Posts Tagged With: mid-Michigan

Starting a Clare County Library

Timber BattlegroundClare County, Michigan has a rich history, but not one that has inspired a lot of writers to put pen to paper.  As opposed to counties in other sections of the state, like Wayne County,  Kent County or even Grand Traverse County, little has been written about Clare County.

Now that doesn’t mean the Clare County section of the library is bare.  Not in the least.  We have been blessed with a few wonderful historian/writers who have taken it upon themselves to craft some interesting books.  Forrest Meek, Roy Dodge and T. M. Sellers are three that come to mind.  Sadly, after them the pickings get a bit slim.  There are a few still publishing content, like former Judge Jon Ringelberg who is summarizing county court cases from the 1870’s to the present. And, of course, there is this blog (although this content won’t ever appear in a library),  but there’s not a lot more out there, of which I am aware.  Sure, there are books that contain a mention or two of something county related, or that talk about an incident that occurred in the county, but that is about all. 

On the bright side, the lack of books means it can be pretty easy to put together a library! Below are my choices for books that should be in every Clare history buff’s library. And no, I don’t have them all.  Not yet, anyway.

  • Michigan’s Timber Battleground by Forrest Meek
  • Heartland by Forrest Meek
  • Clare (Images of America) by Robert Knapp
  • Ticket to Hell, a Saga of Michigan’s Bad Men by Roy Dodge
  • Ghost Towns in Michigan by Roy Dodge
  • Michigan Rogues, Desperados & Cut-Throats by Tom Powers
  • Michigan Shadow Towns, A Study of Vanishing and Vibrant Villages by Gene Scott (Includes short mentions on Leota, Meredith and Temple)
  • Michigan Place Names: The History of the Founding and the Naming of More Than Five Thousand Past and Present Michigan by Walter Romig and Larry Massie
  • Spikehorn: The Life Story of John E. Meyer by T. M Sellers
  •  A Dictionary of Clare County Citizens Who Served Their Country (1996) by Forrest Meek.
  • Clare Remembered.  The First Hundred Years–An Introduction to the History of the Clare Area  (1979) by the Clare Area Centennial Committee

A couple more books are in the planning stages: One on the Leebove/Livingston murder in 1938 and an Images of America hook on Harrison. Both are due out in 2014.

So, what other books need to be added to this list?

Here’s a link to another site with books about Clare County and links to retailers: http://cliophilepress.com

Oh, one more thing: The lack of books and the wealth of things there are to write about (history and otherwise) means opportunity knocks.  I hope people answer it.

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Categories: Clare County, Harrison, History, Michigan | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Changing my Blog Title

I’ve changed my blog title from “The Moving Finger” to “The Moving Finger in Mid-Michigan” with the tagline “Random musings of Michigan, its History and More.” The title and tagline are more reflective of what I have been writing about since most of my blog entries deal with mid-Michigan, especially Clare and Gladwin counties and history of the area. The name change and addition of tags should help people better find my blog. At least that’s the idea.

And yes, I am still looking for a job (my former tagline mentioned that my musings were done while in search of a job); however, I want people to know that I find the history of this section of the state to be fascinating and this blog is one way for me to share that love.

Categories: Clare County, Gladwin, Harrison, History, Michigan | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

The Mirror on the Tombstone

TombstoneEvery once in a while in my readings I stumble across a place I just have to see. That’s what happened when I was reading through a Clare County genealogy site on MIgenweb.net. There was a story by a man named Roy L. Dodge who was one of the premiere historians in the county about 50 years ago and wrote such books as Michigan Ghost Towns and Ticket to Hell: A Saga of Michigan Bad Boys, (I’m still looking to get a copy of the latter).

Anyway, Mr. Dodge has written a story about a tombstone with a mirror created by Oliver Gosine. It’s a great story and I just had to find that tombstone since no photos accompanied the story. So one fall day, I trudged out to Harrison’s Maple Grove Cemetery and wandered the rows to photograph it. It wasn’t hard since the tombstone is a  tall one.  Sadly, as in Mr. Dodge’s time, there’s is not much left of the mirror. Vandals broke it years ago. I was tempted to install a new one since Oliver Gosine, the man who built the tombstone and hauled it to the cemetery, installed the mirror for a reason.

So read on. And after you read Mr Dodge’s story below that can be found on Clare County Reminiscences, tell me what you think about installing a new mirror.

         UNIQUE OBELISK MARKS HARRISON MAN’S GRAVE

by Roy L. Dodge

TombstoneMany gravestones, especially those more than 50 years old, bear epitaphs, fancy engravings, and were made in many unusual designs.  But, the seven-foot high tombstone of Oliver Gosine who made his own monument in 1925, and lived to be nearly 101 years old, is probably the only tombstone embellished with a plate glass mirror.  “Who knows, but what I may want to come up and take a look at myself once in awhile?”, he said in answer to people who paused to watch him work during the two years it took to make it.

Working in his spare time he selected stones about the size of a golf ball until he gathered enough to make the tall obelisk.  While the cement was still wet he fastened a seven-by-nine inch beveled mirror on the stone at eye level.  When the work was completed to his satisfaction, Gosine loaded the monument on a flat wheelbarrow and wheeled it a half mile to the cemetery near the North Harrison city limits and placed it on his grave-to-be.

Gosine was one of the longest-lived of Harrison’s pioneers.  Born in Montreal, of French descent, Gosine came to the Saginaw Valley when a young man to work in the lumber camps.  “I took a train for a new town called Harrison where zey said I could find work.  When I got off zee train, it was night.”, he said in his soft French accent.  “I took  only a few  steps and fell head first into a pile of brush from trees cut to make a street”, he related in later years.

Gosine, spelled Gatien in French, worked in lumber camps around Harrison until 1891 when the Wilson brothers made him foreman of the ice-cutting crew on Budd Lake.  He was paid the then unbelievable wage of $4.00 a day, more than four times the prevailing rate at that time.

After the logging days when most of the lumberjacks moved to the Upper Peninsula or to other states to work in the timber, Gosine stayed on in Harrison. In later years he worked as a handyman for businessmen and at one time, in the 1920’s, he had a fruit and vegetable stand near his home at the corner of present day US-27 and Main Street.

When he was in his 90’s he would point proudly at the sixty-foot high maple trees along Main Street and say “I planted those trees when they were just leetle fellows”.

In 1927, two years after he completed his tombstone, Gosine and Oliver Beemer were interviewed by a news reporter from Detroit which resulted in the only published history of the logging days when Harrison was “The Toughest Town in Michigan” according to the resulting story.

Photo copies of the full page story with photos of Gosine and Beemer, who were both the same age and in their 80’s at the time, hang in several bars and prominent places in Harrison today.

Gosine, who was a practical joker and a fixture around town until he was 100 years old, embellished the story of the rough-tough early days in Harrison for the newsmen.  “One time I see zee sheriff try to arrest as man in Harrison and it took him and seven deputies to take him to jail,” Gosine told the reporter.  “One time I walk down the street and in 10 minutes see twelve and one-half fights!” The reporter asked him what the half-fight was about.  “Oh, it was nothing.  One fellow said take a swing at me and I hit him first.  That was only one-half a fight.”

Gosine always wore a long, handlebar mustache, of which he was very proud.  He was small and wiry and had a great sense of humor.  “When I die I want to be sure my hair and mustache are combed. Maybe I want to look at myself sometime”, he answered when people asked him why he put a mirror on his tombstone.  He died in January of 1946, just short of his 101st birthday and is buried with the mirror.

Several years ago the mirror was broken, probably by vandals, but enough remains to reflect the sun shining through the overhanging branches of a huge pine tree on a bright day.  The tree was only a seedling when Gosine got off the train in Harrison.

 

Categories: Clare County, Harrison, History, Michigan, Travel and tourism | Tags: , , , , | 10 Comments

Interviews: A Great way to meet People

I’m new to this area. A new full-time resident anyway. I bought a place in the woods between Harrison and Gladwin about seven years ago and came up here with friends and family on a fairly regular basis during all four seasons. I enjoyed hiking and biking, hunting and fishing and learning about the local history, which I find fascinating.

Now, due to changes in my life (mostly unexpected and unwanted), I live up here Marty's home inthe countryfull-time. The nice thing about it is that I get to enjoy the beauty of mid-Michigan and the friendliness of the people seven days a week. I still love it here. I find I am less stressed when I drive, take more time to enjoy the sights and talk to residents, something I didn’t have the chance to do when I was a Sunday trunk slammer. The downside is it is hard in middle age to get integrated into a new community, meet new people and find ways to keep busy.

Record and Clarion logoConducting interviews for The Gladwin County Record and Beaverton Clarion helps me in all those areas. At least once a week I get to sit down with someone from the Gladwin community and find out about them and about the new place I call home. In the short time I’ve done this job I’ve met a man who races motorcycles on ice, a man who seasons sausage, a woman who directs 4-H in the county and a recently retired State Police Fire Marshal who had some great stories to tell. More than people to interview, I’m making one new friend a week. As a result of one interview I’ve decided to join the local Lions club. I will not be racing motorcycles on ice, though.

I’ve also learned a lot about this area, why people live here, what they like about it and why they call it home. And although I do like talking to the people I am called upon to interview, actually transcribing the interviews is a bear. I’m not the greatest typist in the world and I need to carefully type the 3,500 – 4,000 words of the interview into a Word document and then pare them down to 2,000 – 2,500 words while ensuring the text remains accurate, flows easily and reflects the personality of the subject. I have to say I have a greater respect for Barbara Walters and David Letterman now. Interviewing is not as easy as it seems.

I hope people like the result: The people I interview; the readers of the paper; and of course, Stephanie Buffman, the editor, and Mike Drey, the publisher of The Record and Clarion. I appreciate them giving me the chance to write for the paper; I also appreciate the plug they put in each week concerning this here blog.

I hope this gig turns into a real life, full-time job somewhere in the area, and sometime soon. I love Gladwin and Clare counties but, love alone won’t pay the bills. However, in the meantime, I wrote, I transcribe, I volunteer my time (Mid-Michigan Home Care and Clare County Historical Society), get involved with a nice local church I’ve found, and count my blessings–a good way to spend time in this area I now call home.

If you have someone in Gladwin County you’d like to see profiled, drop the editor an email at Sbuffman@thegladwincountyrecord.com. New friends are always welcomed.

Categories: Clare County, Gladwin, Home life, Life, Michigan | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Lost on the Green Pine Lake Pathway

Green Pine Lake mapI got lost on the Green Pine Lakes Pathway in Clare County, Michigan. Twice. Heck, I got lost just trying to find the place.

Now getting lost is not a big deal for me. I can get lost on my way to the my bathroom. That’s why, when I go on a hike,  I generally go where there is a broad path and a well-marked trail. None of that “take the path least traveled” crap for me. Give me well-traveled anytime. And deserted. I hate to run into people when I walk, but that’s a different topic…

Anyway, my walk that day stated out well, well–it did once I found the right spot. My first attempt to find the pathway had taken me to the State Forest Camp ground at Mud Lake. It’s a pretty lake and nice campground and the Green Pine pathway does connect to the campground. However, the connector path is several miles long and several miles from where I wanted to be. Luckily, there was a nice map of the trail created as an Eagle Scout project. So, after reviewing the map I climbed back into my dirty Ford Freestyle and finally found the right parking lot on M-115, and within sight of Lake George Road. I parked I grabbed my camera, cursed myself for forgetting water and headed off down the trail  An identical map by the same Scout was located down the path so I oriented myself and began to walk the level path.

It’s a pretty trail and the first section was easy to navigate. Trees had blue paint and blue medal markers on them and since there was nobody around but me, I was having a grand time. Then I got to the second loop around Green Pine Lake and things started to go awry.  The trail narrowed and about the time I got to a couple off-kilter wooden bridges almost impassable due to vegetation, the markers had disappeared. That left me to flounder about in the dense woods. Although normally when I Obscured Bridgeflounder about in the woods I worry about my bleached bones being found years later, I wasn’t too worried in this case since the sun was out and I could navigate (somewhat) using that. I also had my cell phone with me.

Eventually, the missing blue paint was replaced by red paint and I followed that out to a dirt road and walked the road until it intersected with Lake George Rd. I walked Lake George Rd. for a while and when I figured I was parallel with the part of the Green Pine trail that would take me back to my car I headed cross-country to intersect it. Dumb move given my lack of navigational abilities and woodland skills.

Anyway, once back in the dense woods I mistook a couple of deer trails for the path, wandered/floundered through the remains of a lake bed, through some heavy brush, found evidence of some long-ago beavers and, after 30 minutes, ended up back on Lake George Rd. not far from where I had gone in. At that point, I threw in the towel and walked the road to my car and headed home without incident.

It was a good walk but I wouldn’t do it again and I wouldn’t advise anyone else to do that second loop around Green Pine Lake. I DO plan to go back in the near future and walk the first loop. I think I can do that one. Only this time I will take water, a compass and a map. One can only cheat death so many times.

Pike LakeJune 2012 Update: I received a comment from Mark who has a Hiking Michigan-North/Central Region blog. He walked the trail just recently and also posted an entry about his experience.

Categories: Clare County, Michigan, Travel and tourism, Uncategorized | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

A Cross at the edge of the Woods

White cross on a tree at the edge of the woodsDavid Bruce Popovich died sometime early on Sept. 30, 1995 on Mostetler Road east of Harrison, Michigan. According to the Clare County Cleaver, Popovich was the sole occupant of  a pickup truck that went out of control at a curve on the gravel road and flipped over. Popovich, a self-employed auto mechanic, was 41. He left behind a son, Joshua, who lived in Pontiac, Michigan along with three brothers.

I never knew Mr. Popovich or had even heard of him until a month ago when I was riding my bicycle on Mostetler and spotted a two-foot high cross tied to a tree at a curve in the road at the edge of the woods. The cross was well made but its white paint it had peeled and the writing, what remained, was faded. However, the date of birth and date of death was visible along with the words “in Memory of” in neat lettering.

Something touched me about that faded cross. Maybe it’s the fact that it had been forgotten and I wondered whether Mr. Popovich had too been forgotten nearly 16 years after his passing.  Maybe it’s the fact he had moved up to Harrison from Metro Detroit leaving his family behind, something I too recently have done due to a pending divorce.

After visiting the Cleaver and learning about Mr. Popovich and the details of the crash, I wanted to do something about the condition of the cross so I went to the site, untied it from the tree and took it home. As I sanded it in preparation for repainting I found that someone had put a gold necklace with cross over the upright of the cross. I wondered who had created the cross and placed it on the site and who had put the necklace there and did they still think of David on occasion.

The cross has been repainted and  has is tied to the tree.  I added the wording that I saw on the cross when I first saw it along with the name of the person it honors, although the name may not have been there originally. Maybe others will see the cross, and maybe they will slow down at they approach the curve so no one else will suffer the fate of Mr. Popovich. But if nothing else, I hope it honors a man whose life  ended at the edge of the woods.

June 2018: I have repainted the cross for the 3rd time (last time was probably 2015) and reapplied the words. The wood making up the cross is getting pretty rotten and is soft in places. The cross doesn’t have many more years of life. The necklace is still there.  In addition, the property owners have cut a number of trees in the area but left the cross alone.  

Categories: Harrison, History, Life, Uncategorized | Tags: , | 2 Comments

A Ride on the Pere Marquette Trail in Clare County

Along the Pere Marquette Trail.It was a good day to be on the trail. Few people, fewer bugs, just the way I like it. It was 8 a.m. and still cool as I rode my bike on the paved trail west of Clare, Michigan.  My bike had 15-speeds but I hadn’t used more than a couple on the smooth, relatively level asphalt trail. It was quiet save for the birds and frogs.  I had hoped to see a deer but thus far my wildlife viewing had been restricted to a pair of butterflies playing tag in the morning sun and an occasional chipmunk scampered across the trail.

An hour into my ride, a large white structure appeared, looming high in the distance and reflecting the morning sun in the cloudless blue sky. The rectangular structure appeared out-of-place, an alien intruder in what up to now had been primarily a natural setting of trees, ponds and fields. As I got closer, I recognized it as the century-old concrete coal restocking chute in Lake that had once been used to refill the coal cars of the steam-powered locomotives that ran over the same route on which I now rode my bike. It was not the first railroad artifact I had encountered. And they were expected. After all, I was riding the Pere Marquette rail trail, on the bed of a former railroad track. Now it was an 12-foot wide multi-use trail for bikers, hikers and equestrians in the summer and used by snowmobilers in the winter.

Clare Train depot during railroad eraOnce the railroad depot in Clare, 10 miles to the east, saw up to 40 trains a day rumbling past, engines chugging, whistles blowing and their black smoke filling the sky as they hauled logs such as pine and hemlock along this route from the forests of Clare and surrounding counties downstate to help rebuild Chicago after its 1871 fire and to meet demand of growing Michigan cities like Midland, pond along the Pere Marquette rail trailSaginaw, Flint and Detroit.

However, before the turn of the 20th century the old-growth forests that had brought lumberjacks, shopkeepers and entrepreneurs to the towns and cities of this area had petered out. And as the people left in search of greater opportunities the railroad lines that connected small towns in the area like Lake George and Leota were slowly abandoned. With the coming of the automobile and accompanying roads the abandonment accelerated. Eventually, this Pere Marquette line out of Midland was handling only freight for a few of the industrial customers; eventually it too became unprofitable and was finally abandoned around 1988.

There are signs of the railroad as one rides. A concrete mile marker lies west of Concret Mile marker from the railroad days.Farwell and if one stops along a curve of the  trail, it’s possible to pick up pieces of coal dropped as the the trains.

I  started  my ride that morning (Saturday, July 9, ) at a gravel parking lot just east of Farwell and headed west. A 30-mile stretch of the Pere Marquette rail trail, from Midland to Clare’s eastern border, had been completed in 1993 and the state (thanks to federal money) has been working on the trail west of Clare in spurts. This summer, a 10-mile section from west of Lake to Evart was finished. All that now remains to complete the 55-mile long trail from Midland to Reed City is a 6,000 foot section through Clare.

The trail I rode that day crossed forests of pine and oak, ran alongside ponds where turtles sunned themselves on logs and near an occasional field.  I rode slowly enjoying the sights and even stopped a time or two to pick raspberries.

Although riders must be vigilant since the trail crosses a number of roads, the sights of the modern world are not normally seen along much of this section of trail. That is in contrast to the section east of Clare that parallels U.S. 10 for much of the way.

I rode as far as the new section of trail that had been just laid down west of Lake, about two miles past the concrete coal chute. The section to Evart and beyond will have to wait for another time. As I rode back toward my car, the sun was warm on my face. I greeted a couple of bikers and a woman who was running with her dog.  Everyone was smiling. Yep, it was a good day to be on the trail.

Categories: Clare County, ecology, Michigan, Travel and tourism | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Turtle Watching: Life in the Slow Lane

Face of a painted turtleThere are a number of advantages to living the life of a country squire–or that of an unemployed, soon-to-be divorced man living in the woods of mid-Michigan. One advantage is seeing a slice of life not available to those in the big city. An example is the painted turtle I spotted ambling across my yard Sunday, June 26 in search of a nesting site.

I have seen turtles on my property before (snappers for the most part), and have even seen turtles laying eggs, but until this recent Sunday I never had the opportunity or time to watch the entire process.

I spotted the turtle when I chanced to glance out the window while vacuuming a back bedroom. The turtle, about 6-inches long, was moving at a pretty good clip–maybe 30-feet per minute–across a sandy slope on my property about 50- yards from a pond where I presume the amphibian had emerged. As I watched, she moved in a zig-zag pattern, stopping every once in a while to dig for a few seconds with its front claws before moving on. Occasionally, she would even stay long enough in a spot to dig a shallow hole before deciding, for whatever reason, to move on.

The turtle was on high alert the entire time, sometimes stopping to raise her head high as if sniffing the air  or because she spotted some movement that might signal a predator.

Finally, after 15-minutes of searching, the turtle started to dig in an area of sand found between a few sparse patches of grass and a dandelion. She started with her front claws and switched to the back claws after getting a depression started. The turtle worked quickly tossing dirt hither and yon as she worked. This went on for another 10-minutes before she stopped Painted turtle laying eggsand lowered her backside into the hole and became relatively still.

Once the turtle started laying her eggs, I took my camera and walked out to her to take a photo. Her head turned to watch me with a look that almost seemed to be disapproval. I snapped a couple of photos and walked back inside. After a while, I became bored and went back to vacuuming, peering out the window periodically to see if she had moved.

After 45-minutes, the turtle began to move in earnest, kicking with her back legs but this time replacing the sand instead of ejecting it. I crept back outside and attempted to sneak up behind her, even going so far as to crawl on my belly to film the process. She spotted me right off (I make for a big target), and although she paused for a few moments she went back to burying the eggs as I filmed away.

When satisfied the job was complete and the eggs safe, she began to  amble in the direction of the pond. It was at that point I intervened and picked her up. I measured and  photographed her and even put the date on her bottom shell (plastron) using indelible marker before taking her to the pond and depositing her at its edge where she immediately dove into the water and disappeared.

I went back to the nesting site. The mother-to-be had done a great job or covering the burial site. In fact, had I not marked it when I picked her up to transport her to the pond, I would not have found it. However, the raccoons would have. And they seem to love turtle eggs because every year I find turtle eggshells scattered along the same slope this turtle used. (The above photo shows the remains of eggs along with a quarter used for scale.) To prevent the coons from getting to the eggs, I covered the site with a BBQ grate I will leave a for a couple of weeks, hoping by then the scent of turtle and eggs is gone and the site can remain inviolate until the turtles hatch. According to a couple of websites I reviewed that should happen in two- to three-months.

Ttime will tell whether the turtle will become a mother, although she will never know. Apparently what I saw is as far as the turtle maternal instinct goes. The babes will be on their own when they are born. Maybe I will be vacuuming and get to see them crawl forth. I hope so. That would be pretty cool. Maybe I can be turtle taxi and take them in the pond like I did with their mom.

Categories: ecology, Harrison, Home life, Life, Michigan, Uncategorized | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Cops, Doughnuts, a Small Town, a Growing Tourist Draw

Cops and Doughnuts storefrontPeanut butter and jelly, ying and yang, orange juice and breakfast. They go together like, well like Cops and Doughnuts. No, not the stereotype connection of police officers snacking on the fried snack, but the real thing: The Cops and Doughnuts bakery in Clare, Michigan. The particular bakery has good coffee, a wide assortment of tasty baked goods, clever bakery related merchandise, a strong connection to the community and a great story to tell that all began a couple of years ago on the back of a pizza box.

In 2009, the only bakery in Clare, established in 1896, was in danger of closing. That’s when the nine full-time members of the city’s Police Department banded together to save it. They drafted a business plan of sorts on the back of a pizza box, pooled their resources and purchased the bakery housed in an historic building on the city’s main street. They then set to hiring additional staff and broadened the offerings. The place took off—and not because the bakery’s owners were its own best customers. Locals were glad to still have the bakery. Plus, it was a clever concept and the police officers added to it by installing displays of police related items like badges and photos. The bakery’s opening received press coverage all over the state, which helped contribute to its early success.

The bakery itself was small, with barely room for the counter and a few tables, so when a store next door became available, the bakery expanded into the building, adding even more tables, free Wi-Fi, merchandise including t-shirts, coffee mugs, bumper stickers and even Cops and Doughnuts branded coffees produced by Paramount Coffee of Lansing, MI. Their coffee is sold in stores in five states. The merchandise sports clever statements like “Don’t glaze me, bro,” “Fighting Crime One Doughnuts at a Time and D.W.I. Doughnuts Were Involved. The merchandise is also being sold online at copsdoughnuts.com. While some of the merchandise sports a photo of the nine owners in uniform, all of it mentions the bakery’s location n Clare.

And Clare, Michigan can use the promotion. A town of slightly more than 3,000, it was once a vibrant lumbering town in the late-1800s as trains and wagons brought men and machinery to harvest the giant white pine that grew in the surrounding county.  The money those pines represented then brought retailers, bar owners and other to the area. However, once the trees were gone, the lumbermen moved onto greener pastures, Clare became a sleepy town relying on agriculture and tourism. The city is home to a number of nice shops and boutiques but many are struggling because they lack the number of shoppers needed to survive, much less prosper.

The bakery is helping to grow tourism. While not quite yet “world famous” as some of the bakery’s ads state, people are coming to Clare to visit the bakery.  In fact, the bakery was recently recognized as one of 2011’s “Michigan 50 Companies to Watch” by the Edward Lowe Foundation and presented the Michigan Celebrates Small Business. McEwen, Clare’s main street, was recently one of five main streets in Michigan chosen to receive branding services from the Michigan Main Street Center at Michigan State Housing Development Authority. Among the services were be help in developing a brand to help distinguish main street along with a new logo and a new website.

Cops and Doughnuts is a great example of a community coming together to save a community asset and then taking advantage of branding opportunities to market and grow a business. Whether the police officers knew what they were doing when they developed their initial plan or not, they have done a great job of promoting their business and getting others to help them do so.

The Cops and Doughnuts doughnut logo

The other day I was sitting in the bakery using its free Wi-Fi and overheard one of the owners talking about the fact the bakery’s sign out front sports pink glaze on the doughnut.

According to the conversation, a young girl came into the bakery along with her parents not long after the place reopened. When asked what kind of doughnut she wanted, the girl responded that she had hoped for one with “pink frosting and sprinkles,” but didn’t see a doughnut like that among all the other doughnuts in the display case.

The woman behind the counter told the girl conspiratorially, “We knew you were coming and didn’t want anyone else to buy it so I kept the doughnut with the pink frosting in the back. Wait here.” She then headed into the back.

The owner, who was telling the story, said he followed the woman to see what she was up to because he knew the bakery didn’t have pink frosting. He watched the woman take the red and white frosting they did have, mix them together, smear the resulting frosting on a doughnut, add some sprinkles and head back to the front where she presented the doughnut to the little girl who was amazed to have gotten the doughnut with  pink frosting she was craving.

“I tell that story to all our new employees as an example of the customer service we give here at our bakery,” the owner said, adding that when the bakery’s logo designer asked what color frosting the bakery owners wanted on its sign on the bakery  everyone was in agreement color should be pink, as a reminder of the little girl and the bakery’s commitment to service.

It’s a great story in a bakery with a great doughnuts and a great future. And, as its website states, with cops as owners the bakery is easily one of the safest places around.

Categories: Economy, General, History, Michigan, Travel and tourism, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

A no-win Scenario in Harrison

It’s the Kobayashi Maru–a no-win situation–come to Harrison, Michigan.

We support Michigan Moto Mania lawn signHarrison is a community of some 2,000 people located near the middle of the state’s lower peninsula. Harrison and the surrounding area are relatively poor lacking any major industries and having to depend on tourism and agriculture to stoke its economic engine. And even in regards to tourism, Harrison is more of a stopping point than a destination.  That’s why when Doug and Robin Longenecker, came to town with the promise to being in more tourists and their dollars, the Longeneckers were welcomed with open arms by most of Harrison’s citizens. Unfortunately, one important group of citizens, a group that really matters most–its neighbors–don’t want it.

The facts of the story are this: The Longeneckers purchased 200 acres of land located about 4 miles east of Harrison on Mostetler Road for an attraction they called Michigan Moto Mania. It would be a  road park for motorcycles, quads and various other vehicles. The property the Longeneckers chose consisted of rolling terrain off of a lightly traveled country road. The surrounding area had few residents, but most of the land was in private hands with some state land sprinkled about.

Mosteller RoadThe Longeneckers purchased the property on land contract  after receiving a variance from the township zoning board that the land could be used for the purpose the new owner intended. The township zoning board, consisting of volunteers, was more than happy to grant that  variance, especially since it would mean additional visitors and dollars to the community.

There was just one problem. The zoning board gave its blessing to the plan without giving the neighbors in the immediate vicinity proper notification as required by law. So when the Longeneckers began to cut down trees and bulldoze trails for MMM, several neighbors went ballistic–and one can’t blame them. Most of the neighbors purchased their property in order to enjoy the peace and quiet of the countryside, to watch deer in their yards along with wild turkeys, fox, birds and other assorted wildlife. They didn’t have anything against a resort for motorized vehicles, they just didn’t want it located on Mostetler Road where they would be subjected to the whine of small motors and the roar of large motors day in and day out.

So the neighbors filed suit and have stopped MMM in its tracks and trails. Although the Township Board andMMM property and trails Township Planning Commission have both voted in favor of MMM, the Zoning Board of Appeals and the township attorney have ruled against it.  The courts have so far failed to rule other than to keep the track from opening and tossing the problem back to the township to resolve.

So it’s neighbor against neighbor. The Longeneckers played by the rules, but may lose their investment due to the incompetence of a zoning board that consisted of volunteers who were trying to do what they thought was the right thing. However, members of that board failed in their duty to protect the rights of nearby landowners who should have had a voice and who just want to enjoy their isolated homesteads in peace.

MMM has a Facebook page and has more than 2,100 friends. At least one blogger opposed to the resort posts on a blog called the Hayes Township Watchdog. Sadly, both sides demonize the other. So no matter what happens, someone is going to be harmed and someone’s rights will be trampled. It’s an ugly situation in a town my wife and I have grown to love.

Update: According to an article in the January 13, 2011 issue of the Clare County Cleaver,a local newspaper, the Longneckers have submitted a new plan “complete with a variety of nature-themed activities including horseback riding, cross country skiing, hiking and camping.” The same article states that the opposition seeks removal of  Zoning Board Chairman Lyle Criscuolo from the Zoning Board stating he is biased toward granting a permit to Longeneckers to open their resort.

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