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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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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Mason Public Schools says sex and HIV education is abstinence-based

By Caitlin Taylor
The Mason Times

On April 1, the Guttmacher Institute issued a State Policies in Brief regarding sex and HIV education, as it corresponds with each individual state; Michigan’s classifications are comparable to the sex and HIV curriculum at Mason Public Schools.

The brief explains that in Michigan, there is no state-mandated sex and HIV education program, though when sex and HIV are taught, abstinence is generally stressed and negative implications of teen pregnancies are usually covered.
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“In Michigan, schools are required to either be ‘abstinence only’ – contraceptives may not be taught, or ‘abstinence based’ – contraceptives may be taught,” said Deborah Schafer, a teacher at Mason High School who serves on the Sex Education Advisory Board. “Mason is an abstinence based district, which is the least restrictive of the options.

Despite Mason’s abstinence-based program, all forms of contraception, other than abstinence, are offered later in elective courses. In other words, it is mandatory for freshman students to take a trimester of sex education that covers only abstinence. At this level, Mason’s curriculum aligns with Michigan’s program classification in the State Policies in Brief. It expands only if students choose to take the electives during their sophomore, junior or senior year.
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Matt Stuard, interim director of curriculum, said that these course offerings are all made by a reproductive health council of faculty, administration and staff members, with all program content approved by the Board of Education.

According to Schafer, the curriculum is good, but becomes excellent only if the elective courses are taken, as they provide a broader scope of information.
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Annual geranium fundraiser is back


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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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


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


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


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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Taste maple syrup and springtime


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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