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Friday, August 18th, 2017


Truckin’ Off to Waterloo, Farm Museum That Is

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Annual truck and tractor show celebrates 11th year

The 11th annual Antique Tractor-Truck and Farm Equipment Show took place last Saturday and Sunday at the Waterloo Farm Museum on Waterloo-Munith Road.  Legions of truck and tractor enthusiasts stood on the grass beneath the slate-gray sky promising rain, a promise that wasn’t kept.  You’ve got to love the sound of popping pistons in the morning. It smells like a bountiful harvest.

The iron beasts of burden ran the gamut of style, distinction, and color, from traditional barn-red to the famous green and yellow enamel of good ol’ John Deere, the defacto king of the hill.

It was a busy morning.  Zachariah Torney is a 22-year-old intern who volunteered and assisted with fundraising and maintenance.  “The machines,” said the MSU student, “need help.  They must be clean to keep them working.  They need muscle.  That’s how they’re able to last so long.  People love to come to the tractor show.  It’s a nice community.”

The museum is dedicated to the good old days in the Midwestern Frontier, days, it would seem, that are as good as they’ve ever been.  Dogs enjoy the show also; there were as many loyal canines about the site as trucks and tractors.  Some rolled over inviting the visitor to scratch their bellies.  Others were not so willing.  These were not working dogs in the traditional sense but nobody seemed to mind.   They looked so rustic leaning against the wide rubber tires of the mean machines.  Each of the dogs was tethered lest they make a mad dash to the hot dog stand at the back of the property.  Who could blame them?  Nature always triumphs over nurture.      

Chelsea farmer Garrett Fisher leaned against his clean, green muscle machine, an Australian sheep dog sleeping at his feet.  Fischer, 24, bearded and barrel-chested with knotty working class hands, described the weekend as “a good little show.”  And it was.   

On a nearby tractor sat eight-year-old Jaidyn Verbison.  Wise beyond his years, Verbison dogged Fisher with Tom Sawyer cynicism.  Anticipating dogs, the boy had the presence of mind to wear camouflage pants and rubber boots, but he criticized his machine as “a piece of junk.”  “No, it’s not,” Fischer said calmly.  “Is too!” the boy spat.  He jumped down from his tractor and went off to play with his stodgy beagle, who he named “Piston.”  “Don’t let him off the leash,” Fischer said.       

The setting was as bucolic as the rich red barns with their steep pitched roofs supplying the backdrop for the antique colloquium.  This was the Midwest of Fitzgerald and Sebastian Dangerfield.  Organizer Ron Kaiser explained the event in its proper context.  “It isn’t about farm machines or boots and blue jeans,” he said, red-faced with enthusiasm.  “This is the 11th year.  The annual event, skipping a generation or two, draws close to 300 friends.  We really care for this place.”

“So many people don’t get out for the social thing but the big show would be lost if we didn’t keep it every year,” Kaiser continued.  He guesstimated that 40 trucks and tractors were on display last weekend.  “It’s a tight community,” he said.  “The whole museum is a social thing, too.”

Beverly Larsen sat by outside the snack shop spindling socks.  Across the way was the gift shop, with books on the shelves about the history of the museum and farm equipment.  “This is my favorite place to be,” said Larsen serenely.   At Christmas she donates 10 percent of her proceeds to the museum.

It was a nice way to spend a day with good country people.  Still, you had to pity the dogs, drooling and squealing as they writhed in the grass, tortured by the aroma of the chilidogs selling for $3.50 in the concession tent.  The wagging tails, the sloppy tongues, catching Frisbees or chasing tennis balls—all proved to be futile.  This was the day of the machines.        

The Waterloo Farm Museum is eager to welcome new members.  Those who are interested can call Ron Kaiser at 517-851-8745.  The museum is located at 13493 Waterloo-Munith Road in Grass Like.    

In the Spotlight: Waterloo Golf Club

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Haglund and Son: Waterloo Golf Club

“Someone made the statement that Donald Trump has built or owns the greatest collection of golf courses, ever, in the history of golf.  And I believe this 100 percent.”

—Donald Trump

As a boy in Connecticut I caddied for my father.  One of the guys he golfed with was Joe “Long Ball” Thrall whose ‘80s hair blowing in the wind required no harmonica accompaniment.  Another guy my father played with was Victor Reese, a retired attorney and WWII Veteran.  This heroic soldier saved his platoon when he jumped on a grenade.  Reese won a medal for his valor but he lost both hands.

Arnold Palmer taught players to “swing your swing.”  He meant use what works best.  Because I suffer from hip dysplasia I’m unable to pivot my lower body, the engine of the swing.  To compensate I have to use my upper body, but I’ll never hit like “Long Ball” Thrall.  Reese swung his swing by the use of two hooks in place of his hands. I don’t know what his handicap was but he didn’t let his injuries stop him from playing golf.  That’s a profile of courage and valor. I never forgot that.         

This article is the second on local golf courses.  There are many fine courses nearby and I’d like to cover them all but I don’t think my ego could survive.  Golf is like journalism; it’s a craft that demands years of practice, but you never get it right all the time.

The next stop on the 2017 summer tour is the Waterloo Golf Club, a 5,500 square-foot 18-hole course deep in the Township on Trist Road, so far off Mount Hope Road you might need your GPS if you plan a round.  Be sure to bring your mountain goat because many are the hills and dales.

I play Waterloo often because of the camaraderie but learned quickly that picking up the wrong ball is not the way to make friends.

The owner and club pro at Waterloo, Keith Haglund, a Buckeye, lives in a house at the course with his wife Charlene, and son Keith, Jr.  “I’ve been in this business since I was a caddy,” Haglund tells me.  “Back then I didn’t even know how to change a cup.”

We sat at a table strewn with the latest editions of golf publications.  Keith, Jr. is eating a chilidog.  Golf-wise I’m not a late bloomer. When the doctor said “It’s a boy!” my father handed me a putter.  That’s how Tiger got started but some of the worst days of my life have been on golf courses.  Trust me.

Rush Limbaugh, who golfs daily after each edition of his radio show, describes the game as “humiliating.”  Limbaugh once told an interviewer: “I actually think they should make prisoners play this game.  It can be that frustrating.”  Limbaugh also claims that he only shanks balls to the right, because, he says, “nothing good happens on the left.”

Haglund speaks wistfully of the ‘good ol’ days’ at Waterloo in the 1990s when the course was packed with golfers playing in leagues every night from April Fool’s Day until All Saints’s Day in November.  Depending on how you play every round can feel like April Fool’s Day.

Haglund sighs. “It’s been steadily declining since then.  I don’t know.  Social media, maybe.”  Now there are only two leagues a week.  As a pastime, golf stands in a class by itself.  Fishermen will sit in a boat for hours for a tangible outcome—fresh fish.  Hunters rise before dawn and wedge themselves into deer blinds.  If they bag a dear they can pack their freezer with venison.  If they’re a real Hawkeye they bag a buck and mount it over the mantle.

Golf is deceptively simple and endlessly complicated, is as rewarding as it is maddening.  What does the hapless golfer hear if not the golf clap but jeering squirrels each time he watches another ball careen out of bounds?

Thinking on the late Victor Reese helps me put things into perspective.  Complications with my hips have benched me for the season.  I love the fresh air and sunshine, can tolerate squirrels, but more than anything I value my two hands.

Haglund says that Waterloo has been up for sale “for some time,” declining to divulge the asking price.  Not that I’m interested.  It sounds like a major lawnmowing headache.  For Haglund, the fatigue of maintaining the course with a two-man crew and the costs necessary to keep Waterloo open is ever challenging.  There’s a lot of land at stake.  Haglund envisions that the property will become a subdivision within 20 years.  Waterloo opened as a nine-hole course in 1963, back when water hazards were plaid.

“Everybody overbuilt courses,” Haglund says.  “Too many 36-hole courses.  They close a course daily but there’s still too many.”  Though he has the bearing of the Maytag Man he is optimistic but this season only 20 members joined up.  A seasonal membership costs $450.

Keith is the course.  Waterloo is his masterpiece.  It’s his canvas.  He cares about the secluded spot.  If I had to paint a portrait of him it’d be of him on his mower or training a garden hose on each dry patch of fairway.  I’ve been playing there for two years and can’t recall the sight of threadbare greens or fairways thanks to the four capable hands of Haglund and son.                 

Waterloo Golf Club is located at 11,88 Trist Road in Grass Lake.  Don’t be a fool.  Call 517-522-8527 for a tee time.  Walk-ons are welcome.

Village Council to Interview Candidates

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The Village Council is starting interviews for a new Village Manager next week. The Council is holding a special meeting, open to the public, on Monday, August 21st with the sole purpose of interviewing candidates.

The council has initially scheduled 3 candidates to interview, starting at 6:00 pm on the 21st. The council has set aside 30 minutes for each candidate’s initial interview. “If we need more time, we can schedule follow-up interviews” said Council member Carolyn Rees.

The three candidates being interviewed are Jacob VanBoxel, Scott Bray and Danielle MacFarlan.

In other business, the Village heard from Matt Pegouskie from the 5 Healthy Towns about beginning the grant process for the Safe Routes to School where sidewalks would be added to several routes in Grass Lake, including Wolf Lake Rd and east of the Middle School. The grants would cover the complete costs of the sidewalks, residents would not be required to pay 1/2 of the cost as is the current ordinance.

The Coe House Museum was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Council expressed their congratulations to the  Grass Lake Historical Connections for this significant designation.

The Village Council is moving forward with street work in the Village. They will be contracting with the Jackson County Road Commission for the overlaying of Whimple St at a cost of $15k and S Lake St for $8,558. They will look at options for Maple St next budget year.

The Council also moved forward with hiring part-time employee Patrick Morris as a full-time employee to replace Brent Jones, who recently left to work for Manchester.

The council will be reviewing the Department of Public Work Employee benefits and pay at a future time.

American 1 Credit Union Closing GL Branch

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After 20 years in Grass Lake, American 1 Credit Union will be closing their Grass Lake branch. In a letter dated last week to their customers, American 1 announced the closing of the Grass Lake branch effective Saturday, Sept 9th.

Vice President of Marketing & Communications said in an interview with the Grass lake Times, that while it was “not our desire to close, our lease is up and we have to be out.” She said “We hope to be back in Grass Lake… and will continue to look for suitable options for a new location in Grass Lake. We have great members in Grass Lake”. To help customers, the ATM inside of the Kelly Fuels Express Mart is being upgraded to accept deposits. “We are grateful for Kelly Fuels allowing us to expand our ATM footprint within their store.”

The building that the American 1 Grass Lake branch is located in is owned by Sam Choucair, who also owns and runs the Buddys Mini Mart and BP station. Choucair said “Their lease is up. There is a big difference in the price they were willing to pay and what I was offering. While I increased my lease price to help offset the increased costs I am incurring, they countered by offering to pay less than what they currently pay. Their rate has not increased in the last 5 years. I pay almost all the utility bills, the maintenance and more. It is just too costly for the rent they pay.” He reiterated “I want to be fair, its just too costly”.

Choucair said he has no plans for the immediate future for the space. “I am not going to jump into anything yet. I want to see what’s good for the neighbors, good for the community, what’s good for business. I am open to suggestions from the community as to what might be good here. I don’t want to do something that is already being done in Grass Lake. I am open to another bank, I am open to American 1, I am open to food options, I just want to see what the people want.”

American 1 has been a tenant since 1997. Their lease transferred to Choucair upon his purchase of the property in 2002. They have 13 offices throughout the area. Pryor said the closest branches to Grass Lake are the Chelsea office inside of Country Market, the offices in East Jackson and Brooklyn.

She said “they have been looking for a place that has good customer parking, employee parking, a drive-up ATM, drive-thru teller and security. All of those factors are necessary.”