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Around the town with chelsea - articles from onthetown magazine

Around The Town with Chelsea

By chelseajaie 30 Oct, 2015
Headquartered in Linden, Michigan, Innovative Retirement Solutions is one of very few financial services firms dedicated exclusively to workplace retirement plans. With no product affiliation, Innovative Retirement Solutions not only reinvented the relationship between employer and advisor, but also did soby word of mouth, with no product sales or hidden revenue.

Keith graduated from Grand Blanc High School and went onto receive a Bachelor of Science in Finance from Michigan State University. As most young graduates do, Keith decided to move away and ended up landing a job in Troy at an insurance firm. Keith immediately recognized they had a gap in their service portfolio and spearheaded the development of their 401k program.

In 1993, Keith decided to start his own business, in 1999 he took over management of a 17-advisor firm in Farmington Hills and in 2006 when he had started his own family he realized he wanted to move back home to Genesee County.

 “I wanted to move back home to be near our immediate and extended family. I also wanted to be close to the kids schools so I could be part of all their important events.” Keith explained. “I never miss an event, whether it be to chaperone on a field trip, classroom party, dance recital, cheer competition or baseball game.”

The dedication Keith gives to his family is also a consistent theme in his business and his community. Keith served as the 2014 Chairman of the Board for the Fenton Regional Chamber of Commerce and has also been part of the growing development in Fenton and Linden. When Ed Koledo, superintendent of the Linden Community Schools and Chamber Board member, suggested bringing a Gus Macker to Linden, Keith was on board and served on the leadership committee for the Gus Macker event. “I like the fact that Genesee County is a slower pace compared to the Detroit suburbs and it also allows me to build relationships with the schools and community leaders.”

Keith is the Lead Business facilitator for the Fenton Regional Chamber program, Boys and Business, which is an entrepreneurial workshop for local area high school juniors and seniors. He is also the chair of the Business Development committee working to help create services in the chamber that local businesses can utilize.

All of these community events Keith is involved in has allowed him to create professional relationships with local companies that respect and understand Keith’s way of doing business.

“100% of my business is solely based on referrals,” Keith explained. “We do things a little differently than some of our competitors and our clients really appreciate that. This has allowed Innovative Retirement Solutions to grow through word of mouth.”

The industry is ever changing and Keith was one of the first advisors to go fee based 15 years ago. He also has the ability to communicate the plan with the investor, controller and trustees of the company before he educates and assists in enrolling the participants. Keith has the ability to identify plan expenses and offer ways to manage them without making sacrifices to the plan. Often times it’s not the plan provider that needs to be changed, it’s the fund options, expenses and education of the participants that will lead to greater participation and a successful plan.

“When I started 25 years ago the big question everyone wanted to know was if you had an 800 number and if they could add an investment account,” Keith stated. “Today the definition of a good 401k plan is measured by the amount of how many participants are on track to retire. So this is
what we focus on for our clients.” Evolving out of a larger corporate structure, Innovative Retirement Solutions has the in-depth industry experience of a large established firm but without the inherent conflicts of interest that plague most firms. This conflict free business model has led to rapid company growth. Some additional factors that have led to the rapid growth of Innovative Retirement Solutions unique approach include:

• White House and Department of Labor consideration of new fiduciary rules;

• Growing complexity around the administration of Corporate Retirement Plans;

• Increased appetite for conflict-free, customized retirement plans;

• Offering the clearest Fee Disclosure documents;

• Early adoption of sophisticated new technologies that increase service;

• Not accepting hidden revenue, at a time when employers have to answer for it; and,

• Newer, complex types of retirement plan design features coming to smaller employers.

Innovative Retirement Solutions has clients with branches or offices all over the country, and because their goal is to educate every employee on their retirement plan options, they travel to the different branches to meet with the individual participants.

A well-known car dealership in Fenton is one of their local clients and a team member from Innovative Retirement Solutions is there when the have a new hire orientation or have someone with questions about their 401k plan. Since Innovative Retirement has taken over the plan with this car dealer, they were able to grow the plan participants from 20 to 65 people in the first year.

“The biggest asset of any business owner is their business. Business owners can’t afford to have employees who are not on track to retire. I show my clients a different perspective of what not having a good 401k plan for their employees could look like. Having a 401k strategic plan to bring in knowledgeable and good employees ultimately benefits all parties.” Keith explained.

Proposed new government legislation could potentially mandate employers to have a 401k plan available for their employees. Employers could be liable and exposed to litigation if they have employees who are eligible for retiring and there was a 401k plan available, but the employees were never educated about the plan.

“We make a point to ensure every employee is educated.”

Keith shared that during the education process the number one question from every employee is ‘How much money do I need to retire?’ As part of their Work Site Financial Solutions program, LPL has programs in place which assists the participants with a multitude of things from assisting with rollovers from previous employers, advice on investments, creating retirement goals and strategic planning.

The biggest advantage Innovative Retirement Solutions has is that they are completely independent. They have access to service providers such as:

  • Alliance Bernstein
  • American Funds
  • BlackRock
  • Columbia Management
  • Dodge & Cox
  • Dreyfus
  • DWS
  • Federated
  • Fidelity
  • Franklin & Templeton
  • Invesco
  • Janus
  • Inveso
  • Janus
  • John Hancock
  • JP Morgan
  • MFS
  • Oppenheimer
  • T.Rowe Price
  • Vanguard

Innovative Retirement Solutions is one of the National Plan Advisory Services dedicated exclusively to workplace retirement plans and those responsible for them.

Innovative Retirement Solutions’ crystal clear, flat-fee or fee-based service models that strive to allow employers to right-size the objective work they crave and trust the advice they’re given. Innovative Retirement Solutions helps improve workplace retirement plans by not selling anything
and instead supporting plan governance, retirement readiness, and other Advisor Partners. Visit www.InnovativeRetirement . net for more information.
By chelseajaie 16 Mar, 2015
Recently, I had the pleasure of meeting with Vanessa G. Nelson, president and owner of Expert Human Resources in Flint, Michigan. When asked why she started her company, Nelson states, “Employment litigation increased 2000% since 1995, [and] the average lawsuit settlement is $165,000. If the case goes to court, it can cost $1 million or more. Employment law non-compliance fines can cost upwards of $100,000. It is way too much for employers to operate their businesses and try to keep track of red tape and issues.” These staggering facts spearheaded Nelson to start Expert Human Resources in 2009 to help companies protect their assets.

Nelson, who was born and raised in Flint, Michigan, knew early on that she wanted to help others. She learned a strong work ethic from her role model and mom, Ione Larry who, Nelson states, always worked hard, took pride in all of the work she did, and is a strong leader. Nelson’s career path began over 30 years ago when she worked at Sparrow Hospital. She then went on to work at Hurley Medical Center in 1991 where, in 2000, she was promoted to Human Resources as a Benefits Specialist. After working in benefits for four years, a promotional opportunity became available in Labor Relations, a position she competed for and won. Nelson states, “I knew that Labor Relations was my passion almost immediately. I LOVED it!” She adds, “I had found my calling. “

During Nelson’s tenure at the Medical Center, she earned her Masters Degree from Central Michigan University, Certified Labor Relations Leader Certification from Michigan State University, and the prestigious Senior Professional in Human Resources Certificate from the Human Resource Certification Institute. While Nelson worked on her Master Degree, she wrote her thesis (business plan) on the “feasibility of starting a Human Resources consulting firm in Michigan,” she declares, further stating that, “I conducted all the research, surveys, market analysis, etc. and ultimately received an ‘A’ on my thesis. The professors thought my idea was so outstanding I decided to execute my plan.”

Simultaneously, while working on her Masters, Nelson noticed that many of her colleagues would complain about being sued and having to pay large employment settlements, jury verdicts, and/or non-compliance fines. It was then that Nelson had an “Aha” moment and realized that many of those incidents would not have happened if those colleagues had certain policies or procedures in place, as well as if they had kept up with the changing laws, or had their managers properly trained to observe the workplace. Nelson lights up as she describes that, “It was then that I realized I could help companies save money!”

Due to Expert Human Resources being so well received, in 2013, Nelson retired from the corporate arena. She states, “Many business owners don’t have the time or the manpower to dedicate to protecting their companies, which is where Expert Human Resources can help. Our consultants have over 100 years of combined HR and employment law experience, and we stay up-to-date for our clients. Expert Human Resources works closely with businesses to make sure they have the right policies and procedures in place. We train managers and supervisors to protect the workplace, conduct HR audits to eliminate or reduce risk, perform workplace investigations to ensure policies are adhered to, and we help to make sure companies are consistent with their policy application across all avenues of the business.” And expert Human Resources also has memberships available for only $99 per year, which is a great affordable price for many small businesses. The basic membership includes one FREE, 10-minute call each month to discuss any HR or employment law issue, free access to seminars, free customizable forms, sample job descriptions, employment law interpretations, hiring and termination toolkits, and more! Based on the level of service needed, a business can upgrade its membership at any time.

Vanessa G. Nelson is also a sought-after speaker in her industry. She recently presented Human Resources and Employment Law: Don’t Put Your Company at Risk! to the National Association of RV and Parks Conference -- to roomful of about 80 participant’s in Las Vegas, Nevada. Nelson reports, “After the presentation, I received a flood of emails from the attendees, thanking me for presenting and for all the tools I gave them during the presentation. One of the freebies I give to all businesses is a social media policy. Employers need to understand and communicate the social media policy to their employees to protect their companies’ reputations and bottom lines,” Nelson explains.

You can find a copy of Expert Human Resources’ Social Media Policy Sample on her website www.experthumanresources.com under the ‘Shop’ section. You can also find her FREE e-Book entitled, Management Guide to Crucial Human Resource Strategies. This book explains how to be proactive and avoid common employee- related litigation and non-compliance fees.

Nelson also has other valuable information that can be found on her blog, including ‘5 Smart Things to Do in 2015 to Protect Your Business’ and ‘Affordable Care Act Update: Employer Mandate in Effect January 1, 2015.' “We are different at Expert Human Resources. We are [concerned with] preventing employment lawsuits and helping companies maintain employment law compliance because that is where our clients are most vulnerable,” Nelson explains. “We are protecting our clients’ assets.”

Get connected with Vanessa G. Nelson and Expert Human Resources today. Expert Human Resources has worked with over 60 companies, including McDonalds, MTA, Genesee District Library, Suski Chevrolet Buick, Old Newsboys of Flint, Pain Management Center of Flint, Village of Birch Run, Hank Graff Chevrolet, Balance Concierge, Richfield Trailer Supply, Lapeer County Vision Center, I-Ken Video, Lawrence E. Moon Funeral Home, Energy Sciences, and many more.

Expert Human Resources is also a benefits partner with the Saginaw Chamber of Commerce and the Birch Run Chamber of Commerce. Expert Human Resources has clients all over Michigan, as well as in Texas, Maryland, Georgia, New Jersey and Washington.
Expert Human Resourcesis located at 2425 South Linden Road, Suite D126 Flint, Michigan (Oak Creek Office Park) (877) 356-6175.
By chelseajaie 23 Jan, 2015
Tia Helita’s has been a Flint staple since 1970 when the restaurant first opened on Fenton Road in Flint. Growing up on the east side of Flint, in Burton, my family frequently went to both of the locations, the other being on Richfield Road near Western Highway. Some of my favorite dishes from when I was little are still my favorite dishes today. The chips and salsa are still exactly the same today as they were years ago, and I found out they still use the same recipe from when the restaurant first opened. I can even remember when it was in the small white building on Richfield, with parking behind the restaurant and with an entrance through the kitchen…just like if we were going to Grandma’s house. Tia Helita’s has always had that safe, family-welcoming atmosphere.

I had the pleasure of meeting and sitting down with Monica Reed, one of the third generation owners of Tia Helita’s. Monica has been working in the restaurant since she was 13 years old. She told me that “the best thing about a family business is having your family be part of it. Although it can be hard at times, you always know your family has your back.” My friend Tom Hicks joined me for lunch; his 46 year- old, Flint-based company has always enjoyed catered lunches from Tia Helita’s, and the restaurant also hosted their company Christmas party there too.

For those who don’t know, Tia Helitas has a full, authentic Mexican menu, which includes prime T-Bone Steaks, and their famous BBQ Ribs. Many patrons don’t realize that the BBQ sauce is homemade, the recipe including Dos Equis Beer and other special spices to make it sweet yet savory. There is full bar service with amazing margaritas and a full line of domestic and imported beers. Once the lunch rush was over, Monica was able to sit down with us so we could ask her a couple questions about her family business. Some of them included the following:

What is your favorite dish to serve?

“The fajitas, hands down, are one of the most popular dishes we serve because they come with all the sides and include chips and salsa. Another one of my favorites is the Carnita Taco Dinner which [consists of] pork taco, topped with Piico de Gallo and cilantro,   and served with rice, beans or famous stew beef, Carne Guisada.”

What is your favorite dish to make?

“I love the fish tacos and the shrimp tacos! It’s funny because when I am talking to a table [of customers,] explaining some of the dishes they have not tried, the guests will listen to me, but they always go back to order their favorites. It’s hard for people to try new things when they have their minds set on one of our favorites. But if they do venture out and try it, they love it, and it usually becomes part of their new favorite list.”

What dish do the customers rave about?

“The Wet Beef Burrito, hands down. It’s made with our Carne Guisada and our guests absolutely love it. We start cooking it every day at 7:30 AM, along with all our food. Everything is made fresh each morning.”

What is the oldest recipe or dish, one which has been served continuously since 1970?
“My grandparents opened the restaurant with the exact same Carne Guisada, Chips and Salsa recipes we still use today. Those definitely hold a special place in our kitchen and in the hearts of our guests.”

What is one thing you’d like people to know about your restaurant?

“[At] our restaurant, we welcome everyone like family. We want to have the same feeling and atmosphere as our grandparents did years ago. Although many of our guests come back for their favorite dishes, we are continuously introducing new items on the menu or in the bar. As a result, some of those new items have become new favorites, such as our seafood burrito and seafood enchilada.

Oh! Another thing I keep meaning to add to the menu is sliced avocado. Our guests know they can order guacamole, but they don’t know they can order sliced avocados, which are an amazing addition to any of their favorite dishes.”

Can you rent out your restaurant for parties?

“Of course! We have two banquet rooms, which seat 35-40 people and also have our large dining area which seats 80 people for big parties. We also have the ability to host fundraisers for different groups. We believe that it is important to give back to the community which supports us… that is one of our core values.”

What is something you’d like people to know about your catering?

“We can deliver the food right to your door or venue. We even have the ability to stay onsite and service the food if you’d like. We also have many guests who come and pick up food for parties they are having, from First Communions, to Super Bowl [ functions] or even a low key Friday Family Game Night.”
“Many of our patrons have become family and that’s what make us happy; we pride ourselves in good Food, Drinks, Family and Friends!” Monica Reed, 3rd Generation Owner of Tia Helitas.
By chelseajaie 16 Jan, 2015
There is a lot of talk about innovation being the key to growing American businesses, but exactly how companies get innovative remains less clearly defined. I had the opportunity to sit down with Matt and Rich Cramer from Dee Cramer in Holly, Michigan, to talk about how diversity has kept them on the forefront of innovation and allowed them to become a business fixture in our community since 1937. Dee Cramer had been featured on the cover of onthetown Magazine in September 1992, and that cover was included again inside the 40th Anniversary edition, earlier in February of this year.

Dee Cramer, Inc. is a third generation, family owned company, which was started by Dee Cramer, and then led by his son Dick, before Matt and Rich took the helm in 2005. Over the past decades, these leaders have been honored with several prestigious awards, including such distinguished recognition as Dick Cramer (2nd generation) being inducted into the 2012 Michigan Construction Hall of Fame, Dee Cramer (grandfather) being SMACNA Contractor of the Year 1983, Dick Cramer as SMACNA Contractor of the Year 1998, and Matt Cramer (3rd generation) as SMACNA Contractor of the Year 2011.

Studies claim that fewer than 10% of family businesses survive to a 3rd generation, which makes Dee Cramer very unique. President Matt Cramer says, “Our grandfather raised our father to be a well-rounded individual and did not force him into the family business. When he was ready, he came onboard. Our father also raised us to be very well-rounded, so we both worked other jobs in other industries, and later, we came back to the family business, [then] by choice.”

There are 88 employees of its 190 employees who have been with the company for over 10 years, 43 employees for over 15 years and 23 employees who have been with the company for over 20 years, showing the loyalty and dedication they have for the company. Many of the employees are 2nd and 3rd generation workers as well. Matt explains, “Our company was built on the core values from my grandfather. Our dad continued to build the company on those same values. We proudly continue to build on those same values over 70 years later. We are proud to have a company which allows our employees to live and work in the same community.”

Since its inception, Dee Cramer has prided itself on excellence in design, workmanship, competitive pricing and customer service. “Everything we do is intentional,” Vice-President Rich Cramer explains. “We stick to things we excel at.” And then he adds, “We focus on customer service and provide value when we identify a need in the community.” Matt continues, saying, “We are able to take care of our customers better than anyone else.” Furthermore, Dee Cramer represents the definition of diversity in our community. From residential heating and cooling services to taking the lead on the one million square foot C.S. Mott Children’s & Women’s Hospital project, Dee Cramer has proven over and over again to be truly a leader and innovator in their industry.

Many people locally believe Dee Cramer is just a residential company, with few realizing that they are the 13th largest sheet metal contractor in America. While a good portion of their work is on new buildings, they take pride in the work they do servicing mechanical
systems in existing buildings. “Mechanical systems represent a significant capital investment for any building owner. We provide a valuable service maintaining those systems to extend the life of that equipment. The latest technology allows us to measure the capacity and efficiency of existing equipment to help owners know when it makes financial sense to replace it,” explains Rich.

Dee Cramer is recognized nationally as an industry leader, with state of the art headquarters, right here in Grand Blanc Township, Michigan. This is not their only location, for they also have a 18,000 square foot fabrication facility in Saginaw, a 20,000 square foot fabrication facility in Wixom, and another 3,300 square foot branch office in Lansing. “We specialize in making difficult projects look easy for customers, primarily in the Midwest, Matt says. And to clarify further, “We are on the cutting edge – we are not inventors, but we are early adopters of new technology,” Rich explains. He is speaking of the BIM technology and IPD Projects which Dee Cramer has adopted early on and allowed to become industry leaders.

BIM (Building Information Modeling) is 3D technology that Dee Cramer has been drawing models in for over 20 years. “By drawing the building in 3D, we are able to allow all the trades to lay in all their contents and systems to ensure [that] everything fits and installs properly before on site construction starts,” Matt says, adding, “We are a recognized industry leader in building information modeling.” BIM keeps projects under budget and allows them to be completed in a shorter time span when compared to buildings built with traditional methods. One example of how BIM creates efficiencies is represented in how, in the construction of the C.S. Mott Children’s and Women’s Hospital, BIM was used to map out the hanging points for all the duct work in the entire one million square-foot building. This allowed the crew to install the hangers using GPS coordinates as the floors were being poured so that when the ductwork arrived, the install time was significantly reduced.

In addition, IPD (Integrated Project Delivery) is a new Construction delivery method that Dee Cramer uses to streamline projects by bringing all the key components of the project together for collaboration earlier than they would be in traditional building methods. This brings the owner directly in contact with the trades and allows brainstorming for the best possible way to achieve certain project objectives and project goals. IPD utilizes various specific talents of team members to improve cost effectiveness, minimize waste and ultimately focus on achieving specific owner objectives. The end result of IPD projects is a higher quality project, delivered more quickly, often times under budget, with much higher customer satisfaction in the final product. The Paul F. Reinhart Emergency Trauma Center at Hurley Children’s Hospital was the first IPD project in Michigan, and since then, Dee Cramer has successfully completed five more IPD jobs to date.

The innovative technologies Dee Cramer adopts come from their participation in the Sheet Metal & Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association (SMACNA) and also from a peer group of other like companies across the country. Dee Cramer is recognized nationally as an industry leader for their peer group and SMACNA. Dee Cramer is also a big believer in giving back and investing in their local communities. They change the sign in front of their Grand Blanc Twp. facility every October for breast cancer awareness, participate in the breast cancer walk, support the Boys and Girls Club of Flint, as well as Big Brothers Big Sisters, United Way, Habitat for Humanity, Christmas in Action and Hurley Children’s Hospital.  

For additional information about Dee Cramer or to contact them for their services, visit www.DeeCramer.com .
By chelseajaie 25 Jul, 2014
I’m sure you have heard about the new Flint Farmers’ Market which opened it’s doors on Saturday, June 21st. The facility is amazing and is the new home to over 50 year-round vendors as well as 50 additional seasonal vendors who set up outdoors. The market will keep the same schedule it had on its previous site, being open only on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. This allows the farmers and other vendors to be able to work their other jobs or farm and still be a part of the market.

Many of the vendors made the move to the new location, while some vendors retired… but their employees started new businesses to carry on the tradition of being in the market. There has also been expansion for other local Flint businesses. For example, Mark and Meghan Hoffman, who also are the proprietors of Hoffman’s Deco Deli & Café, located in downtown Flint, opened up two new businesses in the market: Hoffman’s Chop Shop, a butcher shop and Floradora Flower Shop. “For me, this has been a dream come true,” Meghan says. “I am overwhelmed by the support and love from my family, the community, my coworkers and friends! Much love…Flint ROCKS!”

What many of you don’t know is that the new Flint Farmers’ Market has several other offerings deep inside its walls that are available to help small businesses grow. “We brought the market closer to the people,” explains Chef Sean Gartland, Culinary Director. “No matter where you are, you can end up downtown because, right across the street from our parking
lot is the MTA Bus Station which gives easy access to everyone.” This easy accessibility is a sentiment echoed again and again. “The market is for everybody,” says Dick Ramsdell, manager of the new bazaar. “The new facility is going to allow us to accomplish so many good things in the city of Flint.”

Part of this movement is brought on by the fact that it is not easy to get fresh fruits and vegetables in Flint. Many
families can’t travel far to get to grocery stores in order to buy fresh produce, so they end up getting what they can at local convenience stores. Thus, in order to encourage the purchase of fresh produce by shoppers, the market has ‘Double- Up Food Bucks’ available to those with Bridge Cards. This program, funded by the Fair Food Network, allows residents to purchase staples (meat, cheese, milk) and receive up to $20/day in reward money which can be used to purchase fruits and vegetables. If they purchase Michigan produce, the residents actually will get double their produce money.

A stumbling block after the residents purchase the fresh produce is the fact that some do not know how to prepare it, which often results in much of the produce going to waste. So to combat this problem, Dort Federal Credit Union has sponsored the new demonstration kitchen inside the market atrium. This kitchen will have live demonstrations each week featuring different foods, techniques, styles and more. It will also allow guest chefs and market vendors the opportunity to showcase their products and talents. “I think it is important to note that we have four classically trained chefs with a permanent place in our market. In addition to those chefs, we have all the other market chefs who may not have classical training but have a natural skill and talent in the kitchen,” Karianne Martus, Media/ Public Relations and Market Manager states. “Our goal is to teach people how to prepare fresh food; we want to show them how to get the most out of their dollars and how to make healthy meals,” Martus further explains.

Chef Gartland has also been instrumental in the development of Flint Food Works, which is home to the Culinary Incubator Program within the walls of the new Flint Farmers’ Market. This program is a new resource for entrepreneurs who want to take the next steps in developing their food concepts into a viable business. It is also perfect for those entrepreneurs who already are operating under the small cottage industry food law in their homes, but who want to expand their businesses and have an opportunity to grow. “Business owners who are interested in being part of the Incubator Program will have the opportunity to practice their procedures with [me] before they are evaluated for their certifications by the Michigan Department of Agriculture,” Chef Gartland explains. “I will be able to help prevent many of the common mistakes [owners of] new food businesses make, hopefully making certification go smoother.” Flint Food Works provides low-cost, low-risk, full-service kitchens for local businesses to grow and establish operations. The participants in the program will be guided and coached along their way, and there are a variety of resources available to those in the program, including packaging, website, design, distribution and more.

One of the vendors in the market, Galloping Grocer, specializes in the distribution of locally-made and high quality products. With this vendor at the market, participants in the Culinary Incubator program will have a warm introduction to a possible distribution resource for their products. “This is the perfect spot for someone who has [the] dream of launching a food business,” Chef Gartland explains. “A person who works all day can put the kids to bed at night come into the kitchen for a few hours [later] to produce [his or her] product and be back home and in bed…[ to] wake up with the kids in the morning.” This new concept also allows participants to keep their day jobs while they launch a new business -- without missing a beat. Well, maybe they will miss just a little sleep.

To apply to the program and become a member, there are several steps to take, including application, insurance, certifications, licensing, packaging and going through a kitchen orientation. Sound overwhelming? There’s no need to worry, for Chef Gartland will guide people through the process and help them on their way to make their dreams a reality.

(810) 447-0714
By chelseajaie 20 Jun, 2014

Mr. Gerry Willey opened Fenton Home Furnishings 35 years ago on April 1, 1979, and since then he has grown it into a successful furniture business consisting of four locations, as well as 34 employees, including seven salespeople and ten designers. That makes him the force and the talent behind this impressive establishment, complete with a compelling life story that speaks to his remarkable achievements.

Born July 17th, 1939, Mr. Willey lived on the east side of Flint and came from very humble beginnings. He left high school in the 12th grade to join the Marine Corps in which he served from 1956 to 1959. Mr. Willey opened his Fenton store with only one employee-himself doing all the buying, selling, unloading, and pricing for the original establishment. He had two high school boys come in at 3 PM to help with deliveries. His dad had helped him covert a $400 old blue pickup to a delivery truck by building a wooden box on the top to hold all the customers’ merchandise. He has since come a long way to his present delivery fleet of five trucks.

In fact, the red-carpet delivery service now offered by Fenton Home Furnishings is unique. With each delivery, the customer can have things moved to another location in their home in order to accommodate their new purchase. That is, the professional delivery staff will move old furniture upstairs, downstairs, or even out to the garage of a customer if need be. After each delivery is completed, the client receives a special surprise gift, and a follow-up phone call a couple days later to ensure everything went as expected.

Though most merchandise the store carries is standard for the furniture business, there are also many one-of-a kind items available at each location, thereby making each store unique in its own right.  All the stores have the latest in styles and fabrics in furniture as well, with experienced staff at the ready with whom customers can consult. Complimentary home design services are offered at each location to help clients choose the right furniture and accessories to showcase their homes, while custom window treatments and blinds are also available at the Frankenmuth store. “Our customers expect us to take care of them. We offer quality, style, comfort, and design experience. Our customers are informed, well-read and enjoy travel.” In order to consistently meet these customers’ needs, he adds that Fenton Home Furnishings professional staff stay up-to-date on home design shows and magazines to ensure clients see the latest design trends.

Nowadays, Mr. Willey just watches his well-structured business operate, allowing him more time to discover other adventures-including a perhaps not so well-known purchase of the Fenton Hotel from the bank in 1996. He found out quickly enough that he was not cut out for the restaurant business and sold it in 1997-content now to enjoy observing the company he so carefully constructed run successfully. “For the most part, I just sit back and watch,” he laughs, but then he becomes more serious and says, “But I am very proud of my family.” Willey has three children who are involved in the business: Nick, who is the operations manager overseeing the finances; Kristi, who is in charge of advertising, web development, and buying; and Rodney, who is the general manager. At one time, his other two children also worked for the company-Lora, worked in the office, is now the Coordinator of Education for Reverence Home Health Care & Hospice, and Gerry Jr. who once delivered furniture while going to college. He has since earned his law degree and works at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, LLP in NYC.

“God is Good and Life is Good-only in America” is Mr. Willey’s motto. He goes on to explain, “Fenton has been good to me; (the store) has an excellent service department and our reputation has gotten us far. About 85% of our business comes from current customers and referrals. Once we sell someone, we usually have him or her as a customer for life. The reason is we ‘hug’ our customers, and they get special treatment here.”

Recently he had a conversation with his grandson who is 15 years old and a student at Powers Catholic High school. Mr. Willey asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up. His grandson replied, “I have no idea.” About that remark Mr. Willey says, “You know what, I’m almost 75 years old and I still don’t know what I want to do when I grow up. I never dreamed I’d sell furniture, but you know… , I enjoy it, I really do.” Ninety-eight percent of the merchandise in the store is American or Michigan-made Mr. Willey explained proudly, adding, “We strive to carry only the best, and we strive to make our customers happy.” And he seems to have succeeded in doing both for a very long and successful time.

Fenton Home Furnishings

1136 North Leroy Street

Fenton, Michigan

(810) 629-0650

By chelseajaie 20 Jun, 2014

The first thing I noticed about Fenton Farms Golf Club was the large, old original farmhouse building which sits prominently and majestically right off Torrey Road in Fenton, Michigan. That same farmhouse has stood almost 100 years, has known various owners, and has had many different names over the last century. I have been lucky enough to spend a sunny morning at the golf course to hear about this great facility, such as its origins, as well as the exciting changes and developments in progress, all from current proprietor, Christopher White.

White, who also moonlights as a film producer, has spent the last decade bringing a new life to this course, which has been in existence as an 18-hole facility since 1939 and was once called Shoreacres Golf Club.  Spanning eight decades, the owners and the course’s name have changed several times. It was also called Torrey Pines at one time. 

“Even before Shoreacres Golf Club, Fenton Farms had a colorful history dating back to the 1930’s, when farmer Ralph Crane decided to clear some of his farmland to create a few golf holes. He called the new course Long Lake Golf Course because, back then, Lake Fenton was called Long Lake.  Local legend and lore tells the story of Ralph’s children splitting up the family property, where his sons wanted the farm land and his daughters being left with the land surrounding Long Lake,” Chris explains.  “If you are familiar with Fenton, you might recognize the names of his daughters: Ruth and Margaret (the names of streets around the lake). They also had another street, Crane Cove, which was part of the daughter’s development. Ralph’s son, George, wound up owning the farmland, which included his dad’s Long Lake Country Club, and he added some additional holes to create the first 18-hole course on the property. Personally, I think the daughters got the better end of that deal, with lakefront property going for a premium,” Chris says, chuckling.

Yes, it's true that the course was sold in the early to mid-1960s to a group of investors headed by former Detroit Lions member and TV sit-com star, Alex Karras. It was during this time the Alex Karras Golf Classic was held -- a fund raiser for cystic fibrosis was the intention, but the entire outing was designed to be a pro-am with local sports celebrities. Karras had arranged for Tiny Tim to parachute in from the sky, while the band played “Tiptoe Through the Tulips.” Furthermore, musicians were to jump out of the woods and play the Mexican Hat Dance when golfers were putting, while tape players were hidden in the bushes to play sounds of people screaming and cars crashing to also add an element of surprise to the event. (Harpers May 1971)

When Karras and company were finished with the place, they sold what was left to Walter Burkemo, a PGA touring pro whose career had been highlighted by his victory in the 1953 PGA Championship. By some accounts, actor and comedian George Gobel spent a considerable amount of time at the course during the Burkemo era and may also have had some ownership interest. It was during this time, is local lore has it, that Marvin Gaye performed on the back of a hay wagon, and the course was known then as more of a “Road House” and less as a golf course, due, in part, to the deteriorating condition of the infrastructure of the course itself. Apparently unable to turn the tide on the years of neglect, Burkemo eventually sold the property to golf architect George Fazio, who reportedly planned major renovations for Torrey Pines… until he became stricken with illness and died.

Fast-forwarding to 1993, when a Detroit-based group of investors, Fenton Farms Developments Inc., headed by retired automotive entrepreneur Jack Bott, acquired the course. This is when it first became known as Fenton Farms Golf Club.Bott’s daughters, Diane Rutheford and Kathy White, along with his grandson, current proprietor, Christopher White, took over operations of the course in 2002 and have brought in new ideas, new equipment, new management and rebranded this historic farm course into “The Friendly Place” -- with an emphasis on customer service.

For the next decade, Chris White, says, they went about  “…improving the course, renovating the clubhouse and changing the focus of the business plan to become a specialists in golf outings and entertainment events.” Known for his flair for fun, Chris has brought his experience as a producer in California to Fenton by enlisting the services of local bagpipe artists, barbershop quartets, local celebrities and various DJ’s to ensure each event held there is memorable. Many organizations come back to Fenton Farms year after year because they know they will be taken care of and that their guests will remember their experience for years to come.

The future of Fenton Farms is very exciting. Chris is excited to launch his “2014 Farm Fresh Menu,” which is designed to entice the golfers as well as the non-golfing neighbors and friends of the course. The menu features made- to-order Panini’s, artisan flatbread pizzas, gourmet-themed hot dogs and daily specials.

Leagues are nearly at capacity and Season Pass sales are at a record high. It’s easy to see why though; Season Passes are designed for people who like to golf… a lot. Pass holders receive advance tee times 2 weeks ahead of the general public, free range balls, 10% off all pro shop purchases, and they are welcomed with open arms into the Fenton Farms family.   Bill Davis is a season pass holder who last year, during the abundance of apples on the course, asked permission and picked several bushels of them, bringing them back to the course the next day in the form of five home-baked apple pies. And that is just one example out of many on how the season pass holders feel just like family.

Fenton Farms Golf Club

12312 Torrey Road

Fenton, Michigan


(810) 629-1212 Golf Shop & Tee Times

(810) 750-6098 Sales, Catering & Events

By chelseajaie 20 Jun, 2014

Anniversaries come and go without much notice, but not when it’s John’s Pizzeria and Cocktail Lounge in Fenton. John’s Pizzeria and Cocktail Lounge employs about 24 people, many of whom have been with the restaurant for over 25 years.  Everyone who walks through their doors is made to feel like family, which has contributed to the longevity and popularity of this local family-owned restaurant.

I have had the pleasure of knowing Delio and Sandy for the past five years, and my children have grown up knowing and experiencing what an amazing place and family they are and what a great place they own. Before my kids started kindergarten, Delio would let them come in and “help” during the week while he was setting up the lunch buffet. They also knew where they could get their suckers after their meal, but only if they cleaned their plates.

Delio passed away suddenly in his sleep at the young age of 76, in September of 2013, just a few months short of seeing his restaurants 50th anniversary. Those who knew Delio remember him fondly and always have memories to share about his restaurant, his food, and most importantly about his character. His daughter, Sandy Barletta Zdenek, who operated the restaurant with her father for the past 20 years, has continued to run the business seamlessly since his death, carrying on the tradition of good food, great service and a family atmosphere.

In 1959, there were 29 Italian immigrants who came over by boat from Italy to start new lives in America. Newly married to his bride, Vilma, Delio brought her to America to begin their married life together. Delio worked for a short time with GM in Pennsylvania and then was transferred to Michigan where he got a part time job at the local restaurant owned by another Italian immigrant, the place known as John’s Pizzeria and Cocktail Lounge.

Delio Barletta purchased that restaurant from John, the proprietor, in 1964, and over the next five decades, John’s Pizzeria and Cocktail Lounge witnessed many changes. In the beginning, Vilma, made thousands of meatballs a week for the restaurant, and many other family members and Italian immigrants learned how to open their own restaurants in the area with the help and expertise from Delio.

When asked why he kept the name, John’s Pizzeria & Cocktail Lounge, Barletta would reply, “I bought it, and I never changed the name because business was good.” It became a local inside joke to the employees and those who knew him that if someone came calling, asking for the owner, John, they knew it had to be a solicitor.

The Fenton community quickly adopted Delio and his family into their community, and the area became their home away from home. Delio preferred the small, close-knit community of Fenton, which was a drastic contrast to his hometown, a large tourist city in Italy called Patrica.

The restaurant was known to be the place to “hang out” after local high school football games, and diners fondly remember getting scolded by Delio if they were just loitering and not ordering food. In the early 2000’s, the restaurants popularity prompted expansion of it’s space to create a new dining area and banquet facility, with seating capacity for 120 people.

In 2011, I had the honor of presenting Delio with the Fenton Chamber of Commerce Enterprise Award at the Annual Dinner held on his birthday. I also surprised him by having the entire room sing “Happy Birthday” to him as he walked up to receive the award.

Inspired by support from the community and loyal customers, as well as their wish to continue a family tradition, the father and daughter team chose to expand even further and to offer local area delivery of their famous food right to customers’ homes in 2012.

John’s is still a popular place for hosting weddings, holiday parties, funeral dinners, local charity events and benefits, civil organization meetings, baby showers, bridal showers, first communicant celebrations, and so much more. They also have a large catering business for open houses, family reunions and any event where the host wants to serve the best Italian food in the area. This fall, Sandy and her family are celebrating 50 years of John’s Pizzeria and Cocktail Lounge family tradition in Fenton, Michigan with a celebration of food specials, live music and more.

Weekly Dine-In Specials include:
Happy Hour: Monday – Friday from 3 PM – 7 PM

Lunch Buffet: Monday – Friday, all you can eat for $6.99

Monday & Tuesday: 50% off ALL Pizzas, Any Size
Tuesday: $2 off ALL Pasta Dishes
Wednesday: 50% off Stromboli AND $2 off Fish & Chips or Cod (fried or baked)
Thursday: Kids 5 and Under Eat FREE
Friday: King & Queen Prime Rib

Dine-In or Carry Out Special:
Everyday: Family Style Meal for Four People $19.99
John’s Pizzeria and Cocktail Lounge is open seven days a week:
Sunday: Noon – 10 PM
Monday – Thursday: 11 AM – 11 PM
Friday and Saturday: 11 AM – Midnight

Located at 1492 North Leroy Street, Fenton, Michigan.

Phone (810) 629-5060
Menus are all available online at www.johnspizzeriafenton.com
By chelseajaie 25 Apr, 2014
You may not have ever heard of Rex Todd Rogers, and I can guarantee he has never ‘heard’ you, but once you read about his uncanny ability to communicate with his clients and turn their living spaces into functional, serene, works of art, you will not want to miss the opportunity to get to know him.

Designer Rex T. Rogers is a pioneer in the design world, because of his heightened sense of vision.  Rogers was born deaf and an only child. He is the first deaf interior designer in the entire world , a feat which has not gone unnoticed. Earlier this year, Rex was contacted by Deaf Professional Arts Network who just finished filming a documentary about him which will air later this year.

As this May marks the 2nd anniversary of his retail design studio, Rex has actually been designing since the young age of 14 when he was paid $100 for his first job helping a frustrated neighbor design and organize her living room.

After he graduated, salutatorian, from Michigan School for the Deaf, Rogers attended University of Michigan to pursue becoming an attorney and an advocate for Deaf Rights. This career path took him to Washington DC for several years where he was able to change paths and hone in on his coastal design style. This is when he realized he wanted to pursue a career in design instead.

Rogers has a knack for creating functional spaces with genuine purpose and eye catching design. He is just as interested in fabrics and textures as he is in mass and shape.  This skill allows him to combine a variety of furniture from different eras with sleek white modern picture frames, large pillars and simple plants into a serene and relaxing atmosphere.

His style has definitely not gone unnoticed by the big design houses and recently Rogers was one of two contenders left out of 30 for a high profile design job in New York City.  Although Rogers did not get the job, the company loved his work so much, there may be another opportunity for him to expand his work to New York City in the future.

Rogers has very contemporary instincts tempered by a flair for historical allusion. This is very evident in the building which he renovated on Shiawassee in the Dibbleville district, downtown Fenton. The building was originally the residence of Judge Leroy and over the years has had called many businesses home, such as a tavern and a doctor’s practice. He was able to save the original floor, plus old doors and trim. “I absolutely love history,” said Rogers. “It’s so important. The people before us are to be cherished and treasured.”

While his design studio definitely emulates Rogers' all-American, east coast style, I was surprised to see how eclectic, yet classic, his unique finds are. The lofty studio space mixes pieces he has hand picked during his travels all over Michigan and up the east coast. The light filled living room has a pair of beautifully restored 1930’s metal and white leather chairs, a 1950’s mid century modern armless chair and 1970’s couch. All of these pieces he has found, refurbished and restored to a new life.

As you walk through the studio, you will see beautiful lamps, restored and rewired, an old wooden trunk repurposed to a coffee table, which recently was sold to a Grandmother who bought it because it had the perfect set up for her grandchildren to store their art supplies in.

Also considered somewhat of a local superhero, Rogers uses his design powers to give back to the community in a variety of different ways. Just recently, he has worked with the Whaley Children’s Center in Flint, Michigan to help reinvigorate and redesign their living spaces. He feels very blessed to have had the upbringing and life he has had, he wants to help other children who haven’t had that opportunity have a beautiful place to live. Rogers and four of his friends also participate in Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Genesee County and just raised $1000 to go towards their general funding.

Rogers has established somewhat of an underground following in the circles that know him. However, he is on the verge of breaking out and will no longer be a coveted secret to those who love him for his work. My advice to you would be to go see him now, so you can say you knew him when.

With an outgoing, warm personality and an ability to create welcoming partnership with clients, Rex is able to understand and emulate what his clients needs are without actually hearing them. He is able to read lips well and works with clients through visual presentation and with an interpreter, if needed. “You have a voice, but I have my eyes, my taste, my passion for my work,” he said.

His clients range from someone needing help framing a photograph to his current project being hired as the lead designer on a home being built this year on Pine Lake. As Rex pulled out the blueprints for the home, he went on to explain the level of integration he has had with the whole building process, “I’ve chosen everything from the floors, paint, lighting, siding, roof and am designing the landscaping to help maximize the view of the water from the home and the yard”.

Although his favorite style is ‘coastal’, Rogers prides himself in his ability to design in any style.

The Rex Todd Rogers Design Studio is open for walk in and retail business Wednesdays through Saturdays from 10 AM - 5 PM, but you can call and schedule a consultation at (810) 814-0587. I also had the pleasure of meeting Mark Coleman, who has deep Fenton roots and assists Rogers in his studio and has over 25 years of experience in furniture and design.

Pick up a coffee at The Laundry, stroll across the street and stop by to pick up a couple one-of-a kind design finds and accessories, all hand picked by the Rex Todd Rogers.
By chelseajaie 21 Mar, 2014
With digital media constantly consuming us through social media, email advertisements, mobile phone apps, Internet ads, re-marketing campaigns and so much more it could be easy to cut print advertising from your marketing budget because you’re told it is ineffective. After all, everyone is always on his or her mobile devices, right?

Actually you might be surprised once you start researching it. A number of studies show people react differently to print media than they do to digital media. In the 2008 study published by the Journal of Research in Reading, shows that reading ads online isn’t as effective or rewarding as their printed counterpart.

Multimedia features of ads and physical manipulation of ads tend to distract the reader from the focus of what they are reading and could leave little room for imagination to come into play. The result is that readers do not fully absorb digital media in the way they absorb print media information.

Print advertising is fully controlled by the reader. He or she decides how long to stay on each page and when to move away. So to fully maximize your users experience here are a few things you should do and a few things you should not do when working on a print ad.

  • Make sure you are very clear about what you are selling. Use words or images to ensure you don’t leave people in the dark.
  • Use simple, clear contact information, which is easy to remember.
  • Make sure your logo is in the path of the reader’s eye, a reader’s eye moves in a Z pattern across the page.
  • Work with someone with design experience when designing your ad. Not only is skill necessary to make the ad look right, but your ad must compete with the other ads favorably in the publication.
  • Prepare your ad ahead of time, if you can, so you can put it away for a few days and then revisit the ad with a new perspective. This will allow you time for any revisions if needed.
  • Confuse the reader and assume your design is funny or clever, ask for second opinions to see if other people understand.
  • Clutter your ad with multiple images, text, font styles and an abundance of information.
  • Forget to have a clear call to action so the reader knows what to do next.
  • Allow your contact information to be obscured in anyway by a design element. An amazing design is useless if the readers do not know how you get your product or service.
  • Ask your ad to do too much.
A successful print ad should have one clear message. The more ‘extras’ you throw in about your business could start diluting the main message in your ad and confuse or disinterest the reader. Start noticing ads in the magazines and newspapers you read. Notice the things you like and just as important, notice the things you don’t like. You will learn just as much, if not more, from the bad ads as you will from the good ads.
By chelseajaie 24 Jan, 2014
By: Chelsea Mills, Owner - Behind Your Design

As a little girl, you always dreamed of an outdoor wedding. You dreamed you would be walking down the tree-lined steps at your family home on Lake Fenton, or through a fall orchard with the red and gold leaves or even a spring wedding in a park with scented with roses and cherry blossoms.  You envision the sun shining down on you during your wedding ceremony. The birds are chirping. A light breeze flows through the air. The guests are smiling at you. It is the PERFECT day.

Many brides and grooms get that perfect day. I wish every single one could. The reality is though, we live in Michigan. They don’t say, “if you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes” for nothing. You could have a quick change of weather at any time. I’ve seen the most beautiful day turn into the perfect storm in a matter of minutes.

I have a few rules for outdoor brides and grooms. If you’re going to get married outside in the spring, summer or fall in Michigan, you have to:

1.     Deal with whatever happens and be happy with it

2.     Be prepared, have a plan B

3.     Make sure your guests are comfortable

4.     Roll with the punches (also see #1 deal with it!)

I’m not trying to scare anyone, but being prepared is the best way to have an ideal day not only for you, but also for your guests on your wedding day.

Rain, Rain Go Away

Plan A might involve all of your guests in the back yard or in a park under the trees, but a Plan B is a safe idea. Check with local rental companies to see how late you can add a tent. The 10-day forecast is a safe bet as it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Sometimes it’s best to have a back up location. Does the church you’re getting married in have hall? Does the hotel your guests are staying in have an extra room? You typically can’t hold these without plans of using them, but if they are going unused, as your event gets closer, they may be an option.

So, worst case scenario… It’s raining or it’s going to rain and it’s not just a sprinkle- it’s raining cats and dogs. Do your guests have to walk on wet grass? A trip to the store for a bunch of umbrellas for your guests to use to walk to their cars or the bathrooms can be helpful. Will it start getting muddy? As pretty as grass is- it can get really nasty fast. Think about getting some hay or mulch to put down in high traffic areas. Can you order sidewalls for your tent? Sometimes it does rain so hard that a tent can only do so much and if it is blowing, sidewalls can help a little.  Have large heaters on hand to turn on in the tent just in case the temperature drops. Not only is it only planning ahead, but also it shows your guests that you care about their comfort.

Trust your gut. If you have a feeling the weather might turn bad, secure a plan B. Because if you do, the saying is, you won’t need it. But if you don’t, you probably will.


You can never depend on the weather. A corporate event I did one October was predicting warm weather ten days prior and then a few days before changed to cold weather.  I ended up adding sidewalls to the tent, gas heaters inside and outside, valet parking and purchased many fleece blankets, which I had embroidered with the client’s logo to match the color scheme of the event. I placed the blankets on the lounge furniture and passed them out as gifts so the guests could stay warm.  The little extra cost is worth peace of mind and the guests thought the blankets were an amazing take a way from the event.

Oh, You Didn’t Plan for Your Wedding Party to Have 80’s Metal Band Hair?

As you know, it can get windy outdoors in Michigan very quickly. On a lake or in a backyard, wind can wreak havoc on an event. For your hair, use a little extra hairspray. For groomsmen, even if they’re not the product type, have them use a little. It’s better than having your hair sticking up in pictures. Buy some travel bottles of hairspray and hair gel to put in the bathrooms so your guests can use them as well.

Are your place cards secured? Get a plan B for your place cards if they were little cards on a table. Affix them to something! I’ve used figs with pins to secure the place cards as a paperweight. I have also used acrylic frames from the photo booth company to display the names in. This also makes a great keepsake for the guests to frame their photo booth memories in. Make sure your tablecloths are weighted so they’re not blowing up onto to lit candles or centerpieces. Are your napkins going to blow away? Make sure they’re secure as well by using heaving napkin rings or placing the bread and butter plate on top of them. Wind can also make it really hard to hear. Have a microphone for nuptials and speeches even if you think it might be overkill.

Create a Memory

Creating at atmosphere in which guests can enjoy themselves is not always an easy task. If your event is in a park, string lights around the trees so there is soft light when the sun sets. If your event is at a farm, have hand painted directional signs showing them the way to the ceremony, reception, restrooms and photo booth. When the guests arrive have a beverage handed to them by an attendant who is available to direct them or answer questions they may have. Don’t have a lot of idle time; you don’t want your guests to remember being bored.

Waiter, There is a Fly in My Soup

Insects can be uninvited guests. Make sure you have citronella candles and a bug zapper. Spray for mosquitoes in advance and also have bug spray on hand.

Hot, Hot, Hot!

August can make for days of unbearable heat! Make sure your guests have shade and plenty of bottled water. Make a pitcher of lemonade and ice tea and have that around too.  Plan on your programs being doubled as fans during the ceremony.  Add a tent and large commercial fans if you don’t already have one.  Butter cream frosting can melt! Make sure to tell your baker that you’re going to be outside so they can use fondant on the cake instead. Make sure your guests are facing away from the sun for your ceremony. Or purchase sunglasses for everyone to wear during the ceremony, this can also make a great photograph afterwards! You don’t want them all squinting at you!  

You’ll Laugh About This Someday

So, what if the weather isn’t the best? What if it’s not as you dreamed? At the end of the night, you’re still going home with the love of your life. That is what should be most important. Make this your mantra. Say it over and over again when you feel like things aren’t going quite as you planned.

Make the most out of it. Take fun pictures in the snow. Act like you’re blowing away in the wind. If you’re really adventurous - dance in the rain or jump in the lake. Why not, your going to get wet anyway?

Make sure your guests are comfortable. Then, have a glass of wine! You can’t control the weather, but you can be prepared.

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