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MONTAGUE – This year, a trio of Montague High School students chose to study fermentation for their FFA project.

However, unlike other FFA groups that have studied fermentation in the past, this group of students decided to study how beer is fermented. Emma Peterson, Elita Kennedy and Erin Kanaar decided to reach out to the owners of North Grove Brewers to learn more.

“Every winter we have our leadership contest season, and one of the contests that students are able to compete in is called a demonstration. And so, when we have students select topics for the demonstration, or speech, or whatever it is they’re working on, we really emphasize the research part of it and connecting with community experts,” said teacher and FFA advisor Kate Feuerstein.

Two of the three owners of North Grover Brewers – Jason Jaekel and Billy Darke – were Montague High School FFA members. But the head brewer – RJ Nordlund – was very hands on and helped a lot with the project.

Feuerstein said that there are three types of fermentation: lactic acid, ethanol and acetic acid fermentation. Beer making falls into the category of ethanol fermentation.

To begin with, Peterson, Kennedy and Kanaar were given a tour of the North Grove facility and its equipment. Feuerstein said that up until this point the students only knew the theory of fermentation that they had learned from a textbook.

“So, we first met with them and talked about what we wanted to do. And Jason (Jaekel) actually competed in demo when he was in the FFA. But we had to get RJ up to speed on it,” said Feuerstein.

“And then they took us through a tour and explained each process. Here’s the sanitation. This is why we select ingredients that we do. This is why it moves from this container to that container.

“This is why we monitor our temperature. And this is what is happening when you add your oxygen and what your yeast is doing and how you’re carbonating it. And what all exactly happening.”

After the tour the girls hammered out the details of their project and how they planned on presenting it. They continued to do their research, and Nordlund made himself available to answer additional questions.

“RJ came up to the high school and watched the girls do the demonstration. And he helped us tweak a few things and then just kind of grilled them with questions, said Feuerstein.

In the contest, you have five minutes of questions after you’re done with your demonstration. And so, we’ve been having him kind of grill us with questions”

That grilling paid off, Peterson, Kennedy and Kanaar won their district competition and are now moving on to regionals. But districts weren’t won only on their ability to answer questions, they had to be able to demo the process as well, the only problem is that they are all under the legal drinking age.

So, to demo the process the girls had to get creative. They used a drink cooler to simulate a fermenter and demonstrate the sanitation process.

As for the other parts needed – malt and hops – they used dark Karo syrup and rabbit pellets as stand ins.

“And so, we don’t have any actual products that’s used, because obviously they’re underage. But we still wanted to demonstrate fermentation […],” said Feuerstein.

As part of their demonstration the girls had to relate the project to agriculture. Through their research they discovered that the craft beer industry makes up $469 million of Michigan’s gross state product.

“That includes all the feeder businesses like containers, label makers, trucking, shipping, graphic design in those sorts of things. […] It also creates about 9,800 jobs for Michiganders, said Feuerstein.

“And so, you have people who are growing any type of grain and barley and rye and wheat that would be used for any type of flavoring that you would wanna make. So that’s kind of where the real connection started.”

With the girls moving on to regionals they will look to expand the presentation further and utilize Jaekel next as a resource. In addition of being part owner of North Grove Brewery, he also is a hops farmer.

A century of service
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MUSKEGON – The French artist Henri Matisse, known for his fearless exploration of often controversial techniques, once remarked, “Creativity takes courage.” His observation applies not just to art, but to those who dedicate their lives to it. And one of those individuals was Lulu Miller.

Director of the Hackley Art Museum, now the Muskegon Museum of Art, from 1916 to 1930, Miller had always been passionately committed to bringing cultural awareness to Muskegon. This could be a challenging task in a lumber town that had to be convinced that shelling out big bucks for a little old painting or sculpture was money well spent.

But Miller was dogged in her pursuit of beauty. Perhaps her most famous achievement, when she was the librarian at Hackley Library in 1907, was the acquisition of 20 volumes of works by the then little-known photographer Edward S. Curtis, depicting life among the North American Indians. Convincing the board, and the citizens, to fork over $3,000—around $80,000 in today’s money—for what many saw as a foolhardy venture took courage. But it paid off. Lulu put Muskegon on the international map; among other subscribers to the Curtis portfolio were the King of England, President Teddy Roosevelt and Alexander Graham Bell!

Curtis, of course, went on to become an American icon whose portraits of Native Americans established him as an artistic pioneer. Today the Curtis collection at the MMA is considered the finest in the country.

When Raymond Wyer, the museum’s first director, purchased a small James Whistler masterpiece, “Study in Rose and Brown,” for a whopping $6,750, it created a controversy so heated that in 1916, Wyer resigned in protest. Miller was appointed in his place, becoming only the second female museum director in the U.S. She achieved national recognition for her outstanding contributions to the field, and by the time she retired, had helped to create one of America’s most impressive small city art museums.

One of the most valuable aspects of Miller’s legacy was the establishment, in 1921, of the Friends of Art, a volunteer group that was to become a vital force in building the collections, and the identity, of the museum and, in the process, its relationship with the community. The Friends helped to acquire great works of art, and to bring people into the museum.

“Miller’s legacy is hard to match,” says MMA Assistant Director Catherine Mott. “In 1922, she and the Friends of Art organized a reception to promote the museum. I think they surprised themselves. Over 2,000 people showed up! Now in their 100th year, the Friends of Art still continue to provide art education to our community. The Art Smart series is one that’s hard to replace. They’ve shared in-depth perspectives of staff, other scholars and many of their own who have done great research on pieces from our own collection and things abroad. They’ve done trips, tours, many things along the years. This volunteer group is one that has made us a better museum and shared with the community what one volunteer group can do to change, express and celebrate a museum.”

To honor the Friends of Art, the museum is presenting a new exhibition, “The Friends of Art: 100 Years.” The exhibition features a selection of some 30 artworks donated by the Friends to the museum’s permanent collection over the decades. According to MMA Senior Curator Art Martin, “Visitors will discover a rich diversity of objects, along with some of the museum’s most significant works of art, including pieces by James Richmond Barthé and Paul Howard Manship and one of our signature paintings, Tunis Ponsen’s Yacht Club Pier.”

Such acquisitions attest to the Friends’ keen appreciation of excellence, and their visionary savvy. They boldly went after works by contemporary artists who were just becoming acknowledged, knowing they would stand the test of time. In 1929, the Friends began purchasing artwork for the museum’s permanent collection. Their first acquisition was a remarkable still life painting, “Corbeille de Fruit,” by the French artist Albert Andre (1869-1954). Two years later, the Friends purchased “Yacht Club Pier,” by Dutch-born artist Tunis Ponsen (1891-1968), who had emigrated to America after WWI and settled in Muskegon, where he took night art classes at the Hackley Gallery. Later moving to Chicago, Ponsen became a noted force in the American art world, and “Yacht Club Pier” is a stunning example of his impressionist/modernist skills.

Visitors to “Friends of Art: 100 Years” can marvel at “Corbeille de Fruit” and “Yacht Club Pier, as well as key 20th century American sculptures like Harlem Renaissance sculptor James Richmond Barthe’s (1901-1989) powerful “Feral Benga” and Paul Howard Manship’s (1885-1966) “Flight of Europa,” a classically flamboyant example of Art Deco bronze sculpture. Among the Friends’ later acquisitions were a collection of Japanese woodblock prints, photographs by Ansel Adams, works by Western Michigan artists and prints by American printmakers.

“When the museum needed additional funds to complete a purchase, the Friends also proved a vital resource for raising the monies needed for several important acquisition,” notes Martin. “Through their gifts and programs, the Friends have provided a lasting legacy here at the MMA.”

“Friends of Art: 100 Years” runs through May 2. The museum’s other exhibitions include:

The Art of the People: Contemporary Anishinaabe Artists. Through Feb. 28.

Levi Rickert: Standing Rock, Photographs of an Indigenous Movement. Through Feb. 28.

Jim Denomie: Challenging the Narrative. Through March 14.

Ansel Adams: The Photographs of Yosemite Suite, featuring “24 iconic images of Yosemite National Park, the location and pictures that defined Adams’s internationally celebrated career. Friends of Art members purchased the photographs for the museum collection in 1989.” Through May 9.

For more information, visit www.muskegonartmuseum.org.

New marijuana ordinance will allow four dispensaries in Dalton Township
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DALTON TWP. – According to new township Supervisor Jeffrey Martin a lot has been taking place in the township since the last election.

Now under new leadership, the township just recently approved a marijuana ordinance that will allow for up to four dispensaries, and can be either for medical or recreational use. Martin said the ordinance will allow for two on M-120 and another two on Whitehall Road.

He said that the township will begin accepting applications on March 23 and expects them to be filled sometime by the end of that month.

“There are just four available licenses. So, I assume all four will be filled, said Martin.

“[…] And so that’ll be happening over the next [month], I assume by the end of March it’ll be determined which places have the licenses the approval to go through because they basically have to have their ducks in a row with the state paperwork and all of that type of thing. And the first person that gets everything in order, they get approved through the township.”

However, in addition to the new marijuana ordinance, the township also has plans to sell the Wayside Mobile Court, 2900 Whitehall Rd.

“The township is selling Wayside. […] When sewer went in along Whitehall Road up to Michigan’s Adventure things kind of went wrong. It wasn’t the best planned program financially, it bankrupted a number of businesses along that street, and one of them was this trailer park, and so it went back on taxes and it has kind of bounced around a little bit, said Martin.

“But the township has owned it since 2014, and there’s this huge assessment on it that the townships been paid because there’s a bond for it. So, the townships just losing tons of money on this thing and nothing is being done with it.”

“So, the avenue I pursued is that the township needs to write off some money. It’s unfortunate. But, the easiest thing to do would be to push this thing off in the future. I can just transfer a little money around, ignore the problem let the next guy handle it in four years. Or I can try to fix problems, which is what I ran for, to try to fix some of these big problems.”

Martin said the township will lose some money on the sale, but they aren’t willing to accept anything less than $100,000 which can then be applied to the sewer assessment they are paying on.

“Then something will happen with that property, which is huge. Otherwise, it is just 15 acres that has been sitting there vacant for years.”

But the Wayside isn’t the only unoccupied property that might be seeing some changes. Martin said the township has been working with both the City of Whitehall and Muskegon County to transfer Muskegon County Business Park North to Dalton Township.

The situation Martin explains is a complicated one. The business park is owned by Muskegon County, but the City of Whitehall provides emergency services to the area, and Dalton Township is responsible for zoning.

The area was meant to attract businesses to the area, but the odd arrangement between the three government entities – according to Martin – has only been a detriment. The area has failed to attract interest and remains empty.

Another change might be taking place under this new township board is a change to Dalton Township’s sign ordinance.

“Dalton Township as the most restrictive sign ordinance I’ve ever seen. And it just grew over time. […] The previous administration made it more and more restrictive. […] In my first couple of weeks [in office] I talked to several businesses and a couple of churches, said Martin.

“They wanted to redo their signs, renew their signs. But to do that they have to shrink their signs down to be trying to meet the ordinance, which is obviously not what they wanted. And so, we have that in the Planning Commission, and that should be updated within the next month.

“businesses and churches and stuff are happy with that, which seems like a minor thing. But it’s, you know, it’s quite big.”

By Natalie S. Holmstrom

From left to right: Troy Love, Liam Gilland, Shayla Johnson, Ava Vanderstelt, Sidney Shepherd and Principal CJ VanWieren


Montague’s Braquelle Osborne (right) drives the ball past Hart’s Aspen Boutell during Thursday’s WMC game at Hart. The Wildcats won, 44-37.