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AFFEW installs bootscrapers at Cartier Park to curb spread of invasive species
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A Few Friends for the Environment of the World (AFFEW) has installed three bootscrapers at Cartier Park using funds from the Community Foundation for Mason County.

According to AFFEW president Julia Chambers, the bootscrapers will help stop the spread of invasive species, if they’re used by people walking the trails at the park.

“Bootscrapers will help keep invasive plant species seeds from traveling while on our shoes,” Chambers said.

The bootscrapers were purchased using funds from the Community Foundation for Mason County’s Community Wish Lists in late 2020, Chambers said. Bruce and Julie Lowing made a donation to support AFFEW last fall, and the Pennies from Heaven Foundation matched 50-percent of the donation amount, bringing the donation total to $750.

The bootscrapers cost about $700, Chambers said.

They were handcrafted by Gordon Bolan. AFFEW board member Sara Bolan coordinated the placement of signage, which contains infographics about the ways in which the bootscrapers can be effective ways to curb the spread of species such as garlic mustard, Japanese knotweed and barberry, among others.

The bootscrapers were installed which installed in time for those taking part in the final days of AFFEW’s Cartier Park quiz walk, which wraps on Saturday, to use them. The quiz walk is part of AFFEW’s month-long Earth Day activities.

New beds to make community garden fertile ground for summer activities
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Volunteers moved seven garden beds Thursday morning from Lakeshore Food Club into the U Dig It Community Garden.

Food grown in six rectangular beds will go to the shelves of the food club and into the kitchens of low-income Mason County residents. The other, circular bed will be an herb garden, U Dig It director Sara Bolan said.

The garden, located behind United Methodist Church of Ludington, totals nearly 50 beds with this move, 17 of which are now devoted to the food club. Each of them are claimed for the year. Those interested in tending or sponsoring a bed in 2022 must join a waiting list.

Summer gardening activities for kids that centered around the beds in pre-pandemic times are moving to the garden along with them.

For the two years before the pandemic, LSFC partnered with Kendra Gibson, an MSU Extension instructor, on a summer-long program called “Eat A Rainbow,” where children 4-7 years old planted and harvested the food club’s five circular beds.

“The kids had a riot,” volunteer Christine Schulte said. “They really loved getting in the dirt, planting and seeing their produce come to fruition.”

Last year, they added six rectangular beds for children aged 8-12 to participate with. The pandemic derailed that plan.

Instead, LSFC and Gibson worked with gardeners like Ferd Schulte to distribute a variety of home gardening kits and create educational content for a Facebook group.

While the details are not yet finalized, Gibson said she hopes the garden’s network of knowledgeable volunteers and electric and water access can make this year’s programming even more engaging. The church may allow access to its pavilion for outside classes.

One idea is to offer an “à la carte gardening workshop series,” Gibson said.

“Many people don’t know about this space,” she said, “and it would give us an opportunity to invite the community out to see the gardens in action while participating in a fun hands-on activity.”

More of the beds’ yield will also survive out of harm’s way within the garden’s fences.

Deer around the food club had shrugged off every organic repellent and posed a persistent challenge to the gardens’ viability there.

Volunteers tried many organic solutions, such as marigolds, Plantskydd from the Mason County Conservation Office, and even Irish Spring soap, but nothing was effective.

“The deer are just plentiful here,” Schulte said. “We couldn’t keep them out.”

'It just felt right': Woman donates $5,000 to Custer sculpture
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When Tammy Tanis of Ludington saw in Wednesday’s newspaper that funds were still needed for the planned Johnny’s Bandstand sculpture, she knew she had to contribute.

In the 1970s, Tanis formed many a cherished memory at the rollerskating rink housed in the same complex as the bandstand, and bearing the same name.

“It was my childhood,” she said. “I grew up there. I went up there to skate.”

When she saw Johnny’s mentioned on front page, she remembered the feeling of skates on hardwood, the lights flashing, the sound of the music, the trips from Ludington High School to Custer in her brother’s truck — it all came back in a rush of nostalgia, and she resolved to make a contribution.

“As soon as I saw the article, I thought, ‘I’ve gotta do something,’” she said. “It just felt right.”

She opted to donate $5,000 to the cause — half of the $10,000 remainder that was still needed for the sculpture — and on Thursday, she presented a check to Custer Village Clerk Jody Baunoch.

As a kid, Tanis spent as much of her free time as possible at Johnny’s. Her father had taught her how to rollerskate, and she said she absolutely loved it.

She became quite skilled at skating, too.

“I was in a competition out there. We practiced for months. We were skate-dancing,” Tanis recalled. “When it finally came time for the skate-off, and my mom watched me, she had to sit down. She couldn’t believe you could do that on skates.”

Tanis also remembers the kindness of the “Skate Boys,” Kenny Able and Shawn Barton.

“They would skate around and if a kid fell they’d help, get him up and get him going again,” she said.

Tanis’ aunt passed away recently and left her nieces and nephews some inheritance money. She said her kids wondered why she’d spend it on the sculpture fund, but Tanis said “just felt right.”

Thinking about Johnny’s — be it bandstand or skate rink — reminds her of a simpler time.

“Back then we didn’t have Playstation 4. We had three channels on the TV, and the president was on one, dad’s watching baseball on another one, the third one didn’t work,” Tanis said. “When my slinky broke I had nothing to do.”

And the Johnny’s was her haven.

Though Tanis always thinks of rollerskates, not live performers, when she thinks of Johnny’s, she still wanted to help honor the spot where she formed all those memories.

She wanted to invest in the community, somehow, and she’s encouraging her friends to do the same.

“Get five of your friends to kick in $20 apiece, and get a brick,” she said, referring to the personalized bricks people can purchase for $100 to help boost the fund. “You can put anyone’s name on it.”

The bricks will be used to form a walkway up to the sculpture, which will depict three musicians and a singer performing with a 1940s microphone — a callback to the heyday of the bandstand, when nationally renowned entertainers would perform there.

Tanis will be given a brick for the generosity of her contribution, according to Baunoch.

“I know whose name I put on it — my mother, Luella B. Chavalia,” she said.

She thanks her brother, Todd “Mort” Chavalia, for all the after-school trips from Ludington to Johnny’s and back again. She said the donation is also being made with the Skate Boys in mind, as well as Bob Gilchrest, her partner in that skating competition, where the pair finished in second place.

To help the Custer Sculpture Committee raise the remaining $5,000, make a donation to the Village of Custer, P.O. Box 153 Custer, MI 49405. There is also a PayPal account accessible from the Custer Sculpture Facebook page.

Contact Baunoch at (231) 613-0029 or committee co-chair Lolly Griswold at (231) 757-3962 for more information about contributing to Custer’s sculpture fund.

Virtual Girls Rock concert is Saturday
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Virtual Girls Rock concert is Saturday

The Ludington Area Center for the Arts (LACA) along with Ludrock Nation and the Zonta Club of Ludington will host the annual Girls Rock concert on Saturday. Due to the continuation of the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s event will be a virtual presentation.

This year’s concert will be streamed for free at www.ludingtonartscenter.org starting at noon.

Girls Rock aims to celebrate and empower women while also inspiring others to follow their dreams, set personal goals and positively impact the local community by their contributions.

“It’s a cause we feel… is worth celebrating and we’re excited to again be able to focus our energy on planning such an amazing event,” LACA Executive Director Andrew Skinner said.

This year’s concert will feature performances by 20 female bands and artists, and will be hosted by Ludrock founder Ed Santarelli. The line-up includes performances by Babe Ruthless, Jeri Dziabuda, Sandy Forrester, Bella Gasaway, Gypsy Rose, Meredith Hanson, Paula Jury Jarvis, Heather Kaatz, Chloe Kimes, Kraylee Ledger, Taylor Makowicki, Sarah Marentette, Laura Murphy, Elaine Parker, Julie Rasgaitis, Nanette Scribner, Gina Sowa-Pratt, Kaylie Wells, Beth Whitney and Ashley Youngstrom.

Plus, special messages and tributes will be given by Cathy Organ, Tammy Rogers and the Zonta Club of Ludington.

In addition to streaming online at www.ludingtonartscenter.org the 2021 virtual Girls Rock will be able to be viewable on the LACA Facebook page.

The virtual concert is free to view. A donation link will be made available to those interested in making a donation to the art center.

Road commission: PM Highway bridge work to start Monday
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The Mason County Road Commission announced Thursday morning that the anticipated bridge work on Pere Marquette Highway over Marquette Railroad will begin Monday, April 26.

Eric Nelson, the county highway engineer/project manager for the road commission, stated in an email to local media that the Michigan Department of Transportation informed the commission about the update to the bridge replacement.

Work on the replacement was originally scheduled to start on March 1. However, it was delayed as contractors hired by MDOT were working with Marquette Rail to gain access to the site to do the work it needed, the Daily News previously reported.

The Daily News previously reported that engineering proposal as it related to the demolition of the bridge by the contractor was the item that was under review by Marquette Rail. Marquette Rail indicated at the time that some information was still needed in late March for review.

While the original start date was March 1, the anticipated finish at that time was in early July.

Traffic is expected to be detoured using U.S. 10 and U.S. 31.

Work is expected to include the bridge deck, painting, approach work, new concrete curbs and gutters, new guardrails and pavement markings.

The estimated cost, when MDOT announced the initial closure, was $1.3 million.

The last time major work was done on the bridge was in 1991, the Daily News previously reported.