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May, 2017


The Copper Nail Hosts Annual Tea & Fashion Show

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Fancy hats, fine china, white gloves, cups of teas, cookies, crumpets and fashion were all filling the Whistle Stop Depot last Saturday. No, Queen Elizabeth was not visiting nor was the Kentucky Derby running again, rather The Copper Nail was holding its annual Tea & Fashion Show. Nearly 60 supporters of the resale shop on E. Michigan Avenue filled the Whistle Stop Depot from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. that afternoon.

The fashion show, which highlighted clothing off the racks at the store just up the street from the Depot, featured models that showed off outfits along a runway while patrons enjoyed tea and pastries.  All proceeds from the event go toward supporting local organizations, the very mission of The Copper Nail. Unlike typical fashions, the total ensemble costs for many of the outfits displayed was well under $30, including the shoes, jewelry and clothes to complete the outfit. “You can get a pretty good deal at The Copper Nail” said Laurie Parks, one of Saturday’s emcees.

The store has an enormous inventory of books, clothing, kitchen supplies, toys, and sundry items donated to the store from patrons in the area.  It operates solely on a volunteer basis.

“It went good, everybody had a good time,” said Marlene Keszler, a member of the management team.    “Everybody had fun and there were more products sold.”  The event sold out all 56 tickets and 28 fashion models strut across the runway, including two men, Keszler said, a first in the history of the popular event.  “They got a few whistles,” she said.

This year the weather was considerably kinder than last May when temperatures bordered on the low 40s with winds shaking the trees and disappointing many in the area eager for Spring to arrive.

Last year’s fashion show was my first assignment for the Grass Lake Times.  Having been unaware of the level of sophistication displayed by the models and the outfits they wore I came away more than impressed—I was convinced of the uniqueness of the retail organization and the devotion of its membership.  Over the past decade The Copper Nail has raised and donated funds to local non-profits and organizations to the amount of $250,000, volunteers told me.

Saturday’s gathering was its fifth year contiguously, Keszler said, and the theme of the show displayed clothing for ‘morning, noon, and night’, “really dressing like on a cruise.”

The Copper Nail Community Resale Shop is located at 111 E. Michigan Avenue.  Operating hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.  For more information call 517-522-8514 or visit its website at

Coe House Makes National Register

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Grass Lake Area Historical Connections learned that on May 12th, the application for National Register of Historic Places for the Coe House Museum (the Henry and Aurora Walker Vinkle House) was presented to the Michigan Historic Preservation Review board. The nomination passed successfully! The nomination has now been sent on to the National Park Service. The property will be listed on the registry within one to six months from review.

The application was prepared by Katie (Hardcastle) Kolokithas of Chelsea. Katie began working with us about 3 years ago, doing extensive research on the Coe House while completing her masters’ degree at Eastern Michigan University. Katie has recently accepted a new position with the State Historic Preservation Office.

The Board of the GLAHC is very pleased to present this one more feather for Grass Lake’s historical cap. We’ve been hard at work this spring doing much needed freshening of the main floor of the museum. We have plans to continue this work through the upcoming months. In addition, the computerization of a complete and accurate inventory for the Coe House has begun and will continue over the next year to completion.

There are many opportunities for community members to become involved. GLAHC operates both the Coe House Museum and the Michigan Military Heritage Museum. Big projects are taking place at each location. Visitors are invited to stop in, see what we have and learn how you can become a part of the action. Michigan Military Heritage Museum at 153 N. Union is open Wed, Sat. and Sun from 11-3:00. Coe House (corner of W. Mich. Ave and Wolf Lake Rd) will open Memorial Day weekend with our annual plant sale (May 27, 9-3:00; May 28, 11-3:00; May 29, 11-3:00). Open 1st and 3rd Saturdays will begin June 3, also 11-3:00.

GLAHC is 46 years young this year. We’re beginning to think about Grass Lake’s upcoming sesquicentennial celebration (2021). Join us to help make it happen!

Provided by the Grass Lake Area Historical Connections

Mining Site Plan Review Tabled by Planning Commission

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If attendance numbers were tracked for Public Meetings, Thursday evening’s Planning Commission Meeting might have broken a new record. Approximately  80 people packed the Grass Lake Charter Township Hall to comment on, or just learn more about a proposed site plan for mining operations on Norvell Rd by L&L Development.

The Planning Commission was meeting to review a preliminary site plan in regards to a Special Land Use request is for 80 acres along the west side of Norvell Rd, just north of Phal Rd and south of Eagle Crest Subdivision. L&L Development LTD, located at 5405 E Michigan Ave, Jackson has applied for a Special Land Use for the purpose of “Removal and processing of topsoil, stone, rock, sand, gravel, lime or other soil or mineral resources.”

Planning Commission member John Lesinski said the site plan was tabled “for lack of information. The site plan was incomplete, so it could not be properly reviewed.”

The planning commission tabled the review until all the information has been submitted. At that time, the site plan review will be placed on the Planning Commission’s agenda.

Planning Commission members are appointed by the Township Board for 4 year terms. Those terms are staggered and do not coincide with the elected officials. One member of the Planning Commission is also a Township Trustee. The Planning Commissions decision in matters such as these are final, they do not go for review to the Township Board.

According to the Michigan Municipal League: “Early in the history of zoning, it was recognized that when reviewing zoning and land use matters, elected officials needed input from a group of individuals who were not affected by political concerns. Having a group of interested volunteers judge land use decisions for the community was intended to allow a wide range of views to be fairly represented.

Elected officials are representatives for the people in the community. As such, they are accountable to the voters. As a planning commission member on the other hand, you are a representative of the people. This means that the members of the commission represent the various interests found in the community, such as professionals, business owners and homemakers. In theory, this allows a planning commissioner to act without the political considerations that influence elected officials.

New development often brings out concerns over land use. Residents become concerned about losing the character of their community. Those who propose changes are acting to protect their own investment, whether personal or professional. Decision makers must, within the constraints of the law, allow for development which is consistent with the existing or planned character of the community and reject that which is not.”

Lesinski added” It was great to see people come out and be a part of the process. It is a process and this is just the beginning. The process is predefined by State Law and local ordinances and it is up to the Planning Commission to follow those rules and make sure the applicants do the same.”

GLHS Holds Drug Awareness Forum

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Grass Lake High School students are helping to wage the war against illegal narcotics in Grass Lake and county wide.  Last Wednesday the school held a day-long forum aimed at educating students about the potential dangers of abusing alcohol, drugs, and other risky situations.

The program titled, “Most Teens Don’t” was aimed at presenting facts regarding dugs, specifically opioids, lethal drugs that are inexpensive but exacts a heavy toll.  The summit included presentations from local and county law enforcement officers who offered frank discussions about the lethal drugs that have been seeping into Grass Lake over the years.

Wednesday’s keynote speaker Mike Hirst founded “Andy’s Angels” to raise awareness after his son overdosed at age 24 seven years ago. “Seven years ago he (Andy) OD’d,” Hirst said during a break between his presentations.  “Some teachers might remember him.  Staying clean means removing yourself from temptation.  Call out friends who are using, so that you don’t have to go to a funeral.”

Wednesday was the anniversary of Andy Hirst’s death.

The mission of Andy’s Angels is to provide assistance to those who struggle with addition.

Hirst, an electrician by trade and the father of four daughters, is also a founding member of the Grass Lake Wellness Coalition.  Andy’s Angels was founded as a non-profit foundation to educate communities on opiate abuse and to provide support for families and for those who suffer from addiction.

For his work, which has evolved with Jackson County’s reported increase of drug overdoses, the Citizen Patriot named Hirst the 2016 Citizen of the Year.

The issue of dangerous narcotics continues to be a thorn in the side of the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office.  In a telephone interview Sheriff Steven Rand said he had hoped to attend the Grass Lake event but couldn’t make it.  “I do attend most of the events with Mike Hirst,” Rand said. “Mike is probably doing the most valuable contribution he can make these days.  His bringing an awareness is the most critical component.”

The “Most Teen’s Don’t” forum also featured talks from local drug-enforcement officials.  The goal of the conference was to increase student awareness of the pitfalls and steer students from high-risk situations and help them to seek healthy alternatives, such as education, athletics, and conversations with teaches, families, advisors, and peers.  “It’s an extra set of hands and support,” said Sarah Pennewill, who helped students put on the event.  “The event was student facilitated to bring more awareness.”

Student Jordan Saherthwaite, who plays baseball and runs cross-country, said that five students including himself attended a drug summit at Jackson College last summer.  “It helped us to prepare for this conference,” he said.

Following Hirst’s talk, students participated in breakout sessions to discuss what they learned from Hirst’s speech.  Detective Michael Villarreal from Blackman-Leoni Township paired up with Officer Tim Black of the Jackson County Prison Office.  They held their talks in an algebra classroom while other sessions were being held.  “Drug awareness about heroin looms large in Jackson,” Villarreal said. “ It’s an epidemic, national and local.  It’s a bit of everything.”

Black put it more emphatically.  “Read the obits,” he said.  “It starts simply, grandma’s Vicodin.  Then you move onto to heroin, just want a better high.  Heroin can go for five dollars on the streets.  It’s simple economics.  (Dealers) want you to get hooked so that you become a regular customer.  These dealers aren’t stupid; their IQs are off the charts.

“If you think that dope isn’t coming to Grass Lake, you’re wrong,” Black added.

Sophomore Johanna Nichols, a member of the GLHS soccer team, sat in on the officer’s talk.  “It’s been very informative today,” she said.  “The statistics are amazing but really shocking.”

According to Villarreal and Black, there have been six overdoses in Jackson County this month.  “That doesn’t include those that aren’t reported,” Black said.

Rand acknowledged that curtailing the drug problem has proven to be a formidable task.   

“The junkie on the street?” Rand asked rhetorically.  “That’s not what we’re seeing anymore.  People like you and I start on prescription medication then go for the street drugs.”  He cited forbidding statistics.  “From our dispatch center last Tuesday county-wide we had 111 responses for overdoses this year, about where we were last year.  Unfortunately we’re being consistent.  It’s not going down, it’s not getting better.”

Rand lauded Hirst for the work he does to raise awareness to a vexing problem, so personal to Hirst after the death of his son.  “I’m glad there are guys like Mike to carry the ball for each of us,” Rand said.

Memorial Day Services

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Grass Lake’s annual Memorial Day Services honoring those Veterans who are no longer with us will take place Monday morning, May 29th at 10:00 am at the Veteran’s Memorial next to the Library. Following activities at the Veterans Memorial, a procession will take place to the East cemetery . Once at the East Cemetery, the services will continue, including playing of Taps and a roll call of all the Veterans buried in the East Cemetery.

The Grass Lake Chapters of the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars will be dedicating their brick walkway in addition to the normal Memorial Day Services.

The new walkway features bricks donated in honor of Veterans. One of the goals of the project was to have enough donations and funds to be able to lay a brick for every veteran buried within the Grass Lake Cemeteries. Rex Murdock said they met their goals and they were able to engrave a brick for all 304 Veterans. The original goals was 291, however since starting, they discovered additional names.

Altogether, there are approximately 525 engraved bricks. The Memorial will hold up to 750 bricks and was designed to be continually updated as new bricks are sponsored.

Anyone interested in having a Veterans named engraved on a  brick can get more information: email: or call (517) 392-3322.

On Memorial Day, flags are to be flown at half-staff from sunrise until noon. At noon, the flag is raised to its peak.

The flag is flown at half-staff in the morning in honor and memory of all those who have made the supreme sacrifice of life in serving our country.

The flag flies tall and proud in the afternoon to signify that through their sacrifices, our country remains free and independent.

Please take time this weekend to remember and honor the more than 1 million service members that have given their lives in the service of our country.

At the moment the flag passes in a parade or procession, all persons should show respect by standing at attention facing the flag with their right hand over their hearts. Military personnel or veterans should face the flag and render their formal salute.

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