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A last insight into the Potterville conflict

Being that I am in my last couple of weeks of employment with the County Journal, I wanted to give some final thoughts on the most ongoing chain of stories I’ve followed in my two years with the newspaper: the City of...

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Eaton Rapids

Eaton Rapids

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‘Taco Truck’ to settle down on Main Street

Las Flores, more commonly known as “The Taco Truck” to area Mexican food fans, is moving into a permanent, brick and mortar building on the main corner in downtown Eaton Rapids. The restaurant will go into the space formerly occupied by Madres and the Evelyn Bay coffee shop on the corner of Hamlin and Main Street.

Ady Pintor, who owns and operates the food truck along with her husband Miguel, said they expect to move into the new spot by the end of the month.

“We wanted to move for our customers,” Pintor said. “We wanted them to have a place to sit while they waited (for carry outs) and a place to sit down while they eat. We didn’t want them to have to wait in the rain and snow.”

Having a permanent building, rather than a truck, will also allow them to stay open year-round.

Pintor said both she and Miguel are very fond of their customers.

“Most of them feel like family,” she said. “We know a lot about each other – they care about us and we care about them.

“We really love this community and our customers. It’s what keeps us going. We are grateful for everyone’s support over the years.”

The Las Flores food truck has been serving up delicious Mexican food in Eaton Rapids for the past three years. For the first two years, they were on Main Street. Then they moved to their current spot in the parking lot next to the canoe livery, behind the old fire station.

The Pintors excel at traditional Mexican staples – including tacos, burritos and tamales. Ady Pintor said customer favorites include the tamales and their “taco special.” The special includes three tacos, rice and beans.

The new location will offer both carry out and sit-down dining.

“We are planning on adding some dishes and having a little bigger menu,” she said. “But we are going to continue to keep things simple.”

Las Flores, which means “the flowers” in Spanish, will continue to be open Monday through Saturday. They are always closed on Sunday. Once they move into the new location at 203 S. Main Street, winter business hours are tentatively set for 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. The phone number is (517) 803-1799.

Mason

Mason

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Mason

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Mason DDA hosts Chocolate Walk through downtown

Thursday, May 11, from 2 to 5 p.m. residents and visitors are invited to Mason for a Chocolate Walk through downtown. The Mason Downtown Development Authority is putting on the event to bring attention to the unique businesses and opportunities that exist all within a short walking distance in the downtown area.

Walkers will start at Mason City Hall, receive a map and a chocolate-collecting bag, and start the trek through downtown. With 37 stops along the way, walkers will consume and take home a variety of chocolate treats, as well as special gifts and offers from the participating businesses.

“(This may) give them a reason to come back to Mason,” said Jamie Robinson, chair of the Mason DDA.

As owner of a couple Mason favorites, Bestsellers Books and Coffee Co. and the Vault Delicatessen, Robinson knows the great potential the downtown has for attracting newcomers. A chocolate walk through some of Mason’s finest businesses combined with a special gift or discount for products is a sure to bring visiting walkers back to the historic town, according to Robinson.

The idea of the chocolate walk came from one such event held in Old Town Lansing. Robinson and others saw the kind of crowds and enthusiasm the Old Town chocolate walk brought to one historic district, and brought the idea back to Mason.

“Chocolate is appealing to a vast majority of people,” said Robinson.

Walkers will be fortunate to have a variety of finely made chocolates from Hanover’s Michigan Mints, Fabiano’s Candies, and more. Although chocolate will be the primary treat for the event, walkers can look forward to a number of other delicious delights as well.

Attendees will also have the opportunity to view new spaces in the Mason downtown. One stop along the chocolate trail will be the new Dart Bank building, in which walkers will get a tour of the lobby area. Another highly anticipated stop will be the Michigan Barn Salvage, where walkers will get a sneak peak at the new business.

Tickets to the Mason Chocolate Walk are $25 with advance order and $30 on the day of the event. Readers can buy tickets online at the Mason DDA website, or buy tickets at Bestsellers Books and Coffee Co, or purchase tickets at Mason City Hall the day of the event.

For more event information readers can visit masondda.com.

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....

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. For 50 years Mike’s was a staple of the village of Dimondale, serving baked goods and homestyle fare. Dimondalians knew owner Mike Chappell and his staff and took comfort in the food, friendliness, and simplicity. Many, far and wide, were saddened when Mike announced he’d be closing the restaurant, and Conarton was one of the many.

Saddened by the news as she was, Conarton decided to let the announcement be the catalyst for fulfilling one of her lifelong dreams — to own her own local diner, especially one she was familiar with. Conarton and her mother were regulars at Mike’s, and she couldn’t stand the thought of losing another gem of Dimondale’s main street, especially one that had lasted in the village through many storms and changing times.

“The day he (Mike) made the announcement, I started thinking about it,” said Conarton.

It wasn’t long before she and Chappell had made arrangements. Pieces are currently in motion to have the same, familiar restaurant reopened in August. Many familiar faces and dishes will return to Mike’s, but a few things will be different. Mike’s will have a facelift, with new paint and flooring. The hours will also change, with restaurant no longer offering dinner. Still, the menu will have many of its essential favorites, as well as the small town charm any diner needs.

The reopening of Mike’s, however, is less about the food and walls, to Conarton, and more about the people. Conarton not only was a regular customer at the village restaurant, she also worked at Mike’s during her high school and college years. To her, and to so many patrons, Mike’s was a place for community togetherness, early employment, and fond memories.

“In every community there’s a restaurant people go to regularly. There’s a sense of community and friendliness,” said Conarton. “It’s a friendly atmosphere, everybody knows your name, you feel at home there… That’s so important to us.”

The concept of the community restaurant isn’t just important to Conarton and Chappell, it’s important to many Dimondale residents. Conarton has received dozens of encouraging and grateful emails, messages, and phone calls regarding her announcement. Mike’s absence may have been short, but it left an impact on the community. Residents are eager to have their beloved restaurant reopened, and hopefully ready for another 50 years of service.

Eaton County

Eaton County

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Dream becomes reality for new Eaton Theatre owner

Growing up in Leelenau County, the movies always served as an escape for Leann Owen. Heading into Traverse City to see a movie at the State Theatre, or into Honor to catch a flick at the drive in, is some of her most cherished childhood memories.

Her love affair for movies has only grown in the past 18 years as she has worked her way from part-time employee at the Eaton Theatre in downtown Charlotte, to manager, and now owner.

Owen and her partner Tim Conley closed on the purchase of the Eaton Theatre on Friday, Oct. 5, setting in motion a number of plans Owen has for an enhanced community experience.

“I’ve had 18 years to think about what I could do with this place,” Owen said.

She said her first plan is to open the north wall of the lobby with two arched doorways that will lead to a classic 1980s-style arcade. The room located on the south end of the lobby will then transition to a virtual reality gaming room. Owen said she plans to have the gaming rooms open by Thanksgiving.

“At that point we can extend our hours and be a place kids can come after school,” Owen said. “It will be a place for people to hang out … not just teens, but families too. We’ll then add afternoon show times during the week.”

Continuing to be an affordable place for families to enjoy time together is a top priority. Owen has created a lot of community relationships through the theatre over the years. Her children spent countless hours with her there, one of the reasons she stayed on as manager long as she did.

“We’re here because we love it and we can sustain the cost of staying open,” Owen said. “We don’t need to make a lot of money. I want it to always be affordable to this community.”

In addition to being affordable, Owen plans to increase the theatre’s community involvement, building on the free family movies she instituted a number of years ago. Coming up Oct. 27 and 28, the Eaton Theatre gets in the Halloween spirit by offering a free showing of Hocus Pocus. Owen said the announcement of the event has already generated interest from more than 1,200 people, by far the theatre’s biggest event. She plans to show Wreck it Ralph during Small Business Saturday, coinciding with the release of Wreck it Ralph 2.

Her plans for the theatre are big, and will take time to complete. In addition to the new arcade, Owen said she plans to move the ticket booth back to the front entrance, and expand the lobby area to restore a classic 1940s or 50s feel. She also has plans to restore the marquee that was removed last year, though that project comes with a big price tag.

“People are going to see a lot of changes,” Owen said. “But, we have to take them one step at a time.”

The planned improvements are on top of renovations that have taken place in the last several years, which include a new roof, new furnaces, new lobby cooling system, ceiling fans in the main theatre that help circulate heat, digital projectors and new screens, reupholstered seats, and an updated sound system in each booth.

“A lot of what has been done recently isn’t that noticeable to customers,” Owen said. “There have been a lot of little improvements along the way, but I’m excited for what’s to come.”

Eaton Theatre, located at 235 S. Cochran Avenue in downtown Charlotte, is a first run movie theatre with a 500-seat lower theatre, and 150-seat second-floor theatre. For show times, find their weekly ad in The County Journal, and follow Eaton Theatre on Facebook.

Onondaga

Onondaga

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Onondaga

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Charlotte

Charlotte

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Charlotte

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Voters reject CPS bond proposal by slim margin

Voters within the Charlotte Public Schools District rejected a proposed $29.85 bond by a mere 49 votes Tuesday, Nov. 6. The proposal, which represented a .9 mill increase for property owners within the district, was defeated 4,226 to 4,177.

Charlotte Public Schools Superintendent Mark Rosekrans said he was disappointed by the results and will work with the CPS Board of Education on the next steps. He said discussions regarding how the district plans to address the election results will begin at the board’s Nov. 12 regular meeting. 

“I believe much conversation needs to be held by the Board with input from the bond steering committee,” Rosekrans stated. “Further, I would think significant evaluation of any bond scope needs to happen. I also believe any decision or bond consideration needs to be thoroughly thought through and not an immediate reaction.  

“There clearly was a large voter turnout with over 8,400 ballots cast and a slim margin of defeat – 49 votes,” he added.

With such a slim margin, the possibility to place a bond before the voters in the near future could be a consideration, though Rosekrans made it clear it will be a board decision.

“At this time I have no idea what the Board of Education will do for next steps,” Rosekrans stated Wednesday morning. “It is their decision. We have not had an opportunity to assemble and talk.”

The proposed bond included capital improvements at every school building within the district, including the addition of an auxiliary gymnasium, new agricultural sciences pavilion, and tennis courts at Charlotte High School, three new classrooms at Washington Elementary School, the elimination of the portable classrooms at Washington and Parkview Elementary, and new classrooms at the re-opened Galewood Elementary School. 

“I would personally offer many thanks to the bond steering committee and the Board of Education for their work, efforts and vision for the school district,” Rosekrans stated.

The Nov. 12 board of education is an open meeting and begins at 6:30 p.m.

Potterville

Potterville

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Vermontville

Vermontville

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