Paintings bring local restaurant alive

By Jacob Allen
The Williamston Post

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Mike Shaw of Williamston, 68, stands in front of some of his paintings inside Ellie’s Country Kitchen.

In the dusty attic of his grandparents’ house Mike Shaw, 68, found inspiration that would stick for a lifetime. The attic is where the Williamston resident and employee of 28 years at Ellie’s Country Kitchen discovered his passion for art, specifically painting.

“My great grandfather was an artist and so was my great grandmother. I think I got it from the family,” Shaw said. “I remember going to the old attic at my grandparents’ house and being intrigued by the oil paintings my great grandparents did.”

Shaw is originally from Lansing and has been painting since he was a kid. He is a dishwasher at Ellie’s Country kitchen in downtown Williamston. He compared the work to a farm on which everyone works together to get what needs to get done, done. Shaw has taken a few art classes at Lansing Community College and now finds many of his paintings hanging up at his place of work.

“I always wanted to paint. I always had that urge to paint. It’s like the urge some people get to play a musical instrument, same type of feeling,” said Shaw. “I would paint when I found something I wanted to preserve on canvas. It has become one of those things you keep dabbling in. I’m a dabbler. I don’t think of myself as a great artist or anything.”

According to the owner of Ellie’s Country Kitchen of 28 years, Brian Stiffler, Shaw’s paintings are catching attention. Many customers have asked Shaw if they could purchase the paintings. He has always refused. Shaw has also refused any form of payment for the paintings from his boss. It all got started when the restaurant was repainted and the walls looked bare.

“His first paintings were of an apple pie and flowers. He did those two first and we hung them up,” Stiffler said. “Then I said the walls look bare and we need more paintings. All of a sudden he started bringing in like a painting a week.”

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Farm-fresh eggs in Williamston

IMG_2790By Julie Dunmire
The Williamston Post

The age-old question, what came first, the chicken or the egg, is not as important to Williamston residents as how the chickens were raised.

Marlene Eppley, owner of Blue Barn Farms, raises her chickens organically. What makes her chickens so special is that they’re given room to roam.

“There are eggs that say that they’re free-range, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they go outside,” said Eppley.

Eppley said chickens that claim to be free-range may just be crammed in a barn.

Eppley’s hens are given hay to scratch at and lots of fresh air. The chicken coops have areas for the chickens to lay their eggs as well as feeders, which dispense organic feed.

“My chickens are pastured, which means they literally are in the pasture, ” said Eppley.

Eppley gets about two and a half dozen eggs each morning, and she then weighs them all, and sizes them for sale.
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Williamston City Police move into new home

By Jacob Allen
The Williamston Post

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The new Police Department is located on 175 E. Grand River Ave., right next to City Hall.

On Jan. 26 the Williamston City Police Department officially moved into its new location on 175 E. Grand River Ave., right next to City Hall. The Police Department spent 13 years in its old location on 1500 W. Grand River Ave. Then, the building was sold to Old Nation Brewing Co. This sale funded the construction of the new Police Station. In the meantime, the Police Department temporarily shared 781 Progress Court with the city’s department of Public Works. The ribbon cutting on the new, permanent location occurred on Feb. 12.

“The community wanted their Police Department back downtown. From my perspective this is monumental because the city of Williamston has never built a Police Department,” Said Bob Young, Williamston Police Chief of five years. “They have always just put the Police Department here or there or wherever is left over.”

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Chief Bob Young sits at his new desk in the new Police Department on 175 E. Grand River Ave.

The new building came with plenty of improved features including a professional conference room and a generator. The generator will allow the station to have electricity and continue operating when there are power outages in the city.

“I was pretty happy when I found out what they were going to do,” Said Don Bixler, owner of Limner Press in downtown Williamston and 10-year city resident. “A new building allowed them to put in the modern technology we need today and it’s a lot easier to do it from scratch than trying to install that stuff in an old structure.”

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The new station has improved features, such as the professional conference room.

 

The construction and design processes were unique in that they were hands-on for the community. Many city officials were involved in the development of the new building.

“We assigned the police chief, the city treasurer and the city architect as the city’s representatives to work with the developers,” said Alan Dolley, Williamston City Manager of three years. “This allowed us to design a building we wanted.

“It’s a beautiful building. The police chief is excited, the assistant chief is excited and they say you couldn’t ask for anything better. I think our people have really kept the developer on task to produce what they said they could and it turned out great.”

Both the building and the location have received positive feedback. Nancy Williams, director of the Williamston Senior Center for 15 years, is pleased with the move.

“It will give a sense of presence in the town. When it was down by the water tower or out where the new brewery is you didn’t know it was there,” said Williams. “Right besides city hall will be more of a “we do have a Police Department and here it is, so watch it.”

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The Police Station is located in downtown Williamston, right next to City Hall.

 

-Jacob Allen

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The Williamston Theatre’s 50th show

By Tiago Zielske
The Williamston Post

When Ruth learns a revealing secret about the family’s ancestors from her grandmother on her deathbed, she is compelled to tell this story to the rest of the family.  It is revealed to the Nowaks that their ancestors were not Catholic, but actually Jewish, the family is immediately shaken. The family matriarch, Clara, is brought to tears. The family doesn’t know how to react to the sudden change in faith. The family fights with one another about what to do, but by the end of the play the family embraces their newly discovered change in faith and embrace one another.

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Kickin’ cancer, Williamston supports child’s fight

By Kirsten Rintelmann
The Williamston Post

Four-year-old Kailynn Schneider from Stockbridge is fighting for her life at an age when no child should have to.

Kailynn in front of her christmas tree

Kailynn in front of her Christmas tree

Instead of devoting herself to coloring pictures and watching her favorite cartoon,Tom and Jerry, her childhood now includes medical tests, surgeries, chemotherapy and the word cancer.

After suffering weeks from symptoms, on Oct. 1 Kailynn Schneider was diagnosed with anaplastic ependymoma, grade III, an aggressive brain tumor located in her posterior fossa. The diagnosis came as a shock to her family. How can their once healthy and happy young daughter be sick and have cancer?

From her birth on March 30, 2010, Kailynn Schneider has been considered a blessing and a surprise to her parents, Jerry and Lisa, her brothers 19-year-old Logan and 15-year-old Jacob, as well as family and friends.

“I was so sure she was going to be a little boy when she was born.” said her father Jerry Schneider.”But I wouldn’t trade her now for anything.”
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Even in a rainy, off-year election, voting matters

By Kirsten Rintelmann
The Williamston Post

According to Williamston School Board member and Township Clerk Ernie Gaffner, Election Day rain did not dampen mid-afternoon voter turnout in precincts one and two.

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“Voting has been pretty steady all day in both precincts,” said Gaffner. “People are serious about their voting.”

Although it was a non-presidential election, Gaffner said that what’s on the ballot is still very important. Aside from gubernatorial candidates, Williamston School Board election candidates were also being elected.

Gaffner said that voting on the school board not only determines who fill those seats, but it also affects other things in the district.

“The majority of registered voters do not have children in schools,” said Gaffner, “but things that happen in the schools also reflect on the community.”

According to Gaffner, an example is the direct relationship between how well a school performs and the property values in a community. The better a school is, the higher the property values.

City Councilman Ben Stiffler said there are differences among candidates and that “They should be voted for because they are the most qualified.” said Stiffler. “They should also be someone who is well educated and knowledgeable in the position they want.”

Although voting numbers were expected to be much lower than in a presidential election, voters “need to be a part of it because every single vote does count,” said Gaffner. “If the person they want is on the ballot and they didn’t vote, then they really shouldn’t complain.”

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Trick-or-treat with your dog downtown

By Kirsten Rintelmann
The Williamston Post

Sheri Munce asking her dog, Cami, to shake.

Sheri Munce asking her dog Cami to shake.

The fifth annual Trick-or-Treat with Your Dog will take place in downtown Williamston on Saturday, Oct. 18, from 2-4 p.m.

It is a fundraiser for the non-profit organization For Better Independence Assistance Dogs, which trains facility and assistance dogs. According to Gary Spanski of FBI Dogs, dogs and their owners will have the opportunity to go store-to-store and get a treat— just like children go house-to-house on Halloween. A map locating all participating stores will be handed out. Some stores will have their own employees’ hand out goodies and others will have bowls of treats set out.

Spanski said additional events will take place at McCormick Park from 2-5 p.m. Some
include raffles, games, bobbing for hot dogs/tennis balls and an agility course. There will also be contests such as best costume, dog/owner who drove the farthest, best trick and largest dog. Judging will begin at 4:30 p.m and prizes will be donated by Joey’s Pet Outfitters and Caraway Kennels.
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Dusty’s Cellar showcases chic dining, fine wines, specialty taste in Okemos

By Abbie Newton
The Williamston Post

Thirty years ago, there was a small bakery nestled in the Meridian Mall in Okemos called Dusty’s. Today, that same bakery has expanded to include a restaurant, a tap room and a retail store for specialty foods. <Listen to the story.>

 

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Williamston schools suffer from enrollment slump

By Kelsey Parkinson
Williamston Post staff writer

While Michigan is recovering from the economic downturn over the past few years, the state’s schools are still suffering – but not from funding. From declining enrollment.

Williamston Community Schools’ student enrollment has gone from 1,884 students during the 2009-10 school year, to 1,799 students this school year, according to the Michigan Department of Education.

chartThis trend is being seen statewide, according to Brian Ciloski, analyst at the MDE.

“Statewide, we went from 1,623,000 in 2009-2010, to 1,523,000 this year,” Ciloski said. “There’s been about 20,000 students a year that the state has been losing.”

What has been causing this downward trend? Williamston School Board Trustee Rhonda Coon thinks that it might have something to do with a kind of “baby boom.”

“The largest graduating class was in 2010, with 191 students graduating,” Coon said. “There was a small baby boom, I guess you could say, in 1991 and 1992. Those kids graduated in 2010.”

Coon herself moved to Williamston at about the time her own son was starting kindergarten. He graduated in 2010.

“There was a lot of growth at the time I moved to Williamston,” Coon said. “We’re now seeing that boom affecting us.”
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