Saturday, April 10, 2010

Tea Party Makes Whistlestop in Petoskey

The announcement by eighteen year congressman Bart Stupak that he was retiring and would not be seeking re-election may have been timed to take some of the air out of the Tea Party Express III’s sails as it made its way through northern Michigan today but neither that or the chilly weather discouraged the several hundred people that turned out at Emmet – Charlevoix County Fairgrounds this morning. After an 8 a.m. event in Cheboygan the tea party tour made a “whistlestop” in Petoskey as it headed south to Traverse City and three other scheduled stops this afternoon.

Tea party speakers seized the opportunity to cheer Stupak’s retirement announcement and put their spin on it. “Bart Stupak’s demise has become a media touchdown” claimed tea party chairman and talk radio host Mark Williams as he gave credit to the tea party and those in attendance for driving Stupak from office. Williams also took the opportunity to call for the ousting of long time Michigan senator Carl Levin. Grassroots in Michigan’s Joan Fabiano urged attendees to become more involved in politics at the local level.

Tea Party Chairman Mark Willaims speaks to the crowd at the
Tea Party Express III's whistlestop in Petoskey, Michigan.

Describing Stupak as “arrogant” after his televised comments about making the Tea Party spend money needlessly on ads encouraging voters not to re-elect him Williams did thank the retiring senator for the timing of his announcement eluding that it saved his organization $200,000 since they will no longer have to run the ads.

An anti war activist carries a sign through the crowd at the Tea Party
Express III's whistlestop in Petoskey, Michigan. 

While a lot of national media seems to like to paint tea party members as religious fanatics and conservative radicals that was not the crowd that showed up at this mornings event. Lawyers and local business owners stood shoulder to shoulder with working class citizens to listen to Tea Party speakers and political candidates. Anti war activists mingled in the crowd and chatted with each other without problems and other than an occasional drive through local law enforcement was for the most part unseen.

The Tea Party Express III will visit Traverse City, Big Rapids, Grand Rapids and Lansing today before wrapping up their Michigan events in Detroit Sunday morning.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Tea Party Express III Coming to Northern Michigan

According to a local Tea Party member and their official web site the Tea Party Express III will be making the rounds in northern Michigan this coming Friday and Saturday. E-mail inquires we made for information on scheduled speakers via the organizations press e-mail address were returned as undeliverable.

The organizations bus tour that started March 27th Nevada and that will end in Washington D.C. on April 15th will be making a stop in Sault Ste. Marie on the evening of the 9th and then in Cheboygan, Petoskey and Traverse City on Saturday the 10th. The bus tours schedule is available on the groups website at

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Double Fire Closes U.S. 31 North of Petoskey

Fire fighters from at least four northern Michigan fire departments battled two structure fires that closed U.S. 31 for more than five hours this afternoon north of Petoskey in Conway.

Shortly before noon today the Conway Towing building located on the corner of U.S. 31 and Cook St. was reported to be burning. The building was home to the automotive towing business, a U-Haul rental business, a hazardous material cleanup business, a residential apartment and an automotive repair shop.

Witnesses described the building as being almost fully engulfed in flames when explosions sent debris into the highway and onto houses and neighboring properties several hundred feet away. Fire fighters and onlookers scrambled for cover as the first explosion rocked the building at about one p.m. A second, larger explosion at about two p.m. sent people yelling and running once again. At least one of the explosions was believed to be caused by the rupturing of a large fuel tank that had recently been filled.

As the fire in the commercial building was being brought under control firefighters noticed that a residence on the opposite side of the highway just south of the original blaze was also burning. The Crooked Lake home was heavily damaged but did not appear completely destroyed. The residence appeared to have caught fire after burning debris from the Conway Towing building landed on its wood shingled roof.

A witness familiar with the property owner who did not wish to be quoted said that there was only one person in the building when the fire was discovered and she escaped unharmed. Onsite emergency personnel stated that no injuries had been reported in either blaze.

Fire fighters used excavating equipment to pull down the last standing portions of the Conway Towing building while it was still burning. The building appears to be a total loss that will leave at least four businesses looking for new homes.

The official cause of the fires is not known at this time but the most popular opinion of witnesses on the scene seemed to be that the original blaze was caused by an electrical problem.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Granholm Delivers Final State of the State Adress

If you heard, or have read, Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm’s State of the State speech last night you could probably say that it was pretty much what you would expect from an outgoing politician who is at the head of one of the most economically challenged states in the country. In summary, times are tough but we’re doing a great job and looking forward to a brighter future. A long step back from her previous promises that constituents would be “blown away” with the success of her leadership.

After honoring Michigan’s fallen and active duty military personnel the Governor used her final State of the State address to challenge the legislature to approve a complete budget by July 1st and focused on economic diversification and education as the keys to the “new” Michigan economy declaring the old all but dead.

“The old Michigan economy is gone.” she stated in the opening portions of her speech “Anyone who believed Michigan would just naturally rebound without making deep and lasting change had a rendezvous with reality in 2009.”

Pointing out successes in what she identified as the “six new areas” of Michigan’s re-evolving economy that she feels will help to replace the last decade's million plus job losses she took credit for “purposefully” laying the foundation for what will be the economic future for millions of state residents. A future that at times sounds like an economy modeled after the state of California’s.

While some northern Michigan residents feel ignored by the Governor they should be happy that she also pressed for the funding of the “Pure Michigan” advertising campaign that promotes the states tourism industry. Pointing the program out, along with the necessity to find matching funds for federal road and infrastructure improvement grants and the restoration of the Michigan Promise Scholarship program, as the three items she feels are necessary to help create Michigan jobs “right away”.

Sighting an approximate 25% reduction in state revenues since she took office, the Governor put forth several proposals to help make up for shortfalls in the states budget. Her proposals and reforms include plans to provide incentives to encourage the retirement of 46,000 public and state and school employees so that they can be replaced with fewer less costly new hires, eliminate lifetime health care benefits for lawmakers who serve less than six years and offer tax credits to investors that make who venture capital available to Michigan businesses.

Praising the recovery policies President Obama’s administration more than once, the Governor vowed to continue her efforts find a bring jobs to Michigan during the remaining eleven months of her administration.

In her conclusion Granholm shared her feelings on what it has been like to be the state’s top elected official “Well to be honest, it has had its challenging moments.”

You can read Governor Granholm's speech on Michigan's web site at

Don't forget to share your thoughts on the Governor on our Talking Points and Opinions Page

Friday, January 29, 2010

2010 Mackinaw Mush Cancelled

According to Mackinaw Mush representative Karla Dann of Trailsend Kennel the 2010 Mackinaw Mush dog sled races scheduled to take place this coming February 6th and 7th have been cancelled due to a lack of snow. The Mackinaw Mush is an annual sled dog sprint race that is held in Mackinaw City, Michigan.

While most areas of northern Michigan have seen moderate amounts of new snow the race site has not seen enough of the fresh white powder to be able to get the trail ready before the scheduled date. “We have maybe an inch of ice on most of the trail and then an inch of fresh powder.” said Dann in a telephone conversation. “There are places on the trail that would require a foot of snow.” she noted, pointing out the beginning section of the course, “but it’s just not in our forecast.”

The Mackinaw Mush is one of the most spectator popular dog sled races on the International Sled Dog Racing Associations Michigan schedule and one of the major winter events for Mackinaw City. The last time the race was cancelled because of the weather was in 2007.

According to Dann there is no backup date for the event as in years past. “We will not be rescheduling for this year.”

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Northern Michigan Ski Resorts Open For the 2009/2010 Season

Dressed up for the coming holiday season the main lodge at Boyne Highlands Resort is shilouetted by the lights and snow gun plumes as the resort makes snow 24 hours a day to get ready for the up coming ski season.

A lack of natural snow and a warmer than normal fall will keep most northern Michigan ski areas from opening until December 11th or 18th but both Harbor Springs Resorts, Boyne Highlands and Nubs Nob, got off to an early start opening on a limited basis this weekend. Boyne Highlands used the social networking websites Facebook and Twitter to officially kick off their season offering internet users signed up as friends of the resort two hours of free skiing Saturday afternoon.

A happy unidentified skier gives a double thumbs up as he and his friends ride the lift to the top of Boyne Highlands Heather run after the resort officially opened its 2009/2010 ski season Saturday afternoon.

While the Highlands was open for skiing on one run with one lift operating on Sunday Nubs Nob had four runs open with two lifts taking skiers to the top of the hills. “We were all brown here last Thursday” said Nubs general manager Jim Bartlett “but with the snow guns and two feet of natural snow we’ve even got our cross country trails open.”

Both Resorts will close at four p.m. today and reopen on their regular full schedules next Friday at 9 a.m. “We’ve still got a lot of snow making to do.” said Bartlett but he anticipates that when the resort opens on Friday they should have at least twelve runs open for skiers.

With the lights from the slopes of neighboring Nubs Nob in the distance some of Boyne Highlands new low energy snow guns run through the night to get ready for the opening of the coming ski season.

While crews at resorts around the state will be busy making snow 24 hours a day with most using traditional snow making equipment Boyne will be using its new “Low E” or Low Energy snow guns to build up their base of snow. The new guns were developed by Boyne and are extremely more efficient than the older models. According to Boyne Highlands area manager Joe Breighner the new snow runs produce a lighter, drier snow.

Also added at Boyne Highlands and Boyne Mountain in Boyne Falls this year is a new Zip Line Adventure that lets resort visitors fly down the mountain using harnesses on a series of cables that are stretched back and forth the across the ski runs. The Zip Line is a very popular attraction that Boyne has been operating at its Big Sky Montana resort.

Boyne Highlands Resort general manager Brad Keen (left) lets photographers know that this is the first ski run of the season as he, Boyne Snow Sports Academy director Tony Sendlhoffer (center) and Boyne Resorts vice president of Ski Operations John McGregor (right) take the first chair lift ride to the top of the resorts Heather run to officially start the resorts 2009/10 ski season.

Both ski areas are looking forward to better seasons in 2009/10. According to Boyne USA vice president of ski operations John McGregor Boyne reservations are “up over 2008 and a little over 2007 levels” at this same time of year. “You have to be an optimist to be in this business” said Nubs Nobs Jim Bartlett. While the economy and rainy 2008 holiday season helped put a damper on last season Bartlett said “We’re slightly better off this year than we were last year.”
Almost all of the ski resorts in the northern part of Michigan’s lower peninsula plan on being at least partially open next weekend including Boyne Mountain, Caberfae, Crystal Mountain, The Homestead, Treetops and Shanty Creek.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Rep. Pete Hoekstra and Joe the Plumber Speak in Petoskey, Michigan

Crowd members carry signs displaying their displeasure with the current Federal Government at a Tax and Spend Must End sponsored rally in Petoskey, Michigan's Pennsylvania Park.

Hundreds of people turned out at in downtown Petoskey’s Pennsylvania Park to hear speakers that included Michigan Congressional Representative and possible gubernatorial candidate Peter Hoekstra and “Joe the Plumber” at an event hosted by the group Tax and Spend Must End. According to the groups vice president Rich Carlson the event was not officially one of the now well known Tea Parties but more of a Town Hall style meeting.

Wisconsin resident Samuel "Joe the Pliumber" Wurzelbacher speaks at a Tax and Spend Must End sponsored rally in Petoskey, Michigan's Pennsylvania Park.

Acting as a motivational speaker Wisconsin resident Samuel Wurzelbacher, aka “Joe the Plumber” was sure to point out that he supports neither Democrats or Republicans. The stated purpose of his appearances is to try to get people involved in government. “Your voice can be heard and will be heard.” he told the crowd. Wurzelbacher, who gained national attention when he asked then presidential candidate Barak Obama if he was going to raise his taxes, also shared his personal opinions on topics ranging from the treatment he receives from the media to political correctness and the environment.

Michigan Congressional Representative and potential gubernatorial candidate Pete Hoekstra speaks at a Tax and Spend Must End sponsored rally in Petoskey, Michigan's Pennsylvania Park.

“I’m glad Tea Parties aren’t a part of the Republican Party” Representative Hoekstra told the crowd during his speech. “Tea Parties didn’t leave the Republican Party, the Republican Party left you and we’ve paid the price for it.” he added.

While tax reform was the primary topic for most of the events speakers health care and the economy were the hot issues with crowd members who participated in an open question and answer session that wrapped up the event. “Congressional members should be the first into any public plan” answered Hoekstra when asked if he would personally sign up for any public health care option.

Michigan Congressional Representative and potential gubernatorial candidate Pete Hoekstra answers a question from an audience member at a Tax and Spend Must End sponsored rally in Petoskey, Michigan's Pennsylvania Park.

When asked about China - U.S. relations by Troy, Michigan resident Dave Dyas Representative Hoekstra responded saying “Entering into permanent normal trade relations with China that was a huge mistake. I voted against that. I think China cheats, they cheat every day, they cheat in every aspect of business. They’re stealing our intellectual property rights, they compete unfairly, they use slave labor, under cap and trade they will use dirty energy, we will use clean energy, we put another burden on top of our workers that make it almost impossible for our workers to compete. We need to go aggressively back after China and put some kind of restrictions on them because of the unfair nature of their competition and don’t kid yourself they’re also building themselves up to be a world power from a military standpoint and the final point is that they are starting to influence foreign policy.” “I have a great concern about China and I think we all need to be concerned, and it does need to be addressed, I don’t think you’ll see it come out of this administration.”

The event, which is the second in Petoskey to feature Wurzelbacher as keynote speaker, drew approximately the same sized crowd as the host groups Tea Party earlier this year at the same location and it went off without incident.

See our complete gallery of images from this story at