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Author: Travis Silvas

Santa Claus is coming to town … your town

As usual, Santa Claus is getting a head start on his holiday duties this year. The jolly old elf has already made stops in Dimondale and Charlotte and has no plans to leave the Eaton County area any time soon. One of the best aspects of living in a small community is the togetherness that felt this time of year. People really come together around the holidays, especially when Santa Claus comes to town. Santa is going to be really busy in the next month making appearances in communities and shops throughout the area. Santa Claus’s next stop will be at the Vermontville Township Library on Friday, Dec. 6 to have his picture taken with all the children in the community. The Vermontville Library has set up that special appearance, which will take place from 6 to 7:30 p.m. and feature plenty of family friendly activities. You will find Santa Claus in downtown Olivet on Saturday, Dec. 7 from 6 to 7 p.m. Santa’s visit is sponsored by the Olivet Chamber of Commerce and the Olivet Fire Department. The Chamber of Commerce is also encouraging residents and business owners to get in the holiday spirit this year by decorating your home or business. The Holiday Lights for Holiday Nights decorating contest will take place in Olivet throughout December. Decorations must be up by Monday, Dec. 16 and three winners...

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Empty Canvas a hit at Education Foundation’s inaugural Art Appreciation event

One by one Mike McMath pulled people from the crowd to help him fill his empty canvas with paint. Slowly, with the participation of those attending the Charlotte Public Schools Education Foundation’s inaugural Art Appreciation & Sale event, the scene began to take shape. McMath filled in the holes, all while singing along with his brother, Matt McMath, who was strumming away on the guitar. In the end, the duo that makes up Empty Canvas had created a beautiful landscape while entertaining the crowd. The piece of artwork was the first piece auctioned off during the live auction portion...

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Community support vital to success of Potterville’s Holiday Gift Baskets

Jo Lehman still thinks about the family of five or six huddled around the space heater one year as she delivered a holiday basket to the unsuspecting family just outside Potterville. Instead of running to see the new toys, the children ran to a couple blankets Lehman had decided to add to the basket at the last minute. “I walked out of there just a mess,” Lehman said. “It just broke my heart. We have these families that really need help.” Lehman has been in charge of the annual Holiday Gift Baskets program in Potterville for the past several years and has seen the difference the program has made in the lives of community members — those that give as well as receive. The program in Potterville provides food, clothing and gifts for close to 60 families within the Potterville Public Schools District. Last year that included more than 100 children. “With school off for break, we try to provide each family with enough food to last through Christmas break,” Lehman said. “It all depends on the support we receive during the local food drives and the donations we get.” In addition to food, the baskets contain new clothes for each child in the family as well as small, educational gifts. Lehman said it takes support from all corners of the community to make the program a success in...

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Maple Valley Schools eyeing possible bond to improve facilities

Following the request of some concerned community members, Maple Valley Public Schools is exploring options for a potential bond proposal to address facilities, technology and safety improvements within the district. Michelle Falcon, interim superintendent of Maple Valley Public Schools, said a group of community leaders approached the Maple Valley Public Schools Board of Education in the spring about the need for physical improvements within the district. With those concerns in mind, the district has created a Facilities Improvement Team (FIT), made up of community members, board members, district staff as well as design and technology consultants, to analyze district needs that could be addressed through a bond proposal. “We are very early in the planning process,” Falcon said. “The planning phase is really about planning out what the scope of this project looks like.” The FIT committee has met just a couple times and hopes to have the scope of the improvement plan to present to the school board by its scheduled Dec. 19 meeting. At that point, the board will have an idea of the types of improvements, including potential costs, the committee feels is necessary to accomplish improvements to district facilities, an upgrade to technology and enhanced security measures at each school. If the board approves the plan, Falcon said a few members of the steering committee will meet with the State Treasury Department to get approval...

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Lansing region rallying around Eaton County man’s mission to help homeless

Mike Karl has touched the hearts of thousands in the Lansing area with his mission to help the homeless get off the streets. He has put a face to the problem of homelessness in our area and has shown how the actions of one individual can spark a movement. People have started to not only follow this man’s mission on Facebook; they’ve stepped forward by the hundreds to lend their support. “It’s becoming such a community outreach,” Karl said. “Everybody is helping everybody.” For the last three years, Karl, an Eaton Rapids resident, has spent one week each November living on the streets among the homeless in Lansing — a place he found himself for six months in 2005. Since finding the resources to get past the depression and shame of being homeless, he has vowed to help as many people find the help they need to get back on their feet. This year, through the help of social media and a lot of newspaper and television exposure, Karl is helping more people than ever before. In the past month alone, he has found the resources to help 32 people get off the streets, including a pregnant mother this past Wednesday. He has a small army of people ready and willing to help. Karl said he has an angel or two assigned to each person helped so far. “They...

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