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Scott Bray

 

Downtown Grass Lake Fairy Doors Bringing Delight to Kids of All Ages

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“Big People” housing is not the only growth occurring in Grass Lake. During the past couple of months, numerous Fairy Doors have been found throughout downtown Grass Lake.

The lore behind the doors claims that they are portals to a fairy world, and that the doors arrive and disappear by surprise. Many fairy doors are to be found in woods and parks in Ireland and the United Kingdom. Urban Fairies, like those found in Grass Lake first appeared in Ann Arbor in the baseboards of the home of Jonathan and Kathleen Wright in 1993. In April of 2005 the first public fairy door was seen on the exterior of Sweetwaters Coffee and Tea.

Grass Lake’s fairy doors can be traced back to Bethany Stone, owner of The Painted Owl in Grass Lake. “I was looking for inexpensive ways to promote my new business.” She had seen the fairy doors in Ann Arbor, Dexter and Chelsea and thought it would be a “cute idea to get kids out and about walking through Grass Lake searching for them (fairy doors).” Designs by Judy donated 6 doors towards the project and Stone ordered 4 more. There are currently 10 doors scattered throughout downtown Grass Lake between the Grass Lake Co-Op and the Painted Owl.

Designs by Judy sells all the supplies needed to create your own fairy garden or forest in your home, garden or yard. A recent Saturday morning brought 45 children to the Roaming Goat for a fairy building event hosted by The Painted Owl. Kids were provided with their own doors that they could paint, decorate, glitter and personalize for their own fairy door.

Tuesday afternoon, Sawyer Frost (age 2) was walking along the sidewalks of downtown beside her mom and little brother with a fistful of pennies. She would stop at the fairy doors, leave a penny and make a wish. Her mom, Trish, explained that the tokens were left for the fairies in the hope they would grant the wish. Sawyer’s wish at the fairy door outside of Comerica Bank was that her dad would have a good day at work. Bethany Stone explained later that kids, or adults, can leave a trinket such as a button, marble, coin or gem for the fairies while making a wish. “A resident along N Lake St who has a Fairy Forest left tiny bottles of fairy dust at the different doors” she added.

Stone said she was hoping to get people “to enjoy art as much as I do”. She was “thrilled” to hear that the Grass Lake fairy doors were becoming so popular.

As the weather warms up, take a stroll throughout downtown Grass Lake. Bring some trinkets and make your wishes. Children who find all 10 fairy doors can bring their map in to the The Roaming Goat Coffee Shop for a FREE fairy drink. See The Painted Owl or Roaming Goat Facebook pages for more detail.

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Grass Lake Dollar General Slated for Mid-Summer Opening

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Grass Lake’s Dollar General, the 16th to open in Jackson County is slated for a “mid-summer” opening according to Laura Somerville, Corporate Communications for Dollar General.

“When choosing store locations, meeting customers’ needs is Dollar General’s top priority.  The company looks for places where we can offer customers an easy and convenient shopping choice.  We know convenience is a major factor in our customers’ shopping decisions as we generally serve customers within a three to five mile radius, or 10 minute drive.  We also take demographic trends, competitive factors, traffic patterns and community concerns into consideration.”

She continued “The store will employ approximately 6-10 employees, depending on the individual needs of the store. Anyone interested in joining one of America’s fastest-growing retailers may apply for available positions online at www.dollargeneral.com/careers.”

Weather and other construction factors will impact the opening of the store. Once they get closer to the end of the construction, they will be able to narrow down the grand opening date.

Progress continues at the construction site as the parking lot has been completed and the exterior walls are up. The mild winter has helped the progress continue ahead of schedule.


GL Sports & Trails Sign to Get Needed Update

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The Grass Lake Community Sports & Trails Recreation Park sign is showing its age with wear and tear. The southern side, which gets more sunlight and weather, is faded and running, making it almost unreadable. Township Trustee Tom Brennan said the “difference between the north side and the south side is night and day.”

The Grass Lake Charter Township Board voted last month to contract with Artvertise Neon & Signs to power wash the sign, remove the old vinyl graphics and chalking effect, clean it as well as possible and then re-apply the vinyl graphics. This should give the sign a “good as new” look.

The cost of the repairs was $1,000.

As one of Grass Lake’s crown jewels, its important to keep it looking its best.


In the Spotlight: The Computer Source

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Everyone has computer glitches from time to time. Some more than others.  Who you gonna call?

How about The Computer Source, owned and operated by Loveesh Thatai, the only game in town when it comes to computer building, sales and service. Born in India, Thatai studied in the United Kingdom and brought his expertise across the Pond to the United States of America and hung his shingle in Grass Lake.

Recently The Computer Source moved from its headquarters from  near Ryan’s Restaurant to 113 E. Michigan Avenue in the heart of the Village.

The Computer Source, a small business that also installs surveillance cameras for those who wish to protect their homes, caters to residents with house calls when needed.  “I learn something everyday,” says Thatai, who estimates that he puts in 65-hours a week tinkering on that which makes the world go ‘round.

“To me, it’s not really work because I love what I do,” he says.  Regarding inventory Thatai dabbles with many brands, including High Definition televisions, which are all over his slender shop lodged between the storefronts of Comerica Bank and The Copper Nail.

“Everyone wants laptops, he says, custom-built laptops. People like to pick and choose what they want. It’s more personal.”

He sits behind his desk with a blue-tooth ear-piece to take calls from those in great need to restore or create designer computers. Technology has come a long way, he says.

“Much faster, more user friendly.”

Apple Computers, he says tend to be more expensive while PCs tend to be more popular because they have greater capability and tablets fly off the shelves of his spartan shop with rows of new products and a water cooler behind his desk.

“People are more into smart phones,” he says.  Imagine: a supercomputer in the palm of your hand.

“Computers are always going to be relevant,” he says.  They’re getting smaller and smaller.  We build desktops smaller than a phone book.”

A phone book?  What’s that?

Nowadays computers are affordable, just check out the Sunday circulars and you can find a laptop for less than $200.

“I like to build quality products,” Thatai says.  I want to build something that I can stand behind.  And I’m the only game in town.  I love being in Grass Lake, a very welcoming community.”

For all your computer needs contact The Computer Source at 517-522-4445. or email the Computer Source at sales@thecomputersource.net.  Hours are from M-F 10-6, Sat 10-2 pm.  After hours resources are available by appointment.

Check out their website at thecomputersource.net.  The Computer Source is located at 113 E. Michigan Avenue and is available for service in Chelsea, Brooklyn, Ann Arbor, Jackson, Dexter, Lansing, Albion, and Dexter.


Grass Lake Fire Department Serves and Protects

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Heroes are not recruited, they’re not born with special talents, they’re simply men and women who are presented with a situation and act in a selfless manner that exceeds normal expectations.

This past week, I spent an evening with two of Grass Lake’s finest, Fire Chief Greg Jones and Captain Brent Jones, who also happens to be Greg’s son, talking about the Grass Lake Fire Department’s vehicles, equipment and more. Both men agreed to meet with me at the fire station on E Michigan Ave after their regular work day.

The Grass Lake fire department is staffed by volunteer, paid on call firefighters. That means that there are no full-time firefighters, nor is the station staffed at anytime. When a call comes in, the firefighters leave their work, their family event, farm or whatever they are doing to respond to the call. All available firefighters respond to the station where they then respond to the call. The firefighters are paid for the time they are out on a call, an hourly rate of $15 per hour. While all the firefighters are volunteers, they have to meet significant training and physical requirements. The gear alone, weighs in the neighborhood of 75 lbs.

Grass Lake Township and Village residents pay for the fire department through two millages. The first millage, the Grass Lake Fire Department Building, funds the cost of the fire station built in 2004. That millage, .256 mils per $1,000 will be paid off in 2017. This is the last year this tax will be collected. For a home with a taxable value of $75,000 that will be a savings of about $19.20 per year. The funding for the operation of the fire department, the equipment and vehicles comes from the Grass Lake Fire Department Operating millage. That millage is 1.2294, or $1.2294 per $1,000 of taxable value. That equates to $92.20 for a home with a taxable value of $75,000. The Operating millage has to be renewed by the voters every 5 years. Without the millage, there would be no fire department in Grass Lake.

The fire department has responded to an average 25 calls per month during the last 12 months. Chief Jones, a 42 year veteran, said it is quieter during the winter months as they have responded to an average 18-20 calls per month the last few months. “It will pick up as spring comes” he said. The overwhelming majority of calls are medical calls, almost 85% the last few months. Medical calls consist of a variety of reasons; hear attacks, trouble breathing, vehicle accidents, trauma (like falling off a roof, ladder or tree stand), diabetic issues and more, generally anything that can be considered life threatening. While ambulances are also dispatched for every medical call, their response times vary greatly based on where the nearest ambulance is. Brent said “sometimes they beat us to the scene and sometimes we are waiting 20 minutes for one to arrive. We have to be prepared for every scenario the moment we get the call”.

The department consists of 25 firefighters, men, women as well as cadets. There are currently 8 fire vehicles, excluding the 1940’s Village Fire Truck that is used during parades. The oldest truck is T4 (Truck 4), a 1972 Dodge DNR Truck. This truck is on loan from the DNR and used to fight large grass/brush/swamp fires. “We use this only on the really large fires” said Captain Jones. “We have had grass fires that were close to 100 acres”

Firefighter gear is incredibly expensive, yet worth every penny. All the gear is the same for all the firefighters and the cadets. The department uses Globe Turnout Gear. The whole gear weighs nearly 75 lbs. A common misconception is that it is fire proof. Brent was quick to point out that “In an emergency, it buys a guy time. In a flash over, it won’t save you, thats where most guys don’t make it.” The boots are leather boot with rubber soles that are slip resistant. The boots contain a steel plate that protects the firefighters feet from nails and other sharp items that might puncture the boot. The total cost for each firefighter’s gear is close to $3,000.

Vehicles are obviously one of the biggest costs to the fire department. The fire department has in place a truck replacement plan that allows replacing a vehicle every 3 years, ensuring that vehicles will be used only for 21 years before being replaced. Money is set aside each year out of the millage so that the vehicles are paid for with cash, leaving the fire department with zero debt. All the vehicles are proudly built by Michigan companies. By keeping the vehicles newer (less than 21 years) and maintaining them properly, it ensures a better fire rating, which lowers homeowners insurance rates.

Chief Jones recently replaced the tires on Engine 2, at a cost of over $2,500. “Thankfully we only have to replace them about once every 10 years” Greg Jones added.

“Each vehicle has its own specialty and use” said Brent Jones as he walked me through the vehicles in the fire station.

Truck 3 (T3) is a custom built 1993 Ford 350 that is used as a multipurpose vehicle that transports 2 firefighters. It is used primarily for medical runs, highway accidents, ice water rescue.

Rescue 1 (R1), built in 2002, transports an avg 3-4 firefighters is one of the primary vehicles used because of its medical centric usage. It contains all the necessary medical equipment, including oxygen, burn kits, narcon drug, epipens and advanced equipment such as the jaws of life, air bags for lifting heavy objects off of people and its own generator to increase power to the extraction tools.

Engine 1 (E1), was built in 2006. An impressive vehicle that one can just admire for its beauty, let alone its practical usage. It holds 1,000 gallons of water, 1,200 feet of 4 inch hoses for those really long driveways, ladders, lots of ladders, axes, pike poles and self contained breathing packs (air tanks).The air tanks last an average 15-20 minutes depending on the person and the amount of activity. This vehicle can pump water at 1250 gallons per minute, however it usually runs at 60-90 gallons per minute.

Tanker 1 (T1) is a massive vehicle. Built in 2010, this tanker holds 2,000 gallons of water and has a built-in portable 2,500 tank that can be filled by other tankers when no hydrants are available. Most of the Township outside of the Village has no fire hydrants. This tanker is often used to provide water for E1.

Engine 2 (E2) is an older WhiteGMC drafting truck. This tanker is also used to feed E1 as needed. It is called a drafting truck because it can draft water from creeks, ponds or lakes. It can also be used to fight fires directly, as all of the vehicles except for Rescue 1 are capable of.

As a point of reference, during the Federated Church fire last January, the fore department pumped in excess of 200,000 gallons of water. The Village Water Tower holds 500,000 gallons of water when full.

Truck 2 (T2) is probably the coolest fire vehicle around. A custom 2009 Jeep, this vehicle is primarily used to fight grass, brush and swamp fires. 4wd allows this vehicle to go just about anywhere it is needed, even if that is off the beaten path.

Truck 1 (T1) is a 2014 Chevy VTech 4WD that is also used to fight grass, brush and swamp fires. It has also been customized to allow for a Stokes Basket, or in layman’s term, allows securing a stretcher to the back for bringing injured people back to civilization. It carries 150 gallons of water which Brent pointed out “goes a long way”. Along with T2 this vehicle also carries foam retardant.

Truck 4 (T4) is the 1972 Dodge Ram that is on long term loan from the DNR. This vehicle is used as backup for really large grass, brush, swamp fires.

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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.