NO DEFINITE WORD yet from Meijer on its planned expansion into Marquette County.
A corporate executive downstate says, absolutely, they want to come here (they like college towns), they are intending to come here, they are shopping around but have not yet found a site. They’ve been searching for about two years.
We know from local sources that Meijer, a Midwest hypermarket chain, has been looking at a few specific locations in Marquette Township.
One of them involves the proposed Up The Sky development behind Lowes. Meijer representatives had a discussion with Up the Sky developer Valdy Biernacki a couple of months ago about two parcels within the development. Biernacki describes the discussion as preliminary but serious.
Meijer operates 220 stores, half of them in the Lower Peninsula. They built their first four stores in Wisconsin in the last year, and are planning another 10 or so in the state over the next four years. They’ve also opened up a new distribution complex in Wisconsin.
More significant, they’re making their way north. They’re now doing site work on a planned store in the Soo, and they have property under contract for another store in Escanaba. Both stores, according to the executive, are likely to open in 2017. It’s possible, he said, that property could still be acquired in Marquette County in time for a 2017 opening here, as well.
SPEAKING OF UP the Sky.
It’s now been about three years since the development–which remains just 70 acres of fields, hills and trees behind Lowes–was first proposed but it now seems to be moving along. The developer is putting together the finishing touches of a traffic study that would allow for an access road into the development.
The traffic study should be completed by the end of the month and will then be submitted to the Road Commission and the Township.
The access road would cut off of County Road HQ (Who came up with such a poetic name?), just north of the America Mall and the site where the new Peak Gym is now under construction. In other words, it’ll be about a quarter mile off of US 41.
Valdy Biernacki, the developer, has grand (grandiose?) plans for Up the Sky: a shopping mall, a conference center, a hotel, restaurants, office park, a possible indoor waterpark, residences…and, as mentioned above, maybe Meijer.
Biernacki has put together three other developments, so he has a track record, but he concedes Up the Sky would be his biggest project to date.
He’s had plenty of discussions with potential tenants in the development but he’s gotten no commitments. He says that won’t happen until the access road and utilities are in.
Easy to be skeptical here because we’re seeing nothing yet. What makes you believe it will happen, though, is that Biernacki has already spent more than $300,000 on this project, and the Township wants him to succeed.
If Up the Sky becomes a reality, it could change the tourism and shopping landscape in Marquette County.
MARK YOUR CALENDARS.
The new Dairy Queen opens here on Tuesday, August 25th.
Construction has gone relatively smoothly. All that remains is getting all the furnishings in place, the food ordered, and the training of the employees completed.
Seventy-three employees in all, most of them parttime.
Family and friends are invited to the unofficial opening on Sunday, the 23rd, when the staff will hone their skills. Then two days later on the 25th, all the rest of us can line up for our Blizzards, burgers and the rest of the Dairy Queen fare.
Farm to table? Not quite. But it’ll be tasty.
It’ll be open seven days a week, from 10 am to 11 pm.
WHILE WE CONTINUE to wait for TV6’s new morning meteorologist, how about this from the “Whatever happened to…” file?
How about Bill Roth? The unforgettable, inimitable Bill Roth–Vicky Crystal’s on air partner from, oh, seven or eight years ago.
Well, Bill has taken a different path ever since he left TV6. He initially became a bank teller but that didn’t really suit him and didn’t make appropriate use of his talents, beliefs and interests.
So he is now….a pastor.
Yep, after leaving the U.P., Bill enrolled in a Methodist seminary in Kentucky and that’s where he and his family have lived up until recently. The great news? He’s been appointed the new pastor of the Milroy (Indiana) United Methodist Church.
He and his family have just moved to Milroy. And that includes his wife, Shana, and their three children–Mildred, Abraham, and Zebedee. And their dog, Moose.
Bill sounds happy and fulfilled. He’s a good man. You get the distinct feeling that for him, ministering to a flock of Christians brings him much greater joy than telling TV watchers about tomorrow’s temperatures and rainfall amounts.
You also gotta believe that Pastor Bill Roth delivers a lively and memorable sermon.
The World Fishing Network (Confession: we didn’t know it existed) is planning a new show for next year–The Great Lakes Fishermen Digest Show–and Marquette County will be the featured locale for one of the episodes in 2016, and another again in 2017.
In fact, the first episode, on Lake Superior, will be taped here on August 27th and 28th.
John Bergsma, a professional walleye fisherman, is host of the show.Travel Marquette has been negotiating with Bergsma and agreed to pay a modest fee to lure the show to Marquette.
Should be great publicity.
The second Marquette County episode will be shot on an inland lake, still undetermined.
THE JOSHUA DAVIS (of The Voice fame) concert last week played to a packed house at Peterson Auditorium in Ishpeming. Sensational music from a humble, talented guy, along with his percussionist and keyboardist/accordionist. Davis, as you probably know, was born at MGH and has local ties here.
But the revelation of the concert was an 11 year old local musician by the name of Milo Birch. “In the know” music lovers are familiar with him because he’s been performing for seven or eight years, but for many of us, it was an eye and ear-opener.
Milo composes and plays the keyboards. Gorgeous, moody music.
He’s recorded a few CD’s, he’s got a website, and he seems well on his way to a serious music career. Some musicians consider him a prodigy.
He’s got an interesting background. Home-schooled north of Marquette. A recognition early on by his unconventional parents that their son had a gift.
What was especially endearing in last week’s performance was that Milo simply walked on stage, sat down at the keyboards and began playing. Not a word spoken. Then Davis and his trio joined him with no fanfare and proceeded to play backup to this shaggy-haired 11 year old who couldn’t have stood more than four feet tall.
A great example of accomplished adult musicians cultivating the next generation of musicians.
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