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New Leadership at SHARE

Stephen Lynch

is ready to be funny again

History of County Parks

Meet Isaac Hoelle

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From the Editor A

ugust is a stealthy month. Around July Fourth it seems like summer will last forever, and then — whoosh! — like the downward trajectory of a roller coaster, August is here with its shorter days, back–to–school events and people talking about autumn color tours. One person who is glad to see August, however, is musician, comedian and Kalamazoo resident Stephen Lynch, who ventures back out on tour this month after a long pandemic–induced hiatus. Writer John Liberty catches up with Lynch, who shares his thoughts on his past, present and future. We also introduce you to other creative and inspiring folks this month, including Chianté Lymon, who will be continuing the important work of the local Society for History and Racial Equity (SHARE) as its new executive director, and Isaac Hoelle, a young beekeeper who shares apiary insights as only a preteen can. We encourage everyone not to rush the end of summer, and we hope the stories in this month's issue will inspire you to take your time to sit, read and savor our earlier sunsets and waning beach days. As always, thank you to all our readers and advertisers for your support of Encore.

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History of County Parks

New Leadership at SHARE

Meet Isaac Hoelle

Stephen Lynch

is ready to be funny again


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Maggie Drew Maggie Drew interviewed Chianté Lymon, the new executive director of the local Society for History and Racial Equity (SHARE), for this month’s issue. As a Western Michigan University student, Maggie found it inspiring that Lymon, who is 25 and a graduate of WMU, has been chosen to lead this organization. “It inspires me to see someone so young fighting for racial equity like she is,” Maggie says. “I think she will be an inspiration to a lot of women and young girls in the community.” Maggie is a senior at WMU studying journalism. She is also an intern at Encore.

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John Liberty

John Liberty says he has long admired comedians but fears Stephen Lynch is ruining the art form, so he wanted to confront him about this urgent matter. Just kidding. The story that appears on page 16 is the result of their conversation about Lynch’s singing comedy career. When John isn't being tongue–in–cheek, he helps other people find their craft–beer bliss as the co–founder of West Michigan Beer Tours.

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Donna McClurkan A former beekeeper herself, Donna was intrigued when a friend told her about 12– year–old Isaac Hoelle, and thought he'd make an interesting Back Story feature. In talking with the young man, she discovered the hobby has also been life–changing for his mom, Audrea Bailey. “I admit I was hesitant at first to get the bees last year and decided to just let Isaac do his thing,” Audrea told Donna. “But as I learn more, I've become enamored with the bees as well. I've fallen in love.” Donna is a Kalamazoo–based writer and an environmental advocate.

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The musician and comedian is ready to hit the road and thinking about his legacy


DEPARTMENTS 3 From the Editor 5 Contributors 8 First Things A round–up of happenings in SW Michigan 11 Five Faves

Park It Here — Historian Lynn Houghton on how five county parks came to be

14 Good Works

Seeking Racial Equity — SHARE’s new director works for ‘real change’ in Kalamazoo


Back Story

Meet Isaac Hoelle — Pollinators have this preteen beekeeper firmly in their corner




Events of Note

On the cover: Stephen Lynch. Photo by Brian K. Powers.

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First Things Something Residential Parade of Homes returns

Dying to see the latest in homebuilding design and trends? You can do so either in person or virtually at this year’s Parade of Homes, presented by the Home Builders Association of Western Michigan. Nearly a dozen homes will be on display Aug. 5–8 and Aug. 12–14, ranging in size from 1,400 to more than 5,000 square feet. One home, at 1015 Albert Ave., was built as part of the Kalamazoo Attainable Homes Partnership — a collaboration of the Home Builders Association, Kalamazoo Neighborhood Housing Services and the Local Initiatives Support Corp. aimed at building quality, attainable homes in Kalamazoo’s underserved neighborhoods. Hours to tour the homes in person are 6–9 p.m. Aug. 5, 6, 12 and 13; 1–7 p.m. Aug. 7 and 14; and 1–5 p.m. Aug. 8. Tickets are $8 and available at Harding's Markets and Lake Michigan Credit Union branches as well as online at paradetickets. Virtual tours are free and will be posted online Aug. 5, with live links until the 2022 Parade. For more information, visit

Something Theatrical Barn stages Broadway shows

The Barnies are going to be busy this month as the Barn Theatre brings two musicals to its Augusta stage. Fans of that optimistic yellow guy who lives in a pineapple under the sea will revel in the performances of SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical. Show times are 8 p.m. Aug. 3–7 and Aug. 10–14 and 5 p.m. Aug. 8 and 15. Or you can take a musical memory tour of the 1980s with The Wedding Singer, the Broadway show that jump–started Kalamazoo resident Stephen Lynch's career (see our feature on page 16). Show times are 8 p.m. Aug. 17–21 and Aug. 24–28 and 5 p.m. Aug. 22 and 29. Tickets for all Barn shows are $41–$49 and can be purchased online at or by calling 731–4121. 8 | ENCORE AUGUST 2021

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Something Uplifting

KSO to perform Beethoven's Ninth Need a lift for your spirit? Then head out to the Gilmore Car Museum, in Hickory Corners, on Aug. 14 to hear the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra perform the final concert in its summer Centennial Celebration. The concert will include Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, with the uplifting Ode to Joy. This outdoor concert, which will feature guest soloists and local singers, begins at 8 p.m. and is a re–creation of a 1962 program performed by the KSO that also includes works by Aaron Copland and Mussorgsky. The second half is dedicated to Beethoven's Ninth. Considered by many to be his greatest work, the piece is one of the first choral symphonies. Tickets are $25–$100, and concessions will be available. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit

Something Illustrated

Show spotlights Caldecott winner David Small An exhibition opening Aug. 27 at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts explores the creation of a children's picture book through the works of Kalamazoo–area illustrator David Small. It’s a David Small World, which opens Aug. 27, will feature his original drawings from the books Imogene’s Antlers, Catch That Cookie!, One Cool Friend and The Quiet Place, all written by his wife, Sarah Stewart.  Small, who often collaborates with Stewart, has illustrated more than 40 picture books, including Long Road to the Circus, a new novel by former Kalamazooan Betsy Bird that will be published in October. Small's work has garnered numerous awards and honors, winning The Caldecott Medal in 2001 and being named a National Book Award finalist in 2008 and 2009. The exhibit will run until Nov. 29. For gallery hours or more information, visit or call 349–7775.

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Something Entertaining

A slew of outdoor concerts planned From the vocal stylings of Megan Dooley to the big–band

sound of the Glenn Miller Orchestra, the Arts Council of Great Kalamazoo is offering a slew of free outdoor concerts across the area this month. The scheduled performances are:

• Aug. 1: Kyle Jennings, The Stage at Kindleberger, Parchment, 6:30 p.m. • Aug. 4: Coffee with Friends, Bates Alley, 5:30 p.m. • Aug. 6: Shout! A Beatles Tribute, Richland Area Community Center, 8 p.m. • Aug. 8: Gull Lake Jazz Orchestra, The Stage at Kindleberger, 6:30 p.m.

Al Hight & M6–West

• Aug. 11: Lana and the Tonics, Bates Alley, 5:30 p.m. • Aug. 15: Farmers Alley Theatre, Bronson Park, 4 p.m. • Aug. 15: FeelGood, The Stage at Kindleberger, 6:30 p.m. • Aug. 18: Tony Fields and Doug Decker, Bates Alley, 5:30 p.m. • Aug. 19: Al Hight & M6–West, Ramona Park, Portage, 7 p.m. • Aug. 22: Shayna Steele, Bronson Park, 4 p.m.

Shout! A Beatles Tribute

• Aug. 22: Kalamazoo Scottish Festival, The Stage at Kindleberger, 6:30 p.m. • Aug. 25: Big Trouble, Bates Alley, 5:30 p.m. • Aug. 29: Change Gonna Come, a musical theater production portraying the life and songs of soul singer Sam Cooke, with an opportunity to support the local housing nonprofit Open Doors, Bronson Park, 4 p.m. • Aug. 29: Out of Favor Boys, Flesher Field Gazebo, Oshtemo Township, 6 p.m. • Aug. 29: Megan Dooley, The Stage at Kindleberger, 6:30 p.m. Attendees are encouraged to bring their own blankets or lawn chairs. The concert in Portage will be drive–in style. For more information, visit– in–the–park.


Shayna Steele


Five Faves

Park yourself at one of these county gems by


One of the many amenities Kalamazoo County has is a large number of parks owned by townships, cities and the county itself. The six county–owned parks we have today were developed over the last 60 years, and the seventh is on the horizon in Texas Township, at the former site of the Rota–Kiwan Boy Scout Camp (scheduled to open to the public sometime in 2022). In developing and maintaining the parks, the county parks staff is aided by the Parks Foundation,

volunteers and other organizations that support these parks in so many different ways. Here are five of our county park gems that you should get out and see before summer is over. And here’s one quick bit of advice: Leave your poker chips and cattle at home. From the start, both gambling and grazing large livestock have been prohibited at all county parks.

Scotts Mill County Park 8451 S. 35th St., Scotts The White family owned two mills in Pavilion Township starting in the 19th century, but little did they know then that one of those mills would become the center of a public park. Well into the 20th century, their flour mill produced and sold more than 40,000 sacks of flour every year. The evolution of the area into a park began with the acquisition of the land from the White family by the county in 1973.

Development of the 110–acre park was designated a Bicentennial Project, and after a successful fundraising campaign, Scotts Mill Park opened in 1976. The park features not only the mill, but also hiking trails, a log cabin, a picnic shelter, a playground and areas for fishing and weddings.

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Markin Glen Park 5300 N. Westnedge Ave. Kalamazoo Markin Glen is one of the county’s most popular parks. The land on which it’s located, in Cooper Township, was formerly the estate of Morris Markin, founder of the Checker Cab Manufacturing Corp., which produced its iconic automobiles from 1923 to 1982. In 1970, after Markin’s death, the city of Kalamazoo purchased 16 acres for Maple Glen Park, which closed in 1977. Eleven years later the county purchased the park for $1. The newly created Parks Foundation raised funds to open the west side of the park in 1994 and the east side six years later. The 168–acre park has campsites, playgrounds, picnic shelters, a swimming beach, fishing, softball fields, tennis and volleyball courts, and hiking and biking trails. In 1997 the park was renamed Markin Glen Park.

Prairie View Park 899 E. U Ave., Vicksburg The county’s interest in acquiring this land, which is part of the Gourdneck State Game Area, began in the 1950s. As a result of a land swap, the county acquired the original acreage in 1960 for $56,000 and opened the park two years later. Its name pays tribute to the land’s prairies, a major attraction for residents who came here in the early 19th century. With 210 acres located on both Gourdneck and Hogsett lakes, the park has picnic areas, playgrounds, soccer fields, hiking trails, a beach and a boat ramp. A very popular 7–acre dog park, with separate areas for pooches of different sizes, was added in 2010. 12 | ENCORE AUGUST 2021

River Oaks Park 9202 E. Michigan Ave. (M–96) Galesburg This 330–acre park has a fascinating history. The Alphadelphia Association, a socialist and utopian organization that attracted a large membership, called this land home in the early 1840s. After the group disbanded, the county purchased the site in 1846 for the Kalamazoo Poor Farm, which existed for many years. It later became the County Rest Home, primarily for senior citizens, and closed in 1971. The location opened as a park in 1974 and is named for the oak trees that can be found along Morrow Lake. Today its amenities include picnic shelters, hiking trails, a boat launch, a splash pad, a dog park, ball diamonds and volleyball courts. In addition, its 22 soccer fields help make it one of the area's more popular parks.


Kalamazoo River Valley Trail A vision 30 years ago became a reality in 2008 with the opening of this linear county park, which then had 4.8 miles of paved trail. Now the 24– mile trail winds through the county, linking Comstock Township to the Kal– Haven Trail. There are plans to extend the KRVT so it joins with the Portage Bicentennial Trail and the Battle Creek Linear Park, providing a non–motorized way to get from South Haven to Battle Creek. Eventually, with links to other trails, it may be possible to go from Lake Michigan to Lake Huron. Whether traveling by foot, bike or any other non–motorized means, the KRVT is a great way to see the county.

About the Author

Lynn Houghton is the regional history curator at the Western Michigan University Archives and Regional History Collections. She leads the Gazelle Sports Historic Walks, a series of free architectural and historic walks at various locations in Kalamazoo County during the summer and fall, and is the co–author of Kalamazoo Lost and Found, a book on Kalamazoo history and architecture. She also participated in the PBS series 10 that Changed America. She has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in history from WMU and a master’s in library and information science from Wayne State University.



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Seeking Racial Equity

SHARE’s new director works for ‘real change’ in Kalamazoo by


equity begins at the dinner table. “We have to hold each other accountable for us to see any real change in Kalamazoo,” says Lymon, who took over as the new executive director of the local Society for History and Racial Equity (SHARE) in April. “It starts at the dinner table — families having conversations about race.” Lymon, 25, is only the second executive director of the organization, which works to promote racial equity and awareness of racism and provide education on Black heritage within the Kalamazoo community. Lymon replaces Donna Odom, who founded SHARE (originally the Southwest Michigan Black Heritage Society) in 2003 and served as its executive director for 18 years. Lymon is a Detroit native and a Western Michigan University graduate with a passion for social justice. In 2017 she was the student body president at WMU, where she graduated with a degree in criminal justice. After that, she worked as the social media and technology specialist for the Kalamazoo Defender’s office, a county office that provides representation to citizens charged with crimes. In addition, she was a legal assistant and the board liaison and facilitator for the office’s antiracism team. According to SHARE Board Co–President Caitlin Hoag, Lymon was selected for her new position at SHARE because she is “a highly organized, community–driven individual with strong experience in civic engagement, antiracism work and community outreach.” In addition, “her tech skills will help SHARE create a bigger impact on our increasingly digital world,” says Hoag.


Brian Powers

For Chianté Lymon, the quest for racial

Lymon believes her fresh perspective and knowledge from her previous positions can take the organization forward. “With all that’s going on in the community,” she says, referring to the heightened activism for racial justice that Kalamazoo experienced following the George Floyd murder in Minneapolis and the Proud Boys march here in August 2020, “it's important that we have leadership from someone that looks like me. Someone that's young, that's vibrant in the community and can take the organization to its next level.”

Chianté Lymon is the new executive director of SHARE.

Seeking to improve In a time of increased awareness of racial injustice, Lymon says SHARE has been contacted by several local organizations looking to implement training on racial equity and seeking help improving their efforts in that area. “Because of the things that have happened in the community, they are trying to push for change within their organizations and also making it mandatory for staff to do training,"


says Lymon. “(They want) to do better individually as well as for the organization. “Most of our workshops have been with people that are not of color, because they want to do the work. They want to understand. They want to figure out what’s going on in the world and how they can help play a part in making it better.” A key component in Lymon’s plans for SHARE is working with youth, since she believes that educating kids from a young age on racial equity will lead to positive lasting change in future generations. She hopes to partner with Kalamazoo Public Schools and other area institutions and organizations to do that education, which includes information about the community’s racial heritage. “That is what SHARE is for me — using this platform to help inform people about history and take that history of what has already happened to better understand where we are right now and then where we can go in the future,” she says.

Meet Chianté Lymon What: A free ice cream social and meet–and–greet with live entertainment as well as remarks by Lymon on plans for the local Society for History and Racial Equity (SHARE) When: 2–5 p.m. Sept. 19 Where: Mayors Riverfront Park, 251 Mills St. For Lymon, collaborating with SHARE’s staff, consultants and board members, meeting people in the community, and being educated on a lot of history herself have been the highlights of her new position. She collaborated with The Gilmore to organize SHARE’s first Juneteenth celebration on June 19. It included a performance by Minor

For This

Element, a local instrumental jazz fusion band, and recognition of racial equity achievements in the community. Lymon says she will continue to promote SHARE’s mission, which was established under Odom’s leadership: to promote racial equity, foster connections in the community, provide education on racial heritage and awareness of racism, and help others understand how they can play their part in solving racial inequities. “My goal is to further the agenda of social justice, with an emphasis on racial equity,” she says. “I believe that we have to understand and explore the historical racism that has taken place and it is imperative that we uplift lived experiences. “I believe that Kalamazoo has come a long way, as many others have, but still has a long way to go. We have to dismantle historical systems that have kept people of color oppressed.”

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Brian Powers 16 | ENCORE AUGUST 2021

Live Again At Last Stephen Lynch is touring again and thinking about his legacy by


As far as Stephen Lynch is concerned, he doesn’t

want to hear the word “Covid” again, and audiences shouldn’t expect the topic to come up much when he begins performing this month for the first time in a year and a half. At the end of June, the Tony Award–nominated comedic songwriter announced “The Time Machine Tour” — a nationwide run starting Aug. 19 and continuing through the end of November, including two shows in Michigan. During a phone interview from his Kalamazoo home, Lynch says he tweaked the lyrics to his song “Time Machine” to address the all–encompassing pandemic and will perform it early in the show before moving on to his new material.

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“I did already rewrite a very small section of a song just to reference there was a pandemic, almost because I had to get it out of the way. It can’t be the elephant in the room. You can’t not say anything," Lynch says. "I just don’t want the whole show to revolve around it. It’s a song I open with about what if I had a time machine, what would I do with it? It occurred to me the other day, if I open with this song and mention something about going back in time to create a vaccine or warn the world or whatever it is, that will get that moment done and it won’t be something hanging over our head.” Lynch, who turned 50 last month, returns to the road following 18 months of uncertainty when the pandemic shuttered performance spaces and eliminated large gatherings. He’s seen a lot as a performer, with 25 years of working some of the biggest stages, including on Broadway and at Carnegie Hall, and with some of the most well– known comedians such as Bob Saget, Louis C.K., Mitch Hedberg, Lewis Black and more. He’s carved out a place in comedy as a talented guitarist/songwriter whose soothing voice and soft melodies run counter to his often profane lyrics about regrettable tattoos, menstruation, veganism, Satan, organ donation, sex, not having sex, the South, Jesus, the brother of Jesus, cocaine and rushing a relative to his deathbed for the sake of an inheritance, among other topics. Lynch's creative process relies on testing new songs on a live audience. He absorbs the reactions to help improve a song for its final, recorded version — or to scrap it if it doesn’t resonate. Lynch had a lot of new songs that were ready for the road at the start of 2020 and says he wasn't too concerned about the virus initially. Just before the lockdown, he was in Las Vegas performing what was to be the first leg of his tour. He sat in a casino with thousands of people from around the country and the world, and masks and hand sanitizer weren’t part of the daily routine yet. Cut to a month later, Lynch says, and he was washing his car keys and credit cards. “I thought I would be really creative in that time period," he says of the lockdown. "It turned out to be the opposite — I didn’t want to do anything creative. Nothing was funny. I didn’t want to re–tailor everything that I had written up to that point to be about this thing that was consuming all of our time and attention. "So, I just sort of didn’t. I didn’t do anything. I allowed myself to do other things. I cleaned my house. I sold my house. I bought a new house. I moved into that house. I did everything to just not think about that type of thing. I figured when the time was right, I would be reinspired and the creative juices would get flowing again. And that’s what happened, especially now that I have (performance) dates to actually look forward to.”

Back to Kalamazoo Creative juices flowed early for Lynch. Born in 1971 in Pennsylvania to a former nun and former priest, he was raised Catholic, but religion wasn’t forced on him. He playfully touched on the topic early in his


Stephen Lynch's

Top 5 Singles on Spotify 1. “Beelz,” 3.4 million plays 2. “Grandfather,” 3.3 million plays 3. “Craig,” 3.1 million plays 4. “Grow Old with You” (from The Wedding Singer soundtrack), 2.7 million plays 5. “Down to the Old Pub Instead,” 2.4 million plays (Warning: Stephen Lynch's songs often contain explicit references and profanity. Not for tender ears or to play while riding in the car with your kids.)

Top left: Stephen Lynch, left, with Laura Benanti in the Broadway production of The Wedding Singer. Left: Lynch has released four comedy albums, including The Craig Machine (2005) and Lion (2012) and My Old Heart (2019), above, which reached the No. 1 spot on Billboard’s comedy charts.

career, especially on 2005’s popular studio album, The Craig Machine, with the song “Craig,” about Jesus’ little–known, trouble–making, beer–pounding brother (fictional, of course) and “Beelz,” in which Lynch sings as a flamboyant devil. The Lynch family moved to Saginaw where Stephen became active in community theater, graduating from Arthur Hill High School’s Center for the Arts and Sciences (now Saginaw Arts and Sciences Academy) in 1988. In 1990, he came to Western Michigan University to study theater, graduating in 1993 with a bachelor’s degree in drama. It was at WMU that Lynch began writing comedy songs. After working a few summers at the Barn Theatre in Augusta, he moved in 1996 to New York City, where, over the next decade, his comedy and acting career took off. He appeared on the Comedy Central network, including performing his own special for the first

time in 2000, toured with some of the biggest names in stand–up comedy, and in 2006 earned the lead role of Robbie Hart in the Broadway musical The Wedding Singer, based on the Adam Sandler movie. The part led to a Tony Award nomination, among other accolades. In 2008, Lynch moved back to Kalamazoo, also the hometown of his wife, Erin Dwight (the couple married in 2003). He starred in his second “Comedy Central Presents” special the same year, and in 2009 he released 3 Balloons, his second studio album. He followed up three years later with Lion, a double live/studio album. In recent years, Lynch has utilized Kalamazoo for more elements of his career. In 2016, he recorded a live show at the State Theatre called Hello, Kalamazoo, which was directed by Kevin Romeo, of Kalamazoo’s Rhino Media. His 2019 studio album, My Old Heart, features local musicians Ben Lau and Michael Fuerst, as well as longtime friend and collaborator Rod Cone. It was recorded at Ian Gorman’s La Luna Recording & Sound studio in Kalamazoo.

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“It’s a good local resource and one I plan to use over and over again,” Lynch says of La Luna, where he returned this spring to record some new material. But if you have already been looking for new material by Lynch, you might have been a bit confused to find the 2020 instrumental album Nostalgia and Hope: Heartwarming Irish Landscapes (Original Score) on Amazon or Spotify. Lynch has been credited on those platforms as the album's artist, but the work is not his. It’s by an Irish musician with the same name. This mix–up has baffled more than a few listeners, whose back–and–forth comments in the Amazon review section of the album are their own kind of internet humor. “Every day somebody will ask me, ‘What’s this weird new direction you’re going in?’ And there will be a picture of that guy’s album,” Lynch says. “Sometimes I fess up and I say, ‘Well, it’s not me, it’s some other guy.’ Then sometimes I say, ‘I want to express


Stephen Lynch Timeline • Born July 28, 1971, in Pennsylvania • Moved with his family to Saginaw • Graduated from Arthur Hill High School’s Center for the Arts and Sciences (now Saginaw Arts and Sciences Academy) in 1988 • Transferred from The Catholic University of America, in Washington, D.C., to Western Michigan University in 1990

• Co–headlined a tour with Mitch Hedberg from 2004–05 • Released The Craig Machine Oct. 4, 2005 (it reached No. 129 on the Billboard 200) • Starred as Robbie Hart in the Broadway production of The Wedding Singer, April– December 2006

• Graduated from WMU in 1993

• Performed in Opie and Anthony’s Traveling Virus Comedy Tour with Bob Saget, Frank Caliendo, Louis C.K., Carlos Mencia and others in 2007

• Worked at the Barn Theatre in Augusta in the summers of 1993–95

• Performed in his second “Comedy Central Presents” special in 2008

• Moved to New York City in 1996

• Moved to Kalamazoo in 2008

• Appeared on Comedy Central’s Premium Blend in 1997

• Released his double live/studio album Lion on Nov. 13, 2012

• Released his debut comedy album, A Little Bit Special, in 2000

• Released his live DVD Hello, Kalamazoo on March 21, 2016 (recorded at the Kalamazoo State Theatre)

• Performed in his first “Comedy Central Presents” special in 2000

• Released My Old Heart on July 19, 2019

• Married Erin Dwight in September 2003

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a different side of me, the Irish ballad side of me.’ That’s how you’ll know if I’ve gone crazy — if I actually put out an album of Irish lullabies.”

From hibernation to domination For the last few months, however, Lynch has been riding his bicycle a lot. He grew his hair out to see “how annoyed it would make my wife,” he says, cutting it in May after the “awkward” but “fun experiment” ran its course. As he prepares to hit the road, he jokes, “I’m going from complete hibernation to world tour domination. Nothing in between.”

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Michigan Performances 7 p.m. Aug. 27 Wealthy Theatre Grand Rapids 7 p.m. Aug. 28 Royal Oak Music Theatre Royal Oak Lynch's credits the "genius strategy" of his agent, Mike Berkowitz, for getting the new tour on track. During the pandemic, Berkowitz would reschedule Lynch's tour stops every few months to “keep him on the books” at venues across the country, hoping everything would reopen at some point. The move is allowing Lynch to quickly resume his tour this summer, now that much of the country has received the vaccine and many pandemic restrictions have been lifted. Lynch says audiences can expect a show of almost entirely new songs and says he’s anxious to return to the stage, anticipating a special vibe as performers and audiences reacquaint themselves. He expects a few rough spots but is looking forward to those as well.


“I’m probably going to piss myself, I’ll be so nervous. … I feel rusty and out of practice. I’ve gone through this before when I’ve had big gaps in my touring life. The audiences I play for don’t seem to care. They like it when I’m a little rusty or everything isn’t lined up or in tip–top shape. They like to see the cracks — see how the sausage is made a little bit. There’s going to be some sort of energy there, and hopefully I’ll be able to rein it in and not just explode on stage.” As a newly minted 50–year–old, Lynch says that this life milestone has affected how he is approaching his current project. “You start to think about making something that will last, something you want to last. Not just something you sort of did, which is how I think I started off. Not to say I don’t like some of that stuff, but I wanted to make it better. That’s what I’ve been doing. I can’t tell you there’s a theme to this material, but if you liked the last couple records, then I’m hoping you’ll like this one too.” And like almost everyone else, Lynch is happy to finally get in front of faces. “To me, there’s no greater joy than when you have a bunch of new things to play for people and get a reaction and an assessment for how you did. Playing the old stuff is fine, and I know people want to hear their favorite thing or whatever, but, to me, when people ask me what my favorite song is that I’ve written, it’s probably going to be the last song I wrote. "There’s something fulfilling with starting at zero, literally nothing, and creating out of the ether a thing. Hopefully a fully realized and good thing. It’s really hard to do. It’s really hard for me to do anyway. I look forward to playing all the new material for people and getting reactions and then changing things and reworking things. That’s part of the fun of it for me. You’re not trying to get it perfect. It’ll never be perfect. I want to get it to a point where I’m happy with it, and then I can run into the studio, and that is what it will be forever.”

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Hold On, Little Tomato I’m watering the tomatoes in my nightgown again, waiting for them to turn red the way I waited then for my babies’ first steps. I sweet talk and encourage, nudge nature along, shake the bright blossoms, pollinate with Q–tips, watercolor brush. When the woodchuck comes, as he does, gnawing the cherries off the Sungolds, I spray each leaf—putrescence of fish meal, eggs, cat food and clove. Urea I will smell on my fingers in bed tonight. The cure entices flies, but all salvation comes with a price. Oh, I try to stop viewing these plants as more than what they are, but I’m not willing to make them less. I slide the skin off the New Girl like my grandmother taught me, lift its weight and imperfect shape from the ice water. I’ve grown something true here. Cupped in my palm, this calm little fruit sits solid. — Gail Martin Martin is a Michigan native who lives in Kalamazoo, where she works as a psychotherapist. Her new book, Disappearing Queen, won the Wilder Poetry Prize from Two Sylvias Press. It’s her third collection. Her second book, Begin Empty–Handed, won the Perugia Press Poetry Prize in 2013 and the Housatonic Book Award for Poetry at Western Connecticut State University in 2014. Some of her recent work can be seen in Beloit Poetry Journal, Blackbird, Juxtaprose and Willow Springs. Her website is

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Scottish Festival, Aug. 22; Megan Dooley & Band, Aug. 29; all shows begin at 6:30 p.m. (may be canceled due to inclement weather), The Stage at Kindleberger Park, 122 N. Riverview Drive,–in–the–park. Paw Paw Maple Lake Free Summer Concerts — Bronk Bros., Aug. 1; Typo, Aug. 8; Kari Lynch, Aug. 15; Zion Lion, Aug. 22; The Unknowns, Aug. 29; all Please Note: Due to the Covid–19 virus, of these outdoor shows begin at 6:30 p.m., Maple some of these events may have been Lake Amphitheatre Park, W. Michigan Ave., Paw cancelled or changed after press time. Please check with venues and organizations Paw, for up–to–date information. Beats on Bates — Weekly outdoor music under the lights of Bates Alley, 5:30 p.m. Wednesdays: PERFORMING ARTS Coffee with Friends, Aug. 4; Lana and the Tonics, Aug. 11; Tony Fields & Doug Decker, Aug. 18; Big THEATER Trouble, Aug. 25; Jazz Creative Institute/Kalamazoo Plays Music School Student Ensemble Concert, Sept. 1; The Belle of Amherst — Sarah Lynn Reddis stars as Emily Dickinson in this play based on the poet's Gun Lake Live Summer Series — Brena, Aug. 4; life from 1830 to 1886, 8 p.m. Aug. 6, 7, 13 & 14, New Kari Lynch Band, Aug. 11; Rusty & The Razor Blades, Vic Theatre, 134 East Vine St., Aug. 18; Sonicmanic, Aug. 25; Brena, Sept. 1; shows Smoldering Fires — The story of two 12–year–old begin at 6 p.m. rain or shine, Lakefront Pavilion, boys who seem unlikely friends but share a special Bay Point Inn, 11456 Marsh Road, Shelbyville, bond and dream of cleaning up their drug–infested, 888–486–5253. sometimes violent urban neighborhood, presented State on the Street — Live concerts Fridays virtually by Face Off Theatre Company, 7:30 p.m. outside the State Theatre: Kanola Band, Aug. 6; St. Aug. 20 & 21, Joe Jack, Aug. 13; DJ Mel V, Aug. 20; seating starting Double “O” 69 — A comedy about a double at 5 p.m., music at 5:30 p.m., agent who drinks and has the fate of the world Shout! A Tribute to the Fab Four — Free outdoor in his hands, 8 p.m. Aug. 30–Sept. 4 & Sept. 7–11; concert featuring Beatles tribute band, 8 p.m. Aug. 5 p.m. Sept. 5 & 12, Barn Theatre, 731–4121, 6, Richland Area Community Center, 9400 East CD Ave.; rain location: Living Hope Community Church, 9292 East CD Ave.;–in– Musicals the–park. SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical — SpongeBob, Patrick and the denizens Music on the Mall — Live performances on the of Bikini Bottom work to save their undersea South Kalamazoo Mall, 3–6 p.m. Saturdays: James world from annihilation in this musical based on Reeser & The Backseat Drivers, Aug. 7; Hurricane, the popular TV cartoon series,, 8 p.m. Aug. 3–7 & Aug. 14; Rozlyn Heart, Aug. 21; Mainstays, Aug. 28; Aug. 10–14 and 5 p.m. Aug. 8 & 15, Barn Theatre, Airtight, Sept. 4. 731–4121, Rockin' for Rec — Outdoor concert featuring The Wedding Singer — Featuring pop music of country singer Kyle Jennings, following a Kalamazoo the 1980s, this musical follows rock–star wannabe Growlers game to support the Kalamazoo Friends Robbie Hart, New Jersey’s favorite wedding singer of Recreation, a nonprofit that supports youth until his fiancee leaves him at the altar, 8 p.m. Aug. recreational programs, 5 p.m. Aug. 8, Homer Stryker 17–21 & Aug. 24–28; 5 p.m. Aug. 22 & 29, Barn Field, 251 Mills St.; ticket options include a third– base seat during the 1:35 p.m. Kalamazoo Growlers Theatre, 731–4121, game and a VIP meet–and–greet with all–you– Backyard Broadway — Farmers Alley Theatre can–eat ballpark food and drinks, will bring a 45–minute musical revue starring some favorite area performers (Jeremy Koch, The Lone Bellow — The alt–country and indie folk Whitney Weiner, Este’Fan Kizer and more) to your trio plays selections from its new album, Half Moon backyard, through September; visit the website Light, 8 p.m. Aug. 9, Bell’s Eccentric Cafe, 355 E. to pick a date and time that fits your schedule, Kalamazoo Ave, 382–2332, The Moody Coyotes — Bluegrass, folk and Americana band, 4:30 p.m. Aug. 14, The Dome MUSIC Sports Center, 12733 US–131, Schoolcraft, Bands & Solo Artists–in–the–park. Summertime Live in Parchment — Free outdoor Summertime Live in Bronson Park — Free outdoor concerts: Kyle Jennings, Aug. 1; Gull Lake Jazz concerts at Bronson Park: Farmers Alley Theatre, Orchestra, Aug. 8; FeelGood, Aug. 15; Kalamazoo

Aug. 15; Shayna Steele, Aug. 22; Change Gonna Come, a musical theater production portraying the life and songs of soul singer Sam Cooke, with an opportunity to support the local housing nonprofit Open Doors, Aug. 29; all shows begin at 4 p.m., Bronson Park; rain location: First Baptist Church, 315 W. Michigan Ave.;– in–the–park. Al Hight & M6–West — Rhythm–and–blues band in a drive–in–style concert, 7 p.m. Aug. 19, Ramona Park, 8600 Sprinkle Road, Portage, Tusk: The Ultimate Fleetwood Mac Tribute — Tribute band plays Fleetwood Mac tunes, with special guest Jake Kershaw, 8 p.m. Aug. 27, State Theatre, 404 S. Burdick, Out of Favor Boys — Blues band, 6 p.m. Aug. 29, Flesher Field, 3664 S. Ninth St., concerts–in–the–park. Orchestra

Ode to Joy — The Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra performs Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with guest soloists and local singers, 8 p.m. Aug. 14, Gilmore Car Museum, 6865 W. Hickory Road, Hickory Corners, VISUAL ARTS Kalamazoo Institute of Arts 314 S. Park St., 349–7775, Hours: 11 a.m.–5 p.m. Thursday–Saturday, noon–4 p.m. Sunday. Exhibitions

West Michigan Area Show — Selected works from hundreds of entries across a 14–county region, showcasing work in many different mediums, through Sept. 12. Yun–Fei Ji Exhibition — Yun–Fei, raised in China during the Cultural Revolution, uses historical folk tales to speak of environmental issues and mass migration through his art, through September. S saku–hanga: Creative Printmaking in Japan — Modern–era Japanese printmaking in which artists control the entire process of design, carving, printing and promotion of their work, through Oct. 10. It’s a David Small World — Through illustrations by Kalamazoo–area artist and Caldecott Medal winner David Small, this exhibition explores the process of creating a children’s book, Aug. 27–Nov. 29. Unveiling American Genius — Abstract and contemporary works from the KIA’s permanent collection, emphasizing stories that African American, Latinx and other artists have told about our culture, art and history, through December 2022.

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Events Art Market — Artists’ tents, food trucks and a beer garden in the KIA’s courtyard, 11:30 a.m.–8 p.m., Aug. 6; artists’ tents open at 11:30 a.m., free gallery admission 5–8 p.m., food trucks and beer garden begin at 5 p.m. ARTbreak: Printmaking and Pandemic, Part II — A virtual event exploring how printmakers throughout time have reacted to and portrayed pandemics, noon Aug. 10; reserve tickets online.

The Conservation of Paintings: Historical and Technical Discoveries — Barry Bauman discusses his 46 years of experience as a conservator at the Art Institute of Chicago, 6 p.m. Aug. 19; reserve tickets online. ARTbreak: Evolution of an Artist — Jewelry and fiber artist Emily Wohlscheid discusses how the her craft has evolved and how perceptions of being a working artist have changed over time, noon Aug. 24; reserve tickets online. Other Venues Art Hop — Displays of art at various locations, 6–8 p.m. Aug. 6, downtown Kalamazoo, 342–5059, Intern Exhibition — The Kalamazoo Book Arts Center’s annual display of its interns’ work, through Aug. 27, 326 W. Kalamazoo Ave., Suite 103A, LIBRARY & LITERARY EVENTS Comstock Township Library 6130 King Highway, 345–0136, Hours: 9:30 a.m.–8 p.m. Monday–Thursday, 9:30 a.m.–6 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Saturday. Curbside pickup is available; call ahead to place an order. Summer Reading Program for Adults — Enter to win weekly drawings for every book you read or listen to through Aug. 31; registration required. The Animal Guy — See a variety of animals from Wildlife Safari of Canton, 10:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. Aug. 7; registration required. Kalamazoo Public Library 553–7800, The Central Library and all branches are open with reduced hours and limited curbside services; see website for details. Page Turners Book Club — Zoom discussion of The Lager Queen of Minnesota, by Ryan Stradal, 6:30 p.m. Aug. 2; registration required. It’s Crime We Talk: A True Crime Book Club — Zoom discussion of Highway of Tears: A True Story of Racism, Indifference, and the Pursuit of Justice for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and


Girls, by Jessica McDiarmid, 6:30 p.m. Aug. 10; registration required. Urban Fiction Book Club — Zoom discussion of Get Even, by Danesha Little, 6 p.m. Aug. 31. Parchment Community Library 401 S. Riverview Drive, 343–7747, Hours: 9 a.m.–6 p.m. Monday & Tuesday, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Wednesday–Friday and 9 a.m.–1 p.m. Saturday. Summer Reading Bingo — All ages, through Aug. 7. The Revisionistas — Enjoy an hour with the writing group The Revisionistas and hear their work from a summer workshop led by local poet Elizabeth Kerlikowske, 6:30 p.m. Aug. 31.

Women in Air & Space — Featuring some of the earliest women in aviation, including Amelia Earhart; Harriet Quimby; Bessie Coleman; Katherine Wright, the Wright Brothers’ younger sister; and Air Zoo co–founder Suzanne Parish, the first female licensed pilot. Restoration and Exhibits at the Flight Discovery Center — See efforts to restore two World War II aircraft recovered from Lake Michigan, talk with the team and ask questions about their work, Flight Discovery Center, 3101 E. Milham Road. Gilmore Car Museum 6865 Hickory Road, Hickory Corners, 671–5089, Hours: 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Monday–Friday and 9 a.m.–6 p.m. Saturday & Sunday.

Portage District Library 300 Library Lane, 329–4544,

Wednesday Night Cruise–ins — Collector cars, oldies music and food, 5–8 p.m. Wednesdays on good–weather nights, through September.

The library is temporarily offering services at 5528 Portage Road while the building at 300 Library Lane is closed for renovations. Hours: 10 a.m.–6 p.m. Monday–Friday and 10 a.m.–2 p.m. Saturday.

GM/Chevy Show — Celebrating classic cars and honoring the life of passionate car enthusiast and master mechanic Bob Oginsky, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Aug. 1.

Kanola Band’s Summer Portage Party — Outdoor concert, 3 p.m. Aug. 7; registration required. Hiking in Michigan — Meet at the Kalamazoo Nature Center for a leisurely stroll, 2 p.m. Aug. 14; registration required. Documentary and Donuts — Watch the documentary Sustainable and enjoy locally made doughnuts, 6:30 p.m. Aug. 18; registration required.

Red Barns Spectacular — The “granddaddy” of antique, classic and special–interest car shows, open to any vehicle 25 years old and older, 9 a.m.–4 p.m. Aug. 7. Lincoln Homecoming Weekend — With the theme “Marks Through the Ages,” featuring Lincoln Continental Marks from the 1940s to the Mark VIII, with Lincolns from all eras welcome, 9 a.m.–4 p.m. Aug. 14–15.

Richland Community Library 8951 Park St., 629–9085,

Relix Riot — 12th annual show of traditional hot rods, custom cars and motorcycles, with live music and pin–up contest, 9 a.m.–4 p.m. Aug. 21.

Hours: 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday & Friday; 1–7 p.m. Thursday; and 10 a.m.–1 p.m. Saturday.

Pierce–Arrow Gathering — Showcasing the luxury cars built in Buffalo, New York, from 1901–1938, 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Aug. 29.

Summer Team Trivia — Five rounds of trivia, 7 p.m. Aug. 5; registration required.

Kalamazoo Valley Museum 230 N. Rose St., 373–7990,

Classic K–9 Dog Show — Celebration of the end of the 2021 Tails & Tales Summer Reading Program with dogs that play Frisbee, dance and do tricks, 11 a.m. Aug. 14. Featured Artist Reception — Celebrate local artist Ron Holder’s work and discuss his art, 5 p.m. Aug. 26. MUSEUMS Air Zoo 6151 Portage Road, Portage, 382–6555, airzoo. org Hours: 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Monday–Saturday and noon– 5 p.m. Sunday.

Be the Astronaut — Experience the wonders of space through three training stations specializing in science, navigation and engineering, through Sept. 12.

Giants, Dragons & Unicorns: The World of Mythic Creatures — Unique cultural objects highlight the surprising similarities and differences in the ways people around the world envision and depict mythical creatures, through Sept. 12. The Global Language of Headwear: Cultural Identity, Rites of Passage, and Spirituality — A selection of 89 hats and headdresses from a collection of over 1,300 that speak to cultural ties and identity, through Oct. 14. Science on a Sphere — An exhibit developed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows images of atmospheric storms, climate change and ocean temperatures on an animated globe,– on–sphere.htm.


Beth Bradfish Sound Sculpture — Manipulate wire–mesh screens and sounds for an auditory experience that blends arts and sciences.

Portage Farmers Market — 10 a.m.–2 p.m. Sundays, through Oct. 24, Portage City Hall,–Market.

a.m. at the Kalamazoo Nature Center, 7000 N. Westnedge Ave.; check for possible weather–based cancellations.

The Walker Brothers — A virtual exhibit about Ryan and Keith Walker, who were afflicted with the rare genetic disorder Hunter syndrome, and their lasting impact on family, friends, inclusive education and civil rights in Kalamazoo, walkerbrothers.

Sunflower Days — Enjoy five acres of sunflowers, wagon rides, a petting farm and family activities, 10 a.m.–6 p.m., Aug. 1, 8 & 15; 2–8:30 p.m. Aug. 6 & 13; and 10 a.m.–8:30 p.m. Aug. 7 & 14, Gull Meadow Farms, 8544 Gull Road, Richland, 629– 4214,

Kalamazoo Reptile & Exotic Pet Expo — Buy, sell or trade a variety of reptiles, amphibians and small mammals, 10 a.m.–3 p.m. Aug. 21, Kalamazoo County Expo Center, 2900 Lake St.,


Geo Mystery Tours — Geocaching experience with the theme "Insect: 006," Aug. 1; for location and to register, visit

Binder Park Zoo 7400 Division Drive, Battle Creek, 979–1351, Hours: 9 a.m.–5 p.m Monday–Friday, 9 a.m.–6 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m.–6 p.m. Sunday. Reptile Weekend — Annual two–day event for all ages designed to replace the myths and fears that people sometimes have about snakes and lizards, Aug. 7–8.

Workout Wednesdays — Free socially distanced workouts offered by local fitness organizations: Counterpoint Pilates, Aug. 4; YMCA of Greater Kalamazoo, Aug. 11; Kalamazoo Athletic Club, Aug. 18; Kalamazoo Barre, Aug. 25; Guess Who’s Dancing, Sept. 1, all sessions 5:30–6:30 p.m.,Bronson Park,

Chillin’ on a Summer Day Animal Play Date — Come see how the zoo's animals stay cool on a hot day, Aug. 14.

Parade of Homes — In–person or virtual tours of newly constructed homes, 6–9 p.m. Aug. 5, 6, 12 and 13; 1–7 p.m. Aug. 7 and 14; and 1–5 p.m. Aug. 8;

Kalamazoo Nature Center 7000 N. Westnedge Ave., 381–1574,

Friday at the Flats — Local food trucks and vendors, 4–8 p.m. Aug. 6, Celery Flats Pavilion, 7335 Garden Lane,

Celebrating Global Environmental Leadership Lecture and Musical Trail — Lecture on "Race, Class, Gender, and Environmental Justice: A Global Perspective," by Dr. Mariam Konaté, associate professor of the Institute for Intercultural and Anthropological Studies at Western Michigan University, 5:15 p.m.; drinks and music, 6:30 p.m.; musical trail experience with Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra musicians, 7 p.m.; Aug. 7; registration required.

Movies in the Park — Watch movies from your car: Raya and The Last Dragon, 9 p.m. Aug. 6; E.T. The Extra–Terrestrial, 9 p.m. Aug. 27; Ramona Park, 8600 S. Sprinkle Road,

For the Butterflies Tea Time — Join a guided butterfly hike through KNC’s Habitat Haven wetland, 1:30 p.m. Aug. 14; registration required. Guided Butterfly Hike — 1:30 p.m. Aug. 26, the KNC’s Willard Rose Prairie; registration required. Kellogg Bird Sanctuary 12685 East C Ave., Augusta, 671–2510, Birds and Coffee Chat Online — Grab your morning beverage and learn about a new bird species in Southwest Michigan, 10 a.m. Aug. 11; registration required. MISCELLANEOUS Kalamazoo Farmers Market — Local vendors selling fresh fruits, veggies, baked goods and farm– fresh meats and cheeses, 7 a.m.–2 p.m. Saturdays through Nov. 20, Mayors’ Riverfront Park, 251 Mills St.,–at–mayors.

Healing Body and Spirit Expo — Psychics, mediums and more, Aug. 21–22, Wings Event Center, 3600 Vanrick Drive, Portage Cornhole League — Join an eight–game season with game times running from 6:30–8:30 p.m. Aug. 26–Oct. 14, Schrier Park, Paw Prints — Make one–of–kind paw print art with your dog, 5–7 p.m. Aug. 26, South Westnedge Dog Park, 9010 S. Westnedge Ave., Mom to Mom Sale — Gently used baby and children’s clothes and other items and maternity clothes, 8 a.m.–1 p.m. Aug. 28, Wings Event Center, Kalamazoo Black Business Expo — Business vendor event showcasing black entrepreneurs and those intentional in supporting people of color, 1–5 p.m. Aug. 28, Kalamazoo Expo Center, all are welcome;

Hop Harvest Beer Tour — A bus tour in celebration of the hop, or Humulus lupulus, noon–6:15 p.m. Aug. 7, beginning at Old Burdick’s Bar & Grill, 100 W. Michigan Ave.; for tickets, visit Ramona Beach Bonfire — Enjoy a bonfire and make s’mores, 8 p.m. Aug. 7, Ramona Park and Beach, Ride 'Round the Town — Learn about bike safety, how to ride in a group, and how to utilize Portage's bikeway and trails, 6 p.m. Aug. 12, Schrier Park, 850 W. Osterhout Ave., Shop 2nd Saturdays — Outdoor market featuring local businesses, entrepreneurs and makers, and vintage wares, noon–7 p.m. Aug. 14, Kalamazoo Mall. Pig Out with Public Safety — Free back–to– school event providing kids with backpacks and school supplies for the upcoming school year, 2–6 p.m. Aug. 14, Ramona Park and Beach, Public Sky Observing Sessions — Kalamazoo Astronomical Society events: The Moon, Jupiter & Saturn, Aug. 14; Jupiter, Saturn & Summer Nebulae, Aug. 28; both sessions are held from 9:30 p.m.–1

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ENCORE BACK STORY Isaac Hoelle (continued from page 30) What sparked your interest in beekeeping? I took a bug class a long time ago in a summer enrichment program with Portage Public Schools. We studied insects and pollinators. The Kalamazoo Bee Club came and talked to the class about bees. That’s what got me interested. The club offered to take us to an apiary, and I went. We had to have our parents’ permission. We were given a bee suit to wear. What is it like to wear a bee suit? The first time I put one on (at the apiary) it felt weird because it was hot out. I got used to it, though. I feel more confident wearing a (bee) suit. There’s a thing I learned about bee suits I would like people to know — why they are white. Bee suits are white so the bees don’t think you are a bear. Wait, what? Bees evolved to feel threatened by darker colors like brown or black, like bears, which are known for snatching honeycombs and honey from hives. Also, it’s usually hot out when working with the hives, and white reflects sunlight, so we stay cooler. Have you ever been stung?

from the hive. This is normal behavior. If the bees are active, we know there is a live queen inside the hive. In spring we make sure eggs are being laid inside the comb cells. We also check for parasitic varroa mites, which are a common cause of hive death. What do the bees do in winter? They act like us — stay inside and keep warm. The queen is in the middle, and they form a ball around her to keep her warm. They eat honey for energy and to live. When we take honey from a hive in late summer, we need to leave enough for the bees to make it through the winter. What else would you like people to know about bees? I would like to tell people what is good for bees and what is bad for them. Flowers like dandelions are actually good. They are the first flowers to appear in spring. We just planted an American linden tree in our backyard. They are very good for bees. In the summer finding water can be hard for bees. People can put a shallow bowl out in their yard with some rocks in it. Bees can’t swim so they need a place to land and drink from. It is not good for bees when people spray their yard for insects. Bees are insects.

No. I’m kind of surprised about that. People do get stung. But a lot depends on how you treat the bees. You can puff the hive with a smoker, which calms them, but if you are calm and gentle, even without using a smoker, they are less likely to sting you.

Has becoming a beekeeper changed you in any way?

What are some activities you regularly do as a beekeeper?

What things do you like to do when you aren’t tending to your bees?

In winter we make sure the bees have enough food. Honey can be supplemented with sugar if needed. We make sure there is no moisture in the hive, because moisture can be deadly for bees. We inspect to make sure the bees have been removing the dead bees

I feel like I have changed by having bees because I feel the need to take care of them and take my time with them.

I play the tuba and guitar. I also like to work with my mom in our flower and vegetable gardens and with our apple trees. — Interview by Donna McClurkan, edited for length and clarity


Please send your questions to:







I LAWYER understandTHEa BUSINESS AND ESTATE spousal access trust may PLANNING Q. help me inLAWYER getting ahead Michael J. Willis, J.D., C.P.A. of President Biden’s Willis Law A. “Green Book” proposQ. 491 West South Street Michael J. Willis, J.D., C.P.A. als related to capital Kalamazoo, MI 49007 A.gains tax and also the 269.492.1040 decreasing lifetime estate exemption. How might it work? Please send your questions to:

Michael J. Willis, J.D., C.P.A. Willis Law 491 West South Street Kalamazoo, MI 49007 269.492.1040

Michael J. Willis, J.D., C.P.A.


My husband is going into a nursing home. I’ve been told it is possible for me to create a trust and protect my assets from the spend down at the nursing home. Is that true?




Yes. Most often when folks talk on trust planning, they are referencing a revocable trust. In fact, that is the case probably more MICHAEL J. WILLIS, J.D., C.P.A., WILLIS LAW than 99% of the time. A revocable trust under Michigan law generally is set up only to avoid probate--that’s its only benefit. However, there Please send your questions to: husband going into a nursing home.that I’ve told it is is anMy irrevocable trustisfor persons in your circumstances can been be established withtoyour assetsatotrust the extent they exceed protected possible for me create and protect my the assets from the spend Willis Law amount (which under Michigan law will cap at a little over $125,000). down at the nursing home. Is that true? 491 West South Street If the trust is irrevocable and the assets are effectively established in an Kalamazoo, MI 49007 MICHAEL J. WILLIS, J.D., C.P.A., WILLIS annuity LAW income stream back to you per the terms of the trust, then in 269.492.1040 such Yes. a circumstance the trustwhen will no folks longer talk be considered Most often on trusta countable planning, they are asset, but instead an income stream and thereby exempt for Medicaid Please send your questions to: referencing a My revocable trust. Ingoing fact, that case probably more intois atheand nursing purposes. This is husband a sophisticatedis planning technique, I highly home. I’ve been told it is thanencourage 99% of you the time. counsel A revocable trust underthisMichigan law generally before implementing or possible toforseekme to create a trust andtechnique protect my assets from the spend anyup other Medicaid planning. is set only to avoid probate--that’s its only benefit. However, there Willis Law

A. Under current law, an individual with appreciated capital assets may give those assets away, up to a value of $11.7 million, and pay no capital gains tax or any estate or gift tax. The lifetime

exemption for estate and gift tax will drop to circa $6M in 2026, but will drop as low as $3.5M if the bill becomes law. Many wealthy Americans are now working on making major gifts to “get ahead” of the decreasing lifetime estate and gift tax exemption. More pressing, however, might be the capital gains tax proposals in the “Green Book” which would deem a gift of capital assets after January 1, 2022, with gains which exceed $1M, as a deemed sale and require income tax payments on rates as high as the individual income tax rate (circa 40%). This may mean the window to make a major gift for closes on December 31, 2021. Enter the spousal access trust or SLAT. By using a SLAT, one married person makes a gift to his or her spouse, in trust, for the lifetime benefit of the spouse. Typically, after the spouse passes, the remaining assets will be delivered to the couples’ children. The advantage is the ability to use, fully, the highest lifetime exemption in U.S. history before it is gone and before the capital gains laws change. The further advantage is the continued use of the gifted assets by one’s spouse. Given the gift is irrevocable, it should be made deliberately and intentionally. The time to plan may be now.

Michael J. Willis is the Managing Partner of Willis Law, Attorneys and Counselors at Law, is licensed to practice law in Florida and Michigan, and is registered as a certified public accountant in the state of Illinois. Attorney Willis is rated as an A V -Preeminent Attorney by Martindale-Hubbell. This rating, according to Martindale, which has been rating lawyers for over a century, signifies that an attorney has reached the heights of professional excellence and is recognized for the highest levels of skill and integrity. He is listed in the Best Lawyers in America.




down at thepractice nursing home.and isyour Is thata certified true? 491 West South is andanCounselors irrevocable for persons Michael J. WillisStreet is the Managing Partner of Willis Law, Attorneys at Law, is licensed totrust law in Florida and Michigan, in registered ascircumstances public accountant that can be in the state of Illinois. Attorney Willis is rated as an A V -Preeminent Attorney by Martindale-Hubbell. This rating, according to Martindale, which has been rating lawyers for over a century, Kalamazoo,signifies MI 49007 established with foryour the Heextent exceed that an attorney has reached the heights of professional excellence and is recognized the highestassets levels of skill to and integrity. is listed in thethey Best Lawyers in America. the protected 269.492.1040 amount (whichYes. under Michigan law will cap folks at a little Most often when talkover on$125,000). trust planning, they are If the trust is irrevocable and the assets are effectively established in an referencing a revocable trust. In fact, that is the case probably more annuity income stream back to you per the terms of the trust, then in than 99% of the time. A revocable trust under Michigan law generally such a circumstance the trust will no longer be considered a countable up only to avoid probate--that’s its only benefit. However, there asset, isbutset instead an income stream and thereby exempt for Medicaid purposes. is a sophisticated I highly is an This irrevocable trust forplanning personstechnique, in your and circumstances that can be encourage you to seek this technique or the protected established withcounsel your before assetsimplementing to the extent they exceed any other Medicaid planning. amount (which under Michigan law will cap at a little over $125,000). Michael J. Willis is the Managing Partner of Willis Law, Attorneys and Counselors at Law, is licensed to practice law in Florida and Michigan, and is registered as a certified public accountant If the trust is irrevocable and the assets are effectively established in an in the state of Illinois. Attorney Willis is rated as an A V -Preeminent Attorney by Martindale-Hubbell. This rating, according to Martindale, which has been rating lawyers for over a century, signifies that an attorney has reached the heights of professional excellence and is recognizedincome for the highest stream levels of skill and He isyou listed inper the Bestthe Lawyersterms in America.of the trust, then in annuity back such a circumstance the trust will no longer be considered a countable asset, but instead an income stream and thereby exempt for Medicaid This is a sophisticated technique, and I highly Michael J. Willis is the Managing Partner of Willis Law, Attorneyspurposes. and Counselors at Law, isplanning licensed to practice law in Florida and Michigan, and is registered as a certified public accountant in the state of Illinois. Attorney Willis is rated as an A V -Preeminent encouragewhich you to seek before implementing this over technique or Attorney by Martindale-Hubbell. This rating, according to Martindale, hascounsel been rating lawyers for a century, signifies that an attorney has reached the heights of professional excellence and is recognized for the highest levels of skill and integrity. any other Medicaid planning. He is listed in the Best Lawyers in America.

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Isaac Hoelle

Backyard Beekeeper I

his holiday gift money from his grandparents to buy bees and supplies and set up a hive in the backyard of his family's home. In addition to knowing a lot about the insects through beekeeping, Hoelle has learned a few life lessons as well; he lost his bees this year, likely due to parasitic varroa mites, and had to start over with a new queen and bees in June. "I was disappointed to lose my bees," he says, “but I felt OK very soon after because I know that this stuff happens. I was elated to get more bees and to be helping the pollinators again." (continued on page 29)

Brian Powers

n her 1988 book, A Book of Bees … and How to Keep Them, author Sue Hubbell — born and raised in Kalamazoo — wrote, “Buying a hive of bees is, in some ways, like buying an Irish Setter puppy; it changes one’s life.” This is certainly true for Isaac Hoelle, a 12–year–old beekeeper who just finished sixth grade at Portage Central Middle School. Isaac's foray into the apiary world began in elementary school when he was introduced to beekeeping through a summer program at Portage Public Schools. He was so enamored with beekeeping, he saved


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