The Advisory Board of the Community Foundation for Mason County recently approved grant awards to a variety of organizations in support of projects throughout the area.
A total of $39,960 was awarded from unrestricted and field of interest Funds through the competitive application process, overseen by volunteer committees.
“We are so pleased to be able to make these grants,” said Andrea Large, foundation executive director. “Our grants connect our donors and nonprofits around a common desire to build a stronger community.”
Some of the highlighted programs that received grants include:
•Pere Marquette Memorial Association received a grant of $12,760 for restoration of Father Marquette’s original burial site;
•Sandcastles Children’s Museum received $5,000 to help create a new permanent exhibit and family programming about Lake Michigan water safety;
•Mason County Eastern School’s H2Hand Backpack Program will use a grant of $2,500 from the Frank and Delores Valenta Fund to bridge the weekend “hunger gap” for 20 Mason County Eastern students;
•Ludington & Scottville Area Chamber of Commerce was awarded $2,000 to provide scholarship assistance for applicants to the Leadership Mason County program;
•City of Scottville was awarded $2,000 to help create a community-focused mission for the revitalization of downtown Scottville.
The community foundation’s Youth Advisory Council also recently awarded $2,940 in support of teacher mini-grants.
Whether it’s a new idea or a little extra funds needed to make lesson plans great, the teacher mini-grants are made available annually to help Mason County public and private school teachers in their classrooms.
“The process of grant making means a lot to all of the members of the Youth Advisory Council,” said Kendall Biggs, the council president. “We think it’s great that these grants can give teachers the opportunity to help implement goals unique to various subjects and grades.”
This year’s teacher mini-grants include support for: a classroom library, anti-bullying books and special programming, sensory items for a special education room, peer-to-peer program expansion and a small group reading intervention program.
The Youth Advisory Council is made up of 25 student representatives from Mason County schools. The council involves young people in solving real problems affecting their communities and peers. The council members help set policy and guide distribution of $15,000 a year in grants to promising youth-related projects in Mason County.
A complete list of fall 2019 grant awards is available on the website at www.mason-foundation.org/grants/past-grant-awards.
Grant applications are accepted twice each year — once in the spring and again in the fall. Nonprofit organizations interested in seeking grant support from the community foundation are encouraged visit www.mason-foundation.org/grants for additional information about the process.
Mason County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Matt Murphy recently completed his fire investigation training through Michigan State Police headquarters in Lansing.
Murphy began the training Oct. 14 and completed the program Oct. 25.
“(Mason County) Sheriff (Kim Cole) saw there was a need for someone in the sheriff’s office to be in this position,” Murphy said.
“We are always looking for training opportunities that can not only best train our deputies but also serve the public,” Cole said.
The basics of the program are geared toward finding the origin and causes of fires, according to Murphy.
“Fire investigations help identify the cause and safety issues,” Murphy said.
“If Matt can determine there is no criminal element to a fire, then that saves other agencies having to pool their resources,” Cole said.
Chief Deputy Oscar Davila said the training program is for deputies in the county.
“We work closely with the fire departments and we are at the ground level,” Davila said.
Murphy worked with the Ludington Fire Department for several years and has a bachelor’s degree in fire science from Lake Superior State University. He also worked for the Scottville Police Department prior to working with the Mason County Sheriff’s Office.
“Having a fire investigator in the county really gives us someone immediately available to go to a call when evidence may be destroyed,” Cole said, adding, “or a person to make an assessment on a fire that doesn’t have a criminal element to it.”
Prior to Murphy getting his training there was no fire investigator in Mason County.
“We are really looking forward to Matt’s services,” Cole said.
Thousands of gently used books will be available to buy for discounted prices this weekend during the indoor book sale at the Ludington Library.
The book sale will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and from 1 to 3 p.m. on Sunday. Hardcover books are priced at $2, and children’s books cost 25 cents, with paperback books priced in between.
Like the annual summer book sale, this event is organized by the Friends of the Mason County District Library as a fundraiser to support the children’s programs at the Ludington and Scottville libraries, said Eric Smith, district library director.
“As per usual, the proceeds will go to our children’s programming — free book giveaways, bringing in authors and (other) programs,” he said. “(It’s) going to bolster that and make sure that we have a really good program series.”
Sue Carlson, district library assistant director, added that each year the library gives away between 3,000 to 4,000 paperback books to children.
Smith said this is the first time the library is hosting the book sale in the autumn.
“Historically, we’ve had (a book sale) in the summertime. Each of those has been really successful, so this time we thought we’d give it a try to do a second one (in the same year),” Smith said.
Since the fundraiser will be held indoors, the books for sale will be inside of the Ludington Library’s West Shore Bank Room, which is beside the children’s area. Smith said the room will be filled with books.
Volunteers have sorted the books, so they will be organized by genre, subject and, in many cases, by author and series as well, Smith added.
“It’s going to be a lot easier to find what you’re looking for,” he said, adding that the library has saved some pristine hardcovers for the sale. “There’s going to be really high-quality items here, so it will be a good opportunity for doing some Christmas shopping.”
Carlson said many of the paperbacks will sell for about 50 cents.
“The prices are really reasonable,” she said.
The amount of books set out for sale will be less than during the summer sale simply because the sale space is constrained to the one room, Carlson explained. She said the library has between 5,000 to 8,000 books in storage for the annual sales, and a lot of those books will be available for purchase this weekend.
“We’ll probably put out close to (5,000),” she said. “It depends on how fast they go, because we have them boxed in the basement ready to set out if we need to put out more.”
Carlson said the library will see how this event goes and determine whether holding two book sales should become a new tradition.
“We might do it again if it turns out we make enough money off of it,” she said. “It could be good.”
The Ludington Library collects donations of used books year-round for the annual book sales. People can drop off books any time the library is open.
to host 26th annual Holiday Craft Fair
The Pentwater Public School bands will host their annual Holiday Craft Fair on Saturday, Dec. 7 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the school, 600 Park St.
Crafters from all over the region, including many new participants, will bring a wide variety of items, including holiday and gift items.
Last year, the craft fair featured close to 100 crafters and should be near that number this year.
Proceeds from booth rentals go directly to the band program. Vendor registrations will be accepted until Nov. 15.
According to the 2018 Economic Impact of Tourism in Michigan report by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), 124.8 million visitors spent $25.7 billion in Michigan in 2018.
Visitors spent $117.4 million in Mason County in 2018, which is a record-high for the county during the eight-year span studied in the MEDC report’s county analysis.
Mason County’s 2018 tourist spending total was an increase of 3.3 percent compared to the 2017 total, which was $113.7 million, and a 19.7-percent increase in comparison to 2013, in which tourists spent $98.2 million. Visitor spending increased 32.5 percent since the MEDC started tracking the data in 2011.
The tourism industry also is responsible for 1,081 direct jobs and 1,549 indirect jobs in Mason County, generating $26.9 million in direct annual wages and $43 million in total labor income — an increase of 6.2 percent from 2017, according to the report.
“Clearly, Ludington continues to be at the top of travelers’ vacation destinations,” said Brandy Miller, executive director of the Ludington Area Convention & Visitors Bureau. “And as these numbers show, the impact of tourism is felt across our county’s economy — by hotels, restaurants, parks, museums, grocery stores and gas stations.”
The MEDC report also tracked visitor spending in five categories for 2018:
•Transportation at $31.3 million (up from $30.3 million in 2017)
•Food and beverage at $31.1 million (up from $30.5 million in 2017)
•Lodging at $21.8 million (up from $20.8 million in 2017)
•Recreation at $18.4 million (up from $17.4 million in 2017)
•Retail at $14.9 million (up from $14.8 million in 2017)
In order to more accurately market the Ludington region to visitors, the Ludington Area Convention & Visitors Bureau commissioned a first-time, comprehensive tourist profile study to identify the typical Ludington-area summer visitors, along with their key motivators to visit the region.
“With tourism as a top industry of Mason County that directly impacts our economy at every level, it’s important to understand our target visitor so we can more accurately market to them and encourage more people to choose Ludington for their vacation destination,” Miller added. “We are excited to share this data to help our business partners be even more successful in attracting guests.”
Conducted during the course of two survey waves in July and August, the study was administered by tourism research and marketing company Destination Analysts at 16 locations to people visiting Ludington. The final report’s conclusions were based on 500 completed surveys collected from four groups of summer visitors: hotel guests, visitors staying in the private home of a friend or relative, day visitors and visitors camping or staying in an RV park.
The visitors bureau will share the findings of the study at the Ludington & Scottville Area Chamber of Commerce’s Lunch & Learn program on Nov. 22 at Red’s Room at Jamesport Brewing Co.
Members of the local business community are encouraged to attend the event to learn about Ludington’s typical summer visitor, which will help with marketing planning for 2020. Those interested in attending can RSVP at chamber.ludington.org/events/details/lunch-learn-november-2019-16846.