July 4th in Williamston

Even though it’s only spring, the Fourth of July is right around the corner.

Williamston City Council members March 24 approved a fireworks display permit for First Baptist Church.

“The church wants to have another firework display,” said Mayor James Deforest.

This will be the fifth annual firework display at First Baptist Church and on the program it says weather permitting said Deforest.

As with all firework displays, the date might be changed.

 “You might remember two years ago it was extremely dry for July third and they postponed it and ended up having it the third week of August,” said Deforest. “They had to coincide with the last Thursday night band shell because it was so dry on that day.”

July third is a Thursday so it might coincide with a band shell concert, said Deforest.

“A lot of people enjoy this,” said Deforest. “I love it. I just take my patio furniture out to my driveway and I can just watch it from my home”

“Have we had any complaints?” asked City Engineer Scott DeVries.

“Two years ago we some complaint from a homeowner,” said City Manager Alan Dolley. “The wind was blowing from the south to the north and he was upset with the debris that was in his yard. But he was the only call we received, the other neighbors we didn’t hear a word from.”

Alan also said last year we didn’t hear a thing.

“Everything’s gone well in the past, so we have no concerns,” said Police Chief Bob Young.Police Chief Bob Young explaining how past firework displays went well.

Police Chief Bob Young explaining how past firework displays went well.

Police Chief Bob Young explaining how past firework displays went well.

 The fire trucks and police cars go out there before the show even starts so they are right on site said DeForest.

- Miranda Bryant

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Williamston School Board favor new speed limit on Mitchell Road

by Miranda Bryant
staff member

Williamston School Board members agreed March 17 that they would like to see a lower speed limit on Mitchell Road. They did not vote, but will continue the discussion at their April 21 meeting.

Board members discuss speed limit issues.

Board members discuss speed limit issues.

The school zone on Mitchell Road has a 30 mph speed limit when the lights are flashing. When the lights are not flashing the speed limit is 45 mph.

“I’m curious to why the township is hesitant?” said trustee Rhonda Coon.

Superintendent Narda Murphy said that the speed limit could be changed but drivers would still travel at 45 mph unless there is daily enforcement.

“Speed limits are really determined by how people travel on the roads,” Murphy said.

Williamston School Board has approached this situation with Michigan Safe Schools, but was given only two flashing lights at each end of Mitchell Road, President Marci Scott said.

30 mph speed limit while flashing post.

30 mph speed limit while flashing post.

45 mph when not flashing post.

45 mph when not flashing post.

“One of the disappointing outcomes of safe routes was that they couldn’t get the routes of the school projects because that was the best they could get for safety on that road,” Scott said.

The board does not have the authority to establish a speed limit on Mitchell Road but can ask that the speed limit remain at 30 mph all day, and not just when flashing.

Secretary Ernie Gaffner said the township might be waiting on a resolution or statement of support from the board of education.

Even though most board members supports the idea, Vice President Larry Ward said he would rather see the experts decide.

“I believe the experts know what they are doing when it comes to traffic,” Ward said. “If it needs to be changed because of technical reasons than let the experts say it needs to be changed.”

Ward also said that slower speeds are just as dangerous as fast speed limits.

 

Williamston school board supports a reinvestigation of the safety on Mitchell Road and will discuss the issue at the April 21 meeting.

 - Miranda Bryant

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Later school start time at Williamston Schools moves toward board approval

By Abbie Newton
Staff Writer

Williamston Community Schools could start the school day 15 minutes later next year. The Williamston School Board began discussing plans for the change at their March meeting.

Listen to the story here.

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New chef at Gracie’s Place teaches first cooking class on first day of work

by Kelsey Parkinson
Williamston Post staff writer

Chef Ryan Young at Gracie’s Place did not expect to teach a cooking class on his first day of work.

“It was my first class ever, and I think the class went really well,” Young said.

Gracie’s Place, located on Putnam Street, offers cooking classes once a month, with themes ranging from Spanish to Hawaiian to American Regional. Paired with every cooking class are different wines to match each dish.

A recent installment was “The Art of Soup!” where Young taught 10 guests to make five soups: broccoli cheddar, New England clam chowder, French onion, gumbo and consommé.

“It was my first time making consommé, but I think it turned out well,” Young said.

Young made the move from Tavern 109, on Grand River Avenue, very recently. He “fell into” the opening for the new position.

“I had to cook a four-course meal for four,” Young said. “I originally applied for the sous chef position, but then was offered the head chef position.”

Young attended the Le Cordon Bleu culinary school in Portland, Ore.

“I focused on pastry in culinary school because I didn’t want to spend years in a bakery,” Young said.

Young will be re-doing Gracie’s Place’s menu in a few weeks, aiming for an “American homestyle” theme, as well as continuing to teach cooking classes.

“I also want to do a barbecue class, and a dessert class, too,” Young said.

Gracie’s Place owner Dawn-Marie Joseph said she are looking forward to what Young will bring to the restaurant.

“We’re very excited to have him here,” Joseph said.

Gracie’s Place bakes its own classic sourdough bread, but Young hopes to transition into baking all the breads they offer. The restaurant buys its produce and meats from local farms, such as Heaven Sent in Mason and Bloom Farms in Webberville.

Check out Gracie’s Place’s Facebook page and website for updates on specials and upcoming cooking classes.

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Williamston native planning benefit to help grandson with rare disease

By Kelsey Parkinson
Williamston Post Staff Writer

Imagine your child or grandchild being born with a disease that doctors and nurses could not identify because it is so rare.

Williamston native Crystal Amon’s grandson Hunter is living with Moebius syndrome, a disease that has fewer than 4,000 known cases worldwide.

Moebius syndrome is the lack of the 6th and 7th cranial nerves, according to Moebius Syndrome Foundation co-founder Vicki McCarrell.

“The 6th and 7th cranial nerves—there are 12 total—control very critical things,” McCarrell said. “The 6th cranial nerve controls lateral eye movement, while the 7th controls facial movements such as smiling, frowning and blinking.”

Amon said half of Hunter’s face is paralyzed, and he also has a deformation where his jaw appears crooked.

“One side of his mouth overlaps, where the other side, the teeth don’t touch,” Amon said.
The syndrome has additional attributes, such as club feet or webbed hands or missing digits.

“About 50% of the children born with Moebius syndrome are born with club feet,” McCarrell said.

Though Hunter does not have malformed hands or feet, Hunter has muscle contracture, which causes him to have a shortened Achilles tendon so he walks around on his toes.

“He had lost all range of motion in his legs,” Amon said. “As long as he keeps growing, he will continue to have problems with his legs.”

Williamston native Crystal Amon with her grandson Hunter and granddaughter.

Williamston native Crystal Amon and her grandson Hunter and granddaughter.

Every time he has a growth spurt, Amon said, he has to go into soft casts where he gets
re-casted every week to regain his range of motion. He then will be casted until the growth spurt is done, and then the doctors put him into braces.

“Right now, he’ll have to have two more adjustments with his braces until he hits another growth spurt,” Amon said. “This could be until he is 18 or 20 years old.”

Amon also said that “tall genes” run in the family, so while Hunter may be only 5, he looks as though he is 8 years old. His doctors estimated that he would be about 6’7” when he’s done growing.

As far as the facial paralysis goes, McCarrell said there is a gracilis muscle surgery perfected by Toronto plastic surgeon Dr. Ronald Zucker, better known as “the smile surgery.”

“Primarily in children, Dr. Zucker takes the gracilis muscle from the inside of the thigh and transplants it into the missing cranial nerve space, and ties it in with the face so they can chew,” McCarrell said. “It takes about six weeks to work. Once that happens, they can smile.”

Amon said Hunter went through speech therapy starting at the age of 3, including learning sign language.

“As soon as he learned sign language, he was a new kid,” Amon said.

Hunter is also mildly autistic, Amon said, and he is placed in a disabilities class at school in Williamston.

“The disabilities class has made a world of difference with his social skills,” Amon said.

Amon, who said she would do anything for her “little man,” is planning a benefit to raise money to attend the next biennial convention held by the Moebius Syndrome Foundation. The next conference is July 18-20 in Bethesda, Md.

“My goal is to find out as much as I can, and do as much as we can while he’s young,” Amon said.

Amon is a member of the of the Fraternal Order of Eagles, a national organization whose motto is “People Helping People,” and is on the Eagles’ benefit committee.

“All of the money that we raise during the events, we give to charity,” Amon said. “They’re constantly trying to do things to raise money for others.”

Amon is hoping to hold the benefit this spring through the Eagles, and wants to have an auction, dinner, and even possibly a band play. Amon owns CC Embroidery & Gift Shop, where she said she has received a lot of offers from customers to donate to the auction.

“A lot of businesses, who are also my customers, are interested in helping,” Amon said. “They tell me, ‘just let us know and we’ll donate.’”

Amon runs everything past Hunter’s mother, Tara Haynes, to ensure that “she is comfortable.”

“She’s all excited, and she cries,” Amon said. “She doesn’t want Hunter, who is a really cute little boy, to be picked on.”

Amon’s main focus with the benefit is to raise enough money to attend the convention, but would hope to raise more money to help fund a jaw-correction surgery for Hunter. Currently Hunter’s state-funded insurance is being denied.

“We met with an oral surgeon in Lansing, who sent us to the University of Michigan hospital,” Amon said. “But his insurance is being denied there.”

Amon also hopes they can raise money to also fund the “smile surgery.” She said she wants to meet with Dr. Zucker and see what action they should take in regard to Hunter’s condition.

Hunter was originally misdiagnosed with Bell’s palsy at a month old, when he started physical therapy. He was finally diagnosed with Moebius syndrome when he was about 7 months old.

“It took tons of doctors,” Amon said.

Despite the challenges she has faced, Amon is passionate and said she would do anything to help her grandson, and cannot wait to move forward with the benefit plans.

“How exciting is this, to be a part of something that’s so rare, and bring awareness,” Amon said.

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Tom Johnson, the man who’s restoring Williamston’s Heritage

By Matt Miller
Williamston Post Staff writer

Tom Johnson has had no problems keeping busy in the town of Williamston. From the community to restoring the glory of old cars, there is plenty to do.

Johnson had been restoring cars since he was in the Air Force. He has to two current projects One is a red 1953 Studebaker Star Rider. Johnson is working on its engine and interior.

Though the bodywork of the car looks great, Johnson says he still has a lot of work to do before he is able to take the Studebaker out for a spin.

Johnson prides himself on being a restorian, a word he jokes about inventing. He has helped restore a number of projects around Williamston.

Johnson’s neighbor, Scott Crilly, says that Johnson collects orphan cars. Orphan car’s manufactures, such as Studebaker, are no longer producing cars.

Johnson final

Some of Johnson’s jobs include the one-room schoolhouse, the Depot Museum, a gazebo that stood in Williamston before cars, and his own house. Crilly said that he and Johnson often work on their houses together.

Crilly and Johnson both says that people who restore vehicles tend to restore cars from their high school era. of the cars Johnson restores are ‘50s models.

“He’s incredible for his age,” said Jane Johnson, his wife. She mentioned that her husband had creative talent and the ability to visualize projects very well. Jane Johnson currently is president of the Williamston Depot Museum, and said her husband has been a great help in restoring the depot.

John Johnson is currently very active in the community. Johnson also serves as the Chairman of the township historical community and the chairmen of the Board of Michigan One-Room Schoolhouse Association.

And, if that is not enough, Johnson has a car ready for Williamston’s celebrations. “We always provide a convertible for the parades in town,” Johnson said with pride.

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New microbrewery moves in while police station moves out

By: Sierra Resovsky
Williamston Post staff writer
As the Williamston Police Department moves into City Hall, a new microbrewery finds its way downtown producing in-house beer and locally grown ingredients while generating 25 jobs.

Located on Grand River Avenue in the heart of Williamston, several additions and renovations can be expected for the microbrewery. Alan Dolley, Williamston’s city manager, was approached approximately a year and a half ago by developers regarding a new bar to be put in the where the current police station is. Plans went into action setting up property lines and performing environmental testing with expected construction to begin in early April for the restaurant, along with a new building for the police department.

With more and more restaurants and artisan shops opening in and around Williamston, Dolley foresees the town migrating toward a more artistic atmosphere.

“….it certainly has been the talk of the town, as there is a larger population geared towards the arts with our two dance studios, a theater and glass working factory all drawing people into the city” Dolley said. Dolley, along with the Williamston Police Department show no concern with a second brewery in town.

Jeff Hull, Williamston Police Sgt., has dedicated 34 years to the service and is excited to be moving downtown in a  new building.

“It is definitely going to be better to be downtown. It’s more convenient for the people to walk to,” Hull said. The police department will temporarily be located in City Hall until their facility is completed in late June.

With minor details finishing up, developer and Detroit Brewing Company representative Travis Fritts plans to open the establishment in the fall. According to Fritts, landscaping, indoor renovations and minor construction are going into action come March.

Going for a rural, midwestern farm environment, the decor will help customers feel relaxed while they watch most of the 15-20 beers on tap being made in-house. The facility hosts a system that brews craft beer on location. Several others will be brewed off site in a production studio outside of Lansing by the Detroit Brewing Company.

With patio seating in the summer, Fritts is eager to get his menu out to promote the homemade beer and fresh food filled with proteins purchased from local producers.

Although no name can be confirmed for the restaurant, keep an eye open at 1500 W. Grand River Ave. for updates.

 

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Williamston growing into more of an artisan town

By Sierra Resovsky
Williamston Post staff writer

Screen Shot 2014-03-11 at 5.07.24 PM

As more and more cities are catering toward the arts and becoming more “artist friendly,” Williamston has noticed its own residents doing the same.

City manager Alan Dolley has noticed new shops popping up around town giving light to a new view of how people portray the city. Dolley said that increased tourism is just one of the many benefits this change has to offer and he strongly encourages it.

“Tourism is an important factor to our economy. If more and more people are coming to Williamston to see what we have to offer, everyone is going to benefit,” Dolley said.
With other vendors arriving downtown such as glassblowing, knitting and jewelry making, it brings more business into the city, creating more jobs and revenue.

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Diane Lee Creamer, Williamston resident and local artist, wishes the town were more of a fine arts destination. A local vendor on the second floor of Keller’s Plaza, Creamer paints landscapes that are put on display every spring at Williamston’s Art in the Park in May.

“I would love to see a greater turnout for the Art Walk and Art in the Park, the fine arts is something people can overlook,” Creamer said.

She, along with other local artists such as Marge Clay and Mark Mchaffey, say that with several events put on by the Chamber of Commerce, the town will have a more distinct reputation for the arts.

Another industry booming in Williamston is the craft of homemade beer. Tavern 109, the most recent addition to the downtown area in 2009 has seen an excellent few years, according to owner Steve Eyke. With plans to turn the police station’s building into a new microbrewery, the trade of handcrafted beer can also be considered an addition to the city’s development in the arts.

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Williamston is known for its extensive selection of antiques. Mary Reed, a co/op worker for Sign of the Pineapple Antiques, sells in-home brewing items as well as cheese and yogurt makers with her husband in their spare time. Reed is looking forward to seeing Williamston make a comeback.

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“It’s nice to see the town filling up again after so many empty businesses from the recession,” Reed said.

Reed isn’t the only one looking forward to Williamston becoming an art town. Other craftsmen want to see the city make more of a name for itself, similar to Old Town Lansing.

Another type of artistry the city has to offer is Williamston’s award-winning professional theater. So far it has been making a name for itself in the fine arts department by attracting audiences across the state. Emily Sutton-Smith, the theater’s development director, said she would love to see the performing arts take off in Williamston. The theater and performing troupe deliver six plays a year.

Children and young adults are also encouraged to participate in the arts with guitar lessons and several dance studios in the area. Kelsey Weyhing, Michigan State University student and Williamston native, got involved in the arts early. Weyhing recalls riding the bus to school with all of the storefronts being antique markets and malls. Now, years later, she notices the changes being made to try and revive tourism while giving the city a new reputation.

“I think most of the restaurants and stores opening up are definitely trying to channel the artsy vibe to recover the tourist appeal,” Weyhing said.

If local residents are noticing the changes taking place in the community, so will visiting tourists. You can find these businesses along with more on Williamston’s Chamber of Commerce website at www.williamston.org.

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Williamston embroidery store brings something new to downtown

By Abbie Newton
Staff Writer

Williamston’s new embroidery store, CC Embroidery moved a half mile closer to downtown in October and now borders Ellie’s Country Kitchen on 135 E. Grand River. The profile of the embroidery store got a boost Feb. 13 with the presence of the Chamber of Commerce at its ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Listen to the story here.

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Another hectic Valentine’s Day approaching for Williamston businesses

By Courtney Sweeney
Williamston Post staff member

Vivee's employee Michelle McDebitt arranging flowers.

Vivee’s employee Michelle McDebitt arranging flowers.

As Feb. 14 approaches, local businesses are gearing up for another busy Valentine’s Day in Williamston.

“The whole night is really a result of proper planning,” said Lorenzo Castillo, manager at Red Cedar Grill. “Last year we sold out every seat including the bar, so there was no getting through without getting a reservation.”

Those wanting to make it on the guest list of the restaurant should make a reservation as soon as possible, according to Castillo. It’s already about 75 percent full, and he expects they’ll be filling up the bar again this year. Continue reading

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