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Friday, January 20th, 2017


Grass Lake Family Stars in HGTV’s House Hunters International

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A fascination with the HGTV television show House Hunters International led to a  Grass Lake family starring in their very own episode. When Shannon Maynard found out they were moving to Augsburg Germany for husband Chris’s job, she reached out to the HGTV’s House Hunter International to apply to the show. “I have watched the show many times and was fascinated by the families who made the decision to move across the world”.

The Maynard family, husband Chris and wife Shannon, 4 kids; David (13), Aaron (10), Nathan (7) and Charlotte (6) have lived in Grass Lake for the past 2 years however the kids have been attending Grass Lake Community Schools since 2009.

In the fall of 2015, Chris called me to let me know the European IT manager was leaving the company. His boss had asked him to spend one week a month in Germany handling the office until they could find his replacement. (Chris was the North American IT manager at that time.) I joked with Chris that he should just take the position. When Chris mentioned my comment to his boss, he loved the idea. So what started out as a joke ended with a 3-5 year contract. “I love traveling and had always dreamed of visiting Venice and London so the idea of living here short-term was appealing” Shannon said.

Applying for the show involved talking with the casting director, filling out a lengthy questionnaire followed by two phone interviews and a video introducing the family.

When asked about the whole experience of the show, Shannon replied “It was really interesting to see everything that goes into an episode of the show. We spent five days filming everything that made up the 30 minute episode. Although filming was very tiring, we enjoyed the different activities we did in Augsburg and it gave us a unique view of our new city.”

When asked whether they thought about millions of people watching them, Shannon’s response was “We thought about our family and friends watching us, but not millions of people.” I also asked if they thought of themselves as being famous, a question my son wanted me to pose to them. Shannon’s response was “ Absolutely not. We love sharing our story and how we reached our decision to move. Being part of HHI allowed us to do this, but does not make us famous. Actually, most of our friends here in Germany have never heard of the show.”

Chris started his new position in January of 2016 and the rest of the family moved to Germany in March. The move took about six weeks to have their possessions packed, shipped and arrive in Germany. The family settled in Augsburg, which is in southern Germany, about an hour northwest of Munich. It  is one of Germany’s oldest cities (founded in 15 BC) and has a population of approximately 286k people. The weather is a bit milder than that of Grass Lake and the time zone is 6 hours ahead.

The family plans on moving back to their home in Grass Lake in the fall of 2018 when Chris’s contract is up.

The family has traveled extensively while in Germany. When they first announced to the kids they were moving, part of the promise was that they each got to choose one place in Europe and they would travel to the selected city. To date they have been to 10 different countries while living in Europe with Italy “definitely” being their favorite.

The children all take German in school and have learned quite a bit. “The kids are adapting as well as can be expected. It has been more difficult for the older two, but they have made friends and have handled the transition well.” The family was back home this past summer for a few weeks.

When asked about the differences between Germany and Grass Lake, Shannon responded “Honestly, it would be easier for me to list the similarities. Nearly everything is different here- the language, the people, the culture. I think Americans tend to be more friendly and outgoing. We have found most Germans keep to themselves and this can come across as unfriendly. However, most Germans we have met are open to foreigners and patient with us as we’re learning the language. Being located in central Europe, we can travel just a couple of hours and be in a completely different culture.”

“Over the past year we have experienced many new, exciting and scary things. We have chosen to see it all as part of an adventure. Filming House Hunters International is just another part of our adventure.”

The episode can be watched here:


Village Council Votes to Raise Millage Rate

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Increased operating costs,  replacing outdated equipment, improved services and planning for the future were key topics of discussion during Tuesday’s budget workshop and regular Village Council Meeting. In the end, there seemed to be no more options than to increase the millage rate for Village residents.

The council, with all members except Sharon Sherwood in agreement, voted to raise the current rate by 2.356 mils, bringing the total millage rate to 10 mils for Village residents. Dave Keener, who sponsored the resolution along with Gina Lammers said “My biggest concern is to be able to function and improve our services as well as the state of our equipment”.  President Joe DeBoe wants “to make sure that the Village is still here and functioning for our kids and grandkids”.

The Council has additional budget meetings set to discuss capital improvement and additional budget calculations now that the millage rate has been set for the 2017 year. The Village budget runs March through February.

The increase would show up on summer property taxes.

Councilwoman Sharon Sherwood, who voted against the increase, wanted to look for additional savings within the budget. Village Manager Tom Nolte and other council members did not think there were anymore significant cuts that could be made to generate the savings needed.

A 2.356 increase would increase the property taxes of a home valued at $100,000 with a taxable value of $50,000 by $117.80 per year. A home    valued at $200,000 with a taxable value of $100,000 would increase by $235.60 a year.

The increase would generate an additional $66,947.30 of tax revenue annually based on current taxable values.

The working idea is that 2 mils, or about $56,831 would go into the equipment fund while the remainder would go into the general fund.

At the last council meeting, Paul Lammers presented the Council with detailed information about the aging equipment and the costs for updating the equipment. The dump truck currently used is over 30 years old and is in such bad shape that an old stop sign is used to cover the rusted out floor on the drivers side. The Village will be posting the open meetings for public comment next week.

The increase in the millage rate comes on top of water and sewer rate increases this past fall.

In other business, the Village Council asked Tom Nolte to setup Village email accounts for all employees and council members so that they can be compliant with Freedom of Information Requests for email correspondence.

Paul Lammers reported the DPW had completed another 24 installations of new smart meters for water customers. The new meters allow reading from the street rather than having to manually read each meter. They are more accurate and will be installed at every water customer over the coming years.

145 Truck Stop Reopens After 2014 Fire

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LEONI TWSP — The call came at four a.m. the day after Christmas in 2014. Two hours before the 145 Truck Stop was supposed to open that morning it was destroyed by a fire.

“Devastating, just devastating,” said co-owner Kim Miller, recalling that morning when she took the call.  “I’ve got the gray hairs to prove it.”

Co-owners Miller and her sister Deb Helmlinger immediately planned to rebuild the popular truck stop at 6100 Ann Arbor Road.

“We intended on rebuilding the truck plaza from day one,” Miller said.  “I stated on the day of the fire that we would rebuild.”

The 145 Truck Stop reopened earlier this month two years after it burned down on December 26, 2014 in the middle of the night.

Fire officials had determined that the fire wasn’t suspicious; an electrical problem caused the blaze.  Nobody was injured.

The process of reconstruction has been “grueling,” Miller said.  “No one wants to see their livelihood of 23 years go up in smoke and flames.”

Miller said that her family purchased the truck stop in 1991.  She said that it was established in the 50s but the bank foreclosed on the property.  “It was the 145 Truck Plaza with a restaurant, gas and diesel pumps, and a garage.”

In 2002 they acquired the Old Clock Restaurant, using it for office space and eventually converted it to the 145 Family Restaurant in 2015, expanding it to 4,000 square feet with the capacity of 85 diners with a new brick façade, windows, lighting, and freshly paved parking lot.  The fire destroyed the original restaurant at the truck stop.        

“We lived here morning and night, every day,” Miller said.  “We needed to rebuild (the truck stop) in order to get our employees back to work, which, after almost a year they left their other jobs and came back to work for us.  We have been truly blessed with our employees, our customers, and our community.”

The rebuilt 3,600 square foot 145 Truck Stop includes services from Corrigan Oil and Express Stop.  It features Marathon gas and diesel pumps, showers, an ATM, and a convenience store replete with sundries and a beer cave.  It is open 24 hours a day.

“It was hard to swallow a hard pill,” Miller said.  “Faith, family, and community made it so we could get through this.”    

Ice Water Rescue Training

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From burning buildings to freezing bodies of water, firefighters face a bevy of conditions as they try to save victims. There is a lot of training that goes into those rescue operations.

“Something we hope we never have to use” said Assistant Fire Chief Jim Zenz on Saturday. More than 40 firefighters from Grass Lake, Napoleon Township, Summit Township and Liberty Township attended Ice Water Rescue training in Grass Lake on Sunday.

It takes real dedication to give up a Sunday to go jump in a hole in the ice and still tell you “It’s Fun. It’s actually really cool (and not in the cold sense) is what Jorge Zenz and several other firefighters told me on Sunday while standing in the near freezing temperatures at Grass Lake County Park. Hey, the Lions are done, so why not go jump in the icy water?

Chief Greg Jones said their were 19 firefighters, including the cadets, from Grass Lake that attended and were certified. “All of the guys have been through it at least once”. The training is put on by Michigan Rescue Concepts out of Harrison Township. Jones said they try to have the certification training every 2-3 years, however train on the lake and the ice every year to keep it fresh in everyone’s minds.

The training included several hours of classroom work before heading out to the Grass Lake County Park for live training. Firefighters Tom Zenz and Jorge Zenz cut 3 large rectangular holes in the ice about 100 yards off the shore, which was about 7 inches thick.

Each trainee had to be both a rescuer and a victim. The firefighters put on special suits, simply called ice water rescue suits. While the suits are designed to provide some protection from the cold, the most important factor is buoyancy. Once in the water, they trainees had to practice getting out of the water and back to shore by themselves, first without using ice picks, and then with. Later they practiced several types of rescues. Firefighters on the shore, or closer to shore provided rope support to help pull the victim and the rescuer out of the ice and back to shore.

Grass Lake Fire Department has 4 suits, life preservers and ropes designed for water rescues that stay in the rescue trucks. Chief Jones said they have only had to use them twice to the best of his recollection and is happy if it stays that way. The suits can be used for any water rescue, not just during winter season.

Chief Jones said people need to be careful on the lakes, especially with the recent warm weather. This week’s temperature change is likely to cause a loss of 3-4 inches within a matter of days. “Watch yourselves. Watch for ice fishing holes where the ice is thinner. Its good to be careful, cause water moves and takes some of the ice away.”

100 Years Ago

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A Violent Death

The suddenly fatal blow of a swiftly moving interurban orphaned two young Jackson girls last night when it snuffed out the life of the mother, barely in her prime.  Mrs. Jennie Burdick, age 43, West Wesley Street, Jackson, was killed about 5:50 last evening by Grass Lake—Jackson Interurban No. 44. Motorman J. Champlin and Conductor Tyrell were in charge of the car which is due in Jackson at 6 o’clock.

No blame is attached to anyone, Coroner Tibbetts deciding Mrs. Burdick’s death was purely accidental. No inquest will be held.

The woman had been working at the Thomas Falahee home east of Jackson. It was raining last night as she waited for the car to bring her to this city. Her umbrella was raised. The motorman declares he did not see her until within ten feet when he observed her stoop as though to pick up the basket she had. The position brought her head in front of the car. She was struck in the right temple and it is believed killed instantly. The motorman was the only witness.

At first it was thought Mrs. Burdick was merely injured. The Johnson & Gildersleeve ambulance made a run to the scene and it was then it was learned the woman was dead. Sheriff Davis and Coroner Tibbetts were summoned. The body was removed to the Johnson & Gildersleeve undertaking rooms.

The case of the orphaned girls is pathetic. They were cared for last night at the home of an uncle in Leoni but will soon, at their tender years, be forced to face the world alone except for each other. Cora is 15 years of age and is even now preparing herself for the livelihood struggle. She is attending the Jackson Business university, getting ready to be the head of her family of one—her sister, aged 12 years. Both were frantic when the news of the mother’s passing reached them. They are meeting the situation bravely, however.

Mr. Burdick met a violent death about one year ago when he was killed in a hay chute in a barn on a Leoni farm.

Hen House Advice

     Straw is too valuable an asset on any farm to burn. Particularly is it appreciated in the hen house. Use it on the floors, along the walls and overhead. Make the hen house a home for the hens and make it comfortable. Use straw for a loft and the house will be dry. One-inch mesh wire or 1-by-4 boards laid over the rafters and placed about two inches apart will furnish good support. Along the walls, wire serves this purpose very nicely. Lath or burlap bags stretched tightly over studding may also be used.

Always provide the house with a deep litter of straw. It serves as a warm carpet and keeps the birds’ feet off the cold floor. A vent placed in the roof over a straw loft will aid in promoting good ventilation and help keep the house dry.

    (Linda Note:  I have been including several briefs on raising chickens in the 100 Years Ago as I notice that many locals are raising chickens, perhaps for the first time. I hope these tips from the past will help you. Also, if you need straw, the Lockwood farm on Lee Road has straw for sale!)

Advertisement from Clark’s Drug Store, Grass Lake

Dr. Burnham’s SAN-YAK, Vegetable Compound. The Greatest Known Cure for HEART TROUBLE.  Corrects diseases of the blood and body fluid or an      unequal mixture of the elements of the blood and nerve juices or a distemperature when some humor or quality abounds in the blood. Symptoms of diseased blood and body fluids are throat disease, eczema, scrofula and pus formations in the tissues, skin and the vital organs.

Gathered by Linda Lockwood Hutchinson.