Maple Street Mall’s 3rd Annual Cookie Extravaganza

By Allie Jarrell
Mason News staff writer

Cherry Cheesecake

Christmas cookies arrived early this year during the 3rd Annual Cookie Extravaganza at the Maple Street Mall. The vintage shop, located at 108 W. Maple St., had 20 vendors participate in the event, which took place Dec. 3-5. Each vendor was given an area of the store to set up their cookie display, which was marked by a yellow balloon.

A variety of candy, cookies, brownies and other sweets attracted a large turnout this year according to store manager Debbie Hedemark. She said the event has been popular ever since the beginning, and with almost two dozen vendors, there’s a large variety of baked goods to choose from.

Scott Casteele of Casteele Collectibles with his homemade Macadamia nut cookies

When asked what her favorite part about the event was, Hedemark replied that she likes the fact that many people respond to the advertising. However, she also enjoys the element of surprise.

“It’s nice when people come in and say that they heard about the event through the postcards we sent out in the mail,” Hedemark said. “But it’s also fun when people come in unknowingly and I tell them to help themselves to free cookies! I like both aspects of the event.”

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Remembering Gary L. Lamphere

By Allie Jarrell
Mason News staff writer

Life-long Mason resident Gary Lamphere died Nov.13, 2010, at age 73. Lamphere was born to Celand LeVelle and Maxine Lamphere on Sept. 30, 1937, and is survived by his wife of 53 years, Judith Lamphere. He enjoyed seeing his family and friends often, and was very active in the Mason community throughout his life.

Lamphere owned Lamphere Brothers Builders, a business that goes back several generations in his family. He was often helping to build and expand homes and stores in the Mason area. Lamphere was also a member of the Mason City Council, Kiwanis Club, First United Methodist Church and Boy Scouts of America.

Lamphere enjoyed following the MSU women’s basketball team, collecting trains, and working on construction projects, like building a cabin near Grayling, Mich.

“That would have to be one of my favorite memories of him — helping build the cabin,” said Kait Lamphere, his granddaughter. “Before the cabin was even thought of, my family and I used to visit my grandfather and grandmother at their up-north property. We would stay in their motor home, and I would always wake up to the smell of my grandfather making pancakes and eggs on the small gas stove.”

Lamphere is survived by his wife Judith, son LaValle Lamphere, daughter Wendy Qualls, siblings Gale Lamphere and Sally Kellogg, grandchildren Kait Lamphere and Jonathan Case, and several nieces and nephews.

A service was held Wednesday, Nov. 17, at the First United Methodist Church of Mason, 201 E. Ash St., followed by burial, which took place in the Maple Grove Cemetery. Online condolences can be made at the Gorsline Runciman Funeral Home website.

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Remembering Verna D. Pittman

By Lauryn Schroeder
Mason News staff writer

Verna D. Pittman

Mason resident Verna D. Pittman, better known by friends and family as “Vicki” passed away Nov. 30, 2010, at the age of 77. She was born in Rolfe, Iowa, Aug. 26, 1933, to Clifford and Helen Sandy, and was married to Quentin Pittman for 56 years before he passed in 2006.

Services were held Saturday, Dec. 4, at Gorline Runciman Funeral Homes, 621 S. Jefferson, and burial took place at Hawley Cemetery later that day.

As a lab technician, Pittman was employed at Wyeth Laboratories in Mason for 37 years. In her spare time, she volunteered at Sparrow Hospital, was a local Girl Scout leader, and participated in charity work with her sorority, Delta Theta Tau. She loved spending the summers boating in Grand Haven, Mich., with her husband, gardening and doing needlepoint.

The Grand Haven beach, where Vicki and her husband, Quentin, spent their summers boating.

She is most remembered for her generosity toward others, and the sweet smile that she had for everyone. Longtime family friend Frank Deemer, of DeWitt, Mich., spent many nights playing card games with the Pittmans, and was saddened to hear Pittman had passed away.

“When we first moved into our new house, they both worked so hard, helping us with the painting and staining,” Deemer said. “That’s the kind of people they were, so incredibly thoughtful and caring.”

Vicki Pittman is survived by siblings Pat Shrader, Kay Leroy Sandy and Merril Sandy, as well as her children, Merrill Pittman and Pam Leu.

The family has requested that those wishing to honor Pittman’s memory, can make contributions to the Alzheimer’s Association/MGLC and online condolences may be made at the Gorline Runciman Funeral Home website.

Map To Cemetery

Map To Funeral Home

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Superintendent Discusses Additions to School District at Board Meeting

By Allie Jarrell & Megan Baughman
Mason News staff writers

Last Wednesday’s Finance and Property meeting started off with board members

The outside of Harvey Education Center, where the meeting took place

discussing placing a wireless local area network, also known as Wi-Fi, in all district classrooms.

The cost would be approximately $30,000 for the classrooms and about $5,000 for the installation. However, according to Superintendent Mark Dillingham, district IT Director Jerome Brzezinski has a small staff that could do it themselves. The only setback is it would be a slower installation.

“The great part about spending the $5,000 is it’s instantaneous. You’re up and going,” Dillingham said. “If we did it on our own, we would start with some Wi-Fi hotspots in the libraries.”

Dillingham said that the original thought was to include the pool, auditoriums and gyms, but that the board decided to focus on putting Wi-Fi in just the classrooms. The schools are getting iPod Touches, so if students want to access the Internet on those they’d have to go to the libraries with Wi-Fi hotspots.

“My whole goal in this is to have students use tools that they always use outside of the classroom and actually apply them to education. I mean, there’s no novel idea there,” Dillingham said.

Attendants also discussed a possible new auditorium for the schools using money from the school’s budget.

The mural inside the doors of Harvey Education Center

According to Dillingham, the money comes in three times a year from the community, and right now it has more than they have ever had in the past.  “The money came from a sinking fund, this is money the voters approved back in 2007, and we collect money every year, which goes to improvements like roofs and boilers,” Dillingham said.  “Thanks to the graciousness of our community, is it allows us to replace things like boilers and windows and roofs. If we have any of that money left after the 10 years, we’d like to do something special with it and that something special could be an auditorium if the money is there.”

According to Dillingham, this issue will not be heavily discussed until January or February, but was brought up to get a head start on it.  “The question is how do we start planning for it now?  So we’re doing a study on the last five years of the money we have left and can we budget enough to do that,” he said.  “It’s kind of like a household. I’d really like to put in wooden floors, I’ve got old carpeting now, but can we afford it?”

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Remembering Josh Dufort: An Actor on the Rise

Megan Baughman
Mason News staff writer

Joshua (Josh) Allen Dufort, 23, was born on July 15, 1987, and was killed Nov. 8,

2010, in LasVegas, Nev.  Dufort was from Dansville, Mich. before he moved to Las Vegas four years ago to pursue his career as an actor.  His family remembers him as the kid who was always happy and smiling.

“He was the type that the glass was always half full,” said Dufort’s uncle, Jeff Jones.  “He was always trying to cheer people up and never burdened people with his problems.  He made even the oddball kids feel wanted, even though he worked out and ran.  He was friends with the geeks and he was friends with the jocks; that type of kid.”

In his spare time, Dufort liked to do medieval fighting reenactment and started a chapter in Las Vegas.  He was also an actor in a few different shows, including “Rehab,” which was put on at the Hard Rock Cafe.  He also worked for a landscaping business while in Nevada.

“He liked to work out,” Jones said.  “He was going to try to box out there (Las Vegas), the ultimate fighting stuff, but he didn’t dare do it because if you’re beat up on Saturday you can’t model and act on Monday because your face is all beat up.”

Dufort is survived by his parents, George and Jana Dufort, along with his three siblings: older brother John Dufort, and younger sisters Katie and Audrey Dufort.  Visitation will take place at the Ball Dunn Chapel in Mason Saturday, Nov. 13 from 1 to 3 p.m.

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Mason Public Schools Appreciate First-Grade Literacy Program

By Lauryn Schroeder
Mason News staff writer

Kristin Grattan helps her student read his way through a book

The teachers, parents and students of Mason Public Schools consider themselves fortunate to have an enhanced and unique literacy program that focuses on those struggling to read in the first grade. When the program was initiated by the Mason City School Board, North Aurelius Elementary School teacher Kristin Grattan was quick to apply for the position.

To Read More About Mason Public Schools Click Here

With a master’s in literacy from Michigan State University, Grattan has been teaching in Mason for 22 years, and decided to take over the new literacy program in 2004. In 2005, she was given a grant from the state of Michigan to apply to the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, and become a nationally certified teacher.

See National Board for Professional Teaching Standards Website here.

“It changed the way I look at teaching and learning in a big way,” said Grattan. “By applying, you have to really examine the way you teach and evaluate how you are meeting the students’ needs on a national level.”

Superintendent Mark Dillingham expressed how pleased he is with Grattan and the success of the program at the Mason School Board meeting Nov. 9. “We’re very blessed to have her expertise,” said Dillingham. “The program is money well spent to ensure our students will be reading at their own grade level and beyond.”

In addition to the guided reading lessons provided by their classroom teacher, the program involves students spending approximately 20 minutes with Grattan reading books, working with magnetic letters and doing name puzzles.

“The name puzzle gives them a minute of intense practice recognizing patterns of letters,” Grattan says. “We want everything to be fun. We want them to be engaged, and we want them to take small steps, so that they’re feeling very confident in their literacy skills,”

Students work with Grattan anywhere between 12 and 20 weeks. During which, they are assessed and evaluated on their progress every other day, to pin point what they need to improve on and track the progress they are making.

“One of the things they do is reread familiar books so they can practice and I can listen,” Grattan said. “I’m checking to see if they’re pointing crisply to their words, and I’m checking to see what their voice does.”

Grattan thoroughly enjoys seeing the progress that her students make throughout the year. By putting such a heavy emphasis on reading early on, Grattan believes the students will avoid bigger literacy problems in the future.

Photos and video of Kristin Grattan and student

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36th Annual Mason Christmas Craft Sale

By Allie Jarrell
Mason News staff writer

Ornaments at Mud Creek Crafts

Mason’s 36th Annual Christmas Craft Sale took place Nov. 11-13. It was a weekend of baked goods, unique art and Christmas shopping galore.

Local artists were dispersed between 15 homes, where they displayed and sold their products. Each house had a numbered sign in front that correlated to its description and placement on a map. Several restaurants and other businesses participated in the event by offering discounts and holiday deals.

According to Lisa Oberry of Mud Creek Crafts, their new location on South Barnes Street helped them to get more foot traffic this year. Oberry creates homemade picture albums and cards, and said that the shop’s central location downtown made its products more available to the public. Mud Creek Crafts is a group of seven artists, including local artist Diane Weigelt and Marene Barker who makes gift baskets.

Pat Lange, owner of Sweet Perfections

A local favorite of the Christmas Craft Sale is The Toffee House, located on West Ash Street. Owned by Pat and Paul Lange, The Toffee House is also home to the English toffee company Sweet Perfections.

The Toffee House is home to more than just toffee during the craft sale. According to Pat Lange, they housed 16 other crafters this year, including first-year participant Cathy Bau, who creates a large variety of homemade soy candles and other crafts, which you can find here.

Pat Lange describes what her and her husband do as a mom and pop business, and said that Paul Lange makes the toffee while she does the packaging.

When asked about the old family recipe used for making the renowned English toffee, Paul Lange replied, “Yes, I have it, and no, I’m not going to give it to you.”

For Pat Lange, the best part of participating in the Christmas Craft Sale is “seeing the same customers year after year from all over Michigan and even out of state.”

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