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profiles THE PEOPLE OF MASON COUNTY

STEVE BEGNOCHE | DAILY NEWS

A SPECIAL PUBLICATION OF THE

LUDINGTON DAILY NEWS Tuesday, April 19, 2016


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LUDINGTON DAILY NEWS/COMMUNITY PROFILE

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Meet some people who help make this a great place to live

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any qualities make up a successful and vibrant community. Natural resources, geography, infrastructure, schools, civic organizations and much more are part of the mix. But the most central feature of any community is its people. Good people make for a good community. We’re blessed with good communities and plenty of good people here. This special section of the Ludington Daily News takes a look at a sampling of residents. We could have themed this section, as we have before, Making a Difference because the residents profiled here in so many ways

make a big difference in this place we call home. We hope you take the time to enjoy reading the stories of these members of our community. Maybe, just maybe, they’ll inspire you to get involved a little bit more in your hometown and in greater Mason County. We live in a caring and generous place. We’re blessed with great resources in our rivers and lakes, our forests and fields, our highways and schools, our community organizations and so much more. Don’t take any of it for granted. We all can play a part in making this a great place to call home. Steve Begnoche

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Nancy Sanford, Scottville booster ‘Your community is what you put into it’

BY RILEY KELLEY DAILY NEWS CORRESPONDENT

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COTTVILLE —Nancy Sanford’s philosophy regarding community involvement and service can be summarized in eight words: “your community is what you put into it.” This belief is what fuels Nancy’s service to the Scottville community, because, as she says, “If you don’t keep putting into it, it’s not going to give back.” Nancy Sanford has lived in Scottville for almost 20 years. She and her husband, Robert, moved to the area from Denver, Colorado, to be closer to his family, and because they saw Mason County as an ideal place to raise their boys. “It was a wonderful place to bring them,” Nancy said. “I just think it was a better environment than it was in the big city.” Nancy is the current president of the Scottville Optimists, where she has been an active member for more than a decade. She first became involved with the Optimists in 2004, when she assisted with Wednesday night bingo. Since then, she has become one of the well-known faces of the organization. “The Optimist club is one of the service organizations and buildings still in operation that’s been around for a long, long time,” she says. “We want to keep that presence because it means so much to the people of the community. It’s where people go to vote, it’s where they have their parties, we have concerts there on Tuesday nights, I mean the list just goes on.” “That’s why I’m so passionate about the Optimists,” Nancy explains. “If you think about it, if you look

Nancy Sanford says Scottville’s location in the center of Mason County is the best spot possible. around, it represents a lot for Scottville. There’s a lot of history there, and I just want to keep it going.” For Nancy, the Optimist Club is a vital link between various service organizations, many of which Nancy contributes to. Nancy also co-chairs the board for Scottville Clown Band Shell and serves on the Downtown Development

Authority board, where she works with other local leaders to promote and sustain economic vitality in downtown Scottville. To top it all off, she spends her days working in the heart of Scottville as the branch manager for West Shore Bank, where she has worked since 2002. Above and beyond any of her individual endeavors,

Nancy is passionate about Scottville, and she is optimistic about the city’s future. “I always refer to Scottville to be the central location for Mason County,” Nancy says. “We’re the middle of everything … right in the pivot point, in the best spot possible. We just need to build ourselves back up. And I believe we can do it.”

POSITIVE ATTITUDE “The person that influenced me the most when I was young was a high school teacher (Peggy Pinkard Rasmussen). She became a very good friend of mine and helped me when I needed it the most.” The most important thing Nancy learned from Rasmussen is the power of positive thinking.

RILEY KELLEY | DAILY NEWS

“This is what I try to pass on to others. If you believe in something and work hard at it and have a positive attitude, you can make the difference,” she said.

WORDS OF WISDOM “The best advice I can give to young people is if you want to get to know people or know your community, get involved,” she said.


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Lynne Russell, United Way Inspiring community growth, collaboration to make a difference

BY ZACH MATHIOT NEWS CORRESPONDENT

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ynne Russell, executive director of United Way of Mason County, has been invested in the wellbeing of the community and its people. She and her husband raised their two children here and appreciate time spent with their children and grandchildren. “We just really enjoy family time together; we love the outdoors, hiking, boating…. just spending time together as family,” said Russell. Russell earned her bachelor’s degree in therapeutic recreation from Michigan State University as well as her master’s degree in social work. She started fostering her love for community by working 13 years with Community Mental Health (CMH). This experience allowed her to develop an affinity for advocating for people in need and to appreciate her community. “I started actually right out of college at CMH in 1984. At that time, I was a day treatment therapist for persons with developmental disabilities and that were chronically and mentally ill,” said Russell. Russell was also present during the time of West Michigan CMH’s creation as a result of the consolidation of three separate branches of CMH. This was a challenge for her and those involved with the project. The challenge of bringing together three separate work cultures gave her the push she needed to be more involved in administration. “CMH centers were growing and it just really afforded me the opportunity to experience more, a lot more administrative type func-

ZACH MATHIOT | DAILY NEWS

Lynne Russell, United Way of Mason County executive director, seeks to bring the community together to work to improve life in Mason County. tions,” said Russell.

UNITED WAY She went to work for United Way in 1997. “While I wanted to continue in that work of being an advocate, I just felt I could be more effective in other ways. That’s kind of what led me down the road to go into administration and management,” said Russell. For the past 19 years Rus-

sell has been instrumental in connecting together different services in the area. She sees this as an issue the community faces and works to solve it daily. Her desire for connectivity shows in the multiple organizations she’s been a part of — United Way, Talent 2025 and the Ludington & Scottville Area Chamber of Commerce. Russell’s motivation

stems from a want for more collaboration between organizations and businesses. “I think a challenge that have pushed me and continued to drive me is collaboration in its truest sense, where people are willing to think outside the box and think of the best interests of the community rather than your own personal interests or agenda,” said Russell. It’s this drive to bring to-

gether the community that helped spur on the plan for the upcoming Lakeshore Resource Network. Russell developed the idea while working with members of CMH and their mobile food pantry. They discussed the issue that many pantries are hard pressed to deal with the amount of people in the immediate area who are in need of food.

“Most of the food pantries aren’t able to be open extended hours and they can’t give the volume of food that any one person needs to help,” said Russell. Russell, with help from the Pennies from Heaven founders John and Anita Wilson, Pennies from Heaven Executive Director Monica Schuyler and a team of community members, are working to create a central-


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ized food pantry. This facility will house a pantry and host six other local help agencies, such as Red Cross and Michigan Works.

HELPING PEOPLE Russell has a love for people and helping them succeed and work together. This trait is what helped the Lakeshore Resource Network grow from just an idea into something much larger. “I just really genuinely care about people and their well-being. That’s just a passion of mine and I think what drives me more is to see the inefficiencies that we have and how we help people who are less fortunate,” said Russell. Russell’s ideas have had support from the foundation. She knew there were ways the community could be better organized to help those in need and sought help in doing so. “Our greatest need is to think and do things differently. There are enough resources to go around if we change the way that we’re doing things,” said Russell. Russell has known the Wilsons for a majority of the time she’s lived in Ludington. This led to the partnership between United Way and Pennies from Heaven in terms of uniting related services. “What I really want to continue to see happening is for people to be able to create partnerships across systems and businesses. It’s not just about getting food or housing for someone but how we get people to self-sufficiency,” said Russell. The Lakeshore Resource Network was designed to allow as many organizations as feasibly possible to work together in one space. She wanted to make sure there weren’t any obstacles to someone receiving the help they need or an organization being involved in the process. “United Way and the Pennies from Heaven Foundation went into this initiative

ERICA KARMEISOOL | FILE PHOTO

Lynne Russell and Monica Schuyler, Pennies From Heaven Foundation executive director, are among the team members working on the Lakeshore Resource Network, which will be housed in the former Lakeshore Lumber building on Tinkham Avenue.

‘Our greatest need is to think and do things differently. There are enough resources to go around if we change the way that we’re doing things.’ Lynne Russell with the idea that money would not be a barrier in starting anything,” said Russell. The drive to help others succeed and maintain a happy well-being is at the heart of what Russell and United Way have been doing. Their work also led to the creation of Oaktree Academy, thanks to Lisa Cooper, executive director of the academy. Russell and Cooper were talking about the idea for

something like Oaktree when John Wilson asked about a similar idea. The timing was just right. Russell also played a part in the creation of Lakeshore Employer Resource Network (LERN) which is used to help employees who are in need of transportation, day care, and several other needs. Oaktree Academy and the LERN are just two of many organizations that have been helped immensely by

Russell’s efforts with United Way. “United Way has been providing the administrative and technical support of these initiatives like Lakeshore Employer Resource Network and Oaktree Academy,” said Russell. Though Russell has made significant accomplishments with her work with United Way, she has dealt with obstacles in the past that have made this sort of endeavor quite difficult. “Restrictions that our state and federal government put upon agencies (hinder their ability) to collaborate and work with others. While they say they want organizations to collaborate, they put so many restrictions on how they

can use their dollars that it makes it virtually impossible,” said Russell. These issues are compounded by the fact that some organizations only cover a county. State and federal law mandates they work within certain areas only, which blocks working together. “It just makes it very difficult to do collaboration in its truest form,” said Russell.

KEEPING FOCUSED Russell is not deterred, however, in her goal to better unify and collaborate with organizations in the area. What helps is that United Way of Mason County is devoted to the work she’s involved with daily.

“Our focus areas are in raising money and awarding money to non-profit health and human service programs that are focusing on helping children to succeed, working with individuals and families to become financially stable and improving people’s health,” said Russell. “I don’t think we as a society can fix a single problem because everything is interrelated and interconnected …I don’t believe we can solve one issue without addressing another and that’s why it’s so important for organizations to look outside their box and to look at what they’re doing and how it impacts everything else happening in the community,” said Russell.


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John and Mary Bergh, ministering Couple devoted to prison ministry, visiting nursing homes and leading a full life

BY STEVE BEGNOCHE MANAGING EDITOR PERE MARQUETTE TWP.— Not everyone designs and has built a new house at age 93. John Bergh just did. Finishing touches are being completed to turn the house into a home for John and Mary, his wife of nearly 30 years. The retired Michigan Department of Transportation design engineer said designing is pretty easy for him as he has designed and built several homes before. “People ask, ‘why build at 93?’” he said. “I say ‘I hope this one outlives me.’” Not that Bergh, a World War II era the U.S. Army Air Force pilot/instructor who taught others how to fly, doesn’t plan to live in the house on Rasmussen Road for a long time. He said he’s blessed with good health and he and Mary keep busy in a ministry they love. They’ve been doing church services at the Oaks Correctional prison in Manistee since it opened more than 20 years ago. ”When God called me to the ministry, there wasn’t even a prison here,” he said. “We’ve been evangelists for the Salvation Army,” JEFF KIESSEL | DAILY NEWS Mary said. Mary Bergh plays the piano at Ludington Woods as John Bergh sings. The Pere Marquette Township

John Bergh, left, is a retired Michigan Department of Transportation engineer. Here he’s seen walking on the Mackinac Bridge while it was under construction. The card inset in the photo was presented to him upon crossing the bridge after it was completed on Nov. 1, 1957, the first day it was open to traffic.

nice,” she said. “They are very respectful to us,” John said. “They have learned to trust us. They say we are faithful,” Mary said. couple provides a ministry to several area nursing and extended care homes. They also provide a “We were told they were PRISON MINISTRY ministry at the Oaks prison in Manistee and the GEO facility in Baldwin. promised many things in Each Sunday, the couple life,,” John said adding leads a well-received service many of those promises by for 25 inmates. They intend and give opening and closup there, they call us by service. others in their lives weren’t to continue to do that as ing prayers. name, John and Mary,” he Why do it? kept. “But they said we were long as their health allows “We have regular church said, The staff, too, is very “When they (inmates) faithful .” them. with the sermon, everything supportive of their work. make statements that ‘if you The Berghs show up, Sun“We do it as a team. If you included. It lasts an hour,” “I enjoy because it’s what were my parents, I would day after Sunday. see John, you see Mary,” John said. “We have to be the Lord called me to do,” never have ended in prison,’ There’s always an opporJohn said. “It’s been an prompt in ending our serMary said. “I don’t feel a bit I don’t know about that, but tunity after service for spehonor and a privilege to be vice.” nervous. I never have been it feels good,” John said. cial prayer. The prisoners asked to do that.” Lockdown takes place 30 nervous since day one.” Mary said they know the kneel and are very honest, They get a lot of volunteer minutes after service con“It’s safer than the drive prisoners who take part in Mary said. help from the inmates who cludes. up there,” John said of their the service by looks, by see“They give testimony and set up communion table, “There’s a wonderful staff time in the prison for the ing them. “They are very support each other,” she

explained “They’re more real than many Christians. They’re really honest with each other. I enjoy it. They tell how the Lord has helped them in different areas. They are very strong in the Lord. It is very exciting to me.” Recently, the Berghs began a monthly Sunday service at GEO prison in Baldwin at the request of the private prison. They also have done services at the Oceana County Jail.

VISITING THE ELDERLY The Berghs’ ministry to people goes beyond work with prisoners. For years they also have


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visited weekly with residents of several local nursing homes and extended care facilities. “They’re very, very wonderful people. They’re positive. They’re awesome,” Jessica Billings, activities director at Ludington Woods, said. “I do appreciate their time meeting and volunteering and taking time to spread the word.” Ludington Woods residents look forward to the Berghs’ visits, Billings said, noting the couple brings church to the residents and the residents appreciate that. “There have been some times they haven’t been able to come, and the residents ask about them,” Billings said. “They create moments of joy for them, do a little Bible reading, sing from hymns, which the residents like because they can relate to that music.” Mary plays piano and John

John Bergh sits with residents of Ludington Woods. helps with the singing. “We love it,” John said. “The people love it. Our time here is short. You never know where the Lord is going to lead. The people look forward to seeing us. It’s our chance of witnessing for the Lord.”

A BIT OF HISTORY John met Mary after he retired from MDOT. The Houghton native had traveled all over the state in his work designing rest areas and on one assignment after the war, as part of a team of engineers assessing plans for freeway construction in

Michigan to determine if the sites of the routes drawn on paper were actually suitable for what was planned. He also was part of an effort to gather input on the Michigan critical bridge replacement program and later on a road safety analysis program. His work took him to all 83 Michigan counties. He called the work after World War II when Eisenhower was president and put forth the challenge and 90 percent of the funding to build the interstate highway system of the nation, an exciting time. He remembers being part of a widening of U.S.

10 between Ludington and Scottville in 1949 when the lanes of the then two-lane highway were widened from 9 feet to 12 feet. His knowledge of the area from such visits and the observation of pilot friend who said there is no more beautiful lakeshore than the shoreline of Lake Michigan near Ludington, prompted him to retire here even though he had no family here. Houghton, he quipped, only has two weeks of summer, and that wasn’t enough. The Michigan Tech graduate hasn’t regretted the choice saying Mason County people are friendly and he’s made a lot of friends. He met Mary here, noting at nearly 30 years they haven’t been married long enough. “I’m very happy with my married life,” John said. He said he’s been at the right place at the right time and that includes time during retirement on the Mason County Road Commission,

RUSS MILLER PHOTO

The Jebavy Drive bridge was constructed while Bergh was a member of the Mason County Road Commission. including time as chairman. The Jebavy Drive bridge over the Lincoln River was built while he was on the local road commission. “What I enjoyed working on most was the Jebavy bridge. That

is a showpiece for Mason County,” he said. He praises the architectural lines of the bridge and the approach. For his 31 years of work for the state, MDOT named a rest area near Chase after him. “I don’t know what that means, but it says someone cares,” John said of the honor. He laughs and says he’s now been collecting retirement longer than he collected a paycheck for working, observing he beat the system. John intends to keep beating the system and sharing his and Mary’s ministry. “I pray to the Lord, and say, ‘if You keep me healthy, I won’t quit,’” he said of how long he and Mary will do their ministry. “It depends on my health. ... I’m ready to keep going, and both of us have all our memories and are able to express ourselves. Who knows how long? Ninety-three is a good start.”

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Crystal Young, helping business

People, business key to West Shore Community College Business Opportunity Center director BY BROOKE KANSIER DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER

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ICTORY TOWNSHIP — Crystal Young is a people-person. It’s been a year since she joined the crew at West Shore Community College and its Business Opportunity Center, where Young does what she loves. “At West Shore Community College, ‘community’ is our middle name,” Young said. “It’s not just there to be there, it’s the heartbeat of what the college is all about, that’s our mission. And that’s where my heart is at — people and relationships.” A Mason County native, Young moved back to area in 2013 after a stint in Vermont with her husband. “We had just reached a place in Vermont where we were looking for other opportunities, and, as I put it, the doors to Michigan just opened wide,” she said. “I never thought I’d be back directly in this area, but the opportunities afforded to us were ones that we decided to take.” She moved on to West Shore in 2015, where she filled the role of executive director of the Business Opportunity Center, left open after Lynda Matson moved on to a new position. The Business Opportunity Center focuses on workforce and economic development in the community by working to build skills and opportunities for success with individuals and companies. It does that by offering customized training, in-house or on-site, and quick approval for training through the center’s Open Entry, Open Exit program. “My job is all about relationships,” Young said. “Everything we do is based upon people.” Since Young took charge at the Business Opportunity Center, she’s put a bigger emphasis on business and community education. “It’s really trying to narrow down, what does the community want? This isn’t just something

we throw together and say, ‘Hey, hope it works,’” she said. “We did surveys in 22 different locations throughout our district, asking people, what do you want to learn, what do you want to explore, what locations are you willing to go to and how much are you willing to invest in these opportunities?” With that information, Young and the center put together a curriculum for the center, as well as a booklet including other information and opportunities. “It’s been taken to a new place because of relationships with people,” she said. “It’s not just me doing something, it’s nurturing opportunity and fostering an environment of creative and progressive thinking.” Another program she has implemented is career services, where the center helps individuals prepare for interviews and build resumes. “You know, you have people come in for interviews, but perhaps they’re not dressed appropriately, or they’re not prepared, or their resume is not pertaining exactly to what the job posting was,” Young said. “We’re offering career services in order to better prepare people at the individual level, build that bridge and transfer that information between potential employee and employer. “It’s a two-way street.” Another focus Young has brought to the area is her community talks, where she invites business owners and community members to come and learn more about various employment and job dynamic topics. The biggest one she’s been tackling lately is bridging the gap between employees of different generations, and the varying viewpoints they have. “Generational communication is just a hot topic right now, because of the transition of millennials into the workplace, of gen Xers into more executive roles, of baby boomers retiring,” Young said. “So, how do you effectively make that transition? How do you plan for succession?”

JEFF KIESSEL | DAILY NEWS

Crystal Young says her job as West Shore Community College Business Opportunity Center executive director is all about relationships.


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‘At West Shore Community College, ‘community’ is our middle name. … it’s the heartbeat of what the college is all about, that’s our mission. And that’s where my heart is at — people and relationships.’ Crystal Young She also receives a lot of requests for presentations on soft skills, like basic customer service or supervisor and leadership skills. “We have a lot of people that end up in certain roles, and they maybe have never been in a supervisor or leadership position before,” Young said. The center contracts out some of those presentations, too, and connects inquirers to businesses that can help. “I can’t say it’s just me, I have an amazing team,” Young said. That team partially consists of Kara Mitchell, the center’s administrative assistant; Deborah Jacobs, the community education coordinator; and Tom Hindman, talent and entrepreneurial development coordinator. The center also utilizes partnerships with the Mason County Growth Alliance, the Manistee Chamber and the Alliance for Economic Success in Manistee. “It’s a collaborative effort,” Young said. Young, like many other staff members, incorporates her own likes and hobbies

into her role at West Shore. “I, actually, am a certified yoga instructor, so I got placed into the Mindful Living Series,” she said. “Everyone has different passions, even outside work, and that’s one of mine. Several of our adjunct faculty teach some of these BCE classes, which is pretty cool. For some of them, it pertains to what they teach at the college, and some of them, again, it’s just a hobby. The main thing is to utilize what people do on our team.” West Shore’s Business and Community Education, BCE, provides practical learning opportunities for the community through classes, events and workshops. The Mindful Living Series is one of the opportunities offered through the program. Along with yoga, Young enjoys activities like hiking and mountain biking with her husband. The pair is very outdoorsy, she said. “We’re both from the area, and when we lived in Vermont it was just a great place to foster our love for the outdoors. Moving home, there are so many natural

resources around here, it’s COURTESY PHOTO fun to get reacquainted with Crystal Young, executive director of the West Shore Community College’s Business Opportunity some of those,” Young said. Center, stands next to Cara Mitchell, administrative assistant for the center. After graduating from Mason County Central in 2001, Young moved on to Ferris State University in Big Rapids. “My degree was actually in printing, of all things,” Young said. “And, talking with people seeking career choices, it isn’t necessarily about your degree, it’s going back to relationships.” She encourages locals to reach out to the college, and keep building those kinds of relationships. “Sometimes when you live here, we’re bombarded by so much that things start to blend in and you forget it’s there, and I said, if anyone ever has a question, or an idea, just call us,” Young said. “Because more than likely, we A. already offer it, or B. could offer it, or C. if we can’t, we’re going to connect you with the place or individual that does. We’re there as a resource for the community, use us as much as you can. “It’s cliche, but there’s so much opportunity and the sky’s the limit.”

For All You Do!


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Terry Coleman, maple syrup maker

‘This is what I wait for all year.’ Terry Coleman

Tapping into one of nature’s sweetest bounties, one tree at a time BY BRIAN MULHERIN DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER

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UMMIT Township — Some people were born with a silver spoon in their mouth. Terry Coleman might have been born with a maple syrup color gauge in his hand. Coleman does a little of this and a little of that through the year, but sitting next to his Leader evaporator, smelling the sweet odor of maple sap boiling down over a wood fire, Coleman is in his glory. “I can’t explain it,” Coleman said. “I absolutely love doing it. It’s unique. It’s an interesting part of nature. Who would think that juice would be moving through that wood that looks like cork and that you could cook it down and turn it brown and make sugar out of it?” Coleman has caught his

share of big fish and shot his share of big deer, but give him a vial of light amber syrup and he’s in his own personal nirvana. “This is what I wait all year for,” Coleman said. “I love the smell of cooking it. I can’t get enough of that.” The syrup is sold from his home on Hawley Road west of Pere Marquette Highway under the business name “Maple Haus.” Coleman doesn’t make his syrup solo. His wife, Heather, and their kids Clinton, Allen and Jessica all help out, whether with cooking or gathering or bottling or some other aspect of the business. Coleman said he usually gathers the first leg of their route each night when the syrup is running, then he returns to fire up the evaporator while the kids finish the gathering. While his heart is in his

Terry Coleman fills orders in his Maple Haus. JEFF KIESSEL | DAILY NEWS


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Phil Quinlan, a voice, not an echo MCC Middle School teacher encourages leadership in his students

BY RILEY KELLEY DAILY NEWS CORRESPONDENT

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COTTVILLE — If there’s one quality that Phil Quinlan wants to instill in his students, it’s leadership. “Be a voice, not an echo,” Quinlan says. “Anyone can be an echo, but being a voice takes courage, and it’s an honorable thing to do.” Phil Quinlan teaches seventh-grade history at Mason County Central Middle School, where he has worked since 1997. He is also a community leader in veteran affairs, and he strives to honor the men and women who serve this country in his teaching. “I don’t want the kids to forget,” he says. “I feel generationally that we have an obligation to those who came before us.” Quinlan comes from a military family, and feels it is his obligation to honor his brother, father, and great-great-grandfather, all of whom served in the armed forces. Phil Quinlan believes that he carries on this legacy through teaching, which is his way of serving his country. Quinlan was selected by the United States Marine Corps to attend educational workshops in 2004 and 2008. “They took educators from around the country to see how they build Marines. What an honor that was,” Quinlan remembers. “We saw how leadership is instilled in the Marines, and what I took away from that was, How can I take leadership and instill that in my students and in my community?” This has informed Quinlan’s teaching philosophy, as well as his community

RILEY KELLEY | DAILY NEWS

Phil Quinlan teaches Mason County Central Middle School seventh-grade history. He has attended U.S. Marine Corps educational workshops and has been honored by the Michigan Veterans of Foreign Wars as its 2010 teacher of the year. With him are some of his students. outlook. He participates in the MCC Veterans Annual Program, and was part of the committee that brought the Traveling Wall to Ludington in 2014. In 2010, he was awarded the Michigan VFW teacher of the year award for his commitment to teaching Americanism and patriotism in school. “I felt like a rock star, but really it was the veterans who were the rock stars.” “There was a man who

walked up to me as I was getting the award and he shook my hand and he said, son, your work has now just begun. “That really resonated with me,” he says, “it was a platform to continue to serve.” In his teaching, Quinlan focuses on addressing issues and essential questions about history and the human condition, in which students are challenged to seek solutions rather than

just answers. He encourages his students to think about history from diverse perspectives, and uses hands on, project based teaching styles to bolster student engagement. Quinlan has been a resident of Mason County with his family since 1971. “My parents took a risk in their own careers and brought us to Mason County for a better opportunity and I never forgot that,” Quinlan says. “Seeing the

beauty of the lake shore and witnessing the construction of the Pump Storage Project made an amazing impact in my earlier life.” “Today I am inspired by the young visionary entrepreneurship leading the charge in Mason County, and the people who seek to make this community great! It is the human condition that inspires me to continue to serve a cause greater than myself and to make Mason County great,” Quinlan says.

“I’m (also) inspired by the commitment, dedication and passion of the people and educators I work with.” Phil Quinlan lives in Scottville with his wife Donna, who also teaches at Mason County Central. Together, they have raised three daughters, Hillary, Haley and Hanna, all of whom are now grown. “With my daughters all over the country, this is the place where they can call home.”


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LUDINGTON DAILY NEWS/COMMUNITY PROFILE

| TUESDAY, APRIL 19, 2016

www.ludingtondailynews.com

Jerry Chancellor, Fountain stalwart Former fire chief keeps involved with park, fountain project

BY KEVIN BRACISZESKI DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER

F

OUNTAIN — Jerry Chancellor has called the village of Fountain home for most of his life and for 53 of those years he’s worked to help protect his community and neighbors as a member of the Fountain Fire Department. “I started in 1963, just before I graduated from high school,” he said. “Just like in any small town, we were shorthanded and I saw a need for personnel.” Chancellor had to take a hiatus from the fire department when Uncle Sam called him up for Army duty from

‘The fire department does more than just fight fires. It’s the hub of any community

like Fountain, Free Soil, Custer and Scottville. It’s hard to do anything without the fire department’s help.’ Jerry Chancellor 1965 to 1967 but then came back to Fountain after his Army service in Fairbanks, Alaska. “I’ve been on a fire department ever since,” he said, adding that he lived in southern Michigan a couple years and served in the fire departments in South Haven

and Douglas during that time.

FOUNTAIN FIRE DEPARTMENT Chancellor even served as chief of the Fountain Fire Department for 20 years before stepping down in 2007. “I was tired,” he said about that decision. “I had a good,

solid bunch of kids — I call them — and I was confident they could take over and I thought it was time for them to step forward.” He stepped down as chief, but Chancellor stayed on as a firefighter in the department and is still a member of the crew. “I like to call myself a senior consultant,” he said. Chancellor said he is currently unavailable to make runs with the department. “Hopefully, things will clear up and I’ll be back on the runs,” he said. Chancellor said volunteer fire departments are very important to villages and small communities like Fountain.

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TUESDAY, APRIL 19, 2016

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| LUDINGTON DAILY NEWS/COMMUNITY PROFILE  www.ludingtondailynews.com

“The fire department does more than just fight fires,” he said. “It’s the hub of any community like Fountain, Free Soil, Custer and Scottville. It’s hard to do anything without the fire department’s help.” During the years Chancellor has also been active as a firefighter at the state and national levels. He served on the board of directors for the Michigan State Firemen’s Association and was even elected president in 2000. He also served on the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) — a council that only admits two firefighters from each state to serve. “I was lucky to be one of the two from Michigan,” he said, adding that he served on the NVFC for at least 10 years and made trips to Washington, D.C., while serving. “So fire service, one way or another, has taken a lot of time over the years,” Chancellor said. “I am just lucky enough to be in a position to help.” Firefighter training, medical training and other training have also taken time over the years and Chancellor said his department was one of the first to provide for training for its firefighters. “The fire departments in Mason County are now pretty much leveled out and have the same training,” he added. He is also proud the Fountain Fire Department had the first certified woman firefighter in Mason County. Chancellor also remembers when his crew did not have uniforms because the department couldn’t afford to buy them. He said the first uniforms they got were the Scottville Police Department’s old uniforms that weren’t needed once Scottville got new uniforms for its officers. “We got the old ones and sewed our patches on,” he said. The Fountain Fire Department’s annual Fireman’s Ball is the department’s

JEFF KIESSEL | DAILY NEWS

Jerry Chancellor remains active in Fountain, where he and his wife, Shirley, are leading efforts to erect a sculpture in honor of the community’s lumbering heritage. top fundraiser, Chancellor said, adding that the money raised is spent on firefighter training. He said everyone in the department is encouraged to receive as much training as they can get. He estimated that 75 percent of his department’s calls are for medical emergencies — including traffic accidents. During those

calls, the firefighters are responding to emergencies being experienced by their neighbors and possibly even friends or family. “If you don’t enjoy doing it, you don’t do it,” Chancellor offered as advice for people who may consider joining a fire department. “I didn’t enjoy watching buildings burn, but I liked helping

people.”

STAYING BUSY Chancellor may not currently be as busy as normal serving in the fire department, but he is still active in his community. One of his current projects — which he shares with his wife, Shirley — is the installation of a new sculpture

at the village’s Heritage Park. “He put me in as chair, but he does everything,” Shirley said. “People have been very involved in donating their time.” She estimated the project’s total cost will be $40,000 and said half was spent on preparing the site and the other half will pay for the sculpture.

“We’re scrambling to get the last couple thousand dollars,” Shirley Chancellor said. The community has engaged New Era artist Ruben Liano to create the sculpture, which will celebrate Fountain’s lumbering history. It will depict a team of horses pulling a log. “We’re very close,” Jerry Chancellor said about completing the project. “We plan on dedicating the sculpture on Memorial Day weekend, the same weekend as the horse pull.” Both Chancellors said they’ve received a lot of local help for the project from the McCormick family, the Andrulis family and the Mickevich family as well as many others who donated labor to install the concrete base and rail for the sculpture’s base. Jerry Chancellor has also been involved in many other aspects of life in Fountain. He’s served as a member of the Fountain Village Council, served as a Cub Scout leader, and worked with the Fountain Action group that provided youth recreational opportunities in the village. He was even coach of the Fountain Merchants slow pitch softball team. “There was a league rule that if there was a fire during a game and the firefighters left and fought the fire, it was not a forfeit,” he recalled. Chancellor was also involved in turning Fountain into a party spot for Santa Express visits. The Santa Express was a train operated for several years by Marquette Rail that carried Santa Claus to western Michigan communities that included Fountain, Free Soil, Baldwin, Stronach and Manistee. “I get involved in a lot of things and I don’t know how I got involved,” he said. “That’s just part of living in a small town. “You see a need and you step in.” kevinb@ludingtondailynews.com 843-1122 x346


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LUDINGTON DAILY NEWS/COMMUNITY PROFILE

| TUESDAY, APRIL 19, 2016

www.ludingtondailynews.com

Hailee and Kyle Larson, entrepreneurs Family and business important BY BROOKE KANSIER DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER PERE MARQUETTE TWP. — o Hailee Larson, hard work and entrepreneurialism is nothing new. “I grew up in Free Soil, helping with my family’s farm, Stakenas Farms Inc.,” Larson said. Her husband, Kyle, also grew up with a family business, Larson Moving and Storage. The pair wanted to chart their own courses, however. “I think we both knew we wanted to be able to work for ourselves,” Larson said. Her husband took over his family’s moving company in 2008, where Hailee also works. “We decided to try a new business adventure,” she said. We saw

T

that Mason county was missing a place to buy quality hearth products and there wasn’t a place that showed what that industry really had to offer. With that, we decided to start Larson Energy Solutions.” Larson Energy Solutions opened its doors in August 2011, selling pellet and wood stoves. Since then, they’ve added gas fireplaces and free-standing stoves. “Owning a business at a young age, much less three between the two of us, has its challenges,” Larson said. “We have really tried to educate ourselves on our products as much as we can.” The pair often attends industry shows and meetings, and their daughters, ages 2 and 5, occasionally attend as well. “We are very family-oriented and love being able to bring the kids

PHOTTO | DAILY NEWS

From left, Reese, Kyle, Hailee and Haidyn Larson. The children often accompany their parents when the Larsons attend trade shows. to work with us,” Larson said. “We joke that they will be selling stoves before they are 10.”

“We don’t have many hobbies — between our businesses and family, we stay busy,” she said.

“We are very family-oriented,” Larson added. ”I guess my hobby would be just being active.” She does a lot of walking with her daughters, Haidyn and Reese, and the trio take part in local 5k races when possible. The girls often accompany Larson to work as well. “They have a playroom and love inviting new friends that come in to play with them,” she said. A longtime local, Hailee attended Mason County Central and graduated in 2004. She then moved onto West Shore Community College, where she earned an Associate Degree. Larson then attended the Booker Institute of Cosmetology. The couple married in 2008. Larson said she and her family are also very active in the community. They now live in Hamlin Township. “We try to be involved in different community activities,” she said.

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LUDINGTON DAILY NEWS/COMMUNITY PROFILE

| TUESDAY, APRIL 19, 2016

www.ludingtondailynews.com

Debra Kinnaird, happy to be involved No bankers hours for this Rotarian who has fun putting service above self

BY STEVE BEGNOCHE MANAGING EDITOR

D

ebra Kinnaird likes to make things happen. The West Shore Bank vice president and market leader is responsible for the supervision of the retail banking and branch management staff in West Shore’s Mason and Oceana county branches as well as responsible for the overall deposit and loan growth in those markets. It’s a big job, but it is far from all that Kinnaird does. She’s on the boards of Rotary Club of Ludington, the Ludington Area Center for the Arts board, the Ludington and Scottville Area Chamber of Commerce, the Ludington Lake Jump and Friends of the Port of Ludington Maritime Museum. That too, is a less than complete picture of what Kinnaird does. In Rotary for instance, she’s a past president who still leads the Rotary Brigade in the July 4 Ludington Area Jaycees Freedom Festival Parade, whistling the marching Rotarians to attention and calling out the maneuvers they do along the route. The service club has many community projects including the student mentorship program STRIVE, a dictionary program that presents dictionaries to each third-grader in Mason County schools, the avenue of state flags display along Ludington Avenue west of downtown to the beach in summer, international aid support and much more. The club’s biggest undertaking might be under construction right now. Kinnaird and Linda O’Brien are co-chairs of the Rotary committee involved in the reno-

STEVE BEGNOCHE | DAILY NEWS

Debra Kinnaird was raised in Pentwater and now lives and works in Ludington, where she spends a lot of time on community projects serving on boards for the Ludington Rotary Club, Ludington Area Center for the Arts, the Ludington and Scottville Area Chamber of Commerce, the Ludington Lake Jump and on the Friends of the Port of Ludington Maritime Museum. vation efforts of the club in partnership with the City of Ludington at the former City Park. The club has agreed to fund the $493,00 effort, and, in return the park is now named Rotary Park. All the roles keep Kinnaird, a 1981 graduate of nearby Pentwater High School, busy, but she’s more

than OK with that. “You only have a short time to make a difference,” Kinnaird said, explaining getting involved is her way to make that difference. “I really love the community. So if I don’t take the time to make a difference, who will? “People have got to stay involved,” she said. And

there’s no better time than in the prime of one’s life. “I get a lot of satisfaction just seeing the successes that come out of the work you put in,” Kinnaird said. She frequently updates the club membership on where the Rotary Park project is, usually with enthusiasm and pride about what

is being done and the good she can see coming from the project. “Seeing the change and knowing what is coming up and that people can walk through the park in the evening under beautiful lighting, and seeing the fountain running again” motivates her. The park’s war me-

morial is beautiful but not highly visible now, she said. There will be a new focus on it through the renovation of Rotary Park. And planned gazebos will offer a place to sit or a place to find shelter in case of a storm. “It’s going to be wonderful,” Kinnaird said. “It’s going to be a destination, a


TUESDAY, APRIL 19, 2016

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| LUDINGTON DAILY NEWS/COMMUNITY PROFILE  www.ludingtondailynews.com

place to take a walk.” Likewise, work on the LACA is rewarding for all the events and activities happening at the center on South Harrison Street. “What a benefit to bring people into the community. And the programming we are doing at LACA, to be able to help that grow, and tell their story” is another motivation for getting involved. Add the efforts of the Sandcastles Children’s Museum, the Ludington Library and the future home of the Mason County Sports Hall of Fame, and the “four corners” of Ludington Avenue and Harrison Street become a real draw for the community. This year’s lake jump benefited the Ludington Area Jaycees fundraising to rebuild its minigolf course at the Stearns Park beach. Money raised there, in turn, benefits the community in a number of ways, she noted. Even West Shore Bank, her

‘You only have a short time to make a difference.’ Deb Kinnaird

STEVE BEGNOCHE | DAILY NEWS FILE

Debra Kinnaird leads the Ludington Rotary Club Briefcase Brigade along the Ludington Area Jaycees Freedom Festival parade route on July 4, 2015. She’s been the brigade leader for many years. employer, has been adding to the draw for downtown through its Rhythm and Dunes concert series that

has grown to the stature of a real Ludington happening. “Did you see what was in the paper Saturday and all the things that are happening?” Kinnaird asked referencing a busy weekend events calendar recently. “All the fun events, the schools and the state park. We have so much to offer. There is literally something here for everybody, everybody is so friendly and our community is so caring.” She enjoys being a part of the community and helping make some of these efforts come to fruition. From age 5 Kinnaird was

raised in Pentwater. Her airline pilot father picked Pentwater after seeking a waterfront community in which to raise his family, then living in Farmington, while he worked out of Grand Rapids. “It was great,” Kinnaird said of growing up in Pentwater. There were 33 students in her graduating class. She played flute, congas and organ in the Pentwater school band and marching band under the direction then of Palmer Veen. She remembers Veen would tell them “excuses are losers.” “I live by that,” Kinnaird said. She also was in the ski club and taught sailing. Though she doesn’t have a sailboat, the former club champion continues to love to race sailboats, and where she was raised. “I love Pentwater,” she said. After getting married, Kinnaird went to work at Ludington Bank and Trust in new accounts and switch-

board. “All the phone calls came in there, including tellers calling with savings withdrawals,” she said of those pre-computer days. A lot of things have changed in the world of banking since then and even as the industry changed, she worked her way from switchboard to her current role. She took banking classes from West Shore Community College and the University of Michigan including a lot of specialty courses. She earned investments, securities and life insurance licenses along the way. She’s been with West Shore Bank for six years now. She chuckles at the popular notion of 8-5 bankers hours, saying that’s not really the way it is today, especially not at community banks. When she’s not working or doing community service, she and her husband Jeff

show cars and attend classic car shows in the summer and golf. Then there are the kids and two grandkids. “That’s fun, too,” Kinnaird said. And while this community leader is involved in so many areas, she likes to have fun and calls one of her Rotary committees the “fun committee,” aka social activities committee. “I wouldn’t do it if I wasn’t going to going to be able to have fun,” she said of participation in groups and work in general. “I can’t imagine coming into a place of work and not enjoying it.” As for Rotary, she said, “We are having fun doing all the work. We get to do elephant ears at the beach during Macker. It’s a lot of work, but it’s not a lot of work because it’s fun.” Out of the fun, and the work comes good things for the community, such as the soon to be renovated Rotary Park.

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38 |

LUDINGTON DAILY NEWS/COMMUNITY PROFILE

| TUESDAY, APRIL 19, 2016

www.ludingtondailynews.com

John Marek, making people happy Accordion player, balloon animal artist or Johnny Appleseed portrayer and more

BY KEVIN BRACISZESKI DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER

B

RANCH — Residents of Oakview Medical Care Facility flocked around John Marek on a recent afternoon when he began opening the case that held his accordion. Soon, he was handing out stuffed animals to a few of the women in his audience as he prepared to entertain the residents. Marek then began playing “Beer Barrel Polka” and the crowd began clapping and singing along with big smiles on their faces. For John Marek, entertainer, the show was one of

about 25 or 30 he performs each month, shows that can include music, juggling, story drawing, magic, caricatures and balloon animals. He also often portrays Johnny Appleseed during events at Historic White Pine Village. In addition to Oakview, Marek also regularly performs at area schools for West Shore Education Service District special education students and at local senior centers, as well as for children’s birthday parties and at county fairs. “I’ve always enjoyed entertaining,” he said. “I enjoy children a lot and being around them. I try to come

up with something new to keep their interest. Their interest is short, so I try to keep things moving. “Their smiles are the biggest reward,” Marek said. “I don’t know why they don’t get tired of me.” Marek, 70, of Walhalla, said he began entertaining groups about 20 years ago and took on the Johnny Appleseed persona about 15 years ago. “He’s a fascinating character,” Marek said about Appleseed. “I was so fascinated by the person himself and his kindness and love of animals and people.” Marek said he researched Johnny Appleseed (John

He was 10 years old when he first began learning to play the accordion, taking lessons from Ed Beyers. “Being Polish and having big family get-togethers — it was always fun to play,” Marek said about his choice of the accordion as his instrument.

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‘I’ve always enjoyed entertaining.’ Chapman) and even visited Appleseed’s museum in

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| LUDINGTON DAILY NEWS/COMMUNITY PROFILE  www.ludingtondailynews.com

| 39

JEFF KIESSEL | DAILY NEWS

John Marek makes balloon animals — or anything else the kids want — at the 2015 Scottville community Christmas party. He also performed magic tricks.

ties and at Sandcastles Children’s Museum. He also juggles three balls at a time or three clubs or three rings. Marek also has a routine for Groundhog Day, wearing a top hat and carrying a groundhog puppet. He takes that act to the local McDonald’s, stores and nursing homes. “He’s the show. I just follow him,” Marek said about the groundhog puppet. He also formed a band, the Marek Music Makers, and it plays many local gigs. The band has 12 to 15 members and it plays big band music, polka music and easy listening songs. One of the things Marek likes to do is take his act to Oakview Medical Care Facility, Tendercare and Ludington Woods to make music for area seniors. Marek said he also performs a lot of magic shows and attends the magic convention in Colon. He’s been working on his magic act for the past 10 years. “There are the (tricks) you buy and the ones you prac-

JEFF KIESSEL | DAILY NEWS

John Marek plays accordion at Oakview Medical Care Facility on a regular basis. He plays a lot of polkas and he takes requests from the residents who come down to enjoy the music.

tice so I’ve got both and if I bomb with one I’ll do the other,” he said. “I’m not a pro at any of this,” Marek said about his entertaining skills. “It’s a hobby and I enjoy it.” He said he’s lined up graduation parties in May when he’ll do caricatures. “I’m excited about that,” he said. Marek is still a part owner of Marek’s Auto Parts, but he retired five years ago.

“It freed me up for performing,” he said about retiring. In addition to all his entertainment gigs each year, Marek also spends time volunteering at the Ludington Area Center for the Arts and works on his storytelling skills with the Muskegon Yarnspinners. “I’ve been doing that for five years,” he said. “We meet once a month and tell stories.”

Marek was born and raised near Ludington but moved once to Charlevoix for 10 years with his wife, Pam, and they began raising two daughters before moving back to Mason County and living in Walhalla. His family has now grown by two granddaughters. “I don’t deserve to be so lucky,” he said. kevinb@ludingtondailynews.com 843-1122 x346


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LUDINGTON DAILY NEWS/COMMUNITY PROFILE

| TUESDAY, APRIL 19, 2016

Lakeshore Employer Resource Network of Mason County (L.E.R.N.)

The mission of L.E.R.N. is to improve workplace attraction, productivity, retention and financial stability for employees. This is achieved through sharing resources and working across systems by providing an on-site Success Coach who is responsible for assisting employees in removing barriers that may impact workplace success. In addition, the companies collaborate in providing shared training and education, a loan and savings program and workplace health and wellness. Currently, there are 12 companies, which represents over 15% of the county’s workforce, that are members of L.E.R.N. Nicole Schwarz is the Success Coach and rotates her time between the 12 companies. The types of assistance employees most frequently needed over this past

year, were in the areas of life coaching, financial issues, health insurance and housing. Karen, an employee at one of the companies, has met with Nicole multiple times to help her find solutions to several issues that her family has faced such as, making housing repairs, tax issues and locating affordable childcare. Karen describes the best part of the program as having Nicole located at her workplace for a few hours each week and when she is not there she can be reached by phone or email. “With the support of Nicole, I have been able to continue to be a productive employee,” Karen stated. This initiative is funded by the Pennies from Heaven Foundation and United Way of Mason County.

Mason County Family Link

Mason County Family Link supports student achievement by bringing together a range of agencies to provide needed services and supports. It specifically includes staff that work on-site at all three school districts in Mason County. • Department of Health and Human Services Success Coach – Provides social services to students and works with families to help identify and develop plans for selfsufficiency. Linda Dotson and Eric Carlson are the DHHS Success Coaches. Dotson is located at Ludington Area Schools and Carlson splits his time between Mason County Central and Mason County Eastern Schools.

Front row left to right: Brooke Siems, JoEllen Healy, Eric Carlson and Beth Gunsell. Back row left to right: Sue Rogers, Nicole Schwarz, Lynne Russell, Sara Syrek and Amanda Kuczynski. Missing from the picture is Linda Dotson.

United Way of Mason County “We firmly believe that by all of us working together, we can achieve more than any one of us could on our own,” stated Lynne Russell, Executive Director. “This is hard work, but necessary – to make long term positive change in our community, we all need to be able to think outside our box and be willing to think in terms of ‘we’ versus ‘me’.” An equally important part of our Russell concluded. United Way’s focus is to play a leadership role in bringing business, Over the past several years, United health and human service organi- Way of Mason County has been zations, government, educational playing a leadership role and deinstitutions and the faith based veloping collaborative partnercommunity together to tackle the ships to implement various comcauses, not just symptoms, of our munity initiatives, as follows: community’s toughest challenges. An important part of United Way of Mason County’s mission is to raise money and award it to local non-profit health and human service programs that are focusing on helping children to succeed, working with individuals and families to become financially stable and improving people’s health.

• Community Schools Coordinator – Provides coordinated access to health and human services within a school setting. Amanda Kuczynski and JoEllen Healy are the Community Schools Coordinators. Kuczynski is located at Ludington Area Schools and Healy splits her time between Mason County Central and Mason County Eastern Schools.

• Site Team Clinician – Provides counseling to students and/or their families who are not eligible to receive services through the local mental health agency or are unable to see a private counselor. Sara Syrek and Beth Gunsell are the Site Team Clinicians. Syrek is located at Ludington Area Schools and Gunsell splits her time between Mason County Central and Mason County Eastern Schools. “Family Link has been a great resource for our students and families at Mason County Eastern. The support and guidance has positively impacted our students. We value the partnership with United Way of Mason County and Mason County Family Link,” Paul Shoup, Superintendent This initiative in funded by the Pennies from Heaven Foundation and United Way of Mason County.

Early Childhood Outreach Coordinator and ASQ Liaison

This is a partnership between the West Shore ESD, Great Start Collaborative and United Way of Mason County with the goal of making sure that our children are developmentally and emotionally ready to learn when they enter kindergarten. Brooke Siems, Early Childhood Outreach Coordinator, is working with multiple organizations to develop a common process for administering the Ages and Stages Questionnaire. This is a screening tool to help early childhood providers and parents identify if a child, age 0 to 5,

is developmentally and emotionally on track. “As a parent of young children, I am very excited to be involved in a collaborative that is focused on helping to create an environment where parents our empowered and have the needed support to help their children be successful,” stated Siems. This initiative is funded by United Way of Mason County and West Shore ESD, with United Way of Mason County providing the administrative oversight.

Get Help, Give Help Individuals from Mason County are able to dial the number 2-1-1, at no cost, to receive information on needed programs and services. They are greeted by a trained Call Specialist who will assist them in finding the help they need 24

hours a day, 7 days a week. If they don’t feel comfortable calling they can access the information by going on-line to www.mi211.org.

Want to Give Help? Go to www.volunteerwestmichigan. org. This is an on-line resource to assist individuals in locating volunteer opportunities in Mason County that match their interests and needs. United Way of Mason County

provides administrative oversight for this program and it is funded by Ludington and Scottville Area Chamber of Commerce, Mason County District Library and United Way of Mason County.


TUESDAY, APRIL 19, 2016

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| LUDINGTON DAILY NEWS/COMMUNITY PROFILE  www.ludingtondailynews.com

syrup, there are other things that help pay the bills. He works in asphalt and sealcoating in the summer, runs an apple crew for Kistlercrest Farms in the fall and helps Ron and Dan Kistler run their vacuum lines through their sugarbush in the winter. But making his own syrup trumps them all. “I’ve been in business for 22 years and I’ve been making it as a hobby since I was a kid,” Coleman said. “I got off the schoolbus and I ran over to Houk’s. I remember making it with my grandpa, Manley French. We made some beautiful syrup working on a propane stove. My dad, Clinton Coleman, worked for the propane company and he’d bring home some half-full cylinders that customers would turn in. Coleman, 54, guesses he’s been making syrup for 46 years or so now. He’s got a wall full of awards for his syrup, but he never stops trying for better. And this year, they made some really good syrup. “The quality is unbelievable,” Coleman said of his 2016 batch. bmulherin@ludingtondailynews.com 843-1122 x348

Terry Coleman, maple syrup maker, checks on how sap is running this past March.

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12 |

LUDINGTON DAILY NEWS/COMMUNITY PROFILE

| TUESDAY, APRIL 19, 2016

www.ludingtondailynews.com

Butch Claveau, an original A member of the Scottville Clown Band Class of 1947

BY JEFF KIESSEL DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER

S

COTTVILLE — At 90, Butch Claveau is the oldest living charter member of the Scottville Clown Band class of 1947. Butch will be turning 91 in July and still plays with the band that is notorious for parade route antics and dressing in women’s clothes. “I still play the concerts but I don’t march in the parades anymore because the legs are kind of sore,” Butch said. Instead Butch rides in a convertible in front of the “Big Noise from Scottville” as they march in area parades like the Scottville Harvest Festival parade, the Manistee Forest Festival and the Ludington Area Jaycees Freedom Festival parade. Butch along with Ed Stakenas and Barney Barnett are the last living members from the class of 1947 which included about 14 to 20 people depending on who you talk to. “They said 14 in the class but I think it was closer to 20,” Butch said. In 1947, Butch worked in downtown Scottville and Ray Schulte worked at Macks Men’s Wear and the two would meet up from time to time. Ray suggested to Butch that maybe they should start a band. Butch thought it was a good idea and asked Ray what should we call this band. “Ray said I think we should call it the Scottville Clown Band,” Butch said. Butch agreed. They hustled up and got a group of guys together and found somebody that had some music,” he said. Once the players were

DAILY NEWS FILE PHOTO

Butch Claveau, Ed Stakenas and Barney Barnett are members of the Scottville Clown Band Class of 1947. on board and the music secured, the group started practicing at different locations throughout the Scottville area. “The newly formed band practiced every Tuesday night. We had practice where Ray worked. We held them in the agriculture room at Scottville High School and in a Quonset hut located behind the school,” Butch said. “That is basically where we held all our practices.” Every member that was invited to join the band did have a musical background, including Butch who played music in the high school band. The Scottville Clown Band

was not the first band to have formed in Scottville. The Merchant band was formed in 1903 and later the band became known as the Ladies Band. “The members of the Ladies Band­— which were all men — dressed like women,” Butch said and that is where the dressing up began, according to Butch. “We got together in the summer of 1947 and practiced every Tuesday night and I think we quit for the winter, we do know anyway,” Butch said. “Bo, did we have a lot of fun,” he said. “The best parade I think is Grand Haven, I’m gonna guess that this will be about

the 55th year that we will have played there. They draw the biggest crowd,” Butch said. “We always go on last but before the parade we are scattered all over the place talking with people and of course they are laughing at our outfits, and all of a sudden big George Wilson would blow the whistle and we would all line up and roll out and start playing ‘Basin Street Blues’ and people would just come unglued.” The theme song for the band is “When the Saints Go Marching In,” according to Butch, but on the street the first song is “Basin Street Blues” and they also like to play “Everything’s Coming

Up Roses.” A crowd favorite is the stripper. “It is one of our favorite things to do on the street,” Butch said. “Years and years ago, a fellow by the name Clyde Nelson played the stripper.” Butch recalls Nelson, who was an engineer on the railroad, used to wear a wedding dress and he would act the part asking to borrow lipstick. He was just a character. He used to play the piano for the kids and would play the left hand parts with his foot. “Gosh, I can remember that,” Butch said, laughing. Butch said that a lot of the older folks would remember Clyde — an original member

of the Class of 1947 — doing the stripper because he was so good at it. For the first 41 years, Butch’s costume consisted of an old pair of long underwear that his wife, Ellie, cut off and dyed purple and decorated with clown like items, he said. That outfit currently resides in the Scottville Clown Band Museum located at Historic White Pine Village. Since then, Butch has worn two different outfits. “These are a good group of guys. I am sure we all have called someone a name from time to time but it is just a good fraternal organization,” he said. “One of the main things


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| LUDINGTON DAILY NEWS/COMMUNITY PROFILE  www.ludingtondailynews.com

now that the band is getting older I hope that we can continue to get younger members to keep it going because it is quite a thing in this country.” Back in 1947, the band did not know how popular it would become. The band is known all over the country not only for their antics and attire but also for the musicianship. “We didn’t have any idea what to expect when we started in 1947. We just wanted to get together and play music,” he said. “We just wanted to play. I think the first place we played was in Manistee for Forest Festival during the fourth of July in 1947.” The first year the band also played the Scottville Harvest Festival, he said, and the band has played the Harvest Festival every year since then. “Those were about the only two places we played that year.

“From there it kind of took off and people wanted us to come and play.” One thing Butch has loved during his 69 years with the Clown Band has been the interaction with the crowd. “I loved getting out there and raising Cain with them.” Butch still participates in as many Clown Band events as he can but he does not walk in the parades any longer. Some of the things that he is most proud of during his time with the Clown Band is that fact that they give out a lot of music scholarships to students to places like Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp and Interlochen Arts Camp. “We started giving our scholarships out in 1965,” He said. “The first winner was Marty Erickson and he played 25 years in the United States Navy Band and he has been teaching music ever since.” Today, it is not uncommon for the clown band

to give away a dozen or so scholarships.

SCOTTVILLE CLOWN BAND Since 1947, the band has grown to more than 200 today with 100 members very active. The band is registered as a non-profit corporation in the State of Michigan, performs an average of 60 times a year in parades, shows and concerts, supports a youth band scholarship program and many other charities and also performs in many charity events.

BEING ACTIVE Butch lives an active lifestyle and credits that for his good health. He works out five days a week at West Shore Community College. Butch rides a bike about eight to nine miles a day. “We have a circuit that we do,” he said. The circuit includes weights and the treadmill for about an hour to an-hour-and-a-half.

‘We didn’t have any idea what to expect when we started in 1947. We just wanted to get together and play music.’ Butch Claveau

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14 |

LUDINGTON DAILY NEWS/COMMUNITY PROFILE

| TUESDAY, APRIL 19, 2016

www.ludingtondailynews.com

Wayne Andersen, a quiet advocate Working to preserve and improve the places he loves — right here at home

BY BRIAN MULHERIN DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER

V

ICTORY TOWNSHIP — Wayne Andersen’s eyes light up when he talks about the places he loves. He’s the president of the Hamlin Lake Preservation Society, the chairman of the Big Sable Watershed Restoration Committee, a member of the Pere Marquette Watershed Council, a director of the Mason County Walleye Association and a former president of the Fin and Feather Club. Andersen spent 22 years in construction and 22 years as project manager for Dow Chemical and later OxyChem. He’s been all over the country chasing fish and game and could settle in any of those places, but none of them measure up to home. Andersen is a passionate advocate for the places he loves — the Pere Marquette River, the Big Sable River, Hamlin Lake and Victory Township. But he’s not the raise-aruckus type. He learned in construction to drive the task in front of him rather than letting it drive him. He insists that leadership isn’t something he’s sought

JEFF KIESSEL | DAILY NEWS

Wayne Andersen relaxes at home in Victory Township surrounded by mounts of animals he shot. out, but it has come to him again and again. “I never had a desire to be in the front of the room,” Andersen said. “I’d rather be in the back of the room making suggestions.” In his trademark quiet, competent manner, Andersen defers credit wherever

possible, thanks his co-workers and the public employees who help projects happen. In addition to all of his offices and the projects those groups have completed, Andersen volunteered with Victory Township to spearhead an improvement project at Victory Park.

He’s pleased with how that has changed things. “It’s been a tremendous improvement,” Andersen said. “It’s been a big change from what it was four years ago.” Andersen said some of his earliest lasting memories are of the Hamlin Lake marsh.

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“When I was young it went on forever — it was infinite,” Andersen said. “The older I get, the smaller and more fragile it becomes.” He’s the first non-riparian president of the HLPS. He said he got involved because he was the chairman of the BSWRC and he got an invitation to a board meeting. “They wanted more of a connection and that was something I supported,” Andersen said. “I started attending board meetings and found an active board who liked to do projects and this was very appealing to me.” Asked who nominated him for the presidency, he said with a laugh that he’s pretty sure the rest of the board conspired against him. “I got ‘voluntold,’ and it worked out fine,” he said. “I’m happy to do it, we’ve got some projects I’m really excited about.” Andersen is concerned about the lake and said the floods in 1986 and 2008 had a tremendous impact on the Victory Township waters of the lake. “A lot of the bottom is not as appealing to fish as it was,” Andersen said. Invasive species remain a concern to him.

“They’re something everybody can do something about by removing them and not spreading them,” Andersen said. He said the biggest problem in conservation is overcoming the human ego. However, he keeps a positive outlook, noting that Americans seem to overcome their disagreements. “When there’s a true need in West Michigan, people always come together,” Andersen said.

OUTDOORS Andersen said it occurred to him around age 40 that it was time to start giving back. A lifelong sportsman, Andersen had gone through the progression of wanting to catch a fish, then wanting to catch lots of fish, then wanting to catch a big fish, then lots of big fish. Now, he treasures each fish and he only keeps count of the brown trout more than 20 inches in length. He puts them all back. “I kept one three years ago because it was hooked too deep,” Andersen said. “I ate it and it was delicious. I don’t mind other people keeping fish, within limits, but I no longer have the desire.”

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His favorite summer pastime is fly fishing for wary naturalized brown trout or smallmouth bass. He fishes the Sable, the Pere Marquette, the Pine and other waters, but he’s happiest close to home. He’s still a duck, grouse and deer hunter, but he doesn’t chase the quarry with the same mindset he once did. Now he savors the experience and appreciates each hunting trip regardless of whether he’s bringing something home or not. He loves his five-year-old Labrador retriever Hope and still has memorials in his yard to his last Lab, Jane. Andersen never lost his love for bowhunting, but a tendon injury forced him to give it up after 20 years. He said crossbows never appealed to him, although he has no problem with others using them. His home is filled with books. Although he described himself as a terrible student, he said as an adult he’s kept learning. “I don’t have a desire to study in-depth or anything, but I’ll pick up a book,” Andersen said. “I enjoy all segments of nature — birds, plants, trees. I just don’t go into a lot of depth with anything.” Andersen also attends meetings of the Michigan Resource Stewards, a group he describes as primarily retired Department of Natural Resources employees. “It’s just fascinating to sit in on those meetings, just the amount of knowledge there is tremendous,” Andersen said. He noted that some of the current DNR employees are also great to work with. “In this area we are very fortunate with some of the professionals we have,” Andersen said, noting that DNR Fisheries Biologist Mark Tonello and Greg Gowdy of the DEQ have been very helpful to him. He said he’s also been pleased with how easy Victory and Hamlin townships were to work with.

Wayne Andersen tells how he spends time in the outdoors, especially early in the morning.

A SIMPLE LIFE Andersen is an early riser. He will be 64 years old in March and is proud that the only medication he takes is for cholesterol, which he believes to be from a hereditary issue. He is content to live a quiet life near his family’s ancestral farm in Victory Township. Andersen was not raised in Victory Park, although his father was. He grew up in Ludington on the south side of Lincoln Lake and spent as much time outdoors as he could. He graduated from Ludington High School in 1970 and completed a carpentry apprenticeship program. “I just kind of gravitated out here,” Andersen said of his move to Victory Township. He said he really enjoyed a recent fly-fishing trip to Ar-

‘I wouldn’t trade you 40 acres in Victory Township for the whole state of Florida.’ Wayne Andersen gentina and he took a trip to Florida last year, but Victory Township tops them both. “I wouldn’t trade you 40 acres in Victory Township for the whole state of Florida,” Andersen said. His lifestyle is as uncomplicated as they come. “I get up before sunrise each morning and the night

before I have a tentative plan,” Andersen said. “I eat my oatmeal and drink my Ovaltine and, depending on the season, I head for a lake or river or the woods. I try to get three to five miles of walking in.” He generally spends mid-day at home, where he might tie up a few flies at his

bench or read a little, then he heads back outdoors in the evening. He reads for an hour or two and in the winter, he’s in bed with enough time for eight hours of sleep. He said he’s a fair fly tier, but he holds back from tying too many of any one pattern. “I’m afraid if I tie six dozen of something it won’t work,” Andersen said. His favorite way to fish is throwing his own streamers for resident brown trout. He says fly fishing is special to him for many reasons. “It’s the challenge of it, it’s the beauty of the casting, it’s trying to figure out why a specific fly isn’t working,” Andersen said. He still enjoys ice fishing and in spite of his compulsion to keep things as simple as possible, he bought a

flasher a couple years ago and really enjoys fishing with the electronic depth finder. He said his earliest memories of ice fishing were in the spearing shack with his dad and grandfather. “They would tie me into the shanty so I wouldn’t fall in,” Andersen said. “Then when I got to be too much for them, they would send me to the far side of the lake to touch a certain tree. I always had a lot of energy.” Andersen’s father, Bud, worked for the railroad as an engineer. Bud was the brother of long-time Victory Township Supervisor Russell Andersen. Wayne said his memories of Victory Township as a child are of fields that had pheasants in them rather than deer. The deer were still primarily found on the north side of the Sable River. After his father, Andersen said his role models and mentors were outdoorsmen. He said Fred Kirchher, the former Natural Resources Conservation Service agent in Scottville, was a fountain of knowledge on a variety of topics. He said he was also always impressed with how Amber Township Supervisor Jim Gallie conducted himself when he was a conservation officer. “Being in the outdoors has always been a stabilizer in my life,” Andersen said. Andersen said as much as he loves the local landscape, he loves the people just as much. “The community of Ludington has just been so good to me,” Andersen said. “So many people here are just generous, supportive people.” Andersen said if he appears serene, he attributes it to his lifestyle. “Just being physically active and mentally engaged,” Andersen said. He wakes up with a goal in mind and tries not to lose sleep over anything. “Every day I try to do something positive and that makes me happy,” Andersen


16 |

LUDINGTON DAILY NEWS/COMMUNITY PROFILE

| TUESDAY, APRIL 19, 2016

www.ludingtondailynews.com

Tom Richert, teacher, forensics coach Discipline and fun go hand-in-hand in creating the right atmosphere

BY RILEY KELLEY DAILY NEWS CORRESPONDENT

‘I know how I wanted my kids to be treated when they worked with a teacher/ coach, and I try to create an environment that is what I expect.’

S

COTTVILLE — With Tom Richert, what you see is what you get. Tom Richert plays a lot of roles in the lives of children. He’s a teacher, a coach, a director, a parent and grandparent… and those are only his off-stage roles. Tom is also a celebrated stage and screen actor. Tom Richert teaches English and theater arts at Mason County Central High School, where he was worked since 1990. He also coaches the MCC high school forensics team, which has produced many state finalists during Richert’s tenure at MCC. With so much on his plate, it’s easy to see how his approaches to parenting and educating often overlap. “I try to find ways to parent as a coach and director,” he says. “I know how I wanted my kids to be treated when they worked with a teacher/coach, and I try to create an environment that is what I expect. “I also try to have fun. Fun and discipline all in one place. When it’s time to get to work, we work.” With Tom Richert, what you see is what you get. “I have always tried to be myself in the classroom,” he says. The relationships he forms with his students are so important that, for Richert, authenticity is a matter of principle. “I believe that my job is to try to make a difference in their education as well as in their development.”

Tom Richert shows a trophy the MCC forensics squad won.

WHY MASON COUNTY?

The 2016 MCC Forensics Squad won displays hardware won at regional competiton this year.

“It’s a great place. I love the fact that we are a small community, and yet we com-

Tom Richert

“We travel to Detroit and they can hardly believe our kids are from a small class “C” school from up north,” he says. “We have great kids! Very talented, some of the best in the state.”

pete in such large arenas.” Richert takes pride in

the fact that his team can compete with some of the

biggest and most successful teams in the state.

says. The performing arts allow Tom Richert to work closely and personally to work with students. He works to help them find their inner voice that separates them from the crowd. “They have to learn how to INFLUENCES dig deep, just like an athlete. “I had a college profesI work many extra hours sor that was my mentor (Dr. with my students developRussell Grandstaff, Western ing their roles and speeches. Michigan University). He had In this time, I learn their me watch how he worked highs and lows in this difwith students. I watched ficult time called the teen him direct and teach classes. years,” Richert says. We met often to evaluate his Tom Richert was raised process. He let me in on how in Mason County and went and why he did what he did. to MCC schools. He went to He helped me be a strong Western Michigan University leader.” and earned degrees in theThis experience has ater education, communicahelped shape Tom Richert’s tions and English. He taught own approach to teaching in West Palm Beach, Florida and forming connections and at Interlochen Academy with students. before returning to teach Connar Klock, a former at Mason County Central in student and member of the 1990. MCC Forensics team, is cur“I learned in my junior rently earning his BFA in year of high school that I acting at Western Michigan wanted to teach. It was alUniversity. ways my plan to teach, and “I auditioned against 565 raise a family here in the other people for 20 spots north,” Richert says. “My in this program and never plan is retirement in four ever would have been able years, making me a 35-year to do it had Richert not been teacher. I want to continue with me running my audiacting in movies and theater tion monologues. If Richert in retirement.” hadn’t been there to push Tom Richert lives with his me to try harder,” Connar wife Libby in Manistee.


PROGRESS

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FILE PHOTOS | DAILY NEWS

Join the Scottville fun! The Rubber Ducky Race, above, is part of the Scottville Summerfest, July 8th & 9th, as well as the Car Show, pictured at right.

“Our actions will inspire and equip students to excel” • Dedicated, caring professional Administrators, Teachers and Support Staff • High Quality Early Childhood Program • Middle College (ASM Tech) • Dual Enrollment/AP • Career Tech Education • Spartan Academy Alternative Education • 3:1 student to computer ratio • On-line learning for AP and credit recovery • 20:1 Student to Teacher ratio • Mason/Lake Adult Education

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CoMpetition • Over $6.4 million in Scholarships awarded to seniors since 2006 • Award winning Jazz Band • State level Forensics Team • You Be the Chemist winners • Spelling Bee Champions • Math Counts Winners • Award Winning Industrial Arts Program • Regional Performance Showcase winners Arts and Academic • WSCC High School Art competition winners • Quiz Bowl Team • K-12 Performing and Visual Arts Programs • 17 Varsity level Athletic teams and clubs

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Scottville

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2016 Scottville Harvest Festival September 15th - 17th Join us in downtown Scottville for the annual Harvest Festival, including parades, entertainment tent, queen’s coronation, and the ever popular Ox Roast. To volunteer or to make a donation to the event, call City Hall at 7574729. Parade applications can be obtained from City Hall.

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LUDINGTON DAILY NEWS/COMMUNITY PROFILE

| TUESDAY, APRIL 19, 2016

www.ludingtondailynews.com

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| 21

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22 |

LUDINGTON DAILY NEWS/COMMUNITY PROFILE

| TUESDAY, APRIL 19, 2016

www.ludingtondailynews.com

Murray Stall, protecting water Helping farmers, landowners put responsible practices into use

BY BRIAN MULHERIN DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER

W

hile it’s not yet clear who was asleep at the wheel in Flint’s water crisis, Flint is not the only place with water that can be put in peril. In Mason and Manistee counties, one of the people charged with making sure groundwater and surface water quality is not forgotten is Murray Stall. Stall is the Michigan Agricultural Environmental Assurance Program technician for Mason and Manistee counties. His job is to talk to farmers and others who might impact ground or surface waters about how they can be responsible and protect those waters. Stall has been doing this for 25 years. “I retired from the job and wanted to come up here and go salmon fishing,” Stall said. “I’ve enjoyed every minute up here.” Stall was raised on a family farm in Charlotte, Michigan. He had milking cows and beef cattle before the farm turned to cash cropping. “The job” came when Stall joined the Natural Resources Conservation Service in Eaton County in 1952. That was right about the time that NRCS was tasked with making sure farmers were completing the improvements that they were being paid to do. He said it wasn’t uncommon for farmers back then to accept payment for tiling a field without actually putting a single tile down. Stall was trained through a program called “upward mobility” to look at crops and soils. When he moved to this

area, Stall’s first job was doing Integrated Pest Management (IPM) scouting with the conservation districts. Eventually, his responsibility shifted to water protection. “It was mainly geared toward soil erosion at that time,” Stall said. “Now the emphasis is on groundwater and surface water protection. They all tie together if you look at it the hard way.” When the new “groundwater stewardship” program came along, he and Lynda Herremans — the MAEAP technician for Oceana County — got together and formed a groundwater stewardship committee that helped get farmers on the right track. “We mainly protect the water, the public drinking water and the private drinking water,” Stall said. “We work on all those areas, like removing underground fuel tanks. Closing abandoned wells has been one of the big things in the county.” Stall said since work started to close abandoned wells in 1997, about 120 of them have been shut down in Mason County. “At that time we had money we could cost share with, guys who wanted to close abandoned wells could do it free of charge, the wellwater program paid the entire shot,” Stall said. People might not appreciate the groundwater here because of all the surface water, but that beautiful sand this area is known for isn’t the best for groundwater protection. “One of the other really big concern is the permeable soils we have in this county,” Stall said. “In many areas there’s no clay layers that your well goes through to protect the water.”

“Nutrients, excess application of nutrients, specifically manure, fertilizer, pesticides could be, but they’re getting a bad name,” Stall said. “With the costs of them the guys aren’t going to overapply. With Roundupready, it’s nowhere near as bad as it used to be.” He said there are some issues with orchard overspraying, but farmers do their best. He said if you want good apples, the farmers have to spray. In general, he said things are easier for his position than they once were. “When I started it was a big challenge,” Stall said. “They’re far more receptive. I got run off of some farms.”

PERSONAL LIFE

STEVE BEGNOCHE | DAILY NEWS

‘One of the other really big concern is the permeable soils we have in this county. In many areas there’s no clay layers that your well goes through to protect the water.’ Stall said a big part of his job is getting farmers to buy in to the program. “It’s not cheap for the farmers to get into the program in a lot of cases, so it shows at least they’re making the efforts,” Stall said. “So far it’s been very, very good. I’m gonna say better than 95 percent here in this county. It’s been real good,

once a guy gets into it gets doing these things, it seems to fall into place. Most of them are proud that they got into the program, proud they got the sign.” Stall said farmers learn to control runoff, limit soil erosion and manage nutrients that can include manure. “We make the producer aware of what he needs,”

Stall said. The goal is to have safe handling of manure, fertilizers and pesticides and to make sure that those items are mixed, managed and sprayed at the proper rates. Asked what the threats to our area are, he said it’s the same things, although compliance is better than it once was.

When Stall isn’t working to protect local waters with local landowners, he’s enjoying local waters or local lands. “Basically I fish a lot of the small lakes now,” Stall said. “The Great Lakes haven’t been too good the last few years.” He said he doesn’t do much river fishing, although he did go once with longtime Mason County NRCS agent Fred Kirchner. “I used to hunt avidly and now I just sit on my deck and watch them eat my garden,” Stall said. “I don’t get that interested, just holler at them. “I have a black bear that visits me and tears down my birdfeeder now and then,” Stall said. Stall noted that he used to be quite a bowler, but not so much anymore. “I just like working outdoors all the time,” Stall said. bmulherin@ludingtondailynews.com 843-1122 x348


TUESDAY, APRIL 19, 2016

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| LUDINGTON DAILY NEWS/COMMUNITY PROFILE  www.ludingtondailynews.com

Stephanie Muralt, involved parent

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BY RILEY KELLEY DAILY NEWS CORRESPONDENT

S

COTTVILLE — It’s not hard to tell that Stephanie Muralt loves Mason County. She is the president of the Mason County Central Elementary Parent Teacher Committee, where, with the help of Vice President Elizabeth Adams, Treasurer Heidi Olmstead and Secretary Christine McKay, she works to help raise funds and organize events for Scottville’s elementary schools. “I personally love being involved in my child’s school,” Muralt says. “I get to be involved and learn about our schools’ achievements and concerns.” Stephanie has been involved with the PTC for four years, and volunteers hundreds of hours a year to the school. Stephanie helps run and organize the Walk/Run 4 Fun, an annual fundraising event for MCC elementary schools. Last year, the event raised $18,391. She also runs the Holiday Shop, which gives students a chance to shop for Christmas gifts for their loved ones. “The holiday shop helps generate over $4,000 for the school,” Stephanie says. All of this money helps the school fund field trips, playground upgrades and classroom teaching equipment. “We have bought new equipment for the lower elementary playground and added a tire swings and wood chips to the upper elementary.” The PTC has also purchased iPads and Chrome

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KEVIN BRACISZESKI | DAILY NEWS

‘We want him to know he can help make a difference in his community, big or small.’ Stephanie Muralt Books for students and teachers. But Stephanie’s involvement in the community is not limited to her work with the PTC. She and her husband, Jason Muralt, own Pro-Master Carpet Cleaning, which has been a sponsor for the Walk/Run 4 Fun for the past four years. “Over the last two summers, Jason and I have donated our summers to help with the playground construction,” she says. “We donated our equipment and hundreds of hours working day to night with other volunteers on making sure the playground got completed on time.” “We really enjoy knowing we are helping fix certain areas in the school district which are in need of im-

provement. The playground is also used by the community,” Stephanie says. Pro-Master Carpet Cleaning donates to the West Shore Wolves hockey association and Helping Hands Ministries, and Stephanie and Jason are coaches for their Riverton Pro-Master Pirates t-ball team. “We also donate carpet cleaning each year to families in need,” Stephanie says.  “We want to teach our son that there are many children and families in our own community that may be struggling with issues out of their control. We want him to know he can help make a difference in his community, big or small.”  Stephanie and Jason want to set a positive example for their 9-year-old son, Trevor,

The body shop repairs damage from collision and deer accidents to rust repairs, and can repair and acquire parts from all makes, domestic or foreign. Free loaners are available for those without rental coverage. Johnson’s experienced staff will take care of your insurance claim from start to finish. Mike Johnson owns the business and Sheila Johnson is a Michigan Licensed unibody repair technician and has been estimating and handling insurance claims since 1998. Johnson’s is independently operated and the body shop proudly does not participate in any insurer’s Direct Repair Program (DRP). It is the customer’s right to choose what body shop repairs their vehicle. Although an insurer may recommend one of their DRP (Direct Program - like an HMO) shops, Michigan law gives the vehicle owner the right to choose the shop without insurance influence. More information about the ways insurers may pressure customers to use their DRP shop can be found at www.stopsteering.org. A special thanks to our customers with Auto Owners, State Farm, Farmers, Progressive, Citizens, Meemic and many more.

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24 |

LUDINGTON DAILY NEWS/COMMUNITY PROFILE

| TUESDAY, APRIL 19, 2016

www.ludingtondailynews.com

Don Palmer, a people person

He greets people at Spectrum Health Ludington Hospital and has proud of service in Pentwater BY RILEY KELLEY DAILY NEWS CORRESPONDENT

D

‘I just enjoy that opportunity to be there with people.’ Don Palmer

on Palmer loves people. So much so that, even in retirement, he spends much of his time making the days a little brighter for the people of Mason County and its neighbors. As a greeter at Spectrum Health Ludington Hospital, Palmer is the first contact for those coming in to the hospital. You can find him there every weekday morning, bright and early, in a crisp black suit and tie, standing in the entryway to the hospital’s main entrance. “He greets every single patient as they come through,” says Jessica Wood, patient access supervisor for the hospital. “His first focus is the patient, so he

gives that warm welcome into our doors.” Before retiring in 2015, Palmer was an educator for almost 40 years, serving the public school systems of Michigan in a variety of roles. “I started out as a kindergarten teacher and ended up teaching in public schools for 23 years,” Palmer says. “I was an administrator for 16.” “Every morning when I was there, I greeted all the students with high fives,” he says. “I just enjoy that opportunity to be there with people.” According to Jessica Wood, the greeter position is a perfect fit for Don, who brings the unique people skills he gained as an educator to his current position.

“He’s just been a fit. He comforts the patients, especially the little ones that come in that are having anxiety.” Wood says that Don’s signature high-fives and fist-bumps put patients at ease. Wava Thomas, Patient Access Manager for Spectum Health, agrees. “He has done a marvelous job, and we have received so many compliments. He’s doing more than just saying hello to people, he’s helping guide them through the process. He keeps everything flowing very nicely. That’s the beauty of the position and he does it with grace and elegance.” Don Palmer wants the community to know that the he wouldn’t be able to do what he

does without his co-workers at Spectrum Health. “I work with a wonderful group of people,” he says. “When people are in the limelight, it’s important to know that there’s a lot of people that make that limelight shine.” Palmer has always been a community man. A former mayor of Pentwater, he has served on the Pentwater Village Council for 26 years, and continues to do so today. “I’m proud of the fact that I’m the longest-serving council member on the village council,” Palmer says. Don Palmer lives in Pentwater with his wife, Deb. They have been married for 41 years, and have two children and four grandchildren.

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| LUDINGTON DAILY NEWS/COMMUNITY PROFILE  www.ludingtondailynews.com

Shirley Woirol, lighthouse keeper An unofficial area ambassador BY STEVE BEGNOCHE MANAGING EDITOR

S

the top of the four-story tower which people pay to climb. The view can’t be beat, but some amenities taken for granted by many are not available at the light. There’s no power and no rest rooms. If nature calls, it’s a walk, trot or run back to shore. “On a rainy cloudy days, it can be pretty dark in there,” Woirol, who retired from medical imaging , work said. If a thunderstorm or other nasty weather is coming, the volunteers try get to shore before a storm hits. But surprises happen. She recalls going out on a beautiful day to volunteer, but waves built during the day and when they came back to shore, waves were coming over the breakwater. The volunteers held hands to make it back to shore safely. “You have to watch the weather. We try not to endanger people,” she said. If it’s a fast moving storm, they sometimes wait on shore and head back out when the weather clears. It can be rugged at the end of the breakwater. One wind storm took out the flagpole. Wait till it gets better, one time the wind took the flag pole.

hirley Woirol is a volunteer keeper at the Ludington North Breakwater Light, which means the final part of her commute to work is the quarter-mile walk out to the light. The Summit Township resident works most Mondays in summer, from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. A second shift covers the afternoon and early evening hours. She answer visitors’ questions, sells souvenirs in the gift shop in the light tower, talks to people and photographs those who ask for a photo with their cameras or phones. In addition, she helps keep the light tower interior clean, sweeps away any sand and straightens the merchandise. In addition, when there are special night events such as during Friday Night Lives in downtown Ludington or special Sunday night, she sometimes helps then. This will be her third season as part of the crew. Usually, she said one of three people working, with one or two of them working downstairs where access to the gift shop is free. At least one person is in the light room at

Certain questions are heard often. “ Everybody wants to know how deep it is. They ask about the different color of water. “They always think they can see Wisconsin. They can’t,” she said. “People would like to be up there (at the top of the tower) when a lower laker goes through or the when the fishing boats come in, that’s nice,” she said. “It’s fun, and when you leave, you feel really appreciative. People just loving being out on the water. “When you’re up on the top, it’s a really cozy room. You have great conservations,” she said. “We feel we’re good will ambassadors for the area.” Being a volunteer lightkeeper means she meets a lot of people, often finding unexpected connections. “It’s something I look very forward to. It’s one way to get out and talk to people when You’re retired,” Woirol said. “It gives me an excuse to go to the beach every Monday.” “We promote more than the lighthouses. We engage in people coming into the area. “It really is fun.”

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Being a volunteer keeper at the Ludington North Breakwater is a great way to meet people, Shirley Woirol said. This summer will be her third season volunteering with the Sable Point Lighthouse Keepers Association which manages the North Breakwater Light and three others — Big Sable Point Lighthouse, Little Sable Point Lighthouse, and the White River Light Station, near Whitehall.

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LUDINGTON DAILY NEWS/COMMUNITY PROFILE

| TUESDAY, APRIL 19, 2016

www.ludingtondailynews.com

Becky Cain, volunteer

Helping the community even as she forms relationships through being involved BY KEVIN BRACISZESKI DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER

B

ecky Cain grew up in Grass Lake but has adopted Ludington as her home and she’s enjoying her life of work, play and volunteering here. Cain, 34, recalled that she moved to Ludington on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 2013 and she started putting down roots — even buying a house in April 2014. “It’s challenging, especially for a single person who has no idea how to fix a house,” she said. She had been living in Pennsylvania but was drawn to Ludington because her dad, Wally, lived here. “The situation in Pennsylvania didn’t work out so I moved here to be closer to him,” Becky said. In addition to working at Peterson Farms in Shelby as customer service for the “fresh plant,” which handles the fresh fruit, Cain spends time volunteering at local events. “I volunteer a lot,” she said. “My first summer here I did a lot of volunteering. I go where I’m needed, wherever I’m needed. “I did it to make friends and connections,” Cain said about volunteering. “The people I’ve met here and at the Mitten Bar, I’ve formed relationships with the staff and owners the year I moved here and formed a tight group.” She’s spent time volunteering on the Gus Macker 3-on-3 Basket-

JEFF KIESSEL | DAILY NEWS

‘I enjoy being part of making decisions on how to make Ludington a better place.’ ball Tournament committee, and has volunteered at Ludington’s Octoberfest and Suds on the Shore events, a fundraising event for Sandcastles Children’s Museum and for the downtown Ludington New Year’s Eve ball drop.

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Cain also applied for a position on the Ludington Planning Commission — at the suggestion of her father — and has served there for the past two years. “The planning commission is a good way to get involved and meet

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people and help out,” she said. “I am absolutely fascinated with it. “It’s great to be a part of it,” she said. “I enjoy being part of making decisions on how to make Ludington a better place.” Cain said she took a six-week

cram course in zoning and learned about mistakes and accomplishments made in other cities. “The more I’m exposed to it, the better I’ll get and the more of a difference I can make,” she said about beginning on her third year on the planning commission. “It’s definitely something I want to continue.” She also often attends Ludington City Council meetings with her father. “He talked about them and it was something to bond over,” Cain said. Some of her past volunteer work even helped her see more of the world by volunteering to build a Sunday school in Guatemala. “One of my biggest memories was crossing over to Guatemala,” she said. “There were a lot of guards with guns. It was a very good experience. It was an eyeopener that we have it pretty good here in the United States.” Cain has also traveled to Austria, Germany and France between the ages of 17 and 25 and even worked as a receptionist in London for two weeks. “With moving around and traveling, this is the happiest place I’ve ever been and it has a lot to do with the people,” Cain said. “And the beach. I get off work at 5 p.m. and get to sit in the sand. “The people make it such a great town and I want to share that with everyone I can,” she added.

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TUESDAY, APRIL 19, 2016

| 27

| LUDINGTON DAILY NEWS/COMMUNITY PROFILE  www.ludingtondailynews.com

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28 |

LUDINGTON DAILY NEWS/COMMUNITY PROFILE

| TUESDAY, APRIL 19, 2016

www.ludingtondailynews.com

Ellie Huff, hospital volunteer Longest serving ‘Pink Lady’ volunteer dedicates life to hospital work

BY ZACH MATHIOT DAILY NEWS CORRESPONDENT

V

olunteers are who founded Spectrum Health Ludington Hospital back in 1906. It’s due to their hard work that the hospital has become what it is today. Ellie Huff, 88, is one volunteer who dedicates her time to the mail sorted and delivered to the different hospital departments. She’s done this job for 41 years and shows no signs of slowing down. “I feel very fortunate the job I have here,” said Huff. Huff works at Spectrum two days a week. She works a two-hour shift each day and enjoys what she does. Huff and 6 other volunteers work to sort out and deliver mail to each department of the hospital. “I think it’s a fun job and I get a lot out of it. I get to talk to people and get exercise going to each floor,” said Huff. Huff began her work with Spectrum when she moved to Ludington in 1975. She and her late husband previously lived in Grand Rapids and Belding before moving to the area. Huff’s husband bought Madison’s Mini Mart and moved to the area to manage it until its sale in 1999. Huff was able to become a volunteer with the hospital as a result of attending a bowling event in town. “I was approached at the event by one of the heads of the Pink Ladies. After that they offered me the option to volunteer and that’s how I got involved,” said Huff. This chance encounter is what led Huff to join the program known as the “Pink Ladies” in 1975. At first it was only women who were

Ellie Huff delivers mail to Tricia Postula at Spectrum Health Ludington Hospital. Huff, 88, has been a volunteer at the hospital for 41 years. a part of the program until men eventually joined. “Then the men started volunteering and we couldn’t very well call them Pink Ladies,” said Huff. Huff has worked other positions as a volunteer

throughout her time with the volunteer program. She started out at the information desk where she helped discharge patients. She eventually received word of a mail room position and decided to apply.

“I think it’s a fun job and I get a lot out of it. I get to talk to people and get exercise going to each floor. There’s 3 floors now. When I started there was only two,” said Huff. Huff works every shift

with a smile on her face. She enjoys meeting and talking with people as the job allows her to get out of the house and be social. She’s not without help however, when needed. “I have an assistant and

ZACH MATHIOT | DAILY NEWS

I do appreciate her help. If she’s busy then I have to do it by myself,” said Huff. It’s clear that Huff is an independent worker. Every day she sorts and delivers the mail happily. This gives her something to do and


TUESDAY, APRIL 19, 2016

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| LUDINGTON DAILY NEWS/COMMUNITY PROFILE  www.ludingtondailynews.com

‘People always tell me that I’m doing a good service by volunteering at the hospital. But I always tell them that I get just as much out of it as I put into it.’ Ellie Hufff

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strive for. It’s due in large part to her overall good health despite her age. Throughout the years Huff has also created strong friendships with her coworkers and nearly everyone she meets. This is useful during times of great stress such as the loss of her husband. “When my husband passed away the other volunteers were very sweet and supportive,” said Huff. This type of support only serves to strengthen her resolve to work her hardest during every shift. Huff also enjoys time outside of work to help ease her mind and take a break. “I like to play the organ. I do still bowl just mostly for the social interaction,” said Huff. Huff also enjoys spending time with her family. This is made difficult by the fact her children live in Grand Rapids. Although it’s tough for her to see them at times

her family helps motivate her to continue working when she can. Kaley Petersen, director of the Spectrum Health Ludington Hospital Foundation and director of volunteer services, really appreciates all that Huff has done during her long tenure. She hasn’t worked with Huff throughout her entire time at Spectrum but has still been able to see Huff make a lasting impression. “Ellie exemplifies a pure heart. She is always wearing a smile and it is her best accessory. Ellie has an unwavering dedication to her volunteer role at our local hospital and we are so thankful for all of her service,” said Petersen. Petersen also spoke about how volunteers are recognized for their work. Huff has recently received an award for her efforts. “I have a 4,000 hour pin,” said Huff. The hospital keeps track

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of the total hours worked by each volunteer. Huff has the most out of any volunteer in the program. These service pins are given out at volunteer recognition events held for Spectrum volunteers. It’s clear that Huff loves volunteer work due to her years of service. She’s been with job for a majority of her life and truly enjoys what she does. It’s due to the efforts of Huff and other volunteers that Spectrum Health is able to continue operating as it does currently. According to a recent newsletter from the hospital, Huff had much to say about her time as a volunteer. “People always tell me that I’m doing a good service by volunteering at the hospital. But I always tell them that I get just as much out of it as I put into it. I’ve been doing it for 41 years and as long as they’ll have me, I’ll keep on coming — hopefully for another 41 years,” said Huff.

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LUDINGTON DAILY NEWS/COMMUNITY PROFILE

| TUESDAY, APRIL 19, 2016

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