2017 Year In Review

From the pages of the Crawford County Avalanche
Water contamination at the Grayling Army Airfield and Lake Margrethe. The Moving Wall Vietnam War veterans tribute in Grayling. Legal dispute involving conservation groups and the Grayling Fish Hatchery. A missing person case turns into a murder investigation. The annual Chamber of Commerce awards. A new bridge over I-75 to complete the bike path connection between Grayling High School and Hartwick Pines. Arauco plant construction. Speed limit increases on area roads. A prom night rescue. The new Grayling Farmer’s Market. New destination logos for Grayling. Massive renovation project at the Grayling Middle School. County officials taking action to combat the opioid epidemic. Record numbers for the community’s Thanksgiving Dinner. Operation Northern Strike at Camp Grayling. Downtown events like the Paddle Battle, Harvest Fest, and the AuSable River Festival. Festival of Trees. The buck pole.
In sports action, the Grayling High School wrestling team won a fifth consecutive league title. Troy Summers, a varsity boys basketball player for Grayling, set new records for career rebounds and single-season rebounds. The boys basketball team won a district title. State finals qualifiers for skiing and track and cross country. A district championship for the varsity softball team. Most points ever for Grayling High School’s football team. A record-setting night for a Viking QB. A new pin record for the wrestling program.
Coverage of the many canoe races: the Spike’s Challenge, the Business Relays, HUP, the Special Olympics Challenge, and the 120-mile AuSable River Canoe Marathon, which featured another sprint to the finish line and a few record-breaking performances. 
Dozens of cross country skiers competed in the Cote Dame Marie Ski Loppet at Hanson Hills, and more than 100 cyclists participated in the annual Black Bear Gran Fondo. The GRA 10K/5K had more than 100 runners again.
Just a few of the things that the Crawford County Avalanche covered this year. With 2017 coming to an end, the Avalanche presents its annual Year In Review feature. 
(Story summaries in the Year In Review are listed according to the edition in which the article appeared.)
Happy New Year!
A Grayling man turned a beer making hobby into a new business in the community. Jason Malone, the president and brewmaster of Rolling Oak Brewing Company LLC, opened his doors for business during the Thanksgiving Day weekend. The Rolling Oak Brewing Company offers a custom made root beer, and it has 11 other taps to provide a variety of beers. The beers are named to honor significant locations in the area such as North Down Brown.
A 24-foot long mural of the AuSable River featuring the names of every canoe marathon finisher from the Crawford AuSable School District will be added to a Grayling High School wall. The mural will not be the first Crawford AuSable School District tribute to its students and their achievements. Also at the Grayling High School are the GHS Alumni Hall of Fame, the Military Wall of Honor, and the All-State Wall of Honor. Each finisher of the AuSable River Canoe Marathon who attended a Crawford AuSable school will have his or her name included on the mural under the year of their finish.
A Grayling dancer whose interest in the performing arts was sparked in the community at an early age will debut an original production, “The Flicker,” a live dance and circus arts performance, at the Grayling High School’s Joseph H. Stripe Auditorium. The original  production is a collaborative effort between Jill St. Germain, a dancer and a Grayling native, Brandon Morales of New York City, and Dmitry Myers of Pennsylvania.
Crawford County has one of the longest serving treasurers in the State of Michigan. Crawford County Treasurer Joseph V. Wakeley began his 45th year in office on  Jan. 1. He ran unopposed in the 2016 primary and general elections. Wakeley began serving as county treasurer on Jan. 1, 1973 after winning the primary and general elections in 1972. At the time, Wakeley was the youngest county treasurer in the state at the age of 24.
New 46th Circuit Trial Court Judge Colin G. Hunter of Grayling completed his first official act of office on Jan. 3 by administering the oath of office for Crawford County Clerk/Register of Deeds Sandra Moore. Hunter won his spot to serve on the bench for the trial court, which covers Crawford, Kalkaska and Otsego counties, at the Nov. 8 general election polls. He replaced 46th Circuit Trial Court Judge Janet M. Allen, who retired effective Dec. 31. Moore is beginning her seventh term in service.
TransCanada, a natural gas pipeline transportation company and natural gas storage company, gave a $5,000 grant to the Grayling Fire Department on Jan. 3. TransCanada has nearby facilities  in Frederic and in Kalkaska County. TransCanada awards grants to municipalities and agencies near where their where their facilities are located through a community investment program. The funds are targeted to support  environmental, safety, and community improvement initiatives. The $5,000 grant will be used to purchase an 800 megahertz radio for the Grayling Fire Department. 
Wii bowling competition for senior citizens takes place throughout the northern Michigan region from February through October. The five-time champions from the Crawford County Commission on Aging and Senior Center are getting ready to roll again.
The Grayling Youth Booster Club presented a $4,800 donation to the Grayling Youth Wrestling Club during a Michigan Youth Wrestling Association tournament hosted by the club at Grayling High School. The money will be used to purchase new singlets for the youth wrestling program, and the new uniforms will match those worn by the Grayling High School team’s wrestlers.
Mark Allen was appointed to fill an open seat on the Grayling City Council on Jan. 9. The vacancy was created when Erica Mead, who came in second in the Nov. 8 general election with 258 votes, opted not to take the oath of office to fill the position. Allen is the director of auxiliary services for Kirtland Community College’s Health Sciences Center in Grayling, which includes running the bookstore, the grill, and the conference center. He has been with the college for 18 years.
A number of trees and other obstructions around the Grayling Army Airfield need to addressed if it is going to continue to be used by military and civilian aircraft. A routine survey to identify vertical hazards surrounding the Grayling Army Airfield was completed in 2015. The hazards restrict how military and civilian aircraft take off and land. A total of 51 vertical hazards have been identified that are on military, public, and private property. 
After a year of giving a major facelift to a building in downtown Grayling and putting in a $1 million investment, Paddle Hard Brewing has the capability to distribute and brew its beer served in the community. Paddle Hard Distributing, located 118 East Michigan Avenue, opened for business on Jan. 2. All of the beer served at Paddle Hard Brewing, which was opened at 227 E. Michigan Avenue in 2014, is made in the building, as well as beer that will be distributed. For people looking to get their caffeine fix, there is also Paddle Hard Roasters located in the facility, Graying’s first coffee roastery. 
Golf Digest and GOLF Magazine named Forest Dunes’ new 18-hole reversible course – The Loop, designed by Tom Doak of Renaissance Golf Design – as the Best New Public Course and the Best New U.S. Course You Can Play. 
The Frederic Township Fire Department and EMS Service and other first responders and medical personnel helped save the lives of a local woman, her two cats, and one dog after they were exposed to high levels of carbon monoxide.
Despite rain and warm temperatures all week, and more rain forecasted for the day of the event, the 2017 Cote Dame Marie Ski Loppet – an annual series of cross country ski races conducted by the Grayling Recreation Authority at Hanson Hills Recreation Area – still had solid participation numbers with approximately 160 skiers. Divisions included: Michigan Cup Men’s (26.4 km skate), Michigan Cup Women’s (13.3 km skate), High School/Juniors Boys and Girls (7.5 km), Citizen Men’s 7.5 km Freestyle, Citizen Women’s 7.5 km Freestyle, Citizen Men’s 7.5 km Classic, and Citizen Women’s 7.5 km Classic. The 2017 Cote Dame also featured a kids race at Northbound Outfitters.
Feeding senior citizens and funding the Meals on Wheels program were focal points for the Crawford County Commission on Aging and Senior Center for its last fiscal year. Over the fiscal year, which began on Oct. 1, 2015 and ended on Sept. 30, 2016, the Commission on Aging and Senior Center served 35 percent of the senior citizens in Crawford County through its programs and services. That equates to 1,397 senior citizens age 60 and above. The largest demand for services was home-delivered meals served through the Meals on Wheels program. A total of 31,514 meals were delivered by senior center volunteers, up from 26,809 in the previous year.
Grayling Middle School eighth grader Andrew Walsh won the school’s National Geographic Geography Bee earlier this month. Preliminary rounds for the Geography Bee were held prior to winter break with all 350 students in the school participating. 
Grayling Recreation Authority is expanding Winter Fun Days – its annual winter festival held at Hanson Hills Recreation Area in February – from just one weekend to several in an effort to have more events and give more people an opportunity to participate in those events. This year’s expanded Winter Fun Days will feature annual favorites such as the chili cook-off and the big air competition, plus a few new events, including a fat bike race.
Kirtland Community College took the operations of another college campus into the fold at the beginning of 2017. A pact was made to transfer the operations of the University Center Gaylord to Kirtland Community College. The Otsego County Board of Commissioners, at a meeting on Dec. 14, approved the agreement to transfer the operations of the UC, which was signed by administrators from Otsego County and Kirtland Community College. Following 18 months of fact finding, discussion, and finalization, the agreement officially transferred all UC assets to Otsego County from the non-profit organization that previously managed the center. 
In less than 45 days, the AuSable Artisan Village reached its crowdfunding goal of $25,000. The crowdfunding campaign launched on Dec. 21 and ended on Jan. 31.  The staff at Patronicity, the crowdfunding website, coached and advised the volunteer team at the AuSable Artisan Village to ensure a successful outcome. In late November 2016, the AuSable Artisan Village, located in downtown Grayling, was approved for a crowd-granting opportunity to raise funds for capital improvements, including the renovation of the basement into a classroom for children and adults called the “Creativity Center.”
Grayling’s Main Street Program recently completed a branding and marketing campaign with a consultant provided through the Michigan Main Street Program. Ben Muldrow, a partner with Arnett, Muldrow & Associates, a marketing, branding, and economic development firm, met with the Grayling Main Street Board, its committees, and Executive Director Rae Gosling last year to develop logos and a marketing plan geared for Grayling. Out of the process, two logos were developed to promote Grayling. The first logo will be used to promote downtown Graying and features a canoe paddle with the tagline “Michigan’s Most Colorful Rivertown.” The second logo was developed for the Grayling Main Street Program.
An administrative law judge from Lansing is recommending stricter requirements for a proposal for commercial fish production at the Grayling Fish Hatchery, but conservation groups seeking to block the move vow continued legal battles. Daniel L. Pulter released his proposed recommendations on Feb. 1 for a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit for the Grayling Fish Hatchery that was  issued to the Harrietta Hills Trout Farm LLC. Harrietta Hills hopes to gradually increase production to levels where 300,000 pounds of trout are produced per year, but all of the trout will not be in the hatchery’s raceways at one time since they will be removed and harvested once they reach 1.25 pounds. The Anglers of the AuSable, a local angling and conservation group that was established 30 years ago, and the Sierra Club, challenged the permit in a contested court hearing that stretched out over three months last year.
Hanson Hills Recreation Area and Grayling Recreation Authority got their new, expanded Winter Fun Days started with a new event – a fat bike race – and the winter festival’s annual chili cook-off, and GRA has more events slated for the festival, including a big air competition. In past years, the Winter Fun Days event featured one weekend of activities; this year, GRA – the governing body for Hanson Hills – opted to add events and turn Winter Fun Days into “February Fun Days” with activities slated for three different weekends.
After nearly 10 years being located among a strip of retail stores in downtown Grayling, Little Caesars Pizza has moved to a more visible location in the community. Little Caesars, which is now at 5604 M-72 West, opened for business on Jan. 24. Spicy Bob’s Italian Express was formerly located on the property. The new location offers limited seating for customers, which couldn’t be offered in the past due to building code restrictions.
The local Knights of Columbus Free Throw Championship event had 11 winners, and those 11 shooters advanced to the district level of the competition. The Free Throw Championship was open to boys and girls ages 9-14. The nine-year-old age division winners were Jillian Hartman (girls) and Corbin Allen (boys).  Ten-year-old winners were Lillian Odden (girls) and Tanner Paulus (boys).  In the 11-year-old bracket, Krista Harrington was the girls’ champion and Ethan Kucharek was the boys’ winner. Joslynn Sheldon (girls) and Peyton Scheer (boys) were the winners in the 12-year-old division.  The 13-year-old division champions were Kayleigh Paulus (girls) and Douglas Phillips (boys). Logan Collet was the boys’ champion in the 14-year-old bracket. No 14-year-old girls competed. The Grayling Knights of Columbus conducted the Free Throw Championship event at the Grayling Middle School.
It was one of their goals at the beginning of the season: win a fifth consecutive Lake Michigan Conference title in wrestling. The Grayling Vikings accomplished the feat with a first place finish at the Lake Michigan Conference Championship Meet – an event hosted by Kalkaska High School this year – after posting a 5-0 record vs. league teams during the 2016-2017 regular season. The LMC tournament featured five rounds of action with competitors from the six different schools in the conference that have wrestling: Grayling, Boyne City, Charlevoix, Traverse City St. Francis, Kalkaska, and Elk Rapids. Out of 14 weight classes, the Vikings had five first place finishers: Andrew Hopkins (119), Max Halstead (125), Cole Hibbard (130), Reece Ferrigan (189), and Zach Kelly (heavyweight).
During a 72-71 overtime win for the Grayling Vikings at Charlevoix, Troy Summers – a senior center for Grayling High School’s varsity boys basketball team – grabbed 12 boards, enough to push him past Gerry St. Germain for the school’s all-time career rebounding record. St. Germain finished his GHS basketball career with 681 rebounds in 1969. Summers had 686 boards after the Charlevoix game; he added another 15 in his next game, putting him at 701 rebounds. Summers is now the only player in school history to eclipse the 700-rebound mark.
Starting as a teen and capping a career as the fire chief, Roger Weatherly urges anyone interested in becoming a firefighter to step forward and serve their community. Weatherly retired after serving three years as Beaver Creek Township’s fire chief. He served as a volunteer firefighter, full-time firefighter, and chief for just over three decades.
Two Grayling dancers have earned coveted spots in training programs that youngsters from throughout the world seek to obtain. Lizzie Kucharek will be attending one three-week session at the Interlochen Center for the Arts, while Anna Tomlinson will take part in two three-week sessions. Both girls are part of the AuSable Dance Center, which is co-owned by Felicia Phillips and Hayley Strohpaul. They have been training there for the last six years. They are also members of the studio’s competitive dance team.
Grayling Recreation Authority’s expanded Winter Fun Days festival continued with two more events: the annual Big Air Competition and the Grayling Youth Booster Club’s Blizzardfest. Eleven skiers and snowboarders participated in the Big Air Competition. The Winter Fun Days event also featured people taking advantage of a free tubing promotion and the Grayling Youth Booster Club’s Blizzardfest euchre tournament.
Four wrestlers from Grayling High School placed in the top four at the Michigan High School Athletic Association’s Individual District 17-3 tournament to earn spots at the upcoming individual regionals. The district tournament – hosted by Grayling High School – featured wrestlers from 16 different schools. Andrew Hopkins (112), Max Halstead (125), Logan Joseph (160), and Reece Ferrigan (189) were Grayling’s four regional qualifiers. During the tournament, Hopkins pinned a Kalkaska opponent to earn his 100th career win and clinch a spot at regionals.
The new, expanded Winter Fun Days festival ended its final weekend of February activities with a cross country ski race at Hanson Hills, an event that featured close to 80 participants and sunny weather.
Camp Grayling is reconstructing its main gate, forcing a detour of all traffic coming into the base – military and civilian – to an alternate entrance until the project’s completion later this year. SFC Jeremie A. Mead, Community Relations Specialist for Camp Grayling Joint Maneuver Training Center Headquarters, said the upgrades to the gate were needed in order to “meet (Department of Defense) regulations.” The new gate, once it is completed, will be “serpentine, to slow down traffic going to the gate,” and it will have more cameras for added security, SFC Mead said.
Sixty snowmobile enthusiasts and supporters came out for the 13th Annual Fun Run to benefit Crawford County United Way, raising over $2,000 for the organization’s allocation fund.
A clinic has recently opened in Grayling that will allow patients to be more heart smart, cut down on travel time and costs, and be more earth friendly. Traverse Heart and Vascular opened to serve patients on Jan. 1 in the Maxon Medical Building,  1107 E. Michigan Avenue. Dynamic Physical Therapy was previously located in the building, which is across from Munson Healthcare Grayling Hospital. Prior to opening the new facility, Traverse Heart and Vascular shared clinic space with AuSable Urology in Grayling.
Grayling High School and the Crawford AuSable School District are one of only 15 Michigan school districts and one of only 433 school districts in the U.S. and Canada to be named to the prestigious College Board’s AP District Honor Roll. This is the seventh annual national honor roll for significant gains in student access and success.  This is the second time GHS has received this US/Canada award.  There are more than 1,500 high schools in Michigan and nearly 22,000 in the United States.
One Grayling High School skier – Jacob Macfalda, a junior – qualified for the state finals after finishing 18th in giant slalom at the Michigan High School Athletic Association’s Division 2 Region 4 meet at Nub’s Nob.
Grayling High School seniors Madison Jones and Easton Farrell were named “Snowgoing” queen and king, respectively, during halftime of the Grayling vs. Kalkaska varsity boys basketball game at GHS. “Snowgoing” is a winter version of homecoming; like homecoming, it features a spirit week competition between the classes, themed dress-up days, and a dance. The Vikings won the game by a final score of 65-42. 
Sheryl A. Coyne, the president of Blarney Stone Broadcasting, was honored  with the Citizen of the Year Award at the Grayling Regional Chamber of Commerce’s annual Awards Night celebration held at the Ramada Inn of Grayling. Butch Weaver was honored with the Chamber’s You Made it Happen Award.  Weaver worked for the Crawford AuSable School District for over 18 years and has continued to serve the community through the creation of the Frederic Music Festival in 2013. Jack Millikin Inc. was recognized with Chamber Member of the Year Award. Jack Millikin Inc. recently celebrated its 75th anniversary serving the Crawford County community. 
A well needed and dual purpose truck recently went into service for the Grayling Fire Department. The engine and rescue truck, which can be utilized for a myriad of uses, replaced a 1984 truck used to carry rescue equipment and a 1983 fire engine, which was used to extinguish structure fires. The new truck carries all of the equipment needed to deal with a structure fire, as well as the Jaws of Life and other rescue equipment.
A group of Grayling Elementary School students recently made a trip to Ford Field, where the Detroit Lions roar and soar, to catch some pointers to keep their peers more active and healthy. Thirty-four elementary and middle schools throughout Michigan participated in the Fuel Up to Play 60 Rally for School Health on Feb. 18 at Ford Field. Five students from the Grayling Elementary School made the trip.
March 4-11 was AmeriCorps Week, and Grayling Main Street’s AmeriCorps Volunteer In Service To America (VISTA), Heather Tait, had a few special events planned. Tait is a VISTA for the Grayling Main Street program. Grayling Main Street, part of the Michigan Main Street Community program, is working on development and revitalization of Grayling’s downtown area.
The Grayling Robo Vikes had its robot bagged and ready to roll for its second year, with more mentors and sponsors backing the group. The team, officially known as Grayling High School Robo Vikes #6121, was formed in 2016 through FIRST Robotics Competition, the competitive world of high school robotics. 
The varsity boys basketball squad from Grayling High School won the Michigan High School Athletic Association’s District 63-B tournament last week with victories vs. Kalkaska, Sault Ste. Marie, and Kingsley. The Vikings started their playoff run with a 64-44 victory vs. the Blazers at Kalkaska High School on Monday night in a round one District 63-B contest. On Thursday night, in the district semifinals, Grayling trailed 37-31 going into the fourth quarter vs. the Sault Ste. Marie Blue Devils, and the Vikings battled back to win by three, 51-48. In the District 63-B finals, played at Kingsley High School on Friday night, the Vikings defeated the Kingsley Stags 63-47 to clinch the district title.
A former Grayling resident who has been held in the Crawford County Jail for over a year will not face a jury trial after entering into a plea agreement. Terry Mathew Streib, 53, pled guilty to three counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct first-degree causing injury, which are felonies that can bring up to life or any other term of years in prison, and to a charge of unlawful imprisonment, a 15-year felony with a $20,000 fine, on March 9. A charge of assault with intent to commit murder, kidnapping, three additional counts of criminal sexual conduct first-degree causing injury, assault by strangulation, and domestic violence were dropped.
The 7th annual Mike Wieland Tribute Race featured record turnout this year and raised $1,500 for the Grayling High School and Grayling Middle School ski program. The event – held at Hanson Hills Recreation Area on March 5 – featured 49 skiers.
Strong winds took down trees and power lines in different areas throughout the state of Michigan, including a tree in the Grayling City Park that landed on the park’s pavilion. Crews from the city quickly removed the downed tree and reported “no damage to pavilion.” 
Crawford County netted the largest pot of money earmarked to rehabilitate area housing from the State of Michigan. The Michigan State Housing Development Authority recently announced over $1 million in HOME Investment Partnerships Program grants, which will allow home rehabilitation and repair projects to move forward across the state.
The Crawford AuSable School District received a $2,500 grant from the SET SEG Foundation, in partnership with the Michigan Association of School Boards to expand their school-led food bank, the Viking Pantry. 
An optometrist who recently took over an established practice in Grayling is expanding eye care services for patients of all ages in the community. Dr. Kelly Drake purchased the Grayling Vision Center, located at 110 E. Michigan Avenue, from Dr. Mark Noss. Noss established the office in 1992 in the historic Salling, Hanson & Co. Office building in downtown Grayling.
A firefighter and EMT with a wealth of experience downstate took the helm of the Beaver Creek Township Fire Department. Doug Bourgeois served his first day on the job as the Beaver Creek Township fire chief on Feb. 1.
The Grayling Fitness Center sponsored its annual Lucky Leprechaun 5K Run and Walk on March 18. Participants walked and ran from the Grayling Fitness Center and made their way to Tinker’s Junction. On their way, participants made stops at the Gray Rock Pub and Grub, Paddle Hard Brewing, Flowers By Josie/Thanks A Latte, and Spike’s Keg O’ Nails to collect beads. The weekend holiday event also served as a fundraiser for Anna Tomlinson, who will take part in two three-week sessions at the Interlochen Center for the Arts this summer, and Sarah Holcomb, who is attending a program at the Joffrey Ballet School in Athens, Georgia. 
After addressing a few trees on private property on the east side of the Grayling Army Airfield that have been identified as airport vertical hazards, a new clump of trees located near one of Grayling’s most populated subdivisions has cropped up. Crawford County and military officials held a meeting on March 1 at the Crawford County Court House to address the vertical hazards located near the airfield. 
The varsity boys basketball squad from Grayling High School ended its playoff run with a 74-69 loss vs. the Gladstone Braves in the Michigan High School Athletic Association’s Region 16-B semifinals in a contest played at Sault Ste. Marie. The Vikings earned a spot in the Region 16-B tournament with a 64-44 victory at Kalkaska in round one of districts, a 51-48 victory at Sault Ste. Marie in the district semifinals, and a 63-47 win against the Kingsley Stags in the district title game.
The Grayling High School Forensics team competed at regionals on March 20 at Alma High School, and three Grayling students earned spots at the state finals. Kennedi Smades took fifth place in broadcasting, Anna Fisher earned third place in impromptu, and Parker Learman-Blaauw finished second in impromptu. All three Grayling High School Forensics students earned a spot at the Michigan Interscholastic Forensics State Competition to be held on April 28-29 at Eastern Michigan University.
Spencer White, a senior from Grayling High School, signed a letter of intent to play basketball at Concordia University of Ann Arbor during a ceremony at the GHS media center. White averaged 16.8 points per game and 5.7 rebounds per game during the 2016-2017 season and he was named an Associated Press all-state honorable mention in Class B.
The Grayling Department of Public Safety’s Fire Division received an $8,000 grant from Enbridge Inc., a leading energy supplier in the area, through its continued support for local emergency services through its grant program. The grant will be used to purchase 800 megahertz radio equipment to support ongoing upgrades to the department’s communication equipment. 
The Anglers of the AuSable, a local angling and conservation group that was established 30 years ago, filed a lawsuit against the Harrietta Hills Trout Farm LLC on March 24. The Anglers argue that the operation of an “industrial sized fish farm” is a violation of the statute and deed that transferred ownership of the Grayling Fish Hatchery to Crawford County. 
Grayling Elementary School students raised $18,000 to help pay for indoor rock climbing walls added to the school’s gymnasium. The walls came from the Everlast Climbing, based in Minneapolis, and include a mural of a space scene, the ocean, and two different mountain scenes. The rock walls provide physical fitness opportunities for students.
Blarney Stone Broadcasting is one of 12 companies from around the state selected to receive the Michigan Small Business Development Center’s Best Small Business Award. These companies were chosen from more than 5,500 small businesses that the Michigan SBDC provided with confidential counseling in 2016. 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.  
The State of Michigan and the City of Grayling are partnering to provide a public access where residents and visitors can launch their canoes for trips down the AuSable River. The City of Grayling had planned to create the canoe launch on the river by the Michigan State Police Crime Lab as part of the community’s parks and recreation plan. The crime lab building also served as the Grayling City Hall for several years until 2000, when the Michigan State Police leased all of the space for its use serving police agencies throughout the region. Preliminary surveys and conceptual drawings were completed for the canoe launch. 
Hartwick Pines State Park’s annual spring event – Maple Syrup Day, held on April 1 – gave park visitors an opportunity to help tap a maple tree and bring the sap back for processing, observe the boil-down process to convert the sap into syrup, taste maple sap and maple syrup, see the sap dripping into buckets, learn about the history of maple sugar making in North America, and purchase maple sugar products.
Grayling High School’s varsity boys basketball squad – a group that won a district title in 2017 and posted an overall record of 18-6 – announced its awards, a list of honors that included two all-state players and four all-conference selections. Senior center Troy Summers and senior guard/forward Spencer White were Grayling’s two all-state players. Summers and White were also Lake Michigan Conference all-league first team selections for the 2016-2017 campaign. Justin Nicholas, a junior, and Trey Moffit, a junior, were all-conference honorable mentions.
The varsity girls basketball program from Grayling High School announced its awards for the 2016-2017 season – a list of accolades that includes two all-league selections – at an end-of-the-season banquet. Senior guard Natalie Amy earned an all-league first team spot in the Lake Michigan Conference. Amy led the Vikings in points (211), assists (21), and steals (58). Junior forward Mallory Hatfield was an all-conference honorable mention. Hatfield was the squad’s second leading scorer with 131 points. She had a team-high 101 rebounds.
Grayling Recreation Authority conducted its annual Easter event – the Egg Hunt Eggstravaganza – at Hanson Hills Recreation Area, giving hundreds of kids the opportunity to hunt for candy-filled plastic eggs. Justin Andre, Director of Operations for GRA, said event organizers scattered 5,000 eggs on two different ski hills, splitting the group of kids into two different age groups. Andre said contributions from several area sponsors allow GRA to continue offering the Eggstravaganza as a free event for kids.
From planning to paving, State of Michigan and Grayling area officials are rolling forward with a grant application to connect a non-motorized trail that will be located south of the community to an existing trail that travels through town. Sixteen projects along Michigan’s Iron Belle Trail will share $350,000 in grant funding through awards announced by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. This year’s local grants include $25,000 for preliminary engineering of the trail segments between Kirtland Community College and the City of Grayling in Crawford County.
Grayling’s Michigan Main Street program sponsored a selfie contest as a rollout for its new logo to promote downtown businesses March 9-15. Spike’s Keg O’ Nails, which is known as the “Meeting Place of the North,” won the contest as a business since participants tagged the business on the social media sites with their selfies. Joe McMillan, a Grosse Pointe Farms resident, won the contest as an individual for taking the most selfies with the sign used to promote the contest.
As cranes, bulldozers, and earthmovers chugged away in the background, company and governmental officials took part in a groundbreaking for the official start of construction of a $400 million particleboard plant. Arauco, a global producer of wood products, held groundbreaking ceremonies on April 12 for its new state-of-the-art plant that is located off of Four Mile Road in Grayling Charter Township. The facility is scheduled to be operational by late 2018. 
Calling a former Grayling resident’s actions “diabolical” and “cowardice,” Chief 46th Trial Court Judge George J. Mertz sent him to prison for at least two and half decades. Citing several reasons to depart from recommended guidelines, Mertz sentenced Terry Mathew Streib, 53, to serve 25 years to 40 years in prison for three counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct causing injury. Streib was also ordered to serve seven years and four months to 15 years for a charge of unlawful imprisonment. He was given credit for 456 days served in the Crawford County Jail.
A group of volunteers worked voraciously to start a project that will repurpose a building that housed a laundromat into a store that will support River House, Inc. programs provided to domestic and sexual assault victims. River House, Inc. is a non-profit agency that serves victims and survivors of domestic and sexual abuse in Crawford, Ogemaw, Oscoda, and Roscommon counties. The store will be located next to the Grayling McDonald’s in a building where a laundromat was shut down and has been used for storage for the last several years.
A new restaurant recently opened on a landmark piece of property located on the AuSable River in Grayling. Ray’s Barbecue – Brews & Blues, located at 204 Ingham Street – opened for business on March 15 next to the Old AuSable Fly Shop.  
Troy Summers, a 6’8” senior center for Grayling High School’s varsity boys basketball team, established two new school records this past season: most rebounds in a single season and most rebounds in a career. Both of the previous records had stood for a long time; the career rebounding mark, set in 1969 by Gerry St. Germain, was 681, and the single season rebounding record, established in 1957 by Bob Strong, was 375.
Students from the Grayling Adventist Elementary School – a private institution for kids in grades K-8 located at Camp AuSable – took on a unique challenge, designing vessels to keep eggs from cracking during a fall from three different distances.
Hundreds of participants traveled through the Ramada Inn of Grayling on April 20 to view the products and services displayed by 86 businesses and community organizations at the Grayling Regional Chamber of Commerce’s annual Business Expo.
The speed limit on two major thoroughfares traveling through Grayling was hiked. About 1,500 miles of Michigan state highway will see a speed limit increase starting on May 1. The Michigan Department of Transportation said 900 miles will see an increase to 65 mph, and 600 miles will see an increase to 75 mph. In the Grayling area, freeway speeds were increased on I-75 in Roscommon, Crawford and Otsego counties. Speed limits were also hiked on US-127 traveling through Roscommon and Crawford counties.
The Grayling Promotional Association held its 30th annual Pictionary Olympics at the Grayling Eagles Club on April 21. The Munson Grayling OB Team #2 won the first place trophy; the Grayling Main Street team ended the evening with the second place trophy.
Trout Unlimited and Lovells Township, joined by dozens of fly fishing enthusiasts and other supporters, honored Arthur C. Neumann – a longtime angler, conservationist, and, according to many, a vital part of the survival of TU as an organization during its early days – with the unveiling of a monument near the Lovells Museum of Trout Fishing on Saturday (the first day of trout fishing season this year).
The Devereaux Memorial Crawford County Library held its annual Trout Opener celebration on the eve of trout fishing season on April 28. The library features the George Griffith & Marion Wright Memorial Fly Fishing Collection, one of largest collection of books and materials related to fly fishing in the nation.
Crawford County officials and child protection advocates raised awareness that April was designated as child abuse prevention month. A pinwheel garden was placed on the lawn of the Crawford County Courthouse to signify that every child deserves a carefree, happy, healthy, neglect and abuse free life, which was surrounded by a circle of pinwheels representing the agencies and community members providing support for children. 
Wrestlers across the country, including one that goes to school in Grayling, were trying to “pin cancer” through an online fundraising campaign, generating more than $110,000 for cancer research during the most recent effort. The “Pin Cancer: Wrestle For A Cure” initiative for 2017 had a goal of raising $100,000, according to an individual fundraising page created by Shelby Thomas, a local student and wrestler, and her mother, Stacey Shelp, who works for Munson Healthcare Grayling Hospital. This year’s Pin Cancer: Wrestle For A Cure – a national effort – had exceeded its goal by more than $12,000 as of May 1. Thomas, a 7th grader at Grayling Middle School, started the individual fundraising effort after her grandfather passed away from cancer earlier this year.
Still donning a tuxedo from his Grayling High School prom, Austin Molands became a hero after attending the rite of spring event. The prom for Grayling High School’s Class of 2017 was held at the Sonshine Barn Wedding and Event Center, located just east of Gaylord. Molands and Jenna Bryan, Austin’s girlfriend, attended the prom together. On their way home, just south of Otsego Lake, the students spotted flames lighting up the sky and they stopped. Molands started pounding on areas where there were no flames and yelling out to find if anyone was in the home. He spotted a lady through a window, entered the house, and guided the couple out to a porch at the front of their home.
The River House Shelter, Inc. held its fourth annual Spring Fling Craft Beer & Wine Tasting Cinco de Mayo Fiesta at the St. Mary’s Church on May 5. The event included music, a silent auction and Mexican food.
Three years of planning will start to come to fruition when the Grayling Farmer’s Market opens for the season. The City of Grayling recently obtained the property where ProBuild was located at 2059 South I-75 Business Loop. The building has been vacant for several years. Ownership of the building will be held by the Grayling Agricultural and Education Center, a year round market for northern Michigan food, products, and a training center. The Grayling Agricultural and Education Center is a city-sponsored 501(c)(3) corporation made up of local and regional business owners and officials.
A steady stream of donors was on hand for an American Red Cross Blood Drive held at the American Legion Post #106 on May 3. Teena Kehr, the volunteer coordinator for the blood drive, said donors surpassed  the 57-pint goal for the blood drive with 59 pints. Kehr said one donor received their 3-gallon pin, another earned an 8-gallon pin, and there were five first-time donors at the blood drive. 
The numbers are in for the annual Robert Wood Johnson Foundation County Health Rankings in Crawford County.  Now in the eighth year, these rankings give counties a snapshot of what influences how healthy their residents are and how long they will live, including all counties in the District Health Department #10 service area. In 2016, Crawford County ranked 75 out of the 82 counties in Health Outcomes, and in 2017 it ranks 71. For Health Factors, Crawford County ranked 41 in 2016, and in 2017 it ranks 28.
A resale shop aimed at keeping children clothed throughout their growing years as well as providing other baby and children’s gear recently opened in Grayling. Charity Sweckard, opened the Pitter Patter Children’s Resale, located at 1169 I-75 Business Loop. Pitter Patter Children’s Resale has a large variety of Melissa and Doug products, children’s learning toys, and puzzles. 
Eight disabled military veterans took part in the sixth annual Bamboo Bend Rod Building Project at the Lovells Township  Community Center. Bamboo Bend, a locally organized and funded project which has the motto “Handcrafted Healing for Heroes,” brought the military veterans to the Grayling area for a nine-day stay. The project is in a year of transition, moving from its founding place on the East Branch of the AuSable River to the Lovells Community Center, which is located near the North Branch of the AuSable River.
The Grayling Country Club is hosting a day of free golf in hopes of getting foster children into loving homes. May is foster care awareness month, and the free golf outing is being held to celebrate a community of caring.
The Crawford County Sheriff’s Office hosted its annual Law Enforcement Memorial Ceremony on May 15 to honor officers who lost their lives in the line of duty.
Twelve members of the Grayling High School Class of 2017 earned Lake Michigan Conference All-Academic Team honors for this year. According to GHS officials, team members are selected based on a formula that includes grade point average and SAT scores. The Valedictorian for this year’s senior class is Easton Farrell. The Salutatorian for the Class of 2017 is Molly Leslie. The other 10: Connor Beard, Mollie Binert, Alayna Cobb, Cody Creel, Madison Jones, Paige Millikin, Riley Morley, Alyssa Quiñones, Skyler Robison, and Spencer White.
An extensive environmental site assessment is underway at the Grayling Army Airfield and it will extend to neighboring private property, checking for chemicals that have been linked to causing defects in animals, lowering immunity for children, and causing cancer in humans. In the fall of 2016, water samples were taken from monitoring wells at the Grayling Army Airfield. Due to low detection levels and an issue with the sampling verification, more tests were conducted on wells on the southern boundary of the Grayling Army Airfield. 
High wind gusts and downed power lines had Grayling Fire Department firefighters responding to back-to-back calls on May 18. The Grayling Fire Department was dispatched to a call for downed power lines on Chestnut Street in the City of Grayling around 3:18 a.m. While responding to that call, more fallen power lines were reported on Park Street and Smith Street in the city. Then, a primary power line was reported to be down on Tanner Trail in Grayling Charter Township. Next, another primary power line was knocked down and caught on fire at Camp AuSable.
“Big Dog” Dave Sherbert, who has entertained listeners in their homes, cars, and boats with music, interviews, and stories, recently retired. May 19 was his last day on the air for Blarney Stone Broadcasting’s Q-100 (WQON, 100.3-FM).
Munson Healthcare Grayling Hospital recently received MPRO’s 2017 Governor’s Award of Excellence for Outstanding Achievement in Lowering the Risk of Infection for Hospitals.
Grayling High School recognized its Class of 2017 sports participants – a group that included six all-state players – during the 19th Annual Senior Student-Athlete Honors Night. The school did not have power due to a storm on Wednesday, but the athletic department was able to move the ceremony from the auditorium to the cafeteria, which had enough light, and conduct the event as planned. During the Senior Student-Athlete Honors Night, the school’s athletic department recognized 55 seniors, announcing each of their names and giving engraved plaques to those who attended.
Two Grayling Viking track and field athletes finished high enough at the Michigan High School Athletic Association’s Region 29-3 meet to qualify for the upcoming state finals. The Brookwood Athletic Complex in Clare hosted regionals. Ellie Carr’s second place finish in the shot put earned her a spot at the state finals. Carr, now a two-time state qualifier as a junior, posted a throw of 32’6” at regionals. Jacopo Bersellini, a foreign exchange student from Italy, finished third in the 110-meter hurdles event with a time of 15.66. It was a strong enough finish to earn a place at the state finals.
The American Legion Post #106 and Carl W. Borchers Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #3736 held a Memorial Day ceremony in the Elmwood Cemetery in Grayling on May 29. 
For the first time in 16 years, Crawford County Library System officials are moving forward with studies to expand their main library to enhance services and address safety hazards. Members of the Crawford County Library Systems Board of Trustees shared their vision for the  Devereaux Memorial Crawford County Library with the Crawford County Board of Commissioners at the board’s regular monthly meeting on May 25. Proposed changes include an addition, new parking areas, a new roof, and interior renovations.
Groups of senior citizens at the Crawford County Commission on Aging and Senior Center are kicking up their heels and getting their health into a better rhythm. The COA started offering aerobic drumming as part of its “Fitness After Fifty” program in March. Aerobic drumming combines the development of muscular endurance and cardiovascular conditioning. It involves using an inflatable  ball, like a yoga ball, placed on a stand, that people drum on with sticks.
The Grayling Viking Band’s Spring Carnival was held for Grayling area residents and visitors over the Memorial Day weekend.
Grayling High School’s boys and girls track teams competed in the Lake Michigan Conference Championships at Elk Rapids High School on Wednesday, winning a league title in one event. In the boys’ competition, Jacopo Bersellini was Grayling’s lone conference champion, winning the 110 hurdles with a time of 15.41, setting a new school record for the event.
With victories vs. the Roscommon Bucks and the Manton Rangers, the varsity girls softball team from Grayling High School clinched a district championship, earning a spot in the Region 17-3 tournament. The Vikings – in the District 67-3 semifinals at Manton – defeated the Roscommon Bucks by a final score of 8-5. Against Manton, in the District 67-3 championship game, Grayling won 7-3.
Jack VanPutten is putting another 100 miles on his combat boots. VanPutten and his supporters are taking part in the second annual Jack’s Walk of Honor Honoring the Michigan National Guard and Veterans. Last year, VanPutten  walked from Camp Grayling to the U.S. Army Reserve Center in Traverse City. He then walked back to Grayling. This year, VanPutten is hitting the “Sunrise Side” of northern Michigan, and will walk from the Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center back to the Camp Grayling Joint Maneuver Training Center.
The Beaver Creek Township Fire Department added a truck to its fleet. The new truck will enhance firefighting operations, rescue calls, and mutual aid responses in the Crawford County area.
A new Destination Grayling logo has been adopted by City of Grayling officials for use in marketing and advertising, as well as way-finding signs and welcome signs.  A Logo Launch Party was  held at the Grayling Country Club on May 24. Included with the launch party were updates on each of the Project Rising Tide Committees.
About 50 youngsters took part in the annual Bicycle Safety Rodeo held through the Crawford County Sheriff’s Office at the Grayling Elementary School on June 3. Kids received free bicycle helmets from the Grayling Rotary Club, tune-ups for their bikes from the staff at Northbound Outfitters, and rode laps on the bicycle safety course. 
Grayling High School celebrated the graduation of the Class of 2017 – a group that earned more than $900,000 in scholarships and performed close to 8,000 community service hours – during a commencement ceremony held at GHS. The school held the graduation event indoors in the Grayling High School gymnasium due to weather forecasts earlier in the week predicting rain. Also, Grayling High School, for the first time ever, streamed its commencement event live on social media.
The Crawford County Board of Commissioners laid out a process for selling a piece of land the county does not intend to use. The board, at its meeting on June 8, agreed to part with 17 acres of land it owns in Grayling Charter Township. The property is near Matt Lafontaine Automotive and north of the Clough subdivision.
Grayling area employees are enhancing their work skills through focused training while still earning their paychecks. In January, Michigan Works partnered with Kirtland Community College and began offering software training for Grayling employers at no cost through state training dollars. The software training included Beginning Excel and Intermediate Excel taught by Clay Horton, the community education director from Kirtland Community College.
A military veteran and family man has taken the reins of Grayling’s Fourth of July parade, which will proceed forward as planned. Leonard Nemeth, the commander of the Carl W. Borchers Post Veterans of Foreign Wars #3736, stepped down as the organizer for the Fourth of July Parade. He said the VFW is still sponsoring the parade, but the organization and American Legion Post #106 are focusing their efforts on bringing the traveling Vietnam Wall to Grayling. Nathan Bracken, who served four years in the U.S. Army with the National Security Agency at Fort Meade, Maryland, is taking over the parade.
About 80 retro-styled Prowler cars were in Grayling on June 6 while on a statewide tour. The cars were manufactured by Plymouth from 1991 to 2001, and then by Daimler Chrysler from 2001 to 2002. Only 11,700 of them were manufactured.
A 52-year-old Grayling man, Mikel Stanley, died after jumping into rough waters on Lake Margrethe.
Tom McCord and Rich Calkins, the voices of Grayling Viking basketball and football on local radio (Q-100 and Y-101.1), announced they are retiring from the job after 12 years of broadcasting Grayling High School sports games.
The Hanson Hills Challenge Mountain Bike Race – an event conducted by Fun Promotions LLC at Hanson Hills Recreation Area on June 4 – featured approximately 180 racers in a variety of divisions. The Hanson Hills Challenge featured divisions for mountain bikes and fat bikes, single speed bikes, women and men, boys and girls. It was a 2017  Michigan Mountain Biking Association Championship Points Series event featuring “single and double track trails.” Jorden Wakeley placed first in the Elite Men’s Division with a time of 2:00:22.6.
In their continued efforts to recognize military personnel who served in the Vietnam War, Crawford County officials are honoring thousands of troops who paid the ultimate sacrifice for the country. The Moving Wall, the replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial located in Washington, D.C., will be displayed in Grayling from July 19-24 at the Crawford County Sports Complex.
For Grayling Charter Township residents who own property near the Grayling Army Airfield it could be weeks before they learn if water from their wells is safe for human consumption. The Department of Military & Veterans Affairs held a town hall meeting at the Grayling Middle School on May 18 to inform residents regarding potential tainted water. The testing of the water samples could take four to six weeks before the results are available.
Several thousand pounds of waste were diverted from going into a landfill as Crawford County held its annual hazardous waste collection in the parking lot of the Crawford Courthouse on June 17. The waste, collected by volunteers and local officials, was hauled away by employees from Drug & Laboratory Disposal, Inc. A scrap tire collection, which was funded by a grant awarded to townships in Crawford County by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, was also held. A semi-trailer was filled with tires in just three hours, forcing some people who brought tires in to be turned away.
The Crawford AuSable School District Board of Education honored Austin Molands, Jenna Bryan, and Carly Cross during its regular meeting on June 12. “On the night of April 29, on their way home from prom, these three students noticed a house was on fire. They stopped to help a couple escape from their home and helped to prevent a terrible tragedy from happening,” according to the meeting’s agenda.
The Grayling Promotional Association funded new banners that were placed on the expressway coming into Grayling and down the I-75 Business Loop. The banners, which promote outdoor activities that residents and visitors can take part in the community, were placed on spring-loaded braces so that they can handle high wind gusts.
After leading bands for three decades, Crawford AuSable School District Band Director Matt Bishop is laying down his baton. Bishop is retiring from the position he has held with the school district for the last 15 years.
The Grayling Skate Park, located next to City Hall on City Boulevard, hosted the fifth annual Father’s Day Skate Competition, and 10 skateboarders participated. The 2017 Father’s Day Skate Competition featured three divisions: beginner, intermediate, and advanced. Each skateboarder in each division had three one-minute rounds to perform for the judges and the crowd. 
This year’s D.A.R.E. Golf Outing took place on June 15 and had 22 teams competing. According to Sheriff Kirk Wakefield, “the outing raises anywhere from $5,000 to $6,000.” D.A.R.E. instructs students about the dangers of peer pressure, underage drinking, the use of drugs, and what to do if a person witnesses bullying.
Larry Jorgensen, a freelance writer and Coca-Cola enthusiast, recently released a book describing the path that led to the drink’s popularity over the last 125 years, and a Grayling eatery – Dawson & Stevens Classic 50’s Diner – is mentioned in the closing chapter.
After marking the 100th anniversary of the Grayling Middle School, virtually every area in the school building and outside the building is being upgraded. A new roof was placed over the gym, academic wing, and office area at the school this spring. Large ceiling tiles are being removed from the gym, which will be replaced by a foam coating that will be painted. The locker rooms are getting a major overhaul. The parking lot for the school is being resurfaced, and the drainage system is being upgraded. Fencing was removed from the school’s courtyard, which is being reconfigured to include more green space and a new basketball court and play area for use during school and after hours for the community. Bathrooms throughout the entire building are being upgraded, with new fixtures, new stalls and new flooring.
An organization charged with bringing thousands of people for Grayling’s largest spectator event and drawing  paddlers from throughout the world to test their endurance on the AuSable River is now promoting higher education. The AuSable River Canoe Marathon Committee decided to establish a scholarship fund at the beginning of 2017. The first recipients were Molly Leslie, a 2017 Grayling High School graduate, and Megan Reinhard, a 2017 graduate from Oscoda High School. A third scholarship will be awarded to a graduating senior who is the son, daughter, or grandchild of a Marathon paddler.
Crawford County officials are putting all their resources on the table to address an epidemic of prescription drug abuse, child neglect, and mental health issues. From youth to adults, staff working for the Crawford County Court system are dealing with some huge problems due to the area’s poverty and mental health issues.
Grayling High School, for the sixth year in a row, has been named a US News and World Report Best High School.  GHS has earned Silver Status for four consecutive years. US News and World Report rated 22,000 public high schools and Michigan had 245 schools included in the rankings – six schools with gold medals, 79 with silver medals, and 160 with bronze medals.
Olivia Van De Ven, a freshman at Grayling High School, is currently taking part in the chance of a lifetime as part of the Blue Lake International Choir. As part of the group, Van De Ven will be visiting Europe and performing during a series of concerts.
The Crawford AuSable School District has a new athletic director. Nate Maury, originally from Lake City, was hired in May and he will officially take over the role on July 1. Prior to being hired as Grayling’s athletic director, Maury served as AD for Byron Area Schools for two years. Maury went to college at Grand Valley State University, earning a degree in sports management with a minor in business. 
The varsity baseball squad from Grayling High School announced its awards for the 2017 spring season at a gathering at Grayling High School. The list includes three all-conference selections and two all-district players. Cam Summers (OF, P), Justin Nicholas (P, IF), and Christian Artress (C) were Grayling’s three all-league players. Summers and Nicholas were both named to the all-district squad for Grayling.
Residents at the Grayling Nursing and Rehabilitation Community received some pre-Fourth of July excitement and blast of bright pink and purple colors from “Bessie,” a cherished therapy dog that has visited hundreds of people in hospitals, nursing homes, and school classrooms.
A Crawford County veteran, who has come full circle  with his involvement with the military, is now working with fellow veterans to get them the benefits that they have earned. John Steele started his job as the veterans service officer for Crawford County Veterans Service Office on June 12. A 1977 Grayling High School graduate, Steele joined the U.S. Army in 1979 and served with the military police and then as a recruiter. He switched military branches and served as a U.S. Marine Corps recruiter for two years, then rejoined the U.S. Army to pick up his recruiting duties.
In October of 2012, Sheryl and Jerry Coyne rock and rolled themselves into the radio business, purchasing Gannon Broadcasting Systems and renaming it Blarney Stone Broadcasting. Now, five years later, they’re expanding their operation by adding more stations. Blarney Stone Broadcasting – which has its corporate headquarters in Grayling – owns WQON (100.3 FM, the “Only Place for Rock & Roll”), WGRY (101.1 FM Sports Talk Radio), and WGRY (1230 AM CBS Sports Talk). In the last year, the Coynes have purchased several other stations in northern and lower Michigan, including 97.5 and 98.9 (KLT, The Rock Station), 94.3 and 92.5 (FOX Music Radio), and 106.7 and 105.5 (ESPN Northern Michigan).
Following the recent retirement of the award winning broadcast team of Tom McCord and Rich Calkins, Blarney Stone Broadcasting has hired a new Sports Talk host for coverage of Grayling Vikings sports. Chad Patterson, 47, of Grayling, will be taking over for McCord and Calkins.
The Grayling Recreation Authority 10K/5K/Fun Walk – an event slated for July 29 – will start and finish at Hanson Hills Recreation Area. Last year, due to road construction projects in Grayling, GRA had to move the 10K/5K from its usual course downtown. Event organizers opted for Hanson Hills, GRA’s base of operation, for the venue change. It was planned as a temporary switch, but people liked the new course, and event organizers decided to keep the 10K/5K at Hanson Hills.
Grayling High School’s varsity girls soccer squad wrapped up its 2017 spring season with its awards banquet, announcing several team awards, two all-conference honorees, and three all-district selections. In the Lake Michigan Conference, Molly Leslie was an all-league selection for the Vikings. Jackie Denton was an all-conference honorable mention. Leslie, Denton, and Paige Scheer were named to the all-district team. As a group, the soccer team earned all-academic honors.
The varsity softball team from Grayling High School announced several awards – including four all-league honors and seven all-district players – at its end of the season banquet. Seniors Erin Prosser and Emma Prosser were all-league honorees. Mallory Hatfield and Sabrina Junttila were all-conference honorable mentions. Grayling won a district championship this year, and the Vikings earned seven all-district selections: Emma Prosser, Erin Prosser, Hatfield, Sabrina Junttila, Olivia Schreiber, Rebecca Latusek, and Jenna Shelp. Emma Prosser was also named all-region.
Hundreds of people gathered in the Grayling City Park to put their best foot forward in the fight against cancer. The Crawford County Relay For Life was held in the park from 11 a.m. to midnight. Dozens of Relay for Life teams had tents set up in the park, where they hosted games and offered items through fundraisers for the event. Participants made laps around a paved trail in the park. The theme this year was “Manufacturing a Cure” to recognize all of the manufacturing done in the Crawford County area.
A meeting will be held next week to address results of testing for contamination gathered from residential water wells on property located near the Grayling Army Airfield. Jeannine Taylor, the public information officer for District Health Department #10, said health officials have made personal contact with residents in the area which may be impacted by the contamination. Additional information was planned to be mailed to the residents. The investigation to determine if chemicals have leached into the water table includes testing private residential water wells in between  the airfield and the AuSable River in Grayling Charter Township, specifically in the Sherwood Forest subdivision and along Evergreen Drive.
Hundreds of cyclists participated in the Grayling Rotary Club’s Black Bear Gran Fondo on Saturday, finishing a 100-mile “century ride,” a 62-mile “metric century ride” (100 kilometers), or a 45-mile loop, all three of which started and ended at Hanson Hills Recreation Area. Approximately 150 cyclists participated in this year’s Gran Fondo.
Judy Williamson was elected to serve as the Auxiliary State Madam President for the  Fraternal Order of the Eagles at its state convention held in Midland on June 17. Williamson joined the  Grayling Fraternal Order of the Eagles Auxiliary #3465 in 1995. She has served three terms as the local madam president.
Grayling Recreation Authority conducted its annual Firecracker 1-Mile Fun Run – an event that gives young runners the opportunity to race in front of Fourth of July parade spectators – on July 4, raising hundreds of dollars for the GRA cross country program. After having to change to a different course last year due to a road construction project, this year’s Firecracker event was back to its normal course on Michigan Avenue. Participants started in front of the Rialto Theater, ran or walked to the halfway point near the Grayling Elementary School, and then returned to the starting area to complete the loop. Grayling’s Independence Day parade also goes down Michigan Avenue, so people setting up to watch the parade also got to see the runners.
With an increase in traffic and speed limits, safety hazards are squarely on the mind of Crawford County Sheriff Kirk A. Wakefield, who is seeking to add two new deputies to the force. Wakefield gave a budget presentation to the Crawford County Board of Commissioners on July 13 for the county’s 2017-18 fiscal year. The fiscal year for the county begins on Oct. 1. Wakefield said a hike in traffic accidents has been an issue that he wants to address.
A Grayling High  School graduate recently released another book aimed at inspiring readers to live their lives to the fullest. Deborah Reed, who writes under the pen name D.A. Reed, released her latest novel “Dancing With Shadows.” A 1997 Grayling High School graduate, Reed now lives in Rockford.
Six local dancers from the AuSable Dance Center performed at the Hall of Fame’s National Competition at the Grand Traverse Resort in Traverse City from June 30 through July 2, and the girls earned several awards at the event. The local dancers who performed at the National Competition were: Kayli Burch, Emma Lalond, Ally Johnson, Jade Dandy, Lexi D’Amour, and Holly Holcomb.
In June and July, Grayling Recreation Authority’s Paddling Club has helped teach young people skills associated with paddling kayaks and racing canoes. GRA is conducting the sessions on Lake Margrethe at the beach at Camp Grayling. The Paddling Club includes two different levels: the Learn to Paddle class, and the Youth Competitive Paddle program.
The Moving Wall – a half-size replica of the Vietnam Memorial in Washington D.C. – made a stop in Grayling for a few days, giving area residents and veterans an opportunity to remember and honor those who served and lost their lives in the Vietnam War, a conflict that lasted from 1955 until 1975. The Moving Wall arrived in Grayling on July 19, greeted by a gathering of veterans and spectators near the American Legion. The wall, after being set up, was on display at the Crawford County Fairgrounds until July 24.
Concerns over the safety of drinking water and property values filtered through the Camp Grayling Armory last week, where military and state health officials released the initial reports regarding contaminated ground water to the public.
The 32nd Annual Classic Car Show – slated for July 29 during the AuSable River Festival – will feature several changes this year, including a new division called “Modern Muscle.”
Fifty-five paddlers raced from Grayling to Burton’s Landing in one-person canoes during the 2017 Spike’s Challenge C-1 event. Overall numbers were up from last year’s total (45), but lower than in 2015 when the event had a near record field of 63 competitors. The C-1 race featured 64 paddlers – the current record for largest field in the event’s history – in both 2014 and 2012. Steve Lajoie finished first in the Expert Division with a time of 0:41:40. Rebecca Davis won the Women’s Division with a time of 0:46:30, the 13th best time overall.
The winners of the 2017 Spike’s Challenge C-2 canoe race – Steve Lajoie and Guillaume Blais, both of Quebec – were both former first place finishers for the event, but this year was their first time winning the race together as a duo. Lajoie won the Spike’s Challenge in 2003, 2004, and 2008 through 2015 with Andrew Triebold of Grayling. Now, including this year’s victory, Lajoie has won the race 11 times. Blais won in 2016 with Mathieu Pellerin, so the 2017 Spike’s Challenge victory gives him two consecutive first place finishes in the C-2 race. The Spike’s Challenge starts in Grayling at the Old AuSable Fly Shop and ends at McMasters Bridge. Lajoie and Blais reached the finish line in 2:38:44.
This year’s Spike’s Challenge C-2 race champions – Steve Lajoie and Guillaume Blais, both of Quebec – posted the top time at the Spike’s Challenge sprints for position event. At sprints, 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. Lajoie and Blais posted a time of 4:28.4.
For the second consecutive year, the AuSable River Canoe Marathon – an annual 120-mile non-stop race from Grayling to Oscoda held on Saturday and Sunday, July 29 and 30 – featured a sprint to the finish line, with only one second separating the first and second place teams. For the second consecutive year, Christophe Proulx was in one of the two canoes sprinting to the finish line, and for the second consecutive time, Proulx – paddling with Samuel Frigon this year – won the race. Proulx and Frigon, both of Quebec, battled another Canadian duo for the 2017 title. Proulx and Frigon finished in 14:18:45 and Steve Lajoie and Guillaume Blais, both of Quebec, had a final time of 14:18:46, according to unofficial results. The fourth place team – Andrew Triebold of Grayling and Mary Schlimmer of New York – broke a 29-year-old record for best mixed division time in the AuSable Marathon. The previous record was established by Lynne Witte and Jim Myers in 1988 (15:05:26). The time for Triebold and Schlimmer this year was 14:37:45. The 16th place team – Rebecca Davis of Homer and Edith MacHattie of Saskatchewan – won the women’s division and set a new record. The time for Davis and MacHattie this year – 15:17:39 – broke the previous mark for best finish time by an all-women team, a record established by Connie Cannon and Carrie Trudgeon in 1994 (15:26:14). Eighty teams started the 2017 AuSable River Canoe Marathon and 73 reached the finish line. 
A Grayling woman and her son were injured while trying to cross the road during heavy traffic as the AuSable River Festival was getting underway.
The Crawford County Board of Commissioners fired off a resolution of protest to state officials last week, urging them not to increase the speed limit to 65 mph on M-72 East within the county limits. The county board passed the resolution opposing increasing the speed limit on M-72 East at its regular monthly meeting on July 27.
Hundreds of children and their families packed into the Grayling City Park on July 25 for several Kid’s Day activities that were organized by volunteers and community organizations. The theme for kid’s day was Art in the Park.
The 40th Annual AuSable River Festival Arts & Crafts Show, which featured a variety of new artists as well as Arts & Crafts Show alumni, drew crowds at the city park. The show featured a variety of booths, many featuring homemade products. 
For the last 20 years, the Grayling Knights of Columbus and the AuSable Marathon Committee have teamed up to conduct the Special Olympics Challenge. In the event, AuSable River Canoe Marathon paddlers – current racers and former Marathon competitors – are paired with local Special Olympians to paddle a short looped course in an aluminum canoe. 
The H.U.P. Race featured homemade canoes and paddlers wearing costumes. The goal of the event was “for teams to build a boat that is able to stay afloat for the entire race course on the AuSable River,” according to the Grayling Regional Chamber of Commerce. Some succeeded. Some did not. This year, the first place winner was team Grayling Promotional Association (paddler Brad Duncan) with a time of 1:46.88; the team received the “Fastest Hupper Award.”
The AuSable River Festival Car Show had a record number of 214 entries this year with the addition of cars from 1992 and newer as well as antique cars and classic hot rods.
Grayling Recreation Authority’s annual Business Canoe Relays featured eight four-person teams racing in recreation canoes at Penrod’s as part of the AuSable River Canoe Marathon.
AuSable River Canoe Marathon teams – before they raced 120 miles from Grayling to Oscoda – competed against the clock and each other while battling for starting positions during a three-day time trials event. The AuSable River Canoe Marathon Committee changed the course for time trials last year, creating a new loop for the event that made the turnaround buoy accessible to spectators. This year, 11 of the AuSable River Canoe Marathon’s top 13 finishers also finished in the top 13 during time trials. Steve Lajoie and Guillaume Blais had the best sprint time (4:51.58).
More than 5,000 United States soldiers. Five branches of the U.S. military. Thirteen states, six coalition countries. Two weeks. From July 29 until August 12, the Michigan National Guard will be hosting “Northern Strike,” an event that allows members of each branch of the military to work together before they have to be called to action. The two-week long drill block is designed to allow soldiers to “train as you fight.”
The AuSable Artisan Village recently launched its first series of Creativity Center classes on the main level of the building.
Faced with a challenge of keeping up with expenses, the Crawford County Historical Society was forced to implement admission fees in order to pay the bills. The admission fees to tour the buildings and grounds at the Crawford County Museum, located at 97 E. Michigan Avenue, were recently put in place. The fees are $2 for adults and $1 for children age 5 through 17. Kids are under 5 are free. A  family pass can be purchased for $5.
The Forgotten Eagles made a stop in Grayling as part of their 15th 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. Since the Ride Around Michigan was established, the Forgotten Eagles have raised over $150,000 for the Michigan’s Veterans Trust Fund, the largest contributor since the fund was established in 1946.
A family that established ties to Grayling over two decades ago purchased an iconic ice cream shop this year and is introducing a new flair for chicken to the community. Jill and Roger Lewis, along with their son, Christopher, purchased Wimpy’s, located at 6415 M-72 West, in January. The main menu change for Wimpy’s is the addition of genuine broaster chicken, which can be ordered as takeout or enjoyed at Wimpy’s. 
The overall numbers were down a little bit for this year’s Grayling Recreation Authority 10K/5K following last year’s record number of participants, but the event still had well over 100 runners during its second run on a new course. GRA had separate starts for the 10K and the 5K groups this year instead of one mass start for all of the competitors. The overall winners for the 2017 GRA 10K were Jorden Wakeley (men’s division, 33:54.3) and Emily Short (women’s division, 40:15.1). In the 5K event, Josie Short won the women’s division with a time of 21:58.7. There were 49 runners in the women’s division. Out of 36 runners in the 5K men’s division, Christian Artress finished first with a time of 19:09.9.
The Michigan National Guard held its annual Memorial and Pass in Review at the Camp Grayling Joint Maneuver Training Center onAug. 11. The ceremony was held as Northern Strike, a two-week National Guard Bureau-sponsored exercise uniting 6,856 Army, Air Force, Marine, and Special Forces service members from 20 states and three coalition countries came to a close.
On the same day President Donald J. Trump declared the abuse of opioid drugs as a national emergency, local law enforcement and governmental officials discussed resources in place to combat the illegal use of prescription drugs and highly addictive substances. Detective Lt. Mark Pintar, the Strike Team Investigative Narcotics Group (STING) unit commander, gave an update on the undercover drug team’s activity at the Crawford County Board of Commissioners meeting held on Aug. 10.
On Aug. 12, families pining for a unique kind of forest experience took the opportunity to participate in the Hartwick Pines Forest Festival, an event dedicated to raising awareness of the special and unique natural resources in northern Michigan. The event also worked to highlight the connections between the history of the forest and the bright future ahead for the park. 
Construction for a $400 million particleboard mill, which will give Crawford County and the region a well-needed boost in economic growth, is on time and on budget. Arauco, a global producer of wood products, is building a new state-of-the-art plant that is located off of Four Mile Road in Grayling Charter Township. The facility is scheduled to be operational by late 2018. 
Crawford County officials are taking the necessary steps to plan for the relocation of Grayling Little League fields to the Crawford County Sports Complex. The Grayling Little League has asked the Crawford County Board of Commissioners for approval to develop three new ball fields at the Crawford County Sports Complex. The area was the former Crawford County Fairgrounds, which is now shared by the Crawford AuSable Youth Soccer Association, Grayling Junior Vikings, and little league.
For many, flashing lights and wailing sirens are indicators of tragedy, but on Aug. 19 fire trucks and ambulances paved the way for a family-friendly event. For one Saturday each August, the community of Lovells gathers for a walk that celebrates and raises money for the local fire department. This year’s Lovells Bridge Walk featured more than 300 people and raised more than $8,000.
Construction on one last piece of the puzzle for Crawford County non-motorized trail users and visitors is underway. The pedestrian and bicycle bridge which is being constructed across I-75 was part of the original trail request back in 1999, connecting Grayling to the Hartwick Pines State Park  by the way of the Grayling Bicycle Turnpike. All other sections of the project have been completed.
Four 2017 Grayling High School graduates were awarded scholarships from the new Crawford AuSable Excellence in Education Foundation at the annual Senior Honors Night on May 17.   Carly Cross received the Joseph and Faith Stripe Memorial Scholarship; Alayna Cobb, the Scholarship in Honor of Clara Sorenson; and Jenna Bryan and Dharma Wyskiel, the CAEEF/CASD Alumni Foundation Scholarships. The CAEEF, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, was created by the Crawford AuSable School District in August 2015 to raise and disburse funds for scholarships to graduates and grants for educational programs in the school district.
The Detroit Free Press recently named Hanson Hills Recreation Area as having one of the top 10 mountain bike trail systems in Michigan.
Grayling High School’s varsity football team started strong vs. the Roscommon Bucks in its 2017 season opener – a nonconference contest hosted by the Vikings – scoring on its first four possessions, including a 71-yard TD on the first play from scrimmage, and building a 30-0 advantage before the end of the first period. The Vikings led 54-6 at halftime, and they defeated the Bucks by a final score of 66-20. The 66 points scored by the Vikings established a new record for Grayling High School football for most points scored in one game. The previous record was 64.
Local municipal organizations will see a slight increase in their coffers from the recent sale of property, which has not been on the tax rolls since the Great Depression. The Crawford County Board of Commissioners agreed to sell a 17-acre parcel of land to Churchill’s North Country Lodge at its meeting held on Aug. 24. The property is located near the Clough subdivision in Grayling Charter Township. The price paid for the property was $25,250.
Mike Hartman originally planned to attend Grayling Main Street’s second annual Paddle Battle as a spectator, but he ended up becoming a last minute addition to the field. Hartman managed to not only participate in the battle, but walk away with the title and a $500 prize. During the second annual Paddle Battle, competitors faced off in a recreational canoe, in a custom-built pool, two at a time, paddling as hard as they could to shift the boat in one direction or another to determine winners. In order to determine a champion, winners advanced, and the losers were eliminated during the bracket-style event.
The Old U.S. Motor Tour arrived at the Ramada Inn of Grayling on Aug. 25 for a car show and overnight stay, showcasing 200 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, including several participants from other states. The purpose of the motor tour, which has the theme “Back In The Day It Was the Way,” is to promote Old U.S. 27 as it extends from Cheboygan to Miami with 24 miles running through Crawford County.
The Crawford County Human Services Collaborative hosted its annual Crawford County Health and Resources Fair, better known as Neighborhood Connections, at the Grayling High School on Aug. 24. Over two dozen community service agencies showcased the services they offer at the event. Free haircuts for students heading back to school, and free food was offered to participants. The Crawford County Transportation Authority provided free rides to and from the school.
A group of Grayling ladies marked their 12th year of socializing, dining out on great meals, and having fun. The Cherry Bon Bons, the local Red Hat Society, was founded in March 2005.
The Lovells Cheerful Givers Club, an organization which has served as a safety net for Crawford County residents for nearly nine decades, is in the midst of a fundraising campaign to generate about $3,000 to replace the roof on its historic building.
The Grayling Promotional Association held its annual Junque in the Trunk sale in the parking lot in front of the Grayling Mini Mall on Sept. 2. A record number of 55 vendors were on hand to sell their antiques and items.
State of Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Orlando Todd presented District Health Department #10 with a Certificate of Accreditation at their Board of Health meeting on June 30 in Cadillac. Scoring 98 percent, above the minimum program requirements, DHD#10 received Accreditation with Commendation. 
Elizabeth “Betty” Pamerleau, a resident of the Grayling area since the early 1960s, recently celebrated her 100th birthday at a party attended by her family and friends. 
The Crawford AuSable School District was recently recognized in a statewide publication for its support of students in need at the Grayling High School. The school district received an Excellence in Education Award from the SET SEG Foundation, in partnership with the Michigan Association of School Boards. Along with the award, Grayling High School received a $2,500 grant to support the  school-led food bank Viking Pantry. 
Ken Distel and Ron Mavis, the owners of Sno-Trac Village, located at 3576 Snow-Trac Trail near Lovells, are marking their 50th anniversary in business. Founded in 1967 as the Greenleaf Park, the name was changed to Sno-Trac Village in 1971.
Nearly 200 people attended the Crawford AuSable Excellence in Education Foundation Celebration Dinner, which included a celebration of the foundation’s initial fundraising efforts, the induction of 11 new members of the Alumni Hall of Fame, and the presentation of the new AuSable River Canoe Marathon Paddlers Hall of Fame. The Crawford AuSable Excellence in Education Foundation Celebration Dinner is more than one-third of the way toward its initial fundraising goal of $1 million.
Students came back to the Grayling Middle School earlier this month after nearly every corner of the school building and grounds were upgraded. Work at the Grayling Middle School is substantially done, with some flooring, bathroom upgrades, and a student concession and meeting area still needing to be completed. A canopy will also be placed at the main entrance to the school.
The legacy for a Grayling golf coach and advocate for youth lives on through a program to introduce students to the game and to award scholarships to graduates. A full field of 108 golfers participated in the fourth  annual Jason Potter Memorial Fund Golf Tournament at the Grayling Country Club on Sept. 16. Potter, the Grayling High School boys golf coach, was killed in a vehicle crash on April 29, 2013. Louis Menard, a Grayling High school senior, also died from injuries sustained in the crash. Six other players, who were on their way to a golf match at the Grand Traverse Resort & Spa, were injured in the accident.
Nine samples from water wells on the east boundary of the Grayling Army Airfield tested above a health advisory for chemicals linked to causing ill health effects in humans and animals and one sample tested at a low level for the compounds. That is prompting military and health officials to expand testing of private water wells further away from the military installation.
Jeff Muraida, a native to Evergreen Park, Illinois, moved nearly 400 miles from Morris, Illinois, to accept the job as the Crawford AuSable School District’s band director, fulfilling a promise he made many years ago. Muraida’s wife, originally a Michigan native, moved to Chicago 16 years prior, and as part of the deal, Jeff promised that if the opportunity to move with her back home to Michigan arose, the family would take it.
Volunteers for the Forest of Fear, a haunted trail walk located just east of Grayling, are primed and ready to spook visitors and scare up some money for local community organizations. Celebrating its 12th year, the Forest of Fear will kick off on Oct. 6.
A father and son recently completed a 13-year journey, hiking the entire length of the Appalachian Trail, and have plans for more adventures on their feet. Larry Yoder, of Grayling, and his son, Brian Yoder, who lives in southern Alabama, completed their last stretch hiking the Appalachian Trail in Maine. They started hiking the trail in northern Georgia in 2005. The trail runs through 14 states, ending in northern Maine near the border with Canada. They traveled the trail in two-week stretches, hiking an average of 200 miles each trip.
A Grayling woman who relocated to the community to live full-time this summer is seeking help keeping soldiers connected with their families as they continue to fight the global war on terrorism. Charly Mathews launched the program called Cards for Soldiers in 2005 when her husband, Michael, was deployed with the U.S. Air Force to Afghanistan. The program involves making handmade cards for the soldiers to send home to their loved ones.
As the investigation into suspicious deaths and some natural deaths get more complicated and involved, Crawford County officials have streamlined the process of when and how the investigations are conducted. The Crawford County Board of Commissioners at its regular monthly meeting on Sept. 28 approved a change in its contract with Frederic Township for medical examiner investigations.
With one project already in the pipeline, Crawford County officials approved a grant application and a regional pact to clean up contaminated properties for redevelopment. The Crawford County Board of Commissioners at its regular monthly meeting on Sept. 28 approved a proposed grant application for the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. The board also gave a thumbs up to a memorandum of agreement between the DEQ and Oscoda, Crawford, Roscommon, and Ogemaw counties. The four counties are forming a Brownfield Assessment Coalition to apply for a U.S. Environmental  Protection Agency grant  for 2018.
The Grayling Department of Public Safety, Crawford County Sheriff’s Office, and Mobile Medical Response Ambulance Service were on hand at the Grayling Kmart for Family Health and Fitness Day. The American Red Cross, Crawford County Community Christian Help Center, and Crawford County Toy for Tots also took part in the educational and outreach programs.
Rickey Heavner and Kaitlin Bennett were named 2017 homecoming king and queen, respectively, during halftime of Friday’s varsity football game.
The City of Grayling was awarded a grant of more than $1.5 million, which will be used to replace an aging sewer main that services homes and businesses in nearly the entire community.
Affectionately known as “Small Paul” Martin in the community, the Grayling resident is showcasing a big heart for those impacted by Hurricane Irma in Florida – sometimes in the likeness of the superhero Spider-Man.
Harvest Fest, hosted by Grayling’s Michigan Main Street program, drew dozens of area residents and visitors into downtown Grayling on Oct. 7. 
Grayling’s Michigan Main Street Program hosted its second annual Funky Fish Race downtown on Oct. 7. Seventeen businesses and community organizations sponsored and decorated fish for the contest. Large foam dice were rolled to determine which fish advanced in the race. The race winner was from The Brickery.
The Grayling Promotional Association Fall Arts and Crafts Show drew in hundreds of visitors to the Grayling Elementary School on Oct. 7. 
Prior to Friday and Saturday’s varsity football games throughout the state of Michigan, only two players in the Michigan High School Athletic Association record books had surpassed the 600 mark for passing yardage in a single game. After Grayling High School’s performance on Friday at Benzie Central – a contest that the Vikings won by a final score of 58-46 – there were three quarterbacks with more than 600 passing yards in one game. Justin Nicholas, senior QB for Grayling, finished the contest vs. Benzie Central with 623 passing yards, completing 39 of 72 attempts; he had eight passing touchdowns.
The Grayling High School boys and girls cross country teams competed in the Lake Michigan Conference Championships at Charlevoix High School, and three Vikings earned all-league recognition with their finishes. During the meet, runners who finished in the top seven earned all-league honors in the Lake Michigan Conference, and runners who placed 8th through 14th earned honorable mentions. Christian Artress finished 5th with a time of 17:34, earning all-league honors. Caden Arredondo took 13th with a time of 18:13, earning an all-conference honorable mention. For Grayling’s girls, Brianna Martin finished 8th with a time of 20:25. She earned an all-league honorable mention.
Grayling’s postseason hopes for football came down to the regular season finale. The Vikings needed a win to earn a playoff spot, and they got it. Grayling defeated the Kalkaska Blazers 50-33 on Friday night during a Northern Michigan Football Conference Legends Division game, earning a sixth win and an automatic berth in the Michigan High School Athletic Association playoffs. Kalkaska hosted the contest.
A circuit judge ruled that part of a lawsuit alleging a fish farm is polluting the AuSable River could move forward, but declined to address the legality of a contract between the fish hatchery operator and Crawford County. In his ruling issued on Oct. 13, Chief 46th Trial Court Judge George J. Mertz dismissed a count filed by the Anglers of the AuSable alleging a statute that transferred the fish hatchery from the state to Crawford County was  being violated. 
Grayling’s Michigan Main Street program hosted a Girl’s Night Out on Oct. 21 with the theme “Think Pink” to help celebrate October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month. As part of the event, awareness and funds were raised for Casting For Recovery, a non-profit organization which offers fly-fishing classes to women impacted by breast cancer. 
Six students from the Grayling Middle School recently traveled to Ford Field in Detroit for the 8th Fuel Up to Play 60 Rally for School Health Event. 
Sixteen graduates of Grayling High School and eight current seniors have earned the designation of AP Scholar by the College Board in recognition of their exceptional achievement on the college-level Advanced Placement Exams. Only 22 percent of the more than 2,200,000 high school students worldwide who took these exams performed at a sufficiently high level to merit the recognition of AP Scholar.
Boy Scout Troop #979 of Grayling was recently recognized for being camper champs for obtaining a well-rounded offering of experiences made available to them throughout the state. The troop received the Grand Slam Award from Michigan Crossroads Council of the Boy Scouts on Oct. 1 for attending four Boy Scout summer camps located in the State of Michigan.
The Frederic Food Bank, which operated in what is now the Frederic Township Community Center for a dozen years, has ceased operations. The food pantry provided meals to needy students and their families in the building which was formerly the Frederic Elementary School. Now, food banks will be established at the Grayling Elementary School and Grayling Middle School, an offshoot of the student-led Viking Pantry operated at the Grayling High School. The pantry at the high school has provided food, cleaning supplies, and hygiene products to students and their families over the last year.
An internationally acclaimed wildlife artist from Grayling and volunteers from a local  organization dedicated to the rescue of displaced wildlife have teamed up the publish a children’s book. Kim Diment and the Association to Rescue Kritters, which is based in St. Helen, are releasing the book “Rascal and the Berry Bandit,” in time for the holidays. The A.R.K. was officially founded by Ruth and Denny Fruehauf in 2001.  Ruth dictated the stories for the book. Kathy Hedrich, who lives in Prudenville and volunteers at the A.R.K., wrote the stories for the book.
Charles (Bobby) Ryan, Jr., a 1983 Grayling High School graduate, is in Hollywood pitching a screenplay he wrote about his NASA special assignment. The project would include filming in Grayling.
Blake Devault, a six-year-old from Grayling, competes year round in motocross racing. Devault first got into racing a year ago, but has been riding bikes for the majority of his life. In 2017, Blake competed in several events on two bikes, a 50 cc trail bike, and a 50 cc MX bike. As part of the 2017 season, Blake participated in the championship event in Sebewaing. Blake won the championship hosted at MPX, taking first in both classes.
Mikaela Ashton, a 2014 Grayling graduate, was crowned Saginaw Valley State University Homecoming Queen on Oct. 14.
The varsity cross country team from Grayling High School competed in the Michigan High School Athletic Association Region 19-3 meet on Saturday at Michaywe Pines Golf, and the Vikings had three runners finish high enough to qualify for the state finals. Brianna Martin, a junior at Grayling High School, finished 12th, earning her a spot at the upcoming state finals. She posted a time of 20:13.96, a new school record. Christian Artress, a senior, finished 7th with a time of 17:24.56, earning a state finals berth. Caden Arredondo, a sophomore, also qualified for the finals with a time of 17:44.45, finishing 13th.
The Grayling Promotional Association is hosting the 12th annual Festival of Trees in the Grayling Mini-Mall. Fifty-four trees decorated by area businesses and organizations, 26 gift baskets, and a couple of wreaths will be on display and available.
The Crawford-Roscommon Conservation District joined the Farm Market at the AuSable River Center in Roscommon for their annual conservation expo held on Sept. 23. Forty photos were submitted this year and were on display for the public to vote on. Over 100 people attended the event.
Grayling Elementary School officials opted to proceed as planned with the annual Halloween parade despite snow and slushy sidewalks.
Resurrection Life Center of Grayling conducted a Trunk or Treat event on Oct. 31 during normal Halloween trick-or-treating hours, and more than 500 adults and children attended. Volunteers ran the event and several local businesses made donations to the effort. Trunk or Treat featured treats and games and other Halloween attractions.
The  Carl W. Borchers Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #3736 hosted a Veterans Day program at the American Legion Post #106 on Nov. 11 followed by a luncheon for veterans and others who attended. Cub Scout Pack #3993 and Boy Scout #979, both of Grayling, attended the ceremony and provided dessert goodies for the luncheon. 
Bill Berlin, a local emergency room nurse and educator, will run 22 miles with a 22-pound vest on Nov. 22 from downtown Grayling out toward Camp Grayling. He is taking on the task to raise awareness for the 22 veterans who commit suicide every day across the nation due to a lack of mental health treatment and post-traumatic stress disorder.
The varsity boys soccer team from Grayling High School announced its awards – five all-league selections, five all-district honorees, and one all-region player – for the 2017 season during a recent gathering on at GHS. Sam Davis, senior defender, earned all-league honors in the Lake Michigan Conference, all-district status, all-region honors, and he was named an all-state honorable mention. Louis Cotton, a senior, and Gabriel Nano, a foreign exchange student, each earned all-conference honors and spots on the all-district team. Anthony Harrington and Eliot Boik, both freshmen, earned all-district awards and all-league honorable mentions.
Chemicals linked to causing ill health effects in humans and animals have been discovered in Lake Margrethe.
The 59th annual Grayling buck pole event – conducted by the Camp Grayling Conservation Club at Skip’s Sport Shop on Wednesday and Thursday, the first two days of firearm deer hunting season for 2017 – featured 24 bucks, a few more than last year, despite inclement weather on the first day of the opener. 
Ideal weather, plenty of volunteers, and a steady stream of people seeking to get spooked allowed the Forest of Fear to scare up a record amount of donations to support local students and community organizations. The Forest of Fear, located off of Stephan Bridge Road, ran every weekend in October up through Halloween. The Forest of Fear gathered a record amount of $8,300 in proceeds, which were donated to support local students and community organizations. That was up from $6,500 last year.
Camp Grayling Joint Maneuver Training Center held a Change of Command ceremony on Oct. 15 to bid farewell to Col. Lawrence Schloegl and welcome the new Garrison Camp Commander Col. Edward Hallenbeck.
Volunteers for the 27th annual Crawford AuSable Thanksgiving Dinner delivered 710 meals to Crawford County residents, provided 95 take-out meals and served 209 dine-in meals at the Grayling Army Airfield on Nov. 23, totaling a record number of 1,014 meals provided to area residents.
A Grayling veteran whose family has a long heritage in the military was recently recognized for his service. Steve Green was selected as the American Legion Post #106 Auxiliary’s Veteran of the Year at a ceremony held on Veterans Day.
The Grayling Promotional Association capped off its 12th annual Festival of Trees held at the Grayling Mini-Mall on Nov. 26. Fifty-four trees decorated by area businesses and organizations, 26 gift baskets, and a couple of wreaths were presented to winners after raffle tickets were drawn. Cheri Ulatowski, of Grayling, won the people’s choice Christmas tree, which was decorated by Mary Becker, from Hart Dealerships. Ulatowski also won the people’s choice tree last year.
On an unseasonably warm day over the weekend, Grayling cyclists cruised across the new pedestrian and bicycle bridge crossing over I-75 near the Hartwick Pines State Park. The bridge was opened for hikers and cyclists on Nov. 7.
Residents are pushing officials for answers in the ever-widening water contamination testing issue in the Grayling area. Hundreds of people packed into the cafeteria at the Grayling High School to listen to a panel of local, state, and federal officials give an update on studies linked to tainted residential water wells near Grayling. 
The 23rd annual Cops for Kids Christmas Tree Sale, a collaboration between area businesses and the Crawford County Deputy Sheriff’s Association, is underway at the future site of the Northern Market, located at 2059 South I-75 Business Loop, where ProBuild operated.
Hundreds of children and their families visited downtown Grayling as the Santa Train from Lake State Railway rolled into the community to support the Crawford County Toys for Tots Program and the Crawford County Historical Museum. 
Erin and Scott Stratton of Grayling were part of the kickoff for the #Get Your Hat On campaign at the Grayling McDonalds on Dec. 8.
Chief 46th Trial Court Judge George J. Mertz denied a pair of motions filed on behalf of a former Grayling resident serving a lengthy prison sentence, Terry Mathew Streib, 54, arguing that defense attorneys provided ineffective counsel. Streib was sentenced to serve 25 years to 40 years in prison for three counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct.
Opening night for “67 Cinderellas” – a Grayling High School Players performance held at the school’s Joseph Stripe Auditorium – sold nearly all of its 400 tickets; the show sold 387 tickets, the highest number of tickets sold for a non-musical production in Grayling High School history.
A missing persons case turned into a murder investigation last week, which led to the arrest of a Grayling man for allegedly killing a woman who he had a family with and lived with for several years. Crawford  County Attorney Magistrate Camarin L. Talarico arraigned John Robert O’ Connor, 55, on Dec. 14 with one count of open murder.  O’Connor is charged with the death of Michelle Ann Kukulski, 46, who had been missing since Dec. 7.
Volunteers for the AuSable Valley Animal Shelter recently celebrated 30 years of a labor of love and financial support to help lower operating costs. The AuSable Valley Animal Shelter recognized Sharon Priebe with the presentation of a commemorative clock to recognize her 30 years of service with the non-profit organization. The AuSable Valley Animal Shelter Board also recognized the Grayling Rotary Club for helping the shelter cut down its utility bills.
Beginning in 2018, Crawford County veterans will have an advocate working full-time to get them the benefits that they have earned as well as to tap into other community resources. The Crawford County Board of Commissioners, at its Dec. 14 labor and personnel committee meeting,  approved a recommendation to classify veterans service officer John Steele as a full-time employee.
The Crawford County Board of Commissioners agreed to join in a statewide battle to combat the opioid epidemic by retaining three heavyweight law firms. The board passed a resolution to approve outside counsel for opioid litigation against pharmaceutical companies and distributors. The board also approved a retainer agreement with the law firms Weitz & Luxenberg PC, Sam Bernstein Law Firm PLLC, and Smith & Johnson Attorneys PC. The attorneys are stating their claim based on the marketing tactics and sale of highly addictive opioid pain killers by the pharmaceutical companies and distributors.
The Grayling High School varsity volleyball program recently announced its awards for the 2017 fall season, and the honors include three all-league selections. Nicole Oppermann, a junior, and Ellie Wagner, a freshman, earned all-conference honors. Mallory Hatfield, a senior, was an all-league honorable mention.
The varsity football program from Grayling High School recently announced its awards for the 2017 season, and the list includes two all-state selections and seven all-league honorees. Grayling had four all-conference first team selections: Justin Nicholas, QB; Logan Joseph, WR; Jaden Gauthier, OL; Jacob Macfalda, LB. The Vikings also had two all-league honorable mentions – Justin Youngblood (LB) and Zach Osga (RB) – and one special mention, Nick Hunter (WR). Nicholas was named the League Offensive MVP. Nicholas and Joseph were Associated Press and Detroit Free Press all-state honorable mentions. Nicholas was also a Michigan High School Football Coaches Association all-state honorable mention.
As a team, the Grayling High School wrestling squad picked up two Lake Michigan Conference victories on Wednesday night at Charlevoix High School, putting itself in a good position to clinch a sixth consecutive league title later in the season, and two Vikings reached significant career milestones during the meet. Reece Ferrigan pinned his Charlevoix counterpart in the first round, tying Grayling High School’s all time pin record for a career (109). Ferrigan won vs. Boyne City for his 110th career pin, establishing a new all time record for Grayling High School wrestling. Cole Hibbard, with two victories during the meet, reached the 100-win mark for his career.
Nancy Persing, who has served in several capacities with Crawford County’s Michigan State University Extension office, is retiring after 21 years of service. For over the last six years, Persing served as the 4-H program coordinator in Crawford County and Roscommon County.


Crawford County Avalanche

Mailing Address
Box 490
Grayling, MI 49738

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

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