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February, 2017


Sheriff’s Department Report- January 2017

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The Jackson County Office of the Sheriff presented their monthly report to the Village of Grass Lake and the Grass Lake Charter Township at their respective meetings.

Deputy DeLand said “Its been a quiet month. Winter is always quieter because of the cold.”

Deputy DeLand reported patrolling 1,152 miles during the month of January. These numbers only include miles and incidents by Deputy DeLand, it does not include miles patrolled by other deputies or the State Police.

The Village and the Township share a contract with the Sheriff’s Department for a full-time deputy in Grass Lake.

Month/Year to Date (2017)

Complaints Dispatched: 10/10

Incident Reports: 7/7

Arrests: 0/0

Appearance Citations: 0/0

Ordinance Complaints: 0/0

Traffic Citations: 2/2

Verbal Warnings: 10/10

Liquor Inspections: 1/1

Motorist Assists: 2/2

Vehicles Investigated: 20/20

Persons Investigated: 35/35

Assists Other Departments: 2/2

Property Inspections: 35/35

Process Service: 0/0

Grass Lake Fire Department Puts Ice Training to Good Use

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Fire Chief Greg Jones presented the Township Board with his monthly report for January 2017 at the Grass Lake Charter Township Meeting.

The Fire Department completed Ice Water Rescue Training in mid-January on Grass Lake. Two calls in January made good use of that training on two different occasions. The Fire Department was able to rescue two dogs in two separate instances on two different bodies of water this past month.

Chief Jones said he could not recall ever rescuing a dog before, however they had to do that twice within a 12 hour period in January.

The first incident took place on a private pond off Saude Ln. The dog walked out on the pond and fell through the ice. Donning the ice water rescue suits, the firefighters were able to get close enough on the ice and then wade out to the dog through the ice cold water.

In a similar situation about 12 hours later, firefighters were called to Grass Lake for a dog that had gotten away from its owner, ran out onto the lake and fell through the ice. The dog was struggling to stay afloat and had gone under twice before the firefighters were able to rescue it. Jones said that the dog was going under for the 3rd and likely last time when firefighter Brent Jones was able to reach under the water and rescue it. These rescues require ropes, life preservers and teamwork within the whole crew.

The suits used are the same as the Coast Guard utilizes and keeps the firefighters dry and safe from drowning. Without the suits and training, these types of rescues would not be possible.

Chiefs report:

Medical Calls: 20/20

Structure Fires: 0/0

Vehicle Accidents: 0/0

Fire Alarms: 1/1

Vehicle Fires: 0/0

Gas Leaks/Fuel Spills: 0/0

Open Burning: 0/0

Total of 21 calls within Grass Lake Charter Township

The average response time for all calls was 8.89 minutes (this includes automatic aid and mutual aid response times) and the average miles from the fire station was 3.8 miles.

Calls by Shift:

1st shift: 15

2nd shift: 6

3rd shift: 4

4 Automatic Aid was provided to Napoleon Township.

Two Grass Lake Churches Celebrate Milestones

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This month two Grass Lake churches are celebrating milestones, one bittersweet, one sweet, each event in collaboration between two faith communities.

Pastor William Walbridge is retiring after 30 years of ministry at Grass Lake Assembly of God Church.  His final Sunday service is scheduled to be held on Sunday, the 26th at the church on Mount Hope Road.  A reception and luncheon will follow.    

Meanwhile at Saint John’s United Church of Christ Pastor David Cornwell has produced a collection of Christmas hymns that “have inspired, changed, and blessed my life,” the pastor said. The CD is titled “From My Heart” and is available for purchase.

The album debut will be held at Grass Lake Assembly on Friday the 24th at six p.m.  Cornwell explained that the UCC site isn’t big enough to hold those who plan to attend.  The Grass Lake Assembly has a larger gathering space, he said.

Proceeds from the sales of the CD will be donated to David’s Promise, a ministry of Compassionate Ministries in Jackson County, which provides services for adults with developmental disabilities and outreach to their families.

“That’s what the album sales and offering will go toward,” said Cornwell, who has involved himself with David’s Promise for the past two years.

The name “David’s Promise” is taken from the Biblical story of King David’s best friend, Jonathan, whose son Mephibosheth suffers a tragic accident that robs him of the ability to care for himself.  Following the death of Jonathan, David promises Mephibosheth that he would always have a home with the king’s family.

Cornwell, who was born in Tennessee and raised in Indiana, described services at Saint John’s United Church of Christ as “a worship-friendly service, with praise and worship songs, and readings.  We’re not super liturgical, not high church, but a comfort-level type of service, anything but ritualistic.  Just prayer, worship, and preaching.”

Although Cornwell is not ordained in the UCC he has served in Michigan for 21 years.  “The church is fairly autonomous; as a country church we do our own thing.”

“From my Heart” is a collection of hymns that have inspired Cornwell during his ministerial career.  “Over the years people have suggested a record and I finally took the opportunity with the hope that it is not for gain for myself but to raise awareness for special needs,” the preacher said.  “Christian-based ministry is meant to raise awareness for special needs.”

“David’s promise—that’s the real impetus for all of this,” Cornwell added.

Though he is not a musician “in the traditional sense,” the CD collection is “cover album,” an expression of his personal walk with the Lord.  To compile the collection he worked with Daywind Christian Recording in Nashville, Tenn.  The project has been in the works for more than a year and the completed album contains nine songs, including “Amazing Grace,” “Mashup,” written by contemporary Christian recording artist Chris Tomlin, and “Alleluia Christmas” by the late Canadian writer and musician Leonard Cohen.

Cornwell acknowledged that the events held in February’s final weekend will be bittersweet with the retirement of Walbridge.  “Churches and pastors are united,” the UCC pastor said.  “It’s almost like there’s one church in Grass Lake; we just worship in different places.  We can call on each other.  Pastor Bill has been a great influence in leading that also.  We’re sad to see him leave but it’s a great community of believers and we’re fortunate in Grass Lake.”       

If you go: Pastor William Walbridge’s final Sunday service is set for 10:30 a.m. on Sunday the 26th of this month.  Cornwell’s CD concert is scheduled for six p.m. on the Friday the 24th.  Both events are to take place at Grass Lake Assembly of God Church at 2900 Mount Hope Road.  For more information call 517-522-4088 or visit

Saint John’s United Church of Christ is located at 270 Bohne Road in Grass Lake.(517) 522-5353

Grass Lake School of (Rock) Music

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Wanna rock?

Enrollment for music lessons at the new Grass Lake School of Music is now open.   

Founded by long-time Grass Lakers Kyle and Terri Neely, the school is intended to draw students ages six to sixty.  The Neelys plan to open their “ instrumental petting zoo” on March first.

“It’s moved really fast and we’ve always wanted to do this,” said Terri, 40, who left her job as a property manager in Ann Arbor to devote time to managing the school with Kyle.

“The interest seems to be big,” she said.  “It’s now or never; that’s the way to go.”   

Their impetus stems from the adage “build it and they will come.”  It can be difficult for parents to shuttle the kids from school to athletic events and then drive outside of town for music lessons.  Now future Stevie Ray Vaughns and Woody Guthries won’t have to.

Recently the Neelys signed a lease for the building at 126 Brown Street, formerly Our Jardin, a cold-press juice market, which closed last year.  Terri said she and her husband knew that the 1100 square-feet location was the place to be.  “It was meant to be,” she said.  “Ours is truly a destination business.  We don’t need to be on the main drag and there’s no foot traffic.”

As promoter Terri is on the business end of the school, “to find the right learner for the right instructor,” she said.  “It’s the outlet they need, a definite place for music education. We’re opening in a rural area but the demand is greater in a rural area.  People don’t want to drive miles for a lesson when it’s right in their back yard.”   

Kyle teaches music at Jackson College and Washtenaw Community College in Ann Arbor, from where he hails.  He is a 2000 graduate of Eastern Michigan University where he studied classical guitar.

Tall and sporting a pair of harness boots and Ray-Bans, Kyle, 50, played guitar with Sponge, a group that featured “revolving bass players” in the 90s before MTV jumped the shark after video killed the radio star.

Kyle names Kiss and Foreigner as primary influences when he was learning how to play.  Queen?  “Absolutely,” he said.  “Every music needs tone and color.  I love groups that play the right thing.  If I wasn’t out playing I’d be miserable.  I’ve been doing this a long time and I’m good at it, and am pretty excited about the school.”

The GLSM isn’t just for kids in the community.  Terri estimated that forty percent of the studentry are likely to be Baby Boomers who wish they’d started taking lessons when they first heard “I Want to Hold Your Hand” or the guitar licks of Keith Richards—the Lazarus of the rock world—on “Jumping Jack Flash.”  In 1964 the Mop Tops invaded American radio, nearly overthrowing the King and everybody wanted to be in a band.     

During the interview talk turned to a discussion of the Pantheon of the Monsters of American Rock; that was by design.  Terri opined that all bands are homegrown.  Singers are important but the sound and style defines the group, Kyle said, say, with Van Halen.  Eddie Van Halen’s clean, fast technique defines their music whether the front man is David Lee Roth or Sammy Hagar.  Hagar was a team player but Roth was a showman who wheedled his way back in, relegating the other one to an asterisk in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame.       

I can’t write without listening to music.  Bob Dylan was sort of like that only in reverse, the first contemporary rock musician who wrote his lyrics on a typewriter rather than India ink with a quill pen like Robert Plant.  Kyle said he prefers listening to Dylan songs when somebody else performs them.  We agreed to disagree.       

When it comes down to it it’s about rock-ability, the influence that music exerts on different people in different ways.  Nobody mobs the woodcutter and clambers for their autographs and you’ll never hear “Stairway to Heaven” in an elevator unless you’ve been taking something you shouldn’t.

The Neelys said they are looking to incorporate the school so that they can offer sliding scale lesson fees and scholarships.  Rates are $30 per half hour paid monthly in advance. 15% multi sibling discount.

On a recent Friday night Kyle played a set at Roaming Goat Coffee, a well-attended gig, sitting room only with hardly a space of bare floor.  He trotted out a Howard Roberts guitar, the Holy Grail of hollow-bodied guitars, as an understudy sat close by.

Mason Busch, age nine, said he said he wanted to learn how to play the guitar “to feel like what it’s like to be in front of the crowd.”  I don’t think he was talking about the Human League song.  Mason’s mother Katie said that she is happy that a local music school is opening in Grass Lake.  “There’s nothing else nearby, nowhere to go,” she said.  “It’s the right time and the right place.”     

The Neelys are confident that the Grass Lake School of Music will become a rock of ages.  Their Facebook page boasts nearly 500 “likes.”  Add more of them by checking them out on Facebook, and visiting their website at

The school is located at 126 Brown Street in Grass Lake. 734-355-7237

Construction Begins on Hotly Debated Dollar General

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Construction began this week on the hotly debated Dollar General. Excavating equipment began moving dirt at the new location. Heavy rains and lots of mud delayed the work this week. Pallet skids, used to keep equipment from sinking too far into the  mud were seen on-site.

The Village of Grass Lake confirmed they issued the necessary permits to the builders, Westwind Construction out of Spring Lake, MI, on Monday, February 6th. The building permits do not include the estimated costs of construction. They show the property as being 2.37 acres and the building size being 9,304 square feet.

The permits require $1,665 in permit fees as well as $3,000 for water hook-up and  $3,000 for sewer hook-up.

Previous construction details indicated the back portion of the property would need to be raised approximately 3 1/2 feet to match the grade of the rest of the property.

Zoning requirements required the building conform to very specific specifications. It will be unlike any other Dollar General in the area.


Girls on the Run & Heart & Sole Begins

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Enrollment is open for girls at George Long Elementary and Grass Lake Middle schools for “Girls on the Run!” 2017 and “Heart & Sole,” respectively, programs designed to instill in girls healthy eating habits and exercise programs.

“Girls on the Run!” is open to all third through fifth grade girls. They are scheduled to meet to train after school on Monday and Wednesday from 3:15-4:45 p.m. from March 13 through May 26.
Team members of “Heart and Sole” will meet on Monday and Thursday from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. from March 13 through May 26 and also are training for a run.
The goal of the programs is to empower young girls, teach them teamwork, and achieve their fitness goals, said Mary Magos, who teaches at Grass Lake Middle School. Magos serves as head coach with assistance from Denise Lotz and Angela Berent, and other teachers.
Registered participants receive healthy snacks at each training session, a t-shirt, a water bottle, a parent guide book, and entry into the “Girls on the Run!” 5k on Sunday, May 21. Registration for the new program “Heart and Sole” for Middle School girls in grades sixth through eighth grade. Now in its second year, Heart and Sole exists to dissuade students from temptation to drugs and peer pressure.
Last May 15 girls turned out for the runs, Magos said. Training takes place in the school cafeteria or the gymnasium in darker months.
Magos, herself a runner, has coached the Girls on the Run team for five years. “I run 5k races and triathlons,” she said. As race dates draw near Magos said she has seen great progress in the girls this year. “I’ve seen the level of confidence rise in them,” she said. “They walk with strength and purpose and they feel like their ideas matter.”
Magos acknowledged that not all participants will run the entire lengths of the races but that’s not the point. “The philosophy of both programs is that as long as the girls are moving forward they can chose what that looks like—walk, run, or skip, giving the girls the power to choose how they move helps tremendously,” Magos said.
Magos has an advantage as a coach not just because she runs triathlons but also because as a science teacher she understand kinetics and nutrition. “As a science teacher and a coach for many years, I help encourage the girls to build exercise into their lives as a way to help stay in shape and act as a stress reducer. I also want the girls to have fun while they get active and enjoy being part of a team.”
Teamwork is the optimal means to help runners train and meet their personal goals, said Doug Moeckel Director of Transportation, Community and Cooperative Services
Grass Lake Community Schools.
“We are very fortunate to have teachers, parents and community members involved with the Grass Lake School District who enjoy going “over and above” their everyday responsibilities to provide excellent opportunities for our students outside of the classroom, with programs such as ‘Girls on the Run” and “Heart and Sole’. From the perspective of the Grass Lake Community Wellness Initiative, we are very interested in involving community members of all ages in healthy activities. These programs not only provide lessons that encourage the physical aspects of healthy living for these students, but also life lessons in social skills. It is a win-win scenario for all of us.”
Adult marathoners traditionally ‘carb up’ the night before the big run, gorging on pasta. The Grass Lake runners preparing for the races will eat a normal dinner the night before the races and are encouraged to eat a good breakfast prior to the runs. Stretching before running or walking the laps happen at each practice to ensure that the that girls don’t pull muscles. Hydrating with water also is optimal.
For more information on enrollment and the races contact Magos at George Long Elementary School at 517-867-5590 or

100 Years Ago in Grass Lake

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Obituary Fred John Schoening

Fred John Schoening was born in Germany, Oct. 10, 1866. He came to Grass Lake Nov., 1885, where he has resided ever since. In 1897 he was married to Edith Kunyack and to this union six children were born. He leaves to mourn his loss a wife, 6 children, father, 1 sister and 1 brother, and a host of friends. He died Dec. 29, aged 50 years, 2 months and 19 days. Funeral services were held at the family residence Sunday at 2:30 p.m., Rev. W.A. Cutler officiating. Internment was had in the East cemetery.

Prisoners Taken WW1

On the French front in France, Jan. 2—During the course of last year, according to authoritative figures, 78,500 Germans were captured on the French front by the French and 40,000 by the British, while in Serbia and Macedonia the Entente allied armies took 11,173 Bulgarians and Turks as prisoners. During the same period the Italians made prisoners of 57,240 Austrians, while the Russians captured more than 400,000 Germans and Austrians.

Rally At Congregatonal Church

All the churches of Grass Lake are invited in welcoming the Jackson Y.M.C.A. to our town on Tuesday night. Mr. James P. Bailey of Omaha, Nebr., is the speaker. He is a veteran Y.M.C.A. worker and is a man with a message. This is a “Call to Service” campaign, and not a money-raising device. The meeting is for men and boys only. Every man who believes in a bigger and better Grass Lake, merchant or farmer, is urged to come. The Y.M.C.A. is doing a magnificent work for men the world over. They propose to give Grass Lake a boost on these lines. Now go to it, boys. A collection will be taken for expenses.

In Memorium Emma Jane Sanford

Emma Jane Sanford was born Oct. 9th, 1843. United with the Baptist church at Grass Lake while a young woman; by experience and baptism and was an earnest, consistent member for a number of years. She has been an invalid in feeble health for a number of years. She passed away Tuesday, December 26th, aged 73 years, 10 months and 17 days. She is survived by two brothers, E.M. Sanford of Grass Lake, William M. Sanford of Big Rapids, and Mary A. Pleasants of Willows, Cal. Burial was at East cemetery, Rev. N.B. Wood officiating.

Obituary Vernon Dewey

Vernon Dewey, aged 46 years, died of pneumonia January 3rd at the home of Floyd Coppernoll. He was buried Tuesday, January 9th, in Greenwood cemetery, Jackson, Rev. Wood officiating. Deceased did not remain in one place long enough to establish a residence or make friends. There were no relatives present.

Married at the home of groom’s brother in Grass Lake on Monday, Jan. 1st, 2:30 p.m., Rev. N. B. Wood officiating, Mr. Emil Ashfal and Miss Clara Schoepper, both of this vicinity. Attendants, Mr. Fred J. Gretzinger of Ironwood, Mich., and Miss Flora P. Schoepper, sister of the bride. The groom is an energetic and enterprising young farmer and thresher man, while the bride is an attractive and popular young lady. Their many friends extend congratulations. The couple will shortly move to Wyoming where they will make their future home.

Gathered by Linda Lockwood Hutchinson.