Local Elk Rapids builder Jay Merchant has seen his share of the pressures of the construction industry. But only since the housing markets have burst like a water balloon dropped from the roof has he been forced to travel such great distances to keep working.
Recently, necessity has prompted this local businessman to reach out a bit farther to try and keep the lights on. He has been obliged to travel all the way to the Rocky Mountain ski resort town of Snowmass, Colorado this December.
His 20-plus years of experience brought an opportunity from someone who worked for Jay as an intern, back in the day. By the grace of God, this has provided work at a time of trial and uncertainty. So, on a whim and a prayer he loaded up the trucks, said Colorado is the place we need to be, and set out across the country.
The task was daunting for Jay and crew. Driving for days, they were mesmerized by cornfields, cows, and tumbleweeds before a harrowing attempt at crossing the mountain passes. Then they set up a rental house on a shoestring budget with a few basic necessities. They worked in fluctuating conditions and temperatures six days a week, while trying to make a good impression on the locals. They also carried lunch items out each day to prevent the bears from showing up at the site and survived a rear-end fender-bender en route to work one morning.
All of these events threatened to dampen the crews spirit, but they pressed on and managed to complete most of what they set out to do. Not even the theft of some tools in a hotel parking lot on the return journey managed to rain on their parade. All was taken in stride and everyone was home for Christmas.
An interim jaunt may be necessary to deal with loose ends and minor changes. In a month or two, a return trip is on the agenda to complete the detailed finish work in the three mountainside condos the crew worked on.
These truly are tough times that we face. Yet difficult times can seem to bring out the best in us. These unsung hometown heroes are living proof and exemplify that; when asked to go the extra mile, go 3,000 miles instead.
John Larkins Elk Rapids
Less is more
Thanks to Anne Stanton for a very uplifting article on Rick and Heather Shumaker for living small instead of large. They are to be greatly commended for leaving a small footprint. And I thought I was the only one to live like that! More should do the same.
Charlene Jackson via email
Good times at Art‘s
Your article about Arts Tavern was very personal to me as a long time resident who drank, smoked, played pool, danced to the juke-box and partied at Arts in times prior to Tim Barr making it more food-friendly.
I remember Sunday afternoons where I was the only one in the bar for the whole day playing pool. And now to see it occupied on winter nights is wonderful. If the food, scenery, friendships, toasts, skiing, or whatever attracts you, Tim is always welcoming.
Nothing stays the same and the times I spent at Art‘s are gone, so I give a big Christmas wish to all to find themselves at Tim Barrs friendly bar. I will only tell the edgy stories to those I know: just dont peel out in front of the bar, or date one of the bartenders‘ girlfriends!
Brad Krull Glen Arbor
Rein in Israel
Barack Obama, while in Israel this summer, opined: If somebody was sending rockets into my house where my two daughters sleep at night, Im going to do everything in my power to stop that. And I would expect Israelis to do the same thing.
Why is it the U.S. never removes its Zionist-tinted glasses when talking about Israel and Palestine? How many newscasts this past week had only an Israeli interviewed to repeat their assertion that Gaza is a terrorist base? What are 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza expected to do without sufficient food, water, fuel or medicine? Do our government spokespersons or newscasters even know that over 850 Palestinians have been killed by Israel since the Annapolis summit in late 2007? Who has real grounds to lose patience?
U.S. taxpayers send Israel $3 billion annually in military aid grants for weaponry. In short, Israels lethal attack on Gaza is made possible by the U.S.
So, what do we do? Everything. Letters to our representatives and demonstrations are fine, but a sustained movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions to pressure Israel to end the occupation is necessary. Start by not buying anything made in Israel. Educate yourself, see www.endtheoccupation.org
Outrage in Gaza
While the history of the war in Israel and Palestine is long and complex, the horrible injustice and desperate conditions inflicted on the people of Palestine, in Gaza, and the West Bank are cruel and inhumane.
The great separation wall touted as a security barrier by the Israeli government and costing billions of dollars, encroaches deep into recognized Palestinian land, surrounding towns and cutting deep into Bethlehem and Jerusalem. The wall separates the people of Palestine from their loved ones, their water and fields, from hospitals and access to food. The Palestinian people are being pushed into densely populated centers, separated from each other by checkpoints and walls.
For two years, Gaza, the most populated region in the world, has been under siege, blockaded by water, land and air, cut off from food and water supplies, hospitals and work. In occupied Palestine, homes are bulldozed, rockets explode and armed Israeli troops threaten families. Electricity and fuel are shut off and sewage overflows. The children are hungry and afraid. The Palestinian people are being collectively punished for the actions of Hamas -- actions over which they have no control.
The United States has long supported Israel. It is time to call for and facilitate a meaningful peace for all people who live in the ancient lands of Palestine and Israel. The violence must stop. It is time to end funding the human rights violations against the Palestinian people in Gaza, east Jerusalem, the West Bank and in Israel.
Jo Anne Beemon Charlevoix