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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$2.1 million Ash Street project undergo renovations this May

By Graciella Oteto
Mason Times staff writer

Built in the 1800s, the buildings located at 124 and 140 E. Ash St. are some of the oldest buildings in Mason, undergoing renovations as soon as May.

The two buildings, which stand next to each other, are to have 10 single-bedroom apartments. One building will have residential on the second floor, and residential and office space on the third floor, another building will have two floors, plus both buildings will have an elevator. The buildings are also to have offices on the first floors.

Building to be renovated on E. Ash Street

Building to be renovated on E. Ash Street

“Took four years to get here, and in about 12 months the project is set to be finished,” said Bruce Johnston, Ingham County Housing Commission director. Because the population has grown in Mason, the apartments are certainly a great addition to downtown, providing access to downtown shops, Johnston added.

Johnston said this means that one of the most deteriorated buildings in Mason will become the largest renovation project in the downtown area.

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Mason businesses show support for new antique store Ballyhoo

By Sydney DeLosh
Mason Times staff writer

As Mason prepares to welcome new antique and specialty store Ballyhoo on May 1, fellow downtown business owners voice their support for the store owned by long-time resident Amy Bowden.

Bowden, who has been a resident for 27 years, became interested in antiques and primitive furniture while remodeling her historical home in rural Mason. For a short time, Bowden had a booth in Mason’s antique district and recently decided to open her own store downtown.

Ballyhoo location

Ballyhoo will open on May 1 at 448 S. Jefferson.

“I always thought it would be fun,” said Bowden. “We have a horse farm and have always been rural people and have always worked on our property. I thought it would be fun to be part of the in-town people and get to know the in town stuff.”

After hearing the name Ballyhoo and searching for its meaning on Wikipedia, Bowden thought it was a clever name, especially considering where the country stands economically. Continue reading

Chocolate treats bring business to local store

Video by Kelsey Abell
Story by Sydney DeLosh
Mason Times staff writers

With truffles, cookies, and a chocolate fountain flowing, the Maple Street Mall hosted its fourth annual Chocolate Extravaganza from Feb. 17-19.

Debbie Dancer Hedemark, owner of the antique and specialty gift store, and her family provided most of the free treats for customers with help from Meijer bakery and a vendor who contributed the chocolate fountain.

Hedemark sent out 1,200 post cards, 400 emails and put advertisements in all of Mason’s publications to attract regular and new customers to the event. Hedemark said that about 90 percent of the customers came in knowing about it.

“We don’t run sale events very often,” Hedemark said. “So, knowing that a lot of people really, really like food we have chili cookoffs, we have soup-offs and sometimes we’ll have sales where there will be cookies in each booth. In April, we’re going to have a cakewalk and there will be cupcakes in all of the booths. I do a lot of things with food to draw people in, because everyone likes food, free food especially.”

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Garage sale and flea market attracts variety of vendors

By Sydney DeLosh
Mason Times staff writer

More than 50 vendors traveled to the Ingham County Fairgrounds on Feb. 4 and 5 to sell their antique, homemade, and resale items at Mason’s 16th Annual Winter Garage Sale and Flea Market.

The event, presented by promoter Tiger Productions, attracts between 1,500 and 6,000 guests each year and is held twice a year in Mason and Grand Rapids. Company owner Annette Wiles said antiques are the most common items sold at the event but variety is what makes the sale so popular.

“The mix of everything, I think, is really the most popular thing about it,” Wiles said. “You can have a smorgasbord of choices.” Continue reading

Flea Market proceeds to benefit Ladies Auxiliary VFW

During the VFW flea market, one of the vendors offered used books at a reasonable price. The proceeds of the sales went to help the VFW services.

By Kate Vogel
Mason Times staff writer

Mason residents browsed through tables lined with jewelry, used movies, books, crafts and home goods during the semiannual flea market hosted by the Ladies Auxiliary Veterans of Foreign Wars Department of Michigan Post 7309 on Oct. 22. The proceeds from the flea market will be donated to the Ladies Auxiliary VFW to help with all the services they provide.

The Ladies Auxiliary VFW host two flea markets annually- one in the spring and one in the fall- and are both organized by Mason resident Sherry Fisher.

“The proceeds from the [vendor] tables — its $15 to rent a table- and all the proceeds go to the VFW Woman’s Auxiliary for all of the different things that we do,” Sherry Fisher said.

According to the VFW, there are around 2.1 million VFW members and they contribute more than 11 million hours of service within their communities.

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Doing Good with Donuts event donates to fundraiser

One of the founders of The Open Market smiles as she hands out doughnuts to shoppers.

Mary "Cookie" Barnes hands out free doughnuts to shoppers on Saturday, Oct. 8, at The Open Market event, "Doing Good with Donuts." Photo by Madolin Welch

By Jordyn Timpson
Mason Times staff writer

The smell of doughnuts lingered in the air this weekend at The Open Market’s last event for the year, Doing Good with Donuts. The second-annual event was held at The Cobblestone Events Center at 205 Mason St., on Oct. 8-9, featuring an array of craft booths, as well as a drive for the Hats, Wraps and Mittens fundraiser. Hats, Wraps and Mittens aims to raise winter clothing for Lansing-area residents by asking shoppers to donate handmade, new or gently used winter accessories.

Vendor relations and harvest director for the market, Beth Barnes-Young said The Open Market is working with Volunteers of America, but want to be able to give to more than one organization in Ingham County.

“We’re hoping to raise 1,000 pieces. Last year, we didn’t come close to reaching our goal and we want to change that this year,” Barnes-Young said.

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Pink School closes for season

The one-room, pink schoolhouse sits open for viewers.

Although the school has always been pink, new siding has been added and repainted pink to keep the school looking nice. Photo by Jordyn Timpson

By Jordyn Timpson
Mason Times staff writer

As summer ended and fall began, the Pink School at 400 S. Cedar St., Mason, Mich. closed its doors for the next three seasons. Open the first Saturday of every month, summer through October, the Pink School held its last public viewing on Saturday, Oct. 1 from 1 to 3 p.m. Located behind the Mason High School Summit Campus, the Pink School owes credit to the Mason Area Historical Society for the restoration and upkeep of the school.

Built in 1854, the Pink School was originally at the corner of College and Columbia roads in Mason. The school was moved in 1976 to the current location after the Ingham County Road Commission announced demolition plans to straighten out a curve on Columbia Road.

“The school was built when the area had farmers with enough kids to start a school district,” Mason Area Historical Society member Cal Face said. “It only took $299 to build the school back then, and it’s always been pink.” Originally, the painters didn’t have enough white paint for the school, so they mixed the white with red paint used for barns, resulting in the pink color seen today.

Face, who never attended the school, said there used to be two outhouses for the students and teacher to use because there was no electricity or running water. One teacher per term taught eight grades in the one-room schoolhouse. Most teachers stayed only one term. Each term was three months long, except for the first 15 years when there were only summer and winter terms. The terms were split this way depending on age; younger kids during the summer when walking was easier, and older kids during the winter when they weren’t tending to the fields.

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Mason Area Historical Society cancels antiques show for 2011

Cobblestone Events Center, Mason

Jennifer Bis
Mason Times staff writer

The Mason Area Historical Society Antiques Show was canceled this year due to lack of a proper venue for the event.

“We’ve always had the show at the Cobblestone Events Center,” said Sandy Pier, the show’s founder and coordinator. “But a recent change in ownership has caused several problems within the working relationship, and the show didn’t happen for us this year.”

Pier wasn’t able to find another venue with enough space for the one-day event with almost 2,000 visitors, which is always the third weekend in February.
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Mason Antique District hosts open house

By Paige Houpt
Mason Times staff writer

The Mason Antique District drew crowds from around the state for its annual Cabin Fever Open House Saturday and Sunday. The antique district, at 205-208 Mason St., had antiques on sale and an appraisal fair from noon to 2 p.m.

The quality of an antique isn’t comparable to the mass produced items that you find at antique stores such as those in Mason’s Antique District, said Debbie Phillips,  who traveled from Jackson for the open house.

Phillips has been collecting antiques since she was a little girl. Phillips and her husband Dennis have been going to antique shows for more than eight years. Both said they love how every item is different and has a history.

“A lot of the stuff is almost one of a kind,” Phillips said. “It’s unique and that’s why I like it.”

Antique shoppers could bring items to be appraised for free in attempts to trade in their treasures for cash.

Ken Merlino, of Redford Township, was the on-site appraiser. Merlino said he has been coming to the Mason Antique District for more than 13 years for antique shows and appraisal fairs.

In a given weekend, the open house can expect 50-100 people a day, Merlino said.

“People will bring in everything from antique coffee cups to artwork to get appraised ” he said.

The open house experienced a smaller turnout to last year’s event, said Mary Gullett, who has owned her antique boutique in the Mason Antique District since 1988. The smaller crowd be due to the snowstorm that hit mid-Michigan earlier this week. Gullett suspects it’s the slow economy that affected the small turnout.

“People just are not buying like they did,” Gullett said.

“I expected it to be a lot busier this year then it has been.”