No competition means not many voters in this year’s civic election

A "Vote Here" stand outside of the precinct hall. Photo by Peter Nuttall

A “Vote Here” stands outside of a precinct location. Photo by Peter Nuttall

By Peter Nuttall
Living In The Ledge Staff Reporter

This past Election Day in Grand Ledge resulted in a poor turnout of voters. According to Grand Ledge City Clerk Gregory Newman, only 10 percent of the registered voters in the city of Grand Ledge came out to the polls to vote on Nov. 3.

“Ten percent is a very disappointing number,” Grand Ledge Mayor Kalmin Smith said.

This year was a non-presidential election year where only city council spots were up for election. Newman said that in the past, whenever the city council is the only one on the ballot, it’s usually a low turnout.

Also, according to Smith all four candidates on the local ballot were running unopposed, something that he believes may have aided in the low voter turnout this year.

“When none of the candidates have any competition, there’s no incentive for citizens to come out and vote,” Smith said.

Grand Ledge’s ballot included the position of mayor and also three Grand Ledge City Council representatives, which each individually represents one of Grand Ledge’s three wards.

New contract approved for Grand Ledge school employees

By DeVinnia Moore
Living in the Ledge Staff Reporter

Grand Ledge High School Photo Credit: DeVinnia Moore

Grand Ledge High School
Photo Credit: DeVinnia Moore

On Oct. 26 the employee contract of the Michigan Education Association /National Education Association Unit IV, was approved.

This contract is an agreement between the Grand Ledge Board of Education and MEA/NEA Unit Assistants. This includes Teacher Assistants, Health Care Assistants, Bus Assistants, Adventure Club Head Caregivers, and Adventure Club Caregivers.

Superintendent of Grand Ledge schools, Brian Metcalf, said this new contract includes an increase of $150,000 more in funds. Metcalf did not go into much detail has to what the funds will pay for.

However, Michigan State University Professor Michelle Kaminski, an expert on unions, said increase in funds could mean increases in employee wages, better health care benefits or benefits involving paid vacations, sick leave etc.

Graduation rates are sky-high at Grand Ledge High School

By Paige Wester
Living In The Ledge Staff Reporter

According to Public School Review, Grand Ledge can’t get any better at graduating its high school students.

The Web site reports that the graduation rate at Grand Ledge High School is a perfect 100 percent.

Steve Stoll, a Grand Ledge resident, said that the schools here are such a huge focal point of this town.

“With Grand Ledge being such a small town, we as parents really get involved with our kids schooling and athletics,” Stoll said. “I always know what is happening with most of the kids because all of the parents are friends as well.”

Stoll, who has had two kids graduate from Grand Ledge High School recently, has seen the success and the few failures the school has had in the last decade. He said parents are constantly pushing their kids to be the best and trying to hold them to a higher standard than the surrounding schools in the area.

“With a smaller community, it is easier to keep an eye on the kids and watch who is going down the right or wrong path,” Stoll said. “When we see certain kids choosing a bad path we know immediately and are able to try and fix the problem compared to a larger school where some kids can just fly under the radar.”

As America grows colorful, Grand Ledge has catching up to do

Break down of Grand Ledge Race Diversity Chart created by DeVinnia Moore Data from citydata.com

Break down of Grand Ledge Race Diversity
Chart created by DeVinnia Moore
Data from citydata.com

By DeVinnia Moore
Living in the Ledge reporter

As the nation is becoming more diverse, Grand Ledge is still waiting for it to happen.

As of July 1, 2015, Grand Ledge’s population is 7,856. According to citydata.com 91.4 percent of that population is white.

“In terms of Grand Ledge city government, nothing has been done to increase diversity in the city and nothing has been done to discourage it,” said Mayor Kalmin Smith.

Ekow King, a director of the University at Albany said this makes Grand Ledge’s level of ethnic diversity extremely disproportionate to the state and national population. King has expertise in many things one being diversity.

“Having a town where 91 percent of the population is white in a country that is increasingly diverse sets Grand Ledge up for failure,” said King.

According to the United States Census, 62 percent of the U.S. population and approximately 76 percent of the Michigan population identifies as European-American (white).

“There are many factors, some historical and others more contemporary, that would have an impact on the levels of ethnic diversity in a community,” said King.

Said Mike Hill, professor University at Albany, and the author of the book After Whiteness: “Sometimes small towns are resistant to change.”

“The real question is how can a town expect to grow with out seeking diversity?” said Hill.

Smith said the town does plan to grow, As the Lansing urban area expands to the west and as the population of Grand Ledge grows, the city will undoubtedly become more diverse.

“Grand Ledge has a very small minority population that I expect will increase as the Lansing metro area expands west,” said Smith. “How soon that happens depends on the economy and the availability of housing.”

Grand Ledge church holds new trick-or-treat variant

Members of First Congregational UCC stand outside their church during Trunk or Treat.

Members of First Congregational UCC stand outside their church during trunk or treat.

By Peter Nuttall
Living In The Ledge Staff Reporter

Halloween is right around the corner, so that means it’s time for decorative jack-o’-lanterns, dressing up in costumes, and of course, trick-or-treating.

Or should I say, trunk-or-treating?

Trunk-or-treating is a variation of trick-or-treating where, instead of going house-to-house, children go from decorated car-to-car, usually in a local parking lot. First Congregational United Church of Christ (UCC) in Grand Ledge just held their sixth annual trunk-or-treat event located at 210 W. Saginaw Highway.

It’s been getting better and better each year,” one of the event planners, Sara Gooley, said. “It’s one of our most fun days of the year.”

Grand Ledge is the place to be for rock climbing in Lower Peninsula

By Paige Wester
Living In The Ledge Staff Reporter

When people think of rock climbing, outsiders may think of the Rocky or Appalachian mountains. But in Grand Ledge, natives know right here is a place for people to flock to for rock walls.

According to rockclimbing.com, Grand Ledge has one of only a few places to climb on rock in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula at Oak Park, which is owned by the city of Grand Ledge.

Keith Martin, a resident of Grand Ledge, said that Oak Park is definitely the biggest attraction Grand Ledge has to offer.

Grand Ledge citizens and people from out of town don’t have to drive hours and hours to do something they love. “We are proud of what this town has to offer and our rock climbing makes a great place to climb or even just for the scenery,” said Martin. “People find real happiness when they can do what they love and not have to travel too far to do it.”

Peter Prowl, a resident of the Eaton County area for many years, said that rock climbing has been his escape from reality for many years and he is so thankful that Oak Park is so close to his home.

climbing season

Best months to climb in Grand Ledge. Photo by Paige Wester.

“Climbing season is much longer in the Lower Peninsula compared to the UP because the weather stays warmer longer,” said Prowl.

Police making rounds at Grand Ledge High School

Students outside of Grand Ledge High School. Photo by Peter Nuttall

Students outside of Grand Ledge High School. Photo by Peter Nuttall

By Peter Nuttall
Living In The Ledge staff reporter

From Columbine, Colo., to Newtown, Conn., and just recently Roseburg, Ore., the unexpected gun violence that occurs at schools, a place where children should be learning, makes the situations that occur almost always a tragic one. And it’s a tragedy that seems to be happening far too often in the United States.

Officer Chris Chester, of the Grand Ledge Police Department, is stationed at Grand Ledge High School to make sure Grand Ledge isn’t added to these lists of towns. He monitors and maintains the safety of the students/faculty. Not just at the high school, but also the middle schools, and the elementary schools. He’s the school resource officer for Grand Ledge Public Schools.

“He is the school resource officer, but he’s not the school security guard,” Police Chief Martin Underhill said. “He’s a community policing officer, placed in a community of almost 2,000 people during the day.”

Chester, is currently in his fourth school year as the school resource officer. He’s been with the Grand Ledge police force for 13 years. He said they’ve been consistently updating their safety protocols that they’ve been doing for years. They seem to be working. Grand Ledge hasn’t had any recent major problems in their schools when it comes to gun violence or crime.

“We’re a pretty stable community,” Mayor Kalmin Smith said. “We don’t have a lot of the detentions that you might have in an urban school district, for example.”

Since 2013, according to everytownresearch.org, there have been 152 school shootings in the United States. Lansing Community College criminology professor Mark Stevens believes a lot of the reasons schools are such a common place for these mass shootings are because schools are weapon-free zones.

The number of school shootings in the US since 2013, broken down by the number of school shootings each year.

The number of school shootings in the U.S. since 2013, broken down by the number of school shootings each year.

“For somebody who is anticipating in doing school violence, part of the attraction to schools is they’re all weapon free zones,” Stevens said. “So they know, that they’re (the students/faculty) sitting ducks. It’s unfortunate.”

Grand Ledge Emergency Services will be training in old scout building

By DeVinnia Moore
Living in the Ledge staff reporter

City Council meeting room. Picture taken right before Oct. 12, 2015 meeting began. Photo Credit: DeVinnia Moore

City Council meeting room. Picture taken right before the Oct. 12, 2015 meeting.
Photo Credit: DeVinnia Moore

A motion to authorize the Grand Ledge Area Emergency Services Authority to conduct training exercises at the so-called old scout building was approved during a city council meeting on Oct. 12.

“The building was used most recently as a community center, senior center, reception hall and during community festivals,” said Fire Chief Casey Godlewski. “It got its name because it was used as a meeting place for the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and Cub Scouts in years past.”

Back in July, the city council approved the decision to demolish the old scout building located in Jaycee Park.

Map of where the old scout building is located. 525 E River St, Grand Ledge, MI 48837 Photo Credit: DeVinnia Moore

Map of where the old scout building is located.
525 E. River St., Grand Leddge, MI 48837
Photo Credit: DeVinnia Moore

“There were concerns regarding its structural integrity,” City Administrator Adam Smith said.

In a letter of commission, building inspector Michael Mowery suggested the building be demolished for safety and maintenance purposes.

Godlewski said Emergency Services has limited opportunities to train on real structures, this is why they take the opportunity to practice on houses or buildings before they are demolished.

“The DEQ (state Department of Environmental Quality) regulations have pretty much eliminated live burning training, so that portion of real world training isn’t offered as much,” Godlewski said.

Is the glass half-empty, or half-full? The business climate in downtown Grand Ledge

By Paige Wester
Living in the Ledge staff reporter

Downtown Grand Ledge located on Bridge Street. Photo by Paige Wester

Downtown Grand Ledge located on Bridge Street. Photo by Paige Wester

Downtown Grand Ledge is flourishing with successful businesses, but also struggling with vacant buildings.

Bridge Street, which is the main street of downtown Grand Ledge, is what holds many of the small and new businesses along the downtown area for people to come down for entertainment, food, and shopping. With that being said, many buildings are vacant and run-down.

“There are always empty spaces downtown as businesses come and go,” Grand Ledge Mayor Kalmin Smith said. “There is also a vibrant business district on Charlevoix and Saginaw in Grand Ledge.”

A few businesses have been around for years, such as MacDowell’s and About the Home. These successful businesses made it though the toughest of times back when the state of Michigan was struggling in 2008 and 2009.

Carrie Green, a Grand Ledge resident for many years, said that Grand Ledge has many family-owned businesses that people have been going to for years.

According to Green, the benefit of living in a small town is that people want you to succeed, so we continue to help out all the family owned businesses because this town is actually is a family.

Grand Ledge excited for new brewery

Owner Ben Huston takes a break from renovations to take a picture in what will soon be BrickHaven Brewery Company. Photo by Peter Nuttall

Owner Ben Huston takes a break from renovations to take a picture in what will soon look more like BrickHaven Brewing Company. Photo by Peter Nuttall.

By Peter Nuttall
Living In The Ledge staff reporter

Grand Ledge’s former City Hall at the corner of East Jefferson and Taylor streets is getting a makeover.

The building that was once known as the headquarters of Grand Ledge’s administration and City Council will now be the place of a new establishment called BrickHaven Brewing Company.

Brothers Ed and Ben Huston purchased the property a couple months ago. Together they’ve been working with the Grand Ledge government to get the brewery up and running as soon as possible.

“It’s going to bring in more people and vitalize the downtown in an additional way,” Grand Ledge Mayor Kalmin Smith said. “We’re excited for the build.” 

The building the Huston’s bought, located at 200 E. Jefferson St., has a vast history behind it. Built in 1937, the building served as city hall from 1970 to January of 2014. Before 1970, it was St. Michael Parish.

“My husband and I are very excited for the brewery. We’re beer connoisseurs,” Grand Ledge resident Celeste Gray said. “My children were actually even baptized in that building.”

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