“We’re just a convenience store with a deli business,” Dave Crippen, owner of Swampers Party Stop in Charlotte said. But it’s the pizza at Swampers that seems to be a big favorite with the locals. Whether it’s a breakfast pizza with sausage gravy, eggs, diced potatoes, meat, and cheese, or a more traditional pizza like the Supreme or the Gator Special, they all are delicious and extremely popular.
Swampers also sells subs, tacos, breakfast sandwiches, and burgers, along with beer, wine, pop, cigarettes, and more.
“We’ve really grown the pizza and deli part of the business over the last twenty years,” Crippen said, “Thanks to the support of a great community.”
Crippen started out in the convenience store business because he wanted to be self-employed, he said. The name “Swampers,” was chosen because the former owner, who also happened to be named Dave and called his business “Dave’s” didn’t want to confuse people. Crippen chose an alligator as a business logo, and even put a cement gator in front of the building.
The building originally was a house, many years ago. Crippen has heard stories that it served at one time as a penny candy store and also as a meat market. He knows it was both the North End Grocery Store and the Beer Barrel Party Store, based on the signs that were found in the upstairs of the building. The upstairs was transformed into an apartment in 2003.
The business just recently celebrated its twentieth anniversary on May 1 with much celebration. “We are really blessed to have found such a loyal and dependable community to be located in. They have taken care of us for the last two decades. We are very, very blessed,” Crippen said about being in Charlotte.
“We’re a tight-knit team,” Crippen said of his employees. “We have over 100 years in this building between them and me,” he said. Plus, there are several former employees who come back to help out when needed. “We’ve had generational employees who have grown up, had children and their kids have come back to work at Swampers,” Crippen said.
Crippen also owns the Swampers in Eagle, which is located at 14360 South Grange Road. It was opened in 2004 and is very similar to the store in Charlotte.
Facebook posts have contests and specials listed, and have really boosted their customer following. They were awarded a People’s Choice Award for their pizza from the Lansing City Pulse in 2020.
Contact Swampers by calling 517-543-8299. Visit them on Facebook at #swampers.charlotte.
Swampers is open seven days a week, Monday through Thursday from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., on Fridays from 6 a.m. until 11 p.m., on Saturday from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m., and on Sunday they are open from 8 a.m. until 9 p.m.
If you’re looking for great food and a place you can bring the whole family, the Lamplighter OC Bar and Grill is in Olivet is the place you are looking for. The extensive menu offers a bit of everything from burgers and pizza to salads to grinders to tacos. The seating is properly spaced, and the chairs are comfortable. They offer a great place to watch the game on the many televisions placed throughout their establishment.
John Thompson owns the sports bar and restaurant that is conveniently located right across the street from Olivet College. Thompson bought the business two years ago from Tom Kolassa, a 1969 Olivet alumnus, after working as manager of the Lamplighter for nine years. “It’s great for the kids to have someplace to go,” Thompson explained. “And so close to campus.”
The theme of Olivet College is everywhere in the restaurant, with items belonging to Kolassa prominently displayed on the wall. 70% of their customers are local people, while 30% or so are Olivet students, Thompson said. The restaurant was planned with a student budget in mind, with reasonable prices and giving a lot of value for your dollar.
With just over 1,000 students attending Olivet, and 1,600 residents in town, it’s sometimes a “challenge” to run a restaurant, and COVID-19 has recently added an additional challenge. However, Thompson says the family-friendly restaurant is doing very well this year. Like most businesses, the Lamplighter has struggled with staffing issues recently, being short at times.
“But we’ve got a great staff and they really take care of things,” Thompson said.
Burgers are big at Lamplighter. You can build your own, order an olive burger, a comet burger, a mushroom, bacon, and cheeseburger, or a bacon cheeseburger. All are served with fries, coleslaw, or pasta salad. All are delicious.
Or maybe you’re feeling a bit fishy? The walleye basket and the walleye sandwich are very popular, and feature lightly breaded fried fish, fries and slaw.
Pizza is always a bit hit at the Lamplighter. They even allow you to be the chef and put together all the toppings you like best for the “You are the Chef” pizza. They also honor team pride with Eagle Pride and Comet Pride pizzas.
If you need a starter, or maybe just want to make a meal of appetizers, there are some great options. The beer-battered onion rings are extremely popular, along with the jalapeno cream cheese poppers. Also on the menu are beer-battered mushrooms, pretzel bites, hot pepper cheese balls, cheese bread, and nachos.
If you’re looking for some lighter meal options, the sandwiches, grinders, and wraps at the Lamplighter are served with fries, coleslaw or pasta salad. The Big Italy Grinder will have you saying “deliziosa.” Grinders are served half or whole. The turkey Rueben is a lighter take on a classic sandwich and is served on rye bread.
Thompson is looking forward to being able to open the patio for dining as the weather gets warmer. “We will be making wood-fired pizzas to have with your favorite cocktail or other beverages, and will serve you outdoors,” he said. “Last summer the patio got more use than it ever has, and we expect this year to be the same.”
The Lamplighter has a large selection of beer and wine, with the perfect drink to pair with any meal.
The Lamplighter is located at 714 South Main in Olivet.
Call them at 269-749-1294, or visit their Facebook page #lamplighter.oc.1.
The Bellevue Boys Varsity Basketball Team opened the season with a resounding 57-24 win over the Waldron Spartans who entered the game having already played two games and owned a 2-0 record. The Broncos were led by senior guard Kenny Bartha who scored a team high 15 points, captured six rebounds, and handed out four assists. His running mate at the other guard, Braylon Robbins chipped in with 13 points and three assists. Senior forward Nick Hayward led the team in rebounds with ten, while David Payne and Dawson Wing each collected seven rebounds. All 11 players on the Broncos roster played and scored.
It was a nice win for the Broncos who had their season cut short last year the day before they were to have played in the district final championship game. If the Broncos had won the district game it would have been the ninth consecutive district championship for the Broncos. The Broncos finished last season with a 20-2 record, which was their fourth consecutive 20 win season.
The Broncos next play on Friday evening at 7:30pm, when they entertain Battle Creek St Phillip in an SCAA league game.
Submitted by Coach Joe Costello
Not often are careers already in the making before a baby is even born. But one could say that is exactly the ‘career by design’ experienced by Charlotte Fire Department Chief Kevin Fullerton. Following in his father, Cal Fullerton’s footsteps, Kevin Fullerton joined the CFD as a volunteer fireman in June of 1973. By December of that same year, he was named Department Captain, promoting to Assistant Fire Chief in 1984, followed by CFD Chief in 1988.
With a long, and very impressive list of education, training, and certifications under his utility belt, Chief Fullerton has responded to over 1,000 structure fires, over 200 major commercial industrial fires, and, after the Snorkel (Aerial Bucket Truck) was purchased in 1977, he has responded and operated the snorkel in all surrounding communities on over 40 structure fires. Chief Fullerton has had four life-threatening incidences during his career, all of which he was able to perform a self-extraction. These included being caught in an attic, falling through a ceiling, bailing out of a second story window and, in one horrendous situation actually falling to the basement of the burning structure.
In the 1980’s, when Charlotte did not own a hurst tool, they were unable to extract someone trapped in a car following a fatal accident. Since then, the CFD and the city administration secured the hurst tool, which Chief Fullerton credits for saving the lives of hundreds of people – which is exactly why he chose the same profession as his father. Cal Fullerton was the Charlotte Fire Chief from 1955 until Kevin took over in April of 1988.
As a child, Kevin knew he wanted to be a Fireman. Chief Kevin Fullerton said, “Growing up I always knew I wanted to follow in my father’s footsteps. I knew I wanted to help people, save lives and make a difference.” Kevin valued every moment he spent with his dad, and everything he taught him.
Chief Kevin Fullerton is equally admired by his children. “My dad is my hero. He is truly the hardest working man. He has always been there for my brother and I, he is the best role model and the best father. I am so proud and thankful to be his daughter. His three little grandchildren worship the ground he walks on. We are all so blessed,” exclaimed daughter Sonny Grendel.
“One of the most rewarding aspects of my life is that I have been able to work closely for many years with my father on a daily basis,” said son Tyger Fullerton. “In my experience, it is not common to hear of these situations, this opportunity has provided me with knowledge and memories that words cannot describe. Let’s also mention that when your father is the boss, you will most likely be the person who gets yelled at to set the example for everyone else, but regardless, you most likely will never forget again.”
After 40-plus years serving The Charlotte Fire and Rural Fire Association, being trapped in house fires several times, making life changing decisions for people, not losing a fire fighter’s life under his command or even major injury, building the Charlotte Fire Department into what it is today, passing knowledge onto many, and always morally doing the right thing, are just a few of the thoughts that pass through Tyger’s mind regarding his father. “It’s unfortunate that after such a remarkable career, many people will not know of the accomplishments Chief Fullerton has created for this department. My hope is, no matter what happens in the future of this department, he shall know that the current and past members are forever grateful for the decisions and service that he has given the Charlotte Fire Department,” continued Tyger Fullerton.
Kevin’s father, Chief Cal Fullerton, always thought that Charlotte needed a West Side Fire Station so that there was immediate fire protection coverage on both sides of the busy tracks. The West Side Adhoc Committee was created and completed extensive studies. In 2008, the city voted to build and man the West Side Station to provide fire protection on both sides of the tracks.
In addition to managing both fire stations, putting out fires and saving lives, Kevin attended multiple fire conventions, seminars and trainings all over the state of Michigan. Between 1975 and 1994 he attended U of M Fire School, has trained and certified as a fire inspector, is EMT certified, an arson expert and investigator, a building inspector and official, a plan reviewer, a certified fire inspector, a driving instructor, a hazardous materials operations tech, trained as an incident command and a hazardous material inspector. He has also participated in the CFD water-ball tournaments all over the state.
Through the years, Chief’s wife, Nancy Fullerton held vigilance at home, or school functions, or wherever she might be when he was called away to put out yet another fire. “He knows what type of fire it is, and what is needed to fight it, just by the color of the smoke in the sky. He immediately starts sending in everything and everyone needed. The other fire departments are always relieved when he shows up. His knock-down time is amazing,” said wife Nancy Fullerton.
When joining the Department in 1995 as a young man, Chris Burt remembers being very intimidated by Chief Fullerton with the big moustache. “I quickly determined that I would never be able to obtain as much knowledge as Chief Fullerton about firefighting. One of the things I have respected about Chief is that he never lost sight of the fact that the fire department would be nothing without the volunteers. He respected the fact that we had families and jobs and needed to get back to them when the time was right. He has always been more than a chief and would do anything he could to help you. The city and rural fire departments owe Chief Fullerton loads of gratitude for all he has done. When equipment has failed, he has fixed it on his own time at no cost to the municipalities. He has used his own skills, equipment and sometimes money to remedy a situation with little to no fanfare. I am confident that with his retirement we will still see him around, helping train new firefighters and passing on his knowledge to all the volunteers.”
Chris Sloan wanted to express his feelings on his history with Chief Kevin Fullerton by sending in this statement: “Twenty years ago I was a twelve-year-old kid who started coming around hanging out with Tyger, you helped teach me all about the farm. When my father passed away two years later, you helped fill the void, so I thank you for that. For the last 15 years I have been a member of Charlotte Fire Department, and you have shown me what a leader is. I know I wouldn’t be where I am without your knowledge. You have always been willing to help, give advice, or roll up your sleeves and show how something works. Thank you for everything you have done for me personally and as a fireman. Congratulations on everything, you have earned it!” And Ron Smith sent in this sentiment: “Thank you Kevin, for your dedication to the fire department. You are the person that showed us how to be firefighters, you led by example. Your wisdom and experience shaped this group and made us into the strong team that is able to serve the community today.
Fred Wieting stated “Kevin was my mentor when I started on the fire department. I was in his back pocket, so to speak, for my first year. I owe my fire-fighting career to him. He started the first formal training in our area, and was instrumental in designing and building the first training center, which was totally built by the members of the department, and friends. When he helped to get the first hurst tool, the jaws of life, we spent every day for two weeks pulling cars apart at the local junk yard. We became good friends over the years. Although he was my boss for eleven years, I felt that I worked with him rather than for him. I don’t think the community knows what they had as a public servant, and the dedication he made to the community. Kevin Fullerton will be sorely missed as our fire chief.”
Chief Kevin Fullerton first retired in 2012. He was asked to come back as the interim fire chief, which he accepted and has served as the part-time fire chief, albeit working full time hours, for the last nine years. He has also held additional roles for his beloved City of Charlotte, including three times as interim city manager, and once filled in as city treasurer. After this retirement, Chief Fullerton plans to stay on as a volunteer to train new fire fighters.
Editor’s observation: After these interviews and the honor of writing this article, I must conclude that if the aerial ladder reaches 100 feet in the air, then Chief Kevin Fullerton must stand taller than one hundred feet. Congratulations, Chief Fullerton, and thank you for nearly five decades of service to our community.
Welcome your K9 Roscoe. We can’t thank you enough for the overwhelming response. It was wonderful. Roscoe was submitted by multiple people and was liked by Deputy Studley as well. “Roscoe” is also a name of an Anderson Co. (SC) Sheriff K9 recently killed in the line of duty. So we felt it was fitting to honor their dog. Studley and Roscoe will start training in October and be on the road as a team soon. The dog and training are being paid for by grant funds. The team will be trained in explosives and tracking.
It’s been very tough to be a teacher, a school administer, or a student since the pandemic hit. Which makes being recognized for your special efforts at developing strong relationships with your students and their families even more special.
This is exactly what happened recently at Potterville Elementary School. The school was selected as a finalist National Showcase School through Capturing Kids’ Hearts, a program used in the school that focuses on building strong relationships that lead to success within school and beyond.
Only 339 schools were selected as finalists from the thousands of schools across the nation that use the Capturing Kids’ Hearts program, and only ten districts in Michigan share this accomplishment. The nominations were based on a survey and from the school’s performance data. The final awardees, who will be deemed “National Showcase Schools,” will be announced in April.
“This is only the second year we have used the Capturing Kids’ Hearts program,” said Potterville School Superintendent Kevin Robydek, “and it represents the dedication seen from the teachers, the staff, and the administration of Potterville Elementary.”
“Capturing Kids’ Hearts is one of the key components used at Potterville to help the district to continually work towards maintaining a positive learning environment for students and staff,” explained Robydek.
“The program establishes a framework to help set up relationships between adults and youth, and helps those involved to deal with conflict,” explained Patrick O’Rourke, principal of Potterville Elementary School.
“Students are more likely to engage in healthy behaviors and succeed academically when they feel connected to school,” according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). “Research has shown that young people who feel connected to their school are less likely to engage in many risk behaviors, including early sexual initiation, alcohol, tobacco, and other drug use, and violence and gang involvement.”
“It’s an awesome program and it really shows what teachers and staff do to support our kids where they need it most,” O’Rourke explained. “It’s heavily focused on relationships and bringing out the best in people.”
There are five components to the Capturing Kids’ Hearts program, O’Rourke explained. They are encouraged to engage (students are personally greeted each morning), explore (an opportunity to interact with others and share what’s going well in their life), communicate (engage in a dialogue between teacher and student), empower (teach students to self-manage and problem solve) and launch—closing each day with a positive thought, with a goal of providing hope for the future.
Each classroom has a social contract that all the students sign, he added; a list of words that establish guidelines and expectations for how students and teachers will treat each other. Words like “effort,” and “active listening” are on the list, with no put-downs. The contract helps build relationships and helps the students hold each other responsible.
“The award shows that our staff’s work has not gone unnoticed and is a testament to how they stepped up to support our kids,” said O’Rourke. “I’ve seen staff go to students’ homes to help with their computer or to set up interventions. They’ve truly gone above and beyond.”
“The Capturing Kids’ Hearts program was a huge part of us being able to support our staff and students through the COVID-19 event,” O’Rourke said. “We have each other’s backs, and all were willing to help. It made a big difference in being able to cope with COVID-19, and made it all just a little bit easier.”
The 20-21 school year started in full remote. Schedule changes were made over the year. Now, starting April 19, all students who are coming to school face-to-face will attend Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, with Wednesday as a virtual day.
For more information about Potterville Schools or the Capturing Kid’s Hearts program, call the school at 517-645-4705.
“It’s amazing the amount of business you can do out of a granary,” said Gary Clarke, owner of the Bargain Shack on South Clinton Trail in Springport. “We’re having a record year here!”
The granary that houses the Bargain Shack, a small, barn-like building of undetermined age, contains a wide selection of gas and battery chain saws, trimmers, blowers, and all the parts needed to repair the same. In addition to sales, Clarke also services what he sells.
“We offer both quality and good service, which has created a real business boom because God has blessed us,” Clarke explained. “I get to know my customers and treat them good,” he added. “My claim to fame,” he added, “is that I don’t cheat people.”
It’s called Bargain Shack for a reason. Clarke’s prices for chain and blade sharpening are really a bargain just $2 for a chain and $3 for a blade, and it’s done while you wait. Customers, including commercial tree services, sometimes come from sixty or seventy miles away for chain saw sharpening, Clarke said, and they bring a bucket of chains, not just one.
Clarke carries a full line of parts for what he sells and will repair your machine or can provide the proper parts that the DIYer needs. “You can walk in and walk out with what you need, whether parts or a new product.”
The Bargain Shack also carries a full line of batteries for the tools you use. Or if your lawnmower needs a new blade, you will find the right one at this well stocked supply store.
“I’m never going to retire,” 78-year-old Clarke said. “When you read my obituary–then I retired!” However, he has an apprentice in training, 18-year-old Lydia. Lydia has been learning small engine repair with Clarke for about two years, and does a great job, he said. She often rebuilds and sharpens saws.
A local Google reviewer wrote: “Possibly the best place to purchase your weed whip, blower, or chainsaw. Honest, good prices he (Clarke) and stands behind the equipment he sells. You do not find that in many places anymore.” The Bargain Shack has a near-perfect (4.9) Google rating.
The Bargain Shack is located two miles east of the M99-M50 Junction, just ten miles south of Eaton Rapids, at 16652 South Clinton Road in Springport. They are open from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. six days a week. Call 517-857-4015 for more information.