Traverse City

The Village at Grand Traverse Commons

Update: Tours now available of untouched building

Saw an article by Matt Troutman  of the Traverse City Record-Eagle where he reports that tours through the last remaining undeveloped portion of the former state mental hospital and its labyrinth of tunnels are now available.

People lucky enough to land a spot on a tour will start in the Mercato and walk outside toward the north wing of Building 50. Many of the patient rooms are open for exploration, though people are warned to be aware of the peeling lead paint and must put protective covers over their shoes.

Once outside Building 50, the tour will go underground into the brick-lined tunnels that stretch beneath the hospital. The tour ends where it started: inside the new, redeveloped portion of Building 50.

Future tour dates will be announced on The Village at Grand Traverse Commons Facebook page. They cost $25, with the proceeds going toward maintaining and replanting the former arboretum.

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The transformed Northern Michigan Asylum has been up and running as the Village at Grand Traverse Commons for several years.

Ray Minervini has been working on restoring the old state mental hospital for more than a decade.

You could call it a mega-fixer-upper.

Minervini told us back in 2006 that the work being done on the site "equates to the largest rehab project for sure in the Midwest."

The former state mental hospital in Traverse City is a castle-like compound of about 27 buildings.

They were closed in 1989 and vacant for a decade after.

In 2002, Minervini bought all 63-acres of the property for just $1.

After putting in over $60 million, it's now a showpiece for the area. Once it's complete, the owners expect that approximately 1,800 people will live or work there.

Traverse City National Writer Series, An Evening with Vince Gilligan. Photo courtesy John Russell.
National Writers Series / Facebook

Since 2009, readers from across the country have been making their way to downtown Traverse City for an opportunity to get to know some of the most celebrated authors and story-tellers of our time.

Now heading into its fourth year, the Traverse City National Writers Series, founded by Traverse City native Doug Stanton, has nearly doubled the amount of authors featured, according to their website.

Inside the Piper Cherokee Six. Their website reads "Plenty of room for your romantic encounter."
Courtesy milehightc.com

Not surprisingly, there are online, how-to instructions for joining the 'mile high club,' but to join might set off a security alert.

That's where someone like Traverse City pilot Scott Conaway steps in.

user RyAwesome / fotopedia

The state Senate has amended a budget bill to add a new exception to Michigan’s workplace smoking ban.

The Senate version of the human services budget would prohibit spending money to enforce the smoking ban against an annual charity cigar dinner in Traverse City and other events like it.

Republican state Senator Howard Walker sponsored the budget amendment.

"It has to do with non-profits that have been in business for over 10 years for their charity which will help some of the needy folks in the community,” Walker said.

Specifically, the amendment would allow the Father Fred Foundation cigar dinner to go forward without running the risk of a citation.

Organizers have been trying to find away around the smoking ban since 2010.

Right now, the only exceptions to the smoking ban are the casinos in Detroit and on tribal land.

Anti-smoking groups oppose the exception.

(loveamourlove.com)

The federal courthouse in Traverse City is on a list of 60 nationwide that may face closure.

The federal government is considering closing up to 60 courthouse across the country as part of an effort to cut costs.

Documents obtained by The Associated Press show federal courthouses facilities in 29 states could be on the chopping block.   Many of the court sites are in rural areas and critics say closing them could make it more difficult for people to get to court proceedings.

user ellenm1 / Flickr

A winter storm passed over the northern part of the state starting last Friday night.

One meteorologist described it as a "cement-mixer" type of snow.

Interlochen Public Radio's Peter Payette reported "the heaviest snow came down on Leelanau County this weekend where 20 inches fell according to an estimate from the National Weather Service."

The snow was wet and clung to trees and utility lines around the region.

All phone service went down in Leelanau County, even cell phone coverage.

Much of that was restored by Saturday evening but many roads there and elsewhere remain impassable due to downed trees and snow.

On Saturday the American Red Cross scrambled to set up warming shelters from Baldwin to Cheboygan.

And many hotels in Traverse City filled up Sunday night.

And the Associated Press reports that many customers are still without power:

Consumers Energy says 35,000 customers still have no power in northern and northwestern Michigan due to storms that began Friday.

Nearly half the outages are in Leelanau, Benzie and Grand Traverse counties. The utility says the "destructive nature" of the storm has been a challenge to repair crews.

Most customers north of U.S. 10 should get their power back by midnight, but the wait in some of the hardest-hit counties could stretch to Tuesday.

Those counties include Benzie, Charlevoix, Crawford, Grand Traverse, Leelanau and Manistee.

Public schools in Traverse City are closed today, and people who see downed power lines should call (800) 477-5050 or local police.

Update 1:53 p.m.

Police in the Traverse City area have located the person described as suicidal.

From the Grand Traverse Sheriff's Office:

Grand Traverse Sheriff's deputies located Shahbaht Anderson at a residence in Grawn.  The  shotgun was also located at the residence.  Deputies took Anderson into custody  without incident on a warrant out of Leelanau County on an unrelated charge.  Anderson will be lodged at the Leelanau County jail.

The Grand Traverse Sheriff's Department is continuing their investigation into the incident which occurred in Blair Township and will forward the report  to the Grand Traverse County Prosecutor's Office for review when completed.

10:41 p.m.

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) - Two schools in Traverse City are locked down as police look for a person described as suicidal.

The Grand Traverse County Sheriff's Department says the person was in the area of Blair Elementary School on Monday morning. The department says there's no direct link between the person and the
school.

But as a precaution, officials moved Blair Elementary's students and staff to Traverse City East and West Middle Schools.

In a phone message to parents, school officials say Blair and Traverse City West are locked down.

 

*Clarification - The Associated Press reports the police say "there's no direct link between the person and the school." But Peter Payette of Interlochen Public Radio reports that "school officials say the man was related to a student at the middle school. "

user thienzieyung / Flickr

Update 1:58 p.m.

In a press release, the Federal Aviation Administration says they had to order contractors at airports around the country to stop working after Congress failed to pass legislation that reauthorized funding on 'critical airport modernization projects.'

The deadline for the FAA funding extension passed last Friday night.

U.S. Department of Transportation secretary Ray LaHood is quoted in the press release:

“Construction workers across America will lose their jobs and local communities will be hurt the longer this goes on. Congress needs to pass an FAA bill to prevent further economic damage,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “This is no way to run the best aviation system in the world.”
 
“Unless Congress acts quickly, more work on projects critical to our nation’s aviation system will come to a halt. Work is stopping on construction and planning projects, NextGen system testing, and airport certification.  The list goes on and on and this is just the beginning,” said FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt.
 

Here's a list of airports affected by the stop work orders.

The FAA says "nearly 4,000 FAA personnel, many needed to oversee various aspects of these projects, were furloughed on Saturday" and that the work-stoppage could "significantly increase the ultimate costs of construction for taxpayers."

12:21 p.m.

KALAMZOO, Mich. (AP) - Obama administration officials say contractors have been told to stop work on airport modernization projects across the country including the Kalamazoo, Traverse City and Flint areas because Congress has failed to pass legislation necessary for the work to continue.

Officials said Monday that stop-work orders have been issued for dozens of major projects.

The Federal Aviation Administration says they include a $14.4 million tower construction project at Kalamazoo/Battle Creek International Airport, an $11 million tower construction project in Traverse City and a $1.9 million tower fire remediation project in Flint.

The House and Senate are at a stalemate over air service subsidies for rural communities and a Republican proposal that would make it more difficult for airline workers to unionize, among other issues.

(flickr farlane)

More than a million Michiganders are expected to spend part of the Memorial Day holiday weekend travelling to popular tourism destinations.  But they are expected to watch their spending too.  

A AAA Michigan survey found Michiganders plan to spend about 14% less on things like food and other amenities during their Memorial Day holiday travels this year.  The main reason - 4 dollar a gallon gasoline.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

More than a million Michiganders are expected to get-a-way to some of the state’s favorite tourist spots next weekend.  But they are not expected to spend much money Memorial Day weekend.  

The AAA surveyed its members recently and found many plan to spend less of their vacation budget on restaurants and other amenities.  

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