<![CDATA[The Ticker]]> http://www.traverseticker.com Tue, 28 Mar 2017 17:36:41 -0400 <![CDATA[New Beer Magazine Brewed Locally]]> http://www.traverseticker.com/story/new-beer-magazine-brewed-locally Two decades ago, Rick Coates and Scott Graham helped launch Gaylord’s Big Buck Brewery, where Graham worked as a brewer and Coates served as a consultant. Now, 20 years later, they're together again. Graham is now executive director of the Michigan Brewers Guild, a nonprofit that promotes the state’s craft beer industry; Coates has been named editor of MiBrew, the Guild’s Traverse City-based quarterly magazine.

MiBrew came along just in time to celebrate the Guild’s 20th anniversary, and Coates and Graham hope it will increase the number of the group’s members, called “enthusiasts.” There are currently some 2,000 enthusiasts, people who are serious connoisseurs of craft beer.

“I think that there are a lot of people out there that have some sort of emotional attachment to the craft beer industry,” Graham says. “People love to have stories about beer and breweries and that’s nothing new, but I think craft beer is something that connects with people.”

MiBrew, available only to enthusiasts, has published two issues so far and features profiles of brewers, like the story of Derek “Chumly Anderson, brewer at the Vierling in Marquette and the state’s longest-tenured brewer, in the winter issue. They also feature musicians who are regulars on craft brewery stages, seasonal beer recommendations, and profiles of fun beer destinations. Enthusiasts also get a t-shirt and early access to tickets to the festivals the Guild hosts each year in Ypsilanti, Grand Rapids, Detroit and Marquette.

Coates, a one-time contributor to Northern Express and a former WKLT personality, says festival tickets sell out within hours of going on sale.

Beer has gotten big in Michigan. Around ten percent of beer consumed in Michigan is made in Michigan, but Graham says he believes that number could easily swell to 25 percent. There are projected to be more than 300 breweries in the state within a couple months and more than 500 within five years. That’s a far cry from the state of the industry when Coates and Graham helped open Big Buck in 1997. It was one of the first craft breweries in northern Michigan.

Coates says he was involved in the craft beer industry early because he became a home brewer before he turned 21.

“I got interested in it because I had a real issue – I think I was 16 when they raised the drinking age from 18 to 21, and I had a real issue with that,” he says. He discovered that you didn’t have to be 21 in order to brew beer. And while you had to be 21 to possess alcoholic beverages, Coates says he was happy to take advantage of at least a partial loophole and he started making beer.

He went on to work as a micro-brewery consultant in the early days of the state’s craft beer industry from 1988 until 1998.
That meant Coates was involved in the beginning of the Brewers’ Guild, which was also founded in 1997. The Guild was formed in order to get the nascent independent brewers to start to work together to grow the craft beer market in the state; in the beginning, Coates says, brewers worked against each other, seeing each other as enemies when in fact, history has proven they’ve gotten much further acting as allies.

The Guild also has a lobbying arm that works to make state law friendly to craft beer. Annual membership dues are $55. Click here to learn more. 

Tue, 28 Mar 2017 00:00:00 -0400
<![CDATA[Final Four Is Over; We Won!]]> http://www.traverseticker.com/story/final-four-is-over-we-won Following a bracket-style competition among 16 cities across North America, Traverse City has emerged as the continent's "strongest town," according to the final public vote conducted by StrongTowns.org. Traverse City defeated Guelph, Ontario by four percentage points in the final face-off. 

In addition to the accolades and bragging rights, the winner now gets to host a "Curbside Chat" hosted by Chuck Marohn, author and founder of StrongTowns.org. According the organization,"Curbside Chats" "explain why our towns are going broke and how they can grow toward a stronger, more prosperous future."

In their announcement, the web site noted:
"Throughout the contest, we learned about Traverse City's fun-loving, active population that takes pride in its local businesses and collaboratively addresses challenges. Traverse City stood out as a town where multi-modal transportation is key, where small businesses thrive, and where natural beauty is beloved and prioritized.

Traverse City is meeting challenges like providing affordable housing head-on, with new provisions for accessory dwelling units, decreasing building and parking regulations, and encouraging creative development styles. Here's what residents of this town had to say about why theirs is a strong town:
"We're blessed with a really great geographical setting."
"To say the residents of Traverse City are actively involved in decision making would be a gross understatement. Public participation appears to part of the DNA here."
"You can live a life of convenience here without needing an automobile."
"Our strong town is only getting stronger as more and more people are finding our piece of heaven in the not-so-obscure-anymore Northern Michigan."

Tue, 28 Mar 2017 00:00:00 -0400
<![CDATA[Gunshots Prompt Arrests]]> http://www.traverseticker.com/story/gunshots-prompt-arrests A Grand Traverse County Sheriff's deputy parked at Logan’s Landing late Sunday night watched a pickup truck slow down on South Airport Road as three gunshots rang out from the vehicle.

The people in the car apparently had not notice the patrol car and the shots were not aimed at police, deputies say. The deputy followed the pickup and made a “high risk” traffic stop at the Shell gas station at Lafranier and South Airport roads at 11:30pm. Three men who had been drinking were detained and three semiautomatic handguns and spent shell casings were found in the pickup.

The driver, a 31-year-old Louisiana man, was arrested for drunk driving. The rear-seat passenger, a 21-year-old Alabama man, was arrested for possession of a firearm while intoxicated and reckless discharge of a firearm. A third passenger, a 24-year-old Alabama man, had a concealed weapons permit and was cited for violating the permit.

Tue, 28 Mar 2017 00:00:00 -0400
<![CDATA[Local Company Lands Statewide Recognition]]> http://www.traverseticker.com/story/local-company-lands-statewide-recognition Traverse City-based Press On Juice is one of twelve companies statewide to earn the Best Small Business Award from the Michigan Small Business Development Center. The company, which produces a line of cold-pressed, unpasteurized juice blends from a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, was selected from among the more than 5,500 small businesses the Michigan SBDC provided with confidential counseling in 2016.

The only other honoree from northern Michigan was Blarney Stone Broadcasting Inc., based in Grayling, which also owns Traverse City radio station WKLT and Petoskey’s WKLZ.

The Best Small Business award recipients were identified based on their success in creating jobs, increasing sales, improving their business strategy and their involvement with the Michigan SBDC. 

Press On Juice produces all of its products at its facility on Eighth Street in Traverse City. Its expanding menu includes fresh, raw food items such as salads, sandwiches and snacks. 

Tue, 28 Mar 2017 00:00:00 -0400
<![CDATA[What's Next For Big-Box Stores In TC?]]> http://www.traverseticker.com/story/what-s-next-for-big-box-stores-in-tc The rising popularity of online retail sales is pushing many big-box stores out of the market, resulting in a surge of chain bankruptcies and corporate restructurings that have closed hundreds of stores across the country. Two such closings will affect Grand Traverse County when MC Sports and Kmart close their doors this spring.

But while Traverse City may not be immune from the big-box decline, developers and officials say the region is still a bright spot overall in the market – with new opportunities coming for employees and buildings affected by the local closures.

In Acme Township, Kmart is expected to close its doors at 6455 US-31 by the end of March – one of 10 Michigan locations closing this year. The store employed roughly 50 part-time staff and a handful of full-time positions, estimates Acme Township Supervisor Jay Zollinger. “I think you’re seeing the same thing all over the country, where (chains) are looking to make changes based on the demographics of the market and online retail,” he says.

While Zollinger says the closure is likely to have some community impact – Kmart had the most cost-effective pharmacy options for veterans, he notes – the overall economic impact will likely be minimal. “We’ll always be affected when a store goes away…but (in terms of jobs) there are a lot of places here looking for people,” he says. Zollinger predicts some former Kmart employees will go to the new Meijer in Acme, while others may turn to new restaurant positions or “change careers.”

In terms of impact to the township’s tax base, Kmart paid just over $2,000 in personal property taxes to Acme Township in 2016. SR Acme LLC – a subsidiary of Sears Roebuck that owns the actual building – paid approximately $60,000 in taxes in 2016. In order to have that payment lowered, Sears Roebuck will need to challenge the building’s taxable value – a viable option if the property remains vacant for an extended period of time. But Zollinger believes that scenario is unlikely.

“There are people who want to go in there,” he says. “Someone could buy the shell and put multiple structures inside it. It could be something else – like it could enhance things for the (Grand Traverse) Resort. There are rumors about everything from car dealerships to houses going in. The best thing from an Acme Township perspective is that it’s one of the last stores on US-31 in our commercial district. Our zoning doesn’t allowing anything commercial going further north at this time, so that makes (the property) valuable.”

Sears Roebuck has already consulted with township officials on possible uses for property, according to Zollinger.

Across town, MC Sports is set to close its doors in early May at 3450 West South Airport Road. After declaring bankruptcy in February, the Midwest sports retailer announced shortly after it was closing all 66 of its retail locations. The company employs more than 1,300 staff members, with an average of 18-20 employees per store.

Similar to Kmart, MC Sports paid approximately $2,400 in personal property taxes in 2016, while Airport 31 LLC – which owns the building – paid nearly $83,000 in taxes. The 65,749 square-foot property is home to four other tenants besides MC Sports, including Buffalo Wild Wings.

Principal Todd Wyett of VERSA Development, owner of Airport 31 LLC, concedes the national climate is “tough” for big-box retailers right now. But he expresses optimism about the long-term longevity of the industry. “People still want to shop, particularly in the long winters,” he says. “The more things change, the more they come back to where they were. Look at Amazon. They started this whole trend, and now they’re opening bookstores.”

Wyett expresses particular enthusiasm about the market in Traverse City. He says VERSA is “very close” to signing leases with tenants to take over the MC Sports space and expects to announce names – which he says will be “100 percent retail” – in early May. “Every big-box retailer that’s not already in Traverse City has called us about that space,” he says.

Indeed, Traverse City has managed to evade the majority of big-box store closures while continuing to attract new business. While Sears, Macy’s and JC Penney have all announced dozens of store closures – including throughout Michigan – Traverse City’s stores have so far been unaffected. And at least four national retailers are opening new locations in Traverse City this year, including Costco, Lucky’s Market, H&M and Dunham’s Sports. DICK’S Sporting Goods has also been circling the market.

Wyett believes Traverse City will continue to be a draw for such retailers. “Not everyone wants to sit at home and shop,” he says. “People still want to get out and have those (store) experiences.”

Mon, 27 Mar 2017 00:00:00 -0400
<![CDATA[Garfield Lane Closure Starts Today]]> http://www.traverseticker.com/story/garfield-lane-closure-starts-today The City of Traverse City street department says it will be closing the easterly (outside) northbound lane of South Garfield Avenue between Carver and Hannah Streets today (Monday, March 27) to repair catch basin structures. This work will be completed by March 31, weather permitting.

The city recommends avoiding this area to reduce congestion, delay and inconvenience. Appropriate signage and barricades will be in place in and around the work areas. Access will remain for businesses in the area.

Mon, 27 Mar 2017 00:00:00 -0400
<![CDATA[120 Park Through The Years]]> http://www.traverseticker.com/story/120-park-through-the-years Tourists and Traverse City transplants will head to dinner at Sorellina at 120 Park Street and not think twice. But longtime residents might recall the many iterations of the building over the years. Nestled between Front and State streets near the Park Place Hotel, the building has been home to pubs, cafes, and restaurants that have been sold or bankrupted dating back at least six decades.

The building was first used commercially in the mid-1950’s as Bill Thomas' Thomas’ Coffee Shop and dining area known as the Redwood Room. Thomas’ advertised its “famous modest prices” -- in 1962, the price of a Sunday brunch was $2.50. After some 20 years of service and “making somewhere in the excess of three million blueberry muffins,” the eponymous owner sold his business.

In 1977, just months after the sale, Steve McClain, Thomas’ manager and executive chef, renamed the space. Called Chutney’s Olde English, the menu focused on English fare with dishes such as kidney pie and Yorkshire pudding.

Chutney’s was short lived, and opened as Nicky’s North in August 1979, owned by Mitchell Pierce, the son of the Chairman of National Bank & Trust (NBT). NBT was quickly tied up in a series of lawsuits, including allegations of conflicts of interest with Nicky’s, and was in financial trouble within a year of its opening. Nicky’s was out of business after 22 months.

Perhaps the most notorious of the 120 Park iterations was Billy’s, known as the spot to let lose in the 80s. Four partners, including Bill Stireman, leased the building, obtained a liquor license, and opened up the bar and restaurant to the public. Rumors of Billy’s as a hot meeting spot with wild antics spread quickly, and the place became an instant success.

“We had a stable of hermit crabs, and once a month we would have hermit crab races on the bar at cocktail hour. They would race, people would pick a number and the first crab to the finish line was the winner,” says Stireman. With a free hors d’oeuvre buffet most afternoons, the buzz and good food still couldn’t sustain the business. “We were a lot younger in those days, we had a lot of fun and didn’t care if we made any money, but then we were losing.”

Next came Dan Kelly, who opened up DJ Kelly’s as a full service restaurant in 1986. Kelly’s was known for bringing in menu items Traverse City patrons hadn’t seen before, like fondue and ceviche – items Kelly discovered from his travels. Though the restaurant was successful for over a decade, Kelly decided to focus on his catering business, Williamsburg’s Catering by Kelly’s.

Kelly retained the real estate license for the building itself, but sold it to a number of businesses that were unable to find the same niche or success of DJ Kelly’s. Park Street Deli, Left Bank Café, Pete’s Pub & Grille, and Catch Island Grill each had limited runs beginning in 2000 until Kelly again took over the reins, opening up The Bay Leaf out of necessity in autumn 2010.

“Those failing businesses, the bankruptcies were killing us… we had to get it up and running and show that we could market it as a successful location,” said Kelly. The Bay Leaf, serving farm-to-table fare, was a success critically and financially, and did prove the location was viable.

Returning to catering full time, Kelly sold the building to John McGee, who purchased the property and transformed it into the 110-seat Italian eatery Sorellina in April 2012. McGee admits to some trepidation early on due to the revolving door of restaurant failures, but says the location sits between popular happy hour locations and “traffic breeds traffic.”

Sat, 25 Mar 2017 00:00:00 -0400
<![CDATA[Country Band Set For Cherry Fest Performance]]> http://www.traverseticker.com/story/country-band-set-for-cherry-fest-performance Country band Old Dominion is set to perform Saturday, July 8 during the National Cherry Festival, officials announced Friday. 

The band released their first full-length album "Meat and Candy," which Entertainment Weekly called a “deceptively smart, occasionally cheeky, stellar debut.” Their third single “Song For Another Time” is Top 10 and climbing. They spent their summer on Kenny Chesney’s "Spread The Love" Tour and are now headlining their own tour.

Tickets go on sale Monday, April 3 at 9am here

Sat, 25 Mar 2017 00:00:00 -0400
<![CDATA[Cherryland Donates $14k]]> http://www.traverseticker.com/story/cherryland-donates-14k Cherryland Electric Cooperative has awarded $14,400 through its Cherryland Cares program to eight northwest Michigan area non-profit agencies. Receiving grants were Child and Family Services of Northwestern MI, The Dream Team, Grand Traverse Dyslexia Association, Leelanau Children’s Center, Northwest Michigan Supportive Housing, Salvation Army of Traverse City, TCAPS STEP Program, and Traverse Life Center. The funds come from Cherryland Cares Round Up, in which Cherryland members choose to round up their bills to the nearest dollar.

The Cherryland Cares board decides where the money derived from Cherryland Cares Round Up is handed out to non-profits. The board is made up of five volunteer Cherryland Electric Cooperative members. 

Sat, 25 Mar 2017 00:00:00 -0400
<![CDATA[Reports: Successful Ski Season Ending, Great Golf Season Ahead]]> http://www.traverseticker.com/story/reports-successful-ski-season-ending-great-golf-season-ahead Welcome to the northern Michigan season when it’s conceivable to take some runs down the ski hill and golf 18 holes in the same day. The Ticker checked in with area resorts to hear how a fantastic ski season is wrapping up and how the 2017 golf season is looking.

The City of Traverse City’s owned and operated Hickory Hills had a record year. Records for most skiers in one day (444), total season skiers (13.559) and revenue ($112,000) were each all-time highs, with final numbers still coming in. Derek Melville, parks and recreations superintendent, also cites a bit of trivia: Visitors from 14 states and four different countries (Brazil, South Africa, Canada and Sri Lanka) rented equipment this season at Hickory Hills.

Across town at Mt. Holiday, growth was seen across the board versus to last season. Lift tickets, lessons, rentals, service, and tubing all grew, with the largest increase in lessons, which Executive Director Ann Pettyjohn, says “was especially exciting….This year saw 189 kids in the program (43 more than we had last year) and we hope it will continue to grow next season.”

At Bellaire’s Shanty Creek, the news was similarly good. Marketing Director Chris Hale notes that the critical holiday time -- which can make or break a ski resort’s season – was as good this season as it was bad last season. December ski revenues were up 166 percent, contributing to an overall ski season increase of 23 percent.

Crystal Mountain’s Brian Lawson says he’d “give the ski season a B-plus,” noting that the season isn’t over yet.

“Snowsport sales are up double digits from last year…and we’ve still got a couple of arrows in the quiver because we’ll likely be open until April 2 [later than last year].

Crystal could be one place very soon you’ll be able to ski and golf on the same day. “We’ve seen years [where that happened]. It did that last year in March, so yes, that’s conceivable this year,” Lawson adds.

Lawson and his peers at area golf courses and resorts are similarly optimistic about the upcoming golf season. “We’re happy with the way our summer numbers are looking now overall. We’re significantly ahead of a year ago,” he says.

Shanty’s Hale says the 2016 golf season was strong on its own, but early bookings are already ahead 10 percent. Shanty Creek will have new co-directors of golf this year. After the head PGA pro moved to Florida, Mike Mooney and Jason Kempfer were promoted to leadership positions.

Grand Traverse Resort & Spa’s Director of Golf Operations Tom McGee tells The Ticker, “Last year was phenomenal for golf, with rounds and revenue up significantly. And this year we’re pacing even ahead of that.”

The Resort has also added an all-new fleet of 215 Yamaha golf cars, a new food and beverage building near the clubhouse, and plans to bring the Dave Pelz Short Game Golf School for several sessions starting in late June. The first of the three Resort courses is likely to open in mid-April, with the other two to follow the two weeks after.

At Elmbrook off Hammond Road, Carolyn Olson says ownership is “reinventing ways to get people to come to Elmbrook and have fun,” including a new Music on the Green concert series that will likely debut in July. She also says new Golf Superintendent Scott McLeod is committed to introducing things like a 5-hole rounds of golf.

And at Interlochen Golf Course, new owner Brad Dean has been busy all winter with a variety of improvements, including the completely reimagined Bradley’s Pub & Grille, which Dean expects to open in late April (the golf course is slated to open April 7). Dean adds that he’s very optimistic: “Our leagues have expanded considerably, the number of outings is already up, and we have many new members.”

Fri, 24 Mar 2017 00:00:00 -0400
<![CDATA[Interlochen Students To Open For Bon Jovi]]> http://www.traverseticker.com/story/interlochen-students-to-open-for-bon-jovi Five singer-songwriter students from Interlochen Arts Academy have been selected to open for Bon Jovi at their April 5 show at the PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh. The students won the right through a Live Nation-sponsored contest taking place throughout Bon Jovi's 2017 This House Is Not For Sale Tour.

The five students selected to perform are: Grace Baer of Lafayette, California; Marley Harris-Deans of Las Vegas, Nevada; Ally Lubera of La Grange, Illinois; Taylor Meloche of Windsor, Ontario; and Jesse Munsat of Washington, D.C. The five students (pictured), all seniors, recently completed a west coast tour during which they performed at Disneyland, the Hotel Cafe and Idyllwild Arts Academy, and attended a master class with Aqualung’s Matt Hales.

According to the Bon Jovi website, the Academy singer-songwriters have “demonstrate(d) that they have the sound, style, and substance to open an arena show.”

Fri, 24 Mar 2017 00:00:00 -0400
<![CDATA[Spring Sale, Closure At Dennos]]> http://www.traverseticker.com/story/spring-sale-closure-at-dennos In the spirit of spring cleaning, the Dennos Museum Center at Northwestern Michigan College will host 30 artists who will be cleaning out their own studios. This “artist’s garage sale” will coincide with the museum’s final preparations for its own massive spring cleaning project as it undergoes a major renovation.

The museum will close for approximately two months, from April 10 to mid-June.

“As the museum gets ready to close for our new addition and renovation, we wanted to do a fun event that would benefit regional artists and art buyers before we close the galleries,” says Museum Director Eugene Jenneman. About 30 well-known artists were invited to participate. There will be work in all media, including paintings, prints, jewelry, fiber arts, photography, metal and pottery. All art will be labeled with its original price and the sale price. The three-day event is free and open to the public. It begins with a reception and cash bar, Friday, April 7 from 5-8pm. The artists will be present during the opening to visit with guests and share stories about their work. The sale continues Saturday, April 8, 10am–5pm and Sunday, April 9, 1-4pm. Following this art sale, the museum will close to the public, with the exception of previously scheduled events. Milliken Auditorium will not be impacted by this closing and will continue to operate as scheduled.  

Fri, 24 Mar 2017 00:00:00 -0400
<![CDATA[911 Texting Coming To Grand Traverse County]]> http://www.traverseticker.com/story/911-texting-coming-to-grand-traverse-county It’s not here yet, but Grand Traverse County is moving toward enabling 911 emergency texting, potentially within the next 90 days. “We are testing a texting 911 system,” says Jason Torrey, director of Grand Traverse Central Dispatch/911. “It will probably be in the second quarter of 2017.” Anyone within Grand Traverse County will be able then to text 911 in case of an emergency.

Torrey cites three situations where 911 texting could be invaluable: It can be used by persons with a hearing loss who can’t communicate easily by voice; in violent situations where it is dangerous to speak; or when the voice network is overloaded but a text can still get through. “All of those have presented themselves somewhere in the state with positive outcomes,” says Torrey.

It’s a complex implementation for both the 911 call centers and the cell carriers. The most crucial aspect is determining the precise location from which the emergency call is being made; that technology does not yet exist with texting. “In the days of everyone having a land line, when you called 911, it showed your address,” says Gregg Bird, the emergency management coordinator for Grand Traverse County. “With mobile phones, you could triangulate (locations) and be pretty accurate.” But with texting, the location is not immediately available.

“We took a step back when we went to cell phones. There’s no regular address (attached to it). You have to validate it,” says Torrey.

Torrey hopes technology will soon provide more accuracy in tracking location of calls or texts. “It’s a wide range, within 300 meters. That could be two city blocks. That’s why we have to validate it.” That can be particularly important in cities with high-rise buildings. “We need to increase accuracy in X, Y and Z (planes) – like which floor you’re on (when calling).”

Torrey adds that the county is learning from others. “We are getting a lot of feedback from those who have done it. One concern was a fear of getting inundated with texts. No one has been inundated. It’s being used appropriately.” Virtually every municipality with text-to-911 service has promoted the service with the slogan, “Call if you can, text if you can't.”

Bird says even younger persons more comfortable with texting are more apt to call in an emergency. “We live in a very tech-savvy, gaming, texting society,” he says, but in an emergency, people want to talk to someone and be sure someone is getting their information.

Municipalities in Michigan and nationwide are at different in adoption of such a system. “About 50 percent of the state has some sort of solution,” says Torrey. One of the earliest adopters was Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. “The U.P. already has it. It has set a standard for the state and the nation,” says Torrey.

He notes that texting is a two-way street: the emergency center can receive but also send texts. Outgoing texting is a way to validate calls that come in to 911 but fail to leave any information. “We get 911 hang-up calls and follow that up with a text and they’ll respond. That way we’re not using as many resources,” Torrey says.

Bird likens the ability to use texting for emergencies to acquiring another means to communicate in critical situations. “The more tools you can add to the tool box, the better off you are. This is another tool,” he says. 

Thu, 23 Mar 2017 00:00:00 -0400
<![CDATA[Is Michigan's Next Governor From Traverse City?]]> http://www.traverseticker.com/story/is-michigan-s-next-governor-from-traverse-city Is Michigan's next candidate for governor from Traverse City? Rep. Larry Inman (R) told Michael Patrick Shiels of Michigan's Big Show he is willing to consider it. 

Inman said he "certainly has the qualities to run" and that "it's just a matter of if it's right for me." He continued, "If I'm going to run, I have to talk to my district...and weigh it out. I'm willing to look at it."

Listen to the interview here. The conversation about Inman potentially running for governor begins at the 9:09 mark.  

If he did decide to run, he has at least one local leader ready to support him; Traverse City Area Public Schools Superintendent Paul Soma said of Inman, "Rep. Inman has been a voice of reason in a kind of crazy political environment. I'd encourage him to continue to explore it."

Democrat Gretchen Whitmer has already declared as a candidate; many believe U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee will also run on the Democratic side. Republicans Attorney General Bill Schuette and Lt. Gov. Brian Calley are also considered likely to run.

Governor Rick Snyder is term-limited and cannot run again for re-election.  

Inman could not be reached directly for comment. 

Thu, 23 Mar 2017 00:00:00 -0400
<![CDATA[Forum To Address Migrant Farmer Issues]]> http://www.traverseticker.com/story/forum-to-address-migrant-farmer-issues The impact of current immigration policy on area agricultural employers and their workforce will be discussed at a forum April 5 at the Leelanau County Government Center.

The League of Women Voters Leelanau County (LWVLC) will host the event, entitled “Immigration Challenges in Leelanau: Who Will Harvest Our Produce?” Area employers will hear a conversation about the current administration’s immigration goals and policies. Panelists will include Jim Bardenhagen, farmer/employer; Joe Hubbell, County Prosecutor; Gladys Munoz, Director of Peace and Justice Advocacy Center; and Susan Reed, Director of Michigan Immigrant Rights Center. The forum will take place on the lower level of the Leelanau County Government Center, 8525 E Government Center Dr., Suttons Bay. Many bring a lunch. The LWVLC business meeting is to follow. 

For more information call 231-271-0072 or click here

Thu, 23 Mar 2017 00:00:00 -0400
<![CDATA[DNR To Build New Shooting Range]]> http://www.traverseticker.com/story/dnr-to-build-new-shooting-range After years of deliberation and studies, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has settled on the location and design features for a new shooting range near Traverse City. The new, roughly 10-acre Grand Traverse Shooting Range will be built on state-managed land southeast of Traverse City in Union Township at the three-way intersection of Jack Pine, Supply and Fife Lake Roads. It will take the place of the Hoosier Valley Range as the DNR's regional site.

The decision follows a series of public meetings and studies of the potential environmental, wildlife and neighborhood impact of several possible sites in region. The other sites under consideration were in White Water Township and Fife Lake Township.

The Hoosier Valley Range has operated since the 1960s. Initially there were few neighbors, but urbanization caught up with the site; some 100 homes are now nearby. Residents began complaining several years ago about perceived noise and safety issues.

DNR officials will meet this week to finalize the new design, which is expected to include separate 100- and 50-yard rifle ranges as well as a 25-yard pistol range. Each range will have four firing stations. There are no accommodations planned for skeet or trap shooting.

A 10-foot earthen berm will enclose the sides and back of the entire shooting area. The current design also calls for extensive site grading for proper drainage, numerous plantings, sound mitigating measures, a gravel entrance, parking space for 20-25 cars, sidewalks for retrieving targets and two concrete handicap parking spaces. Other features include toilets, benches, trash receptacles and signage.

Rough estimates for the design and construction costs are $850,000. That money, explains Lori Burford, DNR shooting range specialist, comes from a federal tax levied on manufacturers of firearms and ammunition. It could be December of this year before construction is completed.

“This has been years in coming,” Burford says. “We’re excited about getting to the point that we have a final product.”

She adds that finding a new location for a northern Michigan shooting range has been a high priority for the DNR. Michigan’s nearly three quarters of a million licensed hunters are among the tops in the nation, but the majority of the ranges are located in the southern part of the state.

All range users must wear eye and ear protection, register at the site and use a firearm not to exceed .80 caliber. Once completed, the range is expected to be open May through September 10am-7pm and October through April 10am to 5pm.

No decision has been made about what to do with the Hoosier Valley Range.

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 00:00:00 -0400
<![CDATA[NMC Introduces New One-Year Baking Certificate]]> http://www.traverseticker.com/story/nmc-introduces-new-baking-certificate Northwestern Michigan College (NMC) will begin offering a new one-year baking certificate to students this fall.

Board members Monday unanimously approved adding the 23-credit certificate to the offerings of NMC's Great Lakes Culinary Institute. To earn the certificate, students would take existing three classes in both fall and spring semesters as well as one new class, Café Operations, to be offered in summer 2018. While that course is still in development, GLCI Director Fred Laughlin says he envisions opening Lobdell’s Teaching Restaurant for morning hours, selling pastries, desserts, bread and coffee.

The certificate will be a boost to a growing number of students interested in baking and pastry, according to Laughlin. “It would give them skills to oversee a bakery operation,” he says.

According to NMC, target enrollment for the program is 16-20 students. Registration for fall classes is available now online.

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 00:00:00 -0400
<![CDATA[Glen Lake Restaurant Week Coming]]> http://www.traverseticker.com/story/glen-lake-restaurant-week-coming Nine restaurants on the southwestern side of Leelanau County will participate in Glen Lake Restaurant Week April 28-May 6, the week before Mother’s Day.

Around the theme of “From French Fries to French Cuisine,” the eateries will offer a variety of menus, all for one price. Participating establishments will offer special three-course prix-fixe special dinner menus for $25-30. Some will also offer lunch specials. For a complete list of restaurants and menus as they become available, click here.

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 00:00:00 -0400
<![CDATA[Menzel Refutes Staffing Claims, Proposes Compensation Committee For Commissioners]]> http://www.traverseticker.com/story/menzel-refutes-staffing-claims-proposes-compensation-committee-for-commissioners Grand Traverse County Administrator Tom Menzel is speaking out against statements made by two county commissioners last week questioning his hiring practices and accusing him of offering jobs to friends and associates. Menzel refuted the claims in an extensive memo to the board, which he also shared with The Ticker. Menzel also sent a second memo to commissioners recommending establishing a county officers compensation committee – a move he says could objectively determine salaries for commissioners and other elected officials and help avoid further controversy in the county.

Staffing Claims
Discussion at a county commission meeting last week about hiring and firing policies turned testy when two commissioners questioned Menzel’s decision-making and staffing approach.

Commissioner Tom Mair stated he had “lost confidence” in Menzel’s role in filling department head positions, while Commissioner Cheryl Gore Follette accused Menzel of giving important county positions to people he knew. "How do we have any oversight against an administrator giving jobs to his friends and associates or people that he wants to have hired? “ she asked. “What oversight do we have to prevent that from happening?”

While other commissioners defended Menzel’s decision-making and right to make staffing decisions as county administrator in the meeting, Menzel himself remained quiet during the discussion. But two days later, he sent a lengthy memo to the board addressing the incident.

“I prefer not to get into situations where I have to confront people I report to, but in this case the comments…were so untrue, I feel obligated to clear this up,” Menzel wrote. “When individuals are working to fire someone, they can attempt to plant seeds of doubt about their competencies, habits or wherever they think a person may have vulnerabilities.”

Menzel called the accusation he offered jobs to friends and associates a “blatant lie” and detailed a list of recent department head hires, including Deputy Administrator Jennifer DeHaan, Finance Director Jody Lundquist, Commission on Aging Director Mary Haverty, and Human Resources Director Bill Hendry. Menzel said in all of the cases, he had either no prior relationship with the applicants or met them for the first time during the interview process. Menzel stated he “briefly” met Director of Facilities Marty Dunham in 2014, but that Dunham’s hiring and screening was performed by DeHaan, with Menzel “not part of the interviewing process until the final meeting.”

Menzel said Mair and Gore Follette’s comments “coming from an elected official against an employee make it very difficult for me to implement the board’s policies.” He added that when he leaves his post at the end of 2017, he would “not be leaving the area like a lot of administrators” and that his goal is “to add value and leave good footprints” in his position.

“I would again make the offer to Commissioners Gore Follette and Mair to have them individually or together meet with administration staff and answer any questions that they would like to have answered,” Menzel said in the memo’s conclusion.

Officers Compensation Committee
Following a contentious 4-3 decision by county commissioners in December to uphold cutting the board’s salary from $7,000 to $1 per year, Menzel is recommending establishing an officers compensation committee to review and recommend salaries for elected officials going forward.

Michigan statute permits the creation of such boards – consisting of seven registered electors of the county who are not involved in or related to anyone in any branch of government – to determine the compensation for non-judicial officials, including commissioners, the county clerk, county treasurer, drain commissioner, prosecutor, register of deeds, and sheriff. Noting the “polarizing” discussions that took place among commissioners about whether they should give up their own personal salaries to improve the county’s financial picture, Menzel said an officers compensation committee could make such salary discussions “less divisive” in the future.

If the board approved establishing such a committee, appointments could be made later this year, with the goal of having the first review in 2018 (state law requires reviews to occur in even-numbered years). The salary decisions made by the committee would stand unless two-thirds of county commissioners voted to reject them. Traverse City uses an officers compensation committee to determine salaries for its elected officials, and it is a common practice “in a lot of counties" elsewhere, according to County Commission Chair Carol Crawford.

“I think it’s a great idea, because having it in our hands obviously didn’t work,” she says. “It should not be a political decision. When you’re setting a salary for yourself, you obviously know who you’re setting it for. It should be set for the position, regardless of who is in that position.”

Crawford says she expects a majority of fellow commissioners will support the concept. Two commissioners who previously voted for salary cuts – Christine Maxbauer and Alisa Kroupa – are now off the board, and at least one of their replacements, Mair, has expressed support for reinstating commission salaries. Establishing an officers compensation committee won’t necessarily guarantee commissioners’ wages are reinstated, but it would give that decision-making power to an outside objective body, according to Crawford. “It shouldn’t be in the hands of commissioners,” she says.

Tue, 21 Mar 2017 00:00:00 -0400
<![CDATA[City Approves Workshop Brewing Lease]]> http://www.traverseticker.com/story/city-approves-workshop-lease Traverse City commissioners approved a lease agreement Monday to allow The Workshop Brewing Company to use 628 square feet of city land adjacent to the brewery's outdoor patio for expanded dining and drinking.

The lease will allow Workshop to place an additional seven tables on public space next to the existing 20 tables on the brewery's private patio, accommodating close to 70 people total. The arrangement would be similar to that of other downtown establishments that have contracted to use vacant city land next to their businesses for dining, including Sparks BBQ and J&S Hamburg. Workshop would pay $520 annually to use the parcel from approximately April to November, weather depending.

Commissioners also agreed to a midnight cut-off for alcohol sales on the parcel as part of the lease agreement. Brewery owner Peter Kirkwood had requested the midnight cut-off since alcohol sales are permitted until midnight already on his adjacent private patio. City staff, however, had recommended requiring a 11pm cutoff for serving on the city side of the property to mirror the city's sidewalk cafe ordinance and to accommodate police concerns about public safety with late-night drinking.

But Kirkwood responded that Workshop was not a full-service liquor establishment and did not have the same problems with rowdiness as other downtown establishments. He said trying to move customers with meals and beverages in front of them at 11pm across an "imaginary line" from the public side to the private side of the patio could create more confrontations than simply keeping the same hours throughout the establishment.

Commissioner Amy Shamroe agreed. "Asking someone to move for one hour or 45 minutes, by the time you get them to move, is more likely to cause problems than letting them drink for the hour to close," she said. "t's a different type of environment than some of the other full-service bars that have been brought up in this discussion."

Because Kirkwood's lease must be renewed on an annual basis, commissioners said they could monitor the hours for the first year to see how it worked. "I think this is a reasonable compromise...it's one year," said Shamroe. Commissioner Michele Howard agreed. "I'm willing to experiment and give it a try for the sake of that area," she said, referring to the Warehouse District, which Kirkwood and several commissioners stated had a more communal, vibrant vibe following the reconstruction of Garland Street and could benefit from late-night options.

Tue, 21 Mar 2017 00:00:00 -0400