"We needed this"
Review By Megan Wirts
Photos by Todd Merrifield
Grant High School's production of Annie opened on February 25th to rave reviews! Theater goers were enamored with the classic tale, starring Elayne Montambo (12th grade) as the optimistic and spirited little redhead. Elayne’s big voice and sweetness made us fall in love with Annie all over again.
We needed a show like this. Towards the end of the winter season here in Michigan it can be dark and dreary, add in a 2 year long pandemic and people are getting restless. Annie’s optimism is a bright light and when she belts out that the “Sun will come out tomorrow!”, we believe her. The world isn’t always full of rainbows and butterflies, but hope is something we cannot let go of. Hope sustains us. Annie is full of hope.
This show was a labor of love by all that were involved. From the sound engineer, Tyler Delamater (9th grade), who painstakingly runs the soundboard and makes sure each cast member is heard, and the lighting designer, Asher Merrifield (9th grade), who makes sure every actor is seen, to the musicians in the pit like the flute/piccolo player Emma Bliss (11th grade), every single member of the cast, crew and pit is important and puts their heart and soul into it. Director Lukas Sweers has built a wonderfully inclusive atmosphere that makes each kid feel seen, heard and appreciated. Bravo Mr. Sweers!
The casting of this show was spot on. Elayne Montambo is the perfect Annie. She captures her pluck and hope in every word she sings and every move she makes. Her fellow orphans are fantastic, especially on memorable numbers like “Hard Knock Life”. They bring the orphanage to life and you won’t be able to get that song out of your head! The magnificent Meghan McKnight (12th grade) plays the horrible Miss Hannigan. Meghan’s voice is gorgeous and her sass is even better. We love to hate her! Quite the opposite of Miss Hannigan, is Grace Farrell played by Alaina Keelan (11th grade). Alaina is an excellent Grace, gentle, kind and motherly. Alaina hits those high notes and shows us her graceful power. Then there is Bobby Johnson (10th grade) as the charismatic and wealthy Oliver Warbucks. Bobby plays this role to perfection! He is larger than life, can be gruff but underneath is a big teddy bear. Giving the show comic relief and a little spice is Dakota Acosta (11th grade) as Rooster and Raven Wirts (12th grade) as Lily. Dakota and Raven made an excellent team of trouble makers. Their number “Easy Street” with Miss Hannigan is one of my favorites. They have the dance moves and the personalities to make these characters come to life! I couldn’t have loved it more
The entire cast, from Sandy the dog (played by the goodest boy Bosco), to the Hooverites, FDR and his cabinet, the maids and butler Drake (Steven Sower 8th grade), Bert Healy, a stand out performance by Xavier Oldfield (11th grade), Wacky (Blake Wirts 9th grade) the Boylan sisters (Lisa Do, Sophia Fries and Gracey Koogler), are phenomenal!. Every time I see a show put on by Grant High School, I am blown away. As a former theater kid that graced the GHS stage back in the 90’s, I am so proud of how our little town has cultivated such a rich and strong theatrical presence. Congratulations to everyone involved!
There are still more chances to see this incredible show! February 26 at 7:00 pm, March 4 at 7:00 pm, March 5 at 2:00 pm and 7:00 pm. Get your tickets at the Grant Fine Arts Center online at grantfac.booktix.com or pick them up the night of the show at the box office.
NCT Thru-Hikers: Apple Pie and Greenleaf
Arlette Laan, trail name “Apple Pie”, started thru-hiking the North Country Trail (NCT) in April, 2021. Her 4,800-mile adventure began in Defiance, Ohio, and she hiked to the NCT’s eastern terminus in Vermont in August. At that point, Arlette flew to North Dakota to continue her flipflop thru-hike into 2022. Rich Gambale, her spouse with trail name “Greenleaf”, joined her in Marquette, Michigan, in December. As they hiked south through the Lower Peninsula, they arrived in Newaygo County at the end of January.
“We were privileged to host Apple Pie and Greenleaf for two nights as they hiked the NCT near White Cloud and Newaygo”, said Cheryl and Tim McGrath of Fremont. Arlette and Rich did dispersed tent camping in the Manistee National Forest for the prior three nights – in snow and with frigid temperatures than 10 degrees. Staying overnight at the McGrath home was a welcome reprieve, complete with pizzas from Seasons and fajitas from El Burrito Feliz. Another benefit was being able to “slackpack” one day and hike with only day packs from Centerline to 58th Street.
After bringing them back to the NCT, Cheryl and Peggy Mercer of Newaygo enjoyed the opportunity to hike with them as they neared Croton Dam. Rich led the way at a brisk pace with a 55-pound backpack. Arlette carried 40 pounds and maintained a pace Cheryl and Peggy could just keep up with. Exchanging best wishes and hugs, Apple Pie and Greenleaf continued south into Kent County.
Arlette and Rich shared many great stories about their adventures, including the NCT, Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, and Continental Divide Trail in the United States and hiking trails around the world. Why do they choose to thru-hike?
Their biggest challenges are financing all of their travels and the loneliness experienced when thru-hiking solo. They lead an interesting and unique lifestyle!
Apple Pie started thru-hiking in 2003 and expects to be the first woman to thru-hike all 11 of the National Scenic Trails. She completed the NCT on February 21 and has accomplished 9 of the Trails. Only the Ice Age Trail in Wisconsin and Natchez Trace Parkway in Mississippi remain and Arlette plans to complete them this summer. You can follow her on Instagram @arlette_laan.
With all of the recreational opportunities in West Michigan, the NCT is a treasure through the Manistee National Forest in Newaygo County. The Forest stretches from the northern county border to Croton Dam and is a popular Trail for locals and tourists. If you’re interested in more information about the NCT in Newaygo County, check out: https://northcountrytrail.org/trail/michigan/wmi/.
Submitted by Cheryl McGrath and Peggy Mercer
Fremont Library to Bring Jazz Concert, Civil Rights Presentation, & More
The Fremont Area District Library is planning to host several fun and educational events in March for the whole family. These events are FREE, as always.
Live @ the Library brings The Legacy & Memory of Emmett Till. Discover the untold history of the injustice that followed fourteen-year-old Emmett’s trip to buy candy at Bryant’s Grocery in Money, Mississippi, where he whistled at the white store clerk. In this presentation, retired Portage Public School history teacher Jim Herm will share his research into the post-Civil War South, the legacy of Emmett Till, and the start of the Civil Rights movement. This will take place in the library’s Community Room on Tuesday, March 15th at 6:30 p.m.
A second Live @ the Library event in March welcomes Kanola Band: Jazz Concert on Thursday, March 24th at 7:00 p.m. Kanola Band brings together some of the most experienced and diverse musicians in the midwest US jazz scene to pay tribute to the great music and heritage of New Orleans. Dipping into the city's diverse musical history including traditional Dixieland, groovin' zydeco, soulful funk to blasting brass band second lines, audiences of all ages will leave feeling just a bit happier than when they came. Bring your dancing shoes, leave your worries behind and be ready for some fun, because Kanola Band is always a good time!
March is Reading Month! As a special treat, the first 50 adults and teens who check out at least 3 books on Fridays in March will get a mug with some warm drinks to go with your books. Happy reading!
Storytimes run from January 19th-April 14th. Toddler Storytime, for babies and toddlers up to age 3, will be held on Wednesdays at 10:00 a.m., and Family Storytime for children up to age 5 will be held on Thursdays at 10:00 a.m. Saturday Storytime, for children up to age 5 will be on March 5th at 11:00 a.m in the Community Room. Masks are recommended at all Storytimes during this time. We’ll also be showing an Afternoon Movie on Thursday, March 31st at 3:30 p.m. The movie will be Sing 2 (Rated PG; 110 min.) Snacks will be served, and all are welcome.
Junk Journaling for ages 10 and up will take place on March 10th anytime between 3:00-5:00. This is a scrapbooking and journal hybrid. Use up what you have and supplement with found, recycled, repurposed and thrifted items. Materials provided.
We’ll be showing a couple movies for adults at our Movie Mondays—this month in honor of Oscar nominees. King Richard will be showing in our Community Room on March 14th at 2:00 p.m. Starring Will Smith, this film takes a look at how tennis superstars Venus and Serena Williams became who they are after the coaching from their father Richard Williams. (Rated PG-13; 144 min.) Belfast will be showing in our Community Room on Monday, March 28th at 2:00 p.m. In this Oscar-nominated film, a young boy and his working-class Belfast family experience the tumultuous late 1960s. (PG-13; 98 min.) These movies are FREE and snacks are provided.
The Wednesday Readers Book Group will meet on Monday, March 14th at 7:00 p.m. to discuss Nothing Daunted by Dorothy Wickenden, and the Daytime Book Group will meet on Thursday, March 24th at 12:30 p.m. (title TBD). Anyone is welcome to join these book groups. Books for these groups are available at the library’s front desk ahead of the meeting if you’d like to check out a copy and join the group.
For more information about any of these events, please contact the library at 231-924-3480 or visit www.fremontlibrary.net.
By Kristie Bulger
"As anyone who has ever been around a cat for any length of time well knows cats have enormous patience with the limitations of the humankind." - Cleveland Amory
In October 2019 the shelter took in a sweet, 13 year old cat whose owner had died. No one in the owner's family wanted Choochi the cat. The staff is always heartbroken in situations like this, when a pet comes in after their owner dies. Unfortunately it happens more often than most people realize. The pet is usually older and is traumatized after the sudden changes in their lives. They’re scared because their world has been turned upside down. Being older means that they are usually not adopted quickly.
Shortly after Choo’s information was put on line, I received a note from a woman asking about the old cat. Amy wrote "Her story is heartbreaking. Our Golden Retriever passed away 3 months ago and we don't have any pets now. But I've never had a cat. Are they hard to take care of?” I answered all of Amy’s questions but wasn’t convinced a grieving golden retriever owner could turn into a cat person. I encouraged Amy to visit the shelter to meet Choo. My fingers were crossed but in all honesty I was skeptical. A couple of days later I was pleasantly surprised to receive a note from Amy to let me know that she had, indeed, adopted Choo. When a week went by, I received another note saying "Thank you! I love her so much! She's mainly been hiding under the bed lol but she's very loving!” At this point I went from “skeptical” to “hopeful”. It was sounding like the old cat was snuggling her way into Amy’s heart. Another couple of weeks went by before I received another note from Amy. I was over the moon as I read "I love Choochi. I never thought I could be a cat lady but this kitty is perfect!” It was official. Amy had become a real honest to goodness cat person!
When I think about shelter stories, Choochi is one of my favorites. Amy does regular update posts on our Friends page to let everyone know how Choo is doing. On Choo’s Gotcha Day (the day she was adopted), Amy pays the adoption fee for a shelter cat who has been there the longest or is the oldest. Sponsoring a cat helps her/him get adopted more quickly.
I sent Amy a note to say I was doing a story about Choo and asked her what she might want to say. This is what she sent me:
"You know most of our story already, about how I was grieving and I'm sure she was, too, after losing her previous owner and I wasn't even looking for a cat but knew I had to have this sweet kitty as soon as I saw her picture on the Facebook page. She's truly been a blessing. I work from home and she keeps me company all day. I talk to her and sing her songs (and my family thinks I'm crazy but they go along with it). She's an old kitty... she's 16 now!!! Most of her days are spent sleeping. She mostly sleeps in her bed, her kitty house, or on top of her cat tree that's right next to my desk (that way, she can keep an eye on me while I'm working - she's an excellent supervisor!). And when she thinks I've worked enough for the day, she'll hop up on my desk and sit in between my keyboard and monitor to block my view... she just sits there and looks at me like "it's time to be done now."
"Oh - and she snores! HA! She has the cutest little snore sometimes when she sleeps! I've bought her all kinds of (expensive) toys and the only thing she'll play with are the $2 catnip scented mice from Walmart and yarn. Oh - and a banana! We bought her a kitty banana with catnip scent and she carries it around like a lost teddy bear. She's adorable. Despite being a retired old lady, she still has "zoomies." She'll randomly take off running through the house and act all crazy. She wakes me up every morning by making "biscuits" on my stomach (she's a very busy baker haha), and she absolutely loves belly rubs. She "plops" down in front of us quite often and stretches out begging for us to rub her belly.
"Mostly, though, I want people to know how loving and full of life senior cats are. Most people want to adopt kittens. And I get it, kittens are cute and have a full life ahead of them. But senior kitties have so much love left to give. All they ask for is a warm place to sleep and some head and chin scratches, and in return they'll make an excellent companion and give you all of their love.”
I hope people take away two thoughts from my story about Choo. First, listen to what Amy said. Please, consider adopting a senior cat. You will never regret it. They have so much love and gratitude to give. Second, please try to have a plan in place for your pets, in case something happens to you. It’s not a pleasant thing to think or talk about but your pets depend on you. If possible, ask a family member, a friend, a neighbor or a co-worker. Just see if you can arrange a safe place for your pet to go if you’re not around.
Here’s a link to our FB page "Friends of Newaygo County Shelter” where you can see all our available animals:
The adoption fee for dogs is $90.
This fee includes spay/neuter, deworming, heartworm test, rabies & DHLPP shots, flea & tick treatment and license.
The adoption fee for cats is $65
This fee includes spay/neuter, rabies vaccine, feline distemper combo vaccine, FIV/FELV testing, deworming and flea/tick treatment.
Newaygo County Animal Shelter
78 N. Webster
White Cloud, MI 49349
Monday - Friday 11-1
Appointments welcome and available upon request
Lionheart Productions is hosting auditions for Motherhood the Musical. This musical shows the humorous struggle of motherhood that all mothers will understand.
We are looking to cast only 5 females. One female needs to be 25-35 years old, three females need to be 30-45 years old and one female needs to be 55+ years old.
-February 16th and 17th from 6:30pm to 8:30pm
-In the Choir Room located in Grant Middle School (96 E. 120th, Grant, MI)
-Please come prepared to sing a song. We will have the ability to use a Bluetooth speaker. Please no a capella.
Performance dates will be May 6th and 7th with rehearsals beginning March 7th.
Please check out the link below for more information on the show, including character descriptions and a sample of the script and songs: https://broadwaylicensing.com/.../motherhood-the-musical/
Volunteers Needed for the 2022 National Baby Food Festival
The National Baby Food Festival, (July 20 - 23, 2022) is one of the largest events staged almost completely by volunteers. Each year the festival needs approximately 80 volunteers over the course of the festival. Volunteers are needed for a myriad of tasks, (some that require physical exertion, while others do not), before, during and after the festival. High school students are welcome.
If you interested in getting in on the FUN while helping out please contact Sandra Earl at the Fremont Area Chamber of Commerce at 231-924-0770
2022 Black Lake sturgeon season wraps within 36 minutes; results announced
After only 36 minutes of fishing, this year’s sturgeon season on Black Lake (in Cheboygan and Presque Isle counties) ended at 8:36 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 5. The season, which included spearing and hook-and-line fishing, was scheduled to run Feb. 5-9, or until the harvest limit quota of six lake sturgeon had been reached.
Anglers initially were allocated a season quota of seven sturgeon, but the Michigan Department of Natural Resources set the harvest limit at six fish. This action helps accommodate the expected number of anglers and anticipate the possibility of near-simultaneous harvest of more than one fish.
There were 565 registered anglers, including a good number of supervised youth. According to the DNR, five sturgeon harvested were male and one was a female, ranging from 46 to 62 inches long and 23 to 67 pounds in weight.
All six harvested fish taken had been captured before by Michigan State University and the DNR during spring spawning runs in the Black River or from past surveys of Black Lake. The harvested 62-inch male originally was captured in every other year in the spawning run from 2002 through 2020. The 57-inch male had been captured and tagged during the 2002, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2013, 2019 and 2021 spawning runs in the Black River. The 56-inch male had been captured in the 2013, 2016, 2017, 2019 and 2021 spawning runs. In addition, the 47-inch male had been tagged in the 2006, 2010 and 2012 spawning runs.
Participating anglers were notified of the season closure in a variety of ways, mainly from nearly instantaneous text alerts and ice shanty visits from DNR personnel. All methods were used to indicate the season’s end within minutes of the final fish being harvested. DNR law enforcement officials and other department personnel again were embedded in the on-ice fishing communities and were able to quickly and safely report harvested fish this year, as well as to quickly contact all lake sturgeon anglers on the ice and close the season.
Rehabilitation of lake sturgeon in the Cheboygan River watershed is a cooperative effort involving the DNR, the Black Lake Chapter of Sturgeon For Tomorrow, Michigan State University, Tower-Kleber Limited Partnership, the Bay Mills Indian Community, the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, the Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians and the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians.
For more information on lake sturgeon in Michigan, visit Michigan.gov/Sturgeon. To learn more about all fishing opportunities statewide, go to Michigan.gov/Fishing.
Reviewed by Fremont Library Staff Member, Amy Martin
Kenna spends 5 years in prison due to a bad mistake she made. While in prison, she delivers a daughter, who is instantly taken away from her and custody is given to the grandparents. This is the story of her trying to start her life over and making steps to see her daughter when no one in town wants her there. She runs into her former boyfriend's best friend who is now acting uncle to her daughter, and after a couple very tense situations, he starts to see that she's not the terrible person everyone has made her out to be and begins to see both sides of the situation.
I loved this book. It had me in tears towards the end. Some of the revelations and the feelings she finally lets loose years after her trial were heartbreaking. It's a romance, so of course, Kenna and Ledger are fated to be together in that way, but this book is full of the little things that make a straight-up romance story that much better.
You can put the library's book on hold here:
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