Wilson Center Auditorium project completed


The Wilson Center Auditorium Renovation Committee has deemed their work complete.

The last three LED lights found their place on the high bar, and after 14 years, the project is complete!

There are a few odds and ends yet to do, but the overall project was completed on March 10 when the last of the lights were hung in place.

“The auditorium looks and acts marvelously – it’s everything the committee had hoped for,” explained Bill Tennant, renovation committee chair. “It’s been a real ‘high’ for me and my committee to watch this all come together. A lot of work too!”

The historic high school, Rodney B. Wilson in St. Johns, opened its doors in January of 1925. The building included this state of the art auditorium with wonderful acoustics, sightlines and great intimacy. It was and is real gem here in mid-Michigan.

The renovation of the beautiful Wilson Center Auditorium began with a Sesquicentennial Pageant presentation back in 2006. In looking for a space to hold this celebration, a committee looked into the old auditorium only to find it in disrepair. It was being used as a storage area for old unwanted desks, file cabinets, blackboards and the like after junior high school students moved into a new building in 1998.

Using money from the ticket sales of the pageant as a start, fundraising really began in 2009 when the auditorium was completely gutted, painted and repaired. It was gradually put back together, first by restoring the downstairs seats then upgrading the sound system, adding some new curtains, a projector, etc. Little by little the auditorium took shape. With a major lighting project just completed, the auditorium stands complete – ready to be enjoyed by the community – a major point of pride for St. Johns.

And what made this all possible? “It was an amazing community effort,” says Tennant. “Many individuals, businesses, all our service clubs, people who are committed to our community, the performing arts, historic preservation – people who have a passion for raising the quality of life in our mid-Michigan area donated to the project. Also grants totaling $75,000 from the Capital Region Community Foundation, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and our own, St. Johns Area Community Fund really helped make it possible to complete the project this year.”

The renovation project was, of course, mostly about the future use of the space moving forward; but an important part of this project for the committee was about honoring the past too. “There was a school board, an administration and school district back 100 years ago who had the foresight to include this amazing auditorium in their final plans to build a new high school here in St Johns. We thought about those leaders and the many thousands of students who performed in this space, and others who attended concerts and productions over these past almost 100 years. We’re now looking to the next 100 years – what this auditorium will mean to the next generations of citizens.”

Committee members who worked on the renovation project from the beginning include Bill Tennant, Susan DeRosa, Beth Webb, Tom Webb, Darryl Schmitz and John Gross. Many others joined in here and there to help over the years. A special donor appreciation event was held at the Wilson Center on Tuesday, March 10, 2020. This included a special gourmet reception followed by a concert featuring the Dave Bennett Quartet.

There were several events scheduled in the auditorium this spring; but at present all have been canceled. You can stay updated on coming events by visiting the Wilson Center Auditorium web site at wilsoncenterauditorium.org and Facebook Page. Stay tuned as the Wilson Center Auditorium Committee begins putting together theater presentations, a concert series, a movie series and more starting in the fall. This amazing space also is available for our community to use for their events – dance recitals, speakers, meetings, film festivals, travelogues, religious concerts – you name it. Contact information is available on the web site and Facebook Page.

See more photos here.


Blood drive at K of C is Monday, April 6

The Blood Drive scheduled for April 6 at the Colombian Hall, Knights of Columbus in St. Johns will still be held from 12 – 6 p.m. on that day.

If you are well and able, your support would be appreciated especially because of the shortage.

They are located at 1108 Old U.S. 27 on the north side of St. Johns.


Meal pick ups for older adults

As a provider of essential food and safety services for older adults, the Tri-County Office on Aging (TCOA) remains open with limited staff on-site to manage program logistics. Among other services, the Meals on Wheels home delivery program continues to operate with increased health and safety precautions in place.

While all TCOA Congregate Senior Dining sites are currently closed due to the risk of spreading COVID-19 through large group gatherings, individuals age 60 and over and their caregivers are eligible to participate in a food pick up opportunity at locations across the region in all three counties. Pickups will include packs of 7 frozen meals with fruit, bread and milk.

Meal pick up must be arranged in advance by calling Tasha Stetler at 517-887-1393 to schedule a pickup appointment. Callers will be asked to give their name, phone number, address and birthdate. The only qualification is to be over 60 years of age or providing primary care for someone age 60+. Please make sure you have a way to heat the meals, microwave is preferred. Special arrangements may be available to those that cannot heat the food, and for those unable to get to a pick up location.

For other food access questions or to address other needs, please call 211 or visit http://www.centralmichigan211.org/.

Pickup sites in Clinton County include:

DeWitt – St. Jude Catholic Church 801 N Bridge St.

St. Johns Senior Center- 201 E Walker, St Johns

United Church of Ovid- 131 Front St, Ovid


Governor asks residents to “stay home, stay safe, save lives”

Yesterday, Governor Gretchen Whitmer issued the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” Executive Order (EO 2020-21), directing Michiganders to temporarily stay in their homes unless they’re a part of the critical infrastructure workforce, engaged in an outdoor activity, or performing tasks necessary to the health and safety of themselves or their family.

The Executive Order went into effect on March 24 at 12:01 a.m. and will continue until April 13, 2020.

What does the Executive Order mean for residents? Under this “stay at home” order, all Michiganders must stay in their homes, with a few exceptions. Some of those exceptions include:

– To get take-out food from a restaurant or bar or to go to the grocery store
– To go to the pharmacy to get prescriptions
– To go to the bank or credit union
– To get gas
– To go to work (if part of the critical infastructure workforce)
– To care for a family member
– To volunteer for an organization that provides food assistance
– To engage in recreation, such as going for a walk, run or bike ride

See the Executive Order 2020-21 for a full list of exceptions.

Anyone leaving their homes must stay at least six feet from others, not counting those with whom they live.
What does the executive order mean for businesses? Businesses that employ critical infrastructure workers may continue in-person operations, but must follow social distancing practices to protect workers and patrons, including the promotion of remote work to the fullest extent possible and preventing workers from entering the premises if they display respiratory symptoms.

Workers who are considered critical include health care and public health, law enforcement and first responders, gas station and grocery store workers, childcare workers, restaurant employees, and more. See the Executive Order 2020-21 for a full list of critical infrastructure workers.

In just 14 days Michigan has gone from 0 cases of COVID-19 to over 1,000 cases. We all need to do our part to stop COVID-19. If everyone stays home, except for critical services, we will slow the spread.

“It is very important for everyone to follow the emergency order,” said Marcus Cheatham, Health Officer for the Mid-Michigan District Health Department (MMDHD). “The order will help us avoid overwhelming the health care system. Without the order there is a risk we will be overwhelmed like other countries that didn’t react in time.”
There are a number of things we all can do to help stop the spread of COVID-19. They include:

– If you think you have symptoms of COVID-19, call your health care provider. If you do not have a health care provider, call the nearest hospital.
– Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for 20 seconds. If soap and water aren’t available, use hand sanitizer.
– Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
– Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or upper sleeve when coughing or sneezing.
– Avoid contact with those who are sick.
– If you are sick, stay home and avoid contact with others.
– Stay at least 6 feet away from others when in public.

Mid-Michigan District Health Department is working closely with local, State and Federal agencies to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. For reliable and up-to date information, follow MMDHD on Facebook, and visit Michigan.gov/Coronavirus and CDC.gov/Coronavirus.

Those who have COVID-19 questions can call the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services COVID-19 Hotline at 1-888-535-6136 daily between 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.


Deadline for bids on the Wilson Center extended

Due to COVID-19 pandemic the deadline for bids on the Rodney B. Wilson Center has been extended to Friday, April 17 at 2:00 p.m.

Sealed bids will be accepted by the Board of Education for the sale of the Wilson Center consisting of an approximately 97,000 square foot school building, an approximately 3,000 square foot modular building and parking lot on approximately 3.22 acres located at 101 W. Cass Street in the City of St. Johns, Clinton County, Michigan (the “Property”).


Waste Management drop off services continue

Clinton County Department of Waste Management would like to assure everyone in Clinton County that the following drop off recycling services will be continuing, as usual, for the time being. Per the Centers for Disease Control recommendations, please practice social distancing and hand washing to keep yourself and loved ones safe. Please note the recycling drop off center details below:

*Both Rural Recycling Sites – located within the Villages of Fowler and Maple Rapids – 24 hours access but residents MUST properly sort materials. No plastic bags and no tanglers (hoses, string lights, etc.) allowed in containers.

*St Johns Lions Club Recycling Site – closing on weekends beginning April 3rd. Will be open to the public from7:00am Monday through 5:00pm Friday. Residents MUST properly sort materials.

*Residents are encouraged to contact their municipality directly for additional information on their local recycling services. Please note, Granger has reported there is currently no disruption or delay in service.

Due to recent Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and State Of Michigan (SOM) guidelines, our department will be suspending the collection of household batteries until the week of April 6th. We will reassess the situation at that time.

Both the April 18th RecycleRama event and the Clinton County April 25th Clean Community Event have been canceled.

Residents are encouraged to utilize our Waste Wizard tool for recycling and disposal options.


Good News! Still time to apply for LAFCU’s $5K in college scholarships

There’s still time for Michigan high school seniors to apply for one of two $2,500 college scholarships awarded via the unique 2020 LAFCU Write to Educate Essay Contest. The entry deadline is March 31.
The contest awards two $2,500 scholarships (total $5,000) and asks each recipient to designate a charity for a $500 donation from LAFCU. The scholarships can be used at any accredited Michigan college or university beginning fall 2020.

Lansing State Journal is the community sponsor of the contest.

“LAFCU believes that higher education should be within reach of anyone who has the passion to pursue it,” said Kelli Ellsworth Etchison, LAFCU chief marketing officer. “That’s why recipients are selected based solely on their one-page essay without regard to other factors such as grades. Every student who is a high school senior in Michigan qualifies to apply for this scholarship.”

The Lansing-based credit union is chartered to serve people and businesses throughout Michigan.

For the essay, applicants are asked to examine technology in their life: Does it have a positive or negative effect on their personal safety? For example, how do they handle texting and driving, whether for themselves or others? The winning essays will be published in the Lansing State Journal.

For the charity donations, each winner will select one of the following organizations for a $500 donation from LAFCU:
• The Arc of Mid-Michigan
• Child and Family Charities
• CASA for Kids

Applicants do not need to be LAFCU members. Information is at www.lafcu.com/lafcumyway where entries can also be uploaded.