generations they could not foresee, and for cultures that would grow and change throughout time.

This 4th of July let’s all take a moment not only to remember the boldness of the Founding Fathers and the sacrifice of those who have died for our freedom, but also to see the inherent dignity of people who are not like us. Take time to truly look at the heart of someone we see as a threat, or someone we disagree with, and honor that our founding declarations and documents protect them as well. Declare this 4th of July the one in which we choose to let diversity, differences, and yes, disagreements unite us, as did the Founding Fathers. Unity is not the same as conformity. True freedom is the acknowledgement that someone will use it differently than you, and maybe even in a way you dislike. Declare this 4th of July the one in which we renew dignity, honor, and respect for others.

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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