Everybody loves taco trucks and ice cream bikes, right?
You get great snacks right where you want them–outside the bars, in parks, next to your work places, on the bike paths, at the soccer games.
Plus it’s a boost for capitalism, the free enterprise system and entrepreneurs.
Well, not quite.
Marquette now has two taco trucks–Dia de los Tacos and Senors’ Food Truck–along with an ice cream bike–The Treat Trike–and almost everybody’s happy with them.
Here’s the problem. These scrappy, on-the-go businesses have to pay only for an inexpensive peddlers and hawkers license in Marquette. The bricks-and-mortar merchants, on the other hand, have to pay heavy property taxes.
So is it fair, say, for a taco truck or an ice cream bike to sell their products in direct competition with a nearby restaurant?
Still, you can’t help but root for the little guy. Rick Rhoades Sr, for instance, just recently started up Senor’s Food Truck. At 57, he was out of a job and he was known to make great Mexican food (he’s part Mexican), so he said, what the hell, let’s cook up some tacos, carnitas and quesadillas, and get our food out on the streets. And make a few bucks. Capitalism in its purest form.
Same thing with Dia de los Tacos, which has been around for a while and was recently voted to have the best tacos in the UP. The same also with The Treat Trike. Pedal your bike around town and offer up ice cream to walkers, bikers and beachgoers in need of refreshment.
The food truck industry is now a one billion dollar a year business and growing. One company in San Francisco actually sends out 150 trucks a week.
Of course, things are a bit more modest here in Marquette–two trucks and a trike–but we like the idea. Love it. It’s small-town, it’s personal, it’s entrepreneurial, it’s nostalgic. So let’s encourage them.
We just have to make sure that, in our burst of enthusiasm for the little guys, we don’t inadvertently squeeze out the merchants who are paying the big bucks to keep the city viable and prosperous.
One week, you’re up. The next week, you’re down.
That’s the update on the teacher contract talks. Superintendent Bill Saunders says he’s disappointed with the lack of progress in Thursday’s negotiations, especially after the optimism that arose with the previous week’s talks.
No new talks are scheduled. That’s not good.
Saunders says compensation for the district’s 193 teachers remains a major stumbling block. The district’s current offer calls for 4% base pay increases, but essentially no steps–in other words, no built-in increases for seniority and advanced education.
Previous offers had included reduced pay increases for steps, but with little or no overall pay increase.
Medical insurance and class size are also unresolved.
The administration’s concern is a paltry 1.3% increase in state funding for the district for the next year. That gives the district only about $335,000 to play with. Not much.
Talk to the teachers and they’ll tell you the money is there. The purse strings just have to be loosened.
This back-and-forth has been going on for a year with no resolution. Sad.
Speaking of teachers, it’d be hard to top the poignancy of the graduation ceremony of the Marquette Alternative High School this week.
Twenty-seven students got their diplomas. These are kids who, for one reason or another, were struggling in the traditional high school setting.
But they finally made it, and the ceremony, at times, brought tears to your face even if you didn’t know the kids.
The teachers, remarkably bright, fun and energetic, paid lengthy, emotional tributes to each of the students. The students reciprocated.
Plenty of hugs, plenty of tears and quivering lips. How many teachers say “I love you” to their students? Better yet, how many students say “I love you” to their teachers. You heard that a lot at this graduation.
Amid all the criticism of the American educational system, this was heart-warming.
One of our most talented individuals in town is leaving Marquette.
Dave Poirier, who ran the video production house, Thunder and Lighting, has gotten an exciting and lucrative job broadcasting Professional Bullriders which airs on CBS.
He’ll be the technical director for the broadcasts while also doing some occasional shooting and editing. He’ll be based in Colorado but he’ll be traveling a lot around the country. In fact, Professional Bullriders is now expanding to Brazil and China.
Poirier’s originally from Lake Linden but for the last 15 years he’s been working out of Marquette. His work has appeared on ESPN, PBS, Showtime, and the Sundance Channel, among others. He also produced the Doug Garrison Show locally and numerous TV commercials.
He’s got some regrets leaving the UP but–big surprise!–it can be tough making a living up here. That, and the fact that his new job no longer requires him to tote around a couple hundred pounds of TV gear, were enough to attract him to Colorado.
If you’ve made it out to the Marquette Golf Club, you’ve probably noticed that the greens, especially on the Heritage course, are in remarkably good shape.
In past years, some of them had been ravaged by ice.
This year was different. A nice, thick layer of snow settled on top of the greens early and never melted and re-froze into ice for the duration of the winter. When the snow did finally melt in the spring, the grass was fine.
In previous winters, the snow would melt, then refreeze directly on top of the greens. That’s bad. To counteract the ice, Superintendent Craig Moore and his crew would throw down 50-75 pounds of sunflower seeds on each green to draw in the sun’s heat and melt the ice. Sometimes it worked, sometimes not.
Makes you wonder who first figured out that sunflower seeds were an important tool in maintaining golf courses during the winter.
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