Archive for April, 2007

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By CEAN BURGESON
Associate Editor

In an emergency situation, especially a fire, five minutes can make the difference between life and death. That’s why Manistee Blacker Airport has a new tool to fight an aircraft fire on their runway — the Quick Response Crash/Fire/Rescue Truck.
“We’ve got commercial airline service with a 19 passenger airplane, and the new regulations which take place in June require us to have a quick response fire truck,” says Bill House, who heads the airport’s operations.
“It will respond to the accident and then it will last long enough that the local fire department will be in to back us up.”
Manistee Township’s fire department is the local responder for fires at Blacker.
“With us being trained in how to operate it, and we’ve got dry chemical foam and water on (the truck), we should be able to take down most accidents on the field prior to the fire department showing up,” says House.
“Manistee Township is only about two and a half miles away, so their response time is really fast — less than five minutes.”
Before purchasing the new fire fighting vehicle, which was built in Texas by a company called Crash Rescue, the airport relied solely on the fire department in case of a fire.
On Thursday, seven employees from the airport and six volunteers from Manistee Township and Eastlake departments were trained to fight fires using the Airport Firefighter Mobile Trainer, a state-of-the-art unit that is trailered in on a semi truck, and can simulate an aircraft fire right on the runway.
Kellogg Community College in Battle Creek operates the 50 foot-long trainer, the first of its kind to be approved as a rescue and fire fighting trainer by the Federal Aviation Administration.
The simulator uses environmentally acceptable propane fuel to provide a variety of realistic aircraft fire scenarios. One of the distinct advantages of the ARFF Mobile Trainer is its accessibility by rescue personnel to sharpen aircraft passenger and crew rescue skills.
The passenger rescue training is very realistic, right down to the recorded screams which play during the drill. Dummies are placed inside the trainer to simulate passengers, and the cabin is filled with thick smoke — so thick in fact, that firefighters can walk by open flame without ever seeing it.
Trainees then “rescue” the 150 pound dummies just as they would in an actual emergency fire rescue.
All of the flame and smoke is highly controlled and safety-monitored by infrared cameras via the control unit which is housed inside the semi-trailer portion of the simulator.
Firefighters do not actually put the fires out, even though they use water to spray the flames. The fire is controlled and extinguished by an operator remotely when he has determined that the proper technique has been used to quench a blaze.
All of the other equipment, from the trucks to the houses, breathing apparatus, rescue equipment, and protective clothing is the same as would be used in an actual emergency.
The simulator has the ability to simulate brake or tire fires, fuel spills, prop or jet engine fires, fuselage fires, and interior fire situations.
Even though it is a simulation, the flames and the smoke are real, and the training is customized based on the local airport. The effectiveness of the simulator lies in how it teaches responders to rapidly control and contain aircraft emergency situations by using “real-world” scenarios.
With their new vehicle and training, Blacker airport is fully prepared for any emergency, and will continue to hone their skills.
“Every airport with commercial air service needs annual training on this, so it will be back every year this time of year,” said House.
Cean Burgeson can be reached at: cburgeson@pioneergroup.net

>In their hands (MNA April 07)

Posted: April 17, 2007 in Columns

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By CEAN BURGESON
Associate Editor

We all make mistakes at work. Here at the newspaper, mistakes are hard to take sometimes, because thousands of people see them when they happen. It can be embarrassing, but it isn’t the end of the world.
And no matter how bad we feel when we commit a blunder here at the News Advocate, we can issue a correction for our faux pas, and move on to publish the paper another day.
But not all career paths have this much latitude. And not all jobs have the same stress level.
This became evident to me as I watched the staff of the obstetrics unit work on Thursday and Friday at West Shore Medical Center to deliver the newest Burgeson: Owen Cean.
I know that when I make a mistake, spell a name wrong, or mis-spell a word, I get a phone call, or a snicker from a co-worker, or in the worst case scenario, someone sends me a nasty E-mail or leaves me a biting voicemail.
And it gets me down sometimes. I know that it really shouldn’t, though. I certainly don’t have that stressful or critical a job compared to other fields.
Sometimes it’s important to step back and put our jobs into perspective, because when folks in the medical profession make a miscalculation, lives are at stake.
You wouldn’t know it from watching these professionals work, though. They are courteous, kind, able, and competent. Their jobs, whether it is nurse, doctor, or other specialist, require knowledge in medicine, technology, and even psychology. The latter may be the most important of all at times.
And they deserve some credit, because people who are sick, injured, or in pain certainly aren’t the best customers. So, it takes a very special kind of person to work in the medical field.
We’re lucky to have a fantastic group of individuals working at our local hospital. Some Manistee residents may travel to Traverse City or Cadillac for treatment or for the birth of their child, but, as more than one staff member at West Shore told me last weekend, patients tell them that, “once they have a child here, they won’t go anywhere else.”
Watching the local O.B. team work, it was easy to see why this statement is true.
We had our first child in a huge hospital in Pasadena, just outside of Los Angeles. We arrived in the wee hours of the morning to find that none of the delivery rooms were available, and we were forced to wait in a triage area with other laboring mothers until a room opened up. Our doctor was spread so thin that night, it felt like he was only with us for the last ten minutes of the delivery to make sure he made an appearance.
The nurses and other staff were friendly, but we were only one of many priorities that night, and we didn’t get a chance to really connect with the staff like we did here in Manistee. And once our birth was over, we were quickly ushered into a hospital room so someone else could slide into our birthing room.
That’s the reality of treatment at a large hospital. It isn’t a slam on those folks. They have a lot on their plates. And we still had a good experience.
I can’t tell you the name of any of the people who helped deliver my son eight years ago, though, but I won’t soon forget about Mary, Wendy, Rosie, Karen, Dr. Joanette, and the other warm individuals who made our delivery and stay at West Shore so easy and stress free. I apologize if I’m leaving anyone out — there wasn’t one person we had contact with who wasn’t pleasant and helpful. Thank you to each one of you.
So, as much as I sometimes miss living in the “big city,” with access to shopping malls, 24-hour video stores, pharmacies, and all-night fast food outlets, I don’t regret having my third and final child in small town Manistee.
We couldn’t have asked for a better experience.
I came out of the birth of my second son four days ago with something (besides a healthy little eight pound wrinkly guy). It was the knowledge and reminder that medical professionals everywhere deserve our respect and gratitude, especially here in Manistee — because our lives are literally ‘in their hands.’
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Cean Burgeson can be reached at: cburgeson@pioneergroup.net

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By CEAN BURGESON
Associate Editor

Spring means many things. Warmer temperatures, budding flowers, the return of tourist season. But there is one thing that spring means to me more than anything else.
Baseball.
The Burgesons all play baseball. It’s a long-standing tradition in my family, starting with my grandfather. Millard was quite the ball-player in his time. As near as I can tell, he played since he was a lad. I’ve found some old box scores and news clippings about him, and apparently he was a member of a few different teams in his youth. From what I can tell, he played amateur ball for a club called the Moose in Bay City. He also played for a Knights of Columbus team and another team called Berdan Bread.
One clipping says that the Knights team was the American League champ of the City Amateur Federation. That’s grandpa in the photo there, circa 1933 in his Knights uniform. According to my grandfather, his career as a starter began when he was riding the pine as a backup infielder. The regular third baseman misjudged a line drive and took a hot shot off of his forehead. He had to be taken from the field as a result of the injury, so the coach said, “Burgeson, get in there.”
From then on he played mostly infield, and had some noted play in a few of the clippings, until he was drafted into the Army. After he was captured by the Germans while fighting in Italy, he spent almost three years in a prisoner of war camp in Moosberg, Germany. In an amazing coincidence, one of his former teammates on that championship K of C team, a sergeant in the air corps, was brought to the same P.O.W. camp where he was interned, and the two were able to reunite and help each other to survive for 34 weeks until they were both liberated by advancing Allied troops.
I wonder how much of their talk during those long days of confinement turned to their time playing baseball?
After he got back from the war, I’m not sure how much grandpa played, but he was always available to play catch with me growing up, right up until the time he got sick before his death. He also played whiffle ball with my dad, my uncles, and me every summer at the lake. I’ve even seen him play a few times with the OPC (Older Persons Center) softball team well into his retirement from the Detroit court system.
My father played baseball growing up, too, and there are some old family slides of him and his brothers in those saggy old-time baseball uniforms from the 1950’s and ’60s. He played on and off as he got older, and played softball for years while I was growing up. Once I got older, I played on some adult league teams and many church league teams with my dad, with him usually at second base and me at short, completing double plays against the Catholic and Methodist church teams in my hometown of Rochester Hills.
Before that, I played in that YMCA league from T-ball on up, playing mostly shortstop, and loved it like nothing else. Our teams were never great, and somehow were always relegated the sponsors from the lower end of the spectrum, such as an obscure hardware store out near the county line, and we got the team colors nobody else wanted, like green shirts and brown hats. We were the team made up of kids from the other side of the tracks, and would often fall to the much better dressed power-house teams like Keim Realty, populated with players somehow recruited from other districts, despite the denial of the league organizers. Every once in a while, though, our ragged bunch of Bad News Bears would beat the kids from the nice side of town, making it all worthwhile.
When given the choice between playing soccer, flag football, or baseball, I chose baseball. And I was obsessed with being the best I could be. I’d bounce a tennis ball off of the garage door and field it, over and over again. Before that, I had one of those springy nets that I could bounce the ball off of for fielding practice, and I took grounders off of that until it finally fell apart. For fly-ball training, the sloped roof of the garage provided hours of workouts as I’d throw the ball up onto the peak and catch the ball as it rolled down and off of the roof. I even rigged a hard ball on a rope from one of the old apple trees in our back yard to practice hitting with. My dad was the coach, just as his father coached him, so we had all the bats, balls, and other equipment which allowed me to practice all summer long.
And I practiced as much as I could.
Of course, as most kids do, I would wait for my dad to come home, exhausted from his job as a retail manager, so he could play catch with me. I know that he must have been tired, but he almost always would throw a couple hot grounders, fly balls, and hard tosses to me before it got dark — and sometimes it was a heavy shade of twilight when he would finally tell me “three more throws, and then back inside.”
I played the “Y” league until I was old enough to play on the junior high, and then high school teams. After high school, I played in every intramural softball or adult league team I could find until the demands of fatherhood years later eventually made playing ball a luxury my time could no longer afford.
When I was younger, I got to go to Tiger games at the old park quite a few times with my dad, and I would always buy a program and keep score, a habit I continue until this day every time I go to a game. I feel privileged to have been a guest there in the late ’70s through the early ’90s. And I’m happy to say that I went to a game in 1984, when the Tigers made all metro-Detroiters’ dreams come true in that magical wire to wire championship year. I’ve been to Comerica Park, and it’s nice, but Tiger Stadium had so much history and charm — it’s hard to think of the Tigers playing in their new modern-day park without pining a bit for the old days.
But, in baseball, as in life, things have to change, and one of those changes is that I don’t play much baseball any more. But I’m not sad.
This year, my son starts little league, after starting his career playing T-ball and machine pitch. So, I still get to play with him and show him the benefit of the baseball knowledge my grandfather and dad passed down to me in the Burgeson family sport — baseball.
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Cean Burgeson can be reached at: cburgeson@pioneergroup.net

>By CEAN BURGESON
Associate Editor

Manistee may be 253 miles from Detroit’s Comerica Park, but local fans’ hearts were still with the Tigers as they opened up their season against the Toronto Blue Jays on Monday afternoon. Fans who were able to catch the game on television at AC’s First Street Tavern were excited at the Tigers’ prospects for this season.
“I think they’re probably favored, and deservedly so,” said Manistee native Steve Duchon, whose brother Dan, a season ticket holder, was actually at the game. “They’ve got the pitching staff that’s second to none.”
“I’m hoping they’ll go back to the World Series again,” said Aaron Wemple, owner of AC’s. First Street had the game on all of their televisions, and fans enjoyed lunch, a few drinks, and of course, talking baseball.
Most baseball fans enjoy trading opinions about players, sharing their statistical knowledge, and just enjoying the company of other fans. Manistee locals who watched the game were no different.
One hot topic was Tiger pitching. Duchon wasn’t concerned about recent news of ace pitcher Kenny Rogers’ surgery and subsequent absence for the next three or four months.
“It won’t hurt them without Kenny Rogers, in this period between now and July,” Duchon said. “Detroit’s solid — pitching, in their lineup, defensively. They’ve got guys in the minor leagues that would be playing professionally somewhere else.”
Other talk among fans watching the season opener was about the Tigers’ young team and their prospects for the years to come.
“That’s going to be their security blanket for the future,” Duchon said about the youth of the team, “because they’ll make some trades. They should stay pretty solid for a long time.”
During the four or five seasons previous to 2006, fans didn’t have much of a reason to be excited about our team. This was punctuated with the Tigers posting the worst record in all of baseball in 2003 — 119 losses, just one loss away from the worst record ever posted in the sport.
But last year’s turn-around, with the Tigers maintaining the best record in the major leagues for a good portion of the year, gave everyone a reason to cheer once again.
“How could you not be excited about the Tigers, really,” said Jim Kaminski, who was also watching the game over lunch at AC’s. “I was a 21-year-old kid when they won it in ‘84. That was exciting, and last year was exciting. I just hope they get to the next level, and get that World Series win. That’s what I hope, and that’s what we’re looking for.”
That is what all fans are looking for — another shot at making it to the big series — and a second chance at the title that eluded us last year.
Last season’s loss in the World Series to St. Louis didn’t get the fans down, though. Most were happy just to see the boys end up in the post-season, and perform so well. They hadn’t even made it to the playoffs in 19 years, their last appearance being back in 1987. “They were young, and really, the Cardinals just played a little bit better than they did when they needed to,” says Kaminski. “I think they had two good teams there, and one of them has gotta win, and one’s gotta lose.”
Part of the appeal of baseball is that on any given day, any team can come up a winner.
What it came down to, in the October Classic last year, was batting.
“I think the Tigers didn’t come up with the key hits, like the Cardinals did, when they needed to,” Kaminski said. “They (St. Louis) got the hits when they needed to — and that’s what baseball’s all about, coming up with the big hits at the right time.”
With Rogers out, the question of keeping the team healthy is always on the minds of fans. Last year’s slide at the end of the season, with the Tigers winning only 19 of their last 51, was puzzling. Without the wild-card berth, they wouldn’t have made it to the playoffs.
“That just happens, its baseball. Stuff like that happens,” says Kaminski. “You know, Polanco’s injury was huge, too. If you look at when he went down. He’s probably our best hitter, maybe the best hitter in the American league and all of baseball, for that matter. Look at the spring he had.”
If baseball fans are anything, they are optimists, and local fans are no different. “They just had a little slip. It’s all about when you peak, and they peaked at the right time,” says Kaminski.
Wemple has observed that baseball fans seem a little closer to the game than other patrons who come into his business to watch other sports like football or hockey. “I think baseball is a game that everybody had an opportunity to play as a kid,” he ways. “And we feel we’re still tied to the game a little bit.”
The fun part of a new season is the anticipation, and the speculation on our favorite team. I think we’ll see that Tiger fans can look forward to another great year of watching our team take another shot at baseball history.
“Last year, towards the end of the year, when the pennant races were going on, it was really exciting, and it was full here. A lot of people were excited and having fun. It was a good time,” says Wemple.
One thing can be sure — with 161 games left to watch yet this year, there will be plenty of clutch hits, walk-off homers, shutouts, great catches, and fantastic moments to entertain every fan of the Tigers this summer.
Cean Burgeson can be reached at: cburgeson@pioneergroup.net

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By CEAN BURGESON
Associate Editor

The sign on the wall says it best, “Enter as strangers, leave as friends.”
Surroundings on River Street in Manistee is filled with unique gifts and other items of interest to the pedestrian shopper downtown, but the main feature of the store is its walk-in humidor, and the best night to show up at the shop is smoke night, on the first and third Wednesdays of the month.
Last Wednesday evening’s get-together was made even more special, as master cigar roller Billy Perdomo, brother of Nick Perdomo, owner of Perdomo cigars, was in town to demonstrate his cigar rolling expertise, and to let the customers roll their own cigars under his expert tutelage.
“You roll it, you smoke it,” was the event’s motto.
“This is probably our most popular cigar,” says owner Oscar Carlson, who along with his wife Karen, started running the eclectic downtown shop two years ago. The store has an event like this about four times per year with the Perdomo company. “They come fourth of July weekend,” says Karen. “And then we do one in the winter time, and then spring and fall. This trip is unique, however, because of the cigar rolling that takes place.
Customers love the event. They enjoy hors d’oeuvres, take turns rolling cigars and talking with the representatives from Perdomo, relax and talk with each other in the smoke room, and of course — enjoy quality cigars.
“Billy gets out four or five weeks a year,” says Roger Sherburn, who is the local representative for Perdomo cigars. “And then we have several other rollers that go out and travel with the representatives too. We do rolling events fairly regularly, but they’re definitely kind of a special occasion.”
“It’s a lot of work, but it’s nice, because you really want to educate people on our products, and why we think ours is better than others,” says Billy. Perdomo’s company is different in that they actually allow people to learn from masters like Billy and get the hands-on experience of putting a leaf wrapper around a tube of tobacco to make a cigar. Very few cigar makers give the public this rare opportunity.
“Most of them will do straight-out rolling,” says Billy. “They bring someone difficult to communicate with. As far as the teaching, it’s kind of a lost art. You don’t see it that much anymore.”
But Billy isn’t difficult to speak to at all, and he has a sense of humor that usually ends up with his pupil being the butt of his jokes. One amateur roller finishes his cigar, and proudly holds it up, beaming with pride at what he has created. Billy doesn’t let him down easily.
“That one is too loose,” says Billy. “It wouldn’t pass inspection.”
The assembled group enjoys a laugh, and the next victim steps up to try their hand at rolling one that might pass Billy’s muster. Perdomo is open, knowledgeable, and will answer any question, which makes him an instant hit with customers, who become more like fans by the time the night is through. Regular customers come back whenever he is in town, and newcomers become instantly hooked on the rolling events.
Marc Soles comes up from Scottville for the smoke nights. “I’ve been to smoke night a half a dozen times so far,” he says. This was his first Perdomo cigar rolling event, and although he has been smoking cigars for years, this was the first time he had ever actually rolled his own cigar. “It took me a good five minutes. It was hard, because the leaves are very delicate.”
When Billy is asked how long it takes Perdomo craftsman to roll a cigar, he points to the student he has been tutoring for the last ten minutes through creating his first cigar and says, “not this long.” Professional rollers produce 300 finished cigars in an eight hour day.
“Obviously, they’re artisans,” said Soles. “They’re good at what they’re doing.” Soles wasn’t familiar with the brand before, but bought a Perdomo to try after working with the master and actually making one himself. Perdomo is a good teacher, because cigars are a long-standing tradition in his family.
Billy’s a third generation cigar maker. “My grandfather started,” he says. “He was originally a roller at a factory in Havana. He rolled there, and he became an apprentice, and then a master. My father went up the same ranks, and came to the United States in 1959. My grandfather became friends with Batista, who was against Fidel (Castro). My father got shot and had to come to the United States, and my grandfather went to prison in Cuba, where he stayed until 1970.”
“But my father, when he came (to the U.S.), he didn’t want anything to do with cigars, because he thought that it would never be the same thing that it once was. But my brother took a very big interest into the company, so he kind of restarted us back into it.”
Wanting his son to succeed, Billy’s father helped to get Nick and the business set up in Nicaragua with the factory and plantations. The company is still based in Nicaragua with a home office in Miami.
The company now sells cigars world-wide. “I’ve been to Russia, China — I’ve been all over the world,” says Billy. “I like the business very much.”
Although Billy has two daughters who haven’t shown an interest in the business, his brother has a 13-year-old son who will carry on the family tradition of fine cigar making. “If it was up to him, he’d start tomorrow,” says Billy.
As another smoke night neared its close, and Perdomo prepared to leave to continue his cigar-rolling tour in other shops around Michigan and the Mid-West, it was quite evident from looking around the smoking room at Surroundings that another group of cigar smokers had “entered as strangers and would leave as friends.”
Cean Burgeson can be reached at: cburgeson@pioneergroup.net

>By CEAN BURGESON
Associate Editor

I’ll be the first one to admit when I’m wrong, and I had some doubts about a few of the Red Wings’ acquisitions this season. The first one I’m referring to was the pickup of on-again, off-again Red Wing, and former retiree Dominik Hasek.
I said earlier in the year that this was a gamble, so I’m not saying I was wrong. It was a gamble — one that fortunately paid off for Ken Holland, Mike Babcock, and the rest of the Wings. The reason it worked was because Hasek was deftly platooned with Chris Osgood, keeping him healthy and rested for the entire season.
Hasek even ended up playing more games than Babcock had originally projected — somewhere around 40 or 45, putting in over 55 games this year. His stats are good, too: 37 wins, 11 losses, and 6 overtime losses (which can be blamed more on weak overtime play by the Wings skaters than on the goaltending), and a league-leading 2.08 goals against average.
If he continues to perform, (knock on wood), he should prove to be formidable in the playoffs. He’s seasoned, and he’s been there before, so Hasek is a good person to have in the crease in the post-season.
Combined with Osgood, who has also made it to the end of the season, and knows the pressure associated, had a good season backing the Dominator up, with 19 games to date, pulling in 10 wins and three losses, and another five lost in OT, and a respectable 2.43 goals against average.
These two should prove to be a one-two punch in the playoffs, as they are arguably the best goalie duo in the NHL. And we all know how important goal-tending is in the post-season.
The other trade I was skeptical of — the 11th hour acquisition of Todd Bertuzzi — has been a most pleasant surprise. Having not played for nine months or so, Bertuzzi came off the bench like a cannon, mixing it up out on the ice, getting physical like we need him to, and raising the level of play for the entire team.
Calder, Markhov and the rest of the Wings seem to be following his cue, raising the level of physical play and adding some more aggressive shifts to the high level of puck handling and control the Wings already possessed — quite a nice package when you put them together.
In his short tenure wearing the red and white winged wheel on his chest, Bertuzzi seems to have fit right in, and is a joy to watch as he shakes off the rust accumulated while he was out with an injury. And to see him and Pavel Datsyuk hit each other with pass after pass on odd man rushes, breakaways, and during pressure play in the scoring zone. It’s almost as if the two had played together all year.
So, as the last four games of the regular season wind down, I will say that I had my doubts, but they were wiped away as I saw the plans of the Red Wings front office come to fruition.
So to Ken Holland, and Mike Babcock, I’m sorry I ever doubted you.
But I still reserve the right to maintain my journalistic skepticism…
Cean Burgeson can be reached at: cburgeson@pioneergroup.net

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By CEAN BURGESON
Associate Editor

In 1870, Marilla petitioned for and was granted township organization. Relatively unchanged today, this quaint corner of Manistee County has remained untarnished by strip malls, parking lots, and the other blights of urban sprawl since its inception.
The lumbering and trapping days which helped put Marilla on the map have since ebbed, but the area still maintains its charm and sense of history, thanks in large part to the Marilla Historical Society and Museum, along with the museum’s director, Jan Thomas, and the many volunteers who labor year-round to promote the area’s historical landmarks, buildings, and artifacts.
The museum, which is also the Township Hall and community center, has been in operation since the early 1980’s. “It’s a community building; a lot of things happen here,” says Thomas. “We have food bank, there’s a church that meets here every Sunday, TOPS, and our historical board.”
The town hall, like much of Marilla, has been kept true to its historical beginnings. “It’s changed a little, but not a lot,” says Thomas. With the closest major highway (M-115) five miles to the north, Marilla is off of the beaten path. The area wasn’t always so isolated, though.
Now just a raised earthen bed, a railroad track once ran through the area. “How enthused the people felt when the train came,” says Thomas. “Because we’re such an isolated community, and when the train came, that was bringing the world to them, and allowing them to go out into the world.”
This early growth and connection to the rest of the world brought some colorful characters and stories, as Thomas explains. “In the cemetery, there’s a tombstone that says George Lever, and it says ‘shot.’ The story we hear is that he was out hunting, foolishly — he was wearing a fur coat — and he was leaning over his kill, and someone shot him.”
Another early citizen was Nells Johnson. “He had never married, he lived by himself in the woods,” says Thomas. “Nells was an interesting gentleman.”
His re-imagined cabin lives on for the education of visitors on the museum grounds. “This cabin represents that self-sufficiency spirit of the early pioneering people. When he came, he lived in a little dugout in the bank. Then he built something called the ‘bark house.’ And then he built the cabin, himself.”
Johnson had quite an influence on the area’s early inhabitants. “He was a wonderful trapper, and a lot of the young men in the community would come out here and spend time with him in the woods and learn the skill of trapping.” Johnson was also what was called a “road monkey,” whose primary job was to clear manure and debris off of the logging trails for early lumberjacks.
The area holds a wealth of interesting lore about its people, and these are only two of the early Marilla settlers who are the root of a good yarn. “There’s just so many interesting stories I could tell you of the early people who came,” says Thomas.
Luckily, these stories are preserved by the Museum, and the people of Marilla for the enjoyment of visitors and tourists. “What we’re trying to do is interpret the agricultural forestry life,” says Thomas.
Farming, which despite the loss of logging in the area, still goes on, just as it did back when the township incorporated. “Farmers had a connection to the logging people,” explains Thomas. “Furnishing food to the hungry loggers. So they did very well. They prospered. They started out with seven farmers, and in eight to ten years time they were up to almost 80 farms.”
Many of the historical farms, farm buildings, and early businesses are still standing, and they all have their own stories. Because history is so alive in the township, Marilla is the perfect place to see how things were in Manistee County before urbanization and commercialization changed the landscape forever. “Marilla has not changed as much as some townships, and so it still is very very rural, and in a sense we’re still isolated in a way,” says Thomas.
In addition to their recent Sugar Bush Tour and Pancake Supper, which was held in March, the museum also has several other events on its calendar: a Strawberry Social on June 23, an Open House and Antiques Appraisal on Aug. 18, and their Autumn Reflections event on October 13. School trips are always welcome, and a special treat is the Tea and Tour. “When you come to visit, plan on spending two to three hours visiting. A very special part of your visit is being served a delicious dessert plate with cheese and fruit accompanied by a fresh brewed tea in the Pioneer House Kitchen,” boasts the museum brochure.
For additional information on how to sample a piece of Manistee County and Marilla’s history or events at the Museum, contact Jan Thomas: (231) 362-3430.
Cean Burgeson can be reached at: cburgeson@pioneergroup.net

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By CEAN BURGESON
Associate Editor

For most people, the idea of having a needle put into your body isn’t looked upon as a favorable experience — but for anyone who has actually had the opportunity to have an Acupuncture session, the undertaking is no longer looked upon with anxiety or apprehensiveness.
Acupuncture is rapidly being accepted as an effective form of complementary medicine in the United States. Unknown of 30 years ago, acupuncture is now used successfully by millions of Americans to treat pain and disease. This form of treatment has not only survived the scrutiny of Western science and controlled, double-blind studies, it has been endorsed by a National Institute of Health consensus committee for use as treatment for many health disorders. The World Health Organization identifies over 40 conditions that acupuncture successfully treats. Currently, the National Institutes of Health are funding several studies on the effectiveness of acupuncture in the treatment of certain conditions.
Manistee County residents don’t have to travel far to receive treatments, either. Margaret Batzer, who operates Healing Perspectives, is a nationally board-certified Acupuncturist (NCCAOM). She holds a Master’s degree in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine from the Oregon College of Oriental Medicine in Portland. Her training included over 3,000 hours in Acupuncture, Chinese Herbology, Western sciences, and Shiatsu — all of which she practices at her Manistee facility for patients.
“It’s a nationally accredited program,” says Batzer. “As part of our training, we studied Acupuncture, traditional Chinese medicine theory, Chinese dietary therapy, meditation, Asian body-work therapy, and then we also have pretty extensive background in Western sciences as well. We studied anatomy, physiology, and can diagnose really basic things, so we can refer out to other practitioners as appropriate. Just about anyone I am working with, also is working with their primary care physician as well.”
Acupuncture does not seek to replace any other form of treatment, but rather, complement other forms of medicine. Batzer refers patients to other practitioners, and they refer patients to her as well. “I refer to massage therapists, chiropractors — really any other health care provider.”
There is a long list of ailments which Acupuncture will work to alleviate. “Common conditions that I treat,” says Batzer, “are back pain and sciatica — the number one conditions that I treat — and various body pains and aches, like headache pain or migraines. I also treat a lot of Sinusitus, digestive disorders; and I also work part time at the West Michigan Regional Cancer and Blood Center. So, I treat folks for affective chemotherapy, and other issues that they’re dealing with along with their conventional cancer treatments.”
Batzer decided to become an Acupuncturist after having her own favorable treatment experience. “Acupuncture helped my asthma, and after my experience with that, I really wanted to learn more about it, and how I would be able to help other people in the same way that I’d been helped.”
There are some misconceptions about Acupuncture, and what the practice actually entails. Acupuncture uses extremely fine, sterile needles, which are inserted at specific points in the body to restore balance. Electromagnetic research has confirmed the location of traditional Acupuncture points. Practitioners like Batzer use a detailed theoretical framework over 2,500 years old to diagnose patterns of “disharmony” that causes disease.
Acupuncture is rapidly becoming more commonplace in Michigan, and is being noticed more by the medical community and the general public here in the state.
“We now have an Acupuncture Registration Bill which has been passed in the state of Michigan, and right now the Acupuncture Board is working on establishing what standards will be so people can register under the bill,” explains Batzer. “Michigan was one of the last seven states that didn’t have some sort of regulation on the practice of Acupuncture, so we’re really stepping into the complementary medicine mainstream.”
Treatments usually take an hour and a half to two hours for the initial visit, and about an hour and a half for follow up visits. Patients have a medical history taken at their first visit, then receive a pulse and tongue diagnosis. The Acupuncturist then determines how to treat based on the meridians of the body.
“There are 12 different meridians,” explains Batzer. “And then there are eight extra meridians. The 12 meridians are basically like the superhighways of qi (pronounced ‘chee’) in the body, and the additional eight are sort of like the reservoirs.” Qi, also commonly spelled ch’i or ki, is a fundamental concept of traditional Chinese culture. Qi is believed to be part of every living thing that exists, as a kind of “life force” or “spiritual energy.”
“Depending on the condition that they’re coming in for, I’ll choose appropriate meridians to treat that,” says Batzer. “All of these different meridians have relationships with one another, which is part of how I construct treatment for people. Each channel also has its associated organ.“
At that point, Batzer will make a Chinese differentiated diagnosis to treat the problem, and may recommend Chinese herbal medicine in addition to the Acupuncture treatment, which she has right in her office.
Sessions consist of having the patient lie down on a table, with soothing music, comfortable pillows to help the recipient relax, and then the insertion of the needles, around 15 to 20, according to Batzer. “I never know how many I’m going to use until I actually get started,” says Batzer.
Patients then relax and let the needles do their work on the pressure points for about 45-60 minutes. The experience is similar to a therapeutic massage or a spa treatment in comfortability level, and involves no pain or discomfort. “Sometimes there is feeling of pressure when the needle first goes in. Some patients say it feels like a pin prick, others don’t feel anything at all,” says Batzer.
If there is an unusual amount of sensation at the Acupuncture point, all it takes is a deft adjustment by Batzer to relieve the pressure a little. There is no pain to endure — the entire procedure is a pleasurable experience.
The response to a treatment varies with the individual. Many people notice immediate total or partial relief from pain or other symptoms. For others, the results may take a few days or a few treatments. “Part of it depends on the person’s general state of health,” says Batzer. “Part of it depends on the type of condition they’re coming in for, how long they’ve had that condition, and how severe it is.”
For anyone seeking an additional treatment for their medical ailments, Acupuncture is definitely an avenue that has been proven to work, and should be considered — and most importantly — not feared.
Cean Burgeson can be reached at: cburgeson@pioneergroup.net

>By CEAN BURGESON
Associate Editor

My best friend is a Dork.
That may sound mean to some of you, so let me explain. My best friend of over 30 years has the unique and sometimes difficult to believe moniker of: Steven A. Dork.
As you might have guessed, this name — what some may call unfortunate — has caused some leers, laughs, and giggles to come his way over the years, but he’s persevered, and never let it get him down.
He wears his name like a badge of honor.
The story of the name, as I’m told, is that it was shortened to Americanize it from Dvorak. That’s right — the same name as the famous late nineteenth century Czechoslavakian composer who wrote nine symphonies, fourteen string quartets, and nine operas.
So, from the lineage of a European musical genius came a name which, when the second and second to last letters were taken out, now means something far different. Today, as you are most likely aware, Dork is a term of abuse favored by Americans, designating the target of its use as quirky, awkward, eccentric, socially inept or simply of lower status.
Similar epithets include nerd and geek, but that’s not true at my house.
No, we don’t use the word much. Because the Dorks to us are my family friends of more than 30 years, and my best friend’s wife Kathy. Steve’s kids, Cameron and Spencer Dork, are even my godsons, and quite frankly, I feel un-loyal using the word in a derogatory sense, and have for a long time.
I met Steve some time around Kindergarten in Sunday school of all places. And we’ve been buds ever since.
We went to the same church (were acolytes together, went through confirmation, youth group, and many church retreats), attended the same grade-school from fifth grade on, went to Walter P. Reuther Junior High together, then Rochester High School, and four years as college roommates at Michigan State University. He was the best man at my wedding, and I at his.
He was there with me for every major event in my life, really.
No matter where I’ve lived, he’s come to visit me, too, from Washington D.C. to Los Angeles; and we make time every summer to play a round of golf or two — it’s one of our traditions.
My kids are friends with his kids, and we get together with them at their cabin in Traverse City or at our house whenever possible. And no trip down to see my folks in Rochester Hills is complete without dropping by to see the Dorks.
He coming from a family of three sisters, and I having a solitary girl sibling, Steve and I are each the brother the other one never had. We’ve been a duo for all this time, Burg and the Dorker.
And as corny as it sounds, we’ve been there for each other whenever times were good, or bad. I could always count on Steve, and I hope he has always been able to count on me.
So I’d put my best friend up against anyone else’s — because I’m proud that my best friend is a Dork.
Cean Burgeson can be reached at: cburgeson@pioneergroup.net

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By CEAN BURGESON
Associate Editor

There are some who shovel manure for a living. Still others are sewer inspectors or roadkill-removal specialists (I saw all of these on the Discovery Channel’s “Dirty Jobs”, so I know what I’m talking about).
And then there is one of the most difficult, unappreciated, unthankful — and difficult things to be — a Spartan fan.
We are loathed by those who follow the maize and blue. We are disliked and disdained by anyone who sees our school and our athletic programs as inferior.
That’s okay. I equally loathe those guys from Ann Arbor. As the old saying goes, my two favorite teams are Michigan State and whoever is playing Michigan.
But the seem to chalk up a few more wins than we do in certain sports. And it gets frustrating, I’ll admit.
Yet we Spartans still cheer. And hope. And pray. And are often disappointed.
But not this time baby!
Every decade or so, all of the collective “stuff” we eat as our Michigan State teams fall short of their dreams again and again and we endure the mockery of Wolverines, Buckeyes, Fighting Irishmen, and other assorted hecklers — is worth it.
And we are vindicated — at least for a little while.
This time, our salvation came a day before Easter as the Spartans won the NCAA hockey championship, beating Boston College, despite coming into the contest as the underdog; a position we’ve become used to over the years.
But, today, and for the next year, we can say we are the national champions, although it didn’t come easily.
In true Spartan fashion, the boys in green and white couldn’t just win the game outright, either. They had to make us sweat.
They trailed for much of the game, and just when the Spartan fan collective was starting to think, “here we go again,” then tied it up in the final period. Before we even had a chance to google the NCAA playoff hockey rules to see how they handle a tie, it happened.
It was that moment Spartan fans seldom get to experience, the clutch score in the final seconds, as Justin Abdelkader (which the announcers always make sound like abdicator) gave us the go-ahead with 18.9 seconds on the clock.
An open net goal with a few seconds left on the clock sealed the deal — and even the M.S.U. skaters couldn’t believe it had actually happened. They congratulated each other, and one after the other stared at the clock and you could read their lips as they muttered “I can’t believe it.”
We couldn’t believe it either, boys.
Boston College had a better record (29-12-1) made it to the Frozen Four seven of the last 10 years, and had outscored its opponents 61-23 during their winning streak. B.C. boasts 12 NHL draft picks on their roster.
Few pundits picked Michigan State. As usual.
So, as I watched the Boston players hang their heads in disbelief, because they had traveled to the finals two years in a row and come up short, I recognized that look on their faces.
Because it is the look usually found on the faces of Spartan hockey, football, basketball — and even baseball and lacrosse players for all I know. Because we’re usually the ones who got upset, or embarrassed, or sent home disappointed.
That’s why being a Spartan fan is so great when we catch a break and finally win one. Because when the win finally does come, it’s all that much sweeter. It’s been 20 years since our appearance in the finals, so we’re gonna milk this one for all it’s worth, too.
I’m a fan of Michigan State because I love the school. I graduated with both of my degrees from Moo U.
That’s why I tell people I root for the Spartans.
I’m a fan for the same reason I love my family so unconditionally. Not because they’re always good — because I have to — I’m one of ‘em.
Cean Burgeson can be reached at: cburgeson@pioneergroup.net