Legendary Bar has 100 years of History

By Emily Cervone
Living In the Ledge

“I swear, you could make a made-for-TV movie with the stuff that comes out of this place.”

Butch Bates, the day shift bartender at legendary Preston’s Bar in Grand Ledge, excused himself as he greeted his co-worker with a and bear hug. The bar just celebrated its centennial in 2014.

“The best thing about this town, and bar, is that no one has a real name,” said Bates. “I guess Grand Ledge is a cliquey town. I feel like people might be intimidated when they come in here. But they shouldn’t.”

Local Non-Profit is Anchor for Artist Community

Classes are held weekly at Ledge Craft Lane by multiple community artists

Classes are held weekly at Ledge Craft Lane by multiple community artists

By Emily Cervone
Living In The Ledge

Little did the citizens of Grand Ledge know, Marilyn Smith’s spring break of 1973 would forever change their town and the fate of an 130-year-old building waiting for demolition.

“It was a disaster,” said Smith. “There was plaster falling off the walls, it had been vacant for four years. It was unbelievable.”

Yet Smith had a dream after traveling to Grand Rapids for her spring break, where she met a few artists and took painting classes. Born and raised in Grand Ledge, that was the “only thing that was missing” from the town—a place to cultivate and support the arts.

“I was a full-time teacher, but I was interested in art,” said Smith. “I called people, got an attorney, a journalist, an artist, some volunteers and went to the city to reach an agreement on this building.”

Eventually, after some negotiating, Ledge Craft Lane was founded in 1975 by Smith, who is the current president of the non-profit business. Smith also is on the Grand Ledge Historical Society Board.

Yoor Mom Skate Shop: A Little Shack Doing Big Things

By Meghan Steingold
Living In The Ledge

Although largely unknown to the general public, the Yoor Mom Skate Shop is a unique business to the Grand Ledge community, with little recognition.

Being a little shack next door to the Sun Theater, the store at 320 S. Bridge St. exhibits very unique attributes that differ from those of the surrounding businesses. With old skateboards bolted up on the sides of the entrance, and graffiti along the side of the building, the shop is clearly geared toward the youth of Grand Ledge.

Shop owner Jerry Norris keeps the skateboards nailed up on the wall at all times for purchase and also for people to stop in just to gaze. The store also sells other skateboarding equipment.

Shop owner, Jerry Norris keeps the skateboards nailed up on the wall at all times for purchase and also for people to stop in just to gaze. The store also sells other skateboarding equipment.

Jerry Norris, the owner of the skate shop, opened the business May 13, 2012 because of his son Rain Norris and his friends.

“We are an incubator for skateboarding companies, so any kid that has an idea to start a skateboarding company whether it be t-shirts and apparel or making decks or being a photographer or videographer, they can come here and sell through here. We’re a skate shop, but we’re really a hang out for these kids,” said Jerry Norris.

Grand Ledge: what used to be the most popular resort destination of Michigan

By Ani Stambo
Living In The Ledge

Grand Ledge is one small town in Michigan that has been blessed in the geographical lottery department. The most important aspect of Grand Ledge is without a doubt its sandstone cliffs along Grand River. Most natives to Grand Ledge already know of this town’s golden age starting in the 1870s.

YES Center Slowly On the Rise

 By Meghan Steingold                                                                                    Living In the Ledge

Grand Ledge’s own YES (Youth Enrichment Services) Center is growing minimally but still intends to expand and continue to inspire the youth of the community with the help of Executive Director Jay Miller.

Ward 3 council member running unopposed this November

By Seth Kinker
Grand Ledge Gazette

GRAND LEDGE – Ward 3 City Councilwoman Sue Roberts wasn’t going to run for re-election — but when nobody stepped up to replace her, she changed her mind, according to Council member Thom Sowle.

Roberts could not be reached for comment, but Sowle said on Wednesday that Roberts would run as a write-in candidate, just as she did when she was re-elected two years ago.

This year Council member Roberts did not circulate a nominating position, nor did anyone else. A few weeks ago she informed Council Members that she would not be a write in candidate.

“I think it is a shame when no one makes an effort to qualify on the ballot,” said Mayor Kalmin Smith. “Knocking on doors and soliciting signatures is a good way for new candidates and incumbents to meet voters and gauge the mood of the community.”

Grand Ledge Opera House provides unique entertainment

By Seth Kinker
Grand Ledge Gazette

GRAND LEDGE – When was the last time you had the opportunity to see a concert with guitars, a harmonica, a banjo, the Chinese horsehead fiddle and mandolin, and throat singing? The Grand Ledge Opera House recently held such a concert featuring Paul Meredith & the Nomads.

Paul Meredith & the Nomads performing at the Grand Ledge Opera House

Paul Meredith & the Nomads performing at the Grand Ledge Opera House


The concert provided members of the local community to see something they might normally not get the chance to see or hear.

“To me, it’s once in a lifetime to see these people,” said Ethelen Herbstreit, a local Grand Ledge resident, “When you get older you don’t want to have to drive and struggle with traffic, but you can come here and see local and international talent.”

The Opera House, which originally opened in 1884, has many talents that come through its doors.

“We try and have a variety of things as you can see today it’s very different,” said Marilyn Smith, a volunteer on the Board of Directors of the Opera House, “Last week we had the Chordsmen, which is a barbershop quartet group. Coming up soon on the 26th is a silent movie so we do a variety of things.”

Paul Meredith & the Nomads are a group of local and international musicians. The band plays a unique blend of music combining original songs with Chinese pop and folk classics. Paul Meredith, lead guitarist and vocalist, who is a Grand Ledge Native talked a little bit about the Nomads, himself, and returning to Grand Ledge to perform.

“I currently live in China, I’m a musician in China, and I’ve played there for quite a number of years,” said Meredith “I’ve always wanted to bring some of the people that I play music with here, for sharing.”

The people he mentions bringing here to share music with include two friends from China, Jerry Liu and Meng Ke Na Seng, who play the Chinese horsehead fiddle and mandolin. Along with these unique instruments they are both able to “throat sing” a low guttural throat sound not common in American music.

The next event at the Opera House is on Oct. 26th and features a silent movie with an original organ from the Michigan theatre in Lansing.

At the ledges, rock climbing is a popular hobby

Michigan State University graduate student Tom Hettinger walks next to one of the ledges on his way to begin climbing. Hettinger has been climbing for one and a half years.

Michigan State University graduate student Tom Hettinger walks next to one of the ledges on his way to begin climbing. Hettinger has been climbing for one and a half years.

By Kit Kuhne
Grand Ledge Gazette

GRAND LEDGE – If there is one thing that Grand Ledge is known for, it’s the ledges. Standing between 20 and 30 feet high, these sedimentary rock formations have been around for 250 million years or more, making them a tourist location for people all over  Michigan. But these ledges do not only attract tourists.

Residents from Grand Ledge, and the areas surrounding it, travel to Oak Park during the warm months to scale these ledges. According to Jessica Wortman, a graduate psychology student at Michigan State University, the difficulty of the ledges ranges from novice climbs to climbs that will challenge an experienced climber.

“There are climbs for basically every level,” Wortman said. “The climbs out there are all rated… They’ll range from something that you could probably get up slowly on your first day climbing versus something that you’re probably going to have to spend quite a bit of time practicing to get up successfully. There’s really something for all difficulty levels.”

Grand Ledge City Council supports road millage

By Kit Kuhne
Grand Ledge Gazette

GRAND LEDGE — All five attending members of the Grand Ledge City Council unanimously voted on Sept. 22 in support of a millage that would help fix roads in Eaton County.

The Eaton County Local Roads and Streets Repair and Rehabilitation Millage proposal would aim to raise roughly $60 million over 12 years, from 2014 to 2026. In the first year, Grand Ledge would receive approximately $304,000 to for the roads within the city limit

This millage would call for a $1.5 mil levy on the county-assessed taxable value of all homes in Eaton County. Meaning that on a house with a taxable value of $100,000, an Eaton County resident would see a tax increase of $150 per year.

“Even though that this is a significant amount of money for both the county and the city, the impact on the individual taxpayer, we hope, is at a level that is affordable for everyone,” Terrance Augustine, Eaton County Commissioner from District 3, said at the meeting. “Any increase in taxes paid by constituents is certainly felt, [but] I believe that it’s a reasonable level of investment to maintain our roads here within the city and the county as a whole.”

The goal of the Eaton County Road Commission with this millage is to resurface 262 miles of currently paved roads and reshape 500 miles of gravel roads with new processed gravel. Additionally, this would fund for all graveled surfaces in Eaton County to receive a dust control application twice per year.

Grand Ledge technology renovation

By Seth Kinker
Grand Ledge Gazette

Grand Ledge – This past May, there was a bond proposal from Grand Ledge schools that among other things would have improved infrastructure, buses and technology.

Although the bond proposal was then denied there was an approval of technology purchases on the agenda at the most recent board of education meeting that would have been included in the bond.

“I was the one who proposed the purchases,” said Mark Deschaine, Directory of Technology for Grand Ledge schools. “It encompassed five small technology projects.”

This project not only included an increasing number of iPads for an increasing amount of first graders, but new technology for the teachers as well.

“Along with that (new iPads for the students) we have iPads managed by the teachers not the district,” said Deschaine. “We needed to add a few more MacBook Pros to manage iPads.”

Is the ever-increasing presence of technology in the educational environment a good or bad thing? Brody Boucher, president of the school board who approved the technology purchases, said: “As we move forward as a society, a proficiency in the use of technology to achieve goals is becoming more commonplace. To be able to stay current with things such as textbooks, technology is the way to go.”

One common argument from opponents of technology in the educational environment is the distractions in brings.

“You can certainly try to mitigate some of that through policies and such,” said Boucher. “My converse to that is if you’re sitting at home reading a textbook book what stops you from turning on the TV and watching Sportscenter for ten minutes as well? There has to be a strategy.”