The Flashes News
Eaton RapidsFeatured Story
2018 is the year of new leadership in the city of Eaton Rapids, as Paul Malewski took the mayor’s helm in January, the Eaton Rapids city council started searching for a new city manager. Working through their membership in the Michigan Municipal League, the city council searched through a pool of city manager applicants. When it came down to the final decision, the city council chose a manager from the neighboring town of Leslie. Aaron Desentz was selected, and is set to officially start Monday, March 26.
Previous city manager, John Stoppels, took his leave of the Island City after accepting another city manager position in St. Johns. Stoppels and previous mayor, Steve Platte, worked closely together, so losing two leaders within the city was untimely. The council quickly set out with a list of expectations for a new city manager, and Aaron fit the criteria.
Desentz is originally from Pinckney, Mich. in Livingston County. He attended Eastern Michigan University where he earned his undergraduate degree in criminology. He later earned a masters degree in public administration. Aaron has served as the village administrator of Shelby, Mich., and then went to Leslie to serve as city manager.
During his time as city manager of Leslie, Aaron was presented some formidable challenges. Although it hardly bordered on crisis, he worked with the city during a water main issue, during which aged city waterlines began deteriorating and many lines had to be replaced. Under Aaron’s leadership the city secured a $1 million infrastructure grant through the Michigan Economic Development Corporation to help with the cost of the waterlines. Aaron was also part of a project to update and beautify building façades in Leslie’s downtown, another city project for which Aaron helped secure a hefty grant to offset costs.
These and other projects were standout achievements for the young city manager. While he’s worked to make Leslie a better place, Aaron has long appreciated Eaton Rapids. He was charmed by the downtown, drawn by the potential of the river, and intrigued by some of the progress in the town over the last few years.
“I’ve always been interested in Eaton Rapids,” said Aaron. “I love the look of the whole town, and the feel.”
The circle of city managers is a fairly small community in the world of municipal government, according to Aaron. When he heard John Stoppels of Eaton Rapids was moving on to a different position he quickly started researching Eaton Rapids and soon applied for the position.
But Eaton Rapids small town charm wasn’t the only factor drawing Aaron to the open city manager position. Aaron and his fiancé knew the wanted to keep roots planted in the area. With Eaton Rapids right next door it was the perfect move for the couple.
Stepping into the new position, Aaron leans on his skills of communication, critical thinking, and keeping track of the numbers. City managers have to keep open a constant flow of communication with departments, the city council, and the public. As community leaders city managers can’t be experts on every issue or need, but the ability to read, learn, and internalize quickly is key to decision making, according to Aaron. Finance is another area that Aaron “boasts.”
“Know your numbers,” is a slogan Aaron uses as a standard for city managers.
Most of all Aaron hopes to keep a team mentality and practice at the center of his work in Eaton Rapids.
“A city manager is an administrative team member,” said Aaron. “This is a team effort, something that takes place in city hall and council, and with residents too.”
For more information about new Eaton Rapids city manager, Aaron Desentz, or about city departments, services, and events, readers can call (517) 663-8118, or visit cityofeatonrapids.com.
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.
Fresh bread, sliced meat, melted cheese, are the beloved scents of any deli or sandwich shop. Walking in the door is half the experience at beloved local eateries. But what if the eatery isn’t so local? What if it’s part of a large chain? Does it necessarily lose its charm?
I know I’m guilty of knocking major chain restaurants over smaller, locally owned establishments. I’m always looking for an experience just as much as I’m looking for quality food and welcoming service. While I’ll always enjoy my time with good company wherever I am, it’s still nice to try something new, something small.
Subway doesn’t exactly fit the parameters of what one might look for in a local deli. But how does that take away from its charm? In the end we’re looking for something that’s filling, something made well, and something that catches the senses. Every Subway I’ve ever walked into does exactly that, and Dimondale Subway is no different.
Part of the Dimondale Express Mart, the Dimondale Subway is like many other gas station/Subway pairs. Swing in, fill up the gas tank, grab a quick sub, then head off down the road. But in a village the size of Dimondale, sometimes restaurant options are limited. How many places are there for a lunch stop during the workday? What kind of variety is there?
Subway not only has options for any kind of eater, it fits many of the desired categories for a local stop. It’s close, it’s fast, and it grabs the senses. There are seasonal specials that the dedicated customer waits for throughout the year. During the winter months, customers can enjoy pastrami, or corned beef. For the vegetarians it’s easy to construct a filling veggie sub. More than many locally owned places, Dimondale caters its subs to the customer’s palate.
Located just around the corner from the main strip of the village on Bridge Street, the Dimondale Subway is a moment’s drive or brisk walk from the hub of activity. Thirsty customers at Dimes Brewhouse can take a break and soak up some of the beer with a turkey sub, or an Italian BMT. With residential neighborhoods surrounding it, the Subway is a close hangout for teens, or a meeting spot for retired seniors.
The Dimondale Subway is centrally located and is more than the regular road trip Subway off the highway. It’s the spot for the local worker looking for a lunch trip on a slow Tuesday afternoon, as well as the fast grab on a busy Monday. It’s a place to run into a neighbor, or to recognize a familiar face who’s serving behind the counter.
One can be hard pressed to find one place that fulfills so many roles in a community. Not many restaurants simultaneously act as the local favorite and the big name on the block, but Dimondale Subway acts as the connecting point of both. The smells of fresh bread, sliced meat, and melted cheese can make one feel at home wherever they’re found.
Eaton CountyFeatured Story
Tuesday, March 6, the Eaton County Planning Commission met for a regular monthly meeting. However, the commissioner board chamber became standing room only as dozens of citizens came for public comment and support against DCA-3-18-2, which was “a comprehensive amendment to the Eaton County Land Development Code (Zoning Ordinance) to clarify the intent, update language, and improve comprehension.”
The articles coming under the amendment were Article 5, Definitions and Interpretations (section 5.3.19 S), Article 7, Land Development Requirements (sections 7.3.4 and 7.6.4), and Article 14, Specific Provisions and Requirements (to add section 14.39 for Solar Energy Systems).
Cutting through the jargon, the purpose of DCA-3-18-2 was to make room in the Land Development Code for solar energy developments, specifically that of Geronimo Energy, an energy company out of Minnesota attempting to develop 600 acres of farmland on the border of Benton and Oneida townships. The energy project has received significant opposition over the last year, initiating high attendance to township meetings in Benton Township, as well as citizen petitions.
For over an hour the planning commission heard public comment in opposition to DCA-3-18-2 and the Geronimo project. Citizens from both Benton and Oneida townships spoke, as well as residents from other areas of the county. “We shouldn’t be developing good farmland,” “Solar panels can go elsewhere,” “I wouldn’t want to look at those solar panels,” were all frequent comments. Scientific arguments were raised, real estate concerns brought forward, and Oneida’s own ordinance to limit such energy developments brought to the attention of the commission.
There was also a period of comment from persons in favor of DCA-3-18-2 and Geronimo energy. Two individuals representing Geronimo energy came forward to address a few of the concerns raised during the opposition period. Matt Zimmerman, an attorney representing Geronimo, and David Shiflett, a project manager with Geronimo, made cases for not only the Geronimo project specifically, but also for the language of DCA-3-18-2, citing it as one of the more restrictive amendments they’ve seen. Kat Webber, a resident of Oneida Township and employee of Ecoplexus Solar Solutions, also expressed her assurances that solar energy is safe, environmentally friendly, and beneficial for the future of clean energy.
After brief rebuttal periods from both sides, the commission moved to discuss action for DCA-3-18-2, whether to take it to the Eaton County Board of Commissioners, or to continue working on its language. The frustration arose less from the opposition to the Geronimo project itself, but that Brian Ross and Ben Tirrell specifically had spent a significant amount of time researching solar energy, how such developments influence the land, and how the Geronimo project could benefit the county.
“The lucrative per diem is not the reason people are involved in a citizen committee,” said Tirrell, noting that the members of the planning commission don’t have personal vested interest in the Geronimo project. “I do feel that this is a property rights issue… I unequivocally reject the argument that it’s a land preservation issue.”
Tirrell and Ross further insisted to the public that there was well educated and informed input and thought put into DCA-3-18-2, but ultimately the commission moved to table to send the DCA back to zoning subcommittee for a more comprehensive look, and postpone a decision on the DCA to June 5 meeting of planning commission.
Dakota Carter found himself falling behind his classmates at Charlotte High School. A freshman at the time, academics weren’t a priority for him anyway. Dakota had grown up working on cars in his grandfather’s garage, and he knew that’s what he wanted to do after high school.
He just didn’t see how school would really help him get there.
That’s when one of his teachers, Todd Kleinow saw his potential and recommended Dakota for the school’s CHS CARES program, one of three different pathways of Charlotte Early Middle College.
“Before the program, I didn’t really want to be here,” said Dakota, who is set to graduate from the Early Middle College program this spring. “I never really gave much thought as to how I was going to get (to be a mechanic). I just knew that it was going to be a struggle.”
The CHS CARES program, though, changed Dakota’s entire outlook. Smaller class sizes and a pathway that matched up with his career aspirations led to a renewed focus on academic success.
“The smaller class sizes really helped,” Dakota said. “If you have to ask questions, you don’t feel like an idiot in front of a whole bunch of people.”
Prior to entering the CARES program, Dakota had allowed a learning disability to hold him back. He credits Mrs. Anderson, who works with CARES students on Michigan Merit required classes, for guiding him through his required courses.
“The bigger classes, he was kind of lost in the shuffle,” said Debbie Carter, Dakota’s grandmother. “He was afraid to ask questions because most of the kids were getting it, and he wasn’t. The Early Middle College opened up a whole new door for him and put him on a path toward where he wanted to go as opposed to sitting in a class being forced to do things he wasn’t good at or didn’t care to do.”
Fully motivated in reaching his goals, Dakota finished his graduation requirements a semester early, allowing him to spend his final year of school in the Auto Tech program at Lansing Community College in the morning and afternoons in the shop at Duro Tech Automotive in Potterville where he works as a co-op student.
“By providing him a more individualized pathway within the Michigan Merit curriculum and coupling that with the career field he wanted to go into, it really motivated him as a student and provided him the opportunities to match up what he was learning in school to what he wanted to do afterwards,” said Dr. Bill Barnes, CHS Principal. “That is really the goal, finding ways to get kids engaged in what they really want to do after high school and provide them the support while they are in high school to get the credentials they need to do it.”
Dakota will graduate from the Early Middle College with two state certifications, opening a number of opportunities in the auto tech field.
There are currently 23 students enrolled in the Early Middle College program, up from 12 students who participated in the first cohort of the CHS CARES program three years ago. The Bulldog Academy, a partnership with Ferris State University, was established two years ago and the Capital Region Technical Early Middle College, a partnership with Eaton RESA, was established last year.
“We’ve established multiple pathways so students could find where they fit best and work within their own niche,” Barnes said. “Each one has a little bit different outcome.”