FOR BETTER OR worse, the report on the Marquette County YMCA’s financial health is in.
The national Y recently completed its emergency audit of the local YMCA and has presented its findings to the local Board of Volunteers. Those findings haven’t been made public yet but there’s an expectation that could happen in the next week or so.
And then we’ll all know whether the Y, after its ambitious expansion plans, now finds itself in a financial hole. And just how deep that hole is.
Quick background: the YMCA’s longtime CEO, Lisa Coombs-Gerou, was recently forced out of her job when it was discovered that the Y had some serious financial problems. No hint of corruption, just allegations of mismanagement.
Interesting side note: Coombs-Gerou has landed on her feet and is now working for a YMCA in Wisconsin.
Assuming there’s a major shortfall, the likelihood is that the Y will have to go back to the community to raise funds. A tough task. The bond between the Y and the community remains strong but the trust has been damaged. No one likes to see funds wasted or misspent. It seems that’s what’s happened here.
Will there be further cutbacks in personnel? Or programs or hours? We’ll see.
SO WITH THE budgetary crisis, the YMCA’s plans to open up a child care facility at the Phelps Square housing complex in Ishpeming have been axed. The money’s not there.
Which leaves a gaping hole at Phelps–the anticipated classroom space that now sits empty. Bad for Phelps, which was counting on that income, and especially bad for the community which has a crying need for pre-school and early childhood care facilities.
Cue the cavalry charge.
Community Action Alger Marquette (formerly known as AMCAB) is rushing in to try to fill that void. The agency, led by Amy Lerlie, is applying for licensing to run early childhood programs for Ishpeming at Phelps Square by this fall. It should happen.
That still leaves a kitchen, a gym and more space at Phelps Square to be filled and used by other agencies. Lerlie is hoping others will join in–youth programs? senior programs? parks and recreation? farming?–and make Phelps Square a true community center.
A private developer, G.A. Haan, stepped in with $5 million in funding to convert Phelps from a closed-down school into attractive, affordable apartments and a community center. A huge investment in a town that needs it. It’d be a shame to waste that space and money.
SPEAKING OF ISHPEMING.
Two new entrepreneurs have thrown their heart, their energy, and their money into new businesses at the gorgeously refurbished Gossard Building.
Kate LaFave, a longtime Yooper, has opened up Re Home–a shop full of recycled, repurposed home furnishings. Cute, inexpensive. The kind of stuff you had no intention of buying when you walked in, but then filled your bags with when you walked out.
LaFave said after the grand opening a few weeks ago, when nearly 500 people crowded her shop, she was left with almost nothing in the store. A good problem to have. She got busy and made more. The store’s now full again.
Next door is The Boxcar.
Country-glam clothing and accessories is how owner Carolyn Lindholm describes her merchandise. The clothes look expensive but they aren’t–most of them are in the $30-$40 range. The most expensive item in the store is a belt–fancy as all get-out–for $129.
Lindholm, who’s from California but was lured here by her Yooper husband (we’ve heard that story before), says she wants to introduce a little glamor and sophistication to the Ishpeming clothing market. Seems she’s doing that, while keeping shoppers within an Ishpeming-style budget.
YOU’VE HEARD OF VRBO? Airbnb? FlipKey?
They’re all part of the Bed and Breakfast craze that’s swept the nation over the last few years. Not the regular, official B&B’s but rather private, individual homes or rooms that owners have decided to rent out to make some bucks.
Best guess is there are already 80 in the city of Marquette.
Well, the city Planning Commission says it’s time to regulate the new B&B’s before the business gets out of hand.
Next Wednesday at Lakeview Arena (5:15 pm), the Commission is holding a public forum to see what residents have to say about the B&B’s…and what, if anything, needs to be done about them.
The Commission, in fact, has drawn up an outline for a new, comprehensive ordinance governing the B&B’s. It’ll address safety issues, parking, time limits for the renters, number of them allowed per block, number of them allowed to operate under one owner, and anything else that you might think is important.
Two other issues certain to be addressed: 1) How are the B&B’s affecting the integrity of neighborhoods? 2) What impact are they having on hotels?
The Commission hopes to have the new ordinance take effect by fall.
It’s a big deal in a town that increasingly sees itself as a magnet for tourists but also treasures its reputation as a family-friendly community.
ANOTHER MICROBREWERY? YEP, this one in Munising.
It’ll be called the East Channel Brewing Company, in a building that previously housed several businesses and was most recently the home of the Commission on Aging.
Partners Joe DesJardins and Ted Majewski are renovating the building now and hope to have it open by July 1st. We know how those “scheduled” openings go but DesJardins feels pretty confident they’ll reach their target date.
They’ll have four brews on tap, plus 2-3 seasonal beers all year round. Live music once a week. An easy-going atmosphere with a Munising “feel” to it.
No food, but they’ll welcome anybody who comes in with takeout. They also are hoping to lure food trucks to their location on a regular basis.
This’ll be the second brewery in Munising–the other is Shooters Firehouse Brewpub–and by our counting, the 8th on the stretch from Munising to Ishpeming. Two in Munising, one in Chocolay, three in Marquette, and two in Ishpeming. You could say it’s a booming industry.
BIGGER AND BETTER.
That seems to be the theme of the Forestville 2016 festival on July 16th. Last year’s festival was the first.
And if you missed it, you probably heard the rave reviews. Great music, great brews, great fun, great camping out at the Forestville Trailhead.
It was the brainchild of Blackrocks Brewery and the Noquemanon Trail Network. Couldn’t have worked out much better.
This year, they’ll have 11 bands on two stages, 7 breweries (up from 3 last year), a half dozen food vendors (2 last year), and they’re expecting to draw a crowd of 750-1000 this year (last year they maxed-out at 525).
More camping and RV spaces available this year, though they’re nearly full already, and more general admission tickets–$35 apiece.
No big-time, highly commercialized, rip-off promoters here. Nope, these are locals, growing the event organically and donating the proceeds, after costs, to the Noquemanon Trail Network.
Can’t beat it. And it’s music and beer under the pines in the middle of a U.P summer.
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