Oracle opening ignites hope for historical buildings

By Layne Alfred
The Mason Times

Stepping inside the new home of Oracle Financial Solutions in Mason, Michigan for the first time, you would never guess that the building was built during Abraham Lincoln’s presidency. The smell of fresh cedar lingers in the air, voices echo off the walls and everything looks brand new.

Oracle Financial Solutions, which was previously located just a block away above Bestseller’s Bookstore, has renovated an ancient building that was formerly “one big eyesore,” as described by Kurt Creamer, a member of the founding team. It was an abandoned building; the roofs were collapsed, the building was filled with mold, and there was seemingly no hope of revitalization.

Creamer, Charles Moore, Ryan Parrot, and Scott Russ, who founded Oracle Financial Solutions together, decided to take on the challenge. The building has now been rehabilitated into a business and residential facility for the firm, but it wasn’t easy. It was important for the team to move, not only because it would be better for their business, but also so that they could keep the old buildings in Mason alive.

Oracle’s third floor lobby overlooking courthouse square

“The building was in extremely bad condition, so it was special to our team to be involved in a project that improved the downtown Mason area,” said Parrot.

It was the team’s priority to keep many original features of the building during the revitalization. Although the roofs, deck, floor and everything in between is brand new, many features from the late 1800’s have been conserved. The building contains an authentic fireplace and even original doors, complete with speakeasy grates. The renovation took 13 months, and finally opened on September 29, 2015.

Many federal and local grants were required to save the building and put it to use. “A lot of this stuff is being torn down, and we need to keep it up to codes. Grants allow it to be financially feasible to keep these buildings standing,” said Russ, “We joined hands and said, ‘let’s make this work’.”

Not only has the team of four saved a building with character and history, they have expanded the horizons of their business.

“We’re now looking to bring in more people in hopes of growing,” said Creamer, “but this is it for us.”

150th anniversary Grand Ball is Saturday

By Jake Atnip
The Mason Times

This city has traditions, icons and history. One tradition, which happens only once every 25 years, will light up the lives of residents on Saturday. The Grand Ball returns for Mason’s 150th birthday celebration.

Photo courtesy Celeste Hude, Victorian Tailor

Photo courtesy Celeste Hude. Victorian tailor

Mason’s Grand Ball is the culmination of 150th celebrations and has been planned by a committee for two years.

Only 150 tickets are available for the event and some have been sold in advance through the Mason Chamber of Commerce. Tickets are $30.

Organizer Rita Vogel, a member of the Rotary Club, has been heading the planning for this event since the beginning. She has been involved with the community since she returned to Mason four years ago.

She said, “I’ve been all about the community since I’ve been back. Once you leave, you miss it.” Continue reading

Dennis O’Brien honored at The Mason Tree Commission

By Maria Braganini
The Mason Times

Countless hours spent maintaining city parks and caring for the trees at Maple Grove Cemetery has earned Dennis O’Brien honoree status at The Mason Tree Commission.

O’Brien began his career as a laborer for the Department of Public Works in May 1978. In August 2005, more than 30 years later, he retired as an arborist and superintendent of cemetery, parks and forestry.

The planting of a sugar maple tree in honor of O’Brien is scheduled for noon on Arbor Day, Friday April 24 at the Maple Grove Cemetery in Mason and open to the public.
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Proposal 1, better for Mason’s future?

By Maria Braganini
The Mason Times

Intermodal Policy Section Manager for the Michigan Department of Transportation Rob Balmes provided a brief overview of Proposal 1 at the March 16 City Council Meeting detailing main changes taxpayers will witness if the Proposal is passed.

“Proposal 1,” Balmes said, “will increase sales tax from 6 to 7 percent, while exempting fuel purchases, if approved by a vote to amend the Michigan Constitution May 5.

Sent to ballot by the House and the Senate, Proposal 1 would trigger a series of other laws designed to maximize new investments on road funding and minimize growing tax burdens for low-income residents, Balmes said.
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Mason Public Schools announce artistic endeavors

By Maria Braganini
The Mason Times

Mason High School fosters artistic development between students on abstract platforms, Mason City Council member Marlon Brown said.

“Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” is the first production at Mason High School since “All in the Timing” in November.

Scheduled for May 7, 8 and 9 at 7 p.m., “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” will be performed in the Mason High School Auditorium.
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Sesquicentennial ceremony program lineup

By Maria Braganini
The Mason Times

Marlon Brown discuses the program for the Mason Sesquicentennial Anniversary Ceremony scheduled for March 9 at 6 p.m.

Brown plans to introduce the Mason 150 Sesquicentennial Anniversary Committee to begin the celebration.

After introductions, the Fire Department and 7th Michigan Volunteer Infantry Company B Color Guard will perform.
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Essay contest gives back to Mason Public Schools

By Maria Braganini
The Mason Times

Winners of the Mason College Club’s eighth grade essay contest will be announced at the March 9 sesquicentennial celebration. City Councilman Marlon Brown said he would present winners with a certificate bearing the city’s sesquicentennial seal.

Mason Councilman Marlon Brown and Mason College Club President Cheryl Lariviere discuss the essay contest and logistics in celebrating the eighth graders.

Mason Councilman Marlon Brown and Mason College Club President Cheryl Lariviere discuss the essay contest and logistics in celebrating the eighth graders.

The essay contest, held for Mason Middle School eighth graders, was hosted by Mason College Club and Scott Shattuck, eighth grade history teacher.

Students were asked to write a two-page prompt regarding the history of Mason streets named after families.

The club choose three winners and one honorable mention from more than 8 submissions.

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Buildings to be re-done in Mason


The buildings of 124 and 140 E. Ash St. being re-done

By Kelley Waterfall
The Mason Times

The buildings of 124 and 140 E. Ash St. date back to the 1860s when Mason was just an emerging city, and are now getting a new look.

The two buildings are the oldest buildings in the downtown area said Marlon Brown, mayor pro tem.

The buildings have now been vacant for almost a decade, foreclosed, empty and were slowly falling apart, said Marty Colburn, city administrator.

“The plans for the buildings are to have commercial businesses on the first floor and have apartments on the top floors,” said Brown.

The apartments will consist of 10 single-bedroom loft style apartments with an elevator that will take you to the floors.

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Roads to be Fixed in Mason

By Kelley Waterfall
The Mason Times

There’s nothing better than driving on nice paved roads. The City of Mason is starting some $2 million in projects for road repairs throughout the city.

Marlon Brown, mayor pro tem, said “There is a charter requirement for the city of $4 million dollars each year for road repairs.” The money comes from state and government grant funding as well as tax revenues.

In most cases the fixes being done will be repairing potholes and cracked roads. However some roads underground structures will be repaired, along with water sewer lines, and even better cross walks and street lights.

Residents who live on streets that will be on will be given advance notice, and this will be done in the least intrusive way, said Brown.

“The repairs will stretch throughout the summer,” said Brown. “The work on roads will alternate to minimize inconvenience for citizens, and one lane will remain open during construction.”

Brown said this is good for the community because all roads throughout the state are in poor condition. “It’s not always up to the state but up to the local cities,” said Brown.

“We are lucky to do this in our own city and it’s good we are able to do this on our own as a community,” said Brown.

Road work started this week and will continue until late September.