Williamston Public Schools millage to be on May 5 ballot

By Meagan Beck
The Williamston Post

On May 5, Williamston voters can expect to see the the school district asking them to pass measures which would allow it to renew their 18-mill operating levies.

If the tax dollars are lost, the school district warns that a major budget crisis will occur.

The 18 mills is about 8 percent of the district annual budget – or $1.3 million.

A flier from the district says voting against the millage would result in cuts of about $712 per student.

The state already provides $6,414 per student but according to the flier, the cuts would be “devastating to our schools.”

The 18-mill levy was approved in 1994 and renewing it would continue taxing local businesses on their property and not homeowners.

If passed, the renewal will last for 20 years.

Williamston Theatre hopes to draw new audiences

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The four cast members of the Williamston Theatre’s production of Sirens stand in front of the ticket office. On the left is Mark Schenfisch followed by John Seibert, Terry Heck and Katie Noyes

By Jacob Allen
The Williamston Post

The Williamston Theatre’s production of Sirens began March 26 and will run through April 26. The play is written by Deborah Laufer and is directed by Tony Caselli. Sirens is a collaboration with the Michigan State University Department of Theatre and has two students in the cast.

The theater is located in downtown Williamston and was founded in 2005 by John Lepard, Christine Purchis, Emily Sutton-Smith and Tony Caselli. According to Caselli, who has been directing plays for 19 years, the theater is a not-for-profit organization. All the actors are paid. Half of the theater’s budget comes from ticket sales, acting classes and concessions, while the other half comes from grants, donations and sponsorships. The theater produces about seven plays a year.

Sirens is about a couple who have been married for 20 years, are having a difficult time in their marriage and have seen some of the passion turn into a relaxed comfort. The husband is trying to find his passion for his wife and his enthusiasm as an artist on their silver wedding anniversary. They embark on a cruise in the Mediterranean for the occasion. The production involves a cast of four actors and a crew of two backstage members, six designers, one stage manager and the director.

The theater’s website summarizes the play as such, “out of a contemporary love story that grapples with the terrors of middle age, and the torture of creative failure, comes a mystical expedition to find home.” Director Caselli has a different take on what the play is all about.

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Williamston Red Cedar Garden Club looks forward to Arbor Day

By Teresa Fata
The Williamston Post

As spring blooms in Williamston, members of the Williamston Red Cedar Garden Club are getting ready for the events that the new season will bring.
Roxanne Houghton, the garden club president, has many goals and objectives that demonstrate the passion of members.
“(We want) to stimulate the love and knowledge of nature among amateurs; aid in the protection of native trees, plants, and birds; encourage home gardening and promote civic beautification; and aid one another in garden planting,” said Houghton.
The Williamston Red Cedar Garden Club is always looking for new members who share a passion for the beautification of Williamston. Carol Grainger, community liaison for the club, noted that the next meeting for prospective members to attend is on April 13 at 6:30 p.m. at the Williamston Depot Museum. It will feature a beekeeping presentation. To get involved with the club, simply show up at one of the meetings, held the second Monday of each month.
Although the club has many events throughout the year, arguably biggest is Arbor Day, which is April 24 this year. Houghton explained what goes into the club’s typical Arbor Day event.
“In the spring, the club purchases seedlings, wraps and sells them to the Williamston area elementary school children to promote junior gardeners and the environment,” Houghton explained.
Barb Donahue, one of the women planning the Arbor Day event, makes it clear that anyone in the community can participate in Arbor Day festivities, but even more than that, they’d love to welcome new members.
“We plant in May and we’re always happy to welcome people,” she said of the Arbor Day event. “But it’d be nice if… they’d join the garden club. We would love to have them.”
Donahue has been a member of the club since 1975, despite not showing much interest in gardening. She originally acted as treasurer for 15 years, and eventually found a passion in the club. She stresses that you don’t need to have a green thumb to become involved.
“The friendships you make are wonderful, because you get to work together. If you love flowers and enjoy gardening, it’s a wonderful thing to do,” Donahue said. “(However,) I got into the garden club and didn’t know a thing about gardening!”

Kids find Easter eggs for a good cause at Crosaires

By Bryce Airgood
The Williamston Post

One Friday evening at Crosaires, a group of about 20 people could be seen wandering around the lawn. In their wake they left a multitude of brightly colored Easter eggs.

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Frawley places an egg. After she would find a spot with them she would try to make them look more natural by covering them with bark.

Saturday, April 4 was Crosaires second annual Easter egg hunt. Crosaires is an aging-in-community residence and provides assisted living for the elderly. Todd Walter is the owner and is the one who first came up with the idea for the hunt.

“It’s a donation based Easter egg hunt,” said Walter. “We identify a need in the community and see if we can help out.”

This year the community cause was the Defreese family, whose home burned down in March. All $828 raised from the Easter egg hunt along with donations made later went to the family.

The original advertisement said there was going to be 500 eggs at the hunt, but that wasn’t the final count. Crosaires ended up getting caught up in the excitement and decided to get a couple more.

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Noah Pfeifle was one of the excited participants in the Easter egg hunt.

“What’s another 100 eggs?” Walter joked about buying them for the hunt. “Then there was 1,000.”

Among those 1,000 hidden eggs were eight golden ones. These eggs were special, as the child who found them would be given a gift certificate for a local business. Walter specially hid the golden eggs the morning of the event.

About a month went into the preparation for the hunt said Walter. The staff and residents would have stuffing parties where they would fill the eggs with candy. One resident, Lois McCorvie, even helped hide the eggs the night before.

Staff members and children of residents also helped hide the eggs. Celeste Frawley, whose father moved into Crosaires on March 15, took special care in her hiding spots.

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Dexter at her observation point for the event. Although she only watched in the beginning, she eventually joined her family outside.

“I usually like to look for something that has a natural look,” she said. “Like it looks like a tulip growing.”

Although there wasn’t an official count, Walter and his wife guessed there were more than 200 people at the egg hunt. There were even some unusual guests according to Agnes Dexter, an elder at Crosaires. She spotted them in the morning around a half-hour before the event.

“I was going to tell Todd that deer came to his Easter egg hunt,” said Dexter. “But they came too early so they had to leave.”

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Walter poses with the jar used in the jelly bean toss.

Along with the search for Easter eggs, there was also the attraction of a jelly bean toss. For a dollar a child could get five beans which they could try to toss in a jar. Depending on how old the child was determined how close they got to be to the jar. Every time a jelly bean landed in the jar, the child would get their name put in a drawing for a chance to win a $50 gift certificate to Toys “R” Us. The winner was Noah Dunckel, age 9.

Walter said that the Easter egg hunt was very successful, and all but one resident participated in the event.

Williamston Schools Thrive on Tier System

Julie Dunmire
Staff Writer
Williamston Post

A presentation on educational improvements made in Williamston Community schools was given to the school board at their last meeting. The primary focus was the benefits the “tier system” has made in recent years.

IMG_2948The middle school made strides in increasing its proficiency across reading, writing and math, by preaching literacy to students.

This improvement can be attributed to the “tier” adaptation being put in place, to help at-risk students get the help they need, while encouraging higher-level learning for students who may be ahead.

Kelly Campbell, multi tiered system of supports coordinator, works hand in hand with both the middle school and high school curricula and says that working hard and as a team is the key to a student’s education.

“Really, our school improvement is about making sure all students are improving,” said Campbell. “We want to make sure all students have a quality core instruction that is going to give them 21st century skills.”

This skill set is one that should transfer into high school, as well. Williamston High School Principal Dr. Jeff Thoenes says that the coordination and transition from middle to high school is highly valued.

“The middle school and the high school coordinate really well,” said Thoenes. “Best I’ve seen in my career.”

This coordination overlaps from middle to high school, especially since many middle schoolers take math at the high school, and many high schoolers take classes for college credit.

The tier system encompasses behavior, as well as academia to make sure that all students are on track to success. By incorporating both behavior and academic performance, the multi-tiered system of supports is designed to identify students who need early intervention in both areas.

In an average school, the tier system should be administered as follows: all students are considered to be “tier 1,” or the area where students are given their core instruction. A smaller group of students are considered “tier 2” and those students receive additional academic or behavioral intervention. A very small group of “tier 3” students are those who need intensive intervention to improve their quality of education.

It’s the blend of both disciplines that is making strides in student success at Williamston Community Schools.

“We work on improving on communication, and blending behavior and academic skills to support students,” said Campbell.

City Council discusses updates to McCormick Park

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Community Development Director Scott DeVries and Police Chief Bob Young had no news to report during their staff reports at the March 23 city council meeting


By Jacob Allen
The Williamston Post

The Williamston City Council discussed updating McCormick Park’s wooden play structure at its March 23 meeting. The park is at the corner of Putnam and High streets. The city plans on working with the Williamston Sunrise Rotary Club, Kiwanis Club of Williamston and the Williamston Area Beautification Fund to pay for the project.

According to Scott DeVries, community development director of five years, in order to get the best results the city and the nonprofit organizations will bring in a company that specializes in children’s playgrounds. The company is called Leathers & Associates and according to their website they concentrate on custom designed outdoor play spaces that reflect the imagination of children.

DeVries said Leathers & Associates will be coming to do an overall safety inspection of the structure, which was originally built in 1996. The company will discuss adding new apparatuses to replace broken pieces. It will also give options for new concepts that could be added to the playground.

To help offset the costs of bringing in Leathers & Associates, the Williamston Area Beautification Fund plans on holding a raffle fundraiser. According to Earl Wolf, chairman of the Williamston Parks and Recreation Commission for five years, this idea came from local parents. They needed a nonprofit organization to be a part of the raffle to get a license according to state law. This is where the Williamston Area Beautification Fund came in. During Monday’s meeting the council approved the fund as a legitimate group, moving the raffle effort forward. The next and final step will be to submit an application for the raffle to the state.

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Chamber talks hospice at networking lunch

By Bryce Airgood
The Williamston Post

When Heather Vida tells people about the organization she works for, they back away from her or look uneasy. Vida is the director of fund development at Hospice of Lansing.

Heather and Ted

Vida and her friend Ted pose for a picture. Ted was there to advertise for the Teddy Bear Tea event.

The Williamston Area Chamber of Commerce had Vida as its guest speaker on March 26 at the Brookshire Inn & Golf Club. She describes her everyday job as being a “professional beggar.”

“Fundraising is fundraising, but you’ve got to know the jargon,” she said. “I bridge the gap for what we get reimbursed versus the actual price of what we do.”

Her role at the lunch was that of informant and fundraiser. She gave her presentation at the request of Barbara Burke, executive director of the Williamston Area Chamber of Commerce. Vida had told Burke that if there was ever an opening for a speaker at the monthly lunch to let her know.

“Hospice is very misunderstood,” said Vida. “I always embrace opportunities to share information with people.”

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Vida giving part of her hospice presentation.

Among the information Vida shared was her experience with Hospice, as both her aunt and grandparents used its services. She described one particular incident where Hospice intervened in a family dispute. Vida’s mother and aunt had been fighting about the fact that Vida’s aunt wasn’t eating. So the Hospice worker sat Vida and her mother down for a “frank conversation.”

“A Pop-Tart isn’t going to make a difference,” Vida recalled the worker saying. “She’s not dying because she’s not eating. She’s not eating because she’s dying.”

The presentation was serious in nature, but Vida did try to lighten it up at the end with the statistic that the world death rate is still a steady 100 percent.

The presentation seemed well received by the audience, and attracted some people to attend the lunch. Bonnie Krauss, owner of Williamston Inn, said that the Hospice presentation is what made her come.

“My father-in-law might need it down the road,” she said. “Who knows?”

While some were there to learn more, others just had their beliefs concreted.

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Burke snapping a picture of Vida, Ted and Chief Ambassador Casey Brockway.

“(I) admired hospice, thought it was a great program,” said Burke. “She (Heather) reinforced what I already thought.”

There was also an unusual character spotted at the lunch. He was large, fluffy and named Ted. He was also a teddy bear.

“He’s our photo opportunity guy,” said Vida, who brought the bear.

Ted, and his brother Bill, are two teddy bears hospice is using to advertise for their upcoming event Teddy Bear Tea. Hospice is partnering with Impression 5 Science Center to hold the event to benefit Hospice of Lansing. The event is $7 to attend and will be held at Impression 5 Science Center April 26 from noon to 5 p.m.

Fire destroys barn, no injuries reported

By Teresa Fata

The Williamston Post

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A fire on Noble Road in Williamston in the early morning hours of March 31 left a local barn with nothing but a charred frame. The rest of the property is still intact.

Williamston Fire Chief Bill Siegel said that the fire department received the call around 5:20 a.m. and was able to put the fire out shortly after.

“We contained the fire to the building of origin… We contained it so it didn’t get up to the big barn by the road,” he explained. “We had assistance from the Dansville Fire Department and the Ingham County Tanker Task Force gave us the water we needed.”

Although firefighters were able to keep the fire away from the main barn and house, initial reports suggested that two cats had been killed in the flames. However, that was not true, as only equipment was kept in the barn and the cats were later accounted for.

While most of equipment in the barn was damaged or destroyed, no animals or people have been reported dead or injured at this time.

As of press time, there has been no word on what may have caused the fire. Multiple Williamston farmers were reached for comment but they did not want to comment on the situation before firefighters released an official statement.

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However, the community  is expected to come together to support the family that lost a barn and equipment to the early morning fire. Tina Brookhouse, a citizen of Williamston, is confident that multiple groups will help the family.

“I know the local churches and businesses often band together to help people who lose everything to fire. I think also the Kiwanis, Rotary clubs, and the Chamber of Commerce send out notifications for help too,” explained Brookhouse.

She credits how well the situation was handled and contained to the volunteer citizens who work to keep the town safe.

“We have a great volunteer network and volunteer firefighters,” said Brookhouse.

 

Board of education discusses distracted driving prevention program

Williamston High School Principal Jeffrey Thoenes describes the students preventing distracted driving program during the board of education meeting on March 16.

By Jacob Allen
The Williamston Post

Each day in the United States, nine people die and 1,060 people are hurt in car accidents with distracted driving as the reported cause. These statistics are according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This issue was taken head-on during the March 16 Williamston Board of Education. The board celebrated and discussed a program called students preventing distracted driving held at Williamston High School during early March.

“Preventing distracted driving has become more and more important for building that awareness in our young drivers and even our older drivers,” said Narda Murphy, the superintendent of the Williamston School District. “Students really got to experience what it is like to be distracted while driving with the simulator and the consequences that could follow.”

Students preventing distracted driving is run by Williamston High School English teachers Lana Jaskowski and Caitlin Stansell. The program was started three years ago. This year, students preventing distracted driving began in January with a media campaign. Posters, pamphlets, essays and commercials were all written or made by students to bring awareness and end distracted driving. The program focuses on 10th grade students, who by no coincidence are around ages 15 to 16 and are about ready to start driving.

“Too many individuals are using their hand-held devices while driving and a lot of them are doing it in school zones,” said Jeffrey West, who has been the vice president of the board for two years. “Hopefully a program like this one opens the eyes of drivers out there and helps stop at least some of this activity.”

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Adult Writers Group draws attention

Micki Magee, a librarian at the Williamston Library and the creator of the Adult Writers Group, reads over a piece during the March 4 meeting.

By Jacob Allen
The Williamston Post

When Micki Magee, a librarian at the Williamston Library, created the Adult Writers Group she had the goal of helping local writers. Magee emphasized the importance of assisting writers to become more comfortable in their work. After three months, the group averages around four members per meeting, with as many as six on and off. The group meets once a month at the Williamston Library.

“For this group the goal is to help each other become more confident in our writing, to be more secure and to become better writers,” said Magee. “Publishing will come naturally after you have confidence in your writing.”

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