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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

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

Longtime Fair Board member renews vows on Merry Go Round

Theo Savage is one of those familiar faces you always see at the Eaton County Fair. To some it may seem like he’s been around forever, and for all intents and purposes, he has. Savage participated this past week in his 34th Eaton County Fair as a member of the Fair Board.

Someone who’s been around so long, it’s rare to see something new. That is, unless you are the one creating the new experience. Theo was the mastermind behind the plan for several longtime Fair Board members to renew their vows at this year’s event. Planned to take place on the Merry Go Round, the board members and their brides would ride around the circle a couple times before taking part in the ceremony.

In typical Fair Board fashion, however, most board members were too busy with events to bring the plan to life. All, that is, except for Theo and his wife of 21 years, Laurie.

“Just two times around,” Theo said emphatically Tuesday, July 9 to the Merry Go Round operator. “Any more than that and I’ll get sick.

“Make it five,” Laurie said laughing. 

The exchange was just a glimpse of the playfulness of their 21-year marriage. Being on the Fair Board can be a demanding job at times, especially when summer rolls around. Laurie said, though, she enjoys the fair almost as much as Theo, and typically operates a stand during fair week. 

As the fair has been such a big part of their lives together, Theo said he thought the idea of renewing vows on the Merry Go Round would be a unique experience for him and his fellow board members.

“I’ve seen people do it on the Ferris Wheel, but never on the Merry Go Round,” Theo said. “The carnival operator said he’s never seen anything like it in all his years.”

Pastor Chuck Jenson, who officiated the brief ceremony, said it was a fun and unique experience for him as well. 

Onondaga

Onondaga

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Onondaga

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Charlotte

Charlotte

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Charlotte

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Council tables decision on water and sewer rate increase

Charlotte City Council was not ready to finalize any increase to the city’s water and sewer rates Monday, July 8, instead choosing to table the decision until its July 22 meeting. Until then, council directed City Manager Gregg Guetschow and DPW Director Amy Gilson to study the impact of an increase smaller than the 11 percent discussed at the July 8 meeting.

Councilman Branden Dyer, who made the motion to table the decision, said the city examines its rate structure each year and he would like to see what impact a smaller rate increase would have on the water and sewer fund.

“I wanted to get more information from Amy [Gilson] before going forward,” Dyer said. “I don’t feel we necessarily need to see a high increase this year. I have no desire to delay this decision indefinitely, but would like to see what a lower rate would look like.”

Dyer said smaller increases could be made annually. The city has not raised rates since 2015.

Guetschow’s initial proposal to council was a 22 percent increase in water and sewer rates that would take effect all this year. Council rejected the 22 percent increase, preferring instead to study and discuss an 11 percent increase over the course of the next two fiscal years. 

“I would be terribly uncomfortable with anything under 11 percent,” said Mayor Tim Lewis. “We’re talking about the integrity of our water and sewer system. This is about the wellness and safety of our community.”

Guetschow discussed in June the city’s need to address capital improvements, specifically infrastructure improvements within the city’s water and sewer system in the 2019-20 budget.

“The biggest investments we are going to be making, besides streets, are in the utilities area,” Guetschow said in June. “We need to spend about $1 million per year on infrastructure. That goes along with reconstructing our streets. For example, reconstructing Lovett Street, there’s 1885 water main under there that has to be replaced. There are asset management plans, to make sure we keep our facilities up.”

Guetschow said the city has done a good job in managing its assets, but is being forced to be more formal in its planning efforts for water and sewer asset management by state regulations. Mandates from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality make up nearly 20 percent of the utilities budget.

“We’ve been warning that it’s time to look at an adjustment to the utility rates,” he said. 

Councilmembers will likely finalize a rate increase at its July 22 meeting. Any increased rates will not be reflected on water bills until October at the earliest, Guetschow said. 

“We want to provide the best solution that is both fiscally responsible and politically palatable,” Guetschow said.

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