A1 A1
State budget, roads addressed at GOP picnic

PERE MARQUETTE TWP. — State legislators talked budget and roads while Mason County Sheriff Kim Cole announced his plans to run for sheriff again in 2020 as a part of the Mason County Republican Party picnic Sunday afternoon at Suttons Landing Park in Pere Marquette Township.

Roughly three dozen people attended the picnic, with a mix of party members and local elected leaders on hand.

35th Dist. State Sen. Curt VanderWall, R-Ludington, outlined that the state house and senate are scheduled to vote on the budget next week. But, he anticipated what is passed may not be fully accepted by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

“We’re going to pass the budget and send to the governor’s desk by the end of next week,” VanderWall said. “She may veto chunks out of it.”

He said there are funding increases for education, pensions for public employees and for clean water.

VanderWall fielded a handful of questions about the budget from fellow Republicans at the picnic. He said the road budget may get additional tax revenue from a gas tax in the form of a roughly 3-cent increase per year for the next three years, leading to a 10-cent increase. He said Whitmer would not be getting the 45-cent increase she sought, and he mentioned that some Democrats have also said they do not support a gas tax hike of 45 cents.

VanderWall is a member of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Legislative Caucus Executive Committee, and he took a tour of the Brandon Road Lock and Dam in Joliet, Illinois, to see first-hand what is being done to keep more Asian carp from coming into the Great Lakes.

“The biggest fear is people who will catch and release them, and (they will) release them where they shouldn’t be,” VanderWall said.

Mason County Sheriff Kim Cole addressed attendees, announcing that he will be seeking re-election in 2020 for another four-year term.

“I plan to stick around for another four more years,” he said.

Cole started his address by saying that the summer was a bit tough for himself and his staff, as well as all of the first responders in the area. He cited the four drownings and 18 water emergencies between Memorial Day and Labor Day. He also said there were 239 accidents of which five were fatal, 1,950 reports written and 26 deaths investigated.

He said even as responders were working on those fatalities, there were other calls where his department responded.

“I think people think that those (incidents) were the only things we do. We had other calls where we took reports that happened at the same time,” Cole said.

Cole is a member of various professional organizations, and as a member of a group that supports funds for secondary road patrols, he spent a day in Lansing with legislators.

“Sen. (Curt) VanderWall knew what we were talking about,” Cole related as he and other sheriffs were pushing for the funding for secondary road patrols to stay. “Some don’t believe there are fatal accidents on secondary roads. Everyone knows fatals happen on the interstates.”

101st Dist. State Rep. Jack O’Malley, R-Lake Ann, was there, too. He mentioned the work that was done to complete auto insurance reforms, and the work that’s still ahead for the roads. Last Thursday, O’Malley helped to introduce an 11-bill package to assist in repairing the roads.

“I get that the budget is important, but just as important is how we spend your money,” O’Malley said.

One of the bills, if passed, would allow for a county to not only allow for a millage to be passed, but also a gas tax or an increase in registration fees. Those raised taxes would then go straight to the respective county’s road budget.

“What may work in Mason or in my county in Benzie may not work in Wayne, Macomb, Oakland or Washtenaw (counties),” O’Malley said.

Janet Anderson, Mason County Board of Commission chairperson, addressed the group, saying the county’s budget was balanced and there was not a reduction of services. She also mentioned some of the projects in the works that have come through the county’s planning commission.

She spoke at length about the county’s veteran affair service office and Jim Wincek, who staffs the office.

Anderson related a story where Wincek was assisting a 97-year-old World War II veteran with writing a letter to the president about property taxes. The letter was also sent to the governor.

“It got to the governor’s office, and he received a call. They knew it would come, but they had stepped out to the grocery store when she called,” Anderson said. “Jim has faith he will hear from the president.”

Animals blessed, remembered at Circle Rocking S Children's Farm

FREE SOIL — Children, families and creatures great and small flocked to Free Soil Sunday afternoon for the annual Blessing of the Animals service at Circle Rocking S Children’s Farm.

Dogs, cats, sheep, chickens, a lamb, a goat and even a snake were among the dozens of animals blessed during the ceremony, which was presided over by the Rev. John Hansen of Peace Lutheran Church in Ludington and Lighthouse Lutheran Church in Pentwater and the Rev. John Brown.

About 100 people attended, including special needs children for whom Circle Rocking S Children’s Farm hosts many events.

They said they’d been coming to the annual event for years, and are always happy to participate.

Brown said that the reason he enjoys it so much is that he likes to remind people how important animals are.

“It’s because of all of these little ones (people) have brought with them today,” Brown said. “They’re as much a part of God’s good creation as the rest of us.”

Prior to the service, Hansen said he considers it an honor to be a part of the event.

“It’s more of a blessing for me than it is for the animals,” Hansen said. “It’s a great program and a great way to bring the community together.”

Shortly after 1:30 p.m., the service began. The animals — trotting alongside or cradled in the arms of their owners — made their way in a procession toward the entrance to the main farm, where the formal blessings, complete with holy water and a word of blessing from one of the reverends, were given.

Nancy Supran, owner of Circle Rocking S Children’s Farm, emphasized that the event was a “real church service.” Attendees bowed their heads and prayed as Hansen and Brown delivered sermons, read Bible passages and led the group in songs and hymns.

“Dear Lord, we thank you for the true blessing of animals in our lives,” Hansen said during the service.

Brown added, “They ask for nothing of us other than ‘feed me,’ and ‘love me,’ and they love us in return.”

For those in attendance who had lost pets and other beloved animals were given an opportunity to place a flower in the farm’s memory garden.

Children who did not have animals were provided free stuffed animals, which Hansen and Brown blessed along with all the other pets and farm animals.

Following the blessing, the North Tuttle Road farm hosted its Farm Olympics. There were games, pet talents, auctions, raffles and prizes for attendees.

The Fountain Area Fire Department was there as well, offering fire truck tours.

All proceeds from the event — including donations and funds, auction funds and other purchases — will pay for future events for special needs people at the farm, according to Supran.

What’s next

Circle Rocking S Children’s Farm hosts events and activities for people with special needs and their families throughout the year. Next on the farm’s calendar is a special needs hay-ride and pot luck on Tuesday, Oct. 1 at 3:30 p.m. There’s limited space, and attendees are encouraged to RSVP by Sept. 27.

That event will also feature a Halloween costume contest.

In November and December, the farm will provide free stuffed animals to low-income households and community service organizations.

For more information, visit www.circlerockingsfarm.org or call (231) 462-3732.

Walking for a cure: Alzheimer's event inspires hope

Ludington joined communities across the nation Saturday morning in supporting those affected by Alzheimer’s disease at the annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s at Waterfront Park.

For the 18th year, the Great Lakes chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association hosted the event not only to support individuals with Alzheimer’s and related forms of dementia and their caregivers and loved ones, but to raise funds to aid in the ongoing search for a cure.

Hundreds of participants attended, garbed in colors to signify their connection to the cause. Those who had lost a loved one to Alzheimer’s wore purple; caregivers wore yellow; advocates with no direct connection to the disease wore orange to represent their commitment to finding a cure; and those currently living with the disease wore blue.

The Walk to End Alzheimer’s is a way to foster awareness and generate funds for educational programming in the area, as well as medical research throughout the country and the world, according to Erin Murphy, special events coordinator for the Great Lakes Chapter.

She said it’s also a time for healing.

“We like to think of our walks as one big support group,” Murphy told the Daily News. “People who care for a loved one, or are going through the disease themselves, are able to come together, share their experiences, provide hope to each other and … join in the fight to end Alzheimer’s.”

The fundraising goal for this year’s walk was $53,000, and Murphy said about 80 percent of that amount had been raised before the event even started.

“Money goes to two places: the West Shore region of the Alzheimer’s Association in Michigan to fund programming, support groups, community education programs ... to help get the word out about Alzheimer’s, inform people and just help provide care and support in the region,” Murphy said. “The other percentage goes toward worldwide research to find cure, prevention and treatment for Alzheimer’s disease as well.”

Prior to the start of the walk, host Chris Dunn addressed the crowd.

“It’s an honor to be part of the world’s largest event to fight this devastating disease,” Dunn said. “Alzheimer’s is destroying our families, our finances and our future. It is time to end it.”

He said there are about 200,000 people in Michigan who live the disease, and emphasized that it impacts many more.

“I don’t think there’s anyone anywhere who hasn’t been affected by Alzheimer’s and dementia,” he said.

He told the crowd he’s optimistic that their efforts will result in the discovery of a cure.

“One day we will end this disease, and we will do it together,” he said.

A ceremony was held to boost solidarity among the groups of participants. During the ceremony, colored pinwheels — purple, yellow, orange and blue — were held up by participants, and Dunn said that with the continuing efforts of communities around the world, a fifth color would someday be added: white, for the first survivor of Alzheimer’s disease.

“With your support, I’m certain we can add a new flower — a white flower — to represent the first survivor of Alzheimer’s,” Dunn said.

Shortly after 10:30 a.m., the group walked the 1-mile path along the waterfront.

By the time the hundreds of participants started to leave the park, approximately $47,000 had been raised, according to Murphy.

Funds will continue to be accepted until the end of the year of the at www.act.alz.org/masoncounty.

LACA seeking submissions for 'ARF Prize' and West Shore Pride's 'LGBTQ Art Show' through Sept. 21

LACA seeking

submissions for ‘ARF Prize’ and West Shore Pride’s ‘LGBTQ Art Show’ through

Sept. 21

The Ludington Area Center for the Arts (LACA) is currently accepting original 2-D and 3-D artwork for a pair of upcoming gallery exhibits in October.

LACA will host ‘ARF Prize’ a gallery exhibit featuring dog themed artwork.

Area artists and dog lovers are encouraged to submit dog themed artwork for an October exhibit celebrating “Man’s Best Friend.”

This fun exhibit will be on display in LACA’s main gallery Oct. 1-31, 2019 with a very special Artist and pooch reception Friday, Oct. 4 from 5-8 p.m.

Drop off artwork at LACA Sept. 17-21, 2019. There is a $3 entry fee per entry.

LACA will also be accepting artwork Sept. 17-21 for West Shore Pride’s upcoming LGBTQ Art Show during the month of October.

LGBTQ artists or artists who create art with themes like equality and love are encouraged to submit ready-to-display work at the art center for possible inclusion in the exhibit. There is no charge to submit artwork for the LGBTQ Art Show.

Students enjoy bookmaking workshop at WSCC

Bookmaking was highlighted as a part of a workshop last Friday at West Shore Community College.

Ruth Behar, a writer and professor at the University of Michigan, led the workshop. Students from the college as well as several local schools learned about Rolando Estévez, a Cuban artist and bookmaker, and how he constructed his various types of books. After hearing Behar speak, students had the opportunity to create their own book and piece of art.

“I feel like it’s therapeutic, it (making books) is a lot of fun,” said West Shore freshman Rosie Hathaway.

Margaret Smith, another freshman at West Shore enjoyed more than the process of making books.

“It’s just really cool. I never really think about making books and to get the chance to use different materials I wouldn’t get to use (was cool),” she said.

Nora McTiernam, a seventh-grader at Pentwater, appreciated both Behar and the workshop.

“I liked when (Behar) was speaking. When our teacher told us that we were coming here, she told us we were just going to be making them,” McTiernam said. “And it was nice to learn about the different ways you can make a book.”

Behar said before the workshop — which is a part of West Shore Community College’s Humankind series — about its importance given this increasing digital age. This year, the series focuses on Cuba, and she brought her expertise on Estévez to the area.

“It’s a way of getting back to what a book is, words on a page,” Behar said. “It brings back (it) back to physical aspects, holding it, feeling the thickness of the paper; it’s very of the earth.”

Behar said the bookmaking workshop was another way learning a different way of expression.

“It’s very, very important to express yourself, and sometimes there are things that you just can’t say out loud, something a poem or art could express better,” she said. “It’s a way to get those thoughts out.”