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Eaton Rapids

Eaton Rapids

Featured Story

‘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

Featured Story

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

Featured Story

Red Rosie Bakery set to open in downtown Charlotte

Crissta Ames

Contributing Writer

When Colleen Armitage first moved to Charlotte from a town called Milan, just south of Ann Arbor, she felt a little lost after leaving her job, family, and friends. However, she decided to follow her dreams of opening a bakery and did so, right here in Charlotte.

In October 2018, Red Rosie Bakery was officially opened, with influences from Armitage’s red hair, and her icon, Rosie the Riveter. 

“Whenever I doubted myself, I could always remember her motto ‘we can do it’, so expect to see some WWII inspired themes,” she said. 

She even got to meet some of the original Rosies when she participated in breaking the World Record for the most Rosies gathered in one place. 

“If you’re a Rosie reading this, thank you for being my inspiration,” She said.

As a young adult, she started making cakes for her coworkers at a horse farm and for her husband’s coworkers. She loves to be creative and experiment with baking and the joy it brings other people. 

“Nothing beats the look on someone’s face when they find the exact sweet they’ve been craving,” Armitage said. “I just fell in love with it and felt like this was what I was supposed to do. I am a home baker that has learned a lot by trial, error, and YouTube. I have an amazing support system of family and friends.” 

She also is appreciative of how supportive Charlotte’s community has been to her and her family. Her husband, Michael, has worked as director of Eaton County Central Dispatch for two years, but made the commute until they moved. She says first responders have a special place in her heart. 

“My family and I are very new to Charlotte but everyone has been so warm and welcoming. I’m so amazed that this community has welcomed me with open arms,” she said. 

Armitage is also a member of the Frontier Days board and volunteered at the Nordic Fire Festival this year. 

“I am blown away by the Charlotte community and every day I feel more and more at home here,” she said.

Armitage and her husband have two children, Landon and Reagan. As for her products, she says she will stay a completely nut-free home and bakery. 

“My husband and son are very allergic and there are many places they can’t eat at, so I can guarantee that my baked goods are not only delicious, but safe for anyone with a nut allergy or sensitivity,” she said.

Red Rosie Bakery has a wide variety of baked goods that Armitage plans on rolling out, including cakes, cupcakes, scones, muffins, cookies, quick breads and more. There are also vegan and gluten free recipes in the works, but Armitage says she wants to perfect them before launching.

The bakery will open on Thursday, May 9 (Mother’s Day weekend) from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., but her hours are going to vary as she finds a schedule that works for her and works through this new venture. 

“I’m a one woman show, so I do ask for everyone’s patience as I learn to work my business on a bigger scale,” she said. “I’ll be right next to Charlotte Plaza Floral and I couldn’t be more excited! They are wonderful people, and although many of us will miss Crusty’s Bagels, I’m so thankful for this opportunity and for all their help. I hope they aren’t gone for long.”

For more information, Armitage invites people to visit her Facebook page, under Red Rosie Bakery, email her at redrosiebakery@gmail.com, or call/text her at (734) 476-3750. 

Onondaga

Onondaga

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Onondaga

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Charlotte

Charlotte

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Charlotte Schools asking voters to approve .8 mill increase May 7

 placed a $27.75 million bond proposal on the May 7 election ballot. The proposal represents a .8 mill increase for property owners within the Charlotte Public Schools district for a period of 25 years. The proposal is a decrease of $2.1 million from a similar proposal that voters rejected in November by a mere 49 votes — 4,226 to 4,177.

“The school board decided to go back to the voters with this bond proposal on May 7 because the need to maintain and improve our facilities is so critical to the safety and overall education of our children that we could not wait,” said CPS Board of Education President Caleb Buhs. “Falling just 49 votes shy of passage in November, it was clear that the proposal was close to the community’s wishes. We listened, and made $2 million in reductions from the previous proposal, reducing the millage increase to only .80.”

Included in the proposed bond are 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 classroom at the re-opened Galewood Elementary School.

“The maintenance and improvements included in the proposal address the important safety and educational improvements needed in a 21st century learning environment,” Buhs said. “The infrastructure improvements protect the prior community investments in our school facilities. This proposal will also remove all portables from outside of Washington and Parkview elementary schools.”

The .8 mill increase would represent an increase of $40 per year for a homeowner whose home has a market value of $100,000. If approved, property owners in the district would be assessed 8.39 mills annually, up from 7.59, which is the current millage rate. In comparison, Potterville Public Schools assess 12.63 mills annually; Olivet Community Schools assesses 12.04 mills; Holt Public Schools assesses 10 mills; Bellevue Community Schools assesses 8.95; Eaton Rapids Public Schools assesses 7 mills; and Maple Valley Schools assesses 7 mills.

The CPS Board of Education approved placing the millage proposal on the May ballot after reconvening with its bond-steering committee, which helped put the initial proposal together through a four-month process. The bond steering committee was comprised of CPS staff at all levels in addition to community members, parents and local leaders. 

In order to hold the rate steady at 8.39 mills, the district would utilize the Michigan School Loan Revolving Fund, which allows schools to borrow funds to assist with making debt service payments on qualified bonds during the first years of bond issuance. The district would borrow an additional $8.6 million from the fund, and interest from the $27.75 million bond, and $8.6 million loan would be roughly $16.5 million. The bond language confused many voters in the November election when they thought the interest amount was only generated from the Michigan School Loan Revolving Fund loan. According to district officials, CPS currently utilizes the fund and has refunded six times since 2005, saving taxpayers and estimated $17.8 million.

Improvements at Charlotte High School ($13,908,549) include:

• Upgraded classroom technology

• Updated agricultural classrooms

• New Ag Sciences pavilion and equipment

• New auxiliary gym and activity room

• New concessions and restroom building near existing varsity baseball and varsity softball fields

• Eight tennis courts, including lighting, bleachers and parking

• Football stadium concessions renovations

• New band instruments

• Partial replacement of classroom furniture

• New media center furniture

• Operable football/track press box windows

Middle/Upper Elementary School ($3,494,293):

• Upgraded classroom technology

• Safety/security improvements

Washington Elementary School ($2,629,984):

• Three new classrooms

• Upgraded classroom technology

• Partial replacement of classroom furniture

• New media center furniture

• Remove portables

Parkview Elementary School ($1,993,002):

• Upgraded classroom technology

• Partial replacement of classroom furniture

• New media center furniture

• Remove portables

Galewood Elementary School ($4,877,348):

Five new classrooms

• Safe and secure entry

• Upgraded classroom technology

• New classroom furniture

• Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) upgrades

• Classroom renovations

• Expanded parking

A complete list of all projects included in the bond proposal can be found online at cpsbond2019.com.

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