Sunday, July 7, 2013

Young Americans Summer Camp Ends With $25,000 Bang

For the second year, the Young Americans performance group held their weeklong summer camps for northern Michigan 3rd through 12th grade kids and college students at the Harbor Springs High School.  Saturday, the camps last day performance for parents and the community turned into a big shot in the arm for local arts programs when the group presented Harbor Community Schools program director Mari Schumaker a $25,000 donation.
Young American performers and staff present Harbor Springs Community
Schools director Mari Schumaker (far right, front) with $25,000 dollar donation.
With many school arts programs suffering from budget cuts the Young Americans organization has set a goal of raising one million dollars to “keep music in schools”.   The group’s gift comes from ticket sales and private donations.
Young American group member (with microphone) performs with kids from across northern
Michigan during the summer camps final performance. 
Based in southern California the Young Americans now perform worldwide and have been appearing here in northern Michigan for more than 35 years, primarily at the Boyne resorts as the Young Americans Dinner Theatre.  The group holds summer camps and workshops to bring the performing arts to kids around the world and this year locations include camps in California and Nebraska as well as Harbor Springs and Paw Paw Michigan.  They plan to offer a three day workshop version of the summer camp later in the year.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Lakers continue playoff run with a quarterfinal series at Western Michigan

SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. – No. 20 Lake Superior State will be playing for a chance to advance to the Central Collegiate Hockey Association semifinals at Joe Louis Arena when it meets No. 16 Western Michigan during this weekend’s quarterfinal playoff series.

Western Michigan (17-13-6 overall, 14-10-4-4 CCHA), which is the tournament’s No. 3 seed, had a bye last weekend during the first round of CCHA Playoffs. The seventh-seeded Lakers (18-15-5 overall, 10-12-4-4 CCHA) are coming off a first-round home sweep against Alaska, 4-3 and 2-0.

This is the second year in a row that LSSU has swept at home and advanced to the CCHA Quarterfinals. The Lakers also secured their first winning season since 2006-07, which is the last time they made it to Joe Louis Arena. The Lakers were 21-19-3 that year.

Games will be played Friday, Saturday and (if-necessary) Sunday at 7:05 p.m. at Lawson Ice Arena in Kalamazoo, Mich. The games will be broadcast live on 99.5 Yes FM.

Tickets are $17 each or $11 when 10 or more tickets are purchased at one time. To order, call 888-496-8849 (888-4WMUTIX) or go to There is a $7 handling fee for ordering tickets online, except on game day. LSSU fans will be seated in Section 22, but fans can choose any second when ordering online.

The Lakers split with the Broncos during their last regular-season home series, losing 3-1 and winning 3-2. Overall the Lakers lead the all-time series against WMU, 69-45-15. In Kalamazoo, LSSU is 28-28-10 against the Broncos.

The Lakers and Western Michigan will meet in post-season play for the first time since the 2008-09 season when the Lakers lost in three games at Kalamazoo. LSSU won the first game, 6-4, and then lost 4-3 in two overtimes and 3-1.

LSSU returns three point-grabbers from the 2008-09 playoff series at WMU. Senior forward Fred Cassaini (7-14—21; 2011-12) tallied one goal and one assist. Junior forward Brett Wall and senior defenseman Kyle Haines (6-15—21; 2011-12) each tallied an assist for the Lakers. Cassiani has a career playoff point total of 4-3—7, while Haines has 1-3—4. Sophomore forwards Kellan Lain (3-2—5) and Kyle Jean (0-4—4), and junior forwards Ben Power (1-4—5) and Nick McParland (1-3—4) are also among LSSU’s career playoff point leaders.

During 2011-12 regular season play, the Lakers had four multiple point scorers during the series against the Broncos. Sophomore forward Colin Campbell (7-16—23) had one goal and two assists, while Cassiani has three assists. Haines added two assists, and sophomore forward Dan Radke (3-7—10) netted a goal and assist.

Overall the Lakers are second in the CCHA on the power-play (19.6 percent), while Western Michigan sits in fifth place (18.8). The Lakers were 3-for-7 on the power-play against the Broncos and held WMU to 2-for-4 in February. On the penalty kill the Lakers are ranked fifth overall (84.1) and the Broncos are sixth (84.0). Nationally, the Lakers are ranked 13th in penalty killing and WMU is 14th.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Petoskey Opens Whitewater Paddling Park

Wolverine resident Rick Meisterheim tackles one of the Bear River Valley
Recreation Area's new whitewater features during the facilities grand
opening Saturday.

Petoskey’s grand opening of their new whitewater park gives Michigan canoe and kayak enthusiasts a new place to enjoy their sport. The improved section of the Bear River is now one of only two such parks in the lower peninsula and the first of this length below the bridge.

Harbor Springs resident Wayne Blomberg (foreground) practices
in his whitewater canoe at the Bear River Valley Recreation Area's
new whitewater park.

The one mile stretch of river that starts at Sheridan Street and ends just upstream of Lake Street is a part of the city’s major make over of the Bear River Valley Recreation Area that includes new parking, public restroom facilities, pedestrian sidewalks and trails, and a new access point off of Elizabeth Street.

The parks renovation was overseen by the Petoskey firm of Beckett and Raeder who worked with a whitewater park design firm to make the necessary improvements to the river. With an elevation drop of 80 feet the park has the steepest drop of any river in the lower peninsula according to the firms Tim Knutsen who was on hand Saturday for the official opening.

12 year old Bow Rudolph of Harbor Springs makes his first run
down the Bear River Valley Recreation Area's new whitewater park.

Northern Michigan Paddling Club vice president Gary Hunter feels that under normal conditions the park will have a 2 to 2.5 rating on the whitewater rating scale which ranges from an easy 1 to an expert 6. During periods of heavy rain it could rate “up to a class 3 and during the recent high water it was pushing a 4.” according to Hunter. The only real issue paddlers will have to deal with at normal river levels is shallow water along some parts of the course.

Hunter has been involved with the project from the start and says that the roughly ten percent of the total budget that was spent on river improvements will most likely turn out to be the most cost effective.. “It’s a huge reason to come to northern Michigan if your into paddling. The future economic impact will be tremendous” says hunter who is also involved in organizing Petoskey’s youth soccer tournaments. In addition to people who come here to paddle the whitewater features are likely to be a hit with none paddling visitors as well. Hunter says he has seen studies that show that “80% of (whitewater park) users are passive, non kayakers.”

Northern Michigan Paddling Club member Wayne Blomberg gives
Petoskey resident Missy Kruskie paddling tips during the opening of the
Bear River Valley Recreation Area's whitewater park.

While there are currently no firm plans for the Northern Michigan Paddling Club to hold major events at the facility club member David Pizzuti says the club may offer some sort of paddling instruction in the future and there are plans in the works to have weekly “throw down” events there. The clubs goals at the park are “getting people out here, creating awareness and introducing them to the sport.” says Pizzuti.

More information about the Bear River Whitewater Park and paddling events there can be found on the Northern Michigan Paddling Club’s website at:


Recruiters March for Paralyzed Vets

Staff Sergeant Ken Hubbard is joined by his daughter
as he completes the recruiters march from Indian River to Petoskey
to raise money for the Paralyzed Veterans of America.
For the second Armed Forces Day in as many years Army recruiters from the Petoskey office have again marched to raise money for the Michigan Chapter of the Paralyzed Veterans of America.

Wearing fully loaded packs, Sergeant First Class Jason Holley, Sergeant First Class Russ Tansey and Staff Sergeant Ken Hubbard made the almost twenty mile trek from Indian River to Petoskey by way of M-68 and US 31 accepting donations from people along the way. The trio left Indian River just after 7 a.m. and made it to their Petoskey waterfront park destination just before 3 p.m.

While donations were down this year, between pre-march donations and ones they collected along the route the group still managed to raise just shy of $630.00 for the PVA. Their largest donor from last year has not made their donation yet but the group is hoping to hear from them in the near future.

Petoskey recruiting office soldiers (left to right in black) Sergeant
First Class Jason Holley, Sergeant First Class Russ Tansey and
Staff Sergeant Ken Hubbard and Paralyzed Veterans of America,
Michigan chapter executive director Michael Harris (seated) after
 the completion of the recruiters Indian River to Petoskey march.
Donations are still being accepted and can be made by calling the Petoskey Army recruiting office at (231) 347-6036 or by contacting Michigan Chapter of the Paralyzed Veterans of America through their website at

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Fiddler's Jamboree

Audience members dance in front of the stage at the 2011
Fiddler's Jamboree in East Jordan.
  They may play on a violin but it was fiddlers that were taking to the stage this past Saturday at the Fiddler’s Jamboree in East Jordan. More than thirty individual fiddlers and groups entertained crowds at East Jordan’s Harvest Barn Church including performers from Grand Rapids, Traverse City, Boyne City, the Harbor Springs/Petoskey area and Ontario, Canada.

The jamboree is an annual event held by the Jordan Valley Fiddlers to help promote music programs for young people. According to their mission statement; “To promote, maintain and pass down the tradition of old time fiddle music and dancing.”

A Traverse City teen plays along with her Ukelele accompaniment
at the East Jordan Fiddler's Jamboree. 
The East Jordan jamboree “caters to the younger folks” said Dan Johnston, president of the event’s organizing committee. Funds that are raised at the event are awarded to individual students to further their musical talents. According to Mr. Johnston scholarships are primarily paid, on behalf of students, directly to area music instructors for one on one lessons.

Even though most music instructors teach more of the standard styles of violin Mr. Johnston feels that these types of lessons do help kids who want to learn how to fiddle. According to Mr. Johnston, a fifty-year fiddler himself, most accomplished fiddle players “started in a classical or semi classical form”.

Crooked Tree Arts Center music education director Robert Dudd
and Amanda Westrick of Boyne City perform at the 2011
Fiddler's Jamboree in East Jordan.
Petoskey’s Crooked Tree Arts Center music education director Robert Dudd has participated in the Jamboree since he arrived in northern Michigan eight years ago. His Youth Orchestra was one of the groups that performed during the afternoon rotation. The jamboree “is a big source of assistance to families that are paying for programs” said Mr. Dudd in a telephone interview. “It gives kids the opportunity to concentrate on fiddle work.”

The evening festivities included an old fashioned square dance where a rotation of callers directed dancers around the floor. With square dancing remaining popular in Canada many of the evenings guest callers where from the Ontario area.

The sluggish economy and bad weather in the southern part of the State may have put a damper on both attendance and donations at this years event but not on the spirits of the organizing committee. Even though this was Mr. Johnston’s last year at the helm he is confident that it’s roughly fifteen-year history will continue and he is looking forward to performing again in next years jamboree.