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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.

Olivet

Olivet

Featured Story

Gardener’s grave blankets bring comfort during cold winter months

The December chill doesn’t quite have the same sting as it once did for Monica Lee, a resident of Battle Creek. Kathy Gardener, an Olivet resident, has made sure of that.

It’s been 12 years since Kathy reached out to Monica unexpectedly with a special gift — one that brings Monica tremendous comfort every December.

Kathy, who started making grave blankets more than 30 years for her daughters who passed as small children, donated a grave blanket to Monica in 2006 after hearing how she had tragically lost her only daughter.

“To think she was thinking about someone else at that time,” Monica recalls. “Kathy is a beautiful woman. My baby is warm every year. It gives me a warm feeling.”

Monica has ordered a grave blanket for her daughter ever since, and has added a grave blanket for her mother as well. Monica said it brings her great comfort to know her daughter, who died on Dec. 2, is warmed by the blanket throughout the cold months.

Kathy said she identified with Monica’s story after hearing about it on the news and knew she needed to reach out to her. 

“I’ve been there, losing someone close to you,” Kathy said. 

She started making grave blankets after losing two daughter 35 years ago. Her daughters passed in October and she said she recalls thinking about how they were going to be cold all winter. That’s when she first learned about grave blankets, and the concept brought a feeling of comfort for her daughters. It’s a feeling she said people often convey to her about her creations.

“I hear a lot that blankets are a comfort,” Kathy said. “Our loved ones aren’t with us physically, but they are always in our hearts. The blankets provide a comfort to us and color to the cemetery.”

Kathy donates at least one grave blanket each year, often to a family like Monica’s. 

“It changed my life losing my girls,” Kathy said. “This is a legacy I can carry on through my daughters.”

The blankets are made from fresh pine branches and weigh 25-30 pounds. They are anchored in the ground before it freezes. Kathy said she is very particular about the colors she adds through flowers and bows. Each takes about an hour to create. She said she cuts down about 11 big trees from a local tree farm each year.

To order a grave blanket for your loved one, call Kathy at (269) 274-3266.

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Bellevue

Bellevue

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Bronco basketball teams look to cap off perfect regular seasons

The road to perfect regular seasons for both the Bellevue boys and girls varsity basketball teams could go through Athens. 

The Bronco boys were 18-0 heading into its toughest remaining regular season test, a Friday, Feb. 22 showdown at Athens High School. Bellevue defeated Athens, which was undefeated at the time, earlier this season, 68-62 in Bellevue. The game could be much more difficult in a hostile environment.

The Lady Broncos, meanwhile, host Athens on Tuesday, Feb. 26. Bellevue defeated Athens on the road in their tightest contest of the season, 37-36. The girls were 16-0 heading into their game at Climax on Thursday, Feb. 21. Bellevue defeated Climax 49-15 at home earlier this season.

In their most recent action, Bellevue guards Wyatt Waterbury and Gino Costello led the Broncos to a 60-73 win over Climax, securing a third-straight SCAA West Division title. Waterbury paced the Broncos with 20 points, 6 steals and 4 assists. Costello added 14 points, and 4 assists. Carson Betz recorded a double-double, finishing with 10 points, 14 rebounds and 5 steals.

The team travels to Jackson Christian High School on Monday, Feb. 25 to open District play against Tekonsha.

In the girls most recent victory, Morgan Messenger led the way with 13 points as Bellevue defeated Waldron, 33-30. Mikayla Crawley finished with 10 points, 3 steals and 2 assists. 

The Lady Broncos host Colon on Saturday, Feb. 23, and finish off the regular season with home games against Athens on Tuesday, Feb. 26 and Tekonsha on Thursday, Feb. 28.

The team opens District play at Athens High School on Monday, March 4 against Battle Creek St. Philip.

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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. 

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Vermontville

Vermontville

Featured Story

Maple Valley Athletic Boosters supply several improvements

Crissta Ames

Contributing Writer

The Maple Valley Athletic Boosters has helped Maple Valley schools in getting a new scorer’s table, new advertising signs, new iPads, and a special opportunity to participate in athletics without the worry of financial burden.

According to the Boosters president, Tal Gearhart, in addition to the material assets that the Boosters have helped Maple Valley get, the district has also earned enough money to eliminate their pay-to-play policy. Without pay-to-play, students can have the opportunity to play a sport without worrying about it being too much of an extra financial burden. A study done in 2016 by Utah State University shows that the average family spends $2,292 per year on sports. This includes participation fees and travel fees, while some families spend even more for services like personal trainers. 

Many places are still debating to eliminate pay-to-play, but the Boosters’ fundraising techniques have allowed Maple Valley to take that step and allow more opportunity for participation.

The football team at Maple Valley received iPads to help them with their plays. “With the iPads, they can record games, go back, and see what they can improve on,” said Gearhart of the iPads’ purpose. 

Having a visual aid to see how the students are doing can also help the coach find where their weakest and strongest points are and plan accordingly. 

The money the Boosters raise comes from two major fundraisers throughout the year. One of these fundraisers is the annual golf outing they organize, which usually takes place just before the start of the school year. Their other big fundraiser is the reverse raffle where attendees can help fundraise and also have the opportunity to win big! 

Gearhart encourages people to support the local businesses who have supported the schools and is grateful for their continued support as well. Keep an eye on the Maple Valley Athletic Boosters Facebook page for more fundraising events.

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Potterville

Potterville

Featured Story

Cross Country success a tradition at Potterville High School

Crissta Ames

Contributing writer

Potterville High School boys’ cross-country team placed first at this year’s MHSAA Regionals on Oct. 27 in Jackson. The team narrowly defeated Saranac High School by 11 points, with 64 points altogether. The win marks the second consecutive year that Potterville has placed first at regionals. 

Sophomore Zach Wright ran the quickest time at 16:44.3. Wright also ran last year’s quickest time for Potterville as a freshman.

Potterville High School girls’ cross-country team placed third this year at Regionals with 107 points, following behind Lansing Christian and Fowler. Junior Caleigh Winters was the team’s fastest runner, with a time of 19:56.6. 

Since both teams placed third or higher, they both qualified for the MHSAA LP Division 4 Finals out of 149 other schools in the division. 

At the event that took place on Nov. 3 at the Michigan International Speedway, the boys’ team ended up placing ninth among 27 other schools with 295 points, and the girls placed 24th. 

“For next year, we would like to continue to work very hard in the off-season in order to match or beat our performances from year to year,” Potterville’s cross-country coach Dan Brunk said, discussing the future of the teams and how to improve them. “We have many key athletes returning and look forward to adding a solid group of incoming freshmen.“

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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.

Sunfield

Sunfield

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Mulliken

Mulliken

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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....

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