Inside the Newsroom

News, commentary, insight on local happenings and fun from the staff of The Saline Reporter and Milan News-Leader.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Fun at the 4-H Youth Fair

Rabbits, chickens, horses, cows, goats, llamas and pigs join still exhibits and farm culture at the Washtenaw County Farm Council Grounds near Saline, where the 4-H Youth Fair is in full swing. The fair continues through Friday and culminates with the Sweepstakes Showmanship at 7 p.m. Don't miss the chicken barbecue earlier in the afternoon, from 3:30 to 6 p.m. If you're looking for entertainment, the animal decorator contest and Ag Olympics look interesting.

I spent about an hour on Thursday wandering around the grounds, talking to 4-H exhibitors, checking out the animals and admiring the still exhibits. It was challenging finding kids from Saline and Milan, our coverage area, to interview on video because the event attracts 4-H youth from across Washtenaw County. I did meet Marta Swenson, a 15-year-old sophomore-to-be at Saline High School, who was competing in riding events with her horse, Roman. You can view her video on our Web site.

I also had an opportunity to chat with Sarah Blovits, a soon-to-be senior at Saline High School, who was in the goat tent with her animals. She shows goats and llamas and was featured by staff intern Krystle Dunham in a story July 19 about Nature's Wonders, the 4-H club her family runs. In her video, she talks about the challenges and rewards of 4-H.

Although the cows snuggling their calves were cute and the fuzzy llamas, it was the rabbit exhibits that I couldn't help admiring for most of my time there. I have two rabbits at home who are litter-box trained and share my three-bedroom home in Pittsfield Township. Puddin' is a store-bought bunny that looks like a Rex breed and Oompa is a mixed-breed rabbit I got in Chelsea from a friend and freelance writer for the paper when I worked there. Both have very distinct personalities and an addiction to yogurt drops. Puddin' will stand on her hind legs and beg for them and Oompa will growl if you tempt her with them for more than a few seconds. While I'd love to have dozens of rabbits, I can barely keep up with the two I have and all the chores associated with cleaning up after them.

The 4-H Youth Fair is a great opportunity for city folks to learn about farm life, as it features educational and still exhibits and animals, as well as a place to showcase area youth, who shine as they share their knowledge, talent and all the hard work they put into their animals and projects.

If you pay a visit, make sure to check out the Saline 4-H Farmers exhibit. It features woodworking, baked goods, photography, basket-weaving projects, art and other creations by Saline kids. In particular, I liked the cake decorated as a tractor by Amy Jedele of Saline. It looked tasty and I was very tempted to stick my finger in the frosting and eat a mouthful. But I didn't and if for some reason it looks as if someone did, it wasn't me. I swear.

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Saturday, July 21, 2007

Summerfest Coming

This will be my first year at the Saline Summerfest and after editing all of the copy submitted for The Saline Reporter's Summerfest tab, I am looking forward to the event, which will be held Aug. 10 and 11.

Although the special supplement highlighting this year's event won't be published until Aug. 2, here's a schedule of events, along with photos from past years to entice you to come.

4 to 9 p.m.: Saline Summer Craft Show
5:30 to 8 p.m.: Dance Alliance, Saline Twirlettes, Dance Steps Studio, Teboe’s Karate Demo, Cottonwood Cloggers and Dance Classics.
6 to 9 p.m.: Saline Street Machines pre-registration.
7 to 11 p.m.: Saline Rotary Club’s Casino Night.
8 p.m.: Opening remarks by Saline Mayor Gretchen Driskell.
8 to 11 p.m.: 50 Amp Fuse on the Showmobile Stage.
8:30 to 9 p.m.: Saline Area Players on the Old Calico Cat Interior Stage.
9:10 p.m.: Limbo Contest.

Saturday, Aug. 11
6:30 to 9 a.m.: Kids’ Fishing Contest registration.
8 a.m. to 7 p.m.: Saline Summer Craft Show.
7 to 11 a.m.: Fishing Contest at Mill Pond Park for children 14 and younger.
9 a.m. to 2 p.m.: Co-ed Volleyball Tournament at Henne Field. Participants must pre-register by Aug. 7. Contact Bradley Schwartz at 429-0551.
10 a.m. to 4 p.m.: Saline Street Machines Classic Car Show.
11 a.m. to noon: Vegetable art judging.
11 a.m. to 4 p.m.: Moonwalk, obstacle course, kids’ games, face painting, massage therapy.
Noon to 12:30 p.m.: Remote Control Car Race registration.
Noon to 4 p.m.: Saline Area Historical Society’s trolley tours.
Noon to 2 p.m.: Saline’s Bee Cool Table Activities.
12:30 to 1:30 p.m.: Remote Control Car Races.
12:30 to 1 p.m.: Baggo Bean Bag Toss Contest for children ages 10 through 17. Registration required.
1 p.m.: Coaches’ softball game.
1 p.m.: Wiffle Ball Tournament.
1 p.m.: Watermelon eating contest, relays, three-legged and sack Races, and egg and balloon toss.
1 p.m.: Baggo Bean Bag Tossing Contest for children ages 10 to 17 years old.
1:30 to 4 p.m.: Battle of the Bands on the Showmobile Stage.
2 p.m.: Vegetable Art Winners announcements, followed by Bee Cool! announcements.
4 to 4:30 p.m.: Saline Area Players on the Old Calico Cat Interior Stage.
4:30 to 5:30 p.m. Saline’s Big Band on the Side Stage.
5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Saline Fiddlers on the Showmobile Stage.
6:30 to 8 p.m. Rear View Mirrow on the Side Stage.
6:30 to 7 p.m.: Baggo Bean Bag Toss Contest for participants ages 18 and older. Registration required.
7 to 8:30 p.m.: Baggo Bean Bag Toss Contest for those 18 years or older.
8 to 11 p.m.: The Nine House Band on the Showmobile Stage.
8:30 to 9 p.m.: Saline Area Players on the Old Calico Cat Interior Stage.
8:30 to 10:30 p.m.: Blackjack Challenge.
Times are subject to change. Visit for the latest updated schedule.

Sounds like fun, right? Mark your calendar and maybe I'll see you there!

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Saturday, July 14, 2007

Celtic Heritage, Culture and Fun in Saline

The Saline Celtic Festival may have marked its 12th year today, but it was my first time attending and I must say I was impressed. What a wonderful event for the community and visitors alike. From the opening ceremonies and welcome delivered by Saline Mayor Gretchen Driskell to the athletic events, music, demonstrations and vendors, there was plenty to take in and experience. I shot lots of video (13 to be exact) and photos for our Web site. We also had freelance photographer Hiroshi Onuma there, and staff writers Jerry Hinnen and Sue Collins. I am excited to see the images Hiroshi captures. He's a very talented photographer. The photos we purchase from him, as well as our own, will be offered for sale on our Web site beginning Friday.

The festival, the brainchild of former Saline Mayor Patrick Little, is something other cities should try to emulate. It's so well organized and attracts visitors from across Southeast Michigan. Elise Cloutier, 7, of Canton was there with her family and had a blast on the jousting machine. Joe Munski of Grand Rapids and Shaylynn Miller of Ann Arbor were also on hand, but not as visitors. As members of the Ann Arbor Sword Club they were there demonstrating for the crowds. Videos of Elise and the sword fight are posted on our Web site.

On the local front, Karen Young of Saline was on hand with the Birds of Prey. She had a number of birds, from hawks to owls, for visitors to observe. At one point during my video of her, Karen sprays down the birds with a water bottle to keep them cool, although it was pretty nice weather in the early afternoon at 77 degrees punctuated by a nice breeze. Karen was accompanied by a few volunteers and apprentice falconer Jenny Schroeder, who was holding a red-tail hawk while I was there.

Joseph Steele
was a plethora of information as he performed as Steward MacBreachan. He talked about the many poles and spears laid out in front of him used in battle and hunting boar, among other things.

Also captivating was the Society of Creative Anachronism's demonstration of heavy combat fighting during the Middle Ages. The California-based, not-for-profit group's Ann Arbor chapter had many members there dressed in clothing of the Middle Ages and Renaissance period. They also had singers who entertained curious onlookers.

The Fiddlers ReStrung, a high school group based in Saline, also had its turn in the limelight. When I checked on them, they had a huge crowd gathered in a tent listening to Tommy Hunt and Kari Frank singing out in front.

I am so glad I took time out of my day to check out the festival. If you weren't able to make it this year, mark your calendar for next year. It's really something the entire community should support to ensure its longevity and success.

Oh, I almost forgot Millie, the Mill Pond Monster. She was there, too.

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Thursday, July 12, 2007

Saline school board poised for another year

I attended the organizational meeting of the Saline school board Tuesday night. The first school board meeting in July is always my favorite of the year. One, it lasts about 15 minutes. Two, few people attend, and that is probably because of three, which is that almost nothing ever happens. The consent agenda for approving bank accounts and law firms and signatories for the next year is about two pages long and generates virtually no debate before it is approved. The calendar of the year's board meetings is okayed. They swear in any new board members, elect officers for the next year, and then everybody goes home.

It's a glorious example of efficiency.

Elected as this year's president was Lisa Slawson. The vice-president, as is common, will be last year's president Trudy Driscoll. The board secretary will be Paul Hynek.

The two new board members are David Friese and David Medley. As is also common, they said nothing at their first meeting other than to recite the oath of office and to vote a few "ayes."

I plugged in the dates of the meetings into my organizer (cell phone, really) and couldn't help but wonder what controversies, debates, and struggles the next year will hold.

The board's organizational meeting is always the calm before the storm.

Coaching ch-ch-ch-changes

It's the dead middle of summer, traditionally the slowest time of the year for sports news (fun fact: the days before and after the MLB All-Star Game are the only two of the entire year when none of the four major American professional sports leagues--MLB, the NFL, NBA, and NHL--have a single game scheduled). But I'd like to think we had some big stories in this week's edition: Saline lacrosse coach John Phillips stepped down, we reported the hiring of Jeff Davis to coach the Milan girls' basketball varsity, and new Saline boys' basketball head coach Mike Brown talked about the summer's role in the team's adjustment period.

Because the article reporting Phillips's resignation also covered the post-season awards earned by the Saline lacrosse team following its 19-1 dream season--a topic I'm sure John would want front-and-center--I wasn't able to include in the newspaper an important piece of information I had on his decision: namely, that Phillips isn't about to just leave the program he helped build from scratch in his wake. His current plans include running a series of summer clinics for young lacrosse players in Saline, generating ideas for and possibly overseeing new fund raisers to help the program, and and helping in the continuing development of the middle school program.

In other words, Phillips will still be playing a major role in building a deeper, better Saline lacrosse team. That role just won't be "head coach." As noted in today's article, Phillips is taking on this new role in order to spend more time supporting and cheering on his kids (including Claire, a standout defender for the Saline girls' soccer team) and we at the Reporter wish him the best of luck.

On the surface, Davis and Brown are taking on similarly difficult projects. The Milan girls won four games last year, the Saline boys five. Both will enter their 2007-2008 season with heavy graduation losses. The Hornets lost seven lettermen from last season's 12-man opening-game roster; the Big Reds lost only two, but those two were leading scorer and rebounder Nicole Greer and starting point guard Chelsey Green.

But looking past the surface, Davis has a much taller ladder to climb. When previous Saline head coach Terry Breneman resigned in March (like Phillips, to spend more time with his college-age kids), he left behind a program with many more winning seasons than losing, a program that had reached the 15-win plateau in both 2005 and 2006. The 2007 record was much more an aberration (brought about, in large part, by a spate of unfortunate injuries and suspensions) of Breneman's outstanding 13-year tenure than the norm.

The Milan girls, however, last had a winning season in I-don't-know-when. Literally, I don't know when. But the winning record posted by the boys last season was the first in at least six years, and my guess is that it's been longer than that for the Big Red girls. (If I'm wrong, anybody out there who knows, feel free to correct me.)

There's no question that both programs have loads of potential (both JV squads posted much better records than their varsity counterparts), or, from my end at least, that both these coaches have the intelligence and guile to tap into it. But I also don't think there would be much question that it will be easier to get a program back in the habit of winning -- as Brown will seek to do -- than to make it one for the first time.

(Thanks to David Bowie for the post title, by the way.)

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Saturday, July 7, 2007

Fireworks Spectacular

If you missed the fireworks July 6 in downtown Milan, I took lots of photos and videos to help capture the moment, but there's nothing like being there in person. Try to make it next year, if you can.

I arrived downtown at about 9:30 and was surprised to see all the cars lining Main Street and nearly every side street off Main. As I approached Wabash Street on foot, I was stunned, as the video shows, to see hundreds of people flooding Wabash Street. For the most part, they were concentrated in front of Wilson Park, six or seven rows deep, for a prime view of the fireworks over Ford Lake.

Everyone was friendly and excited about the show. There were a lot of oohs and ahhs. I captured about half of it on video and then decided to make a mad dash for my car about a mile away to miss the mass exodus. On my way to the car, along Main Street, it was a strange feeling as the streets were quiet, with no traffic, and the sound of explosives firing off in the background and car alarms blaring. It made me wonder if that's what people in war-torn countries face on a constant basis without the spectacular fireworks display lighting up the sky. I can't even imagine. We are very lucky to live in America and have a city like Milan host such a wonderful, patriotic display for the community to enjoy.

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Friday, July 6, 2007

Sherer runs to third in Eugene

If you enjoyed the article from this week's Reporter on Saline's Steve Sherer, former Michigan St. All-American and one of the country's top middle-distance runners, you might be interested in the video below. It's Sherer's third-place finish at the Road to Eugene '08 meet in May, in which Sherer ran a personal-best 3:41.0 and showed a difficult winter training season (apparently, it's not so easy to run in a foot of snow ... who knew?) wouldn't keep him out of this year's US. Nationals.

In the video, Sherer has a kind of "flat-top" haircut, is wearing a dark blue "Athletes in Action" jersey, and is shown shaking the hand of the winner afterward. He's also, uh, the guy who finishes third. Enjoy.


Milan Fair Has Much to Offer

If you didn't make it to Wilson Park in Milan last night for the opening of the Milan Community Fair, make sure to stop by today or Saturday. Lots of fun awaits you.

The parade Thursday night down Main and Wabash streets was led by Vietnam Veterans of America and Michigan Military Moms. It included mounted police, fire trucks, classic cars, contestants in the Cutest Baby Contest, Milan mayoral candidates and other politicians, local nonprofits and businesses.

The parade ended near Wilson Park, where the carnival was set up and open for the first visitors of the fair. Check out our Web site for video coverage of the parade and area residents playing carnival games and enjoying the rides. One video, in particular, will make you chuckle as Kage Kosarue, 3, of Milan tells his mother, Shelley, "Get me outta here!" as she holds his hand and helps him bounce on the Euro Bungee. At one point, Shelley says, "I feel like a bad mother" and Kage tells her, "You're a bad mother!" His mood, however, swings, so it's hard to tell whether he likes it or just needs a nap.

Two cute characters at the fair on opening night were the Howell brothers, Michael, 12, and Harrison, 10, of Florida, who were in the area visiting an aunt. I took their photo and video of them on the spider ride. They were so excited to learn their pictures could end up in the paper. When I saw them a few minutes later, they let me know that, for my notes, they wanted to clarify that they will be moving to Tennessee this summer. Thanks for helping me get the facts straight, kids!

The fun continues today and Saturday. Also tonight is the Milan fireworks. It starts at 10 p.m. and will take place over Ford Lake near Wilson Park. I'll be there, I hope you are, too.

Oh, and not to scare you, but doesn't this photo from the fair of Reley Barnier, 9, of Milan look like something out of a Stephen King movie?

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Thursday, July 5, 2007

Home-field Advantage: Don Richter's Take

Local high school sports facilities among area's best

For relatively small towns, the Heritage Newspapers-West communities of Chelsea, Dexter, Manchester, Milan and Saline have some of the area's top high school sports facilities.

Topping the list of local athletic facilities has to be Saline High School's football field, er, should I say, stadium. The Hornets' gridiron complex is as close to a legitimate stadium as this area gets. Basically enclosed on three of the synthetic field's four sides, the stadium has the feel of a small college atmosphere when packed to capacity. During my career, I've covered Division III college football games at numerous MIAA schools and Saline's stadium and facilites are as good, if not better, than some of the collegiate fields I've visited.

Also topping the list of facilities in our area has to be Chelsea's dynamic baseball and softball stadiums. I've been to many a ball field throughout the years and the Bulldogs' complex is second to none. With stadium seating at each field wrapping around home plate between both dugouts, along with top-of-the-line press boxes crowning each field's stands, covered fencing lining the outfield, electronic scoreboards and manicured fields that would make Detroit's Comerica Park jealous, Chelsea's baseball and softball stadiums are arguably two of the best, not only in the area, but in the state.

In Dexter, the Dreadnaughts have one of the county's best, all around sports facilities. With a sparkling gymnasium, elevated track and the area's premier soccer stadium, Dexter's athletic facilities match the school's sports success. This past school year, the Dreadnaughts captured four state championships, with one each in boys' cross country, boys' soccer, girls' golf and boys' track and field. Just missing a state crown was Dexter's girls' soccer team which was ousted in the state semifinals. Not many schools throughout the state can match the Dreadnaughts' success on the field, or facilities-wise.

Over in Manchester and Milan, both schools have outstanding facilities. Manchester's football field is one of the area's gridiron jewels, while Milan's gymnasium is cozy, yet modern, and can be one of the area's loudest when packed to the gills.

All in all, for their size, the small communities dotting western Washtenaw County's landscape have some of the top high school sports facilities and programs in the state.

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Facilities addendum

Just wanted to tack on a couple of additional Saline- and Milan-based points to Ed Patino's informative article in today's edition on area high school sports facilities:

1) What I especially like about Saline's football complex isn't just the obviously dynamite main stadium itself, but that the designers added the second field / track right behind it. Unless you're planning on hosting the state meet itself (and East Kentwood would appear to have the D-I meet on lock-down at the moment), football-size seating capacity isn't entirely necessary for track, and the track takes fans further away from the football action. Just as important, placing the fields back-to-back allows for two events to be held at the same site simultaneously -- letting fans of the school catch some of both and making each one feel a little bit bigger. I spent one night last fall perched in the very corner of the main stadium bleachers, watching the varsity boy's soccer game in front of me and turning during the breaks in the action to keep an eye on the JV football game behind me.

2) The Milan football field is in the process of getting a nice new set of bleachers and becoming its own complex of sorts, which is certainly good news. Have to say I'm glad it doesn't appear that FieldTurf is part of the Milan plans--I don't have anything against turf, totally understand why so many area schools have installed/are installing it, love the sort of "spring in your step" bounce you get walking across it, etc. (I'm less enthused about the many tiny fragments of rubber that find their way into one's shoe and later into one's carpet.) But very few of the of the football / lacrosse / soccer / track events I attended over the past year featured grass, and to be honest, I missed the real stuff at times. Coming from Alabama (where you could count the number of high schools in the entire state with turf fields on one hand), grass still feels just a little bit more ... high-schoolish, I guess, to me. (That's a good thing.) Again, turf is great. I'm just glad we get to cover one school with each.

3) As for the rest of Saline and Milan's facilities, well, as I wrote in my Thanksgiving column last November, I just hope the athletes here appreciate what they have. At the time, I pointed out the gaping gulf between the Hornets' and Big Reds' gyms, tracks, baseball fields, wrestling rooms, etc. and the crumbling ones I saw back down South, but the fact is that Saline and Milan have it better than a number of their contemporaries here in Michigan, too: I'm much rather play basketball in Milan's gym than Airport's or Canton's or even Ann Arbor Pioneer's, would rather swim in Saline's pool than ... well, any other high school's pool I've been to yet, I'll say that.

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Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Milan mayoral debate goes smoothly

I moderated the Milan mayoral debate Monday night. I wasn't initially too keen on the idea because I really would much rather have been in the audience reporting on it. My stomach tends to get a little gurgly and my palms a little damp at the thought of standing up in front of people. I was fairly nervous that I would make some kind of gaff; you know, call a candidate by the wrong name or mess up the order or burp into the microphone.

None of that happened, thank God, and I think it went pretty smoothly.

The three candidates running for mayor in Milan are Kym Muckler, Rod Hill, and Mike Armitage. I thought they did very well over the span of 2-1/2 hours, answering almost 10 questions; six or so from the audience and three from me.

The debate truly reflected democracy at its best, at its core. Monday night was a sound reminder of what democracy is all about.

Milan's next mayor will face some tough decisions, many of which will directly impact the lives of Milan residents. Milan voters face an important choice. The candidates present three distinct visions for Milan and three diverse leadership styles. It will be interesting to see which resonates best with voters.

Everyone believes that voting for the country's president is of vital importance, and it is. But when it comes down to it, who we put on our councils and in our mayoral seats have a profound impact on our lifestyle, our pride in our hometown, and our pocketbooks.

Milan residents should be sure to get out and vote in the Aug. 7 primary and in the November election.

It's important who Milan's next mayor is.

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Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Region's athletic facilities have many strong points

Note: This is the first time that I've blogged in my life, so bare with me. Ah, the wonders of technology.

It's no secret that high school athletic facilities across the Heritage Newspapers West region underwent major renovation and reconstruction projects in recent years. In fact, this region is just one of many throughout Michigan in which athletic facilities are evolving into multipurpose gems. With so many districts building new high schools since 1997 (Saline, Manchester, Chelsea, Dexter and Milan have all built new schools), the days of a simple ball diamond, football field or basketball court are fading.

That is not a bad thing. In fact, it's excellent that student athletes get a chance to perform in such top-of-the-line facilities with all the bells and whistles normally seen at the college or even professional level.

Saline's football stadium can leave visitors in awe. It's synthetic turf surface, tall home bleachers, massive press box and huge concession-ticket-restroom building creates a small college feel. But don't discredit Saline's gym, with its upstairs track and seating for 1,800 or its pool that can accommodate both swimming and water polo, and provides carpeted bleachers that seat fans high enough to see everything.

Manchester is the smallest district enrollment-wise, but that doesn't prevent it from having excellent facilities. The outdoor facilities create a nice mix of the "old-school" feel with modernized upgrades (brick dugouts, fully-equipped press boxes, etc.). But the gym in the new high school, opened in 2004, is the crown jewel. An upstairs track and bowl-like seating reminds fans of a smaller DeVos Fieldhouse (Hope College). Not only is Manchester's gym good enough to host several playoff games, including the Class C volleyball state quarterfinals two years ago, but it's also the annual home of Manchester's graduation exercises.

Chelsea's baseball/softball complex is a real treat for visitors with chair-back seating, huge press boxes and major-league nine-inning scoreboard. Combine with its setting among the other facilities and semi-rural area, Chelsea might have the "field of dreams." It's recently upgraded football stadium can give Saline a run for its money as it shares much of the same features including synthetic turf and seating for nearly 3,500 fans.

Dexter's gym can rival many Division III or NAIA college arenas. It's spacious, can hold over 2,000 fans, has two huge scoreboards and the upstairs track. Like Saline, Manchester, Chelsea and others, it's a multipurpose gym with fully-equipped weight rooms, wrestling rooms, gymnastics rooms and athletic offices...all in the same complex.

Milan is putting an appealing touch on its outdoor facilities, constructing a "grand entrance" that will include bricks that people can buy, a memorial to area veterans and modern bleachers for the football field. Milan's gym has been upgraded as well and recently hosted districts for boys' basketball.

While many of the West regions communities maintain an "old-time" charm, the high school athletic facilities have certainly added a nice modernized twist.


Sunday, July 1, 2007

An Exciting Week for Milan

I am so excited about this week in Milan. The Milan News-Leader will sponsor a mayoral debate Monday and the fair kicks off Thursday, with the fireworks on Friday. I can't wait!

The debate will see candidates Mike Armitage, Rod Hill and Kim Muckler square off before the August primary. Staff Writer Brian Cox will serve as moderator, our intern, Krystle Dunham, a student at Central Michigan University, will cover the event for our July 5 edition and I will record it on video and get it up on our Web site sometime Tuesday. We're hoping it will be an informative debate and lend insight into the candidates running for the city's top political post. The two top vote-getters will square off in November's general election. Mayor Owen Diaz has decided not to seek re-election.

The debate will be similar in presentation as the one the newspaper organized in the spring for the Saline school board candidates. Brian and Staff Writer Sue G. Collins did most of the work on that one, with Sue serving as moderator. It was well attended and we were able to post video for those who could not make it, but wanted to learn more about the candidates and their responses to questions before the election. That video is still on our Web site if you want to check it out.

After Monday's political debate, the fun kicks with the Milan Community Fair. This will be my first in Milan as editor of the newspaper. I plan to be there every day, capturing Thursday evening's parade on video, Friday's fireworks and the carnival fun Saturday. I also have a new intern, Eric Tomford, a student at Eastern Michigan University, who will be on hand one of those days to gather information for a story. It will be his first for the newspaper. I've asked him to talk to townsfolk, maybe write a story about those who live out of state or in another city but return to their hometown every year for the fair. Another idea is to interview the carnival workers about their life on the road and their thoughts on the city of Milan. If you see Eric around town, don't be shy. Approach him with your thoughts on the fair.

Friday's fireworks 10 p.m. over Ford Lake in Wilson Park is what I am looking forward to the most. Ever since I started in this position last November, people in Milan have told me how great the fireworks display is and that I have to see it. I am told it's one of the best in Southeast Michigan. I used to attend the fireworks in Ann Arbor while growing up and then the Chelsea fireworks when I was a reporter and editor there. Both, however, are no longer done because of financial constraints and liability concerns. The people of Milan are lucky to still have have this tradition.

If you plan on attending any of these events, and I hope you do, here's the run down:

Mayoral debate, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Monday at Milan City Hall. Video coverage of the event the next day on our Web site, but not as comprehensive as being there in person, as we only will show two-minute slices of the event.

Milan Community Fair kicks off 6:30 p.m. Thursday with a parade downtown. The event will include carnival rides, live music and classic cars. The fireworks will start 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday is Kids' Day. The band Trilogy will perform 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday. Baby contest winners will be announced 7 p.m. Saturday. In addition, a chicken barbecue will be held 6 p.m. Friday.

Hope to see you there!

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