Who wants $3 million back? Grand Ledge Public Schools taxpayers to benefit from bond refinancing

By Madison Morse
Living in the Ledge Staff Reporter

After paying for a School Building and Sites bond issue since it was approved in 2007, the taxpayers of Grand Ledge Public Schools are soon getting a bit of a refund.

Superintendent of Grand Ledge Public Schools Brian Metcalf announced in a press release that taxpayers will see a savings of approximately $3 million over the next 20 years. The money stems from the refinancing the 2007 bond passed for school improvements and will bring a 12 percent savings on interest rates.

“The benefit of refunding or refinancing the bond is that after 10 years we have the opportunity to go back and see where interest rates are. Can we finance any better interest rate that we can save our taxpayers a whole lot of money?” said Metcalf.

“Once that 10 years is up we looked back at it to get some quotes and it showed we were going to save somewhere around 10 percent. So when we had projected a savings at 10 percent we said absolutely, lets move forward. It turned out to be actually about 12 percent or just over $3 million which is a really nice savings for our community and parents.”

Metcalf went on to say taxpayers can expect to get all of these savings back.

“It’s just for taxpayers. Taxpayers already paid for all the projects, that’s already all done. But the debt is the refinancing and that’s how we will save. It’s like refinancing a mortgage,” said Metcalf. “We are watching our bonds. Normally it’s a 30-year bond so every 10 years we have an opportunity to take a look at each of those bonds so they are paid off.”

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Filed under Education, Government, Grand Ledge, News Stories

Grand Ledge residents support local businesses

By Rachael Daniel
Living in the Ledge Staff Reporter

When Grand Ledge resident Jordan Stevens needs to go shopping, she has a decision to make. She is faced with the choice of spending her money at the local Walmart or one of the local shops downtown.

Because she sees an importance in supporting small businesses, she usually chooses the latter.

Whether residents need a haircut or cup of coffee, Grand Ledge has them covered. Grand Ledge has a greater percentage of local, mom and pop businesses than most communities in Michigan, said Bob Haddad Jr., owner of Haddad’s Agency and member of the Grand Ledge Chamber of Commerce. Much of the success of these businesses is due to the support from people like Stevens, who live in the community.

Created by Rachael Daniel from data from Small Business Profile 2015 by the Small Business Administration

Created by Rachael Daniel from data from Small Business Profile 2015 by the Small Business Administration

“It’s more important for me to pay a little extra money to buy from a local business, then buy from a cheap commercial store like Walmart, because a small business will help put that family’s kids through college, whereas buying from Walmart will just get a CEO an extra yacht at the end of the year,” said Stevens.

Haddad said he thinks people naturally like to know who’s pocket their money is going to reach.

“Inherently, people would rather know their dollars are being reinvested in the same community they live in,” said Haddad. “So much of our money goes to people and places we don’t know. I like knowing my dollars are buying shoes for the guy behind the counter.”

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Filed under Business, Grand Ledge, News Stories

The mystique behind Grand Ledge

By Kaitlin Petrillo
Living In The Ledge Staff Reporter

Grand Ledge has been known for its long history. The buildings and architecture dating back over 100 years adds character and mystery to the downtown area. CLICK FOR FULL VIDEO STORY on the mystique that lies behind Grand Ledge.

Grand Ledge Opera House, built in 1884. Photo by Kaitlin Petrillo

Grand Ledge Opera House, built in 1884.
Photo by Kaitlin Petrillo

Take a tour with Kaitlin!

The Historical Society has done an awesome job of laying out the years of history behind GL, make sure to check it out here.

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Is this the end of the Grand Ledge Community Facebook group?

By Rachael Daniel
Living in the Ledge Staff Reporter

When Grand Ledge Mayor Kalmin Smith created a community Facebook group, he expected it would be an efficient way for members of the community to discuss Grand Ledge issues and to transport the town’s strong sense of community online.

However, he did not expect the group to become a place for useless information, vulgarity and personal attacks.

According to Smith, the Grand Ledge Community Facebook group has lost its original purpose and is now filled with information that does not pertain to the community. He also dedicates time to deleting disrespectful members and comments that do not encourage a positive community environment.

Smith said he still thinks the bad outweighs the good and is thinking about giving up on the Facebook group all together.

“I have been consulting with a few folks about how to improve the site. Just getting rid of it is one of the alternatives, said Smith. “It once was a helpful resource, but now it is not.”

Smith said has been trying to steer the group back to its original track, but he does not see a solution.

“One of the disappointing things about the use of the page is that the serious community-oriented people who have contributed to the community in the past and continue to do so have dropped out, because serious and important posts are immediately lost in all the junk,” Smith said.

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L.A. composer makes big move to Michigan to help musicians in the community.

By Madison Morse
Living in the Ledge Staff Reporter 

Twenty-two-year music veteran Brian Roth has made his work known around the world by composing music for over 10,000 commercials and having his work appear on FOX, ABC, MTV, plus many more outlets. However, this composer is making a big change.

Composer / Audio Editor/ Sound Designer, Brian Roth. Photo by: Madison Morse

Composer / Audio Editor/ Sound Designer, Brian Roth. Photo by Madison Morse

In late 2014 Roth moved back to his roots in Michigan to settle down with his family, but this did not slow down Roth’s career. He decided to opened up The Roth Academy of Music in Grand Ledge which features nine teachers, 40 students and lessons for 14 different instruments.

“We realized that as our kids are getting older we wanted them to be around family. So we decided together that we were going to move back to Michigan so the kids could be with their grandparents, but in doing so it was important to me to keep doing what I am doing,” Roth said.

Roth was able to make the transition without a hiccup due to the increases in technology. Professor in film composition and Michigan State University doctoral composition student Samuel Joshua said Roth is making a smart move by using technology to his advantage.

“He has the ability now to not be in the feature market while still having an audience and composers who want to use him. Technology and the internet allows you to be anywhere in the world and writing music for someone who is thousands of miles away. It’s a global village,” said Joshua. “If you can still work in Michigan as well as be with family and teach the community without folding your career I would do that.”

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Small town + big hearts = social capital in Grand Ledge

By Kaitlin Petrillo
Living in the Ledge Staff Reporter

“I’ve worked in Grand Ledge for almost 30 years,” said Lynne Vermillion, a hairstylist at Talk of Town Hair Care. “Everyone is really close, and very supportive.”

That’s not an unusual assessment of Grand Ledge, primarily known for its long-time, small-town feel. Whether it is hosting several different parades each year, organizing community events for all ages, rooting on the Grand Ledge Comets, or just grabbing a bite with a neighbor; Grand Ledge is all about its community relationships.

And that matters more than you’d think.

300 Story 5 Graphic

“When people know each other they have a greater sense of what is called collectivism,” said Joel Stillerman, Professor of Sociology at Grand Valley State University.

“Collectivism means that there is a sense of trust in other people. You know you can communicate with others so that when there is a problem or a challenge, you have people you can turn to for help.”

Stillerman referenced the American sociologist James Coleman and The Social Capital Theory. Social capital is the connections people have with others. It is the trust and expectations they develop when they’re connected to people.

“We’re one of the rare communities that has the city as a member of the Chamber of Commerce, the school super intendant as a member, and  different community groups that are members,” said Larry Austin, an active member in the community. “We bring organizations together and really try to pool resources as much as we can.”

The Austins have been involved in the Grand Ledge community for several generations.

“I’ve grown up here and growing up, my parents were involved,” said 51-year-old Larry Austin. “I started helping out at 8 years old.”

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Filed under Events, Government, Grand Ledge, News Stories, Volunteers

Who still rents movie videos? We do, apparently

By Rachael Daniel
Living in the Ledge Staff Reporter

There is arguably nothing better after a long week than melting into the couch and wasting a few hours binge watching Netflix. There are thousands of titles available as fast as the video can buffer. This convenience has surely made it tough for video stores to say open, though there are survivors.

According to the Entertainment Merchant Association, Family Video still operates 775 stores in 19 states, including one in Grand Ledge at 615 S. Clinton St.

Grand Ledge Family Video employee Andrea Parks said Grand Ledge’s small-town feel allows for a movie rental business to succeed even with the existence of video streaming companies.

“There isn’t always a lot to do here, so it’s something to do,” said Parks, “When our power had to be disconnected a few weeks ago with the addition of the AT&T store next door, it was the talk of the town.”

Parks said another reason Family Video is still relevant in Grand Ledge is that physical video renting offers customers a fuller experience than streaming can offer.

“People like to physically come in, pick out a movie, have a movie night and talk about it,” Parks said, “They like the whole feel of it.”

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