Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Eddie Money rocks Jackson County Fair with patriotic tunes, old favorites

Eddie Money serenaded the Jackson County Fair crowd with a blaring harmonica and fancy two-step Monday night, but he also reminded fans he has plenty of American soul left in his classic rock ’n’ roll.

People of all ages swayed back and forth harmoniously, many with hands on their hearts, as the singer-songwriter performed his contemporary single “One More Soldier Coming Home” midway through an energetic set at the grandstand.

“It’s 117 degrees in Baghdad last I checked — and this song is for our servicemen and (service)women in Afghanistan, Iraq and everywhere,” the 62-year-old rocker said.

The remainder of his set was a timewarp back to the 1980s when Money performed at the fair in 1987.

Top-40 hits such as “Walk on Water” and “Take Me Home Tonight” had 40somethings in the half-capacity crowd high-fiving and reminiscing of years gone by.

Kevin Lashley, 43, of Jackson remembers seeing Money play at the Jackson County Fair when he was in high school.

“My favorite has got to be ‘Two Tickets to Paradise,’ ” he said. “I still enjoy it. … Today’s rock, you can’t even understand the lyrics.” Money wasn’t just high on patriotism Monday, he had plenty of energy to rile up the crowd with his shirt half unbuttoned and his vocals blaring with youthfulness.

“Is it a party or what? I never did this for the money, I do it for you guys,” Money yelled. “That’s not totally true, I’ve got five kids at home so I’ll do whatever it takes to get out of the house.”

Bruce Todd, 59, of Jackson said he has yet to find a better musical experience than Money.

He said he has seen him perform live in Toledo, Detroit and Chicago, as well as in Jackson. He also owns every one of his CDs.

“I like Eddie Money because he’s really a good person with a heart of gold, and of course he knows how to sing,” Todd said.

Starship featuring Mickey Thomas opened for Money, drawing a standing ovation for a booming rendition of “We Built This City on Rock and Roll” to close their set.
As published in the Jackson Citizen Patriot on Aug. 9, 2011

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Wildcat Garden has taken root with students in Albion

Seeds planted by an Albion College professor and student have blossomed into a community of young women who aren’t afraid to get a little dirty or try new foods.

Behind Albion High School sits the Wildcat Garden, the brainchild of Albion College professor Trisha Franzen and senior sociology major Rachel Keener. The quarter-acre lot is home to more than 20 fruits and vegetables, as well as herbs and flowers

A hand-painted old headboard welcomes visitors into the landscape where fresh watermelons are almost ripe, several rows of corn are sprouting up and imaginations can run rampant under the hot summer sun.

What Franzen started with the help of Sandra Langston in 2006 — when she formed the Albion Girls Club to introduce her students to young Albion Public Schools girls — has grown into something that continues to get bigger and better with each passing year.

In 2010, Keener started a nutrition-based summer program through funds provided by the college’s Foundation for Undergraduate Research Scholarship. This summer, FURSCA has paid for her to stay in Albion and transform the garden.

“It’s been really amazing, and it helps that Trisha is a really good gardener and we started with a small garden last fall,” she said. “It’s a lot of work, but I’ve loved getting to know people in Albion better and spending the summer here.”

Keener said she has always enjoyed gardening, but she never envisioned she would spend 40-plus hours a week pulling weeds and cultivating community relationships.

“We like to joke because on Thursdays after we are done out here we have to go to faculty meetings for the research program, and we always come covered in dirt and everyone else has nice clothes on,” she said.

The Albion Community Foundation is an active donor to the cause, helping fund raised beds that run upward of $100 each, as well as seeds and compost soil.

The plot also has created a setting where it’s chic to talk about nutrition and local food sources.

Keener said about two-thirds of students in Albion receive free or reduced-cost lunches, meaning many have limited access to fresh fruits and vegetables.

Sinking her teeth into a tiny, bright red strawberry full of seeds last week, Albion High School senior Sharla Rider said eating homegrown fruits and vegetables has greater appeal over commercialized products.

“The store-bought were hard and not as sweet, just not as juicy when we compared them,” she said of the homegrown strawberries.

Several Albion Public Schools administrators have made frequent visits to the garden, and Keener encourages people to join in the project with “open sessions” from 7 to 8:30 p.m. every Tuesday.

Franzen said it will be tough to replace Keener’s dedication to the cause once she graduates, but her goal is to sell fresh produce at the Albion farmers market and even high school football games in the future.

“I think overall people are really thrilled that we’re doing this,” she said
As published in the Jackson Citizen Patriot on Aug. 4, 2011

Friday, July 29, 2011

Village of Concord may offer to fill residents' pools for a price -- after village president was chastised for filling his pool without permission

Filling pools with local fire hydrants in Concord should no longer invoke strong public retribution if one fire board member has his way.

Kevin Lovitt said filling pools could instead be a way for firefighters to get much-needed hands-on training with the hoses and potentially profit the village.

“I’d like to see our village adopt (a new policy) and say we’re not going to tell anybody they can’t do this, but we’re going to set up parameters and you’re going to pay for the services and the village would make out on it,” he said.

Lovitt said he plans to bring up the idea at the Aug. 17 fire board meeting.

His brother, Village President Mike Lovitt, filled his pool with village water without permission in June — later paying $68.82 for the water.

“Was he wrong? Yes. I stood right there and said, ‘Don’t do this, it’s going to blow up in your face,” Kevin Lovitt said.

“What pisses me off is all these people have turned on my brother,” Kevin Lovitt said. “And he and (former village president) Paul (Colburn) and some of those board members have worked hard to clean a lot of things up in the village of Concord. My brother never broke a law or violated an ordinance.”

Colburn objected to Lovitt’s use of a fire hydrant, having paid $660 for his pool to be filled just a week earlier. He said the past two years the Concord fire chief and public works supervisor told him residents cannot use hydrants for personal use.

On Tuesday he called for Mike Lovitt and other involved councilmembers to step down. Wednesday, he said he’d be satisfied with a “fair” monetary agreement and the creation of a new policy.

“What I would like to see is I’d like to see (Lovitt) pay the amount I paid — that’s all I want,” he said. “If I was to get the money from it, I would donate it to some charity in town because all I want is justice, not money.”

He said a new policy should specifically outline what local fire hydrants can and cannot be used for by residents and what the penalty for violating the policy would be.

“To be honest with you I think it’s something our community could make some money off of and we don’t have to charge the fees that other (pool servicers) do,” Colburn said.
As published in the Jackson Citizen Patriot on July 28, 2011

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Concord village president in hot water after using fire hydrant to fill swimming pool

The Concord village president is contrite for improperly filling his pool with a village fire hydrant, but said Tuesday he won’t resign from his seat.

Village president Mike Lovitt filled his pool at his home on Hanover Street in June. Three other village council members and three Concord Fire Department board members were present.

Former village president Paul Colburn said the pool was filled with a fire hose from the Pulaski Township Fire Department, where two Concord Fire Department board members are employed.

Colburn said Lovitt “should step down because that’s what anybody with any integrity would do.”

“If you didn’t think it was illegal, why would you drive seven or eight miles to Pulaski to get a hose when you’ve got one sitting here in the village office and several down at the firehouse?” Colburn said.

Lovitt apologized at the June 28 council meeting and said Tuesday it was a “spur-of-the-moment” decision he regretted. Still, he insisted it was not illegal.

After being approached by Police Chief Steve Sinden, Lovitt paid $68.82 for using village water.

“I admitted to making a bad decision. I violated a policy, and I made a public apology for that bad decision,” Lovitt said.

Roughly a week before Lovitt filled his pool, Colburn paid $660 to have his pool at his home filled. He said the Concord fire chief and public works supervisor told him residents cannot use hydrants for personal use.

On Tuesday, Colburn said he was considering seeking $660 from the village.

“I can set up a pool-filling business in this town now as long as I have a fireman to hook up and (unhook) for me,” he said. “There’s no fine, so I can drain off that fire hydrant anytime I want without any retribution.”

Lynn Roberts, wife of Concord police Sgt. Larry Roberts, said Colburn should be reimbursed for filling his pool and Lovittt and all of the council members who were at Lovitt’s house — Kelly Gretz, Craig Adams and Ashley Meeks — should step down.
As published in the Jackson Citizen Patriot on July 27, 2011