‘Odd weather’ leads to rising cost in materials and labor for Missaukee County Road Commission

The Missaukee County Road Commission has been busy this winter as sporadic weather conditions have led to an abundant use of resources.

These conditions have been evident for the past five winters. Kelly Bekken, manager of the Missaukee County Road Commission, says this climate causes more problems than solutions.

“This kind of weather doesn’t save any money,” Bekken said. “We’re using as much, or more, materials.”

One reason for this is the drastic changes in temperature around times that employees aren’t normally scheduled.

“We seem to be getting these supratic freezing rain and snow activity storms on weekends where we’re paying time and a half or holidays when we’re paying that same time or double time and a half,” explained Bekken.

Although temperatures sometimes rise above freezing, this has led to an increase in cost for the road commission. When the weather stays below freezing, the commission can use a more cost-effective mixture of sand and salt.

“[The weather’s] not good for anything,” said Bekken. “We have been increasing the amount we order over the past three or four years.

“Honestly, I’d like to say that should be going in the other direction because we are doing some other things to try and cut down on that salt usage like prewetting with calcium chloride. We started once it gets cold, once we get temperatures in the low 20s and stay there, we’re using more sand and salt mixed instead of pure salt.”

The road commission are responsible for plowing and salting the roads in Missaukee County drivers. Drivers plow the roads throughout the week and are on-call for inclement weather conditions on Fridays and Saturdays.

According to, each driver plows approximately 50 miles of road after each snowfall. The commission asks residents to be patient before calling the road commission for an update on when your road will be plowed.


Members of Cadillac Music Honors Society perform for shoppers at Meijer

The Cadillac High School Music Honors Society performed a variety of Christmas tunes for shoppers at Meijer on Saturday. The 12 member band featured a vocalist along with other wind instruments.

These students aren’t strangers to performing in the community. They perform numerous times throughout the school year.

Director Mike Filkins spoke highly of the kids and their performance.

“It’s important for students to take the skills and connect with the community,” Filkins said.

You can view their performance of Rudolf the Rednosed Reindeer above.

Lake City Fireman Department host second annual ‘Breakfast with Santa’

The Lake City Firemen’s Association held their second annual “Breakfast with Santa” on Saturday at Lake Township Hall. The event featured a pancake, sausage breakfast and a chance to get a photo with Santa and his helpers. 

A number of community members attended the event to support the firemen’s association. Lt. Fred West of the Lake City Area Fire Department spoke on the importance of getting community support for these events and leaving an impact on youth in the community.

“We want to help kids in the community and do as much as we can for them,” West said. “When we’re done as firefighters, we want to hear kids in the community saying ‘Do you remember [those community events]?’”

All of the profits from the event went towards supporting three families the department supports and funding future events.

“As long as we can keep helping out, we’re going to keep helping out,” West said.

It’s important for him, and the rest of the association, that any family can attend this event.

“We got people in this community that can’t afford [a five dollar breakfast,]” West said. “So, if a family comes in and gives 20 bucks or a family can’t give anything, we don’t care.”

Last year, the department served over 120 residents at the event.

“Everything we do is by donation,” Sgt. Joe Kowalski said. Some resources are donated by other organizations, but everything else is self-funded.

The funds raised by them go towards families and funding the events. This started with a few different firefighters hosting small events. It eventually expanded and all of the department now participates.

“We started out of our pocket … and then eventually we formed an association,” West said. “Everything is handled by the Lake City Firemen’s Association.”

The firemen’s association is a collection of Lake City firefighters who host events throughout the year to support the community. You can stay up-to-date with their events on Facebook.

Local business owners host grand opening for new restaurant

Business owners Luke and Lynn Hammer were busy at their official Grand Opening for their restaurant, Hammer’s Pub and Grub, in downtown Lake City on Friday. They took over for former owners of the Food Factory and Pub on Nov. 22 and were met with a positive response from the community.

The Hammers recently moved to Lake City and have had an exciting time revamping the restaurant.

“We’ve got some good changes,” Hammer said. “The [food] doesn’t taste like ‘restaurant food.’ It’s more homemade.”

Although some menu items have changed, the new owners decided to keep some of the popular items including the mac and cheese, salads, freckles and most entrees. The biggest changes came to the burgers.

“We revamped his burgers,” said Hammer. “Some of them may sound similar, but we switch out the patter with a three meant blend. With a beef patty, [the burgers] get a little bit more flavor.”

Other changes include a new Detroit zip sauce for pulled pork and Cajun beef tips. They also have a Bloody Mary ranch dressing made in house.

Along with menu changes, the Hammers have focused on providing positive customer service and a lively atmosphere.

“Our vision is customer service,” Hammer said. “We’re going to do our best to change the culture that was here for a short time.”

Hammer says previous owner had to move, leading to a lack of customer service and consistency in the kitchen.

“We want to make it a fun place for locals to hang out. Obviously, you’re going to get the tourists in the summertime . . . but I want the locals to come back to this place like they used to be here.”

The Hammers have employed all of the staff formerly employed at the Food Factory, according to Hammer.

You can visit Hammers Pub and Grub on Facebook to see their menu and hours. 

Lake City Area Chamber of Commerce searching for volunteers to fill committee positions

The Lake City Area Chamber of Commerce is looking for volunteers to donate their time and experience to five newly formed committees. These volunteers will be a voice for the city and the chamber.

Michelle Reichert, executive director of the Lake City Area Chamber of Commerce, spoke briefly on the need to fill these positions.

“The chamber could not doing anything if we did not have these committees,” Reichert said. “By joining any of these committees, [members of the community] are adding their voice to growing the community and the businesses in Missaukee County.”

The five committees include events and programming, membership, economic development, community action and grounds and re-development.

“We’re trying to form committees to get the general public involved so they can be a voice for the city and the chamber and help drive and promote all of our recent businesses,” Reichert said.

The Events and Programming Committee will plan the annual Greatest Fourth, Festival of the Pines and Membership Banquet events. Volunteers will choose the entertainment and event logistics.

The Membership Committee will focus on recruitment and maximizing the benefits for chamber members. Those interested will recruit new members, develop strategies to reach potential members and maximize the benefits that come with a chamber membership.

The Economic Development Committee will strengthen the development of businesses by working with local Realtors to share opportunities to open businesses with business owners. They will interact with city and county officials to find ways to utilize empty spaces buildings in the city.

Those involved with the Community Action Committee will raise awareness of the non-profits and clubs in the area. Volunteers will prioritize sharing news, events and finding new ways for organizations to share their stories with the community. 

Volunteers apart the Grounds and Re-Development Committee will help contractors convert storage units into living spaces, and actively search for opportunities to rent land for festivals, markets and other temporary events.

“We need people’s opinions,” Reichert said. “We need people to come together and talk about the pros and the cons.”

A sixth Personnel Committee will not be open to volunteers and filled by board members. It will focus on retaining Chamber staff and upholding ethics put forth in the chambers by-laws.

Those interested can call the chamber office at 213-839-4969, email Michelle at or visit a committee meeting in person. Committee dates will be decided at the board meeting on Jan. 9.

Military veteran writes 'Znipper,' a sniper's journey in the apocalypse

LAKE CITY – It took Clare Ward over two years to write his new book “Zniped.” Now that it’s published, the military veteran is excited to share it with the community.

The story follows a former Marine Scout Sniper and his kids as they battle their way through the apocalypse. The book contains a lot of military knowledge that, according to Ward, other authors often choose to overlook.

“I just love [reading] a story and then when there’s the wrong nomenclature being used, or one thing is mislabeled or not used correctly, it kind of just ruins the whole story for me,” said Ward.

Ward chose to take this opportunity to write a book of his own that not only follows an exciting story, but allows the reader to learn something. Many of his experiences in the Marines are included in the book.

“I tried to put some sort of military-esque knowledge into [each chapter],” Ward said.

Ward joined the Marine Corps immediately after graduating from Lake City High School in 1993. He served for over eight years before pursuing work in threat security.

The book includes an abundance of military humor that Ward hopes readers will enjoy.

“[The military humor] might not fit well around the Thanksgiving table,” Ward said.

One scene in the book revolves around the main character teaching kids military tradecrafts, an easy way to include real military knowledge in the fictional book.

Most of the characters in the book are based off of people Clare knows in real life, including his own family members.

“There’s one character in particular that I base off one of my business partners at the range,” Ward said.

The average reader interested in the apocalypse and doomsday will enjoy it, as well as people who have military backgrounds.

“I don’t know how many guys like myself sit down and write a book,” said Ward. “A lot of the great writers don’t have my background so some of the stuff gets lost.”

Some of the things Ward is referring to include the vast amount of military knowledge that he learned in his time in the Marines.

Ward has worked in threat security on and off for over 10 years and serves as the director of the Marksmanship Training Center, a facility that is 100% veteran run.

You can buy Ward’s book on Amazon or on the Marksmanship Training Center website.

Ebels General Store process over 140 deer on opening day

FALMOUTH – Ebels General Store had a busy weekend after processing over 140 deer on opening day. Conditions for hunters were good and that showed on the buck pole.

Ebels also held a buck pole event that hunters could enter to win money, rifles and other prizes depending on the time of entry. They had over 40 prizes totaling over $15,000 in value.

“I would say we have a little bit more than last year, probably about 15 percent or so,” said Tom Ebles, the chief operation officer for Ebels General Store. “It’s been good weather so it’s nice for the hunters to be out.”

Melissa Schoo, the senior processing coordinator for Ebels, said there were about 55 bucks on the pole by Friday night and about 67 by midday on Saturday.

Some of the conditions that led to more deer included good acorns, corn and some food falling at the right time as well as there being good snow for tracking. They have hunters from all over northern Michigan participate in the event including Clare County, Ludington and those in the Falmouth area.

Ebels says the biggest focus this year was to get everyone included in the process.

“It’s been going well,” Ebels said. “People seem to be enjoying themselves and seeing all the different bucks out there. It’s fun making this a community event.”

Ebels encourages hunters to get bucks out of the wood and cleaned soon after killing the buck in order to keep the meat in good condition. He also recommends dressing the deer in the field.

“We try not to take any from the CWD counties,” Schoo said. “[Hunters] need to get a negative test result from the DNR.”

Ebels General Store was founded in 1920 and was named a top 50 Michigan business to watch earlier this year.

More information about what to check before bringing in a buck to process is available on the DNR Website. You can learn more about Ebels General Store on their website or give them a visit off of Prosper Road in Falmouth.

Children’s author James Minthorn introduces kids to his dog in new book

MERRITT – James Minthorn, a newly published children’s author, has been waiting for some time to publish his first book. Now that it’s out, he’s excited to share “Dewee’s ABCs” with the community.

It took Minthorn over two years to complete the book and get it on bookshelves around Michigan. The story follows Dewee, a dog who loves to rhyme, as he travels to many cities around Michigan.

“When I would read the rhymes to the kids, they would love them,” said Minthorn. “So, I started putting together a book.”

He was ecstatic once it was published.

“I would actually have sleepless nights over some of the pages to get them perfect,” said Minthorn. This isn’t something that happened overnight.

Most of the rhymes came from hours of driving too and from work. Minthorn would notice things that could be rhymed along the side of the road, pull out a notepad, and write it down. He would then read the rhymes to kids in the classrooms.

“After substitute teaching for a few years, he was inspired to put the collection of rhymes into a book where they could later be read in classrooms.

Dewee is listed as the author in the book. Minthorn hopes to include more pictures of Deww in his second book.

Minthorn has completed work on his second book, Dewees numbers, that he hopes to have out within the year.

“I want kids to be happy reading it.”

Minthorn explained that everyone has a day in their life that is vitally important to them. This was one of those days.

Minthorn grew up in Merritt and spent a lot of his time driving too and from work. During the drives, he would notice attractions along the side of the road and find ways to make them rhyme.

“I want everyone to read the book. That’s why I didn’t say this is a book only about Michigan,” Minthorn said. “I did walk into a library the other day and people liked … how local it is.”

Minthorn grew up in Merritt, just a few steps from his current home, and graduated from Michigan State with a degree in engineering. By day, he works in the oil and gas industry. Working his day-job, he’s spent most of his nights putting together this book.

Minthorn has numerous stories about the positive reactions the book has gotten so far.

“I sent my first book to a teacher yesterday and I’m really excited about that.” “[She’s a third or fourth grade teacher] and wants to read the book to her kids.”

“I love substitute teaching.” “We’ll see, if the book pans out and we win the lottery, I’ll go substitute teach full time.”

Minthorn traveled to a lot of thel locations illustrated in the book. One of the illustrations, pointed out the “Luce County Moose,” is an actual depiction of the Kalkaska Chamber of Commerce and it’s famous fish fountain.

Another page pointing out the “Kalamazoo kangaroos” takes place in the Au Sable River, that runs through Grayling Michigan to Au Sable.

Cadillac also gets a feature in the book, with Dewey riding a train in from of the Cadillac news building.

You can buy Minthorn’s new book on Amazon and meet Dewey at the Crawford County Library on Dec. 18.

EMU announces new partnership with Beibu Gulf University in China

The Eastern Michigan University Board of Regents voted to allow President James Smith to finalize documents for a new Joint College of Engineering. The partnership would exist between EMU and China’s Beibu Gulf University in the Guagxi Zhuang Autonomous Region of China.

“We’ve worked very hard and on a very tight timeline with a lot of legal assistance to put this together in ways we are really comfortable with,” said Smith.

The programs expects to enroll up to 300 students during each of its first four years, reaching an overall enrollment of 1,200 students at the end of year four. Students can receive degrees from both Beibu Gulf University and EMU.

“We will have faculty that will fly over and fly back like we do at Tianjin University for our Masters of Human Resources and Organizational Development,” Smith said. “But we will also have one or two resident faculty there.”

EMU President James Smith approved for three-year contract extention

The Eastern Michigan University Board of Regents unanimously approved a three-year contract extension for President James Smith at their October meeting. “I’m delighted to be here,” Smith said. “I love what I do. I love who our campus is; I love our students.”

The cooperative partnership will last 15-years and include programs in mechanical engineering, vehicle engineering, mechanical design and manufacturing and automation, construction project costs and internet of things engineering. Students will be allowed to earn a degree from either, or both, of the universities.

Smith hopes to launch the program in nine months and have details finalized in January or February of 2020.

“We’re still doing curriculum work,” Smith said. “Provost [Rhonda] Longworth and [EMU College of Engineering and Technology] Dean Mohamad Qatu have really led that way.”

Smith has worked with the university for the past two years to create a proposal. The next step is for the Chinese Ministry of Education to approve the proposal.

Beibu Gulf University is located across the golf from Vietnam.

EMU President James Smith approved for three-year contract extention

The Eastern Michigan University Board of Regents unanimously approved a three-year contract extension for President James Smith at their October meeting.

“I’m delighted to be here,” Smith said. “I love what I do. I love who our campus is; I love our students.”

Smith was appointed as president in July of 2016 and will now serve a full eight year term through 2024.

Board of Regents Chair James Webb echoed Smith’s excitement of the extension.

“We had some disappointments over the years of some of his predecessors and as we observed what he’s done at the university: the way he carries himself, his ideas, his ability to communicate. We were just delighted with him.

“Some of the things we’ve done here are things are things that every university is looking at doing.”

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Smith’s salary will increase to $455,000, a $55,000 increase from his original $400,000 salary. He intends to donate this year’s salary increase to the EMU Foundation.

“I heard all the comments today about our students struggling,” Smith said. “That’s why we keep doing what we do every day.”

The Board of Regents noted numerous accomplishments of Smith’s in his time at EMU under student support and success with academic programs, stabilizing the budget and operations and facility enhancements.

Smith is excited to serve and is looking forward to tackling the current concerns of faculty, staff and students.

“We’re going to find an answer for expanding Swoop’s. We’re going to find an answer for how to provide housing for people who have housing insecurity.”

I don’t have that answer today but we’re going to have to keep working at it.”

EMU Campus Climate Assessment launched by DCCAC

Randomly selected students, faculty and staff at Eastern Michigan University have been invited to participate in an online survey about EMU’s campus climate.

The survey will help EMU’s Diversity Campus Climate Assessment Committee (DCCAC) identify the strengths and challenges of making Eastern a more diverse and inclusive campus.

Results of the study will be presented to President James Smith and his cabinet between Nov. 15 and Dec. 15. The findings will allow administrators to review the effectiveness and awareness of programs and policies that already exist, and it will serve as a foundation for action and accountability.

The Diversity Campus Climate survey was emailed to students Oct. 22. The DCCAC encourages all students who receive a survey to respond.

“We have to do [the survey] so it’s holistic and integrated,“ DCCAC Chair Devika Dibya Choudhuri said. “We can’t hit and run.”

Eastern Michigan is not the only university to conduct a diversity assessment. Grand Valley State University will conduct its sixth climate survey next month, and Wayne State University completed its assessment last April.

Choudhari hopes to combat a common theme among other campus climate assessments.

“That’s the other thing that every other campus does,” Choudhuri said. “People do a one time diversity survey: they do a report, the external consultant leaves and they try to figure it out. And you don’t know if what you’ve done is effective.” Having a survey that is institutionalized will allow us to consistently have a conversation with the EMU community about these issues.

How Diverse is Eastern Michigan University?

Diversity can be somewhat of a buzzword with students and university admissions officers alike. For the purposes of producing diversity scores, College Factual defines diversity as the most plurality. Schools that score high in diversity metrics are those with the greatest variety in ethnicity, gender, age, and geographic location of origin.

The initiative also included a series of town hall meetings and focus groups that allowed students, faculty and staff to share their experiences at EMU.

EMU Voices, another initiative organized by DCCAC, will allow students, faculty and staff to share their stories about diversity in a public setting. They will record the stories in the WEMU studio in King Hall through Nov. 5.

The DCCAC is an initiative that grew from the President’s Commission on Diversity and Inclusion. The DCCAC began organizing the “Diversity in Action” initiative in February with the goal of creating and administering a campus-wide survey with the help of an external partner. Sibson Consulting was selected to help create and administer the survey.

Choudhuri was selected as chair of the commission and works alongside co-chair Catherine Lilly of Sibson Consulting.

You can learn more about DCCAC and the Campus Climate Assessment on its website.

New IHA Heath Center @ EMU will open Nov. 4

Eastern Michigan University’s Board of Regents discussed the upcoming opening of the new IHA Health Center @ EMU at their October meeting. The new health center is a collaboration between the university, St. Joseph Mercy Health System and IHA.

The community health center will offer extensive services including 7 day a week Urgent Care, online appointment scheduling and a “save your spot” tool.

All services offered

  • Comprehensive primary care services (including a range of acute, chronic and preventative care)
  • 7-day-a-week urgent care services
  • Electronic medical record capabilities
  • Online appointment scheduling
  • A tool to manage urgent care arrival and wait times
  • A campus pharmacy operated independently
  • Laboratory services

EMU men’s golf team and coach Bruce Cunningham recognized at board of regents meeting

The Eastern Michigan University Board of Regents recognized the men’s golf team for earning their third title in franchise history. The Eagles set a school record with the lowest scoring average for a four-player team. Zack Mason, a redshirt sophmore who averaged a 77.09 in his 2018-19 campaign, finished 26th overall in the Mid-American Conference (MAC).

Ellen Gold, dean of students and assistant vice president for student affairs, presented an update of the center’s progress before the regents and the president.

“Having a new health center, a new behavioral health center [and] working towards collaboration with our community partners . . . fits into our strategic plan that focuses on promoting student engagement and success,“ said Gold. “And what better way them to give the appropriate support services in a quality manner with our partners.”

Gold explained the health center will be for the community and is a convenient location for EMU students. IHA met with members of Student Government and international students to make sure the buildings best accommodate their interests and ensure a smooth transition between facilities.

“In August alone, we had 15 different kinds of meetings,“ Gold said. “In September, we had 14 . . . ranging from workers compensation to medical records. We had our student leaders come in to meet with IHA to indicate what their needs are and what they are looking for in a new facility and services to them.”

Student Body President Ethan Smith echoed Gold’s statement.

“We [EMU Student Government leaders] wrote out a list of questions about ‘are these things going to be continued’ and we . . . had a very production conversation,” said Smith. “They seem like engaged partners that really want to do what’s good for the community.“

Jason Harris, IHA vice-president of development and planning, continued with the presentation.

“There has been a lot of meetings and interactions, and that will continue,” said Harris. “This has planned to be a joint operation and we are committed to serving students, faculty and staff, in addition to the community on campus.”

Most of the staff previously employed at Snow Health Center have left, according to EMU President James Smith.

“There is a very small staff left,“ said Smith. “St. Joe has encouraged all the employees to apply.”

Smith went on to say that St. Joe’s felt comfortable saying there would be enough jobs open if those staff members applied. Walter Kraft, vice-president for EMU communications, said the amount of staff that left were described as a “hand-full of people.”

All of the staff employed at CAPS and Psychological Clinic will be staffed by EMU employees, according to Kraft.

The future of Snow Health Center is uncertain, with the likelihood that it will be torn down and transformed into green space, according to Smith.

The new health center was first discussed at the Jan. 2018 EMU Board of Regents meeting. An open house will take place Nov. 2 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. and the facilities first day of service will be Nov. 4.

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