2016-12-22 / Columns

Santa to visit Omena fire station

Phone/fax 386-5686

ATTENDING AN Herbal Renewal luncheon held last week at the historic Wellington Inn are Omena resident Mary Woessner and former Omena resident Judy Pohlod. ATTENDING AN Herbal Renewal luncheon held last week at the historic Wellington Inn are Omena resident Mary Woessner and former Omena resident Judy Pohlod. Santa Claus is coming to town! He will be making his annual Christmas Eve appearance Saturday at the Omena Community Room. The fun begins at 2:30 p.m. with caroling and refreshments hosted by Omena’s Club 21. It’s a fun time to see friends and neighbors with lots of children waiting to give Santa their final lists.

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The Winter Solstice officially occurred yesterday, but it’s never too late to celebrate.

The Northport Arts Association (NAA) will hold a Winter Solstice Dance from 7 – 10 tonight at the Village Arts Building in Northport. Music will be provided by the Hoop and Holler Band, whose illustrious members include Kris Ernst, Darrin Irvine, Lynette Irvine, Andy Thomas and Gloria Thomas. Refreshments will be provided by Green Bird Organic Cellars. Admission is free, but any donations that help to support the NAA will be gladly accepted. It should be lots of fun.

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This past weekend Dale and Joan Blount traveled to East Lansing to attend the graduation of their grandson Jeff Makarauskas at Michigan State University’s Breslin Center. Jeff graduated from the College of Communication Arts with a degree in media production. He was a member of the Sandbox University program of the College of Communication Arts. Jeff has spent many summers in Northport as a dock hand at the marina. He will now move on to New York City.

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The Herbal Renewal group held its annual holiday luncheon last week at the historic Wellington Inn in Traverse City. Herbal Renewal is an organization of women from around the area, including many from Omena and elsewhere in Leelanau County, who are interested in growing and learning about herbs. In Omena, Herbal Renewal volunteers planted and maintain the lovely garden area across from the Omena Beach.

The Wellington Inn was beautifully decorated for the season, offering something to behold everywhere you looked. Owners Barb and Hank Rishel were wonderful hosts for the event, providing a delicious lunch. Hank graciously gave a tour for those who hadn’t seen it before. He was quick to credit Barb for the amazing design and décor throughout the establishment.

The building has a long history in Traverse City, and the area is fortunate that Rishels have taken such painstaking care to restore it. In 1892, William Cary Hull came to Traverse City to join his father, Henry, in business. Henry was the founder of the Oval Wood Dish Company in Mancelona. The company produced small, paper-thin, wood, basket like containers used as disposable meat trays.

With 325 people on the payroll, the company was the largest employer in northern Michigan. Once settled into the family business, the younger Hull had blueprints drawn to construct their lavish home. Three years later, Hull moved his wife, Lola, and their five children into the mansion. Hull’s father built the mansion directly across the street, and another family member owned a similar residence at the corner of Wellington and State.

Not only was the Oval Wood Dish Company a major employer, it was also a significant lumber consumer. To keep the factory humming required 15 million board feet of timber annually. During the late 1800s, Michigan was the largest producer of timber in the United States. By 1915, over-harvesting led to a serious decline of the state’s lumber industry. By 1916, a lack of wood forced the company to relocate to Tupper Lake, N.Y., where lumber supplies remained plentiful. When the company moved, it took 50 Traverse City families with them — nearly 250 people — devastating the local economy.

Through the years, the home fell on hard times. The house stood vacant for 10 years. In the late 1920s the four Sly brothers purchased the home and divided it into a four-family unit, with four separate deeds. The home was eventually returned to a single family, but remained as four apartments until 1999 when Barb and Hank Rishel purchased the historic home. Following an extensive restoration, they opened it in 2003 as Antiquities Wellington Inn, a Bed and Breakfast near downtown.

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Congratulations to Shep Tate Sr., who celebrated his 99th birthday last week in Memphis. Happy Birthday this week to Pat Kimmerly, Fred Putnam, and Tish Renz. There are no Omena Christmas birthdays that I’m aware of, but Fred Putnam comes close, having been born on Christmas Eve.

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We wish everyone a very Merry Christmas.

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