Local business under new ownership

Have you heard the news? Bees Chevrolet is now Young’s Chevrolet of St. Johns.

On February 6 the Young Automotive acquired its ninth dealership, Bees Chevroleton 2100 S. U.S. 27 in St. Johns. Newly rebranded Young Chevrolet of St. Johns, the business offers about 200 new Chevrolets, and 100 pre-owned cars and trucks out of a 60,000-square-foot building situated on 14 acres.

The Young family takes over from previous owners Jeff and Barb Feldpausch and looks forward to continuing the same great small town customer service with the same Bees staff. Young’s was founded in 1981 by brothers Mike and Bruce Young,

In 1964 Bernard Feldpausch purchased the family-owned Pohl Brothers dealership and made it Bees. Herman and George Pohl had formed Pohl Brothers in 1924. Bernard joined the business as a mechanic in 1946. Ten years later Bernard and his brother, Leon Feldpausch, entered a partnership with Pohl Brothers. Jeff Feldpausch purchased Bee’s from his father in 1997.

Young Chevrolet Cadillac Buick GMC has a three-store campus in Caledonia Township near Owosso and dealerships in Ionia, Lansing, Frankenmuth, Vassar and Jackson and now has added the St. Johns dealership as well.

The sale does not include Mark and Jean Munger’s Bees Sports which is located on property south of the dealership.

The baseball and softball fields to the west is not a part of the purchase either. Bernard Feldpausch allowed the use of that land many years ago behind the dealership for youth and community sports.

Potential developers present plan for the Wilson Center
by Maralyn Fink

I attended the City Commission Meeting last evening on the Wilson Center Redevelopment into The Wilson Center Residences.

Early in 2017 the development team of Home Renewal Systems connected with the Clinton County Economic Alliance about the potential redevelopment of the Wilson Center in downtown St Johns. Through engagement with the school board and community leaders in the months that followed, the development team learned that the City and schools were committed to a collaborative approach to ensure that the unique community facilities in the building, especially the gymnasium and the auditorium, would be preserved and would continue to be available for public use. To realize that objective the stakeholders have developed what they believe could be an economically feasible plan for the redevelopment of Wilson Center that meets these objectives.

HRS hopes to redevelop the existing classroom areas of the building into 38 affordable senior apartments. Those senior apartments would become “ The Wilson Center Residences.” The City would be asked to oversee the operation of the auditorium and gymnasium to support continued public access and use. The City, the CCEA and HRS are being asked to be committed to work collaboratively on this multi-use development to insure that this historic landmark continues to serve the greater community.

The Building and the Site

– High-quality affordable rental apartments with a majority being one-bedroom
– Historic restoration to Department of the Interior standards including of the building’s original exterior and fenestration, with large windows that will flood high-ceiling apartments with natural light
– Community space in the second floor dedicated for resident events
– Building systems that will offer residents the latest technological advances, including a geothermal HVAC system which will allow the buildings owners to include heating and air conditioning in tenant rents ensuring long-term affordability for low income seniors.

Based on consultation with the project’s architect and experts of senior LIHTC projects, HRS plans 38 units for the building with a mix of 32 1-bedroom, and 6 2-bedroom. Federal regulations allow rentals to tenants with incomes up to $41,440 for a single person, or $47,360 for a 2-person household. But rents are based on incomes, and some units could be available as low as $416.00 per month for a 1- bedroom apartment.

This company has already built apartments in a comparable building in Freemont, Michigan.

The rehabilitation would be financed with Low-Income Housing Tax Credits, the same financing as that used for the Castle St. Johns project. If tax credits are awarded by the Michigan State Housing Development Home Renewal Systems, Home Renewal Systems hopes to acquire ownership of the building from the St. Johns Public Schools.

The project will come under discussion next at the upcoming February 25 meeting of the School Board.

Spring Wetlands Conservation banquet coming up Friday, April 26

The Clinton County Chapter of Ducks Unlimited (DU) will host it’s 38th Annual Spring Wetlands Conservation banquet on Friday, April 26, 2019. The event will once again be held at Smith Hall on the 4-H Fairgrounds in St. Johns.

The mission of Ducks Unlimited is to conserve, restore and manage wetlands and associated habitats for North America’s waterfowl. These habitats also benefit other wildlife and people.1The Clinton County Wetlands Conservation banquet is the way for our local community to help this important conservation program.

New local DU chairman Ben Rosek extends an invitation to all conservation minded citizens to join him and his fellow DU committee volunteers for an evening of food and fun to help an important resource conservation program. The evening will include complimentary beverages and hors d’oeuvres and a catered dinner. There will be door prizes, a silent and live auction and raffle tables that will include limited edition art prints, wildlife sculptures, firearms, crafts, collectible items, decoy carvings and many other special DU and local craft items.

The local DU committee wants everyone to know that the Clinton County DU banquet is for the entire family. We encourage dads to bring their wives and youngsters. For tickets, banquet information, or if you want to volunteer to help on the local DU banquet planning committee, become a sponsor, or donate money or items, you can contact any of the following local DU committee members: Kurt Hufnagel at 989-224-2072, Chris Mikula at 989-640-7104, Joe Woodruff at 517-775-4474, Craig Knight at 989-224-8687, Dennis Koenigsknecht at 989-224-4120 or Ben Rosek.

Ducks Unlimited celebrates it’s 82nd anniversary in 2019! Ducks Unlimited was organized during the major drought of the 1930’s when conservation minded citizens banded together to help reverse the impacts of drought and man’s impact on our wetlands ecosystem. Over the years, this concern by an ever growing number of dedicated men, women and youngsters, has resulted in over 5 billion dollars being raised, with these funds being dedicated to restoring or preserving over 14.3 million acres of wetlands across North America.

In Michigan, DU has invested 43 million dollars to restore and protect 83,900 acres of wetlands in 411 projects. In Clinton County there have been 19 projects totaling, 1,091 acres of wetlands habitat restored. The recent DU Matching Aid to Restore States Habitats (MARSH) program has pooled it’s resources with other conservation groups and agencies like the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the US Forest Service, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Pheasants Forever, and many other conservation groups and individuals. Working together has created greater natural resource benefits than would have happened working separately. The total joint investment, by all partners in wetlands habitat restoration and protection in Michigan exceeds 55 million dollars.

Local DU member Chris Mikula notes that “Ecological data collected during the past 50 years clearly identifies wetlands as the most productive source of life on earth. No other resource, not even the tropical rain forests, provide as many benefits as do wetlands.” Join with your friends and neighbors on April 26th as we celebrate the many conservation achievements of Ducks Unlimited, and to also help us continue this great conservation program.

For additional information about the local Clinton County Chapter of Ducks Unlimited, or about this year’s April 26th banquet, to become a sponsor, donate or to become a volunteer to “Help the Ducks” and join our committee, check out the organizations Facebook page at: Clinton County Michigan Chapter of Ducks Unlimited, or check out the DU main website at www.ducks.org/michigan.

F.C. Mason site to undergo remediation

On Monday evening Brian Trent, Environmental Engineer for Consumers Energy, spoke to the City Council about the next step in the rehabilitation of the old F.C. Mason site. He said they have been wanting to do this clean-up for many years.

Trent reported that Consumers will clean up the old manufactured gas plant site. He discussed the history of the manufactured gas plant and said they turned coal and oil into gas. He explained that the site is the northeast corridor of the block on which the F.C. Mason building is located. They will fence it off, knock down a couple of buildings, and dig down to about 20 feet. He added that the soil will be disposed at a landfill. He said some of the work will extend out into Railroad Street, and there will be some street closures as part of that.The projet will probably get started in April, but digging may not start at that time, and they are prepared to shift their schedule due to activities taking place downtown.

The former St. Johns Manufactured Gas Plant (MGP) was located at the southwest corner of Railroad and Oakland Streets, adjacent to the former F.C. Mason Company building. The former MGP started operations in 1887. Consumers Energy purchased the MGP in 1934, and subsequently retired the plant that same year.

Portions of E. Railroad and N. Oakland streets will be closed to through traffic during the project

New trail Scott Road trail planned for 2020

The City of St. Johns is exploring the possibility of adding a multi-use trail along Scott Road between Sturgis Street and the CIS Trail.

Members of the Recreation Board are very excited about trail project because of the potential economic benefits as well as health and wellness. Board member Ed Thelen said this could be part of a larger loop around the city. Recreation Director Bill Schafer added that the DNR looks for walkability in trails.

Which side of Scott Road would host the trail is still under discussion. The engineering could be done this year, and construction could begin a year from this spring. Using this timeline the trail could be done as early as late June 2020.