Traverse City’s Kid’s Creek coming above ground

BY AMY ROBINSON

A Traverse City creek that’s been flowing through underground pipes for decades will see the light of day again Friday.

A portion of Kids Creek that flows through the Munson Medical center campus will be day-lighted at a ceremony this afternoon.

The Munson River rehab is part of a larger project aimed at improving Kids Creek so that it can be removed from the State’s “impaired waters” list.

Steve Tongue is the Vice President of Facilities with Munson.

He said the hospital is pleased to be able to participate in restoration project.

“The total cost came in at just under two-million dollars. There’s about a quarter of a mile of creek, and all of this was restored to really the way it would’ve been, you know, 150-years ago before any human development,” Tongue said.

Tongue said the restored creek will improved the ecology for fish and wildlife. It’ll also act as a buffer between the Munson campus and the nearby community.

He said the hospital timed the release of the creek for after vegetation had become established and before the spawning season.

A public ceremony is planned for the creek release at 1:00pm tomorrow this on the Munson campus in Traverse City.

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25 new dairy manufacturing jobs coming to Thumb

BY AMY ROBINSON

25 new jobs and $40,000,000 in investments are coming to Cass City in the Thumb.

The State is supporting a plan to build a new dairy manufacturing plant.

The Dairy Farmers of America, who are behind the project have been awarded a-half-a-million-dollar Michigan Business Development Program grant.

Jamie Clover-Adams is the Director of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

“It’s an excellent example of how communities in a region in the state can work together to have a project come to fruition. It’s also an example how the food and agriculture sector is really adding the state’s economy; adding jobs and investment and improving the value chain, and that benefits everyone in Michigan,” Clover-Adams said.

Clover-Adams said this is considered phase one of the expansion project. She said the market for milk and milk products is, in her words, “infinite.”

And she said that spells good news for the new factory and for the entire supply chain in the thumb and throughout the state.

Wolf hunting licenses going on sale

BY DAVID NICHOLAS

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is reminding hunters that licenses for the upcoming wolf hunt go on sale Saturday starting at noon.

A total of 1,200 licenses will be available until October 31, or when the quota is met.

Several DNR field offices will be open from 11:30 am to 5 pm on Saturday to facilitate the license sale.

Wildlife and Law Enforcement staff will also be available to answer any wolf hunting questions.

The DNR has established a 2013 Wolf Hunting Digest online for more information regarding the hunting dates and regulations. The site is michigan.gov/dnrdigests.

Clare to receive grant for new industrial park

BY ANTHONY RIZZO

The City of Clare is set to receive a federal grant to develop a new industrial park. The hope is that it will lead to the creation of new, high-paying jobs.

The competitive grant of over $2.5-million is expected to cover roughly half of the project.

Officials said the grant is a critical investment to help grow the economy and make Clare a better place to expand business.

Ken Hibl is the City Manager of Clare.

He said the grant is not yet a done deal; it’s still preliminary.

“We do have a number of steps to go through the process. Formal notification will be the first of those and the secondarily, and most importantly, is that we have to demonstrate to the city commission that we can afford the local match and how we’re going to fund the money that we need to provide to make this happen,” Hibl said.

Hibl said he is optimistic to gather the remaining funds to complete the project.

He said he expects to fund the rest of the project through the city’s water and sewer funds and other loans and bonds.

Health officials raise concern over measles

BY AMY ROBINSON

A new report from the Centers for Disease Control has Michigan health officials once again calling for children to be vaccinated.

The CDC said Michigan is one of 16 states that have reported measles cases so far this year.

Health officials said the disease is rare in the U.S., but it could spread due to high levels of measles in other countries and frequent international travel.

Dr. Matthew Davis is the Chief Medical Executive for the state of Michigan in the Department of Community Health.

He said some parents are avoiding the vaccine due to misinformation.

“There has been increasing concern among members of the public, parents in particular, about the safety of the measles vaccine. and there’s a lot of information and rumors online about the measles vaccine being hazardous for kids. And while there is no risk-free type of medicine or vaccine, measles vaccine has been demonstrated to be safe and is not associated with autism or other particular concerns,” Davis said.

Dr. Davis said measles is “not something to be taken lightly.”

It can cause encephalitis, hospitalizations and even death.

Senate passes sex offender bills to prevent “loitering” near child care centers

BY AMY ROBINSON

The Michigan Senate Wednesday unanimously approved a bill that its sponsor calls “common sense.”

The measure would prohibit registered sex offenders from loitering within 1,000 feet of a child care center.

Republican Senator Darwin Booher sponsored the bill.

“And the bill came from a constituent back in my district that has a daycare center where this was happening.
These deals don’t just come from my thinking them up in the middle of the night, this was actually happening in my district, and that’s what brought the bill forward,” Booher said.

Booher said he began pushing for the legislation in 2011. He said it became bogged down in a discussion over what ‘loitering’ means.

Booher said wording was developed that satisfied him and his staff as well as the ACLU and the Michigan State Police.

The measure now goes to the State House.

Niche businesses doing well in Michigan

BY MARCY MISNER

If niche businesses rely on a large population center and active buy-in from a customer base, then surely those in Northern Michigan must be one step behind. With smaller towns meaning fewer people to visit any specialized store, tourism can give a boost in the summer months. to small town shops.

But that doesn’t mean success is hard to achieve, even in small towns. Just look at a Traverse City-based businessman who’s providing an up-and-coming U.S. appetite for high quality olive oils and vinegars, and a Cedarville-based wooden boatbuilding school that’s riding a swelling wave of success.

People raised eyebrows in 2008 when Jim Milligan opened Fustini’s. The business sells just two things: flavored vinegars and flavored olive oils.

In the past five-years, Milligan has opened 5 stores, with two more planned in Maui.

Joan Perez from Kent County was in the Mackinaw City store recently.

“I wanted to get a really good balsamic vinegar and I thought I’d give it a shot. And I found it. My husband’s going to be thrilled. I’m Italian and we make a lot of salads. I live on salads and this is going to be with tomatoes, I’m just excited,” Perez said.

With the economy struggling to find its feet, it may seem like a hard time for niche businesses, but that may be the very thing working in their favor. While specialty shops don’t have a huge customer base, those consumers are loyal. and even when budgets are tight, and people may forgo expensive vacations, they still making room in their budgets for some of the things they love.
Of course, niche businesses can also get a leg up by tapping into a cultural trend, and perhaps no ‘trend ‘ is as strong right now as health and wellness. Health-conscious consumers, like our shopper Joan, seem to love the the pure olive oils and natural balsamic vinegars that Fustini’s carries

“I plan on making it to 95. I think you could live as long as you want if you eat correctly and exercise every day. I absolutely believe that. So I have a goal to do that,” Perez said.

So, it seems some niche businesses succeed by making their customers healthier and happier. For others, success comes from making their communities healthier.

This group of entrepreneurs wanted success for their town of Cedarville, and used that as their launching-off point for The Great Lakes Boatbuilding School. It is one of just 5 major boatbuilding schools around the US, and the only inland school on the Great Lakes.

“It was founded in 2006,” McIntire said.

That’s Bud McIntire, a 2011 graduate and now director of student services for the school.

“That’s when a group of local citizens, both permanent residents and a number of people that are summer visitors and have been for over 100 years, their families, got together and decided they wanted to start a new enterprise. In the beginning it wasn’t necessarily a boatbuilding school, they just thought that they would like to do something to sort of jumpstart the economy. To build a new enterprise because nothing had been built here in quite a while,” McIntire said.

During a tour of the facility McIntire told me that a nucleus of residents wanted a year-round business that reflected the area’s culture and that locals would rally behind. The community goals came first.

“The more they thought about it, there was such a heritage of wooden boatbuilding in this immediate area, I mean there were wooden boat shops all over this area that they decided that would be a great tie-in. It’s a worthwhile enterprise, it matches up with the heritage of the area. There are jobs available when you graduate, so all of those things made sense,” McIntire said.

A boatbuilding school isn’t going to bring in a lot of foot traffic like a retail store, but it will bring in educated men and women, some of whom will stay in the area. The school and its students spend money in the community. Cedarville is seeing the financial benefit of the school and the cultural benefit is also gaining ground.

Boat shops across the nation are depending on craftsmen who are in their 60s and 70s. There aren’t enough young skilled workers to take their place.

McIntire said this school is working with boat shops to fill that deficit.

We’re also filling in as the older craftsmen retire, so we’re maintaining a tradition that’s been in place for well over a hundred years in the Great Lakes area.

The boatbuilding school is continuing to anchor itself in the community and in the culture of boatbuilding with an increasing number of graduates and new collaborations with master boatbuilders downstate.

In the meantime, Forty five minutes to the west, Fustini’s is finding that adding flavor to the community has proved to be its recipe for success.

Even small businesses can survive in small towns.

From boats to vinegar, both ideas show how handpicking the untapped desires of an area can make for successful endings.