Select Page



Blog Posts


A few reasons when we only need one

By Adam Droscha Contributing Writer Two weekends ago during Charlotte’s annual Frontier Days Parade watchers likely noticed many usual sights — marching bands, horses, tractors, fire trucks, children waving from their floats,...

Read The County Journal Online

Click to open a full digital copy of the newspaper that you can “flip” through online. Works on mobile devices! Read Digital Edition



Featured Story

Eaton County Sheriff presents 2019 awards

Deb Malewski

Contributing Writer

Eaton County Sheriff Tom Reich honored the men and women of law enforcement in an awards ceremony held Jan. 8 at the sheriff’s office in Charlotte. He also recognized citizens and volunteers who stepped up to help the community.

“I take these awards very seriously,” Reich said. “We need to recognize the people in uniform, as they do a job no one else wants to do.”

With so many outstanding deputies to choose from, Reich said the decision to select the 2019 Deputy of the Year was very tough.

Deputy Jacob Larson, of the Delta Township road patrol, and Corrections Deputy John Rademacher, corrections division road crew supervisor, shared the award. Both contributed immensely to the success of the Eaton County Sheriff’s Office, Reich said. In recognition of their outstanding work, Auto-Owners Insurance gave each officer $1,000 gift cards, department officials said.

Larson also received a Citation for Professional Excellence for his part in an Eaton Rapids traffic stop which resulted in the removal of a large amount of drugs from the streets. He shared a second Citation for Professional Excellence with Deputy Joshua Turner for a drug bust in Sunfield Township.

Sue Carpenter, receptionist and jail visitation coordinator, was selected as the 2019 Employee of the Year. Carpenter plays a vital role in receiving visitors to the jail, which requires much diplomacy and patience in dealing with visitors who sometimes are angry, Reich pointed out.

Randy Gilbert was selected as the 2019 Volunteer of the Year. Gilbert is a uniformed special deputy who assists the sheriff’s office with extra security, traffic control and crowd control at events. Reich credited Gilbert’s calmness and quick thinking in several emergency situations which allowed them to safely deal with the problem at hand.

Numerous citations for bravery, meritorious service and professional excellence were also given out. Deputy Christopher Burton was recognized for his actions in Nov. 2019 when he rescued a driver from a burning vehicle. Sgt. Jody Mann, Deputy Johnny Lopez and Deputy John Davidson safely resolved a crisis in late 2018 involving a baby and a domestic violence offender on the expressway. Capt. Robert Block was recognized for an incident where he was able to de-escalate a volatile situation involving an out-of-control, suicidal man with a knife in April 2019.

Deputy Charles Harris was recognized for his actions with an inmate attempting to commit suicide in a holding cell. Deputy Robert Gillentine was commended for his successful search for and recovery of guns and drugs while checking on a parolee. Gillentine was also acknowledged, along with Deputy Michael Ruedisueli, for actions in dealing with a drug transaction at a hotel in Delta Township.

Sgt. Christopher Kuhlman, Deputy Shelby Studley, Deputy Turner and Deputy Daniel Towe were recognized for their chase and capture of armed robbery suspects in Grand Ledge.

Sgt. Christopher Kuhlman, Deputy Justin Barber, Deputy Joshua Popa, Officer Justin Bahm of the Charlotte Police Department (CPD) and Officer Darrell Slaughter of CPD received commendations for their work in apprehending a stalker threatening to murder people.

Not everyone honored was in uniform. Reich recognized several “Distinguished Citizens” who stepped up to make a difference.

Michael Busby and Michael Green were cited for their actions in preventing a suicide on I-69 in July 2019. Michael Chadwick and Ronald Droste apprehended a purse thief/ shoplifter/ car thief at the Lansing Mall in December. Sara Trembley aided and comforted the young daughter of an accident victim in a fatal car crash on St. Joe Highway and Nixon Road last October. Jason Hendrickson helped apprehend a hit and run driver in Windsor Township in September 2019.

Receiving promotions were Captain Robert Block, Sgt. Jody Mann and Sgt. Michael Smith.

Undersheriff Jeffrey Cook commented, “This is a much better event to attend than some of the things we do.”


Photos by Deb Malewski

Top photo: Those receiving Citations for Professional Excellence included (l. to r.) Sgt. Christopher Kuhlman; Deputy Daniel Towe; (Sheriff Tom Reich); Deputy Justin Barber, Officer Darrell Slaughter, CPD; and Officer Justin Bahm, CPD.

Second photo: Deputies Jacob Larson (left) and John Rademacher (right) were honored as the 2019 Eaton County Sheriff’s Office Deputies of the Year. They are shown here with Sheriff Tom Reich.



Featured Story

Xact Excavating: Local grad takes to the dirt

Amy Jo Parish

Contributing Writer

There is a saying, “Give a man soil and he will prosper.” Gino Costello has taken that to heart this past year, sinking his shovel into the ground and opening his own business — Xact Excavating in Olivet.

For some, the summer after high school graduation is a time of celebration. When Costello graduated from Bellevue High School last year, it was time to get busy. His odd jobs with dirt and equipment while still in school helped him to prepare to branch out on his own.

His optimism and work ethic are apparent when Costello speaks about his business, and it is those qualities that have helped the business grow. 

Once customers experienced the quality and care he takes with the work, Costello said word of mouth brought in more and more jobs. What started as a few jobs on the side grew into a business all its own.

With the help of co-founder Brad Shrontz of Shrontz Trucking, Costello’s business has continued to grow since it opened, and Costello could not be more pleased.

“It has been pretty awesome, how it’s going so far,” said Costello.

From excavating, site work, ice and snow removal and even hauling, there is a long list of services that can be found at Xact Excavating.

The business gives Costello the chance to combine two things he really enjoys — working with equipment and working with people.

“I love working with people, and I think the best thing for me is that I get to do the whole job,” said Costello. “You get to see a project come together from beginning to end.”

The most surprising aspect, however, has been for the customers, not the young entrepreneur.

“My age surprises people. They sometimes aren’t sure at the start if I can do the job, but at the end, they say, ‘wow, you actually can.’”

For Costello, reading blueprints is like reading a book, and he looks forward to working in the dirt for years to come. His eagerness to learn has been a key part of his success thus far and helps him stay on top of new trends in the industry.

“I’m always trying to figure something out to make us better than the competition,” he explained.

For more information about Xact Excavating, visit the company online at Xact Excavating is located at 22105 T Drive North in Olivet. Costello can be reached at 517-706-1563 or

Advertisement: Readers: since many ads are from outside the local area, please know what you are buying before sending money.



Featured Story

Bronco basketball teams look to cap off perfect regular seasons

The road to perfect regular seasons for both the Bellevue boys and girls varsity basketball teams could go through Athens. 

The Bronco boys were 18-0 heading into its toughest remaining regular season test, a Friday, Feb. 22 showdown at Athens High School. Bellevue defeated Athens, which was undefeated at the time, earlier this season, 68-62 in Bellevue. The game could be much more difficult in a hostile environment.

The Lady Broncos, meanwhile, host Athens on Tuesday, Feb. 26. Bellevue defeated Athens on the road in their tightest contest of the season, 37-36. The girls were 16-0 heading into their game at Climax on Thursday, Feb. 21. Bellevue defeated Climax 49-15 at home earlier this season.

In their most recent action, Bellevue guards Wyatt Waterbury and Gino Costello led the Broncos to a 60-73 win over Climax, securing a third-straight SCAA West Division title. Waterbury paced the Broncos with 20 points, 6 steals and 4 assists. Costello added 14 points, and 4 assists. Carson Betz recorded a double-double, finishing with 10 points, 14 rebounds and 5 steals.

The team travels to Jackson Christian High School on Monday, Feb. 25 to open District play against Tekonsha.

In the girls most recent victory, Morgan Messenger led the way with 13 points as Bellevue defeated Waldron, 33-30. Mikayla Crawley finished with 10 points, 3 steals and 2 assists. 

The Lady Broncos host Colon on Saturday, Feb. 23, and finish off the regular season with home games against Athens on Tuesday, Feb. 26 and Tekonsha on Thursday, Feb. 28.

The team opens District play at Athens High School on Monday, March 4 against Battle Creek St. Philip.

Advertisement: Readers: since many ads are from outside the local area, please know what you are buying before sending money.

Eaton County

Eaton County

Featured Story

New 911 safety system up and running

Deb Malewski

Contributing Writer

At a Jan. 9 press conference held at the Eaton County Courthouse, Michael Armitage, Eaton County 911 director, announced the new Eaton County public safety radio communication system, approved by voters in 2017, is now in operation. This replaces an old system which was aging and experiencing failures, Armitage said.

The old system used outdated technology and was at the end of its life, Armitage explained.

“A wind gust in the right direction could blow an antenna or a microwave dish and essentially cripple communication,” he added.

Firefighters sometimes had to carry multiple radios to be able to communicate with other agencies in mutual assistance situations. He explained communication inside buildings was not always reliable.

But those problems will be resolved with the new system. Tests on the new system have shown a vast improvement over the old system, with 98 percent coverage inside buildings in the 1,400 sites tested.

The $13.1 million project provides for five new towers; 957 new radios for police, fire and EMS; and 464 pagers for fire services. There are 39 new outdoor warning sirens in the system, and these will automatically activate based on National Weather Service warnings.

Eaton County Commissioner Barb Rogers said the new system has many advantages.

“With the new system, when dispatch is notified of a tornado, for instance, all the sirens throughout the county can be activated by 911 operators immediately,” Rogers said. “It also provides firefighters with much-improved communications while in structure fires.

“I’m very proud of Eaton County for being the first in the tri-county area with the new and improved radio system to protect firefighters, first responders and citizens.”

Delta Township Fire Chief Gregg Ginebaugh pointed out that the new radios issued to the fire departments have larger knobs on them, making them easier to use with gloved hands and in a dark environment. He also noted that they will be using one system and one radio now, which increases the interoperability between neighbors in mutual assistance events.

“This will be a huge leap forward for us,” Ginebaugh said.

Eaton County Sheriff Tom Reich said the new system will be a big help.

“This will improve radio coverage and will help satisfy our mission to provide the very best in public safety and services to the people of Eaton County, including the safety of our first responders, firefighters and law enforcement,” Reich said. He also thanked Armitage for his work in getting the system up and running.

In 2019, Eaton County Dispatch received over 141,000 phone calls and dispatched to over 92,00 incidents involving police, fire and EMS.


Photo provided

Shown here at the Jan. 9 press conference are (l. to r.) Brad Stoddard, Michigan public safety communication system director; Delta Township Fire Chief Gregg Ginebaugh; Delta Township Assistant Chief Mike Roman; Michael Armitage, Eaton County 911 director; Eaton County Sheriff Tim Reich; and Eaton County Undersheriff Jeff Cook.

Advertisement: Readers: since many ads are from outside the local area, please know what you are buying before sending money.



Featured Story

Maple Valley exchange students create positive impact

By Amy Jo Parish

Contributing Writer

Exchange students give up their home and their family for a year in order to gain new experiences in a foreign culture. Those experiences, however, can last a lifetime. This year, the Maple Valley School District welcomed nine exchange students into their halls. Though the students come from all around the globe, all were eager to experience America for themselves. For some, it was an eye-opening experience to come to the very rural setting of Maple Valley.

“I imagined it would be like the High School Musical movies, and it’s a lot more different,” laughs Julia Schnull from Germany. “It’s a lot more country life, but I really like it.”

Maria Sousa of Brazil made the journey without any preconceived notions of American life.

“I thought, it will be what it will be – no expectations,” said Sousa. “It is better than I could have expected.”

Along with a new language, the students have also been experiencing new cuisine. For the German students, they are used to sweet popcorn and the salty varieties have taken a bit of adjustment. Overall, the students said they have been enjoying the food.

“I’m gaining weight every week,” said Sousa.  a

A few students have found a new favorite food.

“Deep-fried pickles, they are so good,” said Sofia Kärki of Finland. “I would eat so many of them.”

The course work has been easier for all of the students, making it easier to adjust to new schedules and time zones.

“School here is so much easier, but it’s so different,” said Matilde Lenzi of Italy. “We don’t change classroom; teachers change, and we go on Saturday.”

Through all the differences and adjustments, Maple Valley High School Principal Michael Knapp said welcoming exchange students into the district creates a positive impact for not only the students but the community as well.

“It allows our students that don’t leave the area to get to experience other cultures,” said Knapp. “They get involved with extracurricular activities and in our school community, and our students just really embrace them.”

Maple Valley typically welcomes anywhere from 10 to 15 exchange students each year, some stay for a semester, others an entire year. The district works with CET USA, Share and other exchange programs to bring the students into the community. The organizations works with local families to match students’ interests with the families and ensure a positive experience for all those involved. Knapp said Maple Valley will continue to work with exchange student companies well into the future and is certain the host families and students are changed for the better because of the programs.

“In many cases, students and host families will visit each other down the road,” said Knapp. “It just spurs on what can be a lifelong friendship.”

The commitment of leaving family and friends for a year can be daunting, explained Knapp, but the experiences and memories make for an unforgettable 12 months.

“It’s a huge step for that student to commit to leaving their homes for a year,” he said.

The students could not agree more and would encourage other students who might be interested in becoming an exchange student to take the chance.

“It’s hard sometimes, but it’s worth it,” said Schnull.


Photo by Amy Jo Parish

This year’s Maple Valley High School exchange students include (front, from left) Veerin Yimsmerjit, Thailand; Matilde Lenzi, Italy; Leo Roskouetz, Germany; Luisa Pidun, Germany; Julia Schnull, Germany; Maria Sousa, Brazil; (back, from left), Vilma Viitanen, Finland; Sofia Kärki, Finland; and (missing from photo) Sally Park, South Korea.

Advertisement: Readers: since many ads are from outside the local area, please know what you are buying before sending money.



Featured Story

New Potterville High School boys varsity basketball coach sets first camp

Newly hired Potterville High School boys varsity basketball coach, Jacob Briney, and his entire coaching staff, is offering a four-day basketball camp for area youth in second through 12th grade. The camp will be held four consecutive Sundays beginning July 21 in the Potterville High School gymnasium.

Students entering ninth through 12th grade will attend from 2 to 4 p.m. July 21, July 28, Aug. 4 and Aug. 11. Students entering sixth through eighth grade will attend from 4 to 5:30 p.m. and students entering second through fifth grade will attend from 5:30 to 7 p.m.

The cost of the camp is $50 per participant, which includes access to all four Sundays, and a custom Moneyball practice jersey. Checks should be made payable to Potterville Public Schools, attention Boys Basketball.

Registration forms must be completed before the start of camp and are available in the Potterville High School athletic office. There will also be an opportunity to register your child on Sunday, July 21 prior to the start of camp.

For more information, contact coach Briney via email at

Advertisement: Readers: since many ads are from outside the local area, please know what you are buying before sending money.

Eaton Rapids

Eaton Rapids

Featured Story

Lady Greyhounds take down rival Charlotte

By Daniel Langeland

Guest Writer

The Eaton Rapids Lady Greyhounds traveled to Charlotte Jan. 10 to take on their rivals. Following their first loss of the season Jan. 7, the Greyhounds were determined to show the Lansing area they are a team to watch this season.

In the first quarter, the Greyhounds used their energy to jump all over the Orioles, using a fast tempo to jump out to a 17-4 lead. During the second quarter, a couple of 3-pointers kept the Orioles from falling too far behind and forcing more of the high tempo ball the Greyhounds had gotten away from. After some back and forth, Eaton Rapids found themselves heading to the locker room with a 32-19 half-time lead.

In the third quarter, Eaton Rapids once again attacked the Orioles with a burst of energy, scoring a quick 6 points and extending their lead slightly before going into a comfort mode. Heading into the fourth, the Greyhounds led 47-32. With the game seemingly in hand, bench players for the visitors got a few extra minutes, including Eaton Rapids’ exchange student Charli Sharam. Charli has been an inspiration for the team this season, and with 2 minutes to go in the game, was able to sub in and get a shot at making her first-ever basket in a real game. A minute later, off a pass from Kyra Acker, Charli turned and fired a bank shot that rattled home, sending the visiting Greyhound student section into a frenzy. It was definitely a moment in time that will always be remembered.

Three Greyhounds scored in double figures, with Peyton Benjamin leading the way for the Greyhounds in a big way, scoring 23 points to go along with 9 steals, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists. Adi Sysum also put in 16 points with her 7 rebounds. Emily Cline added 10 points, Serenity Horton had 6, Shelby Warner had 4, Charli Sharam had her 2 points and Loralei Berry added 1.

This was a big win for Eaton Rapids, beating the rival Orioles on their home court with a final score of 62-45.

The Lady Greyhounds went on to win their Jan. 14 non-conference game — beating Fowlerville 58-40.

Photo by Cindy Gaedert-Gearhart






Sorry, No Posts Found




Pin It on Pinterest