Oracle opening ignites hope for historical buildings

Oracle’s third-floor lobby overlooking courthouse square

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.

“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.

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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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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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Cannabis dispensary plan stirs debate

By Harrison Thrasher and Jasmine Watts
The Mason Times

Screen Shot 2015-04-22 at 1.51.44 AMThe City of Mason planning commission has proposed a medical cannabis ordinance that would allow for a dispensary within the town.

Citizens and officials have been debating the idea, mostly whether a dispensary would be morally and economically efficient in Mason.

A medical cannabis dispensary could have economic benefits, such as creating jobs and supplying income that could benefit the city. A popular example is Colorado, one of the first states to completely legalize cannabis.

The Colorado Department of Revenue reported billions in tax revenue since legalization of dispensaries, including a large increase every year.

One dispensary will not generate billions for Mason, but Colorado’s experience could be a positive indicator and could be encouraging to those who want to give an economic boost to the city.
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Two Mason businesses apply for liquor license

By Harrison Thrasher                                                                                                     The Mason Times

City Council was notified of liquor license applications during an April 6 meeting. The applications have also been sent for state approval.

The two businesses applying are City Limits Grill and Bowling Center, as well as a new party store at 515 N. Cedar St. that has yet to be named. Mason residents better know the new party store as the “old canvas back building” according to City Administrator Martin Colburn.

“There are many types of liquor licenses to apply for,” said Colburn. “In this particular case, the license must be approved by both the state and City Council.”

Because the property of 515 N. Cedar St. has not been used for several years, it could go under renovations to become something new. The current structure would likely not be ideal for a party store.

“Right now it just looks like a vacant building,” said Mayor Michael Waltz. “The nature of the company hints that there may be a change in the street view soon.”

The primary reason Waltz mentioned this is because should the liquor license pass, City Council would also likely have to approve a project by the company to either renovate or rebuild.

City Council awaits word from the state regarding the applications.

Proposal on May ballot may fix roads

By Jasmine Watts
The Mason Times

Gov. Rick Snyder and House and Senate leaders have created a proposal to raise Michigan sales tax from 6 to 7 percent to raise money for fixing roads. Their plan is estimated to increase road funding by $1.3 billion. This proposal will be on the May ballot. Recent polls show vacillating results from Michigan voters on whether or not a sales tax increase will be the option for road funding.

“We should not pay more in sales tax to fix roads,” said Jacqueline Cuff, a resident of Mason. “Michigan should have toll roads like other states for the maintenance of our roads.”

Something must be done about the roads soon.

“I will vote yes on the sales tax increase,” said Vivian Ferguson, a retired teacher in Mason. “I worry about my car being damaged by the roads almost every time I drive.”

Some voters say that road repairs can be funded in other ways.

“Our roads need to be fixed, but there are other funds to dip into to pay for that such as the Pure Michigan campaign,” said Ralph Wegner.

On May 5, Michigan voters will make the final choice.


Hayhoe Riverwalk pedestrian bridge expected in summer

Screen Shot 2015-02-25 at 1.35.55 PM
By Harrison Thrasher
The Mason Times

The proposal of a pedestrian bridge at the entrance of Mason’s famed Hayhoe Riverwalk  appears to be on track.

Director of zoning and development David Haywood was present at a City Council meeting to discuss where the project stands and what needs to be done moving forward.

The specification package for the bridge has been made by Wolverine Engineers, a surveying company based in Mason. The most pressing issue addressed by Haywood was the construction process and funding.

“We’ve decided to go the route of a pre-manufactured bridge as opposed to designing and building it ourselves,” said Haywood. “To have Wolverine Engineers design the bridge would escalate our engineering costs significantly.”

However, Haywood said that only design and assembly costs escalate in the field, not installation. The bridge can be installed by “any qualified construction company,” in this case, Wolverine Engineers.

Councilman James Mulvany, who made a significant personal donation to the project, clarified the installation process.
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Chief weighs in on medical marijuana proposal

By Harrison Thrasher

The Mason Times

A medical marijuana ordinance was the primary feature for the planning commission’s joint meeting with city council on Feb. 10. Perhaps the most animated discussion was by a member of those actually responsible for enforcing the law: the police.

Police Chief John Stressman said he does not want the ordinance to pass.

Stressman cited dangers that could come as a result of passing the ordinance. His most pressing issue was where the supply would come from. As each caregiver would only be allowed 60 plants for five patients maximum, Stressman said the demand would be higher than a caregiver could supply within legal bounds.

Since police would have less authority in stopping marijuana, more illegal transactions could take place for those without a medical marijuana license. “We would possibly be inviting more activity from the cartel,” said Stressman. “The new ordinance would make it more difficult for our officers to identify illegal substances.”

Stressman also said that illegal sales could come from patients who obtain the marijuana legally. “There would still be no control over distribution by the caregiver,” Stressman said, meaning that patients would essentially be able to purchase as much as they pleased without limit.

The problem is that a patient could buy more than needed and then sell the rest under the table. A patient can have as much marijuana as deemed necessary and cannot be charged with possession as long as they have a medical marijuana card. The only exception would be if a patient was caught in an illegal transaction, similar to sales of any other prescription drug.

Stressman said the ordinance was, “egregious and simply poorly thought out.”

However, Stressman said he understands his role and that it is his responsibility to adhere to the actions of the board. He merely shared his feelings on the matter and realizes his duty to serve the community, stating, “If that’s what the community wants, that’s the way it is.”