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Charlotte

Charlotte

Featured Story

Ongoing Urban/Rural Conversation culminates in Sept. 21 event in Charlotte

This summer has been one of discovery for artists throughout Mid-Michigan. Thanks to the efforts of Michigan Art Share, through a grant from Michigan Council for the Arts and Cultural Affairs, and Michigan State University Extension, Urban/Rural Conversations on arts and culture have taken place in Charlotte, Detroit, Owosso, and Jackson. The culmination of those discussions takes the form of a celebration Saturday, Sept. 21 at Windwalker Underground Gallery in downtown Charlotte.

The focus of Michigan Art Share’s Urban/Rural Conversation series is to exchange art, music and creativity among some of Michigan’s urban and rural communities, said Diane Wilson, of Michigan Art Share. 

“We’ve been working on this project for about two years now,” Wilson said. “My hope is that people will find they have a lot of things in common. Despite our backgrounds, we all worry about how we’re going to make a living. When you put people in a room together and make them feel comfortable, you start to see the similarities in our thoughts, our fears, and our goals.”

The free Sept. 21 event, which takes place from 6 to 9 p.m., will feature live entertainment from Big Earn, and Kaylyn Pace and Brodberg, artwork by Detroit-based artist, Chazz Miller, photography Coley Kennedy, and free food from Firehouse BBQ.

Art can do many things. One of the most beautiful, however, is its ability to bring people together.

“We want to give artists more opportunities to go into communities where they wouldn’t normally be seen,” Wilson said. “Chazz is extremely well known in Detroit, but you get outside of that urban setting and he is not as well known. By bringing Chazz to Charlotte, he gets to meet more people, and share his art with a broader group. In return, we’ll be taking rural artists to show in Detroit as well.”

Though their backgrounds and cultures are different, Miller found a connection with Charlotte’s Richard Turbin when the two were introduced a year ago. It’s that connection Wilson feels can be shared with others in the community when people come together and realize they have more in common than they realize.

“We’re both trying to accomplish the same things with art non-profits,” Turbin said. “He took a blighted area and worked to turn it into something viable, similarly to what we’re doing at Windwalker. The educating of our younger people is something that is so important to both of us.”

For more information, find Windwalker Underground Gallery or Michigan Art Share on Facebook.

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

Featured Story

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

Historic Miller Barn needs roof

Deb Malewski

Contributing Writer

Located just a few blocks from downtown Eaton Rapids, on State Street, is the Miller Farm. It is a local landmark and an important historic feature of the town. The Miller House was built by Joel Latson in 1864 and purchased by John and Rebecca Miller in 1874.

You may have heard the story of Dennis Miller, the son of John and Rebecca, and his wife Edith “Minnie” Miller. Wanting to increase the profit on their milk, they started making ice cream at the farm in 1896. Their efforts paid off and Miller Dairy made Eaton Rapids into the “Ice Cream Capital of the World” for many years. After most of the family passed on, the business closed in the 1980s. The farm sat abandoned and deteriorating until a group of caring individuals worked to restore the house, the barn, and the property.

The barn, however, has a new, non-historic feature—a large yellow sheet spread across the peak of its roof. As you can probably guess, the roof leaks, and needs to be replaced. 

“At one wedding it was like a shower inside,” said Doreen Baker, who handles the weddings in the barn. “We desperately need a new roof.”

To replace the roof, says Ken Nicholas, president of the Eaton Rapids Area Historical Society, will cost about $38,000. The ERAHS does not have the funds to cover that. 

“We do a lot of fundraising and have rentals that we collect rent from; that income only covers the expenses of maintaining the property,” added Nicholas.

The large white barn is unique to the area; it is actually two barns put together. The original barn, the east end, probably dates back to the late 1800s. The newer section of the barn, the west end, was added on in the 1920s, it’s believed. It is constructed with an open-frame concept which sends the weight distribution of the roof to the outside walls rather than the usual post-and-beam construction that brings the weight straight down, allowing more unimpeded access and more efficient use of space.

The barn roof was last worked on in the 1980s when State of Michigan grants were received to restore the property. The Historical Society, owners of the property, is looking for ways to fund this endeavor. Grants, donations and sponsorships are being investigated; also under consideration is possibly re-mortgaging the property.

Over the years, much has been done to improve the barn, including restoration of the interior floors, walls, and support posts. Ramps were built inside to make it compliant with building and local fire codes for public events. “Like all the buildings on the Miller Farm, we want the barn to be used by the community — and not just be a static, ‘untouched’ museum structure,” said Mike DeGrow, who spearheaded the barn restoration efforts in the 1980’s.

“The loss of the barn would also mean the loss of the special events we do for the community, most of which are free,” said Nicholas. 

If you can help, contact the Historical Society at (517) 441-1792 or stop by the farm.

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Vermontville

Vermontville

Featured Story

JoLei’s Diner opens in downtown Vermontville

Crissta Ames

Contributing Writer

When looking for a delicious place to eat, check out Vermontville’s newest restaurant, JoLei’s Diner. The farm-themed diner, which had its grand opening on Saturday, June 8, serves breakfast and dinner foods like skillets, omelettes, country fried steak, a variety of sandwiches, pizza, and more. If you’re in the mood for chicken and waffles, they’ve got that too! 

The owner, Denna Matonis, managed the Maple Leaf for five years and has been in the Vermontville area for about 10 years. 

“I like this community. I try to help out with the community as much as I can, with the schools, volunteer coaching, doing Vermontville days,” Matonis said. “The community needed a restaurant.” 

Matonis has been asked many times if she is JoLei, but she is not. However, the name of her restaurant has a very personal meaning. 

“When we decided to purchase the restaurant, we obviously had to come up with a name.  I wanted a name that differentiated the restaurant from anything it was in the past. I wanted a name that was personal and had meaning,” Matonis said. “I have two wonderful children. Joseph is 9 and Leigha is 7.  These two are my world. Therefore, I decided to name my new labor of love, after my forever loves. ‘Jo’ for Joseph, and ‘Lei’ for Leigha.” 

She also chose the word “Diner” to give the restaurant a cozy, small-town feel and absolutely succeeds in doing so, with warm red walls, fresh flowers, and cute animal decor all around. 

“I get a lot of compliments on my decor, and I have the barn door to stand out,” said Matonis. The front barn door follows right along with the farmhouse theme so visitors can spot it from the road and know that’s where JoLei’s Diner is.

While brainstorming for the diner’s menu, Matonis wanted to create foods that were unique and not easy to find in the area, like cheese curds, chicken and waffles, and tater tot tumblers. Tater tot tumblers are a mixture of mashed potatoes, hash browns, bacon, cheese and onion, all deep-fried together. 

“We tested a lot of things.” Matonis said. The diner opened shortly before Syrup Festival and that served as a little trial run for the business, and it’s done well in the meantime. “I’m happy with it. It’s been a fun venture.” 

JoLei’s Diner is located at 174 S. Main Street in Vermontville, and hours can be found on their Facebook page.

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Potterville

Potterville

Featured Story

New Potterville High School boys varsity basketball coach sets first camp

Newly hired Potterville High School boys varsity basketball coach, Jacob Briney, and his entire coaching staff, is offering a four-day basketball camp for area youth in second through 12th grade. The camp will be held four consecutive Sundays beginning July 21 in the Potterville High School gymnasium.

Students entering ninth through 12th grade will attend from 2 to 4 p.m. July 21, July 28, Aug. 4 and Aug. 11. Students entering sixth through eighth grade will attend from 4 to 5:30 p.m. and students entering second through fifth grade will attend from 5:30 to 7 p.m.

The cost of the camp is $50 per participant, which includes access to all four Sundays, and a custom Moneyball practice jersey. Checks should be made payable to Potterville Public Schools, attention Boys Basketball.

Registration forms must be completed before the start of camp and are available in the Potterville High School athletic office. There will also be an opportunity to register your child on Sunday, July 21 prior to the start of camp.

For more information, contact coach Briney via email at coachbriney@yahoo.com.

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Eaton Rapids

Eaton Rapids

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Eaton Rapids

Featured Story

ERFD Marks 18th Anniversary of 9-11

Deb Malewski

Contributing Writer

September 11, 2001 is still fresh in the minds of the members of the Eaton Rapids Fire Department. With each anniversary of that date they remember their brotherhood of 343 firefighters, 60 law enforcement officers, eight EMT’s and paramedics and almost 3,000 civilians who were lost, using their fire equipment as a symbolic gesture of respect and remembrance.

The ERFD aerial platform ladder truck sits in front of the department building on Line Street with its ladder extended 30 feet or so, holding the American flag. In front of it stands a flagpole with a second flag flying at half-mast. An addition to the annual display this year is a quotation on the Public Safety message board from Elmer Davis (1890–1958), a news reporter, author, the Director of the United States Office of War Information during World War II and a Peabody Award recipient. “This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave.”

“Everyone says don’t forget 9-11. The firefighters probably never will,” said Fire Chief Roger McNutt. “Everyday we still relate to the incident. One of our firefighters, Kevin Towsley, even went to Ground Zero for two weeks back then, helping dig through the rubble.”

Linda McNutt, the wife and mother of firefighters, still feels the heartbreak of the event, she said, and the display brings back a lot of memories. 

“If something happened there, it could happen here,” she said. “Every time the tone drops, I hold my breath till they come home. The idea of losing two—I just couldn’t take it.”

Hamlin Township Fire Rescue on Clinton Trail has also set up a similar memorial at their Fire Station. They remind us on their Facebook page: “Tonight as you go to sleep in preparation for your life tomorrow, kiss the ones you love, snuggle a little tighter, and never take one second of your life for granted.”

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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