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December, 2011



Look Out!
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The playground equipment in my elementary school was made to last. My class gave the equipment seven years of pounding and couldn’t put a dent in it.   Most of it was cold rolled steel, anchored into poured concrete that heaved and sank with the seasons.

The five acres or so of open playground area was a wide open fieldwith the occassional stone worth tossing. Vegetation varied the farther away from school you went. Lush, watered lawn grass gave way to rough quack grass, sand burrs, burdocks, poison ivy, sumac and sawgrass over the sandy areas as our reckless orbits grew with age.

I played on a playground that, if looked at with the scrutiny of todays child safety lawyers, had the makings of multiple legal careers. And yet, after surviving kindergarten all the way to sixth grades, I don’t remember any field equipment causing significant blood loss. Read More

New Surveillance for Whistlestop Depot

Bench over Grass by Marissa Swartz
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The security system challenge underway to raise money for more hardware is reaching its goal, perhaps prompted by a cutting of the lighting wires on the tree.  The challenge hopes to raise enough money to upgrade the  video security system for the Whistlestop Depot park.

Two additional pledges have helped. The WSPA pledged $100 and the Downtown Development Authority pledged $1.00 to match every dollar contributed up to $1,000 to get the security cameras installed.

Thanks go out to the following, who have already contributed to the project:
Richard & Karen Rabeler, Tom Nolte, Chelsea Comfort Inn, and the following who have pledged funds to the project: Grass Lake Chiropractic Center, The Computer Source, Calderone Farms Golf Course, The Copper Nail, The Whistlestop Park Association, The Grass Lake DDA.

The DDA contribution will go a long way to getting the complete camera system that will provide us night time recording and zoom in viewing to identify any vandalizing culprits who think they’re having fun.
The project hopes to get under way as soon as funding is secured. Completion date for the new system is spring, 2012.

To contribute, mail check or contact
Tom Nolte, Exec. Director
Grass Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce, P.O. Box 799
Grass Lake, MI  49240
Phone: 517-522-8838 or

Eight Warriors Named 2011 All Conference

Grass Lake Warrior Frank Vuocolo
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The following team members of the 2011 Warrior Football team have been named as All-Conference players:

Steven Tyler-Senior Linebacker,  Tyler rushed for almost 400 yards this season.

Frank Vuocolo-Junior Running Back, Vuocolo rushed for 1,516 yards and 20 touchdowns, 8 receiving TDs and four 2 point conversions. Also named AP All-State.

Joe Niehaus-6’ 2” 270 lb. Senior Offensive Lineman, Defensive left end.  also named AP All-State
Spencer Baird- Junior Defensive Back,

Zach Walker- Senior Defensive Lineman.

Zach Niehaus-Senior Defensive Lineman.

Kevin Fisher-Senior Running Back.

Honorable Mention awarded to Logan Konopka-Junior Quarterback

Coach Randy Cole earned All State honorable mentions as Coach of the Year. He has earned a 91-39 record at GLHS over 12 years.

Local Grad Makes Captain

Jackson Sheriffs logoCar
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The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office is pleased to announce the promotion of Lt. Carl Carmoney to the rank of Captain.

Carl will replace Captain Dave Luce who retired last month to begin work as Chief of Springport Police Department.

Carl Carmoney is a native of Jackson County.  He grew up in the Grass Lake area and graduated from Grass Lake High School in 1994.  Carl holds a bachelor’s degree from Siena Heights University and is a graduate of the Northwestern University School of Police Staff and Command.  He lives in Napoleon with his wife Lisa and their 11-year-old son Caleb.

Carl began his career at the Jackson County Office of the Sheriff in 1998 as a corrections officer and has a wide variety of experience in corrections, emergency management and emergency dispatch.   Carl will be leaving his post as the Program Manager of the Emergency Management Division of the Sheriff’s Office.

His new responsibilities include the operation of the Sheriff’s Office’s two jail facilities housing an average population of 400 inmates daily.

The promotion of Carmoney is part of a restructuring plan by the Sheriff done in collaboration with the County Administrator’s office and City Manager’s Office.

The Sheriff’s Office will not be replacing the Lieutenant’s position in the Office of Emergency Management vacated by Lieutenant Carmoney.  The savings from the reduction in personnel will be beneficial to both the city and county governments.

Although the Sheriff of Jackson County is also the Emergency Manager, the Office of Emergency Management is a cooperative effort between the City of Jackson and the County of Jackson and the costs of the office are shared.

Stephanie Gardanier will become the offices program manager.  She is an 8 year employee of the Office of Emergency Management and holds the designation of Professional Emergency Manager.  She also holds a bachelor’s degree from Ball State University.

A Close Shave

Alex after seven years of close calls on the farm.
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#49 in the series “Close Calls on the Farm” True stories of a free-range childhood.      by Alex Weddon, editor. 

A dry, chill early December wind was finally blowing away a lingering Fall in the mid-1960s.  Dad was in the lone bathroom of our 1880s farmhouse, enjoying a leisurely shave late on a Sunday morning. He had lathered his face with shaving soap whipped into a lather with a badger hair brush in a small wooden bowl.  His “T” shaped razor held a fresh double-edged stainless steel disposable razor blade.  I was first in line to use the bathroom and was leaning against the door frame, passing the time watching him shave as I had many times before.  Dad made a face when he took a finger and pushed his nose to one side. He oinked at me and with a deft double down stroke shaved his upper lip, then wiped the remaining dot or two of foam from his face. To finish, Dad would splash warm water onto his face and then pat dry with a linen surgical towel salvaged from some routine operation on the farm. Thick napped bath towels were few and far between, but he had a good supply of old towels recycled from his medical office.  To top it off, he would splash some Vitalis on his hands and run his fingers through his hair and comb it.

Being between holidays,  fancy foods were in season. Stuffed dates rolled in powdered suger tempted us from the marble topped table in the parlor.  A coffin-sized cardboard box sent from Florida arrived with oranges and grapefruit, compliments of the village pharmacy. In the living room, the hardwood nut bowl was filled with filberts, and home grown walnuts and hickory nuts. Silver dishes with redskin peanuts and cashews beckened. The cashews were carefullly rationed with each refilling, and were always picked out and eaten first.

Everyone in the family grazed on treats from one area of the house to another. This included our Siamese cat apparently, as the stuffed fig dish was usually empty in the morning. This hadn’t gone unnoticed by Dad. “I’d guess the cat is climbing the Christmas tree, then jumping over to the table and eating them,” he postulated. Read More

Robot Builders Wanted

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The Jackson Area Career Center’s FIRST Robotics team is looking for young engineers, programmers, and creative high school students as it gears up to design and build a robot to compete in competitions this winter.

The Career Center’s FIRST Robotics team – the Jacktown Vectors – is holding an information meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 14, at 6:00 p.m. at the Career Center for potential team members as well as parents, volunteers, team mentors, and sponsors.

Building the robot will start January 9 and is expected to be completed in late February. Work sessions will be held after school at the Career Center from 3:00 p.m. to approximately 6:00 p.m., Mondays-Fridays, and possibly, on some Saturdays. Read More

Clean Up Underway at Camp Waterloo

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The long abandoned Camp Waterloo state prison facility will get some needed TLC from a prison work crew starting Monday, December 5, 2011.

After getting complaints from nearby residents about how much of an eyesore the old prison was becoming, State Representative Mike Shirkey contacted state Department of Corrections Director Dan Heyns about the dire condition of the old prison grounds.

Representative Shirkey was thankful but not surprised at the outcome.  The former sheriff ordered a work crew to start Monday morning to begin clearing rubbish, debris and trash from the grounds.

“The work crew is only a beginning, but it’s a very good beginning,” said Shirkey, whose legislative district includes Waterloo.

“Getting that work crew out there  is a testament to Director Heyns’ fast-acting, take-charge style that made him such a successful sheriff in Jackson County.  He is unaccustomed to the snail’s pace approach taken by the state at times, nor should he be.”

Shirkey and Rep. Earl Poleski, a Jackson lawmaker and member of the House Appropriations Committee, will continue to work to ensure that Camp Waterloo is properly cleaned and remediated.  Camp Waterloo was closed by the state approximately 10 years ago.

“Tearing down and cleaning up this neglected facility is a priority for Jackson County, and I will work through the appropriations process to continue to drive toward completion,” Poleski said.  “This is a question of fairness and what is right.  Our state government made the decision to close Camp Waterloo, and our government needs to take responsibility and clean it up.”

“We can give Camp Waterloo the attention it needs and deserves,” Shirkey said. “Ultimately, we need to take this property to the ‘clean bill of health’ stage so we can then consider its next best and highest use. It’s also certainly beneficial to have such a strong advocate for ‘doing the right thing’ in the Department of Corrections