Year In Review 2018

From the pages of the Crawford County Avalanche
Two different murder cases. A proposed marina at Lake Margrethe. New businesses launching in Grayling. Development of a new soccer field. The City of Grayling graduateing from Project Rising Tide and completing its new AuSable River canoe launch project at the State Police Crime Lab. Elections with proposals involving the school, Hanson Hills, the library, and the Transportation Authority. The search for a new Crawford AuSable School District superintendent. A legal battle regarding the Fish Hatchery ending with new management for the site. Another class graduating from Grayling High School. The Viking Activity Center project. Exercise Northern Strike at Camp Grayling. Arauco’s new plant. Activity at the AuSable Artisan Village. Dial-A-Ride’s expansion of services. A new sheriff and a new undersheriff. The issue of contaminated water.
Annual events like the community Thanksgiving Dinner, the Chamber of Commerce awards, the Business Expo, the AuSable River Festival, Harvest Fest, Forest of Fear, the Lovells Bridge Walk, the Christmas Walk, and the Festival of Trees. The buck pole. Trout season opening day.
In sports action, the wrestling squad from Grayling High School winning its sixth consecutive Lake Michigan  Conference title, having two team members earn all-state status, with one of them establishing a new school record for most career pins. Two successful, longtime coaches retiring. A cross country runner finishing second at regionals to earn another state finals berth.
Coverage of the many local canoe races: the Spike’s Challenge, the Business Relays, HUP, the Special Olympics Challenge, the Paddle Battle, and the 120-mile AuSable River Canoe Marathon. The passing of AuSable Marathon icon Al Widing Sr.
Dozens of cross country skiers competing in the Cote Dame Marie Ski Loppet at Forbush Corner (the trails at Hanson Hills were not available due to weather conditions), and more than 100 cyclists participating in the annual Black Bear Gran Fondo. GRA’s 10K/5K having more than 150 runners, and its Firecracker Fun Run having a record number of participants.
Just a few of the things that the Crawford County Avalanche covered this year. With 2018 coming to an end, the Avalanche presents its annual Year In Review feature. 
(Story summaries in the Year In Review are listed according to the edition in which the article appeared.)
Happy New Year!
Bitter cold temperatures over the holiday weekend did not deter snowmobilers from utilizing the Crawford County area as a winter playground. Several groups of snowmobilers zipped and zoomed through the community as people were on holiday vacations and a break from school. The visitors, who came throughout Michigan and the midwest, brought in much needed business for area gas stations, restaurants, and hotels/motels.
An award from an organization highlighting the good deeds and work of police officers will help keep top movies rolling at the Rialto Theater. A member of the Grayling AuSable Lodge Fraternal Order of Police #189 sold the second place winning ticket to Jordan Stancil, the owner of the landmark Rialto Theater. The raffle is a statewide effort by the Fraternal Order of Police State Lodge of Michigan. The fundraiser is called the “Super Raffle.”
Court hearings for a 55-year-old Grayling man accused of killing a woman who he had a family with and lived with for several years have been delayed until later this month. John Robert O’ Connor, who was charged with one count of open murder, appeared in the Crawford County District Court on Wednesday, Dec. 27, for a probable cause hearing; however, the Crawford County Prosecutor’s Office and Don Sommerfeld Jr., O’ Connor’s defense attorney, stipulated to adjourn the hearing until all information and police reports are available for review.
Two new propane powered busses will be added to the fleet for the Crawford AuSable School Distric. The Crawford AuSable School District’s Board of Education approved the purchase of a pair of busses at a cost of $184,746. The Crawford AuSable School District has three propane busses in its fleet of 14 busses. Crawford AuSable School District Superintendent Joe Powers said the district saves $10,000 per bus, per year in operational cost versus using diesel powered busses.
Crawford County officials approved upgrades for Central Dispatch equipment, which will link communication with other dispatch centers in the region. The Crawford Board of Commissioners, at its regular monthly meeting in December, agreed to purchase the Viper 911 System for Crawford County Dispatch. The equipment costs between $70,000 and $75,000. It will be paid for through the county’s foreclosure fund. Crawford County Undersheriff Shawn M. Kraycs said the Viper is a digital 911 call routing system which will link to already established equipment in Grand Traverse, Roscommon, and Alpena counties.
Entering her second year of competition, Grayling student Brittanie Snyder is hoping to soar to new levels with her gymnastics routine. Snyder is a member of the Skye High Gymnastics Team, which is based out of Roscommon. She trains with coach Crystal Richter. Snyder is the daughter of Jamie and Paul Snyder. Prior to joining the team, Snyder danced at the AuSable Dance Center in Grayling for five years.
An American Red Cross Blood Drive was held at the American Legion Post #106 on Wednesday, Jan. 3. Despite snowy and icy weather conditions, the quota for 46 pints for the blood drive was surpassed with 54 pints donated, said Teena Kehr, the volunteer coordinator for the blood drive.
Al Widing Sr. of Mio, an AuSable River Canoe Marathon icon, the record holder for both most starts in AuSable Marathon history and oldest finisher, and perhaps the event’s most popular paddler of all time, passed away. He was 92 years old. He is known for his unprecedented Marathon longevity; Widing is the current record holder for most total AuSable River Canoe Marathon starts with 41, oldest paddler to start the Marathon (age 89), and oldest paddler to finish the race (age 87), according to AuSable Marathon records.
A proposed permit to have a marina based off the north shore of Lake Margrethe was met with an abundance of opposition. Staff from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s  Waters Resources Division held a public hearing at the Grayling Township Hall. Lake Margrethe property owner Brad Lapworth is seeking a permit to install a seasonal dock. The dock would be 200-foot-long by three-feet wide with six 30-foot-long by three-feet-wide finger piers for the dockage of 12 boats. In addition, Lapworth proposes to construct a parking area.
Staff at the Grayling Middle School launched the school’s Viking Pantry. The pantry is based in a small classroom, which used to be a computer lab and an area where teachers could meet with small groups of students. Whether it be a temporary situation or ongoing, the pantry will supply basic food and hygiene items to students to get them through the weekend.
The varsity wrestling team from Grayling High School took first place in the Grayling Invitational, posting a 5-0 overall record during the event and clinching the championship of the tournament with a close win vs. the Falcons of West Branch Ogemaw Heights.
Due to poor trail conditions at Hanson Hills Recreation Area, Grayling Recreation Authority (GRA) had to make changes to this year’s Cote Dame Marie Ski Loppet – an annual series of cross country ski races for people of all ages and skill levels – including the cancellation of some races and a change of venue for others. Forbush Corner, a cross country skiing destination in Frederic, hosted the 2018 Cote Dame. GRA was pleased with the turnout; close to 100 people competed in the 2018 Cote Dame Marie Ski Loppet despite the change in venue, losing the citizen races, and losing several skiers to the World Masters cross country race in Minnesota.
The Grayling  Eagles Club Auxiliary #3465  held a Snowshoe Pub Crawl on Jan. 20. Proceeds from the event were raised for the Michigan Parkinson’s Foundation. The goal for the fundraiser of $1,000 was surpassed, as it generated $1,471.
In a tip of the hat to the past, the Grayling Elementary School has brought a school nurse on staff to help students with their day-to-day medical needs and to help them develop healthier lifestyles. Samantha Rogers started as the school nurse at the Grayling Elementary School on Jan. 15. Rogers is a 2005 Grayling High School graduate.
A building that has been in Grayling for nearly nine decades was demolished to make way for the community’s revitalization efforts. F&F Excavating of Gaylord took down the building located at 117 East Michigan Avenue, which is owned by Dave Vargo. Vargo also owns Paddle Hard Brewing and the Paddle Hard Microbrewery in downtown Grayling. Vargo said the site will be surveyed, and architectural  renderings will be completed to determine possible uses for the property.
A 55-year-old Grayling man accused of killing a woman who he had a family with and lived with for several years faces another felony charge after appearing in court. John Robert O’Connor, who is charged with one count of open murder, appeared in the Crawford County District Court on Jan. 23 for a pre-trial hearing. At the hearing, O’Connor was charged with dead bodies disinterment and mutilation. He faces up to 10 years in prison, if convicted.
Boys and girls ages 9 to 14 competed in the local level of the annual Knights of Columbus Free Throw Championship on Jan. 28 at the Grayling Middle School, and nine of those shooters advanced to the district level competition. The winners from the 2018 local K of C Free Throw Championship event: Katy Hayden, 9-year-old girls; Brandt Finstrom, 9-year-old boys; Cameron Baker, 10-year-old boys; Lillian Odden, 11-year-old girls; Dominik Demeere, 11-year-old boys; Ethan Kucharek, 12-year-old boys; Josslyn Sheldon, 13-year-old girls; Alison Brown, 14-year-old girls; Anthony Harrington, 14-year-old boys. After the main competition, Brown won the Billy Nielson Shootout.
While Ingunn Hraunfjord has considered herself an American for several years, with immigration continuing to dominate the headlines, she recently went through the process to become a citizen. Hraunfjord, who is from Iceland, was sworn in as a citizen of the United States of America on Jan. 22 at a ceremony held in Detroit. 
An organization that takes veterans to Washington D.C. to visit memorials created in their honor will use Camp Grayling as a hub for its fall outing. Mid-Michigan Honor Flight, which covers 50 counties in the Lower Peninsula, will host between 60 to 70 veterans at Camp Grayling on Sept. 25-27. Mid-Michigan Honor Flight is 501(c)(3) organization which raises funds to take veterans to the nation’s capital for a day at no cost to the veteran and their guardian.
Reece Ferrigan won the 215-pound division and picked up his 150th career high school wrestling victory during the Northern Michigan Championships, an annual wrestling tournament hosted by Gaylord High School that features competitors from more than 20 programs.
People associated with the AuSable River Canoe Marathon, New York’s General Clinton Canoe Regatta, and Quebec’s Classique Internationale de Canots de la Mauricie are working together to create a 501(c)(3) organization for the Triple Crown of Canoe Racing, an effort that organizers hope will draw more public interest for the three races, create more merchandising opportunities for the Triple Crown and its three races, increase tourism in the regions, and generate more sponsorship money. Also, the effort hopes to eventually create funding sources for growing the sport of marathon canoe racing and preserving and protecting river resources in all three regions where the races are staged.
Youth leaders are trying to kick up community support to develop an added soccer playing area. The Crawford County Board of Commissioners approved a proposal for the Crawford AuSable Soccer Association to move forward with engineers to develop plans for the new field. The field would be adjacent to CASA’s existing fields at the Crawford County Sports Complex. 
Alice Snyder, the director of the Crawford County Commission on Aging, delivered the agency’s 2016-2017 annual report to the Crawford County Board of Commissioners at its regular monthly meeting. A total of 45,552 meals were served to 1,137 older adults over the year at a cost of $5.51 per meal. A total of 1,600 people attended congregate meals, which bucks a national trend of lower participation at such meals since Baby Boomers prefer to dine in restaurants. The Commission on Aging provided home delivered meals to 700 additional people over the previous year.
Grayling High School’s varsity wrestling team clinched its sixth consecutive Lake Michigan Conference title, winning eight of 14 weight classes during the LMC championship meet hosted by Traverse City St. Francis. Grayling’s eight individual conference champions were: Thomas May (112), Tucker Mertes (119), Andrew Hopkins (125), Cole Hibbard (130), Max Halstead (135), Logan Joseph (171), Tyler Withers (189), and Reece Ferrigan (215).
Goodale’s Bakery, located in the heart of Grayling, sold and served up hundreds of Paczkis for Fat Tuesday.
John Robert O’Connor, 55, appeared in Crawford County District Court for a daylong preliminary examination on Friday, Feb. 9. O’Connor is accused of killing Michelle Kukulski on Dec. 7.
Four wrestlers from Grayling High School – Tyler Withers, Reece Ferrigan, Thomas May, and Max Halstead – placed high enough at the Michigan High School Athletic Association’s Individual District 17-3 tournament to qualify for regionals.
Thirteen skiers and snowboarders competed in the Winter Fun Days festival’s annual Big Air Competition at Hanson Hills Recreation Area. The 2018 Big Air Competition featured a “jam session” format with each division getting five minutes to hit the ramps at Hanson Hills, with the competitors doing a variety of mid-air tricks in front of the crowd and the panel of judges.
Gov. Rick Snyder, state officials, and just over a half  dozen local officials donning caps and gowns marked a year-long effort focused on planning and economic development. The City of Grayling graduated from the state’s Project Rising Tide program at a brief ceremony held at the Grayling City Hall on Feb. 15.
Grayling Recreation Authority (GRA) conducted its annual Hanson Hills Classic cross country ski race on Sunday at Forbush Corner in Frederic, and close to 80 people competed. The trails at Hanson Hills were unsuitable for the race, so GRA had to change the venue.
A pharmacy, which has been in business in Grayling for 20 years, ceased operations and the store will soon discontinue associated retail operations. Rite Aid, located at 312 James Street, closed down its pharmacy on Feb. 13.
Grayling High School had four regional qualifiers for wrestling this year, and three of them advanced to the state finals with top-four finishes during the Michigan High School Athletic Association Region 9-3 tournament at Kalkaska High School. Grayling’s three state qualifiers were Reece Ferrigan (215), Max Halstead (135), and Thomas May (112).
Two Grayling High School skiers, Jacob Macfalda and David Burr, with their placements at regionals at Nub’s Nob, qualified for the upcoming state finals.
On-line surveys are being sent to Crawford County residents, groups, and organizations to gauge their interest in building a community center, which would be used by groups of all ages.
A Grayling City resident who has been part of planning efforts for the community for just over a year was appointed to fill a vacancy on the Grayling City Council. Heather Forbes was the lone applicant for an open position on the Grayling City Council and was sworn in to fill the seat on Feb. 12. The vacancy was created when Kate DeVries-McIsaac resigned from the city council in December since she moved to a home located in Grayling Charter Township.
The Crawford County Board of Commissioners agreed to put a proposal on the Aug. 7 primary election ballot for the expansion and renovation of the main library serving Crawford County residents. According to a five-year needs assessment, the library served 11,243 patrons in 2017 compared to 6,863 patrons in 2012. Internet and Wi-Fi usage increased from 2,474 patrons in 2012 to 16,490 patrons in 2017. Access to items through the inter-library loan program also doubled in the same time frame.
Grayling High School seniors Carmen Reilly and Noah Shambarger were named Snowgoing queen and king, respectively, during a ceremony at halftime of Friday night’s Grayling vs. Boyne City varsity boys basketball game. Snowgoing is like homecoming but it is held during the winter; it features a spirit week competition between the four classes at GHS and it ends with the Snowgoing dance on Saturday night. The Class of 2018 won the Spirit Belt, the trophy awarded for most points during the spirit week event.
As horrific incidents occur at school campuses around the country, Crawford AuSable School District officials have added a new layer of security at all of their school buildings. A secured entrance was installed at the Grayling Elementary School over the holiday break to close off the expansive entrance into the academic wings of the building. Similar entrances were installed at the Grayling Middle School and Grayling High School. The entrances feature electronic  locks. Visitors at the schools have to check in at the offices, register, and receive a visitor’s pass or bracelet in order the enter the buildings.
Two Grayling High School wrestlers – Reece Ferrigan (215) and Max Halstead (135) – earned all-state medals after finishing in the top eight in their weight divisions at the Michigan High School Athletic Association’s individual state finals at Ford Field. Ferrigan placed fifth at the state finals and Halstead took sixth.
Trey Moffit, senior guard for the Grayling High School varsity boys basketball team, hit eight three-pointers vs. the Houghton Lake Bobcats at Houghton Lake, setting a new Grayling High School record for most triples in a game. The Vikings won the contest 78-65.
Several people converged on Grayling on Monday, March 5, for the birthday of Fred Bear to mark the legacy of the renowned hunter and archer. Bear Archery plant operated in Grayling from 1947 to 1978. Bear died in 1988. He was 86.
A Grayling man who allegedly bludgeoned a 46-year-old woman using a can of yams was bound over to face continued criminal proceedings in Crawford County’s 46th Circuit Court. Monte J. Burmeister,  the chief judge of Probate and District Court for Crawford County, ruled that there was probable cause for John Robert O’Connor, 55, to face a jury trial following a hearing held in Crawford County District Court on Feb. 27. O’Connor is accused of killing Michelle Kukulski on Thursday, Dec. 7.
Chad Patterson was recognized with the Citizen of the Year award from the Grayling Regional Chamber of Commerce at its 2017  Annual Chamber Awards Gala held on March 2 at Kirtland Health Sciences Center. Patterson is involved with promoting the AuSable River Canoe Marathon, Relay for Life, Celebrity Server Night and Campaign Kick-Off Spaghetti Dinner to benefit Crawford County United Way, and the Grayling schools. Presented for the first time this year, Ray’s Barbecue Brews & Blues was recognized with the New Grayling Chamber Member Business award. Teresa Bonamie, the Grayling High School counseling secretary, and Meredith Anderson, the instructor of the Grayling High School’s Student Senate, accepted the You Made It Happen award on behalf of the Viking Pantry. Jason and Heather Malone accepted the 2017 Chamber Member Business of the Year for the Rolling Oak Brewing Company. Rebecca Knepper, the acting president of the Grayling Promotional Association, accepted the 2017 Chamber Member Organization of the Year award.
Rich Moffit, who helmed Grayling High School’s varsity boys basketball program for 24 years, coached his final game for the Vikings; he is retiring from teaching and coaching and will soon transition into a new career at the admissions department of a Michigan university. Moffit will be working in the admissions office at Northwood University, starting on March 26. During his 24-year coaching career at Grayling High School, Moffit’s squads won several district titles, multiple league championships, and had close to 20 players finish with all-state honors.
An American Red Cross Blood Drive was held at the St. Mary’s Church Family Center on Wednesday, March 7. The quota of 46 pints for the blood drive was surpassed with 54 pints donated, said Teena Kehr, the volunteer coordinator for the blood drive.
Nearly a half hour into a school day at the Grayling Elementary School, 800 students scurried out of the building, reported to emergency locations, and then took up shelter in neighboring buildings. A fire alarm occurred at the school around 9 a.m. on March 7. A heat sensor, located in the duct work above a third-fourth mixed grade classroom which used to house a school library, tripped, causing the alarm to go off. The students and staff, as they practice during fire drills, fled the building to emergency spots outside of the school to make sure they were all accounted for. The students on the north end of building were then provided with cover and warmth at Munson Healthcare Grayling Hospital, while students on the other end of the school headed for the Devereaux Memorial Crawford County Library.
One Grayling High School skier earned all-state honors for the 2018 season, and two other members of the squad earned all-league honors in the Lake Michigan Conference. Jacob Macfalda received an all-state honorable mention. Macfalda was also all-conference in both slalom and giant slalom. He was named all-region in giant slalom. David Burr was all-conference for giant slalom and all-region in slalom. Nicole Oppermann was all-league for slalom. Macfalda, Carlie Wilson, and Sorenza Couture earned scholar athlete awards.
Reece Ferrigan finished his Grayling High School wrestling career with 139 pins, shattering the school record of 109. Ferrigan finished his career with an overall record of 166-44. He was one victory short of the school’s all-time win record of 167. He took fifth place at 215 in the state finals during his senior season.
Denholm Family Chiropractic celebrated its 20th year in business. Dr. Craig Denholm started his practice in Grayling in March of 1998 in a small office on Huron Street. Denholm Family Chiropractic moved to its current location, 6838 M-93 Highway South, in 2000.
Tim Sanchez, varsity football coach for Grayling High School since 2009, recently retired from coaching in order to take on a new occupational challenge. Sanchez, the assistant principal at Grayling High School, will take over as principal of the Grayling Middle School next year. Sanchez was the head coach at Grayling for nine seasons, 2009 through 2017. During that time, his squads won 64 games, lost 29, and made it to the playoffs eight times. Sanchez has the most wins for a varsity football coach in school history.
The varsity football program at Grayling High School has a new coach. Eric Tunney, an assistant coach with the program for several years, is the new man in charge following the retirement of Coach Tim Sanchez.
Local resident Joe Greer has helped sustain bald eagles in the Grayling area during the winter months when the lakes are frozen over and they can’t eat fish. Greer, owner of the tree trimming service Have Saw Will Travel, picks up deer that are hit by vehicles in Crawford County. From November through March, he places the deer in an open field off M-93 just west of the Department of Natural Resources field office.
Grayling High School’s varsity girls basketball program announced its awards for the 2017-2018 season. Esabella Powers earned all-league honors and Jasmine Denton was an all-conference honorable mention. In team awards, Powers was named Most Valuable Player. Denton won the Most Improved Award, and Trinity Hatfield received the Best Teammate Award.
The varsity boys basketball program from Grayling High School conducted its end-of-season banquet, announcing several team awards and two all-league selections. Justin Nicholas was named all-conference for the Vikings. He led the team in points (17.4 per game), rebounding (7.1 per game), and assists (2.8 per game). Trey Moffit was an all-league honorable mention. He made 50 three-pointers this year, averaging 11 points per game. Team awards for the Vikings this year included: Most Improved – Conner Brill; BCAM Team First Award – Ryan Anderson; Coaches Award – Brent Weismiller; Mr. Glue – Chris Hunter, Louis Cotton, Spencer Tomczak; Mr. Defense – Nick Hunter; Mr. Offense – Moffit; MVP – Nicholas. As a group, the Vikings earned BCAM academic all-state status.
The Crawford County Board of Commissioners authorized a grant on behalf of the Crawford AuSable Soccer Association to develop a new field last week along with kicking in funds to meet a deadline. The county board, at its regular monthly meeting held on March 22, gave its approval to submit a grant to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for the development of a new playing field for the soccer league. In addition, the board agreed to front $15,000 in matching funds in hopes that the grant will be approved. The county is applying for a $113,000 Michigan DNR Passport grant to pay for the new field.
Grayling High School three-sport athlete Justin Nicholas, during an event at the GHS Media Center, signed a letter of intent to play football at Albion College, a Division III school, next year. Nicholas set several records during his senior season at quarterback for the Vikings. He threw for 623 yards in one game vs. Benzie Central, second most in Michigan high school history. Nicholas had 3,188 passing yards, most in school history for a single season. He had 40 total touchdowns in 2017, a new school record for one season.
Dozens of area residents and property owners turned out to raise strong opposition to a proposed project to install a dock on the north shore of Lake Margrethe to moor boats through a commercial operation, although plans for the proposal have changed. The Grayling Charter Township Planning Commission held a public hearing on March 28 to gather input from citizens on a special use permit which would allow the boat dock in the lake. Brad and Ann Lapworth are seeking to put the dock in the lake, just off M-72 West. A special use permit is needed since it would be a commercial operation in a residentially zoned area.
At 2:18 p.m. on Saturday, March 31, Michigan State Police (MSP) Troopers from the Houghton Lake Post responded to the report of a bus crash on northbound US-127 near mile marker 204 in Lyon Township of Roscommon County. According to the State Police, the crash involved a tour bus owned and operated by a northern Michigan church. The one-vehicle crash resulted in the bus rolling onto its side and coming to rest in the median side ditch. The bus was occupied by 33 high school students and seven adults at the time of the crash. 
Warehouse Social Coffee & Smoothies opened in the Paddle Hard Microbrewery, located at 118 Michigan Avenue. The venture is a business incubator, which is owned as a co-op by employees of Paddle Hard Brewing. The business is getting its coffee and espresso from Higher Grounds in  Traverse City. 
In its third year, the Grayling High School’s Robo Vikes won a district competition and are heading to the state championships. The team, officially known as Grayling High School Robo Vikes #6121, was formed in 2016 through FIRST Robotics Competition, the competitive world of high school robotics. There are 508 robotics teams located throughout Michigan. Over the course of six weeks, the Grayling Robo Vikes have taken part in 26 competitions.
Thirty Grayling Youth Wrestling Club regional qualifiers traveled to Kalamazoo on March 23-25 to participate in the annual MYWAY State Championships held at Wings Stadium, and six of them placed in the top eight of their weight class. Placements for Grayling included: 1st – Shelby Thomas and Kyhis Malone; 3rd – Rosa Conley; 5th – Ellie Niederer; 6th – Hunter Carrier; 8th – Kaiden Smith. Four Grayling Youth Wrestling Club members traveled to Lansing on April 6-7 to compete in the NUWAY National Youth Wrestling Tournament, and three of them placed. Placements for Grayling included: 5th – Shelby Thomas; 8th – Carson Odden and Kyhis Malone.
After 13 years leading the Crawford AuSable School District, Superintendent Joe Powers retired from his position but will still be working in the education field. Powers retired from his job with the school district effective March 31. He has taken a job as an educational consultant for a school construction firm. Powers served as the superintendent for the Crawford AuSable School District for 13 years.
Leaders at the River House, Inc. showed a united front and highlighted the resources it has to serve battered women and families to kick off April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The staff for the women’s resource shelter raised a flag, which was flown over the Michigan Capitol in Lansing, at the shelter on Thursday, April 5. Rep. Daire Rendon, R-Lake City, presented the flag to shelter staff.
The congregation at the Michelson Memorial United Methodist Church launched a campaign to save its landmark bell tower.
Between 600 and 700 people attended the Grayling Regional Chamber of Commerce’s sixth annual Business Expo held at the Ramada Grayling Hotel and Conference Center on April 19.
Recent winter weather – a storm during the weekend of April 13-15 that included freezing rain and several inches of snow – forced the cancellation of all of last week’s scheduled games and meets for Grayling High School spring sports. Last week was the third week of the spring season; very few games have been played so far due to weather conditions and field conditions. The weekend storm forced school to be cancelled on Monday, April 16, and Tuesday, April 17.
Crawford County voters will decide a millage proposal on the Aug. 7 primary election ballot to keep the Crawford County Transportation Authority busses rolling. A .25 mill request to increase funding for the transportation system, better known as Dial-A-Ride, will be on the ballot. If approved by voters, the tax would be levied from 2018 to 2020. Currently, .7027 of a mill is levied to garner $403,000 in operating costs for the transportation system. 
The Lovells Township Historical Society held its ninth annual Leaky Waders 1K Fun Run on the last Saturday of April, the traditional opening of trout season. A total of 44 runners participated, a new high for the race. 
The River House, Inc. held its third annual 5280 Walk on April 27. The aim for the fundraiser was for men to walk the 5,280 feet – one mile – to earn pledges benefiting the women’s resource shelter. The men had the choice of walking in high heels or pink flip-flops with ribbons tied around the straps. Initially planned for Friday, April 13, the walk had to be postponed due to a snow storm that pummeled the community. The walk was part of promoting April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
Brad and Anne Lapworth submitted a handwritten message to Grayling Charter Township officials on April 9, stating they were no longer interested in getting a special use permit for a project to install a dock on the north shore of Lake Margrethe. The message was read at Grayling Charter Township Planning Commission’s meeting held on Wednesday, April 25, as the project was officially withdrawn from consideration.
Offering merchandise which is antique, vintage and new, a business in downtown Grayling is particularly focused on family. Located at 207 East Michigan Avenue, 5 Sisters Antiques Vintage & Craft Market, opened its doors on April 20. Started by Teresa Shores, 5 Sisters Antiques Vintage & Craft Market offers antiques, vintage items, handmade items and quilts. The business is called 5 Sisters Antiques Vintage & Craft Market since Shores is among a family which includes five sisters.
With a possible solution of addressing the hot button issue for repairing local roads on the table, the Crawford County Board of Commissioners approved language for a millage renewal  last week. The board, at its regular monthly meeting held on April 28 agreed to put a one mill proposal on the Aug. 7 primary election  ballot for the Crawford County Road Commission. If approved by voters, the millage would be levied from 2019 to 2023. The millage was first approved by voters in 2008. 
The Crawford AuSable School District’s Board of Education agreed to offer a part-time interim superintendent position to the school chief that left the job just over a month ago. The school board held a special meeting on May 5 to consider two applicants who applied for the part-time position. Superintendent Joe Powers  retired from his job with the school district effective March 31. After some discussion, the board unanimously voted to not interview the applicants and explore its other options. A board member then proposed offering the position to Powers. The board voted again unanimously to offer the job to Powers. Following the meeting, the school board president said Powers agreed to serve as the district’s interim superintendent. One of Powers’ main jobs will be to assist the school board in its search for a successor for the position. Powers held the job for 13 years.
Stephanie Riemer, the president and CEO of Munson Healthcare Grayling Hospital, has announced she will retire later this year after 35 years with the organization. Riemer will remain president and CEO of Grayling Hospital through August and Kirsten Korth-White, Grayling Hospital’s Chief Operating Officer, will serve in the role of interim president and CEO effective Sept. 1.
After nearly four years of contested case hearings and appeals, C. Heidi Grether, the director of Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), announced her decision  last week to grant a permit to Harrietta Hills Grayling Trout Farm to expand its hatchery on the East Branch of the AuSable River. Those who oppose having a commercial fish farm on an internationally known trout fishing stream vow to continue to appeal the permit and mount other legal action.
Makayla Cragg, a 2014 Grayling High School graduate who now lives in Gaylord, is new to the art of bodybuilding, but she is already having success in the sport with several first place finishes during a competition held in Traverse City in April. Cragg competed in her first show – the Grand Traverse 38th Annual Fit For You Health Club Body Building and Figure Championship – on April 14. She took first place in Novice Figure, first in Open Figure, and first Overall. 
Eight disabled military veterans took part in the seventh annual Bamboo Bend Project at the Lovells Township Community Center. Bamboo Bend, a locally organized and funded project which has the motto “Handcrafted Healing for Heroes,” brought the military veterans to the Grayling area for a nine-day stay. The veterans stayed at the Oxbow Club, a private fishing club that was established on the South Branch of the Ausable River in 1919. The veterans completed their stay in Grayling with float trips down the AuSable River and Manistee River with local river guides that were free of charge.
Ten law enforcement officers were recently added to a memorial wall created by a local police organization to recognize their service and honor their sacrifice. National Police Memorial Day was observed on May 15. The Fraternal Order of Police, AuSable Lodge #189 constructed a memorial wall in 2012 honoring and recognizing Michigan police officers killed in the line of duty. The wall was on display at the Crawford County Courthouse.
Two Grayling High School students were recognized for their participation in a statewide competition. Anna Fisher and Parker Learman-Blaauw, both seniors at Grayling High School, were the sole members of the school’s forensics team this year. In their third year as part of the club, both qualified for the statewide competition each year through final regional competitions. Learman-Blaauw was the impromptu regional champ in 2017, while Fisher earned the same recognition for 2018.
Three organizations aimed at bringing visitors and economic development to the region have teamed up to provide a treasure trove of bird watching possibilities for visitors. The AuSable Birding Trail features 22 hotspots for bird watching sites in Crawford and Roscommon counties. The map guide includes a description of the birding sites as well as maps of the individual trails. The map guide includes sites as far south as St. Helen and as far north as Frederic.
Twelve members of the Grayling High School Class of 2018 have earned Lake Michigan Conference All-Academic Team honors. Students were selected based upon a formula that incorporates grade point averages and SAT scores. Alyssa Cobb was named the Class of 2018 Valedictorian. Haley Kocefas has been named the Class of 2018 Salutatorian. The other 10: Nathaniel Burmeister, Rebecca Cheney, Anna Fisher, Mazi Gugin, Madison Helsel, Lea Hilliker, Parker Learman-Blaauw, Chantel Maczorowski, Flynn Powers, and Noah Shambarger.
Grayling High School recognized its Class of 2018 sports participants – a group that included four all-state players (one for two different sports) – during the 20th Annual Senior Student-Athlete Honors Night. During the event, the athletic department recognized 43 seniors, announcing each of their names and giving engraved plaques to those who attended. All-state athletes for the Class of 2018 included: Justin Nicholas (football and basketball), Reece Ferrigan (wrestling), Sam Davis (soccer), and Jacob Macfalda (skiing). Grayling had two Michigan High School Athletic Association Scholar-Athlete awards this year: Chantel Maczorowski and Carlie Wilson. This year’s Viking Award recipients were Justin Nicholas (football, basketball, baseball) and Mallory Hatfield (volleyball, basketball, softball).
Grayling High School celebrated the Class of 2018’s graduation on Sunday, June 3, with a commencement program that featured speeches by the valedictorian and salutatorian as well as recognition of the group’s accomplishments, a list that includes close to 50 students graduating with honors, more than 8,600 community service hours performed, more than $700,000 in scholarships earned, and the school’s highest ever SAT scores.
Following a year and half of renovations, the AuSable Artisan Village is prepared to foster the arts in the Grayling area from the ground up. Volunteers recently completed work on an $80,000 project to renovate the basement of its building, located at 219 Michigan Avenue. A total of $40,000 for the project was raised by the AuSable Artisan Village and a $25,000 grant was provided by Michigan Economic Development Corporation. The remaining $15,000 came from AuSable  Artisan Village’s general fund budget. The basement level features a meeting room and the Creativity Center, where classes will be taught to students of all ages. It also includes storage spaces for kilns, other large equipment, and supplies.
Beaver Creek Township officials, area residents, and Camp Grayling leaders recently gathered at a cemetery to breathe new life into the grounds where some of the first settlers of Crawford County were laid to rest. A rededication of the Pere Cheney Historial Cemetery was held on Wednesday, May 23, just prior to the Memorial Day weekend holiday.
A 69-year-old Lovells man was found alive last week after he went missing for five days. Robert Knapp was last seen around 2 p.m. on Saturday, May 26. He was reported missing at 9:30 p.m. that evening. Knapp was found in his truck on Granger Road just south of Townhall Road in Oscoda County. He had crashed the truck. Knapp had gone without food for five days, but did have a case of bottled water in the truck. Knapp was transported to the Munson Health Grayling Hospital, where he was treated for dehydration and other issues.
Hanson Hills Recreation Area hosted a bike race event – the Hanson Hills Challenge, part of the MMBA Championship Points Series – on Sunday, June 3, and more than 140 cyclists competed in a wide variety of divisions. The course at Hanson Hills, according to race coordinator Fun Promotions LLC, was 10.5 miles of single-track and double-track trail. Depending on the age division, riders had to complete one, two, or three laps on the 10.5-mile course. The course featured some hilly terrain and a few sandy spots.
Dozens of people attended a town hall meeting held in the Joseph H. Stripe Auditorium at the Grayling High School on Tuesday, June 5, to listen to a panel of local, state, and federal officials give an update on studies linked to tainted residential water wells near Grayling. It was the fifth town hall meeting held over the last year to inform residents about the contamination and steps being taken to protect public health. Solutions to tackle tainted drinking water in the Grayling area won’t be determined until 2019, and could be used as a template by other communities located near military bases in the nation. Before those measures can be identified, more monitoring wells will be drilled and more data will be collected to determine the extent of the tainted ground water in the area.
Robert Knapp, a 69-year-old Lovells man who went missing for five days, died one week after he was found. Knapp went missing around 2 p.m. on Saturday, May 26. He was found in his truck at 4:30 p.m. on May 31 in Oscoda County. He had crashed the truck. Knapp was transported to the Munson Healthcare Grayling Hospital, where he was treated for dehydration and other issues. Crawford County Sheriff Kirk A. Wakefield said Knapp choked on some food while he was being treated. He lost consciousness. Knapp was transported to Munson Medical Center in Traverse City and put on life support. Knapp’s family opted to take  him off life support on Monday, June 4. He died on Thursday, June 7.
During the Community Garden Friends Workday on Saturday, June 2, volunteers made progress on the project, replacing fence posts, removing trash, weeding flower beds, and digging ditches. The Crawford County Commission on Aging & Senior Center and the Carl W. Borchers VFW Post #3736 have teamed up for the Community Garden project.
The Grayling Skate Park, located next to City Hall on City Boulevard, hosted its sixth annual Father’s Day Skate Competition on Saturday afternoon, and 10 skateboarders participated. The competition featured three divisions: beginner, intermediate, and advanced. Each skateboarder in each division had three one-minute rounds to perform for the judges and the crowd. Dakota Sandefur won the beginner division. Caden Arredondo took first place in the intermediate division. In the advanced division, James Jones finished first. 
Grayling’s AuSable River Festival is expanding this year, adding more days of festivities and more events. Once a six-day event, the AuSable River Festival will stretch to nine days this year. 
Crawford County hosted its annual Household Hazardous Waste collection in the parking lot near the Crawford County Courthouse on June 16. The waste was hauled away Drug & Laboratory Disposal, Inc., a hazardous waste disposal service based in Plainwell.
A Grayling chef who started selling baked goods at the Grayling Farmers Market and worked summers at the Grayling Country Club has launched a new family venture to bring gourmet comfort food to the community. Archie’s is the food trailer operated by Jon Petrie, who recently completed his  culinary arts and business management degrees at the Great Lakes Culinary Institute in Traverse City. Archie’s features gourmet sliders, macaroni and cheese, and hand cut French fries.
A former hub of manufacturing in Grayling has been reenergized to give employees a jump start on training before they go to work in a multi-million dollar particle board plant which will start operations in the community in a few months. Construction for the $400 million Arauco North American particle board plant, located on 4 Mile Road in Grayling Charter Township, is nearing completion. The goal is for employees to start working in the mill in August, focusing on producing the first products by Sept. 18. Starting on June 18, a total of 60 Arauco employees who will staff the mill started training at the former Fred Bear Archery plant.
A Grayling native who has several years of experience as an interior designer and general contractor has opened up a branch office in the community to help clients spruce up their homes and businesses. Kirk Day, the owner of Advantage and Associates, opened an office in the Flowers by Josie and Thanks a Latte basement this spring.
Twenty four-person teams participated in the D.A.R.E. Golf Outing – an annual scramble event that helps the Crawford County Sheriff’s Department raise money for its youth programs – at the Grayling Country Club.
Grayling High School’s baseball program recently announced its awards for the 2018 season at a banquet held at the school, and this year’s list of accolades includes seven all-league honors. Justin Nicholas, Justin Youngblood, Christian Artress, and Trey Moffit were all-conference selections. Jacob Macfalda, Louis Cotton, and Jaden Gauthier were all-league honorable mentions. Nicholas, Youngblood, and Moffit were named all-district players this year. Blane Johnston and Noah Shambarger earned academic all-district status.
Grayling High School’s varsity softball program recently announced its awards for the 2018 campaign – a list of honors that includes two all-conference selections and four all-district players – at an end-of-the-season banquet held at the school. Jenna Schwartz was an all-league selection in the Lake Michigan Conference. Kyla Roach was an all-conference honorable mention. Schwartz, Roach, Olivia Schreiber, and Jordyn Schwartz were named to the all-district squad.
Grayling High School’s varsity girls soccer squad had two all-conference selections and four all-district players this year. The Vikings recently announced these honors and several team awards at its end of season banquet. Esabella Powers was an all-league selection for Grayling. Isabel Duba was an all-conference honorable mention. All-district players included Jenna Haring, Abby Pippin, Powers, and Duba. As a group, the soccer team earned Academic All-State status. Eight of the squad’s players earned Individual Academic All-State (3.5 or above GPA): Duba, Amairis Tuck, Alora Cobb, Trudeau, Moore, Pippin, Powers, and Haring.
Members of Boy Scout Troop #979 of Grayling went on a trip to Washington D.C., learning about citizenship, the nation’s culture, and history. The Scouts left Grayling on June 16 and returned to the community on June 24. En route to the nation’s capitol, they made a stop at the Gettysburg National Park in Pennsylvania, a site which served as a turning point in the Civil War. The Scouts visited the National History Museum, Air and Space Museum, the Navy Memorial, the Botanical Gardens, the Postal Museum in Union Station, Arlington Cemetery, the National Archives, and the monuments of Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and Martin Luther King, Jr. as well as the World War II monument, the Korean War monument, the Vietnam Wall, the White House, the Boy Scout monument, the U.S. Supreme Court, the  American History Museum, Chinatown, and the Wax Museum.
Dozens of area golfers took part in a golf scramble  at the Fox Run Country Club to raise funds to take veterans to Washington D.C. to visit memorials created in their honor. The third annual First Responder Golf Open to Support Mid-Michigan Honor Flight was held on June 29. Mid-Michigan Honor Flight is the official charity for the Seventh District of the Michigan State Police, which covers counties in the northern Lower Peninsula. Mid-Michigan Honor Flight is a 501(c)(3) organization which raises funds to take veterans to the nation’s capitol for a day at no cost to the them or their guardian.
Grayling Recreation Authority and the Grayling Rotary Club officially unveiled the new pavilion at Hanson Hills Recreation Area – a project that the two groups have been working on for several months – during a public ribbon cutting ceremony. The official name of the new facility is the Rotary Pavilion. The pavilion is open to the general public, but it must be reserved in order to conduct a special event at the facility.
The future of two safety net programs for Crawford AuSable School District  students remains in limbo due to a change in a state law. The future is unclear for Viking Vision Career Academy, a class for students in jeopardy of dropping out of school at the Grayling High School, and the Phoenix Program, which is for students with behavioral issues or who are disrupting classrooms at the Grayling Middle School.
Grayling Recreation Authority (GRA) conducted its annual Firecracker 1-Mile Fun Run – an event that gives young runners, including GRA’s “Mighty Milers,” the opportunity to race in front of Fourth of July parade spectators – on Wednesday, July 4, raising thousands of dollars for the GRA cross country program. Participants started in front of Huntington Bank on Michigan Avenue, ran or walked to the halfway point near the Grayling Elementary School, and then returned to the starting area to complete the looped course. People were setting up to watch Grayling’s Fourth of July parade during the fun run, so the participants had a crowd watching and cheering. Event organizers said 101 people participated this year, probably the most the Firecracker has ever had.
A family with deep roots in Crawford County recently donated items to the Crawford County Historical Museum to help with its storytelling mission regarding the lumbering era and the railroad. Tom Welsh II, of Bridgeport, and Joanne Welsh Doty, of Grayling, visited the museum on July 3 to donate the railroad artifacts. The first item donated to the museum was a bell that was mounted on a train engine. The next item donated to the museum was a wheel from a railroad cart, which was used to put Rasmus Hanson’s steamboat into Lake Margrethe in the spring and take it out in the summer. Finally, the family donated a switch used to change the direction the trains could travel on the railways.
More than 140 cyclists participated in the Grayling Rotary Club’s Black Bear Gran Fondo on Saturday, completing a 100-mile “century ride,” a 62-mile “metric century ride” (100 kilometers), or a 45-mile loop, all three of which started and ended at Hanson Hills Recreation Area. It was the 18th year for the Black Bear bicycling event. 
Two downstate men will remain in jail without bond due to the vicious beating death of a Frederic man just before the Fourth of July. Dylan Ross Ziegler, 18, of Romulus, and Matthew Franklin Smith, 36, of Canton, were both arraigned for open murder in Crawford County District Court on Wednesday, July 11. The men are accused of killing Dennis Everson, 64, from Frederic, who was reported missing by family members on Friday, July 6. The family told Crawford County Sheriff’s Deputies that Everson had not been heard from since Monday, July 2. On Saturday, July 7, Everson’s body was found on family-owned property located off of County Road 612 just west of Sand Hill Road. It was determined that Everson had been bludgeoned to death several days prior to his body being discovered.
Two programs aimed at helping at-risk students in the Crawford AuSable School District will continue to operate. The Crawford AuSable Board of Education, at its regular monthly meeting held on Monday, July 9, agreed to take over the funding and adminstration for two safety net program for students. The Phoenix Program, which is for students with behavioral issues or who are disrupting classrooms at the Grayling Middle School, will continue through a team-teaching approach. The Viking Vision Career Academy, a class for students in jeopardy of dropping out of school at the Grayling High School, is being changed to the “Grayling Viking Opportunities.”
On July 7, Grayling Department of Public Safety officers were dispatched to Spike’s Keg O’ Nails for a report of a three-vehicle crash. While officers were responding, Dispatch advised that the vehicle was continuing to crash into other vehicles. Upon arrival, officers found the driver and sole occupant of the vehicle to be a 64-year-old Cheboygan man. Officers determined that the subject was very disoriented due to being under the influence of drugs, but due to his deteriorating state he was transported to the Grayling Munson Hospital for treatment where he was admitted. During the investigation, officers located large amounts of methamphetamine, cocaine, marijuana, Hydrocodone, manufacturing components, seven firearms, and thousands of dollars in cash.
Sixty-eight paddlers – a new record for the event – raced from Grayling to Burton’s Landing in one-person canoes during the 2018 Spike’s Challenge C-1 race on Saturday night. Guillaume Blais finished first in the Expert Division with a time of 0:41:24. Rebecca Davis won the Women’s Division with a time of  0:46:32, the 14th best time overall.
The team with the most championships in the event’s history – Andrew Triebold of Grayling and Steve Lajoie of Quebec – added one more Spike’s Challenge C-2 race victory to its record number on Sunday, winning the event for the 11th time. The Spike’s Challenge C-2 race starts in Grayling at the Old AuSable Fly Shop and ends at McMasters Bridge. This year, Triebold and Lajoie, winners of the race, reached the finish line at McMasters Bridge in 2:37:06. Mike Davis and Weston Willoughby took second place, posting a time of 2:39:40. Chris Proulx and Kyle Mynar finished third at 2:40:01. Wes Dean and Pete Mead took fourth (2:40:07). Nick Walton and Blais finished fifth (2:43:55). The top mixed team during this year’s Spike’s Challenge – Jorden Wakeley and Hailey Halstead – finished 11th overall with a time of 2:48:31. Rebecca Davis and Mandy Trudgeon – the top women’s team during this year’s Spike’s Challenge C-2 race – finished 22nd overall with a time of 3:03:59.
The winners of the 2018 Spike’s Challenge C-2 race on Sunday – Andrew Triebold and Steve Lajoie – also posted the event’s best sprint time on Saturday. Triebold and Lajoie, a duo that has now won the Spike’s Challenge C-2 race 11 times together, posted a sprint time of 04:23.8 this year, 11 seconds faster than the next two teams. This year, all of the top 12 teams at the sprints for position event on Saturday also placed in the top 12 during the Spike’s Challenge C-2 race on Sunday.
The two inductees this year for the AuSable River Canoe Marathon Hall of Fame are Solomon Carrière of Cumberland House, Saskatchewan and Bruce Barton of Homer. They will be inducted into the Hall of Fame during a ceremony at Oscoda High School at 6 p.m. on Sunday, July 29, after the 2018 AuSable Marathon. Carrière is a three-time AuSable Marathon champion (1984 with Butch Stockton, 1993 and 1994 with Serge Corbin). His teams set new course records in 1984 and 1994 for fastest finish time; the mark of 13:58:08 with Corbin in 1994 still stands as the best time in AuSable Marathon history, and it’s the only time a duo has reached the finish line at Oscoda in less than 14 hours (except in 1961 when the race was shortened). Barton has 20 AuSable Marathon starts, 17 finishes, and he’s placed as high as second (1990 with Carrière, 1992 with Tim Triebold, and 1995 with Jeff Kolka). He reached Iron Paddler status in 2003.
Andrew Triebold and Steve Lajoie had the best sprint of the Thursday session of the 2018 AuSable River Canoe Marathon with a time of 4:47.15. It was the fastest time in the event’s history for the new course. Blais and Mathieu Pellerin established the previous record of 4:47.93 in 2016, the first year for the new course.
The first place team for this year’s AuSable River Canoe Marathon – Andrew Triebold of Grayling and Steve Lajoie of Quebec – is now the most accomplished duo in the 71-year history of the event after winning the race for the 10th time on Sunday. Going into 2018, two teams were tied for most first place finishes in AuSable Marathon history with nine. Jeff Kolka of Grayling and Serge Corbin of Quebec won the Marathon eight consecutive times in 1996 through 2003 before winning one more time in 2005. Triebold and Lajoie won together in 2004 prior to posting a streak of eight straight victories in 2008 through 2015. Triebold and Lajoie posted their 10th victory in the AuSable River Canoe Marathon – a 120-mile non-stop race from Grayling to Oscoda held every year during the last full weekend of July – on Sunday morning, finishing with a time of 14:17:36.
The Crawford County Sheriff’s Office will have a millage renewal plus an additional millage to fund the 24-hour road patrol on the Tuesday, Nov. 6, general election ballot. The Crawford County Board of Commissioners, at its regular monthly meeting on July 26, agreed to put the two millage proposals on the ballot. The 0.8917 mill renewal, which is equal to $0.8917 per $1,000 of taxable value, would be levied for a period of four years, 2020 through 2023. The purpose of the millage is to pay for police protection services provided through the Crawford County Sheriff’s Office, including 24-hour road patrol, and sheriff’s office staffing and equipment. 
The annual Business Canoe Relays featured nine four-person teams racing in recreation canoes at Penrod’s on Thursday night as part of the AuSable River Festival.
The Grayling Recreation Authority 10K/5K – foot races for people of all ages held every year during the AuSable River Festival – had a little bit of a down year numbers wise last year, but the event rebounded this year with a strong overall total; more than 160 people finished the 5K or 10K races. This year’s 10K/5K event was held on Saturday, July 28, at Hanson Hills Recreation Area. The overall winners for the 2018 GRA 10K were Michael Ehrmantraut (men’s division, 0:39:09) and Emily Short (women’s division, 0:40:22). Short has dominated the 10K women’s division in the last decade, winning it in nine of the last 10 years. In the 5K event, Josie Short won the women’s division with a time of 20:30.7. J. Short, who also won the division in 2017, is the only person to repeat as champion in the first five years of the 5K’s existence. There were 60 runners in the women’s division this year. Out of 54 runners in the 5K men’s division, Noah Bock finished first with a time of 18:11.2.
In an event that tests competitors’ abilities to keep “H.U.P.” with the competition, the Grayling Chamber of Commerce’s annual Hurry Up and Paddle event was a success on Wednesday, July 25, during the AuSable River Festival, drawing a large amount of teams and spectators and raising hundreds of dollars for the Chamber. The event encourages local businesses and organizations to purchase canoe kits and to form teams that will compete head to head against other groups. The competition not only tests boat durability, but the time in which it takes for a team to finish the short looped course. The winner of this year’s race was the Grayling Firefighters Association. The Sinker award went to Forest of Fear. The Best Costume Award went to Grayling Physician Network. The “Haven’t Got a Clue” award was given to McLean’s ACE Hardware. The People’s Choice Award went to Rolling Oak Brewing Co. The Judge’s award went to River House for their steamboat design.
Even though it was a wet and rainy day, it didn’t keep Beaver, Beer and Banjo from being enjoyed by about 200 guests of the Lovells Township Historical Society (LTHS) at the Riverside Tavern in Lovells on July 21. Ten gallons of beaver barley stew was served by volunteers and consumed by guests, as beer flowed from the tavern.
Court hearings for two men accused of beating a Frederic man to death just before the Fourth of July have been delayed as one is waiting for reports from law enforcement, while the other will undergo an exam. Dylan Ross Ziegler, 18, of Romulus, and Matthew Franklin Smith, 36, of Canton, were both arraigned for open murder in Crawford County District Court on Wednesday, July 11. The men are accused of killing Dennis Everson, 64, from Frederic, who was reported missing by family members on Friday, July 6.
The Grayling Recreation Authority will have a millage request on the Tuesday, Nov. 6, general election ballot to fund the maintenance of recreational facilities  at Hanson Hills. The Crawford County Board of Commissioners, at its regular monthly meeting on July 26, agreed to put the millage proposal on the ballot. The .50 mills per $1,000 taxable value, which is equal to 50 cents per $1,000 of taxable value, would be levied for one year. The purpose for the millage is to pay for improving, repairing, and maintaining recreation facilties at Hanson Hills. 
The Crawford AuSable School District is in a state of transition, which is being reflected by the number of candidates vying for seats on the board. Three sitting Crawford AuSable School Board members are being challenged on the Nov. 7 general election ballot. Stacey Huber, Lon Gauthier, Wendy Kucharek, Lori Johnson,  Mark Snyder, and Carol Ramaswamy filed to run for three full five-year terms on the board. 
Crawford County voters helped narrow down a field of candidates running for seats in the State Legislature at the primary election polls on Tuesday, Aug. 7. Also, all six millage proposals on the Aug. 7 primary election ballot – four for the county and two in the townships – were approved by Crawford County voters. A bond proposal aimed at enhancing services and access to the Devereaux Memorial Crawford County Library passed by a 1,584 yes to 1,458 no vote. Voters also approved a millage renewal request for the Crawford County Road Commission by a 2,110 yes to 942 no vote.  A new millage, which will be used to purchase busses for the Crawford County Transportation Authority, passed by a  1,862 yes to 1,182 no vote. Voters approved a millage renewal for the Crawford County Veteran’s Service Office by a 2,430 yes to 620 no vote. In Frederic Township, voters approved up to 1.00 mill for the purpose of providing funds for a new fire truck and associated equipment by a 213 yes to 136 no vote. South Branch Township voters approved a millage renewal for road construction and maintenance by a 317 yes to 124 no vote. 
Acquiring a rare new franchise from the General Motors Corporation has led to two new showroom building projects for Matt LaFontaine Automotive. A Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram showroom, located at 5850 West M-72, is slated to open for business.
The building dedicated to honoring area military veterans on the Crawford County Museum grounds was spruced up and preserved for years to come through support of the Grayling Promotional Association. Siding was placed on the exterior of the military annex building in late July.
A multi-use rescue vehicle recently obtained by the Grayling Fire Department has already paid its dividends in rescue operations this summer. The utility task vehicle was obtained through a grant through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Doug Baum, the Grayling city manager and director of the Grayling Department of Public Safety, learned about the grant funds and pursued getting the rescue vehicle. The USDA provided $47,000 for the vehicle, and the city provided $19,200 in matching funds. The vehicle has been utilized over a half of a dozen times this summer, including rescue operations in confined space.
A multi-state and nation military mission wrapped up at Camp Grayling on Saturday, training soldiers to fight as they would on the battlefield. Exercise Northern Strike, which ran from Aug. 4 to Aug. 18, included thousands of soldiers and members from each branch of the service. The mission was to provide military units with the assets necessary to support training which will provide troops with the skills and abilities needed to operate and survive in a hostile environment.
Heath advocates and educators are encouraging smokers to snuff out their cigarettes and refrain from using tobacco products at playgrounds to give youth a healthy environment to play in. The Community Health Improvement Committee worked with the City of Grayling Parks and Recreation Committee to establish the playground in the Grayling City Park as a tobacco free zone. A sign was placed in the park, encouraging tobacco users to take a break around kids who are playing.
Camp Grayling conducted its annual Memorial Pass and Review on the parade field on Friday, Aug. 24, honoring current and fallen soldiers.
The Crawford County Board of Commissioners passed a resolution in opposition of the legalization of marijuana for general use in Crawford County. In April, the Board of State Canvassers determined that a petition contained a sufficient number of valid signatures submitted by the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol. The proposal will be on the Tuesday, Nov. 6, general election ballot.
Patients took to the streets to protest the dismissal of their doctor from Munson Healthcare Grayling Hospital. About 15 people gathered across the street from the hospital on Wednesday, August 29, waving signs and encouraging people to honk their horns to show support for Dr. David Hunter. A physician who practices in internal medicine and pediatrics, Hunter has spent his entire career from 1990 at the hospital. He said he was let go on Tuesday, Aug. 13, due to a difference in opinion in management styles.
A law enforcement officer who patrolled the streets during the Detroit riots and bonded with inmates from Crawford County recently called it a career after nearly five and a half decades in the field. Jon Mueller was honored for his service to Crawford County last week by fellow law enforcement officers, court officials, and county employees. Mueller worked as a bailiff in Crawford County courtrooms for the last eight years.
The Grayling Vikings were down 20-6 late in the third quarter of Thursday night’s varsity football game at Cheboygan – a Northern Michigan Football Conference Legends Division contest, the first league match of the season for both schools – but they battled back, tying the game at 20-20, and they eventually completed the comeback with a goal line stand in the final seconds of regulation to seal the win. The final score was Grayling 32, Cheboygan 26.
Dozens of area residents and Grayling visitors attended the Grayling Promotional Association’s 13th annual Junque in the Trunk Sale held in the parking lot at the Grayling Mini Mall on Saturday, Sept. 1. Jeannie Pratt, the chairwoman for the event, said 35 vendors were on hand for the sale.
A pastor who was raised in the area assumed the leadership role at the Calvary Baptist Church, replacing a staple in the faith based community who served over four and a half decades in Grayling. Phillip Niederer Jr. gave his first Sunday sermon at the church on Aug. 26. He succeeded Pastor Dr. Robert Barnett.
The City of Grayling took another step toward breathing new life into the community by streamlining its planning and redevelopment goals and vision. The Michigan Economic Development Corporation certified Grayling as a Redevelopment Ready Community at a ceremony held at the Grayling City Hall on Sept. 7.
Crawford County received a $45,000 Firewise grant through the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. The program is offered through the National Fire Protection Association. Firewise Communities is a program “designed to encourage local solutions for wildfire safety by involving firefighters, homeowners, community leaders, planners, developers, and others in efforts to design, build, and maintain homes and properties that are safely compatible with the natural environment. The best Firewise approach involves a series of practical steps that help individuals and community groups  work together to protect  themselves and their properties from the hazard of wildfire,” according to the National Firewise Communities Program.
Crawford County Sheriff Kirk A. Wakefield has submitted his letter of resignation to county officials. His retirement day is Monday, Dec. 3. Wakefield has two years left on his term, which ends in 2020. Wakefield was hired by Crawford Sheriff David G. Lovely in 1996 to serve as his undersheriff. In February 2002, he was appointed sheriff. Wakefield ran for reelection four times and has been unopposed.
Following a year of planning, the first condominium project in the City of Grayling is underway. Grayling developers Judy and Tom Steffen held a groundbreaking ceremony for the Duck Pond Condominiums, located at 209 Peninsular Avenue, on Sept. 17. The project will include four two-story  townhouse style condominiums plus a full basement. The housing units will all be connected as one building.
The Arauco North America plant, located on 4 Mile Road just south of Grayling, marked a milestone earlier this month as it received its first loads of wood in anticipation to start manufacturing particle board at the mill later this year. The mill received its first load on Friday, Sept. 7, and started taking regular deliveries on Monday, Sept. 17.
A 15-year-old Almont boy, who has ties to Grayling, was the star of a huge truck show held in the Upper Peninsula earlier this month in more than namesake only. Carter Starr served as the Junior Grand Marshal for the 23rd annual Richard Crane Memorial Truck Show held in St. Ignace Sept. 14-16. Last year, Starr’s grandparents,  Mary and Clarence Ojala, who are Grayling residents, asked if they could get Carter a ride in the truck show’s Parade of Lights. Fran Bernad, Crane’s daughter and an organizer for the truck show, invited Carter to be the Junior Grand Marshal for the event. Starr, a freshman at Almont High, has Cerebral Palsy.
Despite objections from Crawford County Sheriff Kirk A. Wakefield and other law enforcement officers, a panel of county officials agreed to open up the process to fill his pending vacancy to take applications. Chief Crawford County  Probate and District Court  Judge Monte J. Burmeister,  County Clerk Sandra Moore,  and Prosecuting Attorney Sierra  R. Koch met on Monday, Sept. 24, to determine how they will fill a vacancy when Wakefield retires. Wakefield’s retirement day is Dec. 3. A timetable was established to fill the vacancy by late October or early November. A notice will be placed in the Crawford County Avalanche stating resumes will be accepted by the close of business at the Crawford County Courthouse on Friday, Oct. 12. Applicants must be 18 years of age, a resident of Crawford County, and preferably a member of law enforcement. The resumes will be reviewed at 5 p.m. on Oct. 12. Interviews of applicants will  take place on Oct. 22. Wakefield recommended that Undersheriff Shawn M. Kraycs serve out the rest of his term.
The Carl W. Borchers Post Veterans of Foreign Wars #3736 donated backpacks filled with school supplies to students at the Grayling Elementary School on Thursday, Sept. 13. 
Grayling High School hosted Bubble Soccer Mania – an event that raised thousands of dollars for Project Graduation – on Saturday night with 16 teams participating. The squad from The Medicine Shoppe took first place. During the event, teams had five players on the field at one time, with all players wearing bubble suits. Project Graduation offers a night of fun and prizes for Grayling High School graduates after commencement.
A total of 62 Honor Flight honorees, 15 guardians who are veterans, and six staff members who are veterans went on the 10th Mid-Michigan Honor Flight, which took the veterans to Washington D.C. to visit memorials created in their honor. The veterans stayed at Camp Grayling on Tuesday, Sept. 25, flew out of the Cherry Capital Airport in Traverse City to the nation’s capital the next day, and returned to  Grayling and went home on Thursday.
A four-year legal arm wrestling match over increased fish production at the Grayling Fish Hatchery ended last week as the lease for the facility was transferred  to the foes of the fish farmer who operated the hatchery for a half of a dozen years. The Crawford County Board of Commissioners, at its regular monthly meeting on Thursday, Sept. 27, approved an assignment and assumption of lease agreement for the historic property. Effective Jan. 1, 2019  the lease held by the Harrietta Hill Trout Farm, LLC, a Michigan limited liability company, will be transferred  to the Anglers of the AuSable, a Michigan nonprofit corporation. Instead of incurring more legal costs, all three parties to the lease  approved the agreement. The Anglers of the AuSable will pay the Harrietta Hill Trout Farm, LLC $160,000 to walk away from the operation.
Friday night’s Guardian Game – a Grayling vs. Kalkaska varsity football contest featuring a tribute to area veterans of the United States military and a traveling rivalry trophy for the winner of the contest – was close at halftime, but the Vikings outscored the Blazers 33-0 in the second half, and Grayling High School won the battle by a final score of 47-6. The Vikings earned the Guardian Game Trophy for the second consecutive season. Guardian Game organizers created the event last year. During the 2017 Grayling vs. Kalkaska Guardian Game – the season finale for both squads – the Vikings won 50-33 for their sixth win of the season, earning an automatic playoff berth.
Grayling High School celebrated homecoming on Friday night, crowning a homecoming king and queen during halftime of the Grayling vs. Benzie Central varsity football game at Viking Stadium. Madison Longendyke was named homecoming queen and Ken Dutton was named homecoming king. Longendyke and Dutton are seniors at GHS. The halftime ceremony also revealed that the winner of the Spirit Cup – the prize for finishing in first place during the homecoming week competitions – was the Class of 2019 (the seniors).
The junior class won the 2018 Powder Puff Football game at Grayling High School by a final score of 14-6 on Wednesday night at Viking Stadium. The Powder Puff Football game is a homecoming week tradition; it features the senior girls vs. the junior girls in a game of flag football. 
Court hearings for two men accused of beating a Frederic man to death just before the Fourth of July will take place after a report was approved for one suspect who was deemed competent to stand trial. Dylan Ross Ziegler, 18, of Romulus, and Matthew Franklin Smith, 36, of Canton, were both arraigned for open murder in Crawford County District Court on Wednesday, July 11. The men are accused of killing Dennis Everson, 64, from Frederic, who was reported missing by family members on Friday, July 6. On Tuesday, Oct. 2, Chief Crawford County  Probate and District Court  Judge Monte J. Burmeister approved a report that Ziegler was competent to stand trial and understood the criminal responsibility of the charge he faces. Preliminary examinations, where prosecutors must present sufficient evidence for the two men to face a jury trial, will be held starting at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 18.
Harvest Fest, which was hosted in downtown Grayling on Saturday, Oct. 6, by the Grayling Main Street program, featured pumpkin painting, a tractor show and parade, a farmer’s market, and other vendors.
Several vendors had booths located throughout the Grayling Elementary School on Saturday, Oct. 6, for the Grayling Promotional Association’s Fall Arts and Crafts Show.
Through a random draw made by Crawford AuSable School District School Board President Wendy Kucharek on Monday, Oct. 8, a superintendent search assessment team was selected to find a successor for Superintendent Joe Powers. Powers retired from his position with the school after 13 years on the job on March 31. He was later brought back on a part-time basis to serve the school district through a month-to-month contract.
Chief Crawford County  Probate and District Court  Judge Monte J. Burmeister,  County Clerk Sandra Moore,  and Prosecuting Attorney Sierra  R. Koch unanimously voted to appoint Undersheriff Shawn M. Kraycs to serve as the next county sheriff at a meeting held on Oct. 12. Crawford County Sheriff Kirk A. Wakefield has submitted his letter of resignation to county officials. His retirement day is Monday, Dec. 3. He has served as a law enforcement officer for 40 years. 
An attorney for one man accused of killing a Frederic resident in July requested more time to study 11th hour charges filed before a court hearing last week, while a lawyer for another suspect is reserving the right to challenge the testimony of a jailhouse inmate to preserve his client’s Constitutional rights. Dylan Ross Ziegler, 18, of Romulus, and Matthew Franklin Smith, 37, of Canton, were in the Crawford County District Court on Thursday, Oct. 18, for their preliminary examinations. The men are accused of killing Dennis Everson, 64, from Frederic, who was reported missing by family members on July 6.
A police officer who  was involved in a number of violent encounters as he worked his way up the ladder with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, wrote thousands of traffic tickets, and handled recreational patrols in the area, called it a career after nearly 41 years in the field. Jeffery Pendergraff was recognized by the Crawford County Board of Commissioners and the Crawford County Sheriff’s Office on Wednesday, Oct. 17, for almost 16 years of service to the community.
One Grayling High School cross country runner – Brianna Martin, a senior – qualified for the state finals with a second place finish during the Region 19-3 meet hosted by Michaywe Pines Golf Course. Martin posted a time of 19:42.02, breaking her own Grayling High School record for fastest finish in a girls cross country race. She has now reset the record several times this season.
The Crawford County Board of Commissioners gave the director of the county housing department permission to apply for an application for a state grant, which would pay to build modular housing in the area. The board, at its regular monthly meeting on Thursday, Oct. 25, approved a resolution to have Hannelore Dysinger, the director of Crawford County Housing Commission, submit a presentation to the Michigan State Housing Development Authority for a housing grant application. If approved by the state agency to submit an application, the Crawford County Housing Commission could receive up to $196,000 to build a modular home in the county.
Crawford County voters will decide a millage renewal plus an additional millage to fund the 24-hour road patrol for the Crawford County Sheriff’s Office at the Tuesday, Nov. 6, general election polls. The 0.8917 mill renewal, which is equal to $0.8917 per $1,000 of taxable value, would be levied for a period of four years, 2020 through 2023.  If approved, the millage would generate $499,634 per year. The purpose of the millage is to pay for police protection services provided through the Crawford County Sheriff’s Office, including 24-hour road patrol, and sheriff’s office staffing and equipment.  County officials opted to put the millage, which expires in 2019, on the ballot this year, so they would not have to fund the cost for a special election next year. 
Munson Healthcare Grayling Hospital, in collaboration with the Crawford Partnership for Substance Abuse Prevention, hosted a medication take back event in front of the Medicine Shoppe on Saturday, Oct. 27.
For the last 26 years, Grayling artist Dan Feldhauser has created lasting memories for families through a monument company which is under new ownership and in a new location. Sue and Scott Mires, of Roscommon, purchased the St. Helen Monument Co. from the Hill family earlier this year. Feldhauser began creating custom artwork on black granite in 1992 while working for the Raubar Granite Co. in the Detroit-area. A majority of the monuments went to the St. Helen Monument Co. Creating the images involves etching or scratching the granite to create the artwork. The granite is then polished and covered with an epoxy finish. Feldhauser is one of a few artists in the state who are still etching artwork on black granite. Other monument companies have changed to burning images on stones with lasers. 
In the 5th District race for County Commissioner, Carey Jansen beat Hailey Halstead, 474 votes to 407 votes. The three top vote-getters for the CASD School Board were Stacey Huber with 2,287 votes, Wendy Kucharek with 2,138 votes, and Lori Johnson with 1,941 votes. These three will take seats on the school board. Falling just short in that race were Carol Ramaswamy with 1,597 votes, Mark Snyder with 1,469 votes, and Lon Gauthier with 1,251 votes. All other local races on the ballot were uncontested. Elsewhere on the ballot, the three county-wide millage proposals all were approved by voters. The Police Protection Millage Renewal passed, 3,977 votes to 2,095 votes. The Police Protection Millage Proposal was approved, 3,449 votes to 2,642 votes. And the Recreation Millage Proposal passed, 3,171 votes to 2,897 votes. The CASD Millage Renewal was approved by voters, 3,528 to 1,676 votes.
GHS senior Bri Martin ended her high school cross country career with her third state finals race on Saturday, November 3, at Michigan International Speedway. Bri finished 112th out of 238 runners with a time of 21:17 during Saturday’s Michigan High School Athletic Association Division III state finals for cross country. Martin has had a distinguished high school running career. She was a member of the Gaylord High School cross country team that placed sixth in the state in 2015. She qualified individually for the state finals at Grayling in 2017 and 2018. She also holds the Grayling High School girls cross country record for best time (19:42), a mark that she established while finishing in second place at regionals this year.
Grayling High School will be expanding its physical education facilities next year with the construction of the Viking Activity Center, an addition to the school that will have indoor courts for basketball, volleyball, tennis, and pickleball, as well as areas for track and baseball/softball and golf. The addition will be built on the front of the school (the side facing Old 27), offering an expansion of the existing gymnasium with a building that can also function as its own separate facility. The surface for the new Viking Activity Center will be a “poured rubber floor” instead of a traditional wooden gymnasium, allowing for greater flexibility with regard to possible uses. The Viking Activity Center will also have a small set of retractable bleachers on one side and two new changing rooms, according to the plans. The track extending into the current gymnasium will create a balcony-type walkway that will go behind the existing gym’s basketball backboards.
The varsity boys soccer team from Grayling High School recently announced its awards for the 2018 season, a list that includes five all-league selections and three all-district players. Lake Michigan Conference all-league first team selections for the squad were Anthony Harrington, Eliot Boik, and David Walsh. Mitchell Kuziel and Mason Manning were all-conference honorable mentions. Harrington, Boik, and Walsh were also named to the all-district team.
Mother Nature provided warm and  dry weather as students from the Grayling Elementary School took part in the annual Halloween parade down Michigan Avenue on Wednesday, Oct. 31.
The Anglers of the AuSable, a Michigan nonprofit corporation which has been working to protect and preserve the river for over three decades, is planning to take over operations of the Grayling Fish Hatchery. Joe Hemming, president of the Anglers of the AuSable, made an introduction and gave an update on plans to operate the landmark hatchery on behalf of the Crawford County Board at its meeting held on Nov. 8. Effective Jan. 1, 2019 the lease held by the Harrietta Hill Trout Farm, LLC, a Michigan limited liability company, will be transferred  to the Anglers of the AuSable. The Anglers of the AuSable were engaged in a lawsuit against Harrietta Hill Trout Farm, LLC, over plans to expand production at the fish hatchery up to 300,000 pounds per year.
Statewide proposals and mid-term elections brought out a large turnout of voters  throughout Michigan for the Nov. 6 general elections. In the race for Crawford, Oscoda, Ogemaw and Roscommon Intermediate School District (COOR ISD) Board of Education, the three winning terms went to Melissa G. Hayes with 14,103 votes, Kara Mularz with 10,085 votes, and Kathryn Fuelling 10,768 votes. Lynda M. Marek, of Grayling, trailed the field with 9,748 votes. In the race for U.S. Senate Seat, incumbent Debbie Stabenow won with 2,204,704 votes over Republican challenger and Detroit businessman John James with 1,932,004 votes. In the 1st Congressional House of Representatives Seat, incumbent Republican Jack Bergman retained his seat with 185,859 votes over Democrat Matt Morgan with 144,293 votes. In the 35th State Senate District, Republican candidate  Curt VanderWall won with 72,739 votes over Democrat Mike Talliard with 39,989 votes. In the race for the 103rd  House of Representatives Seat, incumbent Republican Daire Rendon won with 26,018 votes over Democrat challenger Tim Schaiberger with 14,228 votes.
The Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) recently named Wayne Nelson of Crawford County as its 2018 Volunteer of the Year. Nelson – an active volunteer at the Baby to Toddler Closet in Grayling – was honored at the RSVP Volunteer Recognition Luncheon in September for his service. Nelson has been an RSVP volunteer since 2011, and this year alone he has served almost 480 hours at the Baby to Toddler Closet. Nelson has been involved with the Baby to Toddler Closet since it opened its doors on October 9, 2009. 
Ideal weather, plenty of volunteers, and a steady stream of people seeking to get spooked allowed the Forest of Fear to scare up a record amount of donations to support local students and community organizations. The Forest of Fear, located off of Stephan Bridge Road, ran every weekend in October up through Halloween. The Forest of Fear marked its 13th anniversary this year. The Forest of Fear gathered a record amount of money (close to $10,000), which was donated to support local students and community organizations. 
The 60th annual Grayling buck pole event – conducted by the Camp Grayling Conservation Club at Skip’s Sport Shop on Thursday and Friday, the first two days of firearm deer hunting season for 2018 – featured 18 bucks. Day one of this year’s Orangecoat Round-up competition – November 15 – featured nine bucks, three fewer than last year. Day two featured nine bucks, also three fewer than in 2017. In the end, 2018 resulted in lower numbers than normal with 18 total bucks. Matt Tuck ended up winning the 2018 Orangecoat Round-up grand prize: a scoped rifle (Savage Axis XP 223 with a camo stock).
The Beaver Creek Fire Department is one of 43 fire departments awarded Georgia-Pacific Bucket Brigade grants this year.  The department will receive $5,000 to help fund equipment needs, specifically a thermal imaging camera.
Two new fire apparatuses are now in service for the residents and visitors to Frederic and Maple Forest. The department held a special decommissioning ceremony of fire engine 120 and tanker 132. These units were dedicated in memory of firefighters Ernie Barber and Chuck Stoddard. Special plaques and keys from these units were presented to the families of these servants of the community.
The 42nd annual Christmas Walk brought hundreds of youth and their families to Grayling on Saturday, Nov. 17.
The Grayling Promotional Association’s 2018 Festival of Trees event, held at the Grayling Mini Mall, had a record number of trees available this year with 61.
Heather Forbes was appointed to serve as the mayor for the City of Grayling by fellow council members at a meeting held on Nov. 12. Forbes is the second woman mayor to serve in the history of the city. Marilyn Palmer served as the first woman mayor for the city from November 1999 to November 2001.
The Grayling Promotional Association’s 13th annual Festival of Trees, which wrapped up on Sunday, Nov. 25, had a record number of trees (61) decorated by area businesses and organizations. There were also 31 gift baskets and a kayak that were raffled off. Fick  & Sons, Inc. was recognized for having the favorite tree with the most raffle tickets placed in the bucket by its tree.
Organizers and volunteers delivered 642 meals, provided 156 take-out meals, and served 138 dine-in meals for the 28th annual  Crawford AuSable Thanksgiving Dinner on Thanksgiving Day. 
The Teaching-Family Association recently recognized Jim Hulbert for his hard work and dedication to children and families in northern Michigan. Hulbert, a Family Specialist at Northern Family Intervention Services, was honored as the recipient of the international association’s Lonnie & Elaine Phillips Award at the 41st Annual Teaching Family Conference hosted by Boys Town in Omaha, Nebraska  on Nov. 7.
A 53-year-old Grayling man died from injuries sustained in a crash when a deer came through the windshield of a vehicle he was riding in late last week. Crawford County Sheriff Kirk A. Wakefield said that at 6:35 p.m. on Nov. 22 deputies were called to a car/deer accident with injury on West M-72 near Danish Landing Road in Grayling Charter Township. The deer entered the roadway from the south and was struck by an unknown eastbound  vehicle.  The deer was thrown into the air and was then struck by a vehicle traveling westbound.  The deer crashed through the windshield and into the vehicle, hitting the front seat passenger.  The front seat passenger, a 53-year-old Grayling man, was transported by a Mobile Medical Response ambulance to Munson Healthcare Grayling Hospital.  He was then airlifted to Munson Medical Center in Traverse City, where he later died from the injuries sustained in the accident.
The American Red Cross blood drive held earlier this month at the St. Mary’s Family Center marks the last blood drive the organization will hold in the community and throughout northern Michigan. As part of its restructure of the Great Lakes Blood Services Region, the American Red Cross made the decision to suspend all mobile collection operations out of its Petoskey office, effective Nov. 8. The last American Red Cross Blood drive was held in Grayling on Nov. 7. As part of the transition, approximately 50 Red Cross employee positions were eliminated.
Surrounded by family, friends, deputies, and county officials, Shawn M. Kraycs took the oath of office on Thursday, Nov. 29, from Crawford County Clerk/Register of Deeds Sandra Moore to become the 23rd sheriff in the history of Crawford County. Kraycs officially became the Crawford County Sheriff just after the clock struck midnight on Tuesday, Dec. 4. Crawford County Sheriff Kirk A. Wakefield retired on Monday, Dec. 3. Kraycs will serve out the two years on Wakefield’s  unexpired term.
AuSable River Canoe Marathon paddler Nicole “Nickie” Owens took part in the 50th anniversary Massive Murray Paddle in Australia, which was held Nov. 19 through Nov. 23. Unlike the 120-mile AuSable River Canoe Marathon, when paddlers paddle from start to finish, the race went 404 kilometers over five days. Owens was prompted to take part in the race after learning about its challenge from Judi and Rod Clark, who paddled in the 2017 AuSable River Canoe Marathon. The couple is from Echuca, Victoria Australia. Owens paddled with Rod Clark in the race. They completed the Massive Murray Paddle in 33 hours 31 minutes. They finished the race in eighth place, but were the first canoe to complete the race. 
The Santa Train, operated by Lake State Railway, rolled into Grayling on Saturday, Dec. 1 for a stop at the Crawford County Historical Society Museum. The event was sponsored by Q100 and Blarney Stone Broadcasting to collect items for the Toys for Tots of Crawford County. 
The varsity volleyball team from Grayling High School announced its all-league honors and team awards for the 2018 fall season. The Vikings had two all-conference selections this year. Allie Moffit, a junior, was named all-league in  the Lake Michigan Conference. Ellie Wagner, a sophomore, was an all-conference honorable mention in the LMC. Team awards for Grayling included: Most Improved Player – sophomore Alison Brown; Most Valuable Player – senior Nicole Oppermann; Coaches Award – senior Madison Longendyke. As a group, Grayling earned an MIVCA Academic All State Team Award. Three Vikings earned MIVCA Individual Academic All State honors: Hailey Hartman, Esa Powers, and Longendyke.
The Crawford County Board of Commissioners is considering changing the number of board members on the Crawford County Road Commission from three to five members. The county board held a public hearing on the proposed change at its regular monthly meeting held on Thursday, Nov. 29. The option was brought forward in an effort to bring better representation from outlying areas in the county. There is also a concern about board members’ attendance at meetings to handle the official business for the road commission. A quorum on the road commission can be met with two members in order to hold a meeting.
Randy Herman was appointed and was administered the oath of office to serve as the undersheriff for Sheriff Shawn M. Kraycs on Dec. 4. Kraycs took the oath of office on Nov. 29 from Crawford County Clerk/Register of Deeds Sandra Moore.  Crawford County Sheriff Kirk A. Wakefield retired on Dec. 3. Kraycs said he asked Herman to come back to the sheriff’s office rather than appoint someone within the organization and be forced to backfill positions. Herman retired from the sheriff’s office in July 2015, at the rank of lieutenant, overseeing the road patrol.
The 30th annual Lights of Love Ceremony was held on Wednesday, Dec. 5, in front of Munson Healthcare Grayling Hospital. The Lights of Love Ceremony has become a symbol at the hospital for remembering and celebrating the lives of loved ones during the holiday season. Donations toward the holiday tradition are recognized on the Lights of Love tree.
The City of Grayling’s new canoe launch at the State Police Crime Lab, located on James Street on the AuSable River near the Old AuSable Fly Shop, is finished. The project involved landscaping, creation of cement walkways and a cement launch area, brick work for a small retaining wall, fencing, and installation of hand rails around the walkways.
A Great Lakes Energy grant recently helped the Crawford County Community Christian Help Center Food Pantry purchase a new commercial freezer.
The Grayling Regional Chamber of Commerce hosted its Holiday Business After Hours at the AuSable Artisan Village Gallery and Paddle Hard Brewing on Thursday, Dec. 6. The theme for the evening was “The Uglier the Sweater, the Better the Party.”
A pilot project to confine cancer causing agents from a firefighting foam has been implemented at the Grayling  Army Airfield, and military officials pledged to find a safe source of drinking water to homeowners whose wells have been tainted by the foam. A public meeting was held on Tuesday, Dec. 11, at the Kirtland Community College Health Science Community Room to update Grayling area residents on a drinking water investigation being completed by state and federal officials.
A pact between the Grayling Fire Department and Camp Grayling, which provided funding for fire services at varying amounts over the last 15 years, came to an end earlier this year, resulting in three full-time firefighters being laid off. The firefighters were given pink slips on Nov. 30.  Camp Grayling officially notified the City of Grayling  and Grayling Charter Township on Aug. 1 that a contract to provide fire services on military grounds would come to an end, exercising a 30-day notice to end the agreement.
In late October and early November, customers at SpartanNash-owned stores – including the Grayling Family Fare – had the opportunity to donate $1, $5, or $10 at any checkout lane to support local food pantries. The Grayling Family Fare raised $1,225 for the Crawford County Community Christian Help Center during the scan to fight hunger event.
The St. Mary’s Women’s Club hosted its annual Christmas Cookie Sale in the church’s family center on Dec. 15.  Hundreds of cookies and treats were sold to support funeral luncheons, scholarships for high school graduates, the Crawford County Community Christian Help Center, and River House Shelter, Inc.
Crawford County officials gave a boost in funding to the local Michigan State University (MSU)  Extension Office to focus on strengthening  youth and their families. Angela Cook was hired to serve as the 4-H Program Coordinator for the Crawford County MSU Extension Office in September. The position went from part-time to full-time on Nov. 1 in hopes of enhancing services for youth and their families in the community.
The Grayling High School Players performed “For the Love of Bigfoot” on December 7-8 at the school’s Joseph Stripe Auditorium. Chad Patterson, the director, made the decision last summer to put his own production on the stage. Patterson said that his inspiration for the play came from “not having enough plays available with 35 or more kids.”
Grayling High School’s varsity football program conducted its awards banquet earlier this month, announcing several team honors and all-league selections. One Viking earned all-state recognition this year. Eight Vikings earned all-league honors in the Northern Michigan Football Conference Legends Division for 2018: (all-division) Nick Hunter, wide receiver; Eli Jackson, linebacker; TJ Hart, defensive back; Logan Joseph, punter; (honorable mention) Justin Youngblood, Miguel Quinones, Reid Cvitkovich, Nick Bluemlein. Hunter was named to the Associated Press and Detroit News all-state teams as an honorable mention. Team awards for this year included: Offensive MVP – Hunter; Defensive MVP – Jackson; BAHUNA Award – Joseph; Michael Goodrich Award – Cvitkovich; Scout Team Award – Ken Dutton; Coaches Award – Hart; Mr. Lockdown – Hunter; Hammer Award – Youngblood; Hustle Award – Nick Green.
Starting on January 2, the Crawford County Transportation Authority, better known as Dial-A-Ride, will expand its service hours from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. That adds an extra hour to get local residents where they need to be before the busses are parked for the night. And for the first time in the 42-year history for Dial-A-Ride, rides will be offered from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday on a demand response basis.
The Out-to-Lunch Bunch program is being brought back after a 10-year hiatus to transport senior citizens and anyone else who would like to attend to go on a trip to Gaylord for the afternoon.
After years of planning and raising funds, the River House Shelter, Inc. has found a building to house a resale shop which will support its mission of providing housing for domestic violence and sexual assault victims and supporting other services offered. Over the last several  years, shelter officials have been searching for a site for a resale shop to help financially support operations and services. There was a deal to convert the former laundromat located adjacent to the Grayling Mini Mall into a store, but renovations turned out be cost prohibitive. Another location also fell through. In November, the River House Shelter, Inc. purchased the building that housed the Sears store in Grayling, located at 6375 M-72 West, from owner Randy Crocker.
The 25th annual Shop With A Cop Outing was held on Friday, Dec. 21, at the  Grayling Kmart. Proceeds for the outing, which involved 20 youth, came from the Cops for Kids Christmas Tree Sale and donations from individuals and businesses.
Volunteers for the Salvation Army’s annual Red Kettle campaign were at the Family Fare in Grayling ringing bells and raising funds to support Crawford County families. The money raised in Grayling goes mostly to keep the home heating on for needy families.


Crawford County Avalanche

Mailing Address
Box 490
Grayling, MI 49738

Phone: 989-348-6811
FAX: 989-348-6806

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