2009-07-30 / Front Page

400+ Attend Les Cheneaux Open House

By Jonathan Eppley

Organizers of the Get to Know Les Cheneaux community open house said it was a huge success. They estimate more than 400 people attended the event Thursday, July 23, at the Clark Township Community Center in Cedarville.

Linda Hudson of the Les Cheneaux Community Forum, one of the sponsors, said a lot of work was put into the event by many people and it turned out better than she expected.

"For being the first ever, you never know how many people to expect to come. We were happy with the number that did come," she said. "It's pretty terrific for being the first time."

Thirty-three exhibitors, including 15 businesses and 18 organizations or governmental bodies, set up tables to display information about themselves.

Rick Reichlin of Reichlin Painting in Cedarville had a booth displaying furniture restoration work that he does at his workshop on Meridian Street. He displayed an antique wheelchair from the 1940s that he restored over the last year.

It was a real conversation starter that sparked interest in his restoration work. He said he talked to several people who didn't know he did that sort of work.

Networking at the open house allowed him to get six potential leads for future projects.

"If one of them hires me, it's been a good day," he said.

Frank Harness of the Clark Township Road Committee had a booth explaining the road projects to be completed in Clark Township by fall. He also conducted a survey to see how voters felt about renewing the township road millage, which is up for a vote next spring.

"I'm just kind of getting a feel for what they're thinking," he said, "trying to be proactive and get citizen comment."

Based on his survey, he believes many township residents will support the millage renewal.

Many exhibitors gave away free items to spark interest in their business or organization, including informational pamphlets, pens, notepads, and snacks.

Joe Egar of the Les Cheneaux Snowmobile Club said his group even signed up a new member. The club displayed photographs of club members and its trail groomers and had club apparel for sale.

Mrs. Hudson said if the event is held again next year, she would like to see more involvement from exhibitors as well as organizers. The Les Cheneaux Chamber of Commerce and Clark Township were the event's other two sponsors.

"I would like to it see for next year, and the feedback that we've gotten from the people supports that," she said. "I really think we need a bigger committee to help organize it. We really need more hands on deck."

A similar event next year likely could outgrow the Community Center and expand to tents in the parking lot or to the Les Cheneaux Community Schools gymnasium.

Exhibitors at the community open house included Cedar Cove, Clark Township, Clark Township Road Committee, Chippewa-Luce- Mackinac Community Action Agency, Eagle Law Office, Eastern U.P. Regional Planning and Development Commission, First National Bank of St. Ignace, Great Lakes Boat Building School, Green Choice Refuse and Recycling, Green Energy Solutions, Juice Plus, Land and Sea Marine Sales, Les Cheneaux Advisory Committee, Les Cheneaux Area Artisan Cooperative, Les Cheneaux Community Forum, Les Cheneaux Islands Chamber of Commerce, Les Cheneaux Islands Association, Les Cheneaux Lions Club, Les Cheneaux Watershed Council, McMaken Carpentry, Mackinac County Sheriff's Office, Mackinac Straits Health System Foundation, Soo Co-op Credit Union, Sunrise Cable Network, Sunrise Communications, U.P. in Smoke Catering, Wilcox Construction, U.P. State Credit Union, Les Cheneaux Historical Society, and The St. Ignace News.

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