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By Adam Droscha Contributing Writer Two weekends ago during Charlotte’s annual Frontier Days Parade watchers likely noticed many usual sights — marching bands, horses, tractors, fire trucks, children waving from their floats,...

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Eaton Rapids

Eaton Rapids

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Backward Glance antique shop continues tradition

By Deb Malewski
– Contributing Writer

Eaton Rapids has a new/ old business on Main Street. It is “old” because, for 30 years, it was The Basket Case — an antique shop owned by Ken and Sue Hayward. But it’s also new because it is now owned by their granddaughter, Nicole Byrd, and has been re-named “Backward Glance.” Byrd opened Backward Glance last fall. It is located at 217 S. Main St., right across the street from the Eaton Rapids Area District Library.
It appears the love of “picking” and selling antiques runs in the family. Byrd grew up going with her grandparents to garage sales, estate sales and old barns. She’s always enjoyed refinishing and cleaning up old furniture that they found.

“She was just raised that way,” said Cathy Bodell, her baby’s grandmother. “She loves her grandparents and grew up just like them.”

Byrd’s uncle, Wayne Hayward, owns “The Cool Store” on Knight Street.

Byrd grew up in Eaton Rapids and graduated from Eaton Rapids High School. She attended Lansing Community College, studying child development. She worked at preschools and later for a doctor’s office at McLaren Greater Lansing Hospital. After having her latest baby, she decided to start the new business.

“I bring in a truckload of new inventory each week,” Byrd said. “People come in and say that it looks completely different each time they are here.”
Her inventory includes jewelry, clothing, furniture, teacups, vinyl records, cast iron pans, clocks, modern decor and much more. Most items have a local provenance, or geographic origin, including a wooden desk used in the Dansville, Mich., post office.

“We try to have fun, interesting things,” Byrd said. “I hear comments that our prices are better than at the local antique malls.

“Vendors from the antique malls have been known to come in to buy things to re-sell at higher prices, even.”
Byrd enjoys hearing the reminiscing customers do about things they see in her shop, recalling that their mother or grandmother had the exact item, too.
“People should come in to be taken back,” said Kory Foote, who helps with the picking and is in the store a lot. “It’s a memory thing.

“I like it when seniors come in and enjoy browsing and remembering, especially since it doesn’t require them to drive very far. I learn more about my items, too, that way.”
As a single mother, with four children ranging in age from 6 months to 11 years, and having to search for new inventory on a regular basis, Byrd explained the store hours for Backward Glance are still being worked out. The shop is open most days from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is closed on Tuesdays. The shop is also closed when there is an auction she must attend. She posts a phone number at the front door to contact her if the store is closed.

“The goal is to eventually have someone to help me and have set hours that should be expected when you have a business,” Byrd said.
Backward Glance can be reached by calling 517-803-0500 or by dropping in at the store at 217 S. Main Street in downtown Eaton Rapids.

PHOTO INFO:

Photo by Deb Malewski

Nicole Byrd owns and operates the Backward Glance antique shop in downtown Eaton Rapids. The shop used to be called The Basket Case and was owned by Byrd’s grandparents, Ken and Sue Hayward.

Mason

Mason

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Mason

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Local artist reads, sketches clients’ auras

By Deb Malewski
– Contributing Writer

“An aura is a distinctive atmosphere or quality that seems to surround and be generated by a person, thing or place,” according to a Google search. Dawn Baumer, an artist from Mason, explains that an aura to her is “the color of the energy that we radiate off our bodies.” Baumer said she can see those auras and uses her artistic ability to sketch her client with the colorful aura that she sees around him or her. She has started a business called “Aura Art and Readings,” where she looks at those auras and explains what she sees.

Baumer discovered her ability to see auras as a child when she learned to meditate in her karate class in Leslie. Instead of keeping her eyes closed, she confessed, she peeked. She saw brilliant colors radiating around everyone, she said. She didn’t tell anyone what she saw for a long time.

Everyone radiates energy from their body, Baumer explained.

“We can feel that energy when someone is too close to us, like when we are in line at the grocery store and someone is in our personal space,” she said. “The only difference with me is that I see it in color, and the colors tell me different things about a person and their personality.”
Because of her strong faith, her clients receive only positive connections with spirit and aura colors.

“I don’t do anything negative,” Baumer said. “I want to give people comfort, that the person they are missing is still there, watching over them.

“It’s the only reason I do it.”

Baumer does aura readings at a shop and spa known as Beyond a Dream, with locations in Brighton and Okemos, or by appointment. In addition to the reading, she creates a sketch of their aura.

“I use art to draw what I see, hear and feel. My goal is to bring healing and to show you the best of your spirit, how I see you.”

Sometimes a deceased family member will appear during these sessions, Baumer said.
Art has been a part of her whole life, Baumer said. She has done murals, cartoons, has illustrated several children’s books and has created logos for businesses. She also teaches painting and cartoon drawing.

“Anyone can draw, if taught in a positive way.”
Baumer is a featured artist at Comic Con, which is held annually at the Breslin Center at Michigan State University, teaching classes every 15 minutes.
Baumer wrote and illustrated her own book, “Dune Daze,” in 2005, and has illustrated another 17 books for others. Her illustrations were part of Mary E. Morgan’s “National Park Mysteries” series from Buttonwood Press, a series of eight books about American history and national parks.
Baumer can be contacted through Facebook.

DIMONDALE

Dimondale

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Dimondale Business Association marks tenth anniversary

Last month, the Dimondale Business Association (DBA) marked its tenth anniversary of working to promote the many charms of the Dimondale community. But current DBA president, and former village manager, Denise Parisian said she only “accidentally” realized it had been ten years after going through some paperwork as part of the group’s current planning for another year of encouraging others to “Discover Dimondale.”

“I just happened to discover it had been ten years as I was going through some stuff,” Parisian said. “I hadn’t really realized it until then.

“We do have a few thoughts on how we might celebrate our ten-year anniversary but nothing official yet.”

She explained the DBA functions much like a chamber of commerce. There is a total of 35 members, with a four-member executive committee. The executive committee consisted of Parisian, president; Kristy Beck-Bair, vice president; Randy Chapel, treasurer; and Michelle Rogers, secretary.

“We exist exclusively to promote Dimondale businesses and the community,” Parisian said. “We are a ‘grassroots’ organization and our resources can be rather limited, as we are completely volunteer-led and have no paid staff.

“But we do our best for the community we really care about.”

One of Dimondale’s most well-known attractions is it Farmers’ Market, which operates on Thursdays beginning in June. Parisian is actively involved in promoting the market, which has been going strong for 12 years.

Kristy Beck-Bair, DDS, of Family Dental Care of Dimondale said membership in the DBA has been a real plus for her business.

“We’ve been a member of the business association since its inception and have watched it grow and become an integral part of our community,” Beck-Bair said. “Membership has afforded us a great networking opportunity within the greater Dimondale area and allowed us to participate in the many association-sponsored functions over the years.”

Some of those DBA-sponsored events include special promotions for Small Business Saturday in November, the Farmer’s Market Christmas craft show and an annual car show dubbed “Small Town, Big Engines.” The car show is held in partnership with the RE Olds Chapter of the Oldsmobile Club of America and takes place in June, on the Friday before Father’s Day. This year’s show will be June 19.

Beck-Bair said she is proud of the work done by the DBA over the years.

“We are proud to be part of the association’s efforts to expand the businesses’ visibility; market their many talents and product; and promote Dimondale as a walkable, shop-able and vibrant village on the banks of the Grand River,” she said. “I am honored to be surrounded by so many dedicated and dynamic business people in our (DBA) group and look forward to the coming year, as we continue to grow our membership and promote our area.”

The full membership of the Dimondale Business Association meets every other month, with the executive committee meeting on an alternating bi-monthly schedule. More information about the BPA, and the Dimondale community as whole, can be found online at discoverdimondale.com.

PHOTO INFO:

Courtesy photo

The Dimondale Business Association’s executive committee is made up of (back, l. to r.) Randy Chapel of Chapel Company, Kristy Beck-Bair of Family Dental Care, Michelle Rogers of Dimes Brewhouse and (front) Denise Parisian.

Eaton County

Eaton County

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Debate over Canal/Columbia drain problem continues

By Deb Malewski

Residents and officials turned out in large numbers for a Feb. 6 meeting held at the Eaton Rapids Township Hall to discuss the ongoing flooding problem at Canal Road and Columbia Highway. In addition to dozens of residents, members of the Eaton County Board of Commissioners, the drain commissioner’s office and the road commissioner’s office were in attendance. Representatives of the engineering firm that handles the county drains, Spicer Group, were also there.
The Drain Code of 1956, through the State of Michigan, limits expenditures to $5,000 per mile per year for maintenance on drains, without a petition, it was explained at a previous meeting. This is money that is collected as taxes from the landholders in the drain district, not money from a special fund. Other improvements require a petition to take action.

Larry Protasiewicz, project manager of the Spicer Group, explained the process required by the drain code in order to start a drainage improvement project. According to Protasiewicz, it’s gotten to the point where a petition needs to be filed. The clay tile used for the drains has blowholes, collapses and requires frequent repair. The official name of the main drain in question is the Bentley-DePue Drain.
“The tile was never big enough,” Protasiewicz said. “But on repair we can’t change the size, due to the restraints from the drain code.”

To start the process, the following steps must be taken:
First, a petition is filed with the drain commissioner. It can be filed by five property owners, the municipality, the county, the road commission or the Michigan Department of Transportation.

The drain commissioner then appoints a Board of Determination — made up of three property owners who own property in the county but not in the drainage district. A public hearing is held to determine whether the drain or maintenance and improvement of the drain is necessary for the public health, safety or welfare. If the board determines necessity, a property owner has 10 days to challenge the determination in circuit court, and the township has 20 days after notification of the determination of necessity to appeal the decision in probate court.

The drain commissioner would determine the scope of the project, at which point the project is engineered and plans and specifications are prepared. Bids are requested, and notice is given to those in the district.
Michael Cronkright, who owns property at the corner of Canal and Columbia, expressed concerns over this procedure.

“There isn’t even a rough estimate yet for the cost,” Cronkright said. “If five property owners sign a petition, they are giving a blank check to the government without knowing the costs we are facing.
“The benefit is for the people down the road, not for the people getting their land flooded.”

Area resident Janice Heck said only a relatively few people would have to foot the bill for something that helps many more.
“Twenty-five hundred cars a day pass down Canal, on the shoulders of 200 people,” Heck said. “How is that fair?
“It is literally a seasonal road. We are being assessed as a primary road but not receiving the services.”
Patrick Murphy was another concerned citizen who spoke out at the meeting.
“We are obviously dealing with an antiquated system,” Murphy said.

Murphy went on to suggest that a survey be done to determine the water flow in the area and determine where the water is coming from.
Eaton County drain commissioner Richard Wagner said he has sought state funding sources to no avail and that he can shut the process down if it proves to be too expensive.
No decision has yet been made on the issue. Pumps were placed at the intersection and excavation was done to provide some relief from the flooding. This was done using $23,000 in emergency funding, according to representatives from the drain office.

Eaton Rapids Township Supervisor Scott Wilson said the township board will need to determine what is best for township constituents.

“We need to come up with a plan that will work for all,” Wilson said.
A special meeting, and vote on the drainage issue, has been scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 18 at 7 p.m. at the township hall. The hall is located at 2512 S. Canal Road.

Onondaga

Onondaga

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Onondaga

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Charlotte

Charlotte

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Festival offers chance to be a ‘weekend Viking’

By Deb Malewski
– Contributing Writer

The Michigan Nordic Fire Festival is a unique experience that celebrates winter, fire and family fun in Charlotte. It is billed as a “medieval fantasy brought to life” — with historical reenactments, costumed participants, vendors and lots of Viking-themed entertainment, from fun contests and games to serious historical presentations.

This year’s event, the fifth annual, starts the evening of Friday, Feb. 28 and runs through Sunday, March 1. It takes place at 620 W. Shepherd Street in Charlotte, at Lincoln Park. Free parking is provided at the Charlotte High School, with free shuttle service to the venue. The festival is a non-profit, community organization. Dressing as a Viking is encouraged but not required.

The Nordic Fire Festival draws people from around the Midwest to attend this unique winter experience, which was originally created to showcase Charlotte in the winter and provide a fun activity for everyone. Thousands are expected to attend the event, as they have each year.

With many elaborately costumed visitors and participants in authentic Viking or fantasy gear, it’s an ideal opportunity to people watch. The event will provide visitors with a chance to throw spears and axes, engage in sword fights and to be a “weekend Viking,” organizers say. There are many games of skill for both adults and children.
The event opens on Friday with the burning of a replica Viking longship at 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday events are numerous, highly varied and include things for all ages. A complete schedule of activities is available on the festival website at michigannordicfestival.com.

On both Friday and Saturday night, the Mead Hall will provide a chance to imbibe in locally produced craft beers and mead, a honey-based drink. The Mead Hall will be open Friday night at 7:30 p.m. and will have music and other entertainment. On Saturday, the Mead Hall opens at 5 p.m.
Event sponsors urge visitors to come to the event dressed weather-appropriately, although there are events that take place both outside and inside heated tents.

“I love this festival and its Renaissance feel,” said festival volunteer Julie Kimmer from the Courthouse Square Museum. “Everyone should come to see the new 27-foot Viking boat.”

The Viking boat, complete with elaborately carved dragons at each end, currently sits on the courthouse lawn, awaiting the big event. The boat was located near Detroit, and festival sponsors helped make the purchase. This is not the boat that will be burned in the bonfire, though.

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