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Lisa Allmendinger on November 25th, 2014
Courtesy photo. Portrait sculpture at Veo Art Studio.

Courtesy photo. Portrait sculpture underway at VEO Art Studio in downtown Chelsea.

By Lisa Carolin

Business has doubled in just two years for Elizabeth Wilson, who opened VEO Art Studio with her husband John Del Valle in downtown Chelsea in November of 2012. Students from around the county as well as from Jackson come to VEO to take classes.

Wilson says the classes offered at VEO Art Studio benefit people’s health and well-being.

Courtesy photo. Healing story beads.

Courtesy photo. Healing story beads.

“There are classes for those who want to get together to socialize and have fun, and there are classes for artists of any level-novice to professional-who are serious about taking their artistic skills to the next level,” said Wilson, who studied both fine arts and health education.

Wilson started out teaching most of the classes, and since then she has added eight more artists to teach.

Just in time for the holiday season, VEO Art Studio is offering gift certificates for classes.

“Studies show that new experiences, as opposed to new possessions, make people happier,” said Wilson.

All classes are taught by local artists, and classes include figure sculpture, figure drawing, painting, and learning about beaded creations for healing and health.

Courtesy photo of a class at Veo Art Studio.

Courtesy photo of a class at VEO Art Studio.

“These are unique, dynamic classes taught by highly reputable instructors in a   serene space in downtown Chelsea’s Sylvan building (114 North Main St., Suite 8,)” said Melinda Baird, who works with Wilson.

Since the closing of the Chelsea Center for the Arts earlier this year, Wilson says that VEO is trying to fill the gap left in the visual arts.

For more information on classes, click here or call 734-417-6326.

Courtesy photo. Mixed media creatures.

Courtesy photo. Mixed media creatures.

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Lisa Allmendinger on November 25th, 2014

Good news for motorists who have spent the last two months finding alternate routes around the McKinley Road Bridge — the road reopened Monday, Nov. 24, according to a press release from the Washtenaw County Road Commission.

The bridge was closed on Oct. 1 while the Road Commission replaced the bridge at the Sylvan and Lima township border north of Chelsea.

Work completed over the past two months included demolition and removal of the prior structure, installation of new bridge abutments and deck, guardrail installation and restoration of site.
Due to season limitations asphalt paving of the bridge deck and approaches is postponed until next spring.

“The Washtenaw County Road Commission offers our sincere thanks to the area residents, motorists, emergency services and school districts who displayed a great deal of patience during the closure of the McKinley Road Bridge,” according to the press release.

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Chelsea Police logo 2This week’s Chelsea Police Department blotter includes two cases of assault and a report of stolen planks.

Both assaults occurred on Nov. 22, one in the 100 block of West Middle Street and a second in the 500 block of South Main St.

For the full stories, please click here.

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Lisa Allmendinger on November 25th, 2014

Christmas-Tree-Flyer-2014

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Lisa Allmendinger on November 25th, 2014

(Chelsea Update would like to thank Alan Ashley for the photos in this gallery. For more of Alan’s work, please click here.)

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Lisa Allmendinger on November 25th, 2014

Schlegelmilch_Ralph_2Ralph Bernard Schlegelmilch of Dexter, age 84, went to be with The Lord on Sunday, Nov. 23, 2014 at his home.

He was born Nov. 1, 1930 in Flint, Michigan, the son of Ralph “Bill” Bernard and Ada Genevieve (Keller) Schlegelmilch, Sr.

Ralph worked for the Ann Arbor News, in the stereotype department and on the press for 44 years, and retired in 1993. He was a member of St. Thomas, St. Frances and St. Joseph Catholic Churches. Ralph was a member of the National Guard for six years. He also rode motorcycles for many years, and was a dog fancier. Ralph enjoyed taking pictures of different wildlife on the 10 acres of land his home was on.

On Feb. 3, 1951, he married Barbara Jean Green in St. Thomas Church in Ann Arbor, and she survives.

For the full obituary, please click here.

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Chelsea-School-District-logo

By Crystal Hayduk

It was standing room only in the McKune Room at the Chelsea District Library Wednesday evening, Nov. 19, when the Chelsea Education Association (CEA) presented a community forum about the current status of the school district. Attendees included general members of the community, parents, high school students, and teachers.

The meeting, moderated by Dexter attorney Frank Grohnert, began with presentations by two district teachers. High school English teacher and Link Crew advisor Rachael Wismont highlighted a number of scholastic achievements, such as the 95 percent graduation rate, MEAP scores that have trended upwards in the last five years, average ACT scores of 23.3, and placement in the top 10 percent in the state’s top to bottom rankings.

Beach Middle School teacher Brian Boos said that the primary job of a school district is to educate children, but “… they must also feel seen, heard, appreciated, safe, known, and loved.”

He said that the district is using its money as a safety net rather than to reduce class size, provide remedial courses for struggling students, or to attract and retain quality teachers. Chelsea school teachers have been working without a contract since July 1; and due to state mandate, new hires do not have pensions or health care following retirement. “Many people are unaware of how unattractive teaching has become,” he said.

Boos suggested what can help to remedy the situation by offering new teachers full-time positions and raises that match inflation. “But Chelsea lost four fantastic people last year to places with better offerings. Veteran teachers that we all know and love are looking elsewhere,” he grimly reported.

Boos shared the recent contract timeline, which began in November 2013 when a district-wide health insurance committee assembled, followed by recommendations in March 2014. Contract negotiations began in April, with team meetings from May through August. The last contract ended on June 30. In September, a state mediator was requested, followed by a request for fact finding in October (the first time in the history of the Chelsea School District).

A question-and-answer session followed the presentation, in which about 20 audience members addressed the teachers. Many asked questions about district finances, teacher salaries, and health insurance benefits.

Chelsea Education Association President Rick Catherman said that the district’s fund equity is 18.6 percent as reported at the last board meeting. The starting salary of a full-time teacher is just under $39,000 a year. There was a collective gasp from the audience when they learned that new teachers for the 2012-13 year that had been hired part-time left the district for full-time employment this year.

Audience member and former teacher Lenny Solomon said that when he retired in 2003, new hires could expect $35,000. Adjusted for inflation, “we make less today,” Solomon concluded.

Health insurance was a hot topic, with teachers expressing dissatisfaction with the current “flawed plan.” Teachers and audience members alike emphasized that reliable health insurance is a priority.
It was noted that Chelsea employees pay more than employees in 95 percent of other districts pay. Catherman later clarified that when the state mandated that school employees pay a portion of their own health care costs, districts could choose to either split the cost 80/20 with  their employees or become a hard cap district.

Chelsea is a hard cap district, which means that the district pays a set amount toward health insurance, and the employee pays the balance.  The CEA conceded to pay more to help the district financially, but even though the state law has been amended several times since then, nothing has changed in Chelsea. Currently, 95 percent of hard cap districts pay almost $16,000 toward a family health plan, whereas Chelsea School District pays $14,500.

Former community education director Jeff Rohrer pointed out that state cuts to local funding and increased retirement costs have reduced the district’s income by nearly $1,000 per student. “Who is your real opponent?” he asked. “Your real issue is Lansing.”

The next school board meeting is Monday, Nov. 24 at 6:30 p.m. in the board room at the Washington Street Education Center. The community is always welcome to attend board meetings, and may express their opinions during the designated time for public input.

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Lisa Allmendinger on November 24th, 2014
File photo. Everyone was all smiles as the giant stocking drawing took place.

File photo. Everyone was all smiles as the giant stocking drawing took place.

Hometown Holidays concludes on Sunday, Dec. 7, and here’s what to expect.

On Sunday, Dec. 7, Chelsea Chamber Players present free performances at the First United Methodist Church at 3 and 7 p.m. These special holiday performances feature Sunrise Mass by Ola Gjeilo, works for string orchestra and a Christmas Carol sing-a-long.

At 11:30 a.m. , there is a drawing to win a 6-foot tall stocking at the Chelsea McDonald’s.  Music is provided at the event by Chelsea choirs.

Also, “The Nutcracker Ballet” will be performed by Ballet Chelsea at Chelsea High School at 2 p.m.

For a full list of events, please click here.

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File photo. Father, son (and turkey) outside the library.

File photo. Father, son (and turkey) outside the library.

On Tuesday, Nov. 25, there will be a Thanksgiving Evening Storytime for ages 2-6 years beginning at 6:15 p.m. at the Chelsea District Library.

Meet a live turkey at 6:15 p.m. in KidSpot, and then move to McKune for a special Thanksgiving storytime at 6:30 p.m. with Miss Karen and Miss Jessica, complete with stories, songs and Thanksgiving crafts.

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Lisa Allmendinger on November 24th, 2014

RiethmillerFloydred1Floyd Joseph Riethmiller of Grass Lake, (Waterloo), age 84, died Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014 at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital, due to complications of colon cancer.

He was born May 27, 1930 in Jackson, Michigan, the son of Floyd J. and Ruth Alice (Jones) Riethmiller Sr.

Floyd graduated from Jackson High School in 1948.  He worked for Chrysler from 1964-1989 as a driver/ mechanic.  Floyd was a charter member of the International Harvester Club Chapter 11.  He enjoyed tractor pulls, restoring International tractors, and collecting International Harvester memorabilia.  He was a farmer for many years.

For the full obituary, please click here.

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