Tour showcases historic Owosso homes

BY ANTHONY RIZZO

For the first time in six years, the city of Owosso will open its doors to several of its historic homes in the area Saturday.

This 2013 Owosso Historic Home Tour will feature local historian tour guides stationed at every property to welcome guests, showcase each property and answer questions.

Schaffer Fox is with the Owosso Historical Commission.

“Owosso actually has a higher concentration of historic homes with unique architecture details than any other city in Michigan. It’s a little known fact. We have nearly 1,000 homes that were built from the beginning of 1836 through 1928, and over 600 of those homes have unique architectural details,” Fox said.

Fox said the community is proud of the history Owosso holds within its homes.

There will be 19 properties on the tour.

Tickets and other information can be found at www.owossohistorichometour.com

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Replica Lady Liberty returns home to Mackinac Island

BY MARCY MISNER

An honor guard of first responders escorted a replica of the Statue of Liberty during the final leg of her journey home to Mackinac Island Wednesday.

A contingent of American Legion members, firemen, policemen and local dignitaries led Lady Liberty in a procession through town as part of the island’s 9-11 ceremonies

The 8 ½ foot tall reproduction was dedicated on the island in 1950.

It’s the only one of its kind in the state.

62-years of weather had taken its toll on the copper statue, and last fall the community launched a restoration effort.

Paul Wandrie with American Legion post 299 said the community support has been tremendous.

“Yes, and so far we’ve raised over $36,000. We need $17,000 currently, to be able to start building the new base and pedestal because we’re going to move the statue and it’s now going to be centered on the marina grounds. People were very excited about us doing this project and it continues, actually,” Wandrie said.

The statue will reside at the Robert Stuart House until spring when the base is expected to be complete.

When the base is complete the statue will be set on the marina grounds so everyone can see her as they arrive on Mackinac Island.

Alcona County hosts second annual arts retreat

BY JENNIFER WEINGART

This weekend Alcona County will host its second annual Arts Retreat.

The event is put on by Inspiration Alcona, and is meant to highlight the area as, what organizers say, “a beautiful and inspirational place for artists.”

Eric Dunckel with Inspiration Alcona said he hopes the event will continue to bring artists to Alcona County and boost tourism in the area.

“It’s a tourism thing. We’re showcasing the county. Where some of the people haven’t been up the sunrise side, they don’t know the northeastern part of the lower peninsula,” Dunckel said.

The three-day event gets under way Thursday night at Lost Lake Woods, highlighted by classes in photography, painting, quilting and dance.

More information and online registration is at inspirationalcona.org

In the interest of full disclosure, Inspiration Alcona is an Underwriter of CMU Public Radio

4th Annual Paracon

BY MARCY MISNER

The 4th Annual Paranormal Convention held this weekend in Sault Ste. Marie was as much a work conference for paranormal researchers as a coming-out-of-the-closet party for 900 like-minded spirit experts and enthusiasts.

People came to see their favorite TV stars, learn about techy electronic gadgets and pick up some really cool t-shirts.

With nearly half of all Americans owning up to a belief in ghosts, according to a February survey from the Huffington Post, the number of people attending the conference each year is growing. Top-rated TV shows that create big names in the paranormal world are fueling interest.

This year Marcy Misner was one of the participants, there on assignment, and she brings us this report.

Walking into Kewadin Casinos, I wasn’t sure what to expect of a paranormal convention. Humming the theme from Ghostbusters under my breath, I opened the door and aimed myself toward a break in the crowd.

Inside a theater, Psychic Chip Coffey, he’s big in the psychic world, was onstage fielding questions from audience members.

Tim Ellis, the event organizer said this Para-con has a large draw.

“We’re hoping between 8 and 900, which would be our largest selling crowd that we’ve ever had. We do know we have a lady here that came all the way from England to be with us this weekend. We know we need to put together an event that has some very recognizable names, some very credible people in the field and then people will make their trip here to the Sault,” Ellis said.

The participants it turns out, came from all walks of life: a physician’s assistant, a truck driver, a school board member, a waitress, you get the picture.

People who are interested in the paranormal might be a sub-culture in America, but they are a sub-culture of apparently regular folks.

The people I spoke with expressed a genuine interest in discovering if there’s an afterlife. They came not only to rub elbows with the rock stars of the psychic world but to arm themselves with information.

Two women from St. Helen, in Roscommon County told me what drew them to the convention.

“Curiosity. Yeah, curiosity, we wanted to learn more, more about the spirit world and how it works. The do’s and don’ts, how to be safe trying to do this stuff. How to protect yourself for if you think you see ghosts or just how to protect yourself for doing the right thing so we don’t draw the wrong ones. We’ve never been here before and we heard about it and we just wanted to come check it out for ourselves and see how it does work and so far yeah, I’m impressed,” the women said.

The convention sold books, crystals and t-shirts along with head-mounted flashlights for seeing in the dark, audio recorders and electromagnetic field detectors

The gadgets are meant to help people who don’t have psychic abilities.

Psychic and radio host Rev. Tim Shaw believes the high-tech tools bring validation to the psychic field.

“Spritualism is so immersed in frauds. The 1920s, they call it the Golden Age, it was terrible. Being a medium was a huge huge thing for women. Mediumship was a way for them to make money and even though they may have started off with the best of intentions, to have to go and produce night after night in order to make money, often goes and leads to fraud. The big thing is now you don’t do anything in the dark, you have witnesses at all times. I have IR cameras on us and that’s why I love it. Skeptics keep my field honest,” Shaw said.

Rev. Shaw walked me through the crowd, pointing out black t-shirted clusters of paranormal researchers. He scanned the crowd to find one of his favorite mentors, Haunted Collector host and demonologist John Zaffis. Zaffis said he believes TV shows and the internet have broken down barriers and taboos for a lot of people.

“Those boundaries of anything being taboo with a person reaching out for help or a person wanting to understand something, those barriers are now gone. The one thing each and every one of us has in common is we want answers to what happens after we leave the physical body. We all want to know exactly what happens once we die. And that’s something we all strive for and we’re all trying to figure out,” Zaffis said.

Attendance at the Michigan Paranormal Conference grows each year.

Organizer Tim Ellis is already planning on the 5th Annual conference for the second weekend in August next year.

Demand for psychic Chip Coffey has led to him returning to Kewadin Casinos in February for another performance and gallery readings.

It doesn’t take a crystal ball to see that people enjoy coming to see what psychics have to say.

Vintage camper show is coming

BY ANTHONY RIZZO
Instead of newest-latest-greatest, people are being invited out to see vintage this weekend in the thumb.  
It’s the fifth annual Vintage Camper Show at Port Crescent State Park.
Officials said they are expecting this year to be the biggest show yet, with 85-plus campers scheduled to be on display.
The campers will be open for tours.
Visitors will have an opportunity to see classic and iconic designs from the woodwork interiors to the fiberglass exteriors.
Brian Aubrey is a Park Ranger at Port Crescent State Park.
“It brings in people from all over to see these vintage campers because you don’t get to see them very often. They’re not common, I guess. So when you put so many of them in one place, it obviously brings a lot of traffic flow to the community,” Aubrey said.
Aubrey said it’s a regional event, and about 20 percent of those who visit the show come from outside of Michigan.

Ice Cream in the heat

BY JENNIFER WEINGART
A high pressure system over the midwest is bringing in temperatures in the 90’s across Michigan. 
One thing summer is regularly associated with is ice cream. So how does record temperatures affect sales?
According to Clyde Dosenberry of Doozie’s Ice Cream Place in Mt. Pleasant, people are less likely to go out for a treat in conditions like this…
“When you have a really hot clear day like today and you’ve got some breeze blowing across and it’s what, 92 degrees out right now, you get people that come in for ice cream, but probably not as many as you would if it was a little cooler because it’s so hot sitting out there,” Dosenberry said. 
Doozie’s is in it’s 28th season and “Mr.Doozie” said flavor favorites haven’t changed much over that time. What has changed are the choices.
More people are going to the far sides of the health scale, picking the lactose-free, diabetic safe soy-based ice cream or the other side to the rich hand dipped flavors.
Mr. Doozie said as the days get hotter more people will be visiting later in the evenings, when the sun isn’t so unbearable.

New development coming to Petoskey’s ‘Big Hole’

BY JENNIFER WEINGART
Residents and visitors to Petoskey will soon have something better to look at as they enter town. The site formerly known as Petoskey Pointe and now mostly known as “that big hole” is in the process of being purchased.
The saga of the Petoskey Pit starts back in 2002 when the block-sized piece of land was purchased by Lake Street Petoskey Associates for an ambitious development project known as Petoskey Pointe.
Excavation began in 2006. However, due to mismanagement and loss of financing the projected was halted around 2008.
The site was foreclosed on. It’s currently owned by Northwestern Bank. Now the Cottage Company of Harbor Spring has announced its plans to buy the site.
Before the purchase is finalized Northwestern will be improving the site so that while construction is in process the city will no longer have the eyesore of the ‘Petoskey Pit.’
Rob Mossburg with The Cottage Company is heading the project.
“Over the next few weeks Northwestern is going to bring in the dirt required to partially fill the site, plant grass, put up a brand new fence and otherwise make the property look very nice until we get to the point where we can actually begin construction on the new development,” Mossburg said.
No specific plans have been made for the future of the site, but Mossburg said the project will be on a smaller scale than Petoskey Pointe and will be more of a natural development of a city block. The Cottage Company will be seeking community input for the plans.
The sale should be finalized and more specific plans made by the end of the summer.