IT’S BACK: Once-popular ArtFest returns after four-year break
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Revvin’ up for Summer
Show season a chance for car lovers to shine WITH: Cool cars return Monday nights Spring/summer 2012 MyWilliamston.com
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Contents Spring/Summer 2012 Volume 3, No. 1 CONTRIBUTORS Saralee Bloese Benjamin Eichler Cyndi Lieske Mitch Lutzke
cover story | Roarin’ into town
Classic cars highlight enthusiasts, pastimes local dish
Q&A: New city manager has high hopes for future .......... 6 Art revival: ArtFest back in city’s summer lineup .......... 7 Summer fun: Annual events fill up calendar ................... 8 Cover story extra
Mitch Lutzke digs up past of century-old house . ...... 10 Benjamin Eichler explains why to believe in luck . ...... 23 IN every issue
Schedule of Williamston area car shows .................. 13 Monday car cruise hopes to grow in second year ......... 18
Find past issues of My Williamston online at issuu.com/yeetown. My Williamston is published by Yeetown, LLC. We are located inside Keller’s Plaza at 110 E. Grand River Ave. in downtown Williamston.
Calendar .......................... 20 Meeting schedule ............ 20 Look for the Fall/Winter edition of My Williamston in October. Visit us online at MyWilliamston.com
In the photo above, Williamston resident Tom Johnson works on the front bumper of his 1954 Packard Caribbean. — Photo by My Williamston staff
On the Cover
A ’57 Chevy during the 2011 Cool Car Night in downtown Williamston. Photo by Saralee Bloese
© Yeetown Designs, a division of Yeetown, LLC Find us on Facebook facebook.com/yeetown
Dave Porter rhonDa Baker
517.655.4000 119 S. Putnam ▪ Downtown Williamston 4 | My Williamston | Spring/Summer 2012
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Spring/Summer 2012 | My Williamston | 5
1. You’ve been with the city for 17 years. How has your previous experience helped you prepare for your new role as city manager? The working relationships with city employees, various city boards and the public that have been established over the years will help considerably. I have had the opportunity to watch this community grow. When my wife and I moved here in the beginning of 1995, Williamston had a strong presence in antiques. I have seen the city change over the years. We now have a theatre, improved parks, and the downtown businesses have changed to a more diverse offering. Having viewed this transition from City Hall will assist in efforts to move this community forward. 3. What is your assessment of the city today? What are some strengths and weaknesses? The people in Williamston are the greatest. The energy within the community seems to be building. Community involvement seems to be on the rise. Volunteers are stepping forward to serve on various city boards, assisting with organizing festivals, maintaining structures at various parks, even coordinating a summer music series to be held in McCormick Park. Organizations, such as the Chamber of Commerce, Jubilee Committee and Williamston Beautification Foundation, are pursuing various projects that increase the quality of life here in Williamston. What Williamston is lacking are walking/bicycling paths to get around the community. This appears to be a common weakness in many communities due
Compiled by My Williamston staff
A word with Alan M. Dolley to the fact that most communities were designed around the automobile. Walkability is being revisited in many communities to assist in the feeling of belonging, the feeling of being part of an active community. 4. What is your vision for the city in the future? I see Williamston continuing to redevelop the downtown area into a community gathering center. We need to continue the cooperative working relationships with developers, state and federal departments, and property owners to rehabilitate and refurbish some of the more worn buildings within our downtown district. The benefits of these cooperative efforts can be seen in the Tavern 109 building rehabilitation. We also need to look closer at how we can draw additional business into our industrial park. These types of businesses could add numerous employment opportunities for our community as well as adding residents and patrons. 5. Do you foresee any new projects in Williamston? We currently are working to design and develop 781 Progress Court into a quality Department of Public Works facility. A grant has been acquired to complete the resurfacing of Putnam Street from Industrial Park Drive to Grand River. This project will correct the excess grade change at the railroad tracks. Other projects that need to be looked at would be possible walking/biking paths from some of the larger subdivisions to the city center and to access the city parks. There has been consideration of establishing a skate park
6 | My Williamston | Spring/Summer 2012
within the city. The continued progress at improving the other infrastructure items such as sidewalks, water and sewer lines and roadway surfaces is always on the drawing board.
MEET alan dolleY
6. From your work as the city treasurer, you know the city’s financial situation. What is the state of the city’s finances? We currently have a satisfactory fund balance within our general fund. While we work on the 2012-13 budget, we need to keep in mind that we will be working with fewer revenue dollars. The taxable value for the City of Williamston decreased by approximately 8 percent for the upcoming 2012-13 budget year; this decrease will mean approximately $135,000 fewer tax dollars to provide services to our citizens. The State of Michigan eliminated Statutory Revenue Sharing and replaced it with the Economic Vitality Incentive Program (EVIP). EVIP is a three-tiered program where you need to meet state requirements in, one, dashboard presentation, two, service consolidations with other organizations and, three, in employee benefits. The city will need to carefully evaluate the financial impact of programs and projects they plan on undertaking in the future. 7. You live and work in Williamston. Why do you choose to make this community your home? The people who live in and around Williamston are a major factor in creating the community environment my wife and I like. The fact that Williamston still offers a small town atmosphere while offering its citizens
Who: Williamston’s new city manager as of February has been with the city for 17 years, including as treasurer since 2004. Background: Prior to his appointment as treasurer, Alan served as the accounting supervisor for the City of Cadillac. In 2006, he received his “Certified Public Finance Administrator” designation through the Association of Public Treasurers, United States and Canada. Other interests: Alan and his wife, Jean, enjoy living in Williamston with their two dogs and two cats. They enjoy snowmobiling in the snowy months. In the summer, Alan flies radio control sailplanes with the Greater Lansing Area Soaring Society. exceptional socialization opportunities such as outstanding restaurants and local community events (summer music series, Jubilee and other such events) make this a community we enjoy being a part of. The service organizations within the community also add to the sense of community that is taking root here in Williamston.
City’s ArtFest making a comeback
Holly Thompson and Gwen ChericoBrandon are working to revive the oncepopular ArtFest on the River. The two hope an updated McCormick Park and a renewed effort lead to a successful comeback. Following a four-year hiatus, the summer festival is scheduled to return July 28 with live music throughout the day, art tents for children and young adults, and, of course, fine art from 60-80 vendors. “People have been asking if it’s really back and going to go on. Yes, it is,” event chair Holly Thompson said. “Whether we have two artists and some hot dogs, it is. People have been excited and if we can keep that excitement up, that will be good.” Thompson, the City of Williamston’s clerk, is working closely with Brandon, the former event chair who stepped down after the 2007 show due to family events and was disappointed to see the festival end. “I called people who originally helped back then and almost all are back working,” Brandon said. “It really helps because everybody knows what they’re doing. I’m really glad to bring back the old gang.” Thompson is hoping musical acts will fill the bandshell from 10 a.m.-8 p.m. with the vendors displaying from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Young children will have opportunities to learn about art in an education tent and young adults will display art in another tent. “The last ArtFest brought in more than 80 vendors and was very successful,” Thompson said. “People really loved it and it brought in a ton of business to the city.” In it’s last year, the festival was a co-winner of the Tri-County Regional Economic
Photos courtesy of Shannon Poynter
In 2007, its last year, ArtFest on the River showcased 80 artists. The once-popular event will return July 28.
if you go What: The 2012 ArtFest on the River When: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, July 28. Live music, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Where: McCormick Park Info: ArtFestontheRiver.org Development Team’s Regional Excellence in Arts and Culture Award. Brandon is hoping the festival is a hit again despite the layoff. “It’s almost like we have to start over again after that period of time off,” Brandon said. “There were some aborted attempts, but it just wasn’t the right time.” The Williamston City Council originally planned to fund a return of ArtFest last year, but the effort, like previous attempts, never materialized. “I just got tired of seeing it fail and I knew
people really wanted it,” Thompson said. “Council was looking for someone to head it up, and on a whim, I just said, ‘OK. I’ll do it.’ ” The group is accepting artist applications (available at ArtFestontheRiver.org) through May 1 and also looking for donations and sponsors. Thompson and Brandon said the recent renovations to McCormick Park make a perfect setting for the festival. “That’s going to help us tremendously,” Thompson said. “We have the stage, we have the bandshell, now we just need the people.”
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Spring/Summer 2012 | My Williamston | 7
Market, concerts fill park on Thursdays
The Williamston Farmers’ Market is returning to its original location next to McCormick Park, which director Christine Miller sees as an opportunity for growth. Moving from the City Hall parking lot, the new spot will be an addition to Concerts at the Shell, the series of Thursday night concerts that began last summer. “We have plenty of room to grow there and hopefully can piggyback off of the concerts to make it a nice evening,” Miller said. The market runs from 3-7 p.m. Thursdays June 7-Sept. 27. The concerts in the American Legion Memorial Bandshell begin at 7 p.m. and run from May 31-Aug. 30 (see the schedule of summer concerts on Page 19). The market had been held near City Hall the past four years. Before that, it had two stints in the McCormick Park parking lot on the corner of High and Putnam streets. It returns following extensive park renovations that upgraded the lot from gravel to asphalt. Other annual summer events include:
INDEPENDENCE DAY FIREWORKS First Baptist Church of Williamston hosts a fireworks celebration July 3 for the third year in a row at its property on North Williamston Road, near I-96. Show at dusk.
See more events
See our Calendar on Page 20 for a schedule of upcoming events MEMORIAL DAY PARADE Williamston’s Wycoff American Legion Post 296 will again hold its annual Memorial Day parade May 28 through the downtown.
DOG DAYS Dog Days in Williamston returns Aug. 3-4 this summer with a parade and other events catering to dogs and their owners.
COOL CAR NIGHT & FLAMINGO FEST Classic Cars and Parrotheads team up June 1 in downtown Williamston for a night of music, food and fun. Read about Cool Car Night in the Cover Story on Page 12.
Police and kids golf outing The 18th annual Police and Kids Golf Outing begins at 8:30 a.m. Aug. 4 at Brookshire Inn & Golf Club. The cost is $75 per person or $300 per team. Call (517) 6554222 for more information.
RED CEDAR JUBILEE The Red Cedar Jubilee returns for its 41st year with the theme, “Happy Birthday, Jubilee!” The weeklong event is scheduled for June 18-24 (specific events listed on Page 20). The craft show is June 22-23. Call (517) 655-3831 for more information.
National Night Out An evening of “Fun, food and friends” returns for its third year with National Night Out set for 3-9 p.m. Aug. 7 in McCormick Park. The event is intended to encourage community togetherness. Call (517) 6551034 for more information.
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WILLIAMSTON THEATRE WILLIAMSTON THEATRE
March 22 - April 22, 2012
May March 17 -22 June - April 17, 22, 2012 2012
Book and Lyrics by Alan Gordon Music by Mark Sutton-Smith
Book Byand Theresa LyricsRebeck by Alan Gordon Music by Mark Sutton-Smith
Directed by Tony Caselli
Directed Directed by Rob by Roznowski Tony Caselli
World Premiere! This modern musical journey through love and life will keep you coming back for more.
Take a trip behind scenes as a World the Premiere! trio of theatre professionals This modern musical struggle journey to through balance love ego,and art and highkeep life will commerce in this biting comedy you coming back for more.
Performances: Thursdays, Fridays & Saturdays @ 8PM Sundays @ 2PM
JulyMay 12 -17 August - June19, 17,2012 2012
By Jaston ByWilliams, Theresa Joe Rebeck Sears and Ed Howard Directed DirectedbybyJohn RobLepard Roznowski The Take hilarious a trip behind Aral Gribble the scenes and as a trio Wayne of theatre David Parker professionals return in struggle thisto outrageous balance ego, summertime art and high commerce sequel to Greater in this biting Tuna.comedy
Performances: Williamston Theatre Thursdays, Fridays & Saturdays 8PM Williamston 122 S. Putnam @Street, Sundays @ 2PM
With 3PM performances on Saturdays starting With 3PM performances on Saturdays starting www.williamstontheatre.org the second week of each production. the second week of each production.
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Spring/Summer 2012 | My Williamston | 9
History A LOOK BACK
Learning history with Mitch Lutzke
Renovation preserves Dakin house
he beautiful white two-story house with the wraparound porch and more than a century of history has come alive again on South Putnam Street. After a yearlong renovation, Jon and Ashley Jolin have refurbished one of Williamston’s stately homes to its past glory. Located at the corner of School and South Putnam streets, the house’s original owner and builder were two of the town’s most prominent citizens in the late-19th century. In the fall of 1895, the Richard Owen family estate sold Lot 5 of Block 39 to Harriet Dakin. The Owens were Georgia natives, who had speculated in Michigan lands and owned hundreds of acres, much of it south of Middle Street. In the Jan. 8, 1896, edition of the Williamston Enterprise, it was announced that “Mrs. J.B. Dakin purchased vacant lot on the corner of School and Putnam streets to build this spring.” Harriet was the widow of John B. Dakin, a wealthy businessman and an early banker. The Dakins were one of the families that had moved from Dansville in the 1870s when the railroad bypassed it, instead going through Williamston. When Mr. Dakin died in 1891, he left behind cash and property valued at $228,000. At the time, the couple was living just south of the railroad tracks, on the west side of Putnam Street. With money from her husband’s estate, Harriett purchased the vacant lot a few hundred feet to the north for a new home and hired builders. However, in the meantime, one of her brothers-in-law, Elsihba Dakin, promptly sued her, claiming John Dakin’s will was unclear as to who would get the property and what he had specifically left to Harriet, roughly totaling $180,000. The Michigan Supreme Court in 1893 ruled against Harriet and she received only $40,000, opening a second round of
Above, Harriet Dakin stands in front of her house shortly after it was built. (Photo courtesy of J.D. Small) Below, a modern-day look at the house located at 334 S. Putnam St. Jon and Ashley Jolin recently renovated the historic house and moved in with their two children. (Photo courtesy of the Jolin family)
Mitch Lutzke is a history and video production teacher at Williamston High School. He is a local historian and member of the Williamston Depot Museum's board of directors. He lives in Williamston with his wife and children. Contact Mitch at mlutzke@MyWilliamston.com. 10 | My Williamston | Spring/Summer 2012
lawsuits as the remaining cash and property had 12 of John Dakin’s siblings, two nephews, assorted community members and a local lawyer all battling for control of the remaining estate. The issue was finally settled by the Michigan Supreme Court in the spring of 1896, but not after a case of fraud was levied by a few of the involved parties. Despite the turmoil, and apparently undeterred, Harriet went on with the housing project, as about the time of the 1896 court ruling, the Wygant Brothers were drilling a 128-foot water well on her new home site. The home’s general contractor was Hiram E. Higbee, the esteemed local builder responsible for many of the town’s featured structures, including City Hall, the original high school (currently the Community Center), the old Congregational Church (currently St. James Orthodox Church) and about half-adozen brick business buildings and homes still standing in Williamston. By late-April 1896, the house’s framing could be seen and work was planned throughout the summer months. Unfortunately, Higbee would soon be hurt in building the home. A May edition of the Enterprise reported Higbee was hit on the head at Mrs. Dakin’s house and was knocked unconscious. He was apparently laid up for several weeks before returning to complete the home in the summer of 1896. According to the Enterprise, which published nearly weekly updates on the building’s construction, J.C. Horton did the “brick work” on the new house and Albert See and Robert Sparks graded the land. Later, in June, when the interior needed the finishing touches, Higbee hired E.W. O’Dell, Fred Burdick and Charles Merrill to be on that work crew. Incidentally, the following March, both Burdick and Merrill would “finish the hard oil of wood at the Methodist Church” just down the street from Mrs. Dakin’s property.
Photo by Mitch Lutzke
Ashley and Jon Jolin have framed an American flag found during a recent renovation of their house. The flag features only 45 stars, the number of states in America when the house was built around 1896. Mrs. Dakin’s enjoyment of the home on the corner lot with the dual, elegant porches would be a short one. In the 1900 census, she had moved out and was living with the Alex and Amelia Brown family on a farm in Delhi Township. She died in September 1908 and is buried with her husband in Dansville’s Fairview Cemetery with their two young children. According to Norm Jolin, Jon’s father and a retired Williamston High School biology teacher, the house’s entire first floor was gutted during the renovation process. He said newspaper insulation behind the plaster boards dated from nearly a century ago, including articles about the Pope predicting a World War due to tensions in Central Europe and articles on the sinking of the Titanic. Ashley and Jon Jolin said one prize of the renovation was a small American flag, neatly wrapped around its wooden staff and tucked above a beam in the ceiling of a front room. The couple saved the flag, which contained only 45 stars (the number of states in 1896) and now have it framed and displayed in their home. The couple also kept the ornate fireplace in the front room and had a local
furniture expert restore the outside doors. The couple did remove the decorative radiators, which featured cherubs, and now have them in storage, as they installed all new electrical and plumbing fixtures during the early stages of renovating. The couple also discovered that the front staircase at one point ran in the opposite direction as it does now and an upstairs window featured stain glass that was removed over the years. Jon Jolin said an addition was added sometime after the original building. The year of that work is unknown, but he said the back of the kitchen counters apparently came from some tin signs, leading him to believe the work was done during one of the World Wars when metal was in short supply. The original wrought-iron fencing from 1896 still encloses the front yard at 334 S. Putnam St., but with two small children, the Jolins plan to include more modern material on any new fencing. Jon said plans “will incorporate” the two fences in any design plans. The Jolin’s first purchased the home in August 2010, after the former owner, Caroline Karn, passed away. It took until September 2011 to complete enough renovations to make the house livable. Ashley said she has a “long-term vision” for the historic house. Incidentally, the couple moved from a brand new house in Webberville that Jon helped build to one more than 110 years old. When asked the reason for the change, Jon said he was sold on the home’s elaborate woodwork, while Ashley said, “I like antiques and older stuff.” The home was known as the Dakin home in the early 1900s and as the Gibbs home in the 1950s before being home to Karn since the 1980s. There were other families between those times, but now, as Williamston residents pass by and observe this round of renovations, future generations may refer to it as the Jolin house, as this young couple captures and preserves a sliver of the city’s history.
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Spring/Summer 2012 | My Williamston | 11
Classic Connection The
Car enthusiasts share passion, memories
rom pristine beauties in perfect condition, to modified and souped-up restorations with screaming, detailed paint jobs, classic cars have ridden to town in a big way. The first week in June is a busy time for Williamston car enthusiasts, with the Williamston Area Chamber of Commerce’s annual Cool Car Night held on the first Friday of June and weekly car shows in the City Hall parking lot beginning the following Monday. June isn’t just the start of summer — to many it’s also the classic car season kickoff.
Story by Cyndi Lieske 12 | My Williamston | Spring/Summer 2012
These awesome autos aren’t just rolling works of art; they’re a touchstone to the past, providing their owners a tangible piece of history. Owning them doesn’t only provide a chance to tool along the byways of their memories; they help create a sense of camaraderie among their owners and, many times, even with strangers on the street. When Brian Stiffler has a bit of spare time away from running Ellie’s Country Kitchen, his family’s restaurant on Grand River Avenue in downtown Williamston, he likes to drive Michigan’s back roads
looking for a neglected car in need of restoration. He’s hoping to find just the right car to be his first project. His parents have restored cars, but he would like a ride of his own. “You’d be surprised how many people like myself that have the desire for a car, have literally just jumped in their vehicle and driven around country roads looking around people’s barns,” said Stiffler, a member of the Williamston Downtown Development Authority. “You’ll see old cars pulled up against a barn. I used to go over by Bunker Hill and the Jackson area and just drive the back roads.” He’s still looking for the right car.
cludes spiffing up their own cars for the show season. “We just bought a new Z28,” Conrad said of her and Barrera. “It’s got to be ready for June because that’s the first car show we have it registered for. We want to take what we’ve done with our own hands and show people.”
In the meantime, he’s happy to see what others have to show off at the Monday car shows he’s organizing with his friends Becky Conrad and Chris Barrera of Williamston. The trio started the car shows last year and have been planning the second season since the final show the week before Labor Day. Months before the shows resume June 4, Stiffler, Conrad and Barrera contacted car magazines in hopes of having the Williamston shows listed. The three also met with potential sponsors and attended the Detroit Autorama to pick up fresh ideas. There was so much enthusiasm about the Monday night shows last year that often Stiffler and Conrad would arrive to find people in lawn chairs waiting for them to set up. “When you put the labor in the cars, you want to show someone, ‘Look what I’ve done,’ ” Conrad said. For Conrad and Barrera, preparation in-
sale and it brought back so many memories that I had to make a U-turn and go back and look at it,” Cassaday recalled. “I ended up owning it.” Cassaday, who worked full-time as a mechanic at the General Motors Proving Grounds, retired about 14 years ago. He began his career working on Fords, so the car had special meaning for him. “Those ’39 cars are the cars that I learned mechanics on,” he said. “So, I went looking for something in that era. I understand those cars quite well. Henry Ford was always one of my heroes.” While the car’s exterior was in beautiful condition, it needed some work under the hood. Cassaday has repaired “just about every mechanical aspect to it,” including, the engine, gear box and brakes. “I’ve spent the last 10 years trying to get it back as in original condition as I can make it, right down to the original wrench kit that came with it and all the little small parts and
A Roadside Find
One resident who enjoys showing his car locally is long-time resident Tom Cassaday, who found his maroon 1939 Lincoln Zephyr Sedan while traveling U.S. 61 through Ionia about a dozen years ago. “I saw this car sitting beside the road for
Area shows American Car Heritage shows 5-8:30 p.m. Saturdays, May 3-Sept. 27, St. Agnes church parking lot, Fowlerville, achcsusa.com, 517-376-2069 Cool Car Night & Flamingo Fest 4-8 p.m. June 1, Williamston, williamston.org, 517-655-1549
Williamston Cool Car Nights 5 -8 p.m. Mondays, June 4-Aug. 27, City Hall parking lot, 517-655-3842 Good Old Days Car Show 10 a.m.-4 p.m. June 10, Lake Lansing Park North, Haslett, 517-898-6573 Annual Williamston Eagles show 11 a.m.-1 p.m. July 21, 517-655-6510 Classic Car Show in Webberville 9 a.m.-3 p.m. July 21, Vantown Community Church, benefits food banks, 517-675-6908 Little B’s Rod and Custom Show 2-5 p.m. July 28, Stockbridge Bowl, 517-565-3790 Above photos of classic cars taken in Williamston by Saralee Bloese.
Spring/Summer 2012 | My Williamston | 13
14 | My Williamston | Spring/Summer 2012
pieces,” he said. “I never give up. It’s a constant search. I’m always looking for that next piece that goes with it.” While health issues kept him away from many of last summer’s car meet-ups, Cassaday is looking forward to the Monday night shows at City Hall, as well as a few visits to the weekly show at St. Agnes Church in Fowlerville. “We have some real good visits and some real good interest,” he said. “We trade a lot of information back and forth because all of these people are car nuts and they have different cars, so therefore, you find out new things every time you talk to one of them.” Charlie Cochrane, a mostly-retired area mechanic known for his skills with repairing antique vehicles of all sorts, as well as ambulances, fire trucks and farm equipment, enjoys going to shows with his wife Jean and her turquoise and white 1965 Thunderbird, which he brags is in “immaculate condition.” “We’ve got about 14 trophies with it,” he said. “We usually bring home a trophy when we bring it somewhere.”
again,” he said. “One year they had 120 cars there, I think.”
Parades Mean Classics
Photo by My Williamston staff
Cars bask in the sunlight during one of 2011’s Cool Car Nights held in the City Hall parking lot. Like many other car enthusiasts in Williamston, Cochrane recalls fondly the car shows that took place for more than 20 years during the Red Cedar Jubilee each year. “I would like to see one at the Jubilee
For some classic car owners, summer also means parade season. Tom Johnson’s cars have appeared in Williamston parades in the past year. The grand marshals of last summer’s parade rode in style waving to parade-goers from Johnson’s 1950 Studebaker convertible. “It’s really a cutie,” he said. “It’s the Muppets car. It’s baby blue with a white top and the hood comes to a bullet. That’s been in a number of parades.” His wife Jane owns a late 1980s red Saab convertible that has also driven in a parade. Those two cars are the most visible of the Johnson’s 13-car collection, which also includes a rare 1950 Frazer Manhattan and a 1954 Packard Caribbean. Like many others who collect antique cars, Johnson’s love of restoring them started young. When Johnson was 11, his father bought him an old Model T. He drove it all over their farm just outside of Northville and repaired it when it broke down.
Tom Johnson works on a 1954 Packard Caribbean, one of 13 cars in his and his wife Jane's classic car collection. “I've always been interested in old cars,” he said. “I got the bug early.”
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Spring/Summer 2012 | My Williamston | 15
Above, Charlie and Jean Cochrane stand outside City Hall with Jean’s turquoise and white 1965 Thunderbird. “We’ve got about 14 trophies with it,” Charlie said. “We usually bring home a trophy when we bring it somewhere.” (Photo by Saralee Bloese) Left, Becky Conrad and Chris Barrera’s 1985 Monte Carlo sits in their driveway. The two, with Brian Stiffler, launched Cool Car Nights last year and are working on this year’s set of shows. They are also spiffing up their own collection. “We just bought a new Z28,” Conrad said of her and Barrera. “It’s got to be ready for June because that’s the first car show we have it registered for. We want to take what we’ve done with our own hands and show people.” (Photo courtesy of Becky Conrad and Chris Barrera)
16 | My Williamston | Spring/Summer 2012
“I had to work on it constantly,” he said. “Ever since that time, I’ve always been interested in old cars. I got the bug early.” If you want to guess when a classic car owner was in high school, look at the era their cars are from, Johnson said. “Cars that are popular and being restored are the cars that people had when they were in high school,” Johnson said. “People get really interested in them when they are starting in their 40s and 50s when they have money and, hopefully, some time.” Joe Wise, owner of Red Cedar Auto Sales, favors Mustangs since his first car was a brand new 1969 Mustang. He’s owned as many as eight cars, but now has whittled down his collection to a 5-year-old Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 and a 1989 Mustang. His wife also has a soft spot for Mustangs and owns a 2004 Mustang. “I’ve been in the car business my whole life,” Wise said. “I’ve either fixed them or sold them. I started repairing cars when I was 20 years old, started selling when I was 26. I’m 61 now, that’s all I’ve done my whole life.” Being in the car business, Wise has seen plenty of classics. These days, most he encounters are brought in for insurance appraisals. He said there is an active group of about 20-
30 collectors in the Williamston area. Wise said he understands why restoring cars becomes such a passion for some. “There’s the intrigue of taking one that might be a little bit not-that-great looking and all of a sudden turning it into something that everybody really likes,” he said. “It’s a bit of an accomplishment that you’ve done it. You do it for a challenge for yourself.” In addition to the challenge of restoring the cars, there’s the chance to reconnect with a past era or to help others reconnect to days gone by. For some, that’s the best part. Cassaday had his 1939 Ford parked in front of Stiffler’s restaurant a few years ago when an elderly man walked up to it. “The next thing I know, he asked me if he could sit in it,” Cassaday recalled. “He got in, sat down and put his hands up on the steering wheel and you could tell he was in another world, another space. He sat there for probably 10 minutes and he got out very quietly and shut the door very gently. He turned around, looked at me and said, ‘Thank you.’ And when I turned and looked at him there was a tear running down both cheeks. “That has always stuck with me. I thought that was pretty neat, to give somebody that kind of memory trip.”
I saw this car sitting beside the road for sale and it brought back so many memories that I had to make a U-turn and go back and look at it. I ended up owning it.”
— Tom Cassaday, on the maroon 1939 Lincoln Zephyr Sedan he saw while traveling U.S. 61 through Ionia
There’s the intrigue of taking (a car) that might be a little bit not-that-great looking and all of a sudden turning it into something that everybody really likes.”
— Joe Wise , owner of Red Cedar Auto Sales, on why restoring cars becomes a passion for some
Art car award honors creativity Many car enthusiasts look for the perfect project car to restore to its original look. Limner Press introduced an award last year that honors owners who go for a different style. Wendy Shaft, who owns the Williamston print shop with her husband Don Bixler, chooses the winner based
on the car with the best representation of creatively rethinking the car’s look. “What is an art car? It is a vehicle that has been creatively renovated. It shows the owner’s personality,” Shaft said. Paul and Connie Ianchiou (shown at left) won the inaugural award during
last year’s Cool Car Night/ Flamingo Fest with their 1957 Chevrolet. The car’s exterior is painted a dark purple and it’s interior features custom arm rests. The winner is selected before the annual car event and displayed in the McCormick Park parking lot next to Limner Press.
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Photo by My Williamston staff
A sign advertises Cool Car Nights, which take place from 5-8 p.m. Mondays in the City Hall parking lot. Spaces are first-come, first-served to anyone with wheels.
Weekly shows aim to draw cars, crowds If you’ve got wheels you want others to see, Brian Stiffler is hoping you’ll be in downtown Williamston on Monday nights this summer. Starting the week after Memorial Day and running through the week prior to Labor Day, the City Hall parking lot off Grand River Avenue will be the spot for antique or unique automobiles and other sweet rides. From 5-8 p.m. the 35 spaces in the city lot will be first-come, first-served for anyone who wants to take part. “If you’ve got something that’s different or unique, we want it there,” Stiffler said. Stiffler, Becky Conrad and Chris Barrera got the green light from the Williamston City Council for use of the parking lot for the weekly car shows and the trio hopes
18 | My Williamston | Spring/Summer 2012
the event earns a place in area folks’ summer routine. A park was suggested for the shows, but Stiffler held out for the city lot. “We want to have it downtown where there are people; the foot traffic is where it’s at,” he said. Stiffler said the location has the appeal of being near restaurants and Twisters Ice Cream as well as the downtown businesses. He said Mondays were picked to provide a boost in the downtown on an otherwise slow night and to avoid conflicts with other scheduled events. “It’s geared toward, ‘let’s get the foot traffic downtown and bring the people back,’ ” Stiffler said. “There’s a ton of things downtown. We want people to explore what we have.”
The three organizers said they have drawn car owners not just from Williamston and the surrounding townships, but from Fowlerville, Webberville and Howell to take part in the weekly display. For those who participate, there are door prizes and other freebies. Both Conrad and Stiffler have approached local business owners about donating prizes for the weekly drawings. The group is always looking for more participation from the community. Stiffler said they are looking for an announcer with a sound system, but do not have a budget to immediately add that. “We’re actively looking for somebody, but the dollar amount we’re working with is zero,” Stiffler said. — Cyndi Lieske
Williamston Summer Concert Series
American Legion Memorial Bandshell
McCormick Park 300 N. Putnam • Williamston
The 2012 Entertainment Lineup Thurs. May 31 Thurs. June 7 Thurs. June 14 Tues. June 19 Thurs. June 21 Thurs. June 28 Thurs. July 5 Thurs. July 12 Thurs. July 19 Thurs. July 26 Thurs. Aug. 2 Thurs. Aug. 9 Thurs. Aug. 16 Thurs. Aug. 23 Thurs. Aug. 30
WHS Jazz Band and Madrigal Choir Root Doctor Mason Symphony Jukebox Memories Capital City Brass Band Lansing Concert Big Band Patriotic Concert Hank Williams Review Williamston Dance Studios TBA Nomads TBA TBA Vocal Point Donny and the Dorsals
Blues 50’s/60’s Pop
Pop Rock Surf Rock
All entertainment is from 7-9 pm
Free Concerts all Summer!
Poster design: Curtis Remington
Thanks to our sponsors:
Bappert Automotive • D & W Fresh Market • Six String Place • Williamston Chamber of Commerce • Williamston Area Beautification Fund
Spring/Summer 2012 | My Williamston | 19
Calendar WILLIAMSTON april 26 — Farm to Table: Homesteading, 6:30 p.m. Williamston library. (517) 655-1191. 30 — Susan Lorenz Memorial Art Show Reception and Awards, 6-7:30 p.m. Williamston High School Media Center. Art show continues through May 3. May 4-5 — Art Walk in Williamston, 4-9 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. (517) 655-1549. 4-5 — Williamstown Township Fine Art Sale and Studio Tour, 4-9 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday. (517) 655-3193. 5 — Williamston Schools Foundation Golf Outing, 8 a.m. registration. Brookshire Golf Course. email@example.com, (517) 655-7513. 5 — Third annual Perennial Plant Sale. Williamston United Methodist Church. (517) 655-2430. 10 — Williamston Elementary PTSA Ice Cream Social, 6-8 p.m. williamstonptsa@ hotmail.com. 11 — Facebook basics, 9:30 a.m. Williamston library. (517) 655-1191. 12 — Mother’s Day Chocolate Celebration with Patrick Fields (Doc Choc), noon2 p.m. Williamston library. (517) 655-1191. 12 — Newspaper drive, organized by Venture Crew 363. 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Williamston City Hall. (517) 655-2774. 28 — Memorial Day Parade. On Grand River, through downtown to McCormick Park. (517) 655-2774. June 1 — Cool Car Night & Flamingo Fest, 4-8 p.m. (517) 655-1549, (517) 655-2724. 2 — Law enforcement memorial monument find golf outing, June 2. Wheatfield Valley Golf Course. (517) 655-6999. 3 — Williamston High School graduation. (517) 655-4361. 9 — Newspaper drive, organized by Venture Crew 363. 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Williamston City Hall. (517) 655-2774. 11 — State House candidate Walt Sorg golf fundraiser, 8 a.m. Brookshire Golf Course. sorg4rep.com. 18 — Red Cedar Jubilee begins with Citizen of the Year dinner, 7 p.m. Brookshire Inn & Golf Club. (517) 655-3831. 19 — Red Cedar Jubilee Senior Citizen Dinner, 5 p.m. Community Center. 19 — Variety Show. American Legion Memorial Bandshell. (517) 655-1549. 20 — Jubilee Kids’ Parade, 6:30 p.m. Mc-
To submit an event, email contact@MyWilliamston.com Cormick Park. (517) 655-3831. 20 — The Lions Club’s Red Cedar Jubilee Food and Beverage Tent opens. Deer Creek Park. (517) 655-3831. 21-23 — Annual UMC Rummage Sale. Williamston United Methodist Church. 22-23 — Jubilee Craft Show and More, 1-7 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday. (517) 655-1549. 22 — Red Cedar Jubilee enduro race, 7 p.m. Deer Creek Park. (517) 655-3831. 23 — Red Cedar Jubilee Grand Parade, 12:30 p.m. (517) 655-3831. July 3 — Fireworks, dusk. First Baptist Church of Williamston. (517) 655-2139. 14 — Newspaper drive, organized by Venture Crew 363. 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Williamston City Hall. (517) 655-2774. 28 — ArtFest on the River, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. McCormick Park. (517) 655-2774, artfestontheriver.org. August 3-4 — Dogs Days in Williamston. 4 — Police and Kids Golf Outing, 8:30 a.m. Brookshire Inn & Golf Club. (517) 655-4222. 7 — National Night Out, 3-9 p.m. McCormick Park. (517) 655-1034. Ongoing Lego Club, 4-4:45 p.m. second and fourth Tuesdays each month. Williamston library. Ages 6-14. (517) 655-1191. Williamston Senior Center coffee social and lunch. 9 a.m.-2 p.m. (lunch at noon) Tuesdays-Thursdays. Williamston Community Center. Tai Chi, 7-8 p.m. Tuesdays. Williamston United Methodist Church. (517) 655-2430. Open Table Meal, 5-6:30 p.m. Wednesdays. Williamston United Methodist Church. Williamstown Township Recycles, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. second Saturday each month. Township Hall. (517) 655-3193. Live jazz music, 7-10 p.m. Wednesdays. Gracie’s Place. (517) 655-1100, GraciesPlaceWilliamston.com. Team Trivia, 7 p.m. Thursdays. Brookshire Inn & Golf Club. (517) 655-4694. The Usual: A Musical Love Story, now-April 22. Williamston Theatre. (517) 655-SHOW. The Understudy, May 17-June 17. Williamston Theatre. (517) 655-SHOW. Cool Car Nights, 5-8 p.m. Mondays June 4-Aug. 27. City Hall parking lot. Williamston Farmers’ Market, 3-7 p.m. Thursdays June 7-Sept. 27. McCormick
20 | My Williamston | Spring/Summer 2012
Monthly williamston meetings Community Clubs Kiwanis — Tuesdays, 6:30 p.m., Williamston UMC Lions — First & third Tuesdays, 7 p.m., St. Mary Rotary — 7:15 a.m. Tuesdays, Brookshire Inn City City Council — Second & fourth Mondays, 7 p.m. Parks and Rec — Second Wednesday, 7 p.m. Williamston DDA —Third Tuesday, 7 p.m. — All city meetings at City Hall Chamber Directors — Third Thursday, 9 a.m. Ambassadors — Second Thursday, 9 a.m. — All Chamber meetings at Depot Museum Education Board of Education — First & third Mondays, 7:30 p.m., Middle School Multi-Purpose Room Park parking lot. (517) 719-6193. Concerts at the Bandshell, 7-9 p.m. Thursdays June 7-Aug. 30. McCormick Park. (517) 655-2774. Red, White and Tuna, July 12-Aug. 19. Williamston Theatre. (517) 655-SHOW. Boom, Sept. 20-Oct. 21. Williamston Theatre. (517) 655-SHOW.
Dansville Dansville Farmers’ Market, Thursdays, June-September. Southwest corner of Dakin Street and M-36. (517) 676-1791.
east lansing Relay for Life of East Lansing, 10 a.m. June 9. East Lansing High School. MSU Spring Arts and Crafts Show, May 19-20. (517) 355-3354. East Lansing Art Festival, May 19-20. Downtown. (517) 319-6804. Summer Solstice Jazz Festival, June 22-23. Downtown. (517) 319-6927. Great Lakes Folk Festival, Aug. 10-12. Downtown. (517) 432-GLFF.
fowlerville Toothprints with Dr. Daniels, 5:30 p.m. May 7. Fowlerville library. (517) 223-9089. Michigan Bigfoot Info Center, 6-8 p.m. June 21. Fowlerville library. (517) 223-9089. Fowlerville Family Fair, June 23-28. Fowlerville Fairgrounds. (517) 223-8186.
Relay for Life of Fowlerville, noon Sept. 15. Fowlerville Fairgrounds.
haslett Relay for Life of Haslett-Okemos, 3 p.m. June 15. Haslett High School. HaslettOkemosRFL@gmail.com. Haslett Good Old Days Festival, June 8-10. Lake Lansing Park South.
holt Relay for Life of Holt, 1 p.m. June 22. Holt High School. (517) 664-1343. Garage and bake sales with a flea market, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. April 28. Sam Corey Senior Center. (517) 694-1549.
lansing Relay for Life of Lansing, 2 p.m. June 8. Lansing Catholic High School. Festival of the Sun, June 23. Old Town. Common Ground Music Festival, July 9-15. (517) 267-1502. Lansing JazzFest, Aug. 3-4. Old Town. Renegade Theatre Festival, Aug. 1618. Old Town. (517) 927-3016. Old Town BluesFest, Sept. 21-22.
mason Spring Fling Festival, May 3-6. Courthouse Square. (517) 676-1046. Farm to Table: Beginning Canning, 6:30 p.m. June 7. Mason library. Relay for Life of Mason, 3 p.m. June 15. Ingham County Courthouse. Ingham County Fair, July 30-Aug. 4. Ingham County Fairgrounds. (517) 676-2428. Sundried Music Festival, Aug. 25. Downtown. (517) 244-6332. Down Home Days, Sept. 13-16.
okemos Farm to Table: The Purple Carrot Truck, 7 p.m. April 25. Okemos library. Farm to Table: Homebrewing Beer, 2 p.m. May 5. Okemos library. (517) 347-2021. First Sunday Gallery Walk, 2 p.m. May 6. Okemos library. (517) 347-2021. Meet author Bill Vlasic, 7 p.m. May 7. Okemos library. (517) 347-2021. Music in the Park, 7 p.m. Fridays June 1-Aug. 31. Lake Lansing South Park bandshell. (517) 676-2233. Meridian Farmers’ Market, 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Wednesdays and Saturdays July-October. Central Park Pavilion. (517) 853-4600.
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Meridian Crafters’ Marketplace, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Aug. 28, Sept. 24-25. Central Park Pavilion. (517) 853-4600. Meridian Heritage Festival, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Sept. 24. (517) 853-4600.
stockbridge Farm to Table: Get Started Composting, 7 p.m. April 27. Stockbridge library. Farm to Table: Screening of “Beyond Organic,” 7 p.m. May 3. Stockbridge library. Farm to Table: Healthy Cooking with Herbs, 7 p.m. May 10. Stockbridge library. Farm to Table: Homesteading, 7 p.m. May 17. Stockbridge library.
webberville Farm to Table: Homesteading, 6:30 p.m. May 3. Webberville library. (517) 521-3643. Relay for Life of Williamston/Webberville, 4 p.m. June 1. Greg Glover Field. (517) 664-1438, firstname.lastname@example.org. Scrabble Club, 6:30 p.m. second and fourth Thursdays. Webberville library. Drop-in needle arts group, 6 p.m. first and second Tuesday. Webberville library. Lego Club, 3-4 p.m. first Thursday. Webberville library. (517) 521-3643.
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Save a life today! Thousands of cats and kittens, like the ones shown in these photos, are brought to shelters each year. Unfortunately, only a small percentage survive. The Kitten Nursery, a Williamston rescue facility, provides these fragile orphan kittens the 24/7 care they need to become healthy, adoptable kittens, and gives nursing and expectant mothers a special place to have their babies. Help save lives. Adopt, volunteer or make a donation today. (517) 862-5931 • email@example.com The Kitten Nursery is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit tax-exempt organization.
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22 | My Williamston | Spring/Summer 2012
Community connection THE FINAL WORD
A word from Benjamin Eichler
Feeling lucky? Spread the fortune
never brought anyone glory. I’ll just caution you not to ever think you’ve got it all covered. Pride can be expensive. It’s true that no amount of luck will win the lottery if you don’t spend a hardearned dollar on a ticket. However, sometimes, forces beyond your control can have profound effects. Why is it that my tax return always seems to arrive just when my car breaks down? Am I lucky to have the money at the right time? Or, am I unlucky because I have to spend it? I would like to convince you to believe in luck, too. Why? Believing in luck can make you a better person. Specifically, it forces you to stop judging others and build a little humility. Do you really deserve every blessing you have? Can you ever truly know if someone is the victim of their own laziness, or did something happen outside their influence? There is a reason why the poor are called “down on their luck” or “the less fortunate.” Believing in luck forces you to consider your own situation. Simply counting your blessings is a valuable effort in, and of, itself. Maybe you’ll learn to stop trying to keep up
espite my powerful belief in the value of hard work, I also believe in luck. This may seem like a contradiction, but I have seen how both can shape people’s lives. Effort and luck seem to complement each other at times, while working oppositely at other times. I have seen people reap the rewards of their own labors, yet I know that some things happen for absolutely no reason at all. Want proof ? Visit your local movie theater. Sometimes the cream rises to the top. Sometimes, a talentless hack knew a few people in high places. And, the phenomenon is global. Right now, across the world, athletes are training diligently for the Summer Olympics. They sacrifice everything just for the opportunity to compete. Still, despite all their effort, the fastest runner does not always win the race. Sometimes they drop the baton and get disqualified. I was raised with the notion that in America, you are only limited by your own work ethic. And, I truly believe that a strong effort can take you far. Sitting on the couch
with the Joneses. Contentment is a worthwhile goal. Furthermore, it might be time to share. I firmly believe that if you have been the recipient of some good fortune, you are obligated to pass it along to others. At that point, luck becomes contagious. How do you do so? It’s not hard to find a way. Luckily for you, there are several organizations in our small town that can help you share your good fortune. You could write a check, but giving your time could go even farther. In fact, if you want, you could spend every minute of every day volunteering, but I challenge you to pick just one way to help someone else in our community. Pick one day a month, one hour a week or one event a year. Visit the Masons, the Kiwanis, the Lions and the Rotary to learn how they serve our small town. They need your help, even if it’s only with one small task. I will never feel bad about helping the food bank, especially if my luck runs out. Find your place in our community and let us know what we can do to make you feel at home.
Benjamin Eichler is president of the Williamston Area Chamber of Commerce, past president of Williamston Kiwanis and a co-founder of Capital Area Local First. He lives and works in Williamston. Contact Benjamin at communityconnection@MyWilliamston.com.
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Phone: 517.655.4455 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Spring/Summer 2012 | My Williamston | 23
Wonderful Williamston charm.
Have a private party at Gracie’s! Bookings are available Sundays & Monday nights.
This summer, experience Gracie’s Place. Enjoy farm-to-table freshness with every meal. Dine inside or outside on our open patio. Come listen to jazz on Wednesdays and more live music on Fridays. If you’re feeling a little bit daring, sign up for one of our cooking or bartending classes.
151 S. Putnam Street (517) 655-1100 GracieSPlaceWilliamSton.com