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WHMI 93.5 FM Radio Station for Livingston County Michigan with News, Traffic, and Weather Service for Howell and Brighton

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    A Howell man was found shot dead while hunting up north. The body of 29-year-old Matthew Boeck was recovered around 11:45pm Friday. He was discovered in a forested area off of Farrington Road and Townline Road, near Lewiston. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is assisting Michigan State Police in conducting the investigation. Lt. Travis House said Boeck died from an apparent gunshot wound but the circumstances of his death were unclear. House later clarified it was a hunting related accident and there was no danger to the public. (JM) Facebook photo.

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    An ordinance will be up for consideration next month that would prohibit marijuana facilities in the City of Howell, following voters’ decision earlier this month to legalize recreational marijuana in the State of Michigan. The city opted-out of medical marijuana facilities after medical marijuana was legalized in Michigan ten years ago, however an ordinance has been introduced that would allow the city to opt out of recreational marijuana facilities as well. Howell City Council will consider adopting the ordinance at their December 3rd meeting. The city does have the option to reverse their decision at any time. City Manager Shea Charles says the ordinance is a pre-emptive step as city officials wait for the state to develop and finalize regulations, noting that there are a couple of legal opinions on when a community should take this step. The Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, or LARA, is the entity responsible for developing guidelines surrounding the production and sale of recreational marijuana. If regulations have not been established before December 6th, 2019, local governments will have complete control over how the facilities are regulated in their municipality. Charles says several other local communities have already opted out of recreational marijuana facilities and many are considering the decision to do so as well. The move to prohibit the facilities is technically a decision to err on the side of caution, as recreational marijuana facilities cannot submit an application for their establishment to the state until 12 months from the effective date of the initiated law, which will be mid-November of 2019. Some communities have cited the state’s slow approach to developing regulations for medical marijuana as their reason for taking the cautionary step against recreational marijuana. (DK)

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    The Brighton City Planning Commission has approved the site plan for a 4-story, $40 million luxury apartment complex called Vista of Brighton to be constructed on the banks of the Mill Pond. The apartment complex would be located on North Second St. beginning in the 700 block and proceeding south. The development would include 199, 1-3 bedroom units plus a small number of studio apartments. John Woods, Chief Investment Officer of DTN Development Group, the developer of the project, told commissioners that according to plans, 68% of the units will be one-bedroom units of 600 square feet that would cost the renter $1,200 per month. The 3-bedroom units would command the highest rental price at $2,300 a month for 1,350 square feet of living space. Planning Commissioner Dave McLane said the development is “going to bring some density to the downtown area,” and Commissioner Robert Pawlowski said it “will help downtown grow and thrive.” An advantage of the development is its location within walking distance of downtown, an estimated 900-1,000 feet. Woods said the development would include many amenities. Outdoors, they would include a 7,000-8,000-square foot patio area, a pool, outdoor kitchen and grill area, fitness centers, conference rooms, fire pits, club rooms, and bocce ball courts. The company has also promised to make improvements to, and stabilize, the Mill Pond shoreline. Inside the apartments, high-end amenities would include stainless steel appliances, quartz counter tops, tile, and high-end plumbing and electric fixtures. Commissioner Jim Bohn said he wouldn’t feel comfortable approving the site plan unless it included a traffic study, since the development would impact the amount of vehicle traffic on North Second and connecting streets. As a result, the Planning Commission made a traffic study a condition of its approval, which now goes to City Council for final approval. The city will likely take up the matter at one of its December meetings. Woods told WHMI that if given final approval by the City Council, construction would begin in the fall of 2019. Photos: Rendering of "Vista of Brighton" development and John Woods, Chief Investment Officer of DTN Development Group.(TT)

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    A federal lawsuit filed by a local man alleges he was attacked by a deputy while incarcerated at a southern Michigan jail. The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Detroit on November 1st by 37-year-old Daniel Bewernitz of Fowlerville. The lawsuit seeks more than $75,000 and includes the allegations about a Jackson County sheriff's deputy. It alleges excessive force under the 14th amendment, gross negligence and other constitutional violations. Bewernitz was arrested following a fight with his brother in October 2016. The lawsuit says Bewernitz requested medical attention and was pounding on his cell door when the deputy told him to stop the banging, kicked him and sprayed him with mace. Bewernitz, who is currently imprisoned on other felony convictions, says he suffered a permanent injury to his right eye. The Jackson County Sheriff's Office says it's aware of the lawsuit, but couldn't comment on specific details. Court dates are pending. (JM)

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    A lawsuit filed by Livingston County against embattled 53rd District Court Judge Theresa Brennan has been dismissed. The civil lawsuit, which claimed Brennan abused her authority for personal gain, sought in excess of $25,000 to compensate for wages that she allegedly misused. The lawsuit suggested Brennan had employees under her supervision perform personal tasks for her during working hours and that the employees’ reported time worked was paid for by taxpayer funding. Brennan denied the allegations. While the county’s lawsuit was filed August 10th, County Administrator Ken Hinton tells WHMI the county delayed serving Brennan with the summons and complaint while waiting for the outcome of the Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission hearing, which is in regards to various misconduct charges. Hinton says when the county’s complaint was filed, it was anticipated that the Judicial Tenure Commission proceedings would be concluded and that a decision would be reached before the November 8th, 2018 expiration of the summons. However, the Judicial Tenure Commission has not published a decision, as proceedings continued Monday after wrapping up the first phase of testimony last month in Livonia. Members of the Michigan House of Representatives have filed impeachment articles against Brennan as well. Hinton says because these matters are not resolved, the county has decided to allow the initial summons to expire. As a result, the complaint was dismissed without prejudice by operation of the Michigan Court Rules. Monday’s JTC hearing presented the final round of testimony in the proceedings. The JTC will make a recommendation to the Michigan Supreme Court whether discipline against Brennan is warranted. (DK)

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    Two Howell business students took a dive into the shark tank and came to the surface with a first-place award. At the recent Livingston County Entrepreneurship Competition and Career Fair, a pair of Howell High School students came out victorious in the Shark-Tank inspired competition. Alec Pominville and Daniel Zeppa brought home top honors for their mobile barber shop concept. People could schedule an appointment, then a barber would drive to their house with all of the supplies to cut the person’s hair and then clean up afterwards. Zeppa said the Mobile Barber Shop would be a time saver and a convenience to people with busy schedules. Winning the Shark Tank competition netted the two $450 in prize money. The contest and fair were open to marketing and entrepreneurship students from all Livingston County schools. The event was hosted by the Hartland High School DECA club. Howell High School business teacher Robert Klein said the award was well deserved and that it was great to see the energy and passion that the two put into their presentation. Pominville said that he had never done anything like that in front of a bunch of adults before, and that it was a lot fun. (MK)

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    The City of Howell has become certified as a “Redevelopment Ready Community”, in hopes of enhancing the business-friendly area and increasing economic development capabilities. The program through the Michigan Economic Development Corporation is voluntary and assists local municipalities in establishing a sound foundation for redevelopment and investment to occur in their communities. The program measures and then certifies communities that integrate transparency, predictability and efficiency into their daily development practices. The program’s six best practice areas include Community Plans and Public Outreach, Zoning Regulations, Development Review Process, Recruitment and Education, Redevelopment Ready Sites, and Community Prosperity. The certification is a formal recognition that a community has a vision for the future and the fundamental practices in place to get there. Community Development Director Tim Schmitt says it’s been about a 14-month long process for the City of Howell to achieve certification and has received confirmation while awaiting a recognition ceremony. Schmitt says the hope is to hold the ceremony in early January. He tells WHMI officials are looking forward to the benefits that accompany RRC certification, which include help with marketing certain sites and tying grant funding to certification. Other local communities have pursued certification through the program in recent years, including the Village of Pinckney, which was recognized for the achievement this past May. (DK)

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    1.7 million Michiganders are expected to be traveling this Thanksgiving holiday weekend. That’s up about 5% from last year per projections from AAA Michigan, which says there’s been a steady increase every year since 2007. AAA Spokeswoman Nancy Cain says strong oil production and global supplies have also set the table for some of the lowest gas prices of the year. Gas prices across the state average around $2.49 a gallon, down 12-cents from last week. Those are the cheapest gas prices seen on Thanksgiving in two years, marking very good news for motorists according to Cain. She says a lot of people are taking advantage of a four-day work week and having some time off to head out and visit people. The official travel period is defined from today through Sunday. Cain tells WHMI they know that it’s going to be a very busy time for both roads and airports. She notes traffic will likely be busy today in the afternoon but Sunday will be the busiest travel day. She says people have staggered times to head out on their trips but everybody is pretty much coming back at the same time on Sunday afternoon or evening. Cain says if motorists can manage to avoid that and come home Monday, they’ll miss a lot of traffic. With the arrival of winter and snow and ice conditions, Cain reminds motorists to keep vehicles in good shape but also that drivers need to stay alert and sober behind the wheel. She says 11 people were killed in crashes last year on Michigan roads, including six who were impaired by drugs or alcohol. (JM)

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    A judge has ordered an area man to surrender two antique lighthouse lenses that were the subject of a lengthy legal battle to determine ownership. Steve Gronow of Genoa Township was the target of a federal lawsuit over the two long missing lenses said to be worth at least $600,000. The government sued Gronow in U.S District Court, saying he had no right to the lenses from the Spring Point Ledge lighthouse in Maine and the Belle Isle lighthouse in Detroit. The Coast Guard says it's still the owner of the lenses. The Maine lighthouse was automated around 1960, and the Detroit lighthouse was replaced in 1930. Gronow bought one lens from an eBay seller and the other from the Henry County Historical Society in Indiana. In March, Federal Judge Mark Goldsmith said that the government never gave up ownership, even if the lenses changed hands over the years, requiring Gronow to surrender the lenses. He was supposed to turn them over last summer. U.S. Coast Guard officials and a lens expert reportedly went to his mansion recently, but weren't allowed through a gate. Judge Goldsmith says he has no interest in “putting anyone in jail”, but that his orders will not be disobeyed. On Monday he set a new deadline, giving Gronow until February to produce the lenses. While Gronow didn't object, his attorney, James Pelland, did tell the judge that his client wants to be paid for storing the lenses before he gives them up. Goldsmith says that's a separate matter. Members of the lighthouse community have previously said the Justice Department’s actions against Gronow amount to the bullying of a preservationist who has saved rare treasures that the government once treated like junk after it switched from manually operated lighthouses to automated beacons. Gronow’s home contains a private collection of maritime antiques, which he has dubbed the Maritime Exchange Museum (pictured). (DK/JM)

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    A former South Lyon Schools superintendent has been appointed as the State School Reform Officer. Interim State Superintendent Sheila Alles announced Tuesday the appointment of William Pearson, Ed.D., to the position of State School Reform Officer (SRO). In addition to his new role, he will also serve as the director of the Office of Partnership Districts at the Michigan Department of Education (MDE). Pearson has spent the past 23 years as a local superintendent at the South Lyon, Mount Clemens, and St. Johns school districts. Pearson served as assistant superintendent and superintendent of the South Lyon Community School District for 24 years. He has been a teacher, principal, and district-level administrator, as well as an adjunct professor at Eastern Michigan University, Oakland University, and Mercy College. Pearson was selected Region 9 Superintendent of the Year by the Michigan Association of Superintendents and Administrators (MASA) in 2012; served on the Eastern Michigan University Leadership Advisory Committee; was an Executive Board member of the Tri-County Alliance for Public Education; past-President of the Oakland County Superintendent’s Association; received the MASA Winner’s Circle Award; and received the SEMCOG/Metropolitan Affairs Coalition Center for Joint Public Services Outstanding Project Award. Pearson will begin his work at MDE effective December 3rd. The previous SRO, Dedrick Martin, resigned this past summer to become the superintendent at Caledonia Community Schools. Deputy State Superintendent Kyle Guerrant has been filling in as Interim SRO since then. Pearson says after 40-plus years as an educator, administrator and superintendent, he’s excited to join the MDE and is looking forward to collaborating with Partnership Districts on their common goal of improving student outcomes. The State School Reform Office was incorporated last year with that of the department’s Partnership District Office, which assists struggling schools to put a broad spectrum of technical expertise and resources in the hands of the school district. The ultimate goal is to regenerate a struggling school to be one that helps students and teachers achieve at higher levels.

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    The Salvation Army of Livingston County is again working to bring hope to those in need not only this Christmas season but year round and the familiar sound of bells ringing out will soon be heard. The annual Red Kettle campaign goal has been set at $385,000, the same as last year. Major Prezza Morrison says national agreements prevented them from ringing bells until after Thanksgiving so for those wondering where the familiar red kettles have been, that’s why they haven’t been out yet. She says they’ll be losing eleven days from last year, a time they usually raise between $35,000 and $40,000. Morrison still believes the community will come alongside the Salvation Army to help reach the goal because the need is still there – noting they didn’t feel it was fair to set a higher goal when they’re ringing less time. Morrison says the situation might seem overwhelming but this is a very giving community that recognizes the many needs but also that the Salvation Army is good stewards of the funds and that they will be used to serve people in the community. Morrison tells WHMI they appreciate all of the support and she is still shocked many times by the generosity of the community. Last year for Christmas, the local Corps was able to help 532 households or around 1,302 children with 5,751 gifts. Some of the funds raised during the Salvation Army’s annual Red Kettle Campaign help during Christmas but it’s really more about being able to serve people in the community in need year round. Morrison says unfortunately, that need is not going away but only increasing. Funds collected during the Christmas season help the local Corps to provide help with utility bills, housing, emergency shelter or rent, food and clothing. Morrison says a Pathways of Hope program involves intense casework to break generational poverty while a separate eviction and diversion program allows them to work with landlords and renters to help keep families in their homes. Morrison says they have been working on creative ideas to help raise the funds and there are a number of ways community members can participate or donate during the Christmas season. Details can be found through the provided link. Volunteers are sought for various opportunities, along with bell ringers who can sign up for locations through Christmas Eve. Morrison says it is better to sign up sooner than later at www.registertorring.org as sites tend to fill up. In addition to traditional bell ringing, there is also virtual bell ringing, which offers incentives for raising different amounts. Bell ringing runs through Christmas but the local Corps will continue to collecting donations through January, which Morrison says offers an opportunity for end of year tax breaks. Businesses can also sponsor a Red Kettle. Individuals can donate online, in person at 503 Lake Street in Howell or by mail to P.O. Box 647 Howell, MI 48843. Those seeking volunteer opportunities should contact Volunteer Director Darlene Howard at 517-546-4750. Morrison will deliver updates on how they’re faring with the campaign goal but also different programs taking place during the Christmas season as part of “Mondays with Major” video segments on the Salvation Army of Livingston County Facebook page. (JM)

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    A hunter had to be rescued from his tree stand in the Pinckney Recreation Area Monday morning, after he got stuck hanging upside down. MLive.com reports the incident happened around 7am when the hunter was working his way up the tree. He apparently slipped off the stand and his feet got caught in the rigging. Chelsea Area Fire Authority Captain Scott Basar said the man had not yet connected his safety harness to the tree when he fell back, so his feet being stuck were the only thing preventing him from falling to the ground. Basar said the hunter was incredibly fortunate his feet got stuck. However, his coat slid off during the ordeal so he was exposed to very cold temperatures and lost feeling in his legs. The hunter managed to call 911 and rescue crews were able to locate him in the woods. There were concerns about blood flow to his legs and hypothermia. Given the location and precarious nature of how the man was hanging, the Washtenaw County Technical Rescue Team was called in and eventually rigged a rope system to get him down safely by 9:41am. He was taken to the University of Michigan Medical Center to be treated for minor injuries but is expected to make a full recovery. A link to the Washtenaw County Technical Rescue Team's Facebook page shows various and a video. (JM)

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    The Brighton Downtown Development Authority has agreed to spend up to $70,000 to develop a new streetscape plan for the downtown area. According to DDA Chairman Bob Herbst, the current streetscape plan is up to 15 years old and needs updating. The DDA Board of Directors, meeting Tuesday, voted to hire Giffels Webster to do the study. Giffels Webster is the company that developed the city’s new Comprehensive Master Plan, which was approved Monday by the Planning Commission and will go the the City Council in December for finl approval. Herbst says there are many streetscape aspects that need to be updated. For one thing, the city has been required to have the garish, overhead cobra-style lights in addition to the more welcoming and softer Victorian streetlights, because of nighttime illumination rules. Herbst says the city might consider - if feasible from a cost standpoint - procuring more of the decorative Victorian streetlights and at a higher luminosity, to end the necessity of the overhead cobra-style lights. Other possibilities to make downtown more attractive: replacing some trees which are either dead or dying that are located in front of businesses and can block or obscure the businesses’ signs; replacing brick pavers that are no longer level or switching from the pavers to stamped concrete; and replacing or repairing sidewalks that have buckled because of tree roots underneath and can pose tripping hazards. Herbst says the streetscape study will take about 18 months to complete. Even though the entire cost of the streetscape study will be paid by the DDA, since it is city money, it will require a chance for the public to weigh in on it and approval by the City Council. (TT) Photo: new holiday lights at Mill Pond Park, with new bandshell-amphitheater area in background

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    Friends of a father who was killed while hunting last week have set up crowdfunding campaign and disc event to help his family. 29-year-old Matthew Boeck of Howell was discovered dead from a gunshot wound last Friday in the Lewiston-area woods, up north. Oscoda County authorities discovered his body around 11:45pm at night, and are still investigating the incident. Boeck leaves behind a girlfriend and six children. In response, several of his friends are stepping up to help support his family. A GoFundMe page has been set up to help with funeral expenses and other financial needs. A charity, doubles disc golf event has also been scheduled, as Boeck was known to be enthusiastic about the sport. It will take place at the Kensington Black Locust Disc Golf Course on Saturday, December 8th. Registration will take place from 10am until 10:30am. $25 per couple is asked, but for anyone who wishes to donate more, friends want it known that 100% of what is collected will be going to the family. If you don’t have a partner to play with, one will be found for you. Local clubs and leagues are invited to play and pitch in as well. Visit the GoFundMe campaign at https://www.gofundme.com/5-children-lost-father. More information on the disc golfing event can be found at https://www.facebook.com/events/2005984066188084/ (MK)

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    The day after Thanksgiving has marked the traditional arrival of the holidays in Howell for 35 years now with a nighttime parade that attracts more than 25,000 spectators. The Fantasy of Lights Parade is returning to downtown Howell and this year’s theme is "Wishing You Heartwarming Holidays." It’s tradition for many as the popular nighttime parade marks the arrival of the holiday season and draws thousands of residents and visitors. Activities will begin around 3:45pm Friday and include entertainment, Christmas Alley, live reindeer, visits with Santa and the popular Fantasy 5K run in which participants dress up in fun, festive attire. The parade steps off at 7pm. Howell Public Works Operations Manager Mike Luce is serving as this year’s Fantasy of Lights chairman. Luce says new this year is a partnership with The Alley District in downtown Howell. Santa will magically light the creative, decorated trees in the alley around 3:45pm. Elves will be around to help direct people. Families will then be able to share their wishes with Santa in Christmas Alley, located on State Street. He will greet children starting at 4pm. At the end of the parade, Santa will light the city’s Christmas tree together with the Grand Marshal. Luce tells WHMI the weather looks to be pretty decent and a little warmer than the last few days so he would suggest that people arrive early to find parking, check out Christmas Alley and spend some time downtown before the parade starts. Howell Main Street Inc. was named the parade Grand Marshal, after receiving the Great American Main Street Award earlier this year. Riding in the parade will be Howell Main Street Chief Operating Officer and Downtown Development Authority Director Cathleen Edgerly as well as Kate Litwin, Howell Main Street Inc.’s Outreach Coordinator. Luce said everyone agreed winning the award was a great honor and it was good to have Cathleen and Kate represent as the grand marshals. A full line-up of activities can be found through the link. (JM)

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    Officials with the City of Brighton are reminding motorists that North Second Street will be closed this weekend for paving. A memo from City DPW Director Marcel Goch notes that the contractor will be preparing North Second street on Friday and Saturday, November 23rd and 24th, with plans to pave the road on Sunday and Monday, the 25th and 26th. This scheduled is dependent on the weather conditions.The road will be closed to all through traffic during this time; however, residents will have access to their homes.

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    Local law enforcement agencies are stepping up patrols through the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. The night before Thanksgiving is just as popular a time as St. Patty’s Day and New Year’s Eve for people to visit bars and other drinking establishments. Livingston County Sheriff Mike Murphy says they want everyone to enjoy their time with family and friends but ask they celebrate responsibly. Murphy says for whatever reason, Thanksgiving Eve has taken over as the number one day when it comes to operating under the influence of some sort of substance. He says the Sheriff’s Office, Michigan State Police and other local agencies will have stepped up patrols as they want everyone to have a safe and enjoyable Thanksgiving Eve, but Thanksgiving as well. Murphy says he hopes everyone has the opportunity to spend quality time with family and friends and have good conversations around the dinner table – adding he urges everyone to put the cell phones away and get reacquainted with family. Per Michigan law, a person with a blood alcohol level of .08% or greater is considered over the limit and anyone arrested will face stiff penalties including hefty fines and jail time. In addition to impaired driving, law enforcement will focus on seat belt use, careless driving and speeding. (JM)

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    An annual snack food drive that will benefit homeless students and those in need during the holiday break is coming back. The Livingston Educational Service Agency, or LESA, developed The Education Project a number of years ago after realizing just how many students are considered homeless in the area. The program collects non-perishable food items, which are then put together in snack packs and sent home with students in need during their winter break from school. Last year, the Education Project was able to help out 550 low-income students and supply 10 families with emergency food kits. This year’s donation drive starts on Monday, and runs through Friday, December 7th. Snack packs will be distributed the following week to kids who are eligible through the McKinney-Vento Act. The McKinney-Vento Act supports children who are homeless, living in temporary situations, or might be in transition of housing. Some of the items being sought are pudding and fruit cups, mini cereal, juice boxes and water, popcorn, granola bars, crackers, and snack-sized chips. All items can be dropped off at the LESA building located at 1425 West Grand River, in Howell. Any with additional questions can contact project coordinator Candice Olrich at (517) 540-6834. (MK)

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    A grand opening ceremony is being held for a 100-acre horse club in Brighton. The Brighton Equestrian Club is cutting the ribbon in celebration of their grand opening this coming Thursday, November 29, at 4pm. The BEC was formed as a method of helping Nancy and Ray Merlo get back on their feet following the tragic loss of their son, 14 years ago. As such, the Nancy says the Club offers several therapeutic programs for riders and equine-enthusiasts of all levels. The Pediatric Grief Group uses horses to help heal the hearts of children stricken with loss of a loved one. For the Equine Therapy program, the BEC has teamed up with McCaskill Family Services to provide horse-assisted mental health therapy. There are also lessons for riders of all ages. Merlo said they “don’t give pony rides at the BEC,” they “teach kids how to ride a horse, and there’s a big difference.” She herself, admitted that she didn’t start riding until she was in her 40s, and the Club is proud to offer adult-beginner lessons, as it’s never too late to saddle up. The 100-acre parcel the BEC occupies was once proposed to become a subdivision to the dismay of nearby residents. Merlot said the community couldn’t be more supportive of the Club and the land being used in this fashion, instead. 30 acres are wooded and reserved for advanced riders. There are multiple stables, riding arenas, and a 4,500 square foot clubhouse, to boot. The ribbon cutting takes place at 4pm, Thursday at the club, which is located at 7318 Herbst Road in Brighton, near Grand River and I-96. (MK)

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    As part of the popular day-after-Thanksgiving tradition and in an effort to encourage people to tap into Michigan's great outdoors, fees to state parks are being waived today. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has joined the #OptOutside movement by waiving all Recreation Passport entry fees on Black Friday so that individuals and families can enjoy their favorite state park, trails, campgrounds and boating access sites. The #OptOutside movement was started by outdoor recreation cooperative REI in 2015 to encourage people to spend time outdoors on Black Friday. For the third year in a row, the Michigan DNR has encouraged people to utilize the outdoors as part of their Thanksgiving weekend celebrations. The MDNR says exploring some of Michigan's best outdoor destinations is a great way to recover from holiday shopping excursions, burn off some of those Thanksgiving calories and enjoy the many benefits of nature as the holidays can get hectic. Locally today at the Island Lake Recreation Area, there will be a group hike on the Hickory Ridge Hiking Trail. The hike starts at the Kent Lake parking lot at 1pm with the Friends of Island Lake State Recreation Area, REI, and the Crossroads Group of the Sierra Club. Participants are encouraged to dress for the weather and a hunting season hike, as firearm deer season is underway. The hike will be five miles or 2.5 miles, and organizers say there are plenty of points for people to drop off if they prefer a shorter distance. Details are available through the link. (JM)

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