Mason considering purchase of Rayner Park

By Harrison Thrasher                                                                                                  The Mason Times

Rayner Park, 60-acre land proposed to be purchased by Mason

Rayner Park, 60-acre land proposed to be purchased by Mason

The City of Mason has sent a request to the Ingham County Board of Commissioners for purchase of Rayner Park.

The 60-acre park was nearly closed in 2009 under ownership of Ingham County due to financial strains at the time. It has since been under the control of Mason after the county agreed to a six-year lease.

The park cannot be sold by Ingham County until the commissioners are able to fund a boundary survey. According to City Administrator Martin Colburn, the purchase will be contingent on when the county’s budget allows for the survey to be completed.

“They do not know if they can accomplish it this summer, or wait until next year due to budget issues,” said Colburn. “They are working on their budget right now. Whether or not they accomplish it in 2015 or 2016 is ultimately up to them.”

Colburn also says that Mason has vastly improved the park.

“We’ve been successful in not only maintaining the facilities, but that there have been improvements made thanks to the work of volunteers,” said Colburn. “There’s new asphalt on the basketball courts, several new bridges and cleaning of the ponds twice per year.”

Before the park can be purchased, Mason must figure out how much money and labor has been put into it and by how many different sources. Mayor Pro Tem Marlon Brown considers the investment to be dormant until financial considerations can be figured out.

“The city needs tabulation regarding the amount of funds both the city and other non-profit entities have invested in Rayner Park since we started the lease agreement,” said Brown.

To budget for a the park, the city know how much it will cost to maintain it. A clear outline of what has been spent by the city and others will be vital in deciding whether to purchase it.

The Ingham County Board of Commissioners has been notified of the request, and the City of Mason currently is waiting to hear back.

Annual geranium fundraiser is back

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By Caitlin Taylor
The Mason Times

With the onset of spring, the Mason Sycamore Creek Garden Club annual geranium sale fundraiser is back, and the club will be taking orders until April 21.

Keeping with tradition, the club will have 12-inch bush pots, hanging baskets and 4-inch small pots, according to Barb Ketchum, club president. The bush pots are comparable to big pots for moving the flowers into planters, she said, and the hanging baskets come fully bloomed.

A new addition this year are two different 4-inch pot bowls. One is a mixture of herbs, while the other is a succulent bowl. According to Ketchum, bush pots and hanging baskets cost $14.75, the 4-inch geranium bowl is $3.75, the herbs bowl is $12 and the succulent bowl is $22. All must be purchased through pre-order.

Orders should arrive mid-May, depending upon the weather, she said.
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Ash Street Project

Jasmine Watts

The Mason Times

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The two oldest buildings in Mason, vacant for more than 20 years, are being remodeled.

Once completed, the 19th century buildings will be the tallest commercial buildings in the downtown area.

Three-stories high, 124 Ash St. and 140 Ash St. will become a commercial center-apartment facility.

The 7,480 square foot building will use the first floor as commercial space, include eight apartments on the second floor, and the third floor will have Oracle Financial Solution’s conference room in the front and two additional apartments in the back.

Kurt Creamer, Ryan Parrott, Scott Russ, and Charles Moore are Oracle employees who now own the buildings.

“These buildings have been around since Lincoln,” said Marlon Brown, mayor pro tem. “It’s exciting to see the progress in the redevelopment.”

The $2.75 million project was launched in September 2014.

“I’m glad to see people investing back into our city,” said Matthew Thomas, 24, a Mason resident.

Applications for apartment leases are currently available.

Spring Fling Festival

Jasmine Watts

The Mason Times

The Mason Area Chamber of Commerce presents its 32nd annual Spring Fling Festival April 30 through May 3. This year, the festival includes a 5k run, craft show, pie sale, duck race and many more fun activities. Special events will take place throughout Mason for Spring Fling and in honor of the sesquicentennial.

The signature courthouse craft show is May 2 from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. There will be vendors in three sections of the show, “Artisan’s row” for arts and crafts, “Community Center” for local groups, and “East Market” for flea market and manufactured items.

“Last year Spring Fling was packed. It was nice meeting some new neighbors and my family had fun,” said Ronald White, a Mason father.

This is a kid-friendly event that the entire family can enjoy.

“I attended this event last year with my grandchildren,” said Jeannette Maclin, Mason resident. “The kids had a ball with the arts and crafts.”

Many events for Spring Fling have music, food and there will be no admission charge.

Library holds contest to name its new local sculpture

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By Caitlin Taylor
The Mason Times

Calling all creative thinkers: the Mason Public Library is holding a community-wide contest to name the library’s newest art piece, a whimsical sculpture of a girl, created by Doug DeLind and the Mason Art Guild.

Suggestions may be made at the Mason Library as well as Bestsellers bookstore and Kean’s Store Co. through April 4. The winner will be announced on May 9 at Bestseller’s Soup to Art fundraiser, a night where art by local students will be featured throughout the store.

The contest is sponsored by the Arts Initiative Mason, which will award the winner a $50 gift card, according to John Takis, a library assistant at the Mason Public Library. Takis said that the winner’s name also will be featured next to Doug DeLind’s on a nameplate accompanying the sculpture.

“Initially the naming contest was just going to be for the children,” said Shirley Renwick, Mason Art Guild member. “But we thought, ‘why not get the whole community involved?’”
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Dairy Hill reopens for spring

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By Caitlin Taylor
The Mason Times

On March 2, Mason’s Dairy Hill ice cream store had its opening day of the season, following the establishment’s 30-year tradition of opening on a Monday, 27 weeks before Labor Day, every year.

“Psychologically, people are ready for ice cream after March, which explains reopening the store early,” said Jon Droscha, co-owner of Dairy Hill. “People view it as the first sign of spring.”

With the sun shining throughout the day on Monday, Droscha said that Dairy Hill had a successful opening for the season. Business, especially during the colder months, is always much steadier when the sun is shining, according to Droscha, as it brightens the spirits of his customers.

“There have been no major changes to Dairy Hill (this season),” he said. “Actually, staff-wise, there are zero-changes. Everyone came back.”

Droscha mentioned the possibility of adding a few items to the menu this season, but he said that the details will remain under his hat until they are finalized.
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Flu prevalence and prevention

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By Caitlin Taylor
The Mason Times

As of Feb. 6, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that the influenza virus remained widespread across the country, keeping consistent with its prevalence during the early winter months. This consistency, according to Kristin Panwas, assistant department manager at Mason Urgent Care, is reflected in Mason.

“We did see an increased number of flu cases,” Panwas said. “Flu season is so bad that we even ran out of Tamiflu (an antibiotic).”

Despite the flu’s frequency, Panwas has found that there wasn’t as much traffic for flu vaccinations through Mason Urgent Care in February, especially in comparison to late-September and early-October vaccinations – the beginning of flu season.

At urgent care as well as surrounding pharmacies like Rite Aid on North Cedar Street, medical professionals vaccinate patients against influenzas A and B. This, however, does not protect them from different strains of the virus.

“Different strains do come up,” Panwas said. “The CDC is in charge of monitoring these different strains.”
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Sun Dried Music Festival set for Aug. 28-30

By Harrison Thrasher                                                                                                   The Mason Times

Mason’s annual Sun Dried Music Festival has now set its dates this year to be Aug. 28-30.

The three-day festival will kick off on Friday, Aug. 28 with the event opening at 6 p.m., and the first concert beginning at 7 p.m. The festivities will continue through the afternoon of Sunday, Aug. 30.

Patrick Hicks, the vice president of the festival, says the festival committee is working to create a friendly environment for people of all ages.

“We are making adjustments to ensure that it’s a safe, friendly and appealing event,” said Hicks. “We are expanding our children’s area to be a little bit bigger this year to include more entertainment for kids.”

According to Hicks, it is important to bring the community together for this type of event because it can showcase the close-knit community in Mason, and the small-town traditions that make Mason unique.

“We will continue to have a 50/50 raffle, a church service on Sunday, a second stage to showcase new acts and a main stage to showcase the premier acts,” said Hicks. “We also have the possibility of a new street dance act.”

City Council approved of the street closures needed to set up the main areas of the festival. The closures are, according to Hicks: Jefferson between Ash and Sycamore, Maple between Mason State Bank and Barnes, Barnes between Maple and Ash and the eastern half of Ingham Court Alley.

The closures will take effect at 8 a.m. on Aug. 28 and end at 4 p.m. on Aug. 30. Hicks estimates that the festival site will be cleaned up by the time the roads open back up.

Mayor Pro Tem Marlon Brown wants a new website developed so people can be as up-to-date as possible on the event. As of right now, the only internet base for the festival is through the DDA website.

“Once the new website becomes available, correspondence will be sent to the council and the website will be included in the city packets so that the general public can see and know where to go to get more information,” said Brown.

Hicks is optimistic about this year’s festival and hopes that more people even from outside Mason can come and enjoy the festivities.

“We want people from all over the area to come and enjoy the festival,” said Hicks. “As far as the website travels, we want people to come and enjoy it.”

Library reopens after boiler issue

 By Harrison Thrasher                                                                                                  The Mason Times

The Mason Public Library is open again after an exhaust issue caused it to be shut down for several days. Operations resumed March 2 when officials and the fire department deemed the library safe once again.

According to zoning and development Director David Haywood, library staff was concerned about the sudden smell of exhaust in the building the morning of Friday, Feb. 27. When called, Haywood smelled the exhaust almost immediately upon entering the building.

“It was certainly alarming,” said Haywood. “I had the fire chief come right over and he detected carbon monoxide in the boiler room at significantly dangerous levels.”

Fire Chief Kerry Minshall immediately evacuated the building. The only people in the building at the time were the library staff, as the library was not yet open. Minshall was glad the building was evacuated when it was.

“The levels in the boiler room were almost deadly,” said Minshall. “If nothing had been done, the levels in the public areas could’ve reached dangerous levels that day.”

After the building had been closed, the investigation on the cause began. According to Haywood, the boiler was not the problem. As it turns out, the boiler had been overdue for service. The exhaust pipe for the boiler was almost clogged, causing the exhaust to essentially overflow into the boiler room and, subsequently, the building.

The boiler was cleaned out over the weekend and began to function normally again. The sub-zero temperatures in Mason did not make the process any easier, as repairs knocked out the heat in the building.

“We had to use temporary heaters to keep the building from freezing,” said Haywood. “It was a long process over the weekend, but it is now functioning and the building was cleared for safety.”

According to Haywood, a new boiler is not necessary now, but is something that may need to be considered as it was installed in 1960. By Haywood’s estimate, a new boiler would cost “somewhere between $30,000 and $40,000.” Haywood also predicts that those costs are likely to go up. The decision to replace the boiler will come later.

The library re-opened after passing all safety inspections. According to Mayor Pro Tem Marlon Brown, the library cancelled all events until March 7, as the timeline of the repair was uncertain.

The library is now open again for regular business and hours.

 

Taste maple syrup and springtime

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By Caitlin Taylor
The Mason Times

On April 4, Tami and Doug Shaw of the Shawhaven Farm of Mason will hold a first-time event, Maple Sugaring Days, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The event, according to Tami Shaw, will include an open trail through the woods leading to a maple syrup demonstration. Instead of showing the process of modern sap extraction, this demonstration will be a hands-on display of making syrup the old-fashioned way. The farm is at 1826 Rolfe Road.

“We will have a large kettle going with sap in it, boiling it down to syrup,” Tami Shaw said. “This is how it was done about 50 years ago. This way, we can show them a little bit of history.”

Additionally, there will be designated trees for children and their families to tap. They will be shown how to drill a hole into the tree to extract sap.
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