GRAYLING CHAMBER AWARDS NOMINEES 2022
The nominations for the Grayling Chamber Awards are listed below, you must click on each award(+sign) to expand the menu and find the Nominations of each award listed there. The voting for the 2022 Grayling Chamber Awards Ballot is now closed and the winners will be announced at the Chamber Awards Gala Friday March 10 at the Kirtland Event Center!
KIRK WAKEFIELD SERVICE MEMBER OF THE YEAR 2022
This award was inspired by the 2018 recipient of the Citizen of the Year Award, the late Kirk Wakefield. This award may be given to someone whose contributions and/or commitment of service as Military or First Responders (i.e.: Police Officer, Public Safety, Firefighter, EMS, etc.) has made a positive impact on the Grayling/Crawford County community over the past year. This award recognizes those who continue to put their lives on the line for the safety of others in our community/country.
Arthur “Artie” Clough
Crawford County Sheriff's Office
Volunteer Fire Fighter for the Grayling City/ Township Fire Department
After Art retired in 2009 from both law enforcement and the fire department, he has returned to serve the community twice because of his love for the community and profession. Art has worked over 40 years in law enforcement and over 32 years as a volunteer fire fighter. Most recently Art returned to the Crawford County Sheriff’s Office in May of 2022 as the Court Bailiff to help with the employee shortage that all are facing. Art has always been willing to help others in any way he can and always has stepped up without hesitation.
Having lived at the Crawford County Jail since he was four years old until he was fifteen and having a father who served his community as an officer and then as the Sheriff it is no wonder, he became a dedicated police officer. Art worked for the Lake City Police Department, Hampton Township Police Department, Grayling Police Department, Grayling Fire Department and Crawford County Sheriff’s Office. Art served his community in many different capacities including as a fire fighter, marine/snowmobile officer, dive team member, deputy, officer, sergeant, assistant fire chief, captain, and undersheriff.
Art has never been the type to want acknowledgment for his service but he more than deserves it for all the sacrifices he has made, always putting others first. But if you ask Art, he never felt he sacrificed anything but that it was his purpose in life to help others. After he retired from the city in 2017 at 60 years old, he commented about how much he missed his profession, so being able to come back to work this last year brought him more joy than any can understand. With his tragic diagnosis of ALS, it’s hard not to be sad that he didn’t get to enjoy retirement the way we are supposed to but as the saying goes “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life”.
From the start of his career in law enforcement in 1977 until his last shift worked, he has always been described not only by the community but those who worked with him as being professional, courteous, and kind. His employee file is filled with both citizen and department letters of commendation after serving his community for over forty years in law enforcement. From simple thank you notes to lifesaving awards, Art has played an integral role in advancing the field of law enforcement. There is no other officer that is asked about more than “Artie” in this community and everyone who knows Art has a story to tell about how he helped them. From fixing their bicycle, being a listening ear, giving words of advice, or just a friend to lean on, Art was your guy. Art has volunteered many hours at the fire department assisting with public education for fire prevention as well as coaching sports including t-ball, baseball, and soccer. He has been a proud member of the Fraternal Order of Police, Shriners, Grayling Booster club, Eagle’s, and additionally a Mason. There truly is no way to properly describe the impact that Art has made on Crawford County over the last 45 years. He is the true definition of a public servant and what every law enforcement officer and fire fighter should strive to be, a hero.
Frederic Fire & EMS Team
Each member of the Frederic Fire and EMS Team is committed to keeping Crawford County safe and provide the best possible service when called upon. They inform and educate the community by keeping their Facebook page up to date with the latest developments, inclement weather conditions and share several safety tips throughout the year. Their Safe Baby Program has been a great success. They are present for most of the sporting and community events that take place throughout the county, as well as being involved with the schools’ teaching children about fire safety. Their commitment to keeping Crawford County safe is top notch.
Mr. Finstrom is the perfect choice for this award. Over his 21-year career, he has held close to every position within the department and through each of those roles, he has served our community in an exemplary way. He exhibits leadership, character, integrity, and oftentimes humor. Anyone who knows Mr. Finstrom, knows he has a sense of humor like no other.
Mr. Finstrom comes from a strong family line of law enforcement, commitment, and service to others. In addition to being an exemplary officer and mentor, it is his ability to relate to people that sets him apart from the rest. He has a way of connecting with people that leads to positive resolutions. Considering the world we live in today, this is an invaluable asset and benefit to our community.
One of the roles that Ryan has had over the years is Liaison Officer. Within the school setting Officer Finstrom made himself available and attended many additional events that were not required of him. He was a presence in the Crawford AuSable School District and within each building. He was not afraid to be tough when needed, then follow -up with mentoring. Kids identified and looked up to him. He appealed to all types of kids, those who were on the straight and narrow and those who needed a little extra guidance. During this role, he was a strong influence for many, many, students and made an impact on the trajectory of their life path. The importance of that strong influence is immeasurable for an individual but collectively it contributes to the climate within our schools and ultimately our community.
Mr. Finstom has had to tackle some of life's most difficult situations and has helped staff, students, and families by responding quickly, remaining calm, and being a leader in the most trying times. Ryan brought a sense of security and comfort through his presence. He was always able to use his keen ability to relate to others to help process situations and guide in a way that promoted well-being. He gave deeply of himself in some of the worst of times.
In closing, on a night when we are lifting up those who have served our community without reservation, I cannot think of anyone more deserving than Ryan Finstrom.
Grayling Fire Department- First Responder.
Garett works full time at Fick and Sons in Grayling, but also manages to be a first responder for the Grayling Fire Department and in the summer works at Camp Grayling with the Grayling Fire Military Summer Contract.
Garett has helped raise money for Crawford AuSable School supplies as well as the Cops’ vs Firefighters’ softball game that took place this summer. Garett always goes above and beyond the job at hand and is not afraid to run into a fire. He takes pride in our community.
Crawford County Sheriff’s Dept.
Crawford AuSable School District - Liaison Officer
Chase is active within the Sheriff Department, Community and School system. He volunteers to participate in the Cops vs. Kids basketball game, works at sporting events at the school, continues to work weekends and summers with the sheriff’s department, and more. As the Crawford AuSable School Districts current Liaison Officer Chase works diligently to keep all three of our school buildings safe. He goes above and beyond to maintain positive relationships with students and staff. Chase is always readily available for staff and administration when handling crises and handles them with the utmost professionalism. As a counselor in the district, I have had to call on him during the day and after hours to check on students and situations, and he is always there to assist when necessary. Chase has made an impact on our community with his ability to maintain a sense of safety and security at all three buildings of Crawford AuSable School for students and staff.
Fredric Township Fire/EMS (Frederic Fire Chief/Crawford County Emergency Manager/Crawford County Sheriff Reserve Member/Emergency Services Group Board Member)
Very rarely will you see Chief Pratt not working in some entity. He is always working on something to benefit the people of Crawford County.
Doug Pratt has dedicated his adult life to the citizens of Frederic Township and Crawford County. Chief Pratt has managed the Frederic Fire/EMS Department for over 15 years. He does a great job managing his divisions and maintaining a great work environment. During summer months Chief Pratt also manages an additional Fire/EMS Station at Camp Grayling. Chief Pratt surrounds himself with a hardworking, dedicated team that makes all these things possible.
Chief Pratt is also the Emergency Manager for Crawford County. Chief Pratt was a key asset to Crawford County First Responders during the COVID Epidemic. He applied for grants that provided much needed PPE for first responders when price gouging was happening across the country. Chief Pratt would travel across Michigan collecting supplies and then deliver them to needed agencies. Chief Pratt has continued to be a guiding light for first responders as we move towards a life of dealing with COVID-19. Chief Pratt has submitted for and acquired thousands of dollars in grant dollars that have been used to benefit Crawford County residents and first responders. Chief Pratt also donates his spare time as a reserve officer for the Crawford County Sheriff's Office. He helps with local events and attends the required training when possible. In addition to all of the things he does for his community, he still finds the time to be a family man! Chief Pratt sets a great example for all first responders and deserves this award! Thank you Chief Pratt, for all you've done for our community!
City of Grayling and Grayling Fire Department
City of Grayling Department of Public Safety and Grayling Fire Department
Rick works hard for the City of Grayling, in addition to working for the City of Grayling Fire Department he also works for the Department of Public Works (DPW). He is also contributing to the economic development of the City of Grayling as her will soon be opening a Business in Downtown Grayling.
Rick always goes out when called upon by the fire department and puts his life on the line to fight fires for our Community. He also stays involved withing Community events including all of the guns and hoses events, in addition to all of these jobs and volunteering he still finds the time to be with his family and start a business.
Captain Dana Swander
Frederic Fire Department, Ambulance Services and American Heart Association Trainer
Captain Dana Swander of the Frederic Fire Department is a paramedic who serves all of this area.
She has trained countless EMTs, and Fire Fighters plus teaches American Heart Association CPR classes. She oversees maintenance of the AEDs in Grayling and training on the use of an AED too.
Captain Dana Swander helped implement a new program called D.O.S.E. and is a “safe baby sleeping” program.
This has provided new pack’n plays to many local families that have not had a safe place for their baby to sleep. She and her fellow firefighters give the proper training on caring for a sleeping infant to prevent suffocation, where babies should sleep, and how babies should be laid down to sleep. This has helped so many families and they have given out more pack-n-plays then anywhere else in the state. They have even been recognized at the state level for all their efforts to help the families of Crawford County.
Captain Swander has also been instrumental in another program that installs smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms in homes. This is even free of charge to the homeowner. They also do an inspection of the outside of the home for any dangers that could be harmful in the even if a wildfire.
Her department also does Mutual Aid with surrounding townships. This is when other Fire Departments, Police or EMS units race to a neighboring town to assist them in the event of a problem that requires more responders or more expertise than is available in their own area. They help whenever and wherever they are needed.
Throughout her career as a First Fighter, Paramedic, Fire Captain and EMS Educator, Dana Swander has been notable and dedicated. Her heart is service before self and is commendable. Thank you Captain Swander!
YOU MADE IT HAPPEN 2022
Given to a person, business or organization who, through exceptional contributions and/or commitment, positively affected the growth of the Grayling/Crawford County community over the past year by implementing one specific event, service, project or idea (i.e. fundraiser, community event, etc).
AuSable Valley Animal Shelter
Every pet deserves a loving and nurturing fur-ever home. Since their founding in 1992, they have helped thousands of animals on their homeward journey, and are proud to be a no-kill organization! The AuSable Valley Animal Shelter has brought joy to so many families and pets with an ability to take such amazing care of their fur family.
Patty worked relentlessly with her team to organize the FREE Community Thanksgiving which took place this year between Camp Grayling and the Grayling High School. She received donations from individuals and businesses for the food and supplies to keep this a FREE event for the community and those in need. This committee, led by Patty Crandall for the last 11 years, along with volunteers from our community, fed almost 1000 citizens over Thanksgiving. Most of these volunteers have been putting on this event for over 20 years. This was the event’s 32nd Annual year.
Coffee by Steph
Steph is always open to helping others. Be it event help, employment, or fundraising. Steph has supported local sports teams by allowing very productive fundraising through her business. Steph’s creativity, time and efforts have helped provide things such as uniforms and covered expenses for local clubs affiliated but not yet school teams.
Steph always shows up with her business!
Grayling Junior Vikings Board Members
This board is consistent, dedicated, and persistent. They place the happiness of the children that are involved in their program first. They have created an environment where the youth of Crawford County can come together and learn about teamwork, community, and dedication. These individuals took over the league board this past year and turned the organization around in a positive way. They reached out to the community for support to improve their program and in doing so, we’re able to create a new sense of community for the youth football and cheerleading programs. Through community donations and much fundraising, the board was able to update the fields and surrounding structures to create a revitalized atmosphere for the young players and cheerleaders. The board, through their fund-raising efforts, we’re also able to purchase all new uniforms and equipment for both the football players and cheerleaders.
They have spent hours of their volunteering time to fundraise and generate funds to restore and revitalize the cheerleading and football programs, countless hours to ensure the program runs smoothly, including maintenance of the field, managing, and running the concession stands and ticket booths, re-organizing equipment, and community outreach to promote community involvement in the program. These volunteer hours included time throughout the football season and in the off season. For their end of the year banquet, the board was able to host the banquet completely on community donations and volunteer hours. The board’s hard work and determination is evident in the appearance of the property that they utilize and in the young boys and girls who have become involved in their program.
Carey Jansen, Bill Romzick and Wayne Koppa
The MAKE-IT-HAPPEN attitude of the group responsible for spearheading the campaign to bring a military cemetery to Crawford County. The endless hours that have been invested into learning the process of getting items to the senate and legislature for approval! This makes a difference for many people in our community, but specifically all the people who are affected by living in a military town.
This recent effort to establish a military cemetery in Crawford County started in 2017. The governor signed the legislation in late December 2022 after many trips and conversations with legislators and a last-minute effort to sidetrack the effort from a Michigan House Committee. This cemetery will provide a military burial site for veterans and their spouses mainly north from Bay County to the Mackinac Bridge. Over 75,000 veterans reside in this area and spouse eligibility brings that total number of those eligible to over 125,000. Every time a veteran or spouse is interred in a veteran's cemetery that family saves $2,500 to $3,500 in cemetery cost. Michigan is essentially the last state in the nation to take advantage of federal funding to build a facility that will most likely cost 10 to 12 million dollars. With our Northern Michigan veteran population, we could see up to 500 burials a year.
Now that legislation has been approved the team of Carey Jansen, Bill Romzick and Wayne Koppa will be working with Camp Grayling and Lansing to make applications for funding by July 1st, 2023. If approved in September it takes four years for construction, training and opening. Carey has been a tireless worker producing briefings, travelling to Lansing, and writing letters and making phone calls. Bill has provided expert knowledge of the entire process, having designed cemeteries for the Veterans Administration, managed multiple cemeteries in Ohio and constructed cemeteries, and Wayne has just been Wayne. Everyone is proud this is happening.
Whether playing great music on the radio to her many productions and events at the AuSable Artisan Village, Jomarie through her hard work and dedication to the arts, has managed to provide us all with hours of entertainment. Her thought-provoking theatre productions, concerts, special events and specialty radio shows have been a Godsend!
No matter what obstacle is in front of her, Jomarie will "Make Anything Happen". Limited resources or limited time never stops her from achieving her goal. Once she commits to a project she will see it through to the end...putting in countless hours to see it succeed. Whenever any organization has asked Q100 to support them, Jomarie is right there to make their event or fundraiser a complete success. Music and theatre provide a respite from our lives that tend to be busy and stressful. We are fortunate to have her at the AuSable Artisan Village...bringing culture to not just Grayling but all of Northern Michigan.
She supports others and is a great asset for our community! Julie and her helpers have taken the toys for tots program from a small unorganized project to a well-run machine. Julie is also very involved in the food trucks and at the Crawford County Christian Help Center food pantry volunteering and helping our underprivileged. Julie has been very consistent in her volunteering over the years, and even with some health concerns has continued to help, assist and volunteer. She is constantly thinking of ways to improve the Toys for Tots program and make it bigger and better. She has really stepped out of her comfort zone to give back to the community!
Every year she goes above and beyond to get ready, organize and fundraise Toys for Tots for the children of grayling volunteering her time year-round. Julie volunteers many hours to our community, and she also wears a great smile!
Tip N the Mitten
Kate, Stacy, and the staff at Tip’n the Mitten’s friendliness sets them apart from some of the other great businesses we have. They get involved in ALL the events in our community, they even had a dress up contest for derby day! They support local entrepreneurs by showcasing local-vendors merchandise. Kate and Stacy are pillars of the community, and their pride in our town is unmeasurable! “Whenever we have guests in town, their shop is the first in our list! Us girls have so much fun with their events, we bring friends to shop, eat and enjoy our town! Owners are awesome Always a friendly face!!”
Two River Deli
Two River Deli is a well-liked establishment in the community, so much so they are currently remodeling a larger building in town to be able to offer more seating, products, and a larger prep area for catering. They offer quality products at an affordable price. Two River Deli always seems to have a handle on what we throw at them (even if it’s a last-minute order).
They give back and support the Community by establishing a sandwich of the month and donate a portion of the sales from that sandwich to a different charity each month.
CHAMBER MEMBER ORGANIZATION OF THE YEAR 2022
A Chamber Member Organization that has exemplified excellence in service work throughout the past year. For showing generosity by giving time, money, staff/volunteers, facilities, among other things for community benefit, setting an example for other organizations in the community, supporting the Chamber, and being a leader in the organization as well as the community. Must be a current Chamber Member as of 2022.
AuSable Artisan Village
The mission of the AuSable Artisan Village is to initiate and support art and cultural activities that enrich lives and fuel the economic and creative development of the Grayling community, and the Northern Michigan region. This mission statement is all about generosity. Formed as a non-profit organization, the AuSable Artisan Village has developed a successful art gallery in downtown Grayling which provides a hub for residents and visitors to view and purchase art, as well as to participate in art education and attend a variety of musical and theatrical performances throughout the year. All of this is done with a very talented, dedicated and largely volunteer base. AuSable Artisan Village has become an important outlet for over 50 artists, many of whom are local, to display and sell their art as well as being a destination for visitors from nearly every state in the US and some foreign countries every year. Despite limited capacity in their performing arts venue, the AuSable Artisan Village brings over 1,500 patrons downtown throughout the year. According to statistics provided by the Michigan Arts and Culture Council, these patrons spend from $20 to $50 within our community - over and above the cost of tickets. This provides nearly $50,000 in additional revenue for the surrounding businesses.
As part of the celebration of Graylings 150th anniversary in 2022, AuSable Artisan Village applied for and received a grant to contract with local artists who created engraved wooden panels which highlighted important milestones in our history. These artistic depictions were installed at several of the city's gazebos throughout the community. This beautification project was designed to honor our heritage and to help educate visitors about our origins and growth as a community.
In addition, AuSable Artisan Village offers numerous local opportunities for community members to experience art and culture throughout the year, as demonstrated by the following highlights.
Art education classes are an important part of the AuSable Artisan Village mission. For our children the AAV provides an "Art in a Day" experience at the local elementary school for all fourth graders. To reach every student, Art in a Day brings in five different art experiences which are offered four times each year. AuSable Artisan Village also provides a variety of art classes which are held in the lower-level classroom at the gallery for both children and adults, and there were over 200 participants in 2022.
The performing arts provide an important and enriching experience for the community as well, and AuSable Artisan Village offers a wide variety of opportunities. There are four musical concerts per year which are free to attend. There are several performances per year at a nominal charge, providing the opportunity to experience six comedy improv shows that make us laugh until our cheeks hurt, four community theater productions that touch our hearts or make us think or even surprise us, and four ticketed concerts with a variety of delightful musical performers and genres.
AuSable Artisan Village has also organized and hosted the annual Great Northern Art Explosion, which is a juried competitive art show. In 2022, this show attracted over one hundred very talented artists with unique perspectives and styles from sixteen different states and two foreign countries. Through donations and sponsorships, AuSable Artisan Village awarded $10,000 in prizes to the winners. The show also attracted hundreds of visitors, many of whom purchased art and patronized our local businesses throughout their stay, contributing to the local economy.
AuSable Artisan Village has continued to survive for 12 years because of a committed and supportive membership base, as well as grant funding and gallery sales. The executive director and the board of directors have been deeply appreciative of the local community members who value art as an important part of their community, and they strive to make the best of every dollar they receive. In addition, most of the work done by this non-profit organization is done with a base of over 30 volunteers who contribute their time and their talents. The positive internal culture creates an environment that encourages, supports, and lifts everyone who participates. These qualities have allowed AuSable Artisan Village to maintain a strong artistic and volunteer base, to thrive in the community, and to glean support (financial and otherwise) from its members and other community organizations. The leadership of AuSable Artisan Village is always looking forward for new opportunities to expand its offering of art and culture for the community. I believe these exemplary qualities created by AuSable Artisan Village and its volunteers are the basis for allowing the organization to flourish and expand, and it is deserving of this recognition.
Camp Grayling JMTC
Although Camp Grayling is a military training facility, they pride themselves on what they can do for the community that supports them. Last year alone they attended and/or hosted over 60 events such as Memorials, Festivals, Veteran Coffee Hours and Benefit Fairs, Parades, Toys for Tots, Festival of Trees, Community Thanksgiving, Veteran's Hunt, 911 event, Tree planting, Neighborhood Connect, Blood Drives, Youth Paddle Club as well as providing various tours of the facilities. They were especially proud of raising over $31k at their 1st ever Kentucky Derby Gala and 5k Run for the Roses raising funds for Veterans with PTSD and most recently they hosted almost 200 veterans for the Mid-Michigan Honor Flight, which was an experience they will never forget.
On top of the list above, some further service work would be: Adopt-a-Highway, opening 100 miles of forest roads for off-road vehicles, Wild Turkey Federation Plots, Troop projects with Michigan State Parks, Environmental Rattlesnake study, Tree planting day, Westland Plant ID training, Lake Saver Day, Youth Paddle Project with Hanson Hills, Festival of Trees, Neighborhood Connect, AuSable River Festival, Tip Up Town and Camp Grayling Community Council.
On top of the list above, some further service work would be: Adopt-a-Highway, opening 100 miles of forest roads for off-road vehicles, Wild Turkey Federation Plots, Troop projects with Michigan State Parks, Environmental Rattlesnake study, Tree planting day, Westland Plant ID training, Lake Saver Day, Youth Paddle Project with Hanson Hills, Festival of Trees, Neighborhood Connect, AuSable River Festival, Tip Up Town and Camp Grayling Community Council.
Room Redux Northern Michigan
Room Redux is a global nonprofit that provides Room Transformations for children that have faced trauma including physical and sexual abuse. This is done by the generosity of donors, sponsors, and volunteers! All anonymously and most of the time in 1 day never meeting or seeing the children. Cierra and her husband Ryan are the Executive Directors of Room Redux of Northern Michigan! In 2022 They gave 4 kids in Grayling that experienced abuse a fresh place to heal. They also give high school students the opportunity to give back and help other kids. Their focus is on bringing healing and showing that there are people in their communities that care about them.
USO - United Service Organization
They opened the first USO Center in Michigan at Camp Grayling last summer. USO Midwest Region Operations staff worked closely with Camp Grayling’s military leadership, base staff, and local community volunteers to stand up a seasonal USO center that opened its doors on the first day of June Annual Training. USO provided over 9,000 service instances at the center and nearly 2,500 service instances out in the field in just four months. A 2,000 square foot office building located in the heart of base was converted into Michigan's first USO Center offering air-conditioning, snacks, cold drinks, gaming, Wi-Fi and more. In the first two weeks of opening nearly 3,000 soldiers enjoyed the center and programming including several cookouts, BINGO, Trivia, and a pizza party. USO Camp Grayling will remain open to support soldiers in training as well as drill weekends from April through September each year. This center is supported daily by a new, dedicated group of USO volunteers from the local Grayling, Michigan community. USO Volunteers are the reason service members know they can count on the USO all over the world and we are grateful for the Grayling community members who have helped make it possible to keep this center open and available to our soldiers. The USO Center offers a place for servicemen and women to take a break, get a snack, play a game, connect with friends, and family & helps to boost morale. Since 1941, the USO has been the nation’s leading organization to serve the men and women in the U.S. military, and their families, throughout their time in uniform. The USO works in more than 250 locations and offers programs to keep service members connected to the people, places, and things they love.
LONGEVITY AWARD 2022
To a business that has withstood the test of time, has sincere relationships with their employees and their customers, has helped make an economic impact in Crawford County, and continues to help our community thrive. Must be a current Chamber Member as of 2022.
A+ Lawn Care
A+ Lawncare is a Family owned and operated businesses here in Grayling. Jenna, Ryan, and their staff are inviting and comforting to all their customers. They take the time to get to know their customers, even their pets. They have excellent attention to detail, like handwriting personalized Christmas cards to all their customers, every year!
This past year they Constructed a new building at their business. Their continued growth adds jobs to the community, they have also had exceptional business growth over the last couple years helping our economy grow.
A+ Lawncare continues to grow every year and delivers quality reliable work by being an honest business and caring about their customers and their jobs every year!
Crawford County Avalanche Newspaper
The Avalanche has been the voice of the community since 1879. The paper strives to be a constant supporter and inspiration to the community, businesses and the people who serve the community. The staff is highly motivated to support, uplift and inform the local area on all things relevant to Crawford County.
The paper itself has subscribers throughout the country and helps to attract visitors to the area through stories and advertisements. The Newspaper website is viewed around the world. The paper is also responsible for printing the local visitor guides that are distributed throughout the state, which help bring tourists to the area and help with the economy.
The Managing Editor, Caleb Casey is an award winner for his sports writing and sports feature, coverage of the AuSable Canoe Marathon. In a time when small town newspapers are struggling to keep the doors open, laying off employees and closing up shop in this digital driven marketplace, the Avalanche stands firm and continues to provide Crawford County with integrity.
Kirtland Community College
Kirtland has been around for years in the surrounding communities, but the addition of the 4-mile facility adding new dorms and auto department along with an event center, makes it a unique business that offers so much while also supporting its community. It is here to stay, and its longevity will only continue.
Kirtland offers over 39 degrees and certificates at an affordable price that gives residents a chance to further their education while also learning skills and trades for our area and beyond. They also support the community and hold many events at their new Event Center. This year they are adding dorms and have their own Basketball team.
Celebrating their 16th year in business in Grayling. Dan and Nicole started the business working 7 days a week until they could afford to bring on staff. Northstar Autowash has provided good jobs for area residents and students and has consistently offered an environment of support and care for their staff and customers, often going out of their way to serve others behind the scenes. Their dedication to serving the community runs deep in reinvesting in the business to always offer better service. They have provided employees with clothing, boots, funds needed outside of employer commitments and are genuinely interested in those they serve. They’ve overcome rebuilding the business from the ground up and numerous other challenges with a determined attitude of service.
Both Dan and Nicole have also served the community outside the business in volunteer roles; Dan coaching high school sports for Grayling for years and Nicole in meeting with countless families and helping them navigate private challenges with grace and respect.
They have retained and returned employees, loyal customers, and have been awarded car wash of the year numerous consecutive times by locals. They have donated to school and local fundraising efforts consistently since they opened.
They recently redid the façade of the business, on a road that has high traffic count and is appealing to tourists driving by. They created the Dream Cruise for the AuSable River Festival Car Show that takes place before Canoe Marathon weekend and continue to host and sponsor every year, this year they will be celebrating 10 years of the event!
They serve the elders of our community with respect, and always offer a yes when needed. Their family commitment to service and taking care of their employees and customers is known by many.
CHAMBER MEMBER BUSINESS OF THE YEAR 2022
Chamber Member Business that exemplifies exceptional customer service, generosity, giving of their time, money, staff and/or facilities for community benefit, or has implemented new construction or renovation projects that serve as an investment or as an enhancement to Crawford County over the course of the past year. To the business that is an example to other businesses in the community, one who supports the Chamber, and who has been a leader in their industry and in the community as a whole. Must be a current Chamber Member as of 2022.
A+ Lawn Care
Always so kind, generous and helpful. They go above and beyond to help people even if they are not customers. They Hand write Christmas Cards every year and they are personalized to each customer. This year they expanded their Business by putting up a brand-new building. They have experienced a very impressive growth over the last couple of years. Jenna and Ryan always have a smile on their face, they are so easy to deal with and willing to lend a hand to people when needed.
During Covid, when most restaurants were struggling and catering was hard to come by, BJ's always stepped up to the plate while having the best customer service and delicious food as well. They kept events going as well as fed some of the soldiers at Camp Grayling during training.
BJ's also contributes to its community both here and in Gaylord whether it be sponsoring an event and/or providing a Friday night dinner to the Gaylord Football players.
Coffee By Steph
Steph's attention to and passion for detail at every level of her business is unparalleled. Her care, effort, time and attention are directed towards ensuring that she offers a consistent, high quality product to customers. She pays a great deal of attention to each customer she serves.
Behind the scenes of the coffee business, Steph puts in concerted time and effort to support international small farming practices and especially seeks out high quality products to provide in her store front. Most folks are unaware that Steph knows the name and story of each farmer she works with to supply her coffee beans, and she is intentional in choosing folks she does business with to ensure quality and integrity and brings the international experience to our community through her tiny coffee window. Beyond the effort she puts in behind the scenes, Steph is the first to help with community events in any way she can, and her creative efforts have brought fun and magic not only to her space, but to her neighboring businesses as well at the AuSable Artisan Village and Paddle Hard.
Steph does not portray herself often as an entrepreneur versed in international business who holds a master’s degree and years of expertise in her field carting a vast and fiercely loyal customer base. She simply cares about the person who steps up to her counter and making their day extra special.
Gray Rock Pub & Grub Michelle & Kyle Bond
Former owners of the Gray Ruck Pub and Grub Michelle and Kyle Bond have been so generous and always willing to help our community, especially the youth. We have always had good service at the restaurant, but Michelle also caters for our office Christmas party and does a fantastic job. Gray Rock hosts many fundraisers for many different groups in our community including Project Graduation, Breakfast with Santa, local food pantry, Grayling Marching Band, and Grayling basketball programs. Michelle has such a kind and generous spirit. I’ve never seen her without a smile. She has a great love for Grayling.
The staff at Michigan Brew (Mi Brew) are always wonderful, present, kind and really try hard to keep the business looking clean. Different organizations go to Michigan Brew for meetings, and they are very accommodating. Michigan Brew has fantastic food, good prices, and the business is exceptional. The business owner Matthew has helped with numerous Mainstreet or Chamber of Commerce hosted events over the years. He has invested over $750,000 into the project and used local contractors within the community and genuinely wants to see Grayling grow. This has brought life back into Grayling’s downtown 100 block.
Owner Scott Longendyke has made MANY trips to customer’s homes to help with not only cell phone service issues, but also with setting up satellites, TV’s, internet, and more! It doesn’t matter if you have Mi Mobile’s cell phone service or not, it is a place that you can go where they can help you solve problems with your devices, give free diagnostics, and so much more! One of their main objectives is to save customers money and they will take the time to help review your current plans and see how they can help reduce costs. They also participate in the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) which gives hundreds of local family’s FREE service!
Here are just a few of the testimonials from customers:
“Scott is always helpful and patient with his customers’ needs and wants… he always helps me with all of my questions… and some are silly!”
“I cracked the screen on my new HTC ONE (M8) cell phone, I was unable to find anyone to repair it. I contacted Scott and he had my part delivered the next day and replaced the screen within 2 hours. I would recommend this business to everyone I know. Thank you so much!!!”
“I couldn’t be happier with my new phone and the service I got plus all the help. Saved me a ton of money and opened me up to a whole new world. You got my business for sure. Thank you so much.”
“I have an iPad 3 my son was carrying it around and dropped it! Oh, now the screen was cracked after about a 45-minute call to Apple they would replace it for $225 and I would be without it for as little as 2 weeks. I found out about Mi Mobile and Scott and his team had it back to me within 3 days working like new for a fraction of the cost! Now I have my iPad back with a nice case all thanks to Mi Mobile. Thanks guys.”
“Scott is dedicated to his customer’s satisfaction. And the service is as good as he says it is.
They are great to work with! When you need something, they are there for you. I would recommend them to anyone who likes good honest customer service.”
Scott Longendyke opened Mi Mobile in Grayling in May of 2014 and offered not only prepaid cell phone service plans and accessories, but also brought a much-needed cell phone and tablet repair service to the area. Mi Mobile draws in customers to the area from all over Michigan as well as some out-of-state customers.
In January 2021, Mi Mobile moved across the street from its original smaller location to a MUCH larger retail space to allow more room for customers and increased space to carry more products and perform repairs. They refreshed the space by painting it and constructing a larger point of sale area as well as a large repair station which allows them to bring in more repair equipment to handle more types of repairs.
In November 2021, Scott hired a Director of Operations to help the business run more smoothly behind the scenes so they could put 100% of their focus on their customers!
In November 2022, he hired another Sales Representative/Repair Tech and had a second repair station built to allow for the continually increasing repair traffic and to increase repair turnaround for customers.
Over the past year, they also expanded their customer offerings to represent a larger service area by offering service through Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile networks.
Not only is the staff helpful IN the store on a day-to-day basis, but they are also helpful out in the community by volunteering at many AuSable River Festival events, running a fundraising campaign at the store for Project Graduation, and continually making donations to community fundraisers/events. All of the staff at Mi Mobile live, work and play in Grayling/Crawford County!
Mi Mobile is the only business in our area that offers cell phone and tablet repair in addition to offering service through multiple cell phone carriers. They carry an array of accessories including those for phones/tablets, laptops/computers, home security, speakers, waterproof containers, and more! In a world of technology, it can be a very confusing place for many people and Mi Mobile is a one-stop shop to help fix many of those problems or give advice on these items. Mi Mobile is one of the only places around that performs micro-soldering. In addition to their normal everyday repairs, they have also dabbled in fixing dog collars, synced hearing aids and vehicles, fixed vehicle remotes, TVs and even horse fence transmitters. All of this is done in-house and usually within the same day. Mi Mobile strives to make everyone happy and provide exceptional customer service.
Northstar Autowash employees are always friendly and go above and beyond to ask how customers are doing as well as wash their cars. Northstar is always keeping the Business moving forward by upgrading their equipment. They recently renovated the exterior of the building, improving the appearance for all driving by.
Northstar is always willing to help put withing the Community and gives donations to causes when asked - various golf outings , the AuSable canoe marathon, the AuSable River Festival through their sponsorship of the Car Cruise, as well as various school functions.
Paddle Hard Brewing CO.
The Swander’s treat their employees as family - they lend a helping hand to their staff even outside of the workplace. The Swander’s can be found every ARCM along the AuSable, feeding teams all night long. The Swander’s recently closed their business to the public for an evening so that the family and paddling family of Nick Walton could come together for a private memorial in one of Nick's favorite spots, Paddle Hard.
This fall the Swanders Family were able to complete the Paddle Yard project on the 100 Block, helping to continue to bring action back down to that side of Michigan Ave. again!
The Swander’s embody the heart of community and it shows through the business they've created. Paddle Hard is a welcoming establishment and a fantastic gathering spot!
Q100 Radio is Local Radio in Our Community that supports and promotes local community events and Businesses such as Christmas Walk, AuSable River Canoe Marathon, AuSable Artisan Village. They are involved with school activities like covering the Basketball and Football Games.
They have a weekly show on Friday from 9-10am that Promote community events and Business called Northern Focus!
Erich and Penny and their employees at the Curator always provide top notch customer service. Many people visiting the Grayling area stop in to shop at the Curator, and this Business provides a great representation of our community.
The Curator is always keeping their business in amazing condition. They are at an important corner of Grayling, and they really represent us well. They are always beautifully decorated during the holidays, have extended hours during busy times, and are always stepping up their game!
They represent our community so well. They are right at the heart of downtown, and their beautiful storefront pulls people into our downtown. The owners are always volunteering long hours at community events and do it so well.
The Medicine Shoppe
The Medicine Shoppe are very prompt at answering any questions, if you need a script refill request, they get on it right away. The Staff at the Medicine Shoppe is very welcoming and supportive, you don’t have to worry about anything, because they will have your script.
The owners of Medicine Shoppe are involved in just about everything in Grayling and are very supportive of their community, as they have always been. The owners and the employees of this establishment just seem to do everything right!
Tip ‘n the Mitten
Tip ‘n the mitt goes above and beyond to include all members of the community and its visitors. They actively engage customers via social media. Kate and Stacey are the perfect example of a successful small business, that are veteran owned and supported.
Thompson & Treusch Law Office PLC
Thompson & Treusch Law Office PLC is a Chamber Member Business that exemplifies exceptional customer service, generosity, giving of their time, and money, for community benefit. Mr. Thompson is incredibly intelligent and can be found at Thompson & Treusch Law Office PLC donating his time and money at various community events each year, including Rotary Events as well as passing out candy at the Trunk or Treat in downtown Grayling. I have no doubt he has donated his time and reduced prices to help clients that come to him looking for help. Thompson & Treusch Law Office PLC is an example to other businesses in the community, one who supports the Chamber, and who has been a leader in their industry and in the community.
Twisted Scissors Beauty Bar is a woman owned and operated business that also supports other women. They recently upgraded a portion of their end of the grayling mini mall, really improving the building and bringing new life to it. They provide services for low-income women, and women who have been abused. Danielle shows professionalism and respect every day to the clients as well as to the community.
White Pine & Petals
White Pine and Petals opened Downtown Grayling about 1.5 years ago. Over the past year, they have worked hard to increase business hours, products and have been present at events in the downtown area with their amazing flower truck. Guests are always greeted when entering, offered assistance and the staff is amazing at answering questions and ensuring that the experience was nothing short of comfortable and successful.
The super friendly staff makes you feel like family. The store has a great vibe, very down to earth, great music, such a relaxing atmosphere. The store is always decorated, and they have worked hard to make it look so inviting and it shows!!!
White Pine and Petals has filled up another empty building in Downtown Grayling with a successful business active and participating in Community Events like their Flower truck, donations to GPA and other community events along with increasing product and hours/days of operation to be open for the Grayling community.
“White Pine is different. We go in for the experience, sometimes we find something perfect, other times we don't, but the trip was still amazing. The employees are kind, helpful and always willing to make sure the customers are satisfied and happy. The products are higher-end, unique and include custom ordering and more! This store is a benefit to the downtown and deserves some recognition and praise!”
CITIZEN OF THE YEAR 2022
To the person who has given of themselves to make Crawford County a "Great Place to Live!” The Citizen of the Year is one of the highest honors bestowed by the Chamber. The person, who goes above and beyond the call of duty, is always there when someone needs a hand, and who has contributed to make Crawford County a special place. The purpose of the Citizen of the Year Award is to recognize those who contribute and give back to their community. The nominee may be recognized for contributions made during the previous year or over the course of a lifetime. When nominating someone, please consider the following criteria: diversity of activities, length of service, degree of involvement, and the impact to Crawford County.
Jenna is always thinking about others and putting others in front of herself. Last year she was worried about another company in a neighboring town whose owner was in the ICU. She took it upon herself to make sure that Businesses jobs were complete and mowed lawns for the other company to help make them money and stay in business. When asked if they gave the other company a discount on the services they provide, she said it was done for free.
Heather steps up every day and is such an asset to our community. She is constantly trying to think of ways to make improvements, and truly goes above and beyond her role as the mayor, and spends much of her free time contributing to our community. Last summer Heather stepped up and volunteered all month long with River Festival events, including the pancake breakfast and parade. Heather volunteers’ countless hours as the mayor and contributing to numerous committees. She supports every business and citizen, no matter their standing and has an ability to put herself in others shoe.
Steve is an active member of Mt. Hope Lutheran Church and Grayling Community. Through his membership at Mt. Hope he has served the community of Grayling in so many ways.
He started a partnership with The Shawano Center, he raises money and donations to purchase the boys Easter Baskets and Christmas gifts. He coordinates having them join Mt. Hope to volunteer during the food truck distributions. He organizes Mt. Hope members to go there in December and sing Christmas carols with the boys as well.
Steve is a critical part of organizing and volunteering at the Food Truck Distributions. There are typically 4 to 5 of these a year.
Steve began a journey to solve the child care shortage in Crawford County in 2017. Through his efforts a partnership with Crawford AuSable Day Care began. He spearheaded a membership drive to help fund the project. He raised over $450,000 to get the project started. This process took 3 years and the new CADC was built in 2020. Countless meetings, struggles due to Covid, and time didn't stop him from making it happen. He currently sits as a non-voting member liaison on the CADC Board.
Steve is a very humble person; he always puts the needs of others before himself. He never takes the spotlight or wants credit for his generous giving of time, talent, or money. While he has done all of this, he has been battling Cancer. His Cancer diagnosis has never stopped him or slowed him down but only made him show his appreciation for life, family, friends, and community even more.
Matt Lafontaine of Lafontaine Automotive is always donating his time to the community and is willing to help others. He is not just a great Business owner but a is a great person that goes above and beyond, and this Man would give anyone the shirt off his back. Lafontaine currently has two locations here in Grayling including a Car Wash and he is just a Super Person that deserves to be recognized for his contributions.
Sheriff Shawn M. Kraycs has dedicated his adult life to the citizens of Crawford County and the United States of America after growing up in Crawford County. Sheriff Kraycs served in the Navy and Michigan National Guard for 25 years and is in his 30th year as a Crawford County Sheriff’s Office employee.
Sheriff Kraycs retired on September 30, 2022, after serving the citizens of Crawford County for 30 years. While Sheriff, Sheriff Kraycs has helped the Crawford County Sheriff’s Office move forward in a positive direction with the implementation of new technology. Body warn camera’s and new in car camera systems were implemented. Sheriff Kraycs applied for a grant to purchase more body cameras for officers and received the grant. Sheriff Kraycs worked to try and implement a new report writing system that worked fluently between all three divisions of the Sheriff’s Office; Dispatch, Corrections, and Road. Upgraded security camera systems were implemented in in the Crawford County Jail and Crawford County Court House. Sheriff Kraycs was in the beginning stages of implementing court security at the court house which was much overdue need at the Crawford County Sheriff’s Office.
Sheriff Kraycs always goes above and beyond when it comes to helping people, whether it be a friend of stranger. Sheriff Kraycs along with his predecessor worked diligently to provide Crawford County with the best law enforcement services possible.
The list could go on and on with things Sheriff Kraycs did during his career at the Sheriff’s Office. Sheriff Kraycs career was dedicated to the people of Crawford County, and he is a great candate for the 2022 Crawford County Citizen of the Year. He has given years to the community with community events and keeping the citizens safe.
Although semi-retired you can still find Terri some days at the Sorenson Lockwood Funeral Home helping families with the end-of-life preparations. She goes above and beyond for others in their time of need and would help anyone. She hosts seminars at the Funeral Home to help educate and prepare people for these hard times.
Terri has always been active within our community, including volunteering with GPA activities to help portray Grayling in a positive light! Since 2004 She has taken her role as a Funeral Service Professional very seriously and worked with each and every family choosing Sorenson Lockwood Funeral Home to walk with them at their time of need.
Julie has put her heart and soul into the Toys for Tots program and has brought it to be the best it’s been in years. She and her helpers have turned this project into a huge asset for the children of our town. Julie is the coordinator for the Toys for Tots campaign here in Crawford County, that makes sure that every child has a Christmas. This year over 400 children received toys for Christmas.
Julie volunteers many hours for our community. She goes above and beyond to get ready for Toys for Tots for the children of grayling all year. Julie has made such a difference in so many lives in this community. She has worked so hard these past few years volunteering for Toys for Tots and then ultimately heading it up for Crawford County the last couple of years. She truly puts everything into it even while continuing to volunteer at the Christian help center food pantry, she volunteers her time year-round to help grayling as a whole.
Julie is always looking for ways to help others, she is so giving of herself and her time, she is always friendly, she spends so much time giving back, this would be such an honor for her. Her selfless acts are admirable.
Maze Stephan has been such a great asset to our town in the few short years she’s been here. She has brought the Grayling Rotary Club and the Grayling Promotional Association together in service projects to help our community along with building volunteer support for Downtown Mainstreet events, Grayling’s 150th, Camp Grayling’s USO Show and the Canoe Marathon.
Her continuing volunteer work at the Crawford County Coalition On Aging has given us the Grayling Diamond Dancers— a line dancing group, the Deco Crew — a large group of volunteers who are decorating the Senior Center’s rooms, and she delivers Meals On Wheels.
Maze Stephan leads by being a volunteer all throughout Crawford County. GPA, Rotary, Main Street, 150th, Eagles, etc. She strives to get all of our local civic groups to work together on community projects and support each other to make our community stronger.
NEW this year, she organized the First Responders Salute on 9/11/22 which was held at Camp Grayling. Rotary, GPA, Camp Grayling plus many businesses were proud to cook for this community potluck for First Responders and their families. She is dedicated to making this Salute to ALL First Responders happen in early September each year so get involved & stay tuned!
Maze Stephan donated the materials and built a stage for Senior Center which helps with all their exercise classes plus donated the sound equipment too. She has contributed to GPA and Rotary in support of their projects and scholarships. Over the past few years, she made valuable sound system donations to the school band and theater programs plus donated robots and gear to Grayling High School. She currently serves as President for Grayling Rotary.
Maze Stephan and Jack Pettyjohn were co-chairs in celebrating Grayling’s 150th year and the founding of the Grayling Heritage Committee. With a grant from Rotary, they are planting new trees around the downtown.
Spring cleanup and trail maintenance is around the corner, and she is already calling volunteers from last year to get rolling by Earth Day.
Maze Stephan has helped to build our town into more of a community. She has helped our youth with classes, our town by being involved with Mainstreet, GPA, Grayling Rotary, Camp Grayling, Hansen Hills and especially, the Commission on Aging’s Senior Center.
If asked to help with something, she has gone above and beyond what was asked of her… and never says no. She is truly A-Maze-ing.
Maze Stephan always goes above and beyond when it comes to volunteering for our community. She wants everyone to get involved and volunteer wherever their heart calls them. Our community is better for it.
Jason is a person who has given of himself to make Crawford County a "Great Place to Live!” Jason Thompson goes above and beyond the call of duty, and is always there when someone needs a hand, who has contributed to making Crawford County a special place. Mr. Thompson is incredibly intelligent and donates his time and reduced prices to help clients that come to him looking for help. Mr. Thompson can be found donating his time and money at various community events each year, including passing out candy, at the Trunk or Treat in downtown Grayling. Mr. Thompson is extremely generous with his time and money when it comes to supporting Grayling and Crawford County which is why he is so deserving of the Citizen of the Year Award.
Jillian puts her heart and soul into her city. She has such love for the people and places. She is always out and about talking to everyone but most importantly she wants them to be happy and succeed. Jill is always willing to go a step above for Grayling, to build, and be prosperous. The Downtown events under her direction like the Block Parties and Christmas walks have been phenomenal and have brought a lot of money to the Downtown Businesses and Community.