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Crews drain pond as repairs begin on Evans Street dam

Those driving by Red Mill Pond have likely noticed the water level is quite low. The Lenawee County Drain Commission lowered the water level so they can inspect and begin repairs on the dam.

“If everything goes well, we’d be able to start repairs this week or next,” said Lenawee County Drain Commissioner Stephen May on Tuesday, Oct. 14.

Drain commission staff and local contractors are completing the work on the dam after the lone bid for the project was rejected because it asked for almost double the $315,000 estimated cost.

Repairs will focus on concrete patching, the steel catwalks, and replacing a security fence, which are being completed by local contractors and the commission staff itself.

Originally, the dam was to be drawn down until the end of May 2015; however, May said that if all the repairs can be completed by November 1, the pond would be refilled then.

May added that the refilling of the pond would not be contingent on the catwalk or fence being complete, as that could be done after the water level is returned.

Great weather helps make Appleumpkin ‘100 percent perfect’

Perfect weather and a larger festival area brought large crowds to downtown Tecumseh for the 21st annual Appleumpkin Festival last weekend.

“Appleumpkin was absolutely awesome,” said organizer Jan Fox. “The crowds came. Everybody had a great time. It was one-hundred percent perfect.”

Approximately 25,000 to 30,000 people came to wander the streets of downtown, enjoying music, food, art, antiques, and activities. This year, the festival spread out to Kilbuck St. on S. Evans St., and went into the 300 block of S. Ottawa St.

The free shuttle service was used from Tecumseh High School, and for visitors to travel out to the Apple Festival at Kapnick Orchards.

The new Saturday tractor show on S. Evans St. was a popular new attraction, as was the straw maze in the southeast parking lot.

Kids enjoyed playing in the corn box to find hidden gold coins. The Tecumseh Rotary had great success with the scarecrow building, and ran out of clothes after 400 scarecrows were built.

“Our kids activities are always well-received,” Fox said.

Food was very popular. “Everybody eats no matter what,” said Fox. “There’s a little something for everybody.”

Downtown merchants had a very busy weekend. Crystal Winkler of Tecumseh Antiques and More expected large crowds and told her dealers to be prepared and to plan to work extra shifts during the weekend.

“It was fabulous. It was a great weekend,” Winkler said. “I had very positive feedback about Tecumseh and how Appleumpkin was set-up and organized.”

Improved business continued into Monday for Tecumseh Antiques and More. People called about pick-ups and came into the store.

Winkler believes Appleumpkin really benefits the city and merchants. “It brings people into town,” she said. “We really appreciate the city doing this.”

Kapnick Orchards sponsors an Apple Festival that runs in conjunction with Appleumpkin downtown. Scott Robertello was pleased the weekend turned out so perfectly.

Raisin Township extends superintendent position through 2015

In a 6-1 vote Monday, Oct. 13, Raisin Township’s board of trustees extended the superintendent position through 2015, with current Supt. Jim Palmer filling that role. The superintendent position was to end on November 12.

Raisin Township Supervisor Jay Cavanaugh was the only dissenting vote.

Cavanaugh iterated that he thought the six-month limit on the superintendent position was to allow the township time to find a long-term candidate, adding that at the time when Palmer was appointed the board felt rushed.

“I think we need to be doing an application process,” the supervisor added.

Trustee Tom Hawkins agreed with Cavanaugh that the township should seek applications for the position, but thought the extension through 2015 would give the township more time to make the right decision on who to appoint, or to even keep the position.

“He’s done an excellent job in the role,” said trustee Debra Brousseau.

“I think he’s well qualified for the position,” said trustee Betty Holdridge.

Even though the board appointed Palmer as an “interim,” according to Raisin Township attorney David Lacasse, the Michigan Township Association doesn’t recognize “interim.”

“When a position is filled, the position is filled,” said Lacasse.

Also at the Monday meeting, trustees unanimously accepted the 2015 draft budget from the budget committee.

One recommendation that was made was separating the fire and police budgets, which would not change the command structure of the departments.

“We recommend the budgets be segregated again to add transparency,” said budget committee member Russ Mead.

The draft budget also moves police and fire funding into the general fund. Mead said that no statutory requirements were found to keep them separated from the general fund.

Bilby’s to celebrate 50th wedding anniversary

Earl and Marge Bilby are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary.

Earl D. Bilby was married to Marjorie A. Linden October 17, 1964 by Pastor K. Koeplin at Grace Lutheran Church in Tecumseh, Mich.

Marge is retired from United Savings Bank after serving 45 years while Earl is retired as a renowned carpenter from the area.

A cake and ice cream celebration is planned for October 18, from 4-6 p.m. at Raisin Charter Township Community Center, 3262 Gady Rd. The couple requests no gifts.

Film by local pastor to make Tecumseh debut Nov. 1 at TCA

“Mr. What” is the second movie by Pastor Alan Maki to feature Tecumseh in a faith-based family drama. Maki’s first film, “Sidewalk Singer” was well received in Tecumseh, throughout the United States, Canada and Finland.

Maki has always been a writer but never expected his writing to take him to the movies. “I got good feedback as a kid about my writing,” Maki said.

After a career as an English teacher and Baptist pastor, Maki found himself drawn to writing screenplays designed to inspire and represent the good values in a small town. He feels movies today often aren’t interested in depicting the good found in the world.

“Why not put out a movie for families that shows great values?” said Maki. “It makes me feel good to do something lovely.”

In the film, Mattiesko Wuopio, played by Maki, has spent 22 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. After being released from prison, Wuopio continues to feel imprisoned by the harassment he receives.

Redemption is found through his father who is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, a stray dog, and a boy, played by Maki’s 12-year-old grandson, Mikah Scott Carter.

“Mr. What” is truly a family movie, with Maki’s son, Shaun, as director/cinematographer/editor. His daughter acts in the film as well, and Maki believes his grandson steals the movie with his portrayal.

“Mikah is fabulous,” Maki said. “It was fun getting to put my friends and family in a movie. It was just a thrill.”

Working with his son as director of the movie was a great experience for Maki. He believes the quality cinematography and sound carry the movie as much as the story does.

Shaun was thorough in the footage shot for the film, and his thoroughness benefited the actors in the film, as did Shaun’s careful editing.

“Shaun films every scene multiple times. He had a lot of shots to choose from,” said Maki. “Shaun did an amazing job. He’s my secret weapon.”

New signs point to growth in downtown

While Ann Arbor is mourning the loss of another unique business downtown, Middle Earth, with chain retailers slowly moving in, Tecumseh is seeing the growth of local, independent businesses.

“Here’s where we are super lucky in our downtown, we don’t have a single chain,” said Paula Holtz, Tecumseh Economic Development Director, “Instead, we have locally owned, operated, unique businesses that you can’t find anywhere else. That’s a really good thing.”

Tecumseh’s growth is accentuated by the impending introduction of two new restaurants downtown, Salsaria’s and Tecumseh Brewing Company, which are moving along. Both businesses are working towards completion, soon adding more of an evening element downtown.

Salsaria’s is a Brownfield site, which has slowed some aspects of the project. Before waste can be disposed of at the landfill from the site, it has to be approved.

“That could have been a very blighted property in our downtown after some time,” said Holtz about the Salsaria’s property.

A number of new lofts are also in various stages of completion above a handful number of businesses downtown. Dan Meikle’s lofts above Tecumseh Antiques & More are seeing drywall being put up, while second floor of the Spotted Cow should receive its permit next week to start putting in office space. Carpet On Wheel’s will have blueprints ready for the lofts above their business shortly.

“We’ve got a lot of projects going on in downtown and a ton of new investment,” said Holtz. “We’ve got a lot of private investment currently that we haven’t seen the likes of in a decade probably.”

These types of businesses and attractions give Tecumseh a unique offering to tourists, which the city has been trying to attract with its Pure Michigan campaign and listing on Michigan.org.

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