2016 Year In Review | Part Two

Happy New Year! The year 2016 was a busy one for Grayling and Crawford County. With 2016 coming to an end, the Crawford County Avalanche presents Part Two of its annual Year In Review feature. Part Two includes July through December. Part One (January through June) was included in last week’s Crawford County Avalanche.
A few of the things covered in the Year In Review feature for the second half of 2016? 
Construction projects: Grayling Elementary School makes major upgrades. The new North Down River Road bridge opens for traffic. The second phase of Michigan Avenue reconstruction begins. 
Anniversaries: The Lovells Bridge Walk celebrates its 25th year. Grayling Middle School celebrates its 100th. The Spike’s Challenge C-2 race has record numbers while celebrating its 25th year.
Other big events get bigger. The AuSable River Canoe Marathon has its largest field ever, plus a photo finish and a change to its time trials course. The GRA 10K/5K has record numbers. The Black Bear Bicycle Tour returns in a revamped format with the Black Bear Gran Fondo, and hundreds of cyclists participate. The Crawford AuSable Thanksgiving Day Dinner serves a record number of meals.
Other stories as well. Elections, both primary and general. A recount that stops before it starts. End of a county-wide recycling effort. Upgrades for the county’s 911 service. Recognition for veterans of Vietnam and World War II. Awards for local artists. A homecoming dilemma. Donations. Arauco’s plans for a new particleboard plant on Four Mile Road. The Festival of Trees and the Christmas Walk. The buck pole. The new Viking Pantry at Grayling High School. These stories, and more were included in the pages of the Crawford County Avalanche in 2016.
Please enjoy the second part of our annual Year In Review feature, and have a great 2017.
Two million dollars in upgrades are being made at the Grayling Elementary School in preparation for the 2016-17 school year. The improvements are focused on the long term maintenance of the building, including replacement of the roof, heating systems, bathrooms for student use, and flooring.
On July 4, during the Grayling Main Street Paddle Battle, a field of 32 paddlers – some of them past and present AuSable River Canoe Marathon competitors, some of them not – competed in a single elimination bracket-style tournament in front of dozens of spectators. Event organizers built a small pool on Michigan Avenue and put a canoe in it. Competitors had to be in the canoe face to face and then – at the starting horn – paddle in an effort to reach the opposite side of the pool and win. Mo Harwood took first place in the event.
Grayling Recreation Authority (GRA) conducted the Firecracker 1-Mile Fun Run – an annual event that raises money for the GRA cross country program and gives young runners the opportunity to run in front of parade spectators – on July 4. The event had a different course this year due to a construction project on Michigan Avenue. The Firecracker Fun Run started several years ago as the final race for GRA’s K-5th grade cross country club, AKA the “Grayling Mighty Milers.” In 2012, GRA opened the race to the public and turned it into a fundraiser.
After 11 years serving uninsured and needy residents in northern Michigan with health care and other resources, the AuSable Free Clinic operations are being taken over by a new department at Munson Healthcare Grayling Hospital. With this new model, both the AuSable Free Clinic and Munson Healthcare Grayling Hospital hope to expand their resources and provide assistance to a greater population of patients.
A county-wide recycling program that has been in operation since 2014 will cease at the end of July. Due to the increased cost of recycling and the drop in the value for recyclable materials, a majority of the townships are splintering off from the county-wide program. The Grayling Township Recycling Center will only accept materials from residents in the township beginning Aug. 1.
Former Grayling resident Terry Mathew Streib, 52, who is already facing up to life in prison for attempted murder, was charged with another felony for threatening an inmate in the Crawford County Jail and his family.
Hundreds of cyclists participated in the Grayling Rotary Club’s Black Bear Gran Fondo – a retooled version of the Black Bear Bicycle Tour – on July 9, completing a 101-mile loop or a 57-mile loop, both of which started and finished at Hanson Hills Recreation Area. According to the event’s list of results, 180 cyclists had official finish times.
Grayling High School’s varsity girls soccer team recently announced its awards for the 2016 spring season; the group of honors included five all-district selections and two all-league awards. Molly Leslie was all-conference and Cortney Hickman was an all-league honorable mention. Leslie, Hickman, Natalie Amy, goalkeeper Mollie Binert, and Jackie Denton were all-district selections for the Vikings.
The varsity softball program from Grayling High School had five all-league honors and six all-district selections this year. Erin Prosser, a junior, and seniors Chrissy Bonamie and Maryn Burrell earned spots on the all-league first team. Jackie Bulmer and Emma Prosser were all-league honorable mentions. Grayling’s six all-district players this year were: Burrell (OF), Emma Prosser (C), Shae-lin Kraycs (UTIL), Sally Metiva (P), Erin Prosser (SS), Bonamie (OF). As a group, the Vikings earned an all-district sportsmanship award.
Grayling High School’s varsity baseball program recently announced its team awards and other honors. Thomas Barnes, senior shortstop, was an all-league first team selection for Grayling. Barnes was also all-district, all-region, and second team all-state. Justin Nicholas, sophomore pitcher and first baseman, was an all-league honorable mention.
The AuSable River Canoe Marathon’s time trials event will have a significantly different course than in previous years. The old course started at Penrod’s. Paddling teams went downstream first, turned around at a buoy, and finished the loop coming upstream. The new course will start at Penrod’s, same spot as in previous years. Paddling teams will now go upstream first, turn around at the halfway buoy at the Old AuSable Fly Shop, and finish coming downstream. The buoy turn at the halfway point – an aspect of the time trials that some paddlers say is the most difficult part of the sprint – was not readily accessible to spectators with the old course; with the new course, it will be.
The Crawford AuSable School District’s Board of Education approved a bid for $100,443 from the Saginaw-based Simoni Systems, Inc. to upgrade sound and production equipment for school facilities. A portion of the funding will be used to upgrade the sound system at Viking Stadium, which was built in 1995, where football games and track and field meets are held. The analog sound system will be replaced with a digital sound system for better quality. Other funding will be spent to upgrade equipment in the Joseph Stripe Auditorium from analog to digital.
The Crawford County Board of Commissioners approved a resolution naming Peninsular Fiber Network, LLC as the county’s primary 911 Service Supplier. The board also adopted a Letter of Action to allow Peninsular Fiber Network, LLC to receive 911 calls, databases and other information from telephone service providers providing service to customers in Crawford County. The agreement means that Peninsular Fiber Network, LLC will install Next Generation 911 or NextGen 911 technology at Crawford County’s 911/Central Dispatch Center. Fiber optic cables, which have the capacity of carrying more data at a faster pace, will replace copper cables provided by the telephone carriers.
The AuSable River Canoe Marathon’s entry list had 96 paddling teams, a number that would break the Marathon’s record for most competitors. The Marathon’s all-time record for most teams going into the 2016 event was 94, a mark established in 2010.
A 19-year-old man drowned in a Crawford County lake. Crawford County Sheriff Kirk A. Wakefield said deputies were dispatched to Staley Lake in Grayling Charter Township, a search was initiated, and a 19-year-old man from Michigan was located; he was deceased. It appears that the man drowned in the lake and the incident is still under investigation, Wakefield said.
Forty-five paddlers raced from Grayling to Burton’s Landing in one-person canoes during the 2016 Spike’s Challenge C-1 event. Overall numbers for the C-1 event were lower than normal this year. The C-1 race begins in Grayling near Borchers AuSable Canoeing and ends at Burton’s Landing. For the start, paddlers line up on both sides of the river in groups and leave in different heats. Starting positions are determined by random draw. Michael Davis – out of 36 Expert Division paddlers – took first place overall with a final time of 0:42:25. Rebecca Davis won the Women’s Division with a time of 0:47:17. 
This year, 12 of the top 13 Spike’s Challenge C-2 teams at sprints also finished in the top 13 during the race. At the sprints event, teams paddled upstream first on the pond in the city park, went through a narrow opening under a railroad bridge, turned around at a buoy near the courthouse, paddled downstream, went under the railroad bridge a second time, and finished at the starting area near the pedestrian bridge in the park. Year after year, the top sprinters consistently finish near the top during the race, making the sprints for position an event that provides a good forecast of which teams fans can expect to place in the top spots. Spike’s Challenge C-2 race champions Mathieu Pellerin and Guillaume Blais, both of Quebec, had the top sprint time at 4:23.0.
Going into the 2016 Spike’s Challenge C-2 event – a canoe race from Grayling to McMasters Bridge – only 11 different paddlers had finished in first place during the event’s first 24 years. Now, that number is 13. The battle for first place came down to two teams that were side by side as they approached the finish line. In the end, Mathieu Pellerin and Guillaume Blais – both of Quebec – edged the team in canoe #13, Nick Walton of Eaton Rapids and Tad Hill of Livonia, by the narrowest of margins, earning the right to add their names to the short list of Spike’s Challenge C-2 race champions. It was a record-breaking year for the Spike’s Challenge C-2 Paddler’s Tribute race. The event – celebrating its 25th anniversary this year – had 84 teams, a new all-time participation record for the race. The previous record of 82 was established in 2011.
The North Down River Road Bridge opened for traffic in time for the AuSable River Canoe Marathon. The $2.6 million project to replace the bridge began on Feb. 15.  Some finish work and landscaping still needed to be completed.
Classes were scheduled to begin soon at Kirtland Community College’s Regional Health Sciences Center, located just south of Grayling. The new $11 million campus will be used for training and education in all facets of the medical profession, including nursing, phlebotomy, emergency medical technicians, paramedics, health information services, pharmacy, cardiac and vascular sonography, and surgical technology.
The second phase of the City of Grayling’s Michigan Avenue project, located between Park Street and Spruce Street, began on Monday. The project includes replacing the underground water and sewer utilities, street, curbs, and sidewalks. Park Street and Peninsular Street were designated as detours around the construction.
Before they raced from Grayling to Oscoda, AuSable River Canoe Marathon paddling teams raced from Penrod’s to the Old AuSable Fly Shop and back to Penrod’s during the event’s three-day time trials. The time trials determined starting positions for the Marathon’s running start. This year’s time trials featured a new course. The old course started at Penrod’s, sent paddling teams downstream first, and had them finishing the loop coming upstream. The new course sent them upstream first to the turnaround buoy at the Old AuSable Fly Shop and had them finishing going downstream. The Marathon had bleachers set up at the buoy turn across the river from the Old AuSable Fly Shop, giving spectators a good view of the turnaround, a part of the sprint that many paddlers say is the most difficult. On the old course, the buoy turn area was not easily accessible for spectators. The Canadian team of Mathieu Pellerin and Guillaume Blais posted the best time of the event at 4:47.93. 
One word to describe this year’s AuSable River Canoe Marathon? Historic. The annual 120-mile race from Grayling to Oscoda had the largest starting field in the event’s history with 95 teams. The top two teams were side by side as they approached the finish line, and the battle for first place was as close as it gets. According to statistics provided by the AuSable Marathon, this year’s race had the most female paddlers ever and the most Marathon first-timers ever. A record number of Canadian paddlers competed in this year’s race. A man in a wheelchair, Mathieu St. Pierre, started and finished the 2016 AuSable Marathon. Christophe Proulx of Quebec and Ryan Halstead of Grayling edged Andrew Triebold of Grayling and Jacob DuBois of Texas by a narrow margin, earning the 2016 AuSable Marathon championship. The two teams were close all night, and both rounded the corner at Oscoda at the same time. Hundreds of spectators watched as the two duos paddled side by side on the straightaway leading to the finish line at the bridge. 
The incumbent Crawford County Prosecutor was ousted by voters at the Aug. 2 primary polls. Sierra R. Koch won the race to become the next Crawford County Prosecuting Attorney with 935 votes. Grayling attorney Donald E. Sommerfeld, Jr. trailed with 795 votes, followed by Everette E. Ayers with 492 votes.
The Grayling Promotional Association (GPA) honored the Joseph family, which operated the Grayling Mercantile in downtown Grayling for decades, with a plaque on the Xpress Copy building. Also in honor of the family, funds given through memorial donations, along with other funding from the GPA and the Michigan Main Street Program, were used to purchase large self-watering flowerpots that adorn sidewalks in downtown Grayling and the adjacent business district.
Eighteen teams competed in the 12th annual HUP (Hurry Up and Paddle or Sink) Race in the Grayling City Park. Hundreds of spectators gathered to view the teams paddling custom-made canoes built with plywood, a couple of boards, duct tape, and nails.
A bicyclist was hospitalized for injuries after he was struck by a pick-up truck west of Grayling. Crawford County Sheriff Kirk A. Wakefield said deputies were dispatched to an accident involving a pick-up truck and a bicyclist in Grayling Charter Township at 8:18 p.m. on Aug. 1. The accident occurred on M-93 near Margrethe Boulevard. The bicyclist was traveling southbound and was hit from behind by the pick-up truck, Wakefield said. The bicyclist,  a 55-year-old Grayling man, was taken to Munson Healthcare Grayling  Hospital and was then airlifted to Munson Medical Center in Traverse City for his injuries.
Grayling Recreation Authority’s annual  Arctic Glacier Mini Marathon, a youth canoe race, featured five teams this year. It was held on July 30. Like the AuSable Marathon, the Mini Marathon featured the competitors running with their canoes to the water at the Old AuSable Fly Shop. The race ended at Burton’s Landing, an eight-mile course. Competitors used racing canoes and paddles.
A Grayling equestrian – Callie Nees, age 15, a junior at Grayling High School – brought home some top honors from a competition at the Gladwin County Fair while competing in her rookie season with a 4-H horse club.
Voters at the Aug. 2 primary election polls trimmed a field of judicial, state representative and congressional candidates.
Kirtland Community College (KCC) has invested more than $1 million into its auto technician program with a building facelift at its Roscommon campus and added up-to-date technology and equipment for students. KCC received a $2.5 million grant from the State of Michigan to update technology for all of its programs. About $400,000 was spent on adding equipment, computers, and tire alignment racks for the auto technician program.
A 64-year-old Novi man died from injuries sustained when the motorcycle he was driving collided with a deer. Troopers from the Houghton Lake Post of the Michigan State Police were dispatched to the accident at 9:15 p.m. on Aug. 2. The driver and a female passenger were traveling on M-72 West near Howes Lake Road when their motorcycle struck a deer. The man was taken to Munson Healthcare Grayling  Hospital and was then airlifted to Munson Medical Center in Traverse City, where he eventually succumbed to his injuries. The 44-year-old woman, from Ann Arbor, was taken to the hospital in Grayling and later transported in an ambulance to Munson Medical Center in Traverse City for non-life threatening injuries.
The GRA 10K/5K – Grayling Recreation Authority’s (GRA) running event held during the AuSable River Festival – had a record number of participants this year despite a change in venue. Justin Andre, Director of Operations for GRA, said 192 people started the 2016 10K/5K. The event was held on July 30, the same day as the start of the AuSable River Canoe Marathon. GRA had to change the venue for the 10K/5K this year due to road construction projects in town. This year’s course started and ended at Hanson Hills in the area between the softball field and the pond. The course sent runners out of Hanson Hills onto Old Lake Road, then to M-93 and M-72, and back to Old Lake Road. The 5K runners did one lap on the course and the 10K runners completed two laps.
The Business Canoe Relays, an annual Grayling Recreation Authority event held during the AuSable River Festival, featured a new course this year due to the AuSable River Canoe Marathon’s change in its time trials course. In previous years, the AuSable Marathon conducted its sprints for starting position at Penrod’s, sending the canoes downstream to a buoy at the halfway point and having them finish the loop coming upstream. This year, the Marathon’s sprint course started at Penrod’s and went upstream to the Old AuSable Fly Shop and then back to Penrod’s. The Business Canoe Relays, which used to go from Penrod’s to the Old AuSable Fly Shop, took over the old time trials course this year. Thirteen teams competed.
The Forgotten Eagles made a stop in Grayling as part of their 12th annual Ride Around Michigan. The mission of the Forgotten Eagles is to recognize men and women serving in the military, to honor veterans who have served our country, and to honor the plight of POW/MIA troops who have yet to be located and returned to their rightful home. 
Grayling High School’s sports teams for the fall of 2016 season – a group that includes football, volleyball, golf, soccer, and cross country – started their official practice sessions.
A pump failure at a lift station for the City of Grayling’s sewer system caused sewage to spill out onto the ground and some waste to flow into the AuSable River. Initially, it was estimated as much as 80,000 gallons of raw sewage overflowed since controls and gauges went offline when the pumps failed. Later, Grayling Department of Public Works Director Chad Beckett checked the intake of sewage at the city’s sewer lagoons, compared that with normal daily flows from the community, and estimated that only 17,500 gallons of sewage overflowed when the pump failure occurred.
Grayling High School’s football program will have a new athletic league and – as a result – a different schedule this year. Two years ago the Vikings joined a new two-tier league for football; the conference is now adding more teams and becoming a three-tier league. Grayling will continue to be in the large school division of the league. The group also includes Benzie Central, Boyne City, Cheboygan, Elk Rapids, Kalkaska, Kingsley, and Traverse City St. Francis. The change added Kalkaska and Cheboygan to Grayling’s schedule while subtracting Glen Lake and Charlevoix.
Commencing a huge military exercise, when ground conditions were already crisp, caused fires on Camp Grayling ranges. Northern Strike 16, a National Guard Bureau-sponsored exercise uniting approximately 5,000 Army, Air Force, Marine, and Special Forces service members from 20 states and four coalition countries, began at Camp Grayling on Aug. 1. A fire at Range 40, the air-to-ground range located near Waters, started on Aug. 12. Crawford County Emergency Management Director Doug Pratt, who is also the Frederic Township fire chief, said the fire was caused by tracer rounds. Although area residents could see large plumes of smoke and smell smoke, the fire never left the range area.
Lexi D’Amour of Grayling auditioned for The Joffrey Ballet School Summer Intensive in January at Hope College, and she was accepted into both the Ballet and Jazz/Contemporary summer intensive programs. She chose the Jazz/Contemporary program because she received a 25 percent scholarship from the Joffrey Ballet School.  D’Amour traveled to New York City, where she danced approximately 40 hours. She was instructed by a group of world-renowned dancers. When not dancing, D’Amour was able to visit Times Square, Central Park, watch the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall, and experience the subway for the first time.
Jack VanPutten will walk 100 miles from Grayling to Traverse City and back in September for Jack’s Walk of Honor Honoring the Michigan National Guard and Veterans. The event is a fundraiser for the Michigan National Guard’s Family Fund.
Several hundred people showed up for the 25th Annual Lovells Township Bridge Walk, a fundraiser for the Lovells Township Fire/EMS Department. The event generated approximately $6,000 for the department.
District Health Department #10 officials lifted a public health advisory informing people not to have contact with the water in the AuSable River. Water sample test results showed acceptable levels of E. coli bacteria within the section of the AuSable River located in the City of Grayling. The City of Grayling experienced a sanitary sewer overflow at the community’s main lift station on Aug. 13.
Hundreds of Crawford County residents attended the eighth annual Neighborhood Connections at the Grayling High School. Community agencies that serve the Grayling area showcased their services and gave away items and Crawford County Dial-A-Ride busses provided free transportation to and from the event.
The Michigan Press Association Foundation has named its annual Journalist of the Year Award after Richard Milliman, a Michigan publisher who was instrumental in creating the Foundation. Milliman, who died earlier this year, owned and published many Michigan community newspapers and was a co-founder of the Foundation, which has distributed more than $300,000 in college scholarships. Milliman chaired the Foundation from its inception in 1980 until he stepped down in 2007. Milliman was a longtime owner of the Crawford County Avalanche and a regular contributor to the Avalanche with his “Almanack” column.
Trinity LaChance, a Grayling Elementary School second grader, raised money over the summer to provide a place to comfort fellow students and combat bullying. On Aug. 19, a Buddy Bench was installed on the school’s playground. The idea of the Buddy Bench is that if a child is feeling lonely and has no one to play with, they can sit on the bench and other kids will come up and ask them to play.
The Old Historic U.S. 27 Motor Tour made a stop in Grayling at the Ramada Inn, showcasing 250 vintage vehicles and hot rods. Old Historic U.S. 27 Motor Tour founder Craig  Parrish said 600 cars were involved in the motor tour, which traveled from Coldwater to Cheboygan.
The Crawford County Board of Commissioners approved a resolution to protest a one-size-fits-all housing program change implemented by the State of Michigan in hopes of continuing to help the needy maintain safe housing. In January, the administration of federal Community Development Block Grants (CDBG)  housing dollars was moved from the Michigan State Housing Development Authority to the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. The reasoning behind the switch was to eliminate the redundancy of having two agencies overseeing community development. The Crawford County Housing Commission has utilized millions of dollars from CDBG since its inception, utilizing the administrative fees available through the grant to sustain its operation.
After just over two decades filling a retail niche in downtown Grayling, a former educator is moving on into retirement. Sandy Millikin, the owner of Parrott’s Perch Boutique, located at 207 E. Michigan Avenue, was open for her last day of business on Aug. 30. Millikin opened up Parrott’s Perch Boutique on Memorial Day weekend in 1994.
Grayling’s Project Rising Tide Committee was planning a community engagement session to help create economic development on Sept. 21 and 22 at Kirtland Community College’s Health Sciences Center located off of Four Mile Road. Project Rising Tide is an encomic development initiative offered by the Michigan  Economic Development Corporation. Grayling was one of 10 communities selected to take part in the initiative in the state and the only municipality in northeast Michigan.
The Carl W. Borchers Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #3736 in Grayling donated 25 fully loaded backpacks to the Grayling Elementary School on Sept. 9.
A Grayling resident who has been piecing together history for years has opened up a World War II  diorama in the community to pay tribute to his family’s military history and the men and women who served in the era. Dave Cueter’s World War II exhibit – located at his residence at 6248 Pine Point Road – is open to the public. The initial exhibit is called Suisse Normandy 1944.
Programming that helped inmates in the Crawford County Jail become educated and develop life skills will be whisked away at the end of the month as the Michigan Department of Corrections focuses funding on more hardened criminals. After 26 years, the Northeast Michigan Council of Governments was informed hat the Community Corrections Services grant that they have been overseeing would not be funded in the 2017 fiscal year. Capt. Randy Baerlocher, the jail administrator for the Crawford County Sheriff’s Office, said the biggest impact that it will have on the community is no longer providing a GED program to educate inmates while they are incarcerated.
School officials are holding a centennial celebration for a school building that has served every grade of students over the years and has been a cornerstone of the community. The celebration at the Grayling Middle School, which served as the former Grayling High School, was slated for Sept. 23. Former students, staff, and parents who have a connection to the building were invited to come for guided tours by staff and students. The original school building was damaged by a fire on Jan. 21, 1915. The brick structure, which is now the Grayling Middle School, was built in 1916.
From making simple phone calls, providing meals to senior citizens, and recognizing veterans for serving the country, dozens of Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) members were recognized for their contributions to the community. About 120 RSVP members are enrolled in the program, and nearly half of those have served 100 hours of volunteer time or more in the last year.
Tears were shed, men and women embraced, and veterans of the armed forces were recognized at a 50th Commemoration Ceremony for the Vietnam War held at the Rialto Theater. Nearly 70 Vietnam veterans were given a proper and long overdue homecoming hosted by the Crawford County Veterans Service Office at the packed theater. The event was part of the United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration. 
Grayling resident Jack VanPutten concluded Jack’s Walk of Honor Honoring the Michigan National Guard and Veterans on Sept. 17 with his 100-mile walk from Grayling to Traverse City and back. VanPutten raised money for the Michigan National Guard’s Family Fund, which provides financial help for military personnel and their families while their loved ones are deployed. VanPutten surpassed his goal to raise $5,000 with $5,700 and still had more pledges to collect.
Grayling’s Michigan Main Street Program held The Funky Fish Brew HaHa in downtown Grayling. The event featured “Funky Fish” races with entries from area businesses and organizations. People also had an opportunity to vote for their favorite fish.
A general manager who has been at the helm of the Crawford County Avalanche for nearly three decades is retiring. Linda Golnick worked at the Crawford County Avalanche for just over 27 years. She started in the front office, taking classified ads and subscriptions, and worked her way to become the newspaper’s general manager. “Linda has been a tremendous asset for the Avalanche for almost 30 years. She is an advocate for the community while looking out for the best interests of the business,” said Dirk Milliman, publisher for the Crawford County Avalanche. “She has helped us navigate through the changing technology of the newspaper industry.”
A banker who followed in the footsteps of his father is retiring on Sept. 30. John Alef, the vice president and commercial relationships manager for Huntington Bank, is retiring after 39 years in the business. Alef’s father, Jack Alef, worked 40 years at the former Grayling State Bank, which then transitioned into the Citizens Bank before he retired in 1990. John started as a mortgage lender then moved on to commercial lending, where he focused most of his career. He held the same job as the bank was first sold to Citizens Bank in 1986, First-Merit Bank in 2013, and more recently to Huntington Bank on Aug. 15.
A sister and brother duo from Grayling had their work entered in Grand Rapids’ world-renowned ArtPrize competition. Nicole Persing has had her work entered in the ArtPrize competition for the last four years, while her brother, Eric Persing, had his work accepted for the competition for the first time this year.
Redeveloping vacant buildings, creating a mix of housing options, and establishing a community center for year round use were priorities highlighted at a pair of meetings to guide Grayling’s future. Grayling’s Project Rising Tide Committee held meetings at Kirtland Community College’s Health Sciences Center. More than 100 area residents attended both sessions. Project Rising Tide is an economic development program initiated by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. Grayling is one of 10 communities selected to take part in the program in the state.
There will be a homecoming game this year at Grayling High School, but it will not feature varsity teams. Benzie Central High School – Grayling’s scheduled homecoming game opponent – canceled its varsity season due to injuries and low player numbers after week one of the current campaign. The athletic department at Grayling High School looked at several possible solutions to the issue. In the end, the athletic department moved the Grayling vs. Benzie Central junior varsity football game to Friday, Oct. 14, to take the place of the varsity contest. 
Grayling’s Michigan Main Street Program hosted the community’s ninth annual Harvest Fest in downtown Grayling. The event featured kids’ activities, a farm market, and a tractor parade.
The Grayling Promotional Association held its 29th annual Fall Arts and Crafts Show at the Grayling Elementary School in conjunction with Harvest Fest activities held in downtown Grayling.
Crawford County Emergency Management Director Doug Pratt obtained equipment needed to help revive someone who suffers a heart attack in the precious moments after the emergency occurs. The Michigan Center for Rural Health provided 10 Automated External Defibrillators (AED) to emergency responders and agencies in Crawford County. Three AEDs went to the Frederic Township Fire Department and EMS Service, one is in the Frederic Township Community Center where the Headstart program is located, and another went to the Grayling High School outside of the Grayling Viking Wellness Center. Two were obtained for the Grayling Department of Public Safety, two were obtained for the South Branch Fire Department and EMS Service, and one was received for the Michelson Memorial United Methodist Church. 
A Grayling gallery owner and internationally known wildlife artist has moved one step closer to joining a group of her prestigious peers in the field. Kim Diment earned an award of excellence at the Society of Animal Artists 56th Annual Premier Members Exhibit held at the Houston Natural Science Museum. The piece, called “The Drifters,” features sandhill cranes flying past an old-fashioned windmill located on farmland. The artwork was commissioned by the Driftless Glen Distillery, a manufacturer of craft spirits in Wisconsin. Winning her fourth award for “The Drifters” puts Diment one award away from master signature status, which has only been obtained by 14 current and late members of the Society of Animal Artists.
Twenty-eight vendors, organizations, and businesses participated in the fall Girls Night Out event, which had the theme “Dig Your Heels In.” The business and community promotion was organized by Grayling’s Michigan Main Street program.
In a varsity girls volleyball meet that featured a tribute to people touched by cancer, the Grayling Vikings won 3-0 vs. the visiting Boyne City Ramblers in a best of five series. They called it the “Pink-Out,” an event to raise awareness of the effects of cancer. (October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.) Fans wore pink. Munson Healthcare – coordinator for the event – gave pink shirts to students and other people in the gym. The event also featured pink hair ribbons for each player. Event coordinators gave each volleyball player from both schools a flower (pink rose) and an opportunity to dedicate it to someone in her life who’s battled cancer. Players got in front of the mic, said their names, and told the crowd for whom they were playing. 
With no varsity football contest for Grayling High School for one week – Benzie Central, the team’s scheduled opponent, canceled the rest of its 2016 season – it was up to the junior varsity squad to play under the lights on homecoming night. The Vikings led 18-13 at halftime, trailed 19-18 with 8:21 left in regulation, and then scored two touchdowns down the stretch to clinch a 30-19 victory vs. the JV Huskies.
Grayling High School seniors Seth Patterson and Alanna Bonamie were named homecoming king and queen during halftime of the Grayling vs. Benzie Central JV game. The Class of 2017 – the seniors – won the spirit cup, the trophy earned by the class with the most points during homecoming’s spirit week events.
Fifteen graduates of Grayling High School and three current seniors earned the designation of AP Scholar by the College Board in recognition of their achievement on the college-level Advanced Placement Exams. Only 18 percent of the more than two million high school students worldwide who took these exams performed at a sufficiently high level to merit the recognition of AP Scholar.
The Crawford County Veterans Service Office was recognized with the American Legion’s Leo M. Leggett Award at the  annual Richard Morrison Higgins Lake Advocacy and Post Services Officers Training recently held at the nearby Ralph A. MacMullan Conference Center.
Respite homes for dogs living out their last days and rehabilitation homes for dogs on the mend are coming to the area through a pact between Crawford County and the AuSable Valley Animal Shelter. A memorandum of understanding between the AuSable Valley Animal Shelter and Crawford County was approved by the Crawford County Board of Commissioners on Oct. 13. Under terms of the agreement, the AuSable Valley Animal Shelter said it desires to provide homeless dogs every chance to experience a humane and loving environment. 
The Crawford Health Improvement Committee, with support from District Health Department #10 and the Chronic Disease Coordinating Network, received $5,000 in funding from the Tencon Health Plan to implement physical activity and nutrition changes in Crawford County.  The group used a portion of the funds to purchase new physical activity equipment for the senior center. The items that were purchased include chair volleyball equipment, pickleball equipment, and drumming equipment.
Grayling High School’s varsity football squad had a 5-3 overall record going into its regular season finale against the Kalkaska Blazers – a squad that was 6-2 overall heading into the match – and the Vikings needed a victory in order to secure an automatic playoff berth (six wins). The Blazers pulled within seven points late in the third quarter and again in the fourth quarter, but the Vikings never trailed in the contest – a home game for Grayling – and GHS won by a final score of 34-27.
Members of the Grayling Free Methodist Church achieved a two-year goal earlier this month with a $1 million building expansion. The church, located at 6352 M-72 West, held its first services in the new sanctuary on Oct. 2. The 9,800 square foot addition, which was dedicated on Oct. 9, also includes classrooms, a library, and new restrooms.
The Beaver Creek-Grayling Townships Utility Authority has obtained approval for a $3.2 million grant from the U.S Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration.  The funds will help pay for the construction of water and wastewater facilities to serve the commercial and industrial area along the Four Mile Road corridor. In addition to the grant, $4.1 million in loans has been approved by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service for the project. The total cost for the new municipal infrastructure is $7.3 million. The main user for the utilities is Arauco North America, which is building a $325 million particleboard plant off of Four Mile Road. Water wells will be drilled and a 750,000-gallon water tank will be located on the Arauco property.  Water and wastewater mains will be constructed along Four Mile Road for existing and future business.
Crawford County Sheriff Kirk A. Wakefield and Shelly Pinkelman, the chairwoman for the Crawford County Board of Commissioner’s law enforcement committee, recognized Jodi Sajdak – 911/central dispatch operator for Crawford County for 11 years – for her service. Sajdak resigned from the position after accepting a job to work for Arauco North America, which is building a $325 million particleboard plant off of Four Mile Road.
Grayling High School’s varsity football squad defeated the Kingsford Flivvers 27-17 in a Michigan High School Athletic Association Division 5 Region 1 District 1 playoff game hosted by Kingsford. It was Grayling’s first football win in the Upper Peninsula in the playoffs. “This was a huge win for our program. It was the first time we have gone over the bridge and come back with the victory,” Coach Tim Sanchez said.
Grayling High School’s cross country team – a program that the school renewed as a varsity sport this year after a few seasons as a club sport – competed in the Michigan High School Athletic Association’s Division 19-3 cross country meet at Benzie Central High School, and one Viking runner finished high enough to earn a spot in the upcoming state finals. Christian Artress ran to a 12th place finish and qualified for the state meet. He posted a time of 17:19.59.
Arauco, a global producer of wood products, announced that it has received all required official approvals to build its new particleboard plant in Grayling Charter Township. The notification of receiving approvals by state and local agencies, as well as by the company’s Board of Directors, follows the initial Sept. 14 project announcement. The $400 million investment is expected to benefit Crawford County, creating approximately 300 jobs during construction, along with 250 permanent jobs to run the plant. 
City of Grayling residents will decide a sidewalk snow removal proposal on the Nov. 8 general election ballot. If approved, the owner of a home worth $60,000, which has a taxable value of $30,000, would pay an additional $37.50 in taxes per year.
The Michigan Avenue reconstruction project was completed in time for the Grayling Elementary School’s annual Halloween parade.
George Matyn of Grayling started his 105th birthday celebration with a group of friends at Goodale’s Bakery.
Granny Abby is the pen name for Abby Gail Jewell Le Claire. Her latest children’s book,  Kevin “Digger” Bacon-Eater – The Seeing Eye Pig, will be released on Nov. 19 in time for Grayling’s Christmas Walk and will be on sale at Grayling area businesses. Money raised from Kevin “Digger” Bacon-Eater – The Seeing Eye Pig will go the Penrickton Center for Blind Children, located in Taylor, as well as pot belly pig rescue operations.
General election day on Nov. 8 started out gray and drizzly in Crawford County, but voter turnout was expected to be high due to one of the most contentious races in the United States’ history for the presidency. As of mid-morning Tuesday, more than 200 ballots were cast in the City of Grayling by the 1,375 citizens that were registered to vote. The city had three seats up for election on the city council as well as a snow removal proposal, which was the only local proposal to be decided by Crawford County area voters on the general election ballot. Voter turnout was also heavy at the Grayling Charter Township Hall, where some residents waited in line 20 minutes to cast their ballots. 
Grayling letter carrier Linda Brown received a prestigious award that only a few of her peers in the U.S. Postal Service have earned. Brown, who has worked for the U.S. Postal Service for 30 years, received a One Million Mile Safe Driver Award for safe driving as she has delivered mail and packages over the years without an accident. Brown received the award at the Grayling U.S. Post Office on Oct. 19, when her colleagues held a celebration in her honor. 
During a routine training flight on Oct. 25, an A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft from the Selfridge Air National Guard Base experienced an accidental release of training munitions in a heavily wooded area of the Mio Ranger District in the Huron-Manistee National Forests, about 20 miles south of its intended practice target. The training munitions, six Bomb Dummy Unit-33s, were found near Kinsey Hunt Road and Ridge Road in Luzerne. A Michigan National Guard Explosive Ordnance Disposal team cleared the training munitions and removed them from the area. 
Ruggero (Rug) Dozzi, director of special education for the COOR ISD, passed away on  Oct. 29 at his home in West Branch. He had been director of special education and the director of technology from 1988-1999 and again from 2006-2016.
Grayling High School has a new tennis facility and two new beach volleyball courts, and the area is open to both students and members of the community. The new facility is located behind the high school, same place as the old tennis courts. Workers removed the old tennis court and fences and installed a new surface, nets, and fencing.
Grayling’s youth wrestling program recently started an all-girls wrestling squad, open to girls in grades 7-12, and Grayling High School has accepted it as a club team. 
Grayling High School’s 2016-2017 winter sports season – a campaign that includes boys basketball, girls basketball, wrestling, and skiing – got started on Nov. 7 with the first practices for girls basketball. The other sports started practicing a week later on Nov. 14.
Troy Summers, a senior at Grayling High School, signed a letter of intent to play basketball at Northern Michigan University next year during a ceremony hosted by GHS. Summers, a 6’8” post player, averaged 14.5 points per game and 13 rebounds per game as a junior, earning all-state recognition.
Grayling High School’s varsity boys soccer team had two all-conference selections for the 2016 fall season: Sam Davis, center defense, and Louis Cotton, center midfield. Davis was also all-district.
Terry Shepherd, a Grayling veteran who served in one of the most tumultuous times in U.S. military history and has guided his fellow veterans through many roles, was recognized as the American Legion Post #106 Women’s Auxiliary Veteran of the Year. Shepherd was born and raised in Grayling. He graduated from Grayling High School in 1969 and was drafted to serve in the Vietnam War. Shepherd served in the U.S. Army in the First Calvary Division and 23rd Infantry Division, fighting in the jungles of Vietnam. 
The Carl W. Borchers Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #3736 hosted its annual Veterans Day Celebration at the American Legion Post #106 on Nov. 11.
Perfect October weekend weather, an extended trail with more spooky scenes, and dozens of volunteers allowed the Forest of Fear to scare up a record amount of donations for local community organizations. Celebrating its 11th year, the Forest of Fear, a haunted trail walk located off of Stephan Bridge road east of Grayling, raised $6,000 this year.
The Devereaux Memorial Crawford County Library hosted a Veterans Day event to honor World War II veterans and Arsenal of Democracy workers from Crawford County on Nov. 10. Displays of World War II guns and several World War II veterans from Crawford County brought their pictures and memories to the library to share.
More than 100 people filled the Rialto Theater in downtown Grayling on Nov. 7 for the rollout of the Action Strategy Plan put together by a task force of community organizations, including the City of Grayling, Grayling’s Michigan Main Street Program and Downtown Development Authority, the Grayling Regional Chamber of Commerce, and others. 
With President-elect Donald Trump winning in the race for the White House, election results in Crawford County mirrored those nationwide, with Republicans holding on to key positions, and challengers ousting incumbent officials.
Despite the first snow of the season, coupled with heavy winds, hundreds of people visited downtown Grayling for the 39th annual Christmas Walk.
The Michelson Memorial United Methodist Church held a cookie walk fundraiser for the United Methodist Women’s worldwide missions. A wide selection of cookies was available on tables for people visiting the church, as well as those taking part in Grayling’s 39th annual Christmas Walk.
The Grayling Promotional Association’s Festival of Trees event began. More than 50 trees decorated by area businesses and organizations were on display. 
A 40-year-old Coldwater man was arrested after leading police on a high speed chase through Crawford County before he was eventually located on foot while trying to flee into the woods. Speeds exceeded 100 mph during the chase.
Recycling of cardboard will return to some areas near Grayling after the Crawford County Board of Commissioners agreed to gift trailers to three municipalities.
Overall numbers were down for this year’s Orangecoat Roundup, an annual event conducted by the Camp Grayling Conservation Club at Skip’s Sport Shop that gives hunters an opportunity to display their deer and win prizes in a variety of categories. Possible contributing factors for the low numbers? Warm temperatures. Middle of the week opening day. This year’s buck pole featured 21 deer. Dean Miller of Grayling won the grand prize for the two-day competition, a new $800 scoped crossbow. His buck had the largest rack score of the two-day event at 151.
The 22nd annual Cops for Kids Christmas Tree Sale, a collaboration between area businesses and the Crawford County Deputy Sheriff’s Association, got underway in the Grayling Kmart parking lot. Proceeds from the Cops for Kids Christmas Tree Sale go toward the Shop With a Cop program. 
Loren Goodale Jr., the owner of Goodale’s Bakery, and his son, Loren Goodale III, were planning their annual Goodale family fundraising open house to allow area residents to view the family’s Christmas Village and collection of model trains. This year’s open house included a tribute to veterans and 9/11.
Organizers and volunteers for the 26th annual Crawford AuSable Thanksgiving Day Dinner served up a record number 978 meals for Crawford County residents on Thanksgiving Day, which included 728 delivered meals, 110 carry out meals, and 140 dine-in meals at the Grayling Army Airfield. Volunteers served up and packaged the meals in record time, and some drivers made repeat trips to meet the demand for delivered meals this year. 
Less than a month after City of Grayling residents selected leaders at the voting booths, city officials were looking to fill a vacancy on the city council. Election winners Roger Moshier and Kate DeVries-McIsaac took the oath of office to serve on the Grayling City Council on Nov. 10, but Erica Mead did not. Mead came in second in the Nov. 8 general election with 258 votes. Mead owns property in the city where she lived, but is no longer spending 100 percent of her time living in the community and declined the position.
The 11th annual Grayling Promotional Association’s (GPA) Festival of Trees ended on Nov. 27 with the raffling off of gift baskets and trees decorated by area businesses and organizations. Proceeds from the annual fundraiser will go toward projects and organizations the GPA supports. A tree with a hunting theme decorated by 98.5 WUPS gathered the most raffle tickets during the Festival of Trees.
A group of Grayling High School staff members recently established a pantry specifically for students at the school. The Viking Pantry contains non-perishable food items, hygiene products, and household necessities such as toilet paper, laundry detergent, and dish soap. The pantry officially opened on Oct. 3. Students are given the opportunity to place confidential orders on a weekly basis with no questions asked. 
Harvey Rowland, a Pearl Harbor survivor who went on to fly nearly three dozen missions in a B-17 over Europe during World War II, wasn’t at a commemorative ceremony to recognize the nation’s entry into the war this week, but he was there in spirit. The  American Legion Post #106 and The Carl W. Borchers Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #3736 purchased plane tickets and paid for accommodations to send Rowland to the 75th commemorative ceremony to mark Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor. Rowland, however, recently fractured his hip in a fall and was unable to make the trip.
Personnel from Mobile Medical Response held their sixth annual “Stuff an Ambulance” event at the Grayling Kmart on Dec. 3. Shoppers helped fill the ambulance with food items, toys, personal care items, and clothing. The items donated were given to the Crawford County Community Christian Help Center and Crawford County Toys for Tots campaign to support the Christmas help program.
The family of a late Crawford County woman known for her love for animals made a substantial donation to the AuSable Valley Animal Shelter. Beverly Walsh was a longtime Crawford County resident who passed away on March 17, 2015. She was 79. Cheryl Postma, the executive director of the AuSable Valley Animal Shelter, said funds from the donation will be earmarked for veterinary bills when an animal they take in has to be put down.
Local election officials and ballots cast by Crawford County voters did not have to make the trip to Roscommon County as part of a statewide presidential recount after all. Election officials from Crawford, Roscommon, and Ogemaw counties were scheduled to be at the Roscommon County Courthouse on Dec. 12 to hand count ballots cast in the Nov. 8 general election for the president. Justices from the Michigan State Supreme Court quashed the continuation of the statewide presidential recount with a majority opinion issued on Dec. 9. In their order, Michigan Supreme Court Justices concurred with an early ruling issued by the Michigan Court of Appeals stating that Green Party Presidential Candidate Jill Stein failed to adequately allege she was an aggrieved party on the account of fraud or mistake in the canvass of the votes for the Nov. 8 general election.
Troopers from the Houghton Lake Post of the Michigan State Police held their annual Stuff the Goose event in front of the Grayling Kmart on Saturday to collect items for the Crawford County Toys for Tots program.
Law enforcement officers joined together to rescue a 64-year-old Grayling man who fell through the ice on Howes Lake in Frederic Township.
Cam Summers, quarterback for Grayling High School’s varsity football team for the last three seasons, established several new career records for the program, including most passing yards and most passing touchdowns. Summers recently received two all-state honors for the 2016 fall season, and he was named the Offensive Player of the Year for Grayling’s division of the Northern Michigan Football Conference. He finished the 2016 campaign with 2,662 passing yards, 22 passing TDs, 525 rushing yards, and eight rushing TDs. For his career, according to the Grayling High School football program, Summers had 5,597 passing yards, 52 passing touchdowns, and 74 total touchdowns, all of which are new records for GHS.
Grayling High School’s varsity football squad earned eight all-league selections for the 2016 fall season – a campaign during which the Vikings took third in the Northern Michigan Football Conference’s Legends Division with a 5-2 league record – and two players from the program received all-state honors. The Vikings earned six all-league first team selections and two honorable mentions in the Northern Michigan Football Conference’s Legends Division: (first team) Cam Summers, QB; Austin Molands, WR; Nick Hunter, WR; Noah Kolka, DL; Ron Woidan, LB; Koedy Dole, DB; (honorable mention) Jaden Gauthier, OL; Justin Nicholas, DL. Dole and Summers earned Associated Press all-state honorable mentions. Summers was also a Detroit Free Press all-state honorable mention. Dole was named to the Detroit Free Press all-state first team.
Grayling High School’s varsity volleyball program announced its awards for the 2016 fall season, a list that includes four all-conference honors. Natalie Amy and Cortney Hickman were all-conference selections for the Vikings. Mallory Hatfield and Paige Scheer were all-league honorable mentions.
The Camp Grayling Joint Maneuver Training Center’s environmental program was awarded second place in the Sustainability Non-Industrial Installation category of the 2016 National Guard Bureau, Army National Guard Environmental Awards Program.
Bernard “Bernie” Feldhauser was honored by the Maple Forest Township Board of Trustees for his service to his community and was presented with an award by the township board at a meeting held on Dec. 13. Feldhauser had served as a trustee on the township board since March 2004, when he was appointed to the position.
After two decades of assisting families with putting food on the table, Marianne Gosnell is stepping away from her duties at the Crawford  County Community Christian Help Center. Gosnell served her last day as the executive director of the Crawford County Christian Help Center on Dec. 23. She held the position for eight years.
The Crawford County Deputy Sheriff’s Association, which consists of current and retired road patrol deputies and corrections officers from the Crawford County Sheriff’s Office, took 21 students from the Crawford AuSable School District on its Shop With A Cop outing at the Grayling Kmart. Each student was given $150 to spend on needed items as well as some fun stuff for them and their families. Funds for the program come from the Cops for Kids Christmas Tree Sale.
The Grayling Charter Township Board of Trustees gave the Beaver Creek-Grayling Townships Utility Authority approval to enter into a contract with C2EA, Inc., a Gaylord-based engineering firm, for design and construction plans for water and wastewater treatment facilities that will serve properties located along the Four Mile Road district. The main user for the utilities is Arauco North America, which is building a $325 million particleboard plant off of Four Mile Road that is expected to create 250 jobs. 


Crawford County Avalanche

Mailing Address
Box 490
Grayling, MI 49738

Phone: 989-348-6811
FAX: 989-348-6806
E-Mail: information@crawfordcountyavalanche.com

Comment Here