Goodbye 2020

Year In Review feature offers a look back at a challenging year
The year 2020 was a challenging one. We dealt with a global pandemic that took away our loved ones, our health, our jobs, our businesses, and our freedoms.
At times this past year, because of the restrictions in place to battle COVID-19, we couldn’t gather for family events, we couldn’t go to funerals, we couldn’t eat meals in restaurants or go to sporting events or watch a movie in a theater or attend church. We didn’t have a high school spring sports season or an AuSable River Canoe Marathon.
Some people kept busy by helping others. People sewed masks and made other forms of protective equipment, provided meals to medical personnel, offered record numbers of donations to local charities, and found other ways to help those in need.
The pandemic didn’t force everything to shut down, and with this – the Crawford County Avalanche’s annual Year In Review feature – we offer a recap of some of the local news from the last 12 months. Story summaries are listed according to the newspaper edition in which they were published.
Goodbye 2020. Hello 2021.
 
January
02
With a few adjustments, a millage to fund a new location for the Crawford County Commission on Aging and Grayling Senior Center will go before voters to decide. The COA Board of Directors approved terms to enter into a purchase agreement for the former Mayday Windows Building, located at 4388 M-72 West, as a new location for the agency. The purchase is contingent on passing a $3 million millage to buy the building, pay for renovations, and to build an addition to provide more room for services. The millage will be on the Tuesday, March 10, election ballot.
A co-founder of the Main Branch Gallery in downtown Grayling is moving on to explore future endeavors in life, but his work will still be on display for art lovers to admire and purchase. Ken Wright founded the Main Branch Gallery in 2011 with internationally known wildlife artist Kim Diment of Grayling. Wright retired as of December 31 as a gallery owner, but is still staying involved as an artist with his photography on display. Wright, who will turn 82 in May, said it is simply time to step away from the day-to-day operations of the gallery.
The 2019 Shop With a Cop program gave Christmas presents to several area young people. This year, Christmas gifts were ordered online and given to the youth at a pizza party at the Grayling Eagles Club.
 
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Voters in the Crawford, Oscoda, Ogemaw, and Roscommon Intermediate School District (COOR ISD) will decide a pair of funding proposals on the Tuesday, March 10 presidential primary ballot to restore funding to where it was 52 years ago. The first proposal would restore the COOR ISD’s special education millage by .1171 mill on each $1,000 of taxable valuation. The second proposal would restore the COOR ISD’s general education operating millage by 0.047 mill on each $1,000 of taxable valuation. The proposals are aimed at restoring funds, which were first established when the COOR ISD was chartered in 1968, to account for the Headlee  Amendment. The Headlee Amendment requires municipalities, school districts, and intermediate school districts to reduce the millages they collect each year to account for inflation. 
A few dozen cross country skiers participated in the Michael Seaman Memorial MI Cup Team Ski Day at Hanson Hills Recreation Area. Justin Andre, Director of Operations for Grayling Recreation Authority, said the event offers Michigan Cup racers an opportunity to kick off the racing season with a relaxed day of skiing and a potluck meal. Participants did not wear race bibs and no official times were recorded, but the event featured “friendly competition” by having team members keep track of how many laps they completed on their chosen courses.
The annual Snowmobile Fun Run to benefit Crawford County United Way will be held on Saturday, February 8. This year the Fun Run will start at a new location, Rolling Oak Brewing.
 
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Students at the Grayling Elementary School have some new artwork to enjoy thanks to a Fuel Up to Play 60 Grant. Grayling Elementary School commissioned local artist Terry Dickinson to paint a mural in the cafeteria. Elementary students were asked to submit designs that included healthy habits, Viking values, and fruits and vegetables. The final design includes two murals depicting Vikings along with whole grains, dairy, fruits, and vegetables.  The cafeteria was also renamed the “Viking Cafe.” 
Jim Minthorn, a children’s book author based in Merritt, and his dog Dewey, a German shorthaired pointer, appeared at the story hour held at the Devereaux Memorial Crawford County Library on January 8. Children and their parents visited with Dewey and listened to Minthorn read his book, “Dewey’s ABCs,” which features rhymes about communities throughout Michigan. 
Six applicants are vying for a vacancy on the Crawford County Road Commission Board. The vacancy is to fill the  unexpired term for Jim Burtch, who passed away on  December 5. He was 85. Burtch had served on the road commission since 2003. The Crawford County Board of Commissioners interviewed Dennis Neering, Ronald Larson, Roger Popp, Dave Church, James Hulbert, and Darryl Babbitt to fill the vacancy. Burtch’s unexpired term runs through the end of 2020.
The site where the Grayling Kmart operated will remain closed through the winter and spring months, but will be transformed into a Tractor Supply store this summer. Pat Warner, the vice president for corporate and consumer affairs for DVL Seigenthaler/FINN Partners, a public relations firm based in Nashville, Tennessee, confirmed that a Tractor Supply store will be opening in Grayling in early summer 2020. 
 
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The 2020 Cote Dame Marie Ski Loppet – a series of cross country ski races presented by the Grayling Recreation Authority and the Grayling Rotary Club at Hanson Hills Recreation Area – featured strong overall participation numbers despite the wind and the snow and the cold. According to Grayling Recreation Authority, 172 people competed in the 2020 Cote Dame race series.
Mother Nature created a winter wonderland in the Crawford County area for snowmobiling and other outdoor activities over the weekend. Sebrina Jauernic, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service Office located just south of Gaylord, said most areas of northern Michigan received five to eight inches of snow over the past weekend. That included seven inches of snow from a Saturday storm followed by just over an inch of lake-effect snow. Hundreds of snowmobiles traveled through the Grayling area, packed into hotels, and patronized restaurants and gas stations.
A recent edition of the magazine 32 Degrees – “The Journal Of Professional Snowsports Instruction” – featured an article on a local youth ski school. The three-page article – “Starting From Scratch: How We Rebuilt The Hanson Hills Ski School Program,” by Bill Bonkowski – chronicles the process of setting up teaching facilities and how the students learn to ski at the school sessions.
The Brinkses are keeping it all in the family as a new era begins at Upper Lakes Tire, which has been in business in Grayling for nearly four decades. Steve and Susan Brinks retired from running the day-to-day business at Upper Lakes Tire,  located at 701 Huron Street, on January 1. Their children, Lindsey Jordan and Eric Brinks, are taking over operating and the owning the business.
Along with a hot meal, Crawford County senior citizens received a special gift to help mark Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a national day of service.  In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day and doing good for others, 36 volunteers joined the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program staff for a community service project. Volunteers and staff packed 330 cheer up bags, which were distributed to participants receiving home delivered meals. The reusable bags contained a note pad, ink pen, word search puzzles, a cartoon, a deck of playing cards, a pair of slipper socks, snack crackers, hot cocoa, a chip clip, a little bag of candy, and a handmade greeting card. 
 
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A Crawford County resident with a wealth of experience in engineering, planning, and maintenance has been appointed to fill a vacancy on the Crawford County Road Commission. The Crawford County Board of Commissioners appointed Darryl Babbitt to serve on the road commission. Babbitt will fill out the unexpired term of Jim Burtch, who passed away on  December 5. 
Blizzardfest – a winter festival collaboration between Grayling Recreation Authority and the Grayling Youth Booster Club – is adding another partner and more events this year. For many years, Hanson Hills Recreation Area, which is managed by Grayling Recreation Authority, has conducted a winter festival during the month of February. Last year, Hanson Hills teamed up with the Grayling Youth Booster Club, combining elements of the club’s annual Blizzardfest with GRA’s Winter Fun Days to create a winter festival that incorporated past favorites with new activities. Organizers opted to use the Blizzardfest name for the new collaboration. This year, Blizzardfest is adding Grayling Main Street as a partner, and the program will be offering several new events for the winter festival, including the “I-KID-Arod” Youth Sled Pull Race and the Inaugural Outhouse Classic Race.
Kirtland Community College has approved the sale of its former campus location in West Branch to Iosco Regional Educational Service Agency, an agency offering specialized education programs. IRESA plans to use the building for the Alternative Educational Academy, serving at-risk youth in Ogemaw County and surrounding counties. 
The winners of the local 2020 Knights of Columbus free throw contest were: Leah Kirmo (10 year old girl), Katy Hayden (11 year old girl), Connor Ketchum (9 year old boy), Myles Mead (11 year old boy), Tanner Paulus (13 year old boy), Ali Helinski (12 year old girl), Emma Kuziel (13 year old girl), Maddox Mead (14 year old boy), Cameron Baker (12 year old boy). Cameron Baker was the winner of the Billie Nielson Free Throw Shootout. The 2020 K of C free throw contest was held at the Grayling Middle School.
Local officials are working with citizens in hopes of establishing an ORV club to get links to trails so that riders can travel to other key points in the region.
 
February
06
At approximately 10:30 a.m. on Thursday,  January 30, the Arauco particleboard mill located in Grayling experienced an explosion in a self-contained enclosed area of the facility. Fire crews were able to control the fire in under 10 minutes and stayed with the fire for over two hours before it was completely extinguished. Upon first responders’ arrival it was determined that there were no injuries and all contractors and Arauco personnel were accounted for. One firefighter was transported to Munson Healthcare Grayling Hospital due to undisclosed reasons. The incident started with a fire in a wood dryer which led to the explosion. 
Fun Promotions LLC conducted the Meijer State Games of Michigan Hanson Hills Fat Bike Race Presented by Paddle Hard Brewing at Hanson Hills Recreation Area, and 30 cyclists competed in the event.
A large number of Crawford County residents have been dealing with flu symptoms as the season for the illness enters its peak time of year.
A Grayling couple that has been restoring historic homes for over four decades was recognized for preserving a landmark home in the community and preserving the history of the family who built it. Paul and Heather Crandall have owned and operated the Hanson House, located  604 Peninsular Avenue, since January 29, 2015. On Wednesday, January 29, the Crawford County Historical Society presented the Crandalls with a picture of the Hanson House, which was done by local artist Cheryl Stephan. The picture was etched with a wood burning kit on a divider from a filing cabinet which came from the Salling & Hanson Co. The Crandalls received the memento  from the Crawford County Historical Society on their fifth anniversary of owning the Hanson House.
Brian Stearns, who is a firefighter for the Huron-Manistee National Forest, traveled to Australia and spent December 28 through January 28 battling wildfires burning across the country.
 
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The Grayling Main Street Program and downtown merchants held the inaugural Downtown Blizzardfest on February 8. The activities included a bonfire, sled races, ice sculpting, a fish fling game, and music.
Hundreds of people enjoyed free tubing (and free hot chocolate) and watched competitors race canoes and kayaks down the tubing runs at Hanson Hills Recreation Area during Saturday’s Blizzardfest event presented by Grayling Recreation Authority and the Grayling Youth Booster Club. Mike Haapala won the kayaking portion of the 2020 Blizzardfest Winter Downhill Canoe/Kayak Chute-Out. Tinker’s (Nick Terry and Aaron Mead) won the canoe division.
The former owners of Paddle Hard Brewing were charged in Crawford County’s 87th District Court with fraud-common law for falsely advertising the sale of alcoholic liquor as locally brewed not allowed by licensee and a misdemeanor charge of alcohol sale possession in violation of the liquor control code by licensee. According to court documents, the violations occurred between November 7, 2015 through September 10, 2019.
Five members of the Hanson Hills Snow Sports School recently completed the New Jr Instructor Program through the Professional Ski Instructors of America/ American Association of Snow Board Instructors.
Baden Essmaker ascended to the top of world at the Grayling Middle School as a rare repeat winner in the school’s National Geographic Geography Bee. 
A local hair studio started 2020 with a growth in staff and services offered and a new name to reflect the changing times. The Jade Aubrie Hair Studio, located at 6264 West-72 Highway, opened for business after a renovation and remodeling project was completed on January 12. Formerly known as Tahiti Tans, which operated in Grayling for more than 13 years, the business ownership has changed. Now owned by sisters Ashley Tobias and Chelsea Devault, the Jade Aubrie Hair Studio is a tip of the hat to family as they are the middle names of their daughters.
Grayling High School’s varsity wrestling squad clinched its eighth consecutive Lake Michigan Conference title with a first place overall finish in the league’s championship tournament held in Charlevoix. The Vikings won five individual Lake Michigan Conference championships during the event: Zach Duncan (112), Tucker Mertes (135), Max Halstead (152), Parker Dole (171), Joe Armstrong (103).
Six young people competed in the annual Big Air Competition at Hanson Hills Recreation Area. Jeff Kennedy was the only snowboarder to compete. He took 1st place in the snowboard 13-and-up category. The ski 12-and-under division had four competitors. Corbin Allen finished 1st, Andrew Owens was 2nd, Brett Peterson took 3rd, and Landon Mitchell was 4th. Raelyn Siegel took 1st place in the female division.
 
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The Anglers of the Au Sable, a long-standing conservation group in the community, wants to change the way the Grayling Fish Hatchery operates after their first year running the facility. Joe Hemming, the president of Anglers of the Au Sable, said 5,100 people visited the hatchery, now known at the Grayling Fish Hatchery, Inc., between Memorial Day and Labor Day last year. Josh Greenberg, the president of the Grayling Fish Hatchery, Inc., said the organization would like to get away from charging admission fees and to have visitors pay by donation. The change is intended to remove a person from collecting admission fees to allow them to help children catch fish, feed the fish, and learn about the river.
Following six hours of deliberations on Friday, February 14, a jury found a Canton man guilty in the beating death of a Frederic resident which occurred in the summer of 2018. The jury of six women and six men found Matthew Franklin Smith, 37, guilty of open murder, torture, and unlawful imprisonment for the death of Dennis Everson, 64, from Frederic, who was reported missing by family members on Friday, July 6, 2018. Smith faces life in prison.
Raising $2,500 for Crawford County United Way, a record 76 registrants supported the 16th Annual Snowmobile Fun Run beginning with a meal donated by Jason Malone at Rolling Oak Brewing Company and ending with a chili bar dinner donated by Katie Tinker at Tinker’s Junction. The event was organized by Mary Becker of Mary Becker’s Heart of Up North Realty.
Two men were arrested for possession of methamphetamine while one of those suspects was out on bond facing a human trafficking case. Crawford County Sheriff Shawn M. Kraycs said that at 5:30 a.m. on Thursday, February 12, deputies were dispatched to a residence in South Branch Township for an unknown medical assist. Upon arrival at the residence, deputies were met by a man outside the residence that was under the influence of an unknown substance. An investigation revealed that the male subject had been using methamphetamine for numerous days. Deputies made contact with a second man  inside the residence. During the investigation over 2.5 grams of methamphetamine were seized.  Both men were arrested and are lodged in the Crawford County Jail pending issuance of warrants. The residence at which this incident occurred is the same residence that was involved in a human trafficking case handled by troopers from Houghton Lake Post of the Michigan State Police in January of this year. One of the individuals arrested was out on bond for that incident.
A man and a woman were arrested for assault with intent to commit murder and carrying concealed weapons for an incident which occurred in Grayling. Crawford County Sheriff Shawn M. Kraycs said a call was received by 911 that a man was shot and needed medical attention. Deputies located the man and he said that a truck tried to run him over and then got stuck. The occupants of the vehicle went after him and fired one round toward the victim, missing him. Numerous weapons were located in the vehicle and the suspects are being held in the Crawford County Jail until they are arraigned. Narcotics are believed to be a factor in the incident, Kraycs said.
More than 70 cross country skiers competed in the Meijer State Games Hanson Hills Classic at Hanson Hills. The race featured a 12.5km course. Kyle Hanson won the men’s division with a time of 0:39:31.3. Emily Blackmen won the women’s division with a time of 0:44:24.4.
The demand for services from the Crawford County Commission on Aging and Grayling Senior Center continues to grow as the population of older adults continues to increase. While the 2020 Census will begin in the next few months, COA Executive Director Alice Snyder said an estimate on Crawford County’s population points toward an aging population. 
Grayling High School’s varsity wrestling program defeated the Cheboygan Chiefs and the Boyne City Ramblers during the Michigan High School Athletic Association’s District 166-3 team tournament to clinch its second straight district title. The Vikings hosted the tournament.
Six Grayling High School wrestlers – Joe Armstrong, Zach Duncan, Jesse Vandecasteele, Tucker Mertes, Max Halstead, and Parker Dole – qualified for individual regionals with their finishes at the Michigan High School Athletic Association’s Individual District 17-3 tournament, an event hosted by Grayling. Three of Grayling’s regional qualifiers – Duncan (112), Halstead (152), and Dole (171) – won their weight classes during the District 17-3 meet.
 
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The Grayling High School Players will present “Little Shop of Horrors” on March 6-8 at the school’s Joseph Stripe Auditorium. 
The Grayling Regional Chamber of Commerce will be presenting the 2019 Chamber Awards at its Annual Chamber Awards Gala at the Kirtland Event Center. Community awards will be presented for You Made It Happen, Chamber Member Business of the Year, Chamber Member Organization of the Year, Citizen of the Year, Longevity, and the newest award, Kirk Wakefield Service Member of the Year.
Connor Ketchum, Myles Mead, Cameron Baker, Maddox Mead, and Emma Kuziel from Grayling recently won their divisions during the regional round of the Knights of Columbus Free Throw Championship. They have now qualified to compete at the K of C Free Throw Championship state finals at Mt. Pleasant Sacred Heart on March 15. 
Grayling High School conducted a special Snowgoing ceremony during halftime of Friday night’s Grayling vs. Boyne City varsity boys basketball game, announcing the 2020 Snowgoing court, king and queen, and Spirit Cup winner. Sterling Shazri and Jordyn Schwartz were named Snowgoing king and queen. The Class of 2020 won the Spirit Cup. 
Admirers of Fred Bear and his archery products will take a trip down memory lane as they celebrate the legend of the renowned hunter and archer. Fred Bear Day will be held in Grayling on Thursday, March 5, on his birthday. 
Voters at the Tuesday, March 10 presidential primary polls will decide a funding proposal to provide a new home for the Crawford County Commission on Aging and Senior Center. Voters will decide if $3 million in bonds can be issued for the potential new location and expansion for the Senior Center building. The Crawford County Commission on Aging is asking for 0.3171 mills over 20 years to support acquiring, constructing, renovating, expanding, equipping, and furnishing the old Mayday Windows building and an adjacent lot – 4.71 acres – at 4388 M-72 West east of town by the Grayling Car Care. 
Voters in the Crawford, Oscoda, Ogemaw, and Roscommon Intermediate School District (COOR ISD) will decide funding proposals on the Tuesday, March 10 presidential primary ballot to financially strengthen the safety net it provides to toddlers through special education students in early adulthood. The first proposal would increase the operating  millage for the COOR ISD to 0.3 mills from the current rate of 0.2530 mills. The second proposal would increase the special education millage to 0.75 mills from the current rate of 0.6329 mills. The general education millage would be restored to funding levels where they were at when the COOR ISD was charted in 1962. The special education millage was first levied in 1968.
Three wrestlers from Grayling High School – Joe Armstrong, Zach Duncan, and Max Halstead – earned berths in the upcoming Michigan High School Athletic Association state finals with their 2nd place finishes at individual regionals.
Grayling High School’s varsity wrestling team advanced to the Region 117-3 finals with a 42-39 semifinal victory vs. the Gladstone Braves, but the Vikings ended their pursuit of a regional title with a 50-25 loss vs. the Kingsley Stags.
On February 23, 11 Grayling Youth Wrestling Club members traveled to Petoskey to compete in the NEMWA state finals tournament. Eight Grayling wrestlers earned NEMWA all-state accolades by placing in the top four of their weight classes in the state finals tournament. Dakota Sandefur and Logan Malonen each capped off their NEMWA seasons with 2nd place finishes. Taking home 3rd place were Dayton Joseph, Kaiden Smith, and Cody Malone. Brycen Pemberton, Levi Phillips, and Eli Lewicki all placed 4th.
 
March
05
The Grayling High School RoboVikes Team #6121 started its season at the FIRST Robotics District competition at Traverse City West High School on February 28-29.  During the qualification matches the RoboVikes had nine wins and three losses.  In the awards ceremony, the RoboVikes walked away with the Entrepreneurship Award, which recognizes a team that has developed the framework for a comprehensive business plan to scope, manage, and achieve team objectives.  
The Crawford AuSable School District  was awarded a $150,000 Michigan State Police School Safety Grant to install a new camera system at the schools. A total of 86 cameras were installed throughout the Grayling High School, Grayling Middle School, and Grayling Elementary School. Installation started in December and school administrators just wrapped up troubleshooting and training, said Kurt Nothstine, the technology director for the Crawford AuSable School District. The purpose of the new system is to assist locating a situation where there is a medical incident, emergency, or an active shooter.
The Crawford County Board tweaked the county’s ORV ordinance last week, the first time there has been requested changes to the ordinance in five years. After holding a public hearing on Thursday, February 27, the county board approved changes requested by Lovells Township and South Branch Township.
A meeting will be held to update residents about the status of the Northern Market. The City of Grayling purchased the property where ProBuild was located at 2059 South I-75 Business Loop for the project. The Grayling Farmer’s Market will be located outside of the building during the spring, summer, and fall months, and inside during the winter months. Engineering studies have determined that the ProBuild building cannot be redeveloped, so it is scheduled to be demolished. A $1 million grant from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy has been awarded to the city for demolition of the building and remediation of any contamination on the property. Despite speculation that the project was no longer under consideration due to state budget cuts, city officials want to reassure residents that the project to create a regional asset for northern Michigan is proceeding as planned.
 
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While March is designated as national reading month, a group of Crawford County educators is working to get books into the hands of preschool age children throughout the year. Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library of Crawford County is marking its second year in existence. Parents of any children from birth up to until they turn five years old are eligible to get books mailed to their homes once a month. The program is open to any family regardless of income. 
Three Grayling High School wrestlers qualified for the Michigan High School Athletic Association Division 3 state finals this year, and all three of them earned medals. Joe Armstrong (103), Zach Duncan (112), and Max Halstead (152) competed at the state finals at Ford Field in Detroit on March 6 and 7. Armstrong took 7th, Duncan placed 8th, and Halstead finished 4th.
Fred Bear Day was observed in the City of Grayling on Thursday, March 5, on the birthday of the hunting legend and founder of Fred Bear Archery. A 21-whistling arrow shoot was held at noon on the former site of the Fred Bear Archery plant, located at 5671 M-72 West, and a luncheon was held at the Grayling Eagles Club.
A new hair and tanning salon recently opened in Grayling’s downtown business district to give clients a new look, bold hair colors, and tanning in time for spring. The Twisted Scissors Beauty Bar is located at 308 North James Street Suite One, right next to Kim’s Magic Nails. Mara  LaPradd and Danielle Dwyer, who were both born and raised in Grayling, are joined by Cat Casto, who moved to the community from Colorado two years ago. The salon offers all hair services from cutting, coloring, perms, extensions, as well as tanning and waxing.
 
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The Grayling Regional Chamber of Commerce presented the 2019 Chamber Awards at its Annual Chamber Awards Gala on Friday, March 6, in the Event Center at Kirtland Community College’s Grayling campus. Detective Sgt. Ryan Swope from the Crawford County Sheriff’s Office received the Kirk Wakefield Service Member Of The Year 2019 Award. Kevin Jansen, the owner of Jansen Insurance in Grayling, received the Citizen Of The Year 2019 Award. Upper Lakes Tire of Grayling was recognized as the Chamber Member Business Of The Year 2019 Award. The Rotary Club of Grayling was recognized with the Chamber Member Organization Of The Year 2019 Award. The Medicine Shoppe Pharmacy was recognized with the Longevity Award 2019. Tom Cojocar, the founder of Forest of Fear, was recognized with the You Made It Happen 2019.
The Grayling City Council recently decided to put the sidewalk snow removal millage renewal  on the Tuesday, August 4, primary election ballot. The proposal for .125 mills levied on property and personal property generates about $60,000 per year for the purpose of purchasing equipment, maintaining equipment, and providing labor for snow removal from all sidewalks in the City of Grayling. If approved, homeowners would continue to pay $62.50 in taxes per year.
After several delays, the Viking Activity Center – an expansion of Grayling High School’s physical education facilities – opened in time for the beginning of spring sports practices. The school hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony and open house event, presenting the recently completed facility to the community. The Viking Activity Center offers the school a second gymnasium and more. The facility has a full basketball court that can also be used as a volleyball court or a tennis court by setting up the appropriate nets. The court can also be used for pickleball. The Viking Activity Center has two locker rooms on the ground floor, including one that can be accessed from outside of the school. Upstairs, the Viking Activity Center has a dedicated space with a batting cage and artificial turf. Also upstairs, there is a track that connects to the existing gymnasium, creating a space for the track and field team to work on its distance running and sprinting. The total cost of the project was approximately $2 million, according to school officials.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer and State Superintendent Dr. Michael Rice announced that all K-12 school buildings – public, private, and boarding – are ordered to be closed from Monday, March 16, to Sunday, April 5, in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.
A Crawford County Circuit Court Judge stuck to sentencing guideline recommendations as he sentenced a Romulus teen to time in prison for the beating and death of a Frederic man, Dennis Everson, 64,  which occurred in the summer of 2018. Chief 46th Trial Court Judge George J. Mertz sentenced Dylan Ross Ziegler, 19, to serve 135 months to 360 months in prison for torture and 86 months to 180 months in prison for manslaughter. He was given credit for 614 days served in jail and was ordered to pay $940 in court costs and fines.
In an effort to address concerns of the COVID-19 and influenza crisis for both the community and staff, the City of Grayling is looking at taking necessary precautions to slow the transmission of these viruses. All city residents are discouraged from conducting business directly at City Hall that can be otherwise conducted via U.S. Mail, internet, or by using the drop box located next to the front door of City Hall. 
The Grayling High School Players presented a musical, “Little Shop of Horrors,” on March 6-8 at the school’s Joseph Stripe Auditorium, and organizers said the performances went well. “The musical was a great success,” said Mark Binert-Armstrong, director for the production. “I had many compliments from students, staff, parents, and community members on how great it was. I am extremely proud of the cast and crew for their hard work, dedication, and their incredible performances.” The show was produced in association with Music Theatre International. It was based on the “Little Shop of Horrors” movies: the 1960 version directed by Roger Corman and the 1986 remake directed by Frank Oz.
On Friday, March 13, Grayling High School canceled all practices for spring sports for the day, for the weekend of March 14-15, and for March 16 through April 5, the three-week school shutdown period recently ordered by Governor Gretchen Whitmer and backed by the Michigan High School Athletic Association. For the Crawford AuSable School District, the mandated closure coincides in part with the district’s spring break, which was slated for March 20 through March 29. With the order to close, the district will now be out of session for an additional eight days (March 16 through March 19 and March 31 through April 3).
Grayling High School’s varsity boys basketball team ended its 2019-2020 season with an 80-54 District 34-2 semifinal loss vs. the Boyne City Ramblers on Wednesday. The District 34-2 finals were originally scheduled for Friday night, but the Michigan High School Athletic Association announced on Thursday that all of its winter postseason tournaments were being stopped due to coronavirus concerns.
 
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The list of facilities in Michigan that are now closed or restricted in an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus continues to grow. The coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, is a contagious respiratory illness believed to have originated in China. Its symptoms, according to the Centers for Disease Control, include fever, coughing, and shortness of breath. In the United States, the CDC – as of March 23 – is reporting more than 33,000 cases of coronavirus with 400 deaths from the disease. The State of Michigan is reporting 1,035 cases with eight deaths in the state, according to www.michigan.gov (as of March 23).
Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced further limits to activity in Michigan with a new “stay home, stay safe executive order” on Monday, March 23, in response to the growing number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in the state. The order, listed as Executive Order No. 2020-21, a “temporary requirement to suspend activities that are not necessary to sustain or protect life,” according to www.michigan.gov, “takes effect on March 24, 2020 at 12:01 a.m., and continues through April 13, 2020 at 11:59 p.m.”
Starting on Sunday, March 22, and running through Monday, April 13, restaurants, food courts, cafes, coffeehouses, and other places of public accommodation offering food or beverages for on-premises consumption were ordered to shut down the dine-in part of their facilities.
The Crawford County Transportation Authority or more commonly known as Dial-A-Ride is offering free delivery of prescription medications and groceries as people of all ages are urged to stay home in an effort to stop the spread of coronavirus.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced the call-up of the Michigan National Guard to assist the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services with assembling and loading critical personal protective gear such as gowns and face shields. 
At Skip’s Sport Shop in Grayling – similar to reports from firearm dealers throughout the nation – sales of guns and ammunition have increased significantly in the past several days following a series of efforts by state and federal government to curb the spread of COVID-19.
The Crawford County Commission on Aging and Senior Center – along with many other public places in the state of Michigan and throughout the nation – is currently closed to the public due to efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus, but COA officials are moving forward with plans for a new Senior Center following a successful millage proposal during the March 10 election. Crawford County voters approved the bond proposal for a new facility by a final count of 2,235 to 1,059.
 
April
02
In Michigan, and in many other states across the United States, many places of business and locations for public gathering are closed due to continued efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19. On Monday, March 23, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced a new Executive Order, number 2020-21, which placed further limits on activity and travel within the state. Executive Order 2020-21 continues many restrictions put in place by previous executive orders, including a ban on public gatherings in general and limiting restaurants to carry-out only. In the United States, the CDC – as of March 30 – is reporting more than 140,000 cases of coronavirus with 2,405 deaths from the disease. The State of Michigan is reporting 5,486 cases with 132 deaths in the state, according to www.michigan.gov (as of March 30).
Munson Healthcare Grayling Hospital is serving as a hub for patients in northeast Michigan for those with suspected or confirmed positive COVID-19 results. While each hospital in Munson Healthcare’s system is equipped to handle patients with coronavirus, it has been deemed that it is best practice and safest for its entire workforce and the communities that affected patients are managed together, Munson Healthcare officials said.
The first virtual meeting for the Crawford County Board of Commissioners was held last week as county officials practice social distancing to mitigate the spread of coronavirus in the area. The county board held its regular monthly meeting utilizing Zoom, a computer application that allows public bodies and groups to conduct business through video and audio conferencing. Most of the meeting was spent  on precautionary measures county officials have taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Even with their offices closed to the public due to the current coronavirus outbreak, services continue in limited capacities for Crawford County’s townships and the City of Grayling. Officials said the biggest challenges right now involve open meetings and building/zoning, and the most frequently asked questions involve trash service and event cancellations. Townships are facing other challenges as well, such as  approving new budgets.
District Health Department #10 reports on Thursday, March 26, the first confirmed positive case of COVID-19 in a Crawford County resident. 
In response to the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” Executive Order to reduce the effects of the COVID-19 virus, permits for open burning will be suspended across the state. 
The filing deadlines for city and state income tax forms have been extended. Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s recent Executive Order 2020-26 extends the filing deadline for state income tax forms and city income tax forms – both of which are normally due in April – to July of 2020 due to current restrictions on Michigan residents that are in place to slow the spread of the COVID-19.
 
09
Due to efforts by the State of Michigan to slow the spread of COVID-19, students in Michigan likely will not be returning to their school district classrooms for the 2019-2020 year. Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, on Thursday, April 2, announced a shutdown of “in-person instruction” in Michigan schools for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year with Executive Order 2020-35, although the order does allow school activity to resume if the state’s emergency coronavirus restrictions are rescinded.
Crawford AuSable School District leaders and staff will begin to implement the Grayling Viking Distant Leaning program to get students through the rest of the school year. Last week, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s Executive Order 2020-35 announced the “suspension of in-person K-12 instruction for the remainder of 2019-2020 school year.” Students and families will complete school work on at home computers, laptops, or Chromebook tablets issued to parents and guardians by school staff. If a student or family does not access to the internet, computer routers will be set up at meal delivery sites located in key locations around the school district. Learning packets will be delivered to students and families who don’t have access to a computer or the internet. Concerts, prom, and graduation have been postponed indefinitely.
With the “stay home, stay safe” order still in place in Michigan, state residents continue to be restricted to necessary activity, forcing many businesses and locations for public gathering to remain closed. Executive Order 2020-21 – the “temporary requirement to suspend activities that are not necessary to sustain or protect life” during the current COVID-19 outbreak – is valid through April 13, but Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer expects to extend the order’s duration.
A piece of equipment that sat idle in the classroom space used by the Grayling Robotics team at the Grayling High School is now churning out critical personal protective equipment for first responders battling the coronavirus pandemic. On Monday, March 30, Rick McBride, a lead mentor for the Grayling Robotics team, received permission from Grayling High School Principal Sarah Allen to remove a 3-D printer from the school. The printer is capable of making plastic items and other materials for the team’s robot as it prepares for competitions. Since schools and have been closed and robotics competitions have been canceled, the printer was left at the school. Rick and his wife, Janet, also a mentor for the robotics team, have been making plastic face shields and are donating them to police, EMS employees, and hospital staff.
The Michigan High School Athletic Association – at approximately 1 p.m. on Friday, April 3 – announced that it was officially cancelling unfinished 2019-2020 winter sports tournaments and all of the 2020 spring sports campaign due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s Executive Order 2020-33, an “expanded emergency and disaster declaration,” went into effect last week, giving the state another means of seeking federal assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Munson Healthcare, which has eight hospitals in northern Michigan, is now offering a “COVID-19 Tracker” on its website so people can view regular updates of the coronavirus numbers in the area. The Munson Healthcare COVID-19 Tracker offers testing data for Cadillac Hospital, Charlevoix Hospital, Grayling Hospital, Kalkaska Memorial Health Center, Manistee Hospital, Munson Medical Center (Traverse City), Otsego Memorial Hospital, and Paul Oliver Memorial Hospital (Frankfort). The tracker shows columns for the following categories: “Total Patients Tested, Patients Who Have Tested Positive, Patients Who Have Tested Negative, Patients With Pending Test Results, Patients Tested Positive And Currently In The Hospital, and Total COVID-19 Deaths At A Munson Healthcare Hospital.”
 
16
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer extended the “stay home, stay safe” initiative through the end of the month with Thursday’s Executive Order 2020-42, a mandate that extends and adds guidelines and restrictions for businesses and travel in the state due to the current COVID-19 pandemic.
Every 10 years the nation performs a census in order to collect the country’s basic population information, and this year’s United States Census 2020 is currently underway despite many states being under stay at home orders due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Census officials are asking U.S. residents to complete their forms “online, by phone, or by mail” in an effort to minimize the number of locations census workers will have to visit during the coming weeks.
On May 23 of last year, the Crawford County Board of Commissioners declared April 16 as Crawford County Sheriff Kirk Alan Wakefield day. Gerald Crawford, a high school classmate of Wakefield’s from Milford, established the Sheriff Kirk Alan Wakefield Memorial Scholarship to provide educational support for Crawford County law enforcement students. 
About a dozen and half Crawford County employees were laid off to cut down on the number of people in the Crawford County Courthouse building to try to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Eleven full-time employees and four part-time employees were laid off temporarily or furloughed effective Tuesday, April 14, due to the restrictions put in place to stop the spread of  the virus and to cut down costs incurred by the county. The Crawford County Board of Commissioners, through a virtual meeting held on Wednesday, April 9, approved the layoff notices. In addition, 12 employees are being asked to work reduced hours while stay at home and social distancing measures remain in place.
Organizations, businesses, and individuals are keeping a steady of stream of meals going to employees working at Munson Healthcare Grayling Hospital as they work long shifts on the frontlines battling coronavirus.
Plexiglass shields have  been going up at businesses throughout Grayling and the nation to stop the spread of coronavirus as workers are providing key essential services to customers.
Many businesses, organizations, and individuals have tried to help others by donating time, money, and materials during the current COVID-19 pandemic, but the office of Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel is reporting that some are trying to benefit financially from the coronavirus situation through price gouging. “The Attorney General’s office has 3,096 complaints of COVID-19-related price gouging as of 7 a.m. (on April 7). That includes 1,491 complaints submitted online through the Attorney General’s website and 1,605 taken by phone through the Consumer Protection tip line. Many complaints focus on price gouging of face masks, hand sanitizer, and various food items,” according to the office of Michigan Attorney General.
Efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Michigan – restrictions and closures of businesses and places of public gathering – have forced many people out of work. Recent executive orders from Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer have attempted to ease restrictions on those applying for unemployment, but state officials acknowledge that the system is currently lagging due to the high volume of applicants. As of April 9, the total number of unemployment claims in the state was approaching one million.
 
23
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer followed the recent extension of the “stay home, stay safe” order with Executive Order 2020-43, an extension of the “temporary restrictions on the use of places of public accommodation” in the state of Michigan during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Executive Order 2020-43, like its predecessor, orders restaurants, bars, “and other places of public accommodation offering food or beverage” to close “on-premises consumption” operations. The order also says that a wide variety of other businesses and places of recreation must remain closed.
The Grayling Viking Distant Learning program was rolled out to students and families in the Crawford AuSable School District last week, and was met with smiles, success stories, and some glitches. School has not been in session since March 13, which included the school district’s spring break, so students have not seen their teachers for four weeks. Students and families are completing school work on home computers, laptops, or Chromebook tablets issued to parents and guardians by school staff.
Though the event may lack the usual fanfare due to limitations caused by emergency coronavirus measures, this weekend marks the beginning of fishing season for trout, walleye, salmon, and pike in many of Michigan’s lower peninsula lakes and streams. Opening day is Saturday, April 25. Local celebrations of the trout opener have been cancelled this year due to COVID-19, including Lovells Township Historical Society activities.  Executive orders in Michigan enacted in response to the coronavirus pandemic will limit options for anglers this weekend, but people can still go fishing. 
April 25 is the first day of trout fishing season, but this year’s opener will not feature the usual festivities in Lovells Township due to the COVID-19 pandemic; however, organizers are attempting a virtual version of the event.
The additions and renovations at the Devereaux Memorial Crawford County Library should have been completed this month. But when Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer issued an executive order on March 16 to ban groups from gathering in public buildings to stop the spread of the coronavirus, the library was forced to close. Three days later, employees for the general contractor, subcontractors, and suppliers working on the renovation and addition project stopped work. Since the project came to a halt, library officials have reached out to state leaders in hopes of getting an exemption so work on the building could proceed.
The State of Michigan extended protections against eviction during the current coronavirus emergency with the signing of Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s Executive Order 2020-54.
Executive Order 2020-53 from Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer extended efforts to combat coronavirus-related price gouging in the state.
 
30
So far, the 2020 AuSable River Canoe Marathon – the second leg of the Triple Crown of Canoe Racing – is still scheduled for July 25. AuSable River Canoe Marathon officials said the committee met on Wednesday, April 22, and the race is still scheduled for the last full weekend of July, three months from now, and no decision has been made to change anything. The first leg of the Triple Crown of Canoe Racing – the General Clinton Canoe Regatta in New York – has been cancelled due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic in the United States.
With the implementation of Executive Order 2020-59, Michigan’s “stay home, stay safe” order will now be active through May 15, continuing many restrictions established by the order’s two predecessors, Executive Order 2020-42 and Executive Order 2020-21, while allowing some businesses (including landscaping and lawn care) and some activities (including boating and golfing) to resume. The new order also requires people to wear masks while inside public places.
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s televised update to the state on Wednesday, April 22, included information on expanded COVID-19 testing efforts in Michigan and layoffs for some state departments, and Friday’s press conference with the governor announced a new stay home order, one that allows a few previously banned activities and businesses to resume.
The Graying Baptist Church, located at 705 Madsen Street, served as a free food distribution site after receiving tons of items to help area residents from the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan. Residents were able to drive through the church’s parking lot and boxes of food were loaded into their vehicles due to COVID-19 social distancing measures.
After making adjustments to operations at the Crawford County Courthouse and laying off employees due to the coronavirus business is starting to pick up. Eleven full-time employees and four part-time employees were laid off temporarily or furloughed effective Tuesday, April 14, due to the restrictions put in place to stop the spread of the virus and to cut down costs incurred by the county. Employees for the Crawford County Sheriff’s Office, jail, central dispatch, veteran’s service office, elected officials, and department heads remain working, some on reduced schedules. 
Crawford County voters at the Tuesday, August 4 primary election polls will decide two countywide proposals, a proposal to fund Crawford AuSable School District operations, and a pair of township renewal millages.
Executive Order 2020-59, the second extension of Michigan’s original “stay home, stay safe” order from Governor Gretchen Whitmer, includes a section that says people in the state must now wear “a face covering” when “in any enclosed public space.” Executive Order 2020-60 reiterates the requirements for customers and employees to wear masks in “food-selling establishments and pharmacies,” and it provides a list of other “temporary safety measures” for stores that sell food or prescription drugs.
District Health Department #10 recently launched a COVID-19 Data Dashboard on its website where individuals can go to see the progression of the virus throughout its 10-county jurisdiction. Dashboard data includes confirmed cases, probable cases and deaths by county, age range, gender, and zip code. Also displayed are total recoveries, contact tracing, and two charts showing total counts by date and cumulative counts by date.
District Health Department #10 is working with two Crawford County long-term care facilities after clusters of COVID-19 cases were confirmed. Both Munson Healthcare Crawford Continuing Care Center and Grayling Nursing & Rehabilitation Community report that several employees and residents have confirmed COVID-19. Munson Healthcare Crawford Continuing Care Center reports that five staff members and five residents have COVID-19. Grayling Nursing & Rehabilitation Community reports that 10 staff members and seven residents have COVID-19.
 
May
07
Golf courses have opened and are starting the process of getting into full swing after restrictions to stop the spread of coronavirus were lifted to allow limited play. Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, through an executive order issued on Friday, April 24, allowed golf courses to open along with other outdoor activities. Golfers are limited to walking the courses and no carts can be utilized, although there is an exemption to allow people with disabilities to use carts.
On Wednesday, April 29, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced that one of the next steps in re-opening the state’s economy during the current coronavirus pandemic will be the resumption of construction activity, “both residential and commercial.” Governor Whitmer signed another extension of Michigan’s “stay home, stay safe” order on Friday, May 1. The new order allows the following people and businesses to resume work on May 7: “workers who perform work that is traditionally and primarily performed outdoors, including but not limited to forestry workers, outdoor power equipment technicians, parking enforcement workers, and similar workers; workers in the construction industry, including workers in the building trades (plumbers, electricians, HVAC technicians, and similar workers).”
The way food is delivered to clients at the Crawford  County Community Christian Help Center and Food Pantry has changed to stop the spread of coronavirus as the agency sees an increased demand for assistance. Families can no longer enter the Help Center, located at 300 Huron Street, in efforts to protect staff, volunteers, and clients from catching the virus. Instead, volunteers take sheets of the food and other items available, which fluctuates every week, while the clients remain in their vehicles. The volunteers then go fill the orders, and load the food into their vehicles.
For the first time in almost 40 years, Ole Dam Party Store – located at the corner of Ole Dam Road and M-72 West in Grayling – has new owners. Mark and Marilyn Hartman, along with another local couple, purchased the store in 1980 and the Hartmans became the sole owners of it in 1990, Mark said. On Friday, May 1, 2020, Mike and Dorian Hale took over as owners of the Ole Dam Party Store. Dorian is the niece of Mark and Marilyn.
Under a proposal announced on Wednesday, April 29, Michigan’s “frontline workers” – people working in health care, nursing homes, child care, public safety, grocery stores, manufacturing, and others – would receive “tuition free college opportunities” after their service during the COVID-19 state of emergency. According to www.michigan.gov, the program is intended for “essential workers who don’t have a college degree.”
The demolition of the former ProBuild building, which was located at 2059 South  I-75 Business Loop, took place last week. Although Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s order to allow construction workers to resume work did not go into effect until Thursday, May 7, the safety factor of the building came into play which allowed the demolition to occur. Grayling City Manager/Police Chief Doug Baum said Mother Nature caused one side of the building to collapse during a recent windstorm. City officials contacted the Crawford County Building and Safety Department and Michigan State Police to get approval for the demolition to occur in lieu of stay at home restrictions since permits to demolish the building were already issued. The Northern Market, a food hub and a regional and tourist destination, will be built on the site as the property is redeveloped.
 
14
Local officials announced on Wednesday night, May 6, that the 2020 AuSable River Festival and the 2020 AuSable River Canoe Marathon have been cancelled due to the COVID-19 outbreak in Michigan and the emergency efforts put in place to slow the spread of the virus.
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced a new stay home order on Thursday, May 7, extending restrictions on travel and commerce through May 28 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and allowing manufacturing businesses to re-open in the state. Executive Order 2020-77, signed on May 7, replaces Executive Order 2020-70, the previous version of the “temporary requirement to suspend certain activities that are not necessary to sustain or protect life.”
The Crawford County Sheriff’s Office, Grayling Department of Public Safety, and firefighters from throughout the county have been doing drive-by processions or parades to help children celebrate their birthday since they can’t gather with family and friends for parties.
An executive order from Michigan’s governor on May 1 extended the closure of many businesses in the state – including restaurant dine-in areas, theaters, hair salons, and fitness centers – through May 28 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s Executive Order 2020-69 – “temporary restrictions on the use of places of public accommodation” – replaces previous versions of the limitations on business and gathering established by Executive Order 2020-43 and Executive Order 2020-20.
A program that gets meals into the hands of employees working at the Grayling Munson Healthcare Grayling Hospital has been extended as they continue to work on the frontlines during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Lake Michigan Conference released its list of all-league selections for the 2019-2020 basketball season, and four Grayling High School players – two boys and two girls – were included. For the girls, Isabel Duba earned all-conference honors and Jasmine Denton was an all-league honorable mention. For the boys, Dylan Cragg earned an all-conference selection and Garrett Reilly was an all-league honorable mention.
 
21
Instead of celebrating its 20th year during the summer of 2020, the Black Bear Gran Fondo – a bicycling event that offers a 100-mile “century ride” option, as well as shorter loops – will not happen this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Grayling Rotary Club – organizer for the annual Black Bear Gran Fondo – met on Thursday, May 14, and made the decision to cancel the event for 2020. This year’s Black Bear Gran Fondo was slated for July 11.
The latest Safer At Home Order from Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer – announced on Monday, May 18 – establishes eight regions in the state and allows two of those regions, including the one that contains Crawford County, to ease restrictions on “retail businesses, restaurants, and bars” on Friday, May 22.
Organizers for the Great Northern Art Explosion, which is slated to take place August 8 through August 23, are hopeful that the event can take place as planned as COVID-19 cases decline.
Grayling Charter Township will re-open its office to the public on Thursday, May 21, but the township will be requiring everyone who enters the facility to wear a face covering, officials said. The City of Grayling will re-open its offices in June, city officials said. People entering the facility must wear face coverings. Lovells Township is also planning to re-open on June 1. According to township officials, Lovells will provide personal protective equipment if necessary.
The Grayling High School athletic department, instead of hosting a physical ceremony, honored its Class of 2020 student athletes with a video released on YouTube. Due to current restrictions on gatherings in the state of Michigan because of the COVID-19 outbreak, the school’s athletic department opted to replace the usual Senior-Athlete Awards Night with an online version. The video recognized the Class of 2020’s two all-state athletes: Eli Jackson (football) and Max Halstead (wrestling). The Class of 2020’s Viking Award winners were Alainna Moffit and Eli Jackson.
A-10 thunderbolts conducted a fly over of Grayling on Tuesday in support of the Michigan Strong initiative for the state’s frontline COVID-19 responders. The A-10s also performed Michigan Strong fly over events at Traverse City, Grand Rapids, and Battle Creek, according to military officials.
The Grayling Fish Hatchery will not be open as it has been traditionally for the Memorial Day weekend due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
 
28
Grayling High School will host a limited commencement ceremony for the Class of 2020 at 12:30 p.m. on Sunday, May 31. School officials have been working on graduation plans for weeks. At first, the school announced a commencement ceremony plan that would have had the graduates going into the school alone to receive their diplomas and Project Graduation gift bags; however, following the announcement of Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s Executive Order 2020-92 on Monday, May 18, school officials re-worked their plan due to the order’s lessening of restrictions in Region 6 of the state, which includes Crawford County. The new plan allows graduates to be accompanied by parents or guardians when they enter the school to receive their diplomas.
A few days after allowing retail businesses, restaurants, and bars to re-open in Region 6 and Region 8 of the state with the announcement of Executive Order 2020-92, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s Executive Order 2020-96 – another “temporary requirement to suspend certain activities that are not necessary to sustain or protect life” – establishes a statewide date for the restricted re-opening of car dealerships and the resumption of procedures deemed “non-essential” by previous orders at “health-care and veterinary facilities.”
Crawford County was awarded a $300,000 pot of money to help clean up contaminated and blighted properties in order for them to be redeveloped and to create jobs. The funds come from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Brownfields Program. Priority sites include the Bear Archery site, the Grayling Dump, and the Hospitality House site, a seven-acre vacant former motel site now in disrepair. 
Grayling High School recently announced its Lake Michigan Conference All Academic Team students for the Class of 2020: Madison Hehir, valedictorian; Georgia Barber, salutatorian; Alexandria Alma, Kyah Birdsall, Isabel Duba, Christina Gilkerson, Elijah Jackson, Alainna Moffit, Desmond O’Reilly, Sarah Rakoczy, Katherine Snider, Olivia Van De Ven. Nominations for the All Academic Team are based on student grade point averages and SAT scores.
More than 70 homes near Grayling were evacuated on Thursday, May 21, as firefighters battled a fire in privately owned jack pine stands by M-72 East, according to the Department of Natural Resources. The M-72 fire, which covered more than 100 acres, was reported Thursday evening along M-72 between Stephan Bridge Road and S. Horseshoe Trail, about eight miles east of Grayling, according to the DNR.
Kirtland Community College announced on Friday, May 22, that it has listed the Roscommon campus for sale at $6.4 million. The 220-acre property is listed through Three West LLC and included in the sale are the college’s buildings. The campus’s 30 acres on the east side of F-97, which are used for the Commercial Truck Driving program and Police Academy shooting range, are not included in the sale.
With a Safer At Home executive order still in effect in Michigan due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Grayling High School opted to put together a virtual Senior Honors Night instead of the usual live ceremony to celebrate the achievements of the Class of 2020. Grayling High School released the Senior Honors Night Class of 2020 video on YouTube on Wednesday, May 20.
Crawford AuSable School  District Superintendent Justin Gluesing said the traditional school year will end as planned on Friday, June 12. The Extended Learning Year, offered only at the Grayling Elementary School, will be done on Friday, June 26. The Grayling Viking Distant Learning program was rolled out to students and families after Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer issued an executive order on Tuesday, April 2, announcing the suspension of in-person K-12 instruction for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year.
The Grayling Elementary Kindergartner page has been established on Facebook to allow parents to enroll their children for the 2020-21 school year. The page was launched to give parents and students snippets of information regarding enrollment.
 
June
04
Members of the Grayling High School Class of 2020 officially ended their unusual senior year on Sunday when they received their diplomas during a private and limited commencement ceremony at the school’s gymnasium.
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced on Monday, June 1, that she is rescinding the Safer At Home Order and that the entire state is now moving into Phase Four of the MI Safe Start Plan, allowing more businesses to re-open.
The Crawford AuSable School District has been pumping out hundreds of meals every day to all children within its jurisdiction – regardless if they are enrolled in school – during the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Tuesday, May 26, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed Executive Order 2020-104 – “increasing COVID-19 testing by expanding the scope of practice for certain professionals and encouraging the establishment of community testing locations” – and urged more people in the state to get tested for the coronavirus.
Banners were placed on light poles on Michigan Avenue in Grayling to honor the achievements of the graduating Class of 2020, which was forced to sacrifice and forgo many end-of-the-year activities due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The effort was spearheaded by Project Graduation for the Class of 2020.
The Grayling  Promotional Association hung flowering baskets on light poles and planted flowers in the huge flower pots in downtown Grayling on Wednesday, May 27, to help beautify the community for the upcoming tourism season.
 
11
About 80 Grayling residents gathered in front of the Crawford County Courthouse on Friday, June 5, for a peaceful demonstration to highlight racial injustice after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25 while he was detained by police officers. The  Crawford County Sheriff’s Office, Grayling Fire Department, and Grayling Department of Public Safety provided vehicles to guide demonstrators as they marched over to the Grayling City Park.
A 37-year-old Canton man was sentenced to serve the rest of his life in prison without the possibility of parole for the murder of Dennis Everson, 64, of Frederic, nearly two years ago. The sentencing for Matthew Franklin Smith was held on Thursday, June 4, via Zoom, an audio and video computer application, as courts in the State of Michigan are holding virtual hearings due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
With a new executive order from Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced on Friday, June 5, more businesses will be allowed to re-open this week – including hair salons, theaters, and exercise facilities – in Region 6 and Region 8, and larger gatherings will be allowed both indoors and outdoors. Crawford County is in Region 6 along with most of northern Michigan. Region 8 is the Upper Peninsula.
The Frederic Community Library will serve as a hub for all Crawford County library operations as work on the additions and renovations at the Devereaux Memorial Crawford County Library in Grayling continues.
On Tuesday, June 2, the Michigan High School Athletic Association – following Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s executive order on June 1 that rescinded Safer At Home restrictions – released an updated set of guidelines for sports teams looking to begin summer activities.
 
18
A Grayling High School alumnus and longtime advocate for children, who has served on the Crawford AuSable School District’s Board of Education for a decade and a half, will soon vacate his leadership position with the district. Jim Hulbert, who is currently a trustee on the school board, was first elected to the board in 2005. Hulbert’s term on the board runs through the end of year. He said he does not want to commit to another six-year term on the board. He plans to resign from his position on the board on August 31. The board of education will have to fill the vacancy through the end of the year.
The Crawford County Courthouse building opened back up to the public for reduced hours and with employees working less hours as the community starts its comeback from the COVID-19 pandemic.
After the cancellation of several special events at Wellington Farm USA due to the coronavirus, the park is preparing to open on June 20.
With a lot of unknowns projected for budgets for governmental and education entities in the future due to the COVID-19 pandemic, area leaders are putting the decision to fund two law enforcement positions in the hands of voters. The Crawford County Board of Commissioners, through a virtual meeting held on Wednesday, June 10, agreed to put a millage proposal on the November 3 general election ballot for the Crawford County Sheriff’s Office. The purpose of the ballot proposal is paying for the costs of maintaining and equipping a deputy to serve as a school resource officer in the Crawford AuSable School District as well as a deputy assigned to the Strike Team Investigative Narcotics Group (STING) unit.
The gradual re-opening of Michigan’s economy continues as Executive Order 2020-115 allowed several businesses – including hair salons, theaters, and exercise facilities – to resume operation on June 10 in Region 6 and Region 8 of the state.
 
25
Crawford, Oscoda, Ogemaw, and Roscommon (COOR)  Education Center students could not have a graduation due to the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing measures, so the graduation was brought to them. Faculty and staff along with Troopers from the Houghton Lake Post of the Michigan State Police, Frederic Fire Department firefighters, and Sgt. Shon Chmielewski from the Crawford County Sheriff’s Office hosted a graduation celebration for Travis Hunter on Wednesday, June 17. The graduation for Hunter was held in the parking lot of the Hilltop Restaurant in Waters.
Nineteen four-person teams participated in the Sheriff Kirk A. Wakefield Golf Outing – an annual scramble event previously known as the D.A.R.E. Golf Outing – at the Grayling Country Club, helping the Crawford County Sheriff’s Department raise money for some of its youth programs.
Grayling Recreation Authority announced on Tuesday, June 16, that it is cancelling the 10K portion of its annual GRA 10K/5K but the 5K will proceed as planned with some possible adjustments to allow for social distancing. Grayling Recreation Authority added the 5K race to the annual 10K event in 2014 due to requests from participants for a shorter option.
Grayling Recreation Authority has cancelled its popular Fourth of July race, the Firecracker Fun Run, for 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Firecracker Fun Run is held every year on Michigan Avenue prior to the start of the Independence Day Parade. The event helps Grayling Recreation Authority’s youth cross country club, the “Grayling Mighty Milers,” cap its season. The Firecracker course runs along the parade route, so spectators setting up to watch the Fourth of July Parade are able to view the event and cheer for the participants. This year’s Independence Day Parade on Michigan Avenue has been cancelled.
After nearly three decades of service, Randy Herman retired from the Crawford County Sheriff’s Office. Herman served his last day as the undersheriff for the Crawford County Sheriff’s Office on Friday, June 19.
Detective Sgt. Ryan Swope was promoted to become the new undersheriff at the sheriff’s office. He replaces Randy Herman, who has served as the undersheriff for the last year and a half. Herman retired for a second time on Friday, June 19.
 
July
02
Divers were able to recover the body of a boater who was reported missing on Lake Margrethe. Computer aided side scan sonar vessels utilized by the Michigan State Police, which are capable of searching underneath the water, located Shivam Patel, a 28-year-old Grayling man. Crawford County Sheriff’s Office deputies received a report from Central Dispatch regarding a boat running ashore on Lake Margrethe that was running and unoccupied just before 4 p.m. on Saturday, June 27. Crawford County Sheriff’s Deputy Shawn Schnoor said an investigation into the registration of the boat revealed it belonged to Patel.
Michigan took a step forward with regard to the resumption of professional sports within the state with Governor Gretchen Whitmer signing Executive Order 2020-133 on Thursday, June 25. The order – subtitled as “Restarting professional sports” – allows “professional sports to resume, subject to COVID-19 safety plans that are consistent with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. Those sports must be played, however, without live audiences for the time being,” according to Executive Order 2020-133.
An executive order from Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, following a bill passed by the state’s legislature, is attempting to offer more relief for Michigan renters from eviction while making assistance available to help landlords maintain their businesses. According to Whitmer’s office, the new order creates the “Eviction Diversion Program,” which offers “rental assistance in the form of lump sum payments to landlords in exchange for allowing tenants to remain in their homes.” 
The Crawford County Sheriff’s Office will soon launch a new program to slow down drivers in a neighborly way. Yard signs that say: “Hey Neighbor, Slow Down” will be put up in the road right-of-way and in residents’ lawns who choose to participate in the program. Signs will also be put up that inform motorists of the posted speed limits in the neighborhoods as well as others that will show the fines speeders will have to pay if they are ticketed.
Crawford County voters have received applications  mailed by the State of Michigan to request absentee ballots from local clerks, which was a provision approved by a state constitutional amendment passed by voters in 2018.
An inmate from the Crawford County Jail who had earned trustee status to work on outside duties was captured after fleeing from custody. Crawford County Sheriff Shawn M. Kraycs said that at 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, June 23, Crawford County Deputies were told that Tim Wakeley, a Crawford County Jail inmate trustee, had escaped while working outside of the jail. Wakeley was apprehended without incident and transported back to the Crawford County Jail. Wakeley was in the jail serving a one-year sentence for unlawfully driving away an automobile. Wakeley was arraigned on Monday, June 29, for escape from jail felony offense and was given a habitual offender fourth-offense notice. He now faces serving time in prison.
The AuSable River Canoe Marathon Committee launched a limited edition shirt sale in an effort to raise money for the event. The 2020 AuSable River Canoe Marathon and the 2020 AuSable River Festival were officially cancelled on Wednesday, May 6, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Based on previous public statements from Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, a few changes and announcements could be coming this week, including release of the state’s plan for re-opening schools and resuming in-person learning in the fall of 2020. The plan, Michigan’s Return To School Roadmap, was scheduled for release on Tuesday, June 30. 
 
09
The AuSable Valley Animal Shelter and the Crawford County animal control officer have joined forces to put a dent in the feral cat population in the county. In collaboration with Humane Society of Macomb Foundation, the Michigan Pet Fund Alliance announced the AuSable Valley Animal Shelter as the recipient of a $5,000 Community Cats Trap-Neuter-Return grant. The AuSable Valley Animal Shelter will use the grant funds to Trap-Neuter-Return 40 males and 65 females, concentrating their efforts on one colony in Grayling. Through the program, the feral cats are live trapped, taken to a veterinarian where they are spayed or neutered, given a rabies vaccination, and clipped on an ear so animal control officers can see from a distance that they have been altered.
The State of Michigan provided its school districts with guidelines and requirements for the upcoming 2020-2021 school year on Tuesday, June 30, with the signing of Executive Order 2020-142 – “Provision of preK–12 education for the 2020-2021 school year” – by Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer and the release of the state’s MI Safe Schools Return to School Roadmap. What activities are allowed to resume and what restrictions will be in place for school buildings will depend on the location of the facility – its Michigan Economic Recovery Council region – and the region’s current status in the MI Safe Start Plan.
Parts of Michigan took a step backwards in the economic re-opening process on Wednesday, July 1, with the temporary closing of “indoor service” at bars in Michigan except for those in Regions 6 and 8. Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed Executive Order 2020-143 (“Closing indoor service at bars”) in response to recent COVID-19 spikes related to people congregating in crowded bars, specifically one in Lansing that state officials say caused more than 100 new cases of coronavirus.
The Tractor Supply Company store in Grayling held a soft opening rather than a full blown grand opening to help keep its employees and customers safe from the spread of COVID-19. The Grayling Tractor Supply Company store, located at  2425 S. I 75 Business Loop, held its opening on Saturday, June 27.
On Tuesday, June 30, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced the signing of Executive Order 2020-142 and the release of the MI Safe Schools Return to School Roadmap, both of which offer guidelines and requirements for districts as they plan to re-open in the fall of 2020 after the COVID-19 pandemic forced the closure of schools in March.  Governor Whitmer said she has requested the Michigan High School Athletic Association consider changes to the traditional schedule to move fall sports that can’t adhere to current six-foot social distancing guidelines during competition to the 2021 spring season and consider moving some of the spring sports that can social distance to the fall.
Crawford AuSable School District elementary and middle school students will benefit from four grants awarded by the Crawford AuSable Excellence in Education Foundation (CAEEF) in its 2020 grants cycle. A total of $3,400 was available for the CAEEF’s fourth round of grants. The entire amount came from the Roger and Phyllis Kesseler Endowed Scholarship/Grant Fund. All four applications were granted, and each program received $850: School nurse Samantha Rogers (garden supplies for the GES Bee-Healthy Garden); GMS Spanish instructor Samara Hartman (supplies for the World Cultures and Cuisines Program); GES instructors Sarah Sly and Karen Leslie (a LEGO MINDSTORMSEV3 kit for the STEM/Robotics Program); GMS language arts instructors Tinelle Zigila and Sandy Baynham (funds for the department’s Shakespeare Drama Unit). 
 
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Governor Gretchen Whitmer, in response to rising COVID-19 cases in Michigan, added more mask-wearing regulations for people in the state with the signing of Executive Order 2020-147 on Friday, July 10. According to Executive Order 2020-147, “Any individual who leaves their home or place of residence must wear a face covering over their nose and mouth: When in any indoor public space; When outdoors and unable to consistently maintain a distance of six feet or more from individuals who are not members of their household; When waiting for or riding on public transportation, while in a taxi or ride-sharing vehicle, or when using a private car service as a means of hired transportation.” Executive Order 2020-147 “requires any business that is open to the public to refuse entry or service to people who refuse to wear a face covering.” 
Northern Lights of Hope, a group created to support the American Cancer Society in place of Relay for Life of Crawford and Roscommon Counties – which decided in late 2019 to cease operations after 24 years in existence – had several events halted by the coronavirus. Northern Lights of Hope pursued other fundraising options such as sponsorships, a social medial campaign called #sparkMIhope, and returnable collections.
Crawford County Administrator Paul Compo, in a virtual meeting with Crawford County Board of Commissioners held on Wednesday, July 8, said the county is facing $250,000 in lost revenues due to the time the courthouse was shut down during Michigan’s stay-at-home order. Compo said that most of the losses are a result of district court costs and fees being down and a loss in tax revenues. Compo said he anticipates the county will resume its normal hours of operation of 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Monday, August 3. 
Deputy Mark Vermillion, from the Crawford County Sheriff’s Office, retired after working his last shift on Thursday, July 9. He was employed with the sheriff’s office for the last three years. 
Like many spring and summer events in Michigan and throughout the nation, the 2020 Spike’s Challenge – originally slated for July 18-19 – has been cancelled due to concerns involving the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2020 race would have been the C-2 event’s 30th. The Spike’s Challenge C-2 race – an event that organizers created in 1991 as “a mini daytime version of the AuSable River Canoe Marathon” – has grown significantly since its inception, adding a C-1 race in 1993 and a C-2 sprints for position event in 1994 to create a full weekend of canoe racing action.
A semi-truck hauling dairy cows overturned on I-75 last week, causing the expressway to be closed for several hours. Crawford County Sheriff Shawn M. Kraycs said that on Wednesday, July 8, deputies were dispatched to a semi in the ditch on I-75 near the 255-mile marker. The semi-truck was hauling dairy cows to southern Michigan and had run off the roadway into the median off of I-75.  The trailer overturned, causing over three dozen cows to be trapped inside the overturned trailer. The expressway was closed to both northbound and southbound traffic for several hours while numerous agencies worked together to remove the cattle. All I-75 traffic was rerouted through the City of Grayling, causing large backups.
 
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Governor Gretchen Whitmer provided another televised update on Wednesday, July 15, asking state residents to comply with the current mask requirements in an effort to slow Michigan’s rising COVID-19 numbers. Governor Whitmer’s Executive Order 2020-147 – signed on Friday, July 10 – says people must wear face coverings in “any indoor public space” and in “crowded outdoor spaces,” and it requires businesses to enforce the mask regulations inside their establishments. Governor Whitmer did not announce any changes in status for any Michigan regions during her July 15 update. Region 6 and Region 8 – all of the Upper Peninsula and most of northern Michigan – are still in Phase 5 (“Containing”) of the six-phase MI Safe Start Plan, and the rest of the state is still in Phase 4 (“Improving”).
The Grayling City Council continued its exploration of a possible city-wide recycling program with another public input session on Monday, July 13, during the council’s regular meeting. The responses from citizens in attendance – both in-person and online – were mixed, and the council ended up delaying a decision on the issue until next month’s regular meeting.
The City of Grayling will conduct a public hearing regarding proposed changes to its fireworks ordinance during the city council’s next regular meeting. City Manager Doug Baum said adjustments are necessary to the ordinance to ensure that the city’s regulations are consistent with state fireworks laws. Currently, the city’s fireworks ordinance, listed in Chapter 24, Article VI of its Municipal Code, says: “No person shall explode any fireworks or firecrackers except by written permission of the city council.” State law, however, “requires that fireworks must be allowed on” several days, including holidays like New Year’s, Memorial Day weekend, Independence Day, and Labor Day weekend, according to www.michigan.gov.
The Great Northern Art Explosion, organized by AuSable Artisan Village in Grayling, has chosen to delay, but not cancel, one of Michigan’s richer fine art award events with $8,000 in prize money. 
The Michigan High School Athletic Association announced on Friday, July 17, that it is not planning to swap any fall and spring sports at this time, and it is preparing to have the 2020 fall sports schedule proceed as originally planned with possible contingencies in place due to the continuing COVID-19 pandemic.
 
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The 2020 AuSable River Canoe Marathon – it would’ve been the 73rd race in the event’s history – was slated for Saturday and Sunday, July 25 and 26, but organizers cancelled the event in early May due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was the second time in the history of the AuSable Marathon that the race has been cancelled. 
Grayling Recreation Authority conducted the 5K portion of its annual GRA 10K/5K on Saturday, and 116 runners competed in the event. Organizers cancelled the 10K portion of the race series due to the coronavirus pandemic, but decided to proceed with the 5K option due to the shorter distance and significantly smaller number of volunteers needed for the event. GRA opted for a “no frills” approach for this year’s event in order to maintain social distancing, eliminating the awards ceremony and opting for “finisher medals” for participants. Jorden Wakeley won the 2020 GRA 5K, finishing almost 2.5 minutes faster than any other competitor. He posted a final time of 16 minutes, 6 seconds. Sophia Rhein won the women’s division with a time of 18 minutes, 50 seconds. Overall, Rhein posted the event’s fourth best time.
Voters will decide a variety of local proposals and local governmental races during the primary election on Tuesday, August 4.
The COVID-19 pandemic put plenty of hurdles in front of Joan and John Waterman, a Roscommon couple, when it came to getting a much needed medical procedure, but due to the swift work from local repair technicians, getting to the hospital with precious time to spare was not one of them. The Watersmans left their home around 8 a.m. for an 10:15 a.m. appointment in Traverse City for Joan’s hip replacement surgery, but car trouble forced them to stop. They were able to get the vehicle to Fick & Sons Diesel Garage located at Charlie’s Country Corner. Fick & Sons personnel ordered a part, installed it within 30 minutes, and the Watersmans made it to the appointment.
The Ragnar Trail Michigan, an outdoor relay running event held at Hanson Hills Recreation Area last year, was slated to return to Grayling this year, but it has been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Ragnar Trail Michigan organizers initially postponed the 2020 event from its original date of June 27-28 to September 4-5 due to coronavirus concerns, but they have now cancelled the race. Hanson Hills officials said the event will return to Grayling next year.
The Crawford County Library System held a kickoff for its summer reading program outside the Devereaux Memorial Library on Wednesday, July 22. Chad Patterson and Sam Patterson, from the Acting Up Theatre Company, performed live for the children and families at the event. The theme for the summer reading program is “Imagine Your Story.” The Pattersons usually visit up to 50 libraries across the state for summer reading programs. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they are recording customized virtual programs for other libraries from their basement, so patrons in Grayling saw the only live performance.
 
August
06
Crawford County voters approved several local millage renewals – including county-wide proposals for the library, the school system, and the transportation authority – and decided some local governmental races during the state’s primary election on Tuesday, August 4. In the race for the county clerk/register of deeds position, incumbent Sandra Moore faced a challenge from Mary Stewart-Green on the Republican portion of the ballot. Moore won with 1,939 votes. Stewart-Green received 1,027 votes. City of Grayling voters approved a four-year renewal millage for sidewalk snow removal with 248 yes votes and 72 no votes. Frederic Township approved millage renewals for fire service (280 yes to 157 no) and ambulance service (287 yes to 149 no). Maple Forest Township renewed a millage to pay for its emergency services through Frederic Township (137 yes to 55 no).
The Michigan National Guard honored past servicemen and servicewomen – including those who have passed away – along with current members during its annual Memorial and Pass in Review event at Camp Grayling Maneuver Training Center on Friday, July 31. Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer attended the event, inspected the troops present on the Camp Grayling Parade Field, participated in a short awards ceremony, and spoke to the servicemen and servicewomen during the event.
The Michigan National Guard conducted its annual Exercise Northern Strike training event at Camp Grayling and the Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center on July 19-31, and military officials held a Community Day in Grayling to show local leaders, media members, and representatives from state government a demonstration from the exercise. Community Day featured a briefing at Camp Grayling and the training demonstration at Camp Grayling’s Range 40. The Community Day demonstration featured F-16 and A-10 aircraft, along with simulated live fire ground support, and the event allowed participants to hear some of the verbal teamwork required when combining air support with combat on the ground. Michigan Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist II attended the demonstration, along with Michigan legislators and military leaders.
The Crawford AuSable School District will start out the school year with students wearing masks, social distancing, and constant cleaning of classrooms, facilities, and busses. The Crawford AuSable School District’s Board of Education adopted its COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plan for the start of the school year at a meeting held on Monday, August 3.
Steve Detmer retired on Thursday, July 30, after serving as a corrections officer and bailiff for the Crawford County Sheriff’s Office for 10 years. Prior to his employment with the county, Detmer served as a corrections officer for the Michigan Department of Corrections at Camp Lehman, a minimum security prison camp located northeast of Grayling before it was closed on October 31, 2009.
Crawford County officials are trying to plug holes in the current budget by applying for federal grants to make up for losses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Crawford County Sheriff Shawn M. Kraycs and County Administrator Paul Compo have applied for four grants from the federal government. The county is facing a $160,000 budget deficit due to a loss in revenues and added expenses due to the coronavirus. 
According to state leaders and health experts, COVID-19 cases are on the rise in the state of Michigan, and in response to recent outbreaks, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order on Wednesday, July 29, that “prohibits any indoor social gatherings of more than 10 people statewide” and “closes bars across the state” with regard to indoor service, effective Friday, July 31.
The gym floor and mezzanine in the Grayling Middle School gymnasium are being upgraded in preparation for the start of the school year, which begins on September 1. School officials are anticipating the new floor being ready for use in mid-September.
The Michigan High School Athletic Association released its latest plan for the upcoming fall sports season – proceeding as planned with “lower-risk sports” and possible adjustments for “moderate” and “high-risk sports” – on Wednesday, July 29. The MHSAA opted to eliminate scrimmage games for the 2020 fall season and place limits on “multi-team events” for some sports during the upcoming campaign.
Dorothy Moore was sworn in to serve as the Interim Township Clerk for Frederic Township on July 15. She will fill out the unexpired term for Clerk Nancy Lee Bindschatel. Bindschatel died on June 23 after a battle with cancer. She was 84.
Law enforcement officials and substance abuse prevention advocates are exploring adding a new safety net for those battling addiction and to support their friends and family members in the Grayling area. Lynda Rutkowski, a substance abuse prevention specialist for Up North Prevention and the Crawford County Partnership for Substance Abuse, said community leaders are gathering information to determine if there is need and support for a Families Against Narcotics Chapter in Crawford County.
 
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A group of beginning fly fishermen, which included two National Hockey League players, recently took a riverboat trip on the AuSable River as part of a series of events in northern Michigan. Eight men took part in a bachelor party weekend, starting with a riverboat trip on the AuSable River booked through Ron’s Fly Shop on Friday, July 31. Among the group were National Hockey League players Dylan Larkin from the Detroit Red Wings and Jack Hughes from the New Jersey Devils.
Voters in Crawford County decided several local millage renewals – all of them passed – and a variety of local government positions during Michigan’s primary election on Tuesday, August 4. Three of the renewals – millages for the Crawford County Library, the Crawford AuSable School District, and the Crawford County Transportation Authority – were county-wide proposals. City of Grayling voters approved a four-year millage renewal to cover the “costs related to snow removal from all sidewalks within the city,” according to the ballot language. Frederic Township voters approved two millage renewals for emergency services during the August 4 election. Maple Forest Township voters approved a four-year millage renewal to continue paying for emergency services through Frederic Township.
The Michigan High School Athletic Association and its member schools are proceeding with plans to play sports in the fall of 2020 with several adjustments in order to avoid outbreaks of COVID-19. Grayling High School has five varsity sports in the fall season: football, volleyball, cross country, boys soccer, and girls golf.
On Saturday, August 1, at approximately 1 a.m. troopers from the Michigan State Police Houghton Lake Post were dispatched to the area of Lovells Road near County Road 612 for a single vehicle crash involving a motorcycle. Further investigation revealed the motorcycle had been struck from behind, throwing the rider, 56-year-old Troy David Lambert of Grayling, from the motorcycle. The driver of the other vehicle fled the scene. Lambert was transported to Munson Medical Center in Traverse City, where he later died from his injuries. 
Members of the Forgotten Eagles of Michigan made a stop in Grayling during their 16th annual Ride Around Michigan on Friday, August 7. They laid a wreath at the American Legion Monument in front of the Crawford County Building, said a prayer, and held a ceremony. The America Legion Post #106 hosted a luncheon for a total of 30 people who rode motorcycles and drove support vehicles. A total of $650 in donations came from the American Legion Post #106, the American Legion Auxiliary, the Carl W. Borchers Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #3736, and from individual donors to the Forgotten Eagles. The Forgotten Eagles estimated the group would raise $4,000 from this year’s ride. The donations will go to the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans, D.J. Jacobetti Home for Veterans in Marquette, and the Aleda E. Lutz VA Medical Center in Saginaw to pay for recreational projects for veterans.
Lovells Township plans to conduct its annual Lovells Bridge Walk as planned on Saturday, August 15, with a few adjustments in an effort to keep people physically distant during the current COVID-19 pandemic. The Lovells Bridge Walk is a fundraiser for Lovells Township Fire & EMS.
Family Dollar recently opened its doors in a new location after moving from its former site at the Grayling Mini Mall. Family Dollar moved from 2406 S. I-75 Business Loop to 312 S. James Street. The building was formerly a Rite Aid store, which has been vacant since February 2018.
 
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A Back the Blue March, which was organized by Matt and Angela Morgan from the AuSable Martial Arts  Academy, was held on Saturday, August 15, in Grayling. The purpose of the event was to show support for law enforcement and a safe community. The march started at the Crawford County Courthouse parking lot and went to the intersection of the I-75 Business Loop and Huron Street and returned to the courthouse.
The City of Grayling amended its fireworks ordinance on Monday, August 10, during the city council’s regular meeting, updating the regulations so they’re consistent with state law.
The Grayling city council abandoned a city-wide recycling proposal during its regular meeting on Monday, August 10, after finding out from legal counsel that it could not use a special assessment to pay for the service.
The announcement that the Michigan High School Athletic Association has moved the fall 2020 football season to the spring of 2021 – made public at approximately 4 p.m. on Friday, August 14 – probably wasn’t surprising to a lot of coaches and players, especially after so many college football programs have cancelled or postponed their fall seasons due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but it still hurt. “It was definitely a gut punch,” said Eric Tunney, varsity football coach for Grayling High School.
The  Extended Learning Year program at the Grayling Elementary School got its first week into the new school year with tweaking of schedules, cleaning, and cooperating students and parents. Crawford AuSable School District Superintendent Justin Gluesing said it was like any other typical first day of school with students coming back into the building along with the introduction of kindergartners, but with added protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Local officials are joining in on a grassroots effort to provide a final resting place for Michigan’s war heroes in the community. Wayne Koppa, a former Camp Grayling commander, gave a presentation to the Crawford County Board of Commissioners at a special meeting on Wednesday, August 13, regarding veterans’ cemeteries. Koppa said that it would be ideal to have a veterans’ cemetery at Camp Grayling or other state-owned property in Crawford County.
In November 2019, River House Shelter, Inc. purchased the building that housed the Sears store in Grayling. After months of renovations through volunteer labor and donated materials, The River House Resale held a grand opening celebration on June 28-29, 2019. Store officials planned to hold a one-year anniversary celebration, but had to keep delaying the event due to Michigan’s stay-at-home order and restrictions regarding gatherings due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, a Sale-A-Bration will be held at the store on Saturday, September 5, to celebrate one year of operation.
The 2020 Grayling High School varsity volleyball team has a young group – two seniors, nine juniors, one sophomore – but the squad has a significant amount of previous varsity experience, and the program had a productive offseason despite some limitations due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Programming from the Crawford County’s Michigan State University Extension office is facing the budget axe as county officials are wrestling with a half a million dollar budget shortfall going into their next fiscal year. 
According to organizers, more than 100 people participated in the 2020 “Abridged, Abbreviated, Lite” Lovells Bridge Walk on Saturday, August 15, and this year’s event raised more than $2,000 for the Lovells Township Fire & EMS Department. Organizers conducted this year’s event with some adjustments for safety and physical distancing due to the current COVID-19 pandemic.
Grayling High School’s varsity boys soccer team started its official practice sessions for the 2020 season on Wednesday, August 12, following an offseason that the squad’s new coach said was productive despite limitations caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
 
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Football is moving to the spring, but the rest of the fall sports line-up – a list that includes boys soccer, volleyball, cross country, and girls golf for Grayling High School – is staying where it is, according to an announcement from the Michigan High School Athletic Association on Thursday, August 20, but some of those sports are currently cleared for competition only in Region 6 and Region 8 of the state. The MHSAA announced that the other fall sports would not be moved at this time, including volleyball, which is currently allowed to practice inside in Region 6 and Region 8, but not in the rest of the state. Volleyball and soccer are listed by the MHSAA as “moderate-risk” sports.
The deadline for completing the 2020 United States Census – after being changed a couple of times – is now Wednesday, September 30, and census takers continue to follow up with households that have not yet been counted through “self-response” methods. As of Monday, August 17, according to the 2020 United States Census, 69.3 percent of Michigan households had provided “self-response” to the census effort. Crawford County, however, was listed at a 43.8 percent self-response rate, according to the Census Bureau.
The Crawford AuSable School District received a pot of money, which will be used to pay for cleaning supplies and provide solid connections for on-line learning in order to resume school with the COVID-19 pandemic. Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced that she will allocate nearly $65 million in federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act dollars to Michigan school districts, higher education institutions, and other education-related entities that have been most significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Michigan.gov. The school district will receive $101,252 based on a 1,626 student population  enrolled.
Funds from benefactors for the AuSable Valley Animal Shelter will be used to continue to address the feral cat population in Crawford County. The animal shelter is providing funding so that Crawford County Animal Control Officer Kari Sieniarecki can continue the Trap-Neuter-Return program. Through the program, the feral cats are live trapped, taken to a veterinarian where they are spayed or neutered, given a rabies vaccination, and clipped on an ear so animal control officers can see from a distance that they have been altered.
The 14th annual Old U.S. 27 Motor Tour, which goes from Coldwater to Cheboygan, rolled into Grayling on Friday, August 21, for an overnight stay. The motto for the tour is “Back In The Day It Was The Way” since Old U.S. 27 begins in Michigan and goes down to Florida. Craig Parrish, the founder of the Old 27 Motor Tour, said 100 vehicles took part in the stop in Grayling, but vehicle owners were encouraged to go “free wheeling” to visit local businesses and attractions to prevent a mass gathering of people due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
 
September
03
After ballots were counted and recounted a number of times, the same victor prevailed in the race for the Frederic Township Supervisor’s position. The Crawford County Board of Canvassers met at 10 a.m. on Monday, August 31, at the Crawford County Courthouse. Incumbent Frederic Township Supervisor William Johnson requested and paid for a recount of ballots cast in the August 3 primary election polls. Johnson received 164 ballots cast in his favor compared to 177 cast at the polls for challenger Brandon Gabriel. At the end of the hour and a half recount, Gabriel picked up  three additional votes with 180 and Johnson remained at 164 votes.
The future of a $10.6 million project aimed at redeveloping blighted and contaminated property in downtown Grayling hinges on obtaining funding assistance from the state. The Crawford County Board of Commissioners, during a virtual meeting held on Thursday, August 27, approved an amended Brownfield plan for Sawmill Lofts, LLC. The five-story mixed use commercial and residential project will include retail  and commercial space on the ground floor and 42 residential spaces on the upper floors. The sites to be redeveloped include the Sawmill Billiards property, the building where the Crawford County Avalanche was located, and where Heirloom Antiques operated.
After a brief debate regarding a controversial pipeline that runs through the Straits of Mackinac, the Crawford County Board of Commissioners agreed to table a resolution in support of Enbridge’s Line 5. The resolution was addressed by the Crawford County Board of Commissioners during a virtual meeting held on Thursday, August 27.
With Grayling High School fall sports teams starting competition, the Crawford AuSable School District Athletic Department released its list of spectator regulations for the fall season and announced that passes for the campaign will not be available for purchase this year. People attending sports activities at the Grayling schools are required to wear masks. Schools will have specific seating arrangements in order to adhere to physical distancing regulations. Grayling High School is planning to offer live streaming of games online, but the system is not yet in place.
More than 100 artists will compete for $8,000 in cash prizes in the 2nd annual Great Northern Art Explosion, a public and juried art competition sponsored by AuSable Artisan Village in partnership with Kirtland Community College and the Grayling Promotional Association. The show opens to public voting on Friday, September 4. Art submissions will be displayed in two venues in downtown Grayling – the AAV gallery (also the Art Explosion hub) and across Michigan Avenue at the River Valley Building (formerly Old Gambles Corner). Multiple artworks will also be displayed on the sidewalks in town.
 
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Kirtland Community College’s Four Mile Road campus is now one of several COVID-19 Neighborhood Testing Sites located in the state of Michigan, offering area residents a local option to get a free coronavirus test. The testing site is not inside of the normal campus buildings; it is “in an auxiliary building isolated from other college functions, and designed for easy in and out,” according to the college.
Approximately three weeks after the Michigan High School Athletic Association’s August 14 postponement of the 2020 fall football season to the spring of 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions in place to curb the spread of the virus, the MHSAA opted to bring the sport back to the fall for a partial season following a new executive order from Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer. According to the Michigan High School Athletic Association’s September 3 announcement, the 2020 fall football campaign will be a “shortened season” with all teams qualifying for the playoffs in both traditional 11-player football and 8-player football. According to the MHSAA, schools can still opt to play football in the spring, but the association’s playoff tournament will be conducted in the fall of 2020.
After several years doing genealogy research, a Grayling man recently learned that his relatives were Pilgrims who came to America sailing on the Mayflower. In early August,  Kenny “Ken” Jones was contacted by a Connecticut representative from the Mayflower Society to inform him that his research confirmed he was related to Pilgrims who traveled to the country 400 years ago.
Grayling High School, which is located in Region 6 of Michigan, started its fall sports competition during the last week of August, a time when schools in the southern part of the state were not able to host games and practices for some sports, but a new “Safe Start” executive order from Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer on Thursday, September 3, allowed that to change, and it prompted the Michigan High School Athletic Association to reinstate fall football. Executive Order 2020-176 – signed on September 3 – replaces the previous “Safe Start” order (Executive Order 2020-160) and Executive Order 2020-162 (a brief clarification for Executive Order 2020-160). It allows gyms and pools in Regions 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 7 “to reopen on Wednesday, September 9,” and it adds a section regarding “Organized Sports” that allows “practices and competitions to resume in those regions where they remain restricted, subject to strict protections meant to limit spread of (COVID-19),” according to the governor’s office.
Col. Scott Meyers assumed command of Camp Grayling Maneuver Training Center in a change of command and transfer of colors ceremony held at the base on Friday, August 28. He succeeds Col. Edward Hallenbeck who had been the chief facilities management officer from 2016 to 2020, having also been Garrison Commander of Camp Grayling since November of 2017.  
 
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Grayling High School’s football program resumed practices on Tuesday, September 8, following the recent reinstatement of the fall season.
The State of Michigan officially extended its mask mandate into the world of high school athletics with recent executive orders from Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer that require face coverings for athletes on the field and on the court for several sports. “Athletes training for, practicing for, or competing in an organized sport must wear a facial covering (except when swimming) or consistently maintain 6 feet of social distance (except for occasional and fleeting moments). For example, an athlete participating in a football, soccer, or volleyball game would not be able to consistently maintain 6 feet of distance, and therefore would need to wear a facial covering,” according to Executive Order 2020-180.
“Essential workers” during the early part of the COVID-19 pandemic – April, May, and June – can now apply for free tuition at Kirtland Community College through the State of Michigan’s Futures for Frontliners program. “The Futures for Frontliners program offers a tuition-free pathway to college or a technical certificate for essential workers. Eligible workers include those who staffed hospitals and nursing homes, worked in grocery stores, provided child care to critical infrastructure workers, manufactured PPE, worked in public safety and sanitation, and delivered supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic,” according to Kirtland Community College.
Bill McNamara and his wife, Barb, donated an 1894 piano to Wellington Farm USA.
The Crawford County Board of Commissioners discussed budget issues and the potential elimination of funding for programs and services including MSU Extension during a meeting via Zoom on Wednesday, September 9, with final decisions expected during a public meeting later this month.
 
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The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network lit almost 200 Lights of Hope at a local home during its 10th annual Lights of Hope event on September 12 to help bring awareness to local, state, and federal officials to help ensure that cancer research, prevention, and treatment remains a number one priorit. 
The 2nd annual Great Northern Art Explosion competition and voting began on September 4 and completed on September 19 with an outdoor awards ceremony at the Paddle Hard Container Yard on Sunday. Four talented artists were awarded with cash prizes and recognition.
After closing on March 22 following the signing of Executive Order 2020-20 – “Temporary restrictions on the use of places of public accommodation” – the Devereaux Memorial Library reopened September 1 with expansive renovations and new temporary operating hours.
Because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, area election officials dealt with a record number of absentee ballots during the August 4, 2020 primary election, and they’re expecting even more for the upcoming November 3 general election.
Grayling High School’s varsity football team returned to competition with a 43-0 victory vs. the Kalkaska Blazers at Kalkaska High School.
Grayling Main Street kicked off its Envelope Raffle on Friday, September 18,  in the Main Street Parklet space between Ron’s Fly Shop and The Hairstation to raise money to support Downtown Grayling programming. 
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) recently announced that its website will now include a page – “School-Related Outbreak Reporting” – that provides information regarding COVID-19 “outbreaks” in the state’s schools, colleges, and universities.
 
October
01
The Grayling Main Street Harvest Festival and Grayling Promotional Association Arts & Crafts Show have been cancelled for 2020 due to COVID-19.
Crawford County VFW Post 3736 donated 25 backpacks filled with school supplies to the Grayling Elementary School on Tuesday, September 15. 
Northern Michigan Limited Dividend Housing Association of Grayling was recently awarded a $196,000 grant by the State of Michigan’s housing authority to build a home in the City of Grayling to provide reasonably priced housing.
The Crawford County Sheriff’s Department is asking voters to approve a millage to pay for “the costs of maintaining and equipping a deputy assigned as the School Resource Officer in the Crawford AuSable School System and maintaining and equipping a deputy assigned to the Strike Team Investigative Narcotics Group,” according to the ballot language, and the proposal will be decided during the November 3 general election. The request – “Crawford County – Sheriff Millage Proposal” – asks voters to approve “0.4500 ($0.4500 per $1,000 of taxable value” on “the total amount of general ad valorem taxes imposed on real and tangible personal property” in the county for the local S.T.I.N.G. deputy and the school officer.
The November 3 general election ballot for Crawford County voters will feature a millage renewal proposal for Grayling Recreation Authority, the governing body for Hanson Hills Recreation Area. Grayling Recreation Authority is seeking an eight-year renewal, a replacement of the 20-year operating millage that is expiring.
The annual Crawford AuSable Thanksgiving Dinner will happen this year, organizers said, but meals will only be served via delivery; due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, there will not be a gathering for the 2020 version of the holiday dinner. This year’s Crawford AuSable Thanksgiving Dinner – slated for Thanksgiving Day on November 26 – will mark the event’s 30th anniversary.
 
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The November 3 general election – a voting process expected to have large numbers of ballots submitted via mail or in person into designated drop boxes prior to Election Day due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic – will decide several local races and proposals. The results of the August 4 election decided many local races, but there are a few contested positions throughout Crawford County to be determined in November, and there are two county-wide millage proposals.
The Northern Michigan Children’s Assessment Center announced the three winners for its Raffle for a Cause, an event that raised thousands of dollars for child services. The NMCAC’s original goal was to earn $3,000 but it more than doubled its goal by earning just over $7,000, according to Adriana Ruiz, a Forensic Interviewer for the NMCAC.
On Tuesday, September 29, Sergeant Shon Chmielewski of the Crawford County Sheriff’s Department retired after 27 years of service. Chmielewski’s awards include the 2007 “Sheriff’s Award of Excellence,” 2010 “Sheriff’s Award Merit and Excellence,” 2011 Crawford County Sheriff’s Office “Letter of Gratitude,” and the 2013 “Law Enforcement Office Officer of the Year.”
The Mt. Hope Lutheran Church and Crawford AuSable Day Care and Preschool celebrated a ribbon cutting ceremony and virtual tour to commemorate the grand opening of its new facility at 850 Airport Road on Sunday, September 27. The ceremony was attended by about 40 people, according to Salena Laskowski, the Executive Director of the CADCP. 
 
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The Grayling Photographic Society held its seventh annual photo competition for Grayling Middle School students – an event aimed at encouraging interest in the arts and photography – and the winners and the top 16 photos will be displayed at the AuSable Artisan Gallery from October 14 to October 28.
Circle Power, a Michigan based company out of Royal Oak, has taken an opportunity with a program from the Department of Natural Resources to build and develop two different locations of former mining sites, one being the gravel pit off of 7 Mile Road in Crawford County. This new solar project is going to be refurbishing and repurposing the property, according to Jordan Roberts, co-founder and partner at Circle Power. 
For now, special regulations in the state of Michigan due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic are coming through “emergency orders” instead of “executive orders,” continuing the requirements for people to wear masks, practice physical distancing, and limit gatherings. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) released the “Emergency Order Under MCL 333.2253 – Gathering Prohibition and Mask Order” on Monday, October 5, after a recent Michigan Supreme Court decision ruled that many of Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s COVID-19 executive orders were not valid. The emergency order from the MDHHS contained rules limiting gatherings in Michigan and offered regulations regarding the wearing of masks for people in the state. Four days later, on Friday, October 9, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services rescinded the “Gathering Prohibition and Mask Order” and replaced it with a more detailed version called the “Gathering Prohibition and Face Covering Order.” 
Crawford County Animal Control has been proceeding with a Trap-Neuter-Release program to address the continued presence of feral or community cats in the area.
Using car-safe water hoses the Grayling Fire Department held a car wash on Saturday, October 3, to help raise funds needed to purchase new equipment and save towards a new fire truck. The car wash took place at the Fire Department building at 1041 City Boulevard between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. and was sponsored by the Grayling Fire Association.
 
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The uncertainty and the changes during the 2020 fall sports season in the state – the Michigan High School Athletic Association, due to restrictions in place to curb the spread of COVID-19, postponed football until spring and then later reinstated the sport for fall – affected more than just coaches, athletes, and fans. In a span of a few weeks, Grayling High School’s marching band went from a possible cancellation of its season to performing at both football and soccer contests.
An annual Halloween holiday event – Grayling Elementary School’s costume parade – will not be held in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
While much of the country adopted wearing masks and face coverings with worry of limited personal protective equipment, there are some in our community that have gone above and beyond to make sure that face masks are readily accessible. Homemade masks designed with color, comfort, care, and protection have become a staple around the community. 
According to state officials, more than a million Michigan residents have already submitted their ballots for the November 3 general election, but there is still time to register to vote and there is still time to cast an absentee ballot prior to in-person voting on Election Day. According to the Michigan Secretary of State, October 19 was the last day for people to register to vote online for the November 3 election, but people can still register by visiting the clerk’s office in their voting precinct. Locally, most of the Crawford County position races are not contested.
 
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Grayling High School – on Tuesday, October 20, as part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month – conducted its annual “Pink Out” volleyball meet, raising money for the American Cancer Society and promoting cancer awareness efforts. The varsity squad wore its special pink jerseys during the event. All three Grayling High School volleyball teams – varsity, junior varsity, and freshman – won vs. Kalkaska during the meet.
The abbreviated 2020 fall football regular season is over for Michigan teams, and all varsity squads that opted to play – including Grayling High School – have been slotted into the Michigan High School Athletic Association postseason football tournament, which starts this week. The Vikings of Grayling High School (3-3) are in Division 6, Region 21, District 42. Grayling will host a familiar foe – the Benzie Central Huskies – for their District 42 playoff game slated for 7 p.m. on Friday, October 30.
In-person voting for the country’s general election will be held on Tuesday, November 3, and the process will decide a number of federal, state, and local races. Local clerks have been expecting large numbers of absentee ballots to be cast in this election due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and the Michigan Secretary of State recently reported that more than two million voters in the state have already submitted their ballots.
 
November
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The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, in response to rising COVID-19 numbers in the state, updated its “Gatherings and Face Mask Order” on Thursday, October 29, tightening some restrictions on gatherings in Michigan. The new version of the MDHHS Emergency Order – signed by Robert Gordon, Director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services – removes exceptions and special rules for Region 6 (which includes Crawford County and most of northern Michigan), putting all of Michigan under the same regulations.
Coffee by Steph opened July 1. Originally, plans had been set to open March 1, but with COVID-19, plans changed. The roastery is located between the AuSable Artisan Village and Paddle Hard Brewery. Coffee by Steph also serves tea, lattes, smoothies, and super food lattes, all customizable with multiple options. 
Crawford County Community Christian Help Center officials and volunteers celebrated the contributions of the center’s director, Cindy Hummel, with a special plaque presentation on Friday, October 30, as Hummel prepared to retire from the position.
Grayling Rotary Club member Wayne Koppa rode hundreds of miles through northern Michigan on his motorcycle on Saturday, October 24, as part of the club’s fundraising effort to eradicate polio.
The varsity football team from Grayling High School won 47-12 during a Division 6, Region 21, District 42 playoff game vs. the Benzie Central Huskies at Viking Stadium.
 
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The Grayling Promotional Association is scheduled to continue the 2020 annual Festival of Trees fundraiser. As with years past, the Festival of Trees will take place in the Grayling Mini Mall on November 13 to November 28. The public is invited to come see the decorated trees and purchase raffle tickets to win their favorite tree. This year, in an effort to help with social distancing due to COVID-19, the GPA will be announcing winners on local radio station WQON The Q100 at 100.3 FM. The GPA will also be hosting the Bearly Used Christmas Store, where gently used holiday items can be purchased and all proceeds will go towards the city of Grayling.
The Orangecoat Round-up in Grayling – an event that will give hunters an opportunity to win cash prizes and display their deer at the buck pole at Skip’s Sport Shop – will be held on the first two days of firearm deer hunting season, Sunday, November 15, and Monday, November 16.
Crawford County voters approved two local millage proposals – an operating millage renewal for Hanson Hills Recreation Area and money for the Sheriff’s Department to support a School Resource Officer and a local STING officer – and decided a few contested races during the November 3 general election on Tuesday.
The varsity football team from Grayling High School won 49-14 at Manistee during a Division 6, Region 21, District 42 semifinal game on Friday night. The Vikings will play for the District 42 championship on Saturday at Boyne City. David Millikin ran for 164 yards and four touchdowns, establishing a new Grayling High School record for most rush TDs in a season (22).
The American Legion Post #106 in Grayling is now home to a restored vintage mail box with the purpose of collecting American flags deemed ready to be retired. The American Legion has, for years, taken the duty and care of retiring worn American flags in the proper and honorable way. 
 
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The Orangecoat Round-up – an event that gives hunters an opportunity to display their deer and win cash prizes during the first two days of firearm deer hunting season on November 15 and 16 – featured 22 entries on the buck pole at Skip’s Sport Shop this year.
Crawford AuSable School District officials said the first two months of the district’s return to in-person learning went well, but the month of November has offered some significant challenges related to COVID-19, including a recent shutdown of Grayling Middle School and Grayling High School due to staff shortages followed by an order from the state to suspend in-person learning at all Michigan high schools for three weeks.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services – in response to rising COVID-19 numbers in the state – announced a new mandate on Sunday, November 15, that orders the suspension of in-person learning at high schools and colleges and dine-in service at restaurants in the state of Michigan for three weeks starting on Wednesday, November 18. The order also further restricts gatherings and forces the closure of movie theaters and casinos.
Grayling High School’s varsity football team clinched a district championship with a 28-20 victory vs. the Boyne City Ramblers on Saturday, November 14, at Boyne City High School. The Vikings were scheduled to host Negaunee in the regional round on either Friday or Saturday, but a new mandate from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services announced on Sunday, November 15, ordered the suspension of in-person learning and sports at Michigan high schools for three weeks effective Wednesday, November 18. The status for the remainder of the fall 2020 sports season is now unknown.
American Legion Post 106 of Grayling hosted a brief outdoor ceremony on Veterans Day to honor men and women who have served in the United States military. The country celebrated Veterans Day on Wednesday, November 11. Larry Domcik, American Legion Post 106 Commander, said the post wanted to do something “short and sweet” to commemorate the day and honor those who have served.
 
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The Grayling Promotional Association is conducting the 2020 Festival of Trees event with COVID-19 safety protocols, including a limit on the number of people inside, sanitization efforts, social distancing, masking requirements, and a clear shield between ticket buyers and ticket sellers. Volunteers said this year’s event has 57 trees and 33 gift baskets.
The Michigan High School Athletic Association announced on Wednesday, November 18, its intentions to finish the remaining playoff tournaments for fall sports – including football – in December and begin competition for winter sports in January.
As Thanksgiving approaches, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer and state officials offered one more public plea to state residents to use caution during the holiday to avoid possible spread of COVID-19 as cases of the virus continue to climb in Michigan.
 
December
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The Grayling Promotional Association drew winners for 57 trees and 33 gift baskets during the finale of the group’s Festival of Trees – an event that raises money for GPA community improvement efforts – at the Grayling Mini Mall on Sunday, November 29. This year’s Festival of Trees ran from November 13 through November 28. Festival of Trees organizers drew the names of the winners during a private ceremony. Usually, the drawing is open to the public, but this year – due to the COVID-19 pandemic – GPA opted for a small crew to distribute the prizes, and instead of allowing the public inside, made the results available on the radio on WQON.
The current “Gatherings and Face Mask Order” from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services – a list of regulations that forces the closure of restaurants to dine-in service, limits gatherings, suspends in-person instruction at high schools and colleges, and pauses the fall and winter high school sports seasons in the state – is set to expire next week just before midnight on December 8, but COVID-19 numbers continue to climb in the state, and area health officials are urging people to continue efforts to curb the spread of the virus. District Health Department #10, which covers 10 counties (including Crawford), recently issued a Public Health Advisory in response to increasing coronavirus numbers. The advisory asks people to stay home if they’re sick, get tested if they have COVID-19 symptoms, quarantine for two weeks if they are a close contact of someone who’s tested positive, and continue with general COVID-19 preventative measures such as wearing face coverings, washing hands frequently, and practicing physical distancing. 
Volunteers delivered more than 800 meals during the annual Crawford AuSable Thanksgiving Dinner on Thursday (but they missed the smell of the food being cooked and the fun of gathering for the meal). Organizers changed the format of the event this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, moving to a delivery-only meal service instead of the usual gathering at the Grayling Army Airfield.
Thirteen graduates of Grayling High School and 13 current seniors have earned the designation of AP Scholar by the College Board in recognition of their achievement on the college-level Advanced Placement Exams. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all AP tests in spring of 2020 were administered online in essay format only.
 
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Andrea Hentschel of Traverse City has been hired as AuSable Artisan Village’s first full-time paid executive director.
The first annual Crawford County Sheriff’s Department Tree Sale Kickoff was scheduled to take place on December 5 at the Tractor Supply Company parking lot, but it was canceled due to COVID-19; however, the tree sale will proceed as planned. This year, with last year’s donations and fundraising amounts, the Sheriff’s Department will be sponsoring five local families with a total of 13 children for this year’s Shop With A Cop, which helps children and families have an eventful and positive Christmas which may not otherwise happen due to disadvantages or financial need. This year officers get to spend about $100-$150 with each child to help pick out Christmas presents. 
The Crawford County Commission on Aging and Senior Center may still be “closed” due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but it’s had busy year, including a record number of deliveries through its Meals on Wheels program. Alice Snyder, Director of the Crawford County Commission on Aging, said the local Meals on Wheels program, during the Senior Center’s latest fiscal year – from October 2019 through September 2020 – delivered approximately 37,000 meals, 12,000 more than the previous year.
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, in addition to providing an update on the state’s current COVID-19 situation on December 1, announced the availability of grants for small businesses impacted by the virus, and she urged Michigan residents to shop local during the holiday season. On Monday, November 30, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation announced that the “Michigan Strategic Fund approved a $10 million grant program to help meet the urgent needs of small businesses disproportionately impacted the COVID-19 virus.”
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has extended its “Gatherings and Face Mask Order” – a list of COVID-19 related regulations that forced the closure of restaurants to dine-in service, put further limits on gatherings, suspended in-person instruction at high schools and colleges, and paused the fall and winter high school sports seasons in the state, among other restrictions – for 12 days, state officials announced on Monday, December 7. The MDHHS order was set to expire on December 8; the restrictions are now in place through December 20.
The Michigan High School Athletic Association did not announce an updated plan for fall sports or winter sports on December 7 after the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services announced a 12-day extension of its “Gatherings and Face Mask Order,” which suspended in-person learning and organized sports for Michigan high schools for three weeks. The suspension of sports is now active through December 20. According to the MHSAA, “the Representative Council will meet Wednesday, December 9, to discuss the next steps for fall tournaments that remain suspended and winter sports in the early stages of their seasons.”
 
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Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer ordered U.S. and Michigan flags within all public buildings and grounds across the state to be lowered to half-staff for 10 days – representing one day per 1,000 deaths – from Tuesday, December 8, through Friday, December 18, to honor and mourn those who have lost their lives due to COVID-19 as the state’s reported death toll surpassed 10,000. As of Monday, December 14, the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention reported more than 16 million COVID-19 cases and close to 300,000 deaths in the United States. In Michigan, the state reported 437,985 confirmed cases and 10,752 deaths as of December 14. 
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services reported on Monday, December 14, that “frontline health care workers at two Michigan hospitals” were the first people in the state to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. 
The sound of Christmas bells will fill the air at Family Fare in Grayling on Thursday,  Friday, and Saturday, December 17, 18, and 19 as part of this year’s  Salvation Army Red Kettle campaign.  
As companies work to get COVID-19 vaccines approved for use and delivered, state officials said they’re working on plans to get Michigan residents vaccinated, including the creation of a new commission to help inform the public about the process. During Thursday’s update, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced the signing of Executive Order 2020-193, which creates the Protect Michigan Commission “as an advisory body within the Department of Health and Human Services.”
The Michigan High School Athletic Association’s Representative Council met on Wednesday, December 9, but it did not announce a new plan for a possible resumption of sports.
 
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The Grayling City Council voted 5-0 to dissolve its Parks and Recreation Committee and “reconstitute” it under the authority of the City of Grayling’s Planning Commission.
In an effort to help local downtown restaurants during the current suspension of indoor dine-in service in Michigan, the Grayling City Council – during its regular meeting on Monday, December 14 – approved a waiver of part of its Zoning Ordinance, allowing restaurants to continue offering outdoor dining options through the winter months.
Ongoing changes in health and safety standards for COVID-19 and new orders from the Health Department urged the owners of Dead Bear Brewery in Grayling to make some wall-breaking changes. The restaurant’s patio was opened for outdoor dining with the approval from the Health Department after Dead Bear removed one of its walls.
Hanson Hills Recreation Area is now open for skiing and tubing with some adjustments to avoid gatherings inside the lodge due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The Grayling Fire Department – a longtime collaboration between the City of Grayling and Grayling Charter Township – welcomed a new fire chief on Wednesday, December 16, following the retirement of its previous chief. The Grayling Fire Committee, which consists of the supervisor and clerk from Grayling Charter Township, the city manager and clerk from the City of Grayling, and the current fire chief, recommended Mark Brown – former assistant fire chief for the department – to replace Russell Strohpaul. The two boards approved the recommendation and Brown took over following a passing of the fire chief’s hat ceremony at the department.
The latest “Gatherings and Face Mask Order” from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services – announced on Friday, December 18, two days before the previous version of the order was set to expire – allows high schools to resume in-person learning and it allows entertainment businesses such as movie theaters and casinos to reopen, but the new order does not lift the current ban on indoor dining service at restaurants and bars.
District championship football teams in Michigan – including the Vikings of Grayling High School – were allowed to resume practices on Monday, December 21, following a change in recent epidemic order regulations from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and subsequent guidance from the Michigan High School Athletic Association, and the football playoffs are expected to resume in early January.
 
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This year’s Salvation Army Red Kettle Campaign surpassed last year’s total, raising $3,212 from bell ringing and another $1,500 from organization donations.
The Grayling Fire Department – a collaboration between the City of Grayling and Grayling Charter Township – is looking to add more volunteer firefighters to its roster. City and township officials have said during recent meetings that the department’s volunteer firefighter ranks are down for a variety of reasons.
America’s State Parks and the Department of Natural Resources have started this year’s campaign to encourage Michiganders and people across the country to hit the snow trails this New Year’s Day for the First Day Hike event. The goal of the First Day Hike is to provide an opportunity for individuals and families to exercise, connect with nature and create new traditions for years to come.
A high speed chase that started in Grayling last week led to a crash and multiple arrests after Crawford County Deputies and Michigan State Police were dispatched to a suspicious situation at the Speedway gas station.
Grayling High School inducted 26 students into the National Honor Society during a limited ceremony at the school’s Joseph Stripe Auditorium in November. 
The Crawford County Sheriff’s Department, with the Grayling Department of Public Safety and Grayling Township Fire Department, used the funds and donations from the yearly Christmas Tree Sale to help families in our community have a better Christmas. 
A local second grade student – Hazel MacIntosh Ertel, 7, of Grayling – recently made a special donation to The Brook, allowing staff members to provide a few extra holiday gifts to residents of the local assisted living facility. “The Brook of Grayling received the sweetest letter and a check for $106 from a Grayling seven-year-old. She raised money by doing a lemonade stand and sent the money to go toward things that residents at The Brook of Grayling might want/need. We took the money and purchased a fleece blanket, slippers, and chocolates for all 24 residents. Our manager made a copy of Hazel’s letter and gave it to each resident with their gift,” said a representative from The Brook.
Grayling High School’s varsity football team resumed practices for two days last week after the Michigan High School Athletic Association released another updated plan for finishing fall sports playoffs, but the MHSAA announced on Tuesday, December 22, that it is again suspending the season as details are finalized for a Michigan Department of Health and Human Services pilot program for COVID-19 testing.
Munson Healthcare and District Health Department #10 are receiving multiple shipments of COVID-19 vaccines, and they’re working to vaccinate their frontline healthcare personnel during phase one of a multi-tiered effort.

 

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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