IT’S BEEN FOUR months since Ampersand, Marquette’s co-working site, opened downtown. So how’s it doing?
There was some skepticism initially: It didn’t belong downtown. This town wasn’t ready for this type of business which rents out spaces to individuals, small businesses, and branches of larger businesses. There wouldn’t be enough clients.
Well, here’s the current scorecard, according to Chamber of Commerce executive director Nick Steffey.
Two large offices at Ampersand: one is leased, one is available (for the year)
Seven small offices: all are leased (for the year)
Fifteen desks: all but two or three are rented (by the month)
“The support from the community has been fantastic,” says Steffey. “People want to be here, and this has given the Chamber a face in the center of town.”
The clients range from one person businesses to UPPCO, the Empire Mine, and WLUC.
OBSERVATIONS FROM LAST weekend’s Forestville Music Festival.
Good music. Good beer. Good food. Good times. The crowd? A little smaller than expected.
You can attribute that to competition from Blissfest, a much bigger festival in Harbor Springs the same weekend. Also Pioneer Days in Negaunee. Also, maybe the extreme heat.
Steve Farr, “the pirate of propaganda” for Blackrocks Brewery (which originated the festival), says ticket sales for Forestville have slowed the last couple of years. The first year, just over 500. The second year, up to about 740. But the last two years, back to just over 500.
Now, to be fair, the organizers of Forestville, which is a fundraiser for the Noquemanon Trail Network, don’t want it to become some humungous event. There’s not enough room at the site.
They figure 800-1000 attendees would be just about ideal.
They’re looking at moving the festival to August next year when it would face less competition and when some of the NMU students would be returning to town.
SPEAKING OF BLACKROCKS, Forbes.com recently listed it as the 10th best brewery in Michigan. That’s a pretty big deal.
Bell’s in Kalamazoo was rated number one.
Michigan, by the way, ranks fourth in the country in the number of breweries. California is first, Washington second, New York third, and Michigan (with 32 breweries in the Grand Rapids area alone) is fourth.
But back to Blackrocks. Why only 10th? Aww, heck, let’s not be petty.
CHANGES AHEAD FOR Marquette’s charming Kids Cove Playground at the Lower Harbor.
“A lot of kids are getting splinters and we’ve had to eliminate some of the elements altogether,” says Jon Swenson, the director of community services.
The playground is mostly wood, and Swenson says wood playgrounds generally have a life span of 20-25 years. Kids Cove was installed by community volunteers 22 years ago.
So will the new playground become all plastic and colorful?
Thankfully, no. Swenson says they’ll hope to use trex along with some wood and metal, to maximize durability and minimize splinters. And it will emphasize accessibility for all children.
The city will be applying for a DNR Trust Fund grant next year to replace the playground. And yes, Swenson’s hoping that installation of the new Kids Cove will again be a community project.
A QUARTER MILE south on the shoreline, more changes planned.
You’ve been on the boardwalk just behind the Hampton Inn and the new One Marquette Place?
Well, there are pilings from two old piers extending out from the boardwalk, and the two piers will likely be reconstructed in the next year or so.
The city is looking for a firm to rebuild the piers (or maybe one pier and one breakwater). Cost? Uncertain, according to city manager Mike Angeli.
“Whatever we do, it’ll be open to the public,” he assures us.
It’ll be open to fishermen, strollers, curiosity seekers. Maybe an occasional art exhibition, something like that. But no commercial development.
They’re hoping to start the project in the spring of next year, and finish by the end of the summer.
IF FRIENDS FROM outside the U.P. ever ask you what the weather’s like up here, tell them to check this site.
It’s a time-lapse video covering an entire year from the same spot in Marquette overlooking the ore dock. Compliments of La Dolce Video and Design.
Winter, spring, summer, fall.
And what you’ll notice is the remarkable changes, almost day-to-day. Snow cover one day, mostly gone the next. Foggy one moment, clear the next.
“We wanted to capture what it’s like to live here,” says La Dolce owner and photographer Tony Beres. “We live in a beautiful place.”
MLive.com just came up with the Ultimate Road Trip Across Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and it lists dozens of “must-sees” for visitors.
You could spend weeks on their suggested tour.
Plenty of Marquette County highlights suggested: Brogie’s, Congress Pizza, and Ralph’s Italian Deli in Ishpeming, along with Togo’s, the Vierling, Blackrocks Brewery, Black Rocks (diving off of it), Lakenenland, and many more.
But no Vango’s? No Casa? No Marq? No Lagniappe? We could go on and on.
But then again, it’s just a list. Put together by a few people who went to a lot of places. Subjective as all get-out. Our suggestion? Come back and try some of the gems you missed in your first go-round.
HERE’S SOMETHING TO give you faith in today’s young people.
In June, Marquette Senior High School student Blake Mitchell was fishing below a bridge in West Branch Township.
He suddenly heard a car crash overhead. He raced up the embankment where another young man, Aydin Frost, a recent MSHS grad, was also running toward the accident from his farm across the road.
They found that a car had collided with a tree. The motorist was half hanging out the driver’s window. Flames were shooting up from underneath the vehicle.
Mitchell immediately called 911, and then he and Frost tried to pull the man from the car. No luck. The door wouldn’t open.
They then hooked the door up to a tow strap, hooked their pickup to the strap, and pulled. It worked.
They pried the door open, and yanked the man out just as flames were starting to engulf the car.
MSP trooper Rex Lewis arrived, along with the ambulance, and the Skandia Fire Department to help out..
The man was rushed to the hospital and survived.
And the young men? Trooper Lewis says they’ll likely be receiving Distinguished Citizen awards from the State Police.
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