My Work

City Council voted to rename Deer Creek Park after recently deceased, Howard Dahlstrom

WILLIAMSTON – Williamston City Councilwoman Sandy Whealton tearfully celebrated the renaming of Deer Creek Park to Howard Dahlstrom Memorial Park at the Oct. 9 council meeting.

Whealton was a longtime friend of Dahlstrom, a beloved member of the community who died suddenly on Sept. 22.

The park was originally named after Deer Creek that runs behind the park. However, Deer Creek Park was known as Lions Park by many. The Williamston Lions Club had a tent there during Williamston’s Red Cedar Jubilee event in the summer.

Not only did people often think of The Lions Club when they thought of the park, but also Howard Dahlstrom.

Dahlstrom was an active member in the club and is remembered cracking jokes behind the grill during jubilee.

“Howard was an amazing man. He did so much for this city that really a lot of people didn’t realize,” said Whealton. “He was lion of the year, rotary member of the year, and citizen of the year. He was just honored very much.”

Lions Club president, Kris Horstman, said Dahlstrom not only touched every single service organization in town but anyone in need. He helped the sick and blind. Dahlstrom was there for those suffering from domestic disputes, intrusion problems, financial struggles, divorce and death.

“He was always checking in on people,” said Horstman. “If somebody died he’d bring the whole family enough food to feed them for a month. If somebody was sick, he would go see them. He’s just touched every life here.”

Earl Wolf worked with Dahlstrom on several service committees such as rotary and parks and recreation. Wolf looks up to Dahlstrom for his constant efforts at spending his retired days from the police department quietly working to make Williamston a better place.

“It’s never printed but everyone knows it,” said Wolf. “He was the guy to get somebody out of a really ugly jam that normally might have been on the front page of the paper, but he didn’t want it that way.”

Whealton first introduced the idea of renaming the park to the parks and recreation committee. The committee was completely in agreement with the proposal. Next, she brought the idea to city council and there was a unanimous decision of approval.

Although the vote ended being unanimous, there was an argument regarding precedent.

“If somebody else wants something in town, let them fight for it like I am,” said Whealton. “This is our park. We have used this for 40 years. It’s The Lion’s and jubilee’s. We fenced it and fixed it. Howard was a part of that.”

Now that the park name has been approved, Whealton is working on signage and approving the design. She hopes to have it completed by winter.

“He was amazing and it couldn’t have been named after a better person and I hope it stays like that forever,” said Horstman.

Howard Dahlstrom’s memorial celebration will be held on Oct. 20 at St. Mary Catholic Church on 157 High St., Williamston, MI at 11 a.m.

My Work

Elizabeth Williams School of Dance prepares for “The Nutcracker”

WILLIAMSTON – It may only be October but Elizabeth Williams School of Dance has been working on their December ballet performance of “The Nutcracker” since late August.

For the past 25 years, Elizabeth Williams School of Dance, has been educating and instructing on the art of ballet. Five years ago, the school became a nonprofit ballet company.  

“We had a ballet school, then we decided to create a nonprofit company so we can perform and be eligible for grants,” said owner and artistic director Elizabeth Williams, also known as Miss Liz.

The dance school puts on recitals every June but the company does classical performances throughout the year. This is the first year the company has decided to perform “The Nutcracker” yearly.

“The offering of a full length ballet, not only with ‘The Nutcracker’, but also many other performances, it’s just something you don’t see very often from studios,” said Mellissa Tort.

Tort not only sends her children to Miss Liz’s studio but also is her assistant and the stage director.

Williams explains her studio teaches students, ages 3 to adult, not only the proper physical technique but also the language and history of ballet.  

“I teach real, classical ballet. I use the language,” said Williams. “I’m kind of old fashioned. I don’t allow anybody to teach my classes unless I know they are really well-trained in what I need. Even a substitute I am picky about.”

The Goluska family realized Williams’ expertise of ballet when searching for a dance studio for their daughter. They told Miss Liz their daughter had a learning issue and she responded, “you don’t have to worry about her talking because we speak with our bodies.”

Now, not only does their daughter takes lessons but both parents and their three sons.

“We like as a family we can do this together,” said mother Kay Goluska. “It’s really very cool to be on stage with your children and experience it in a different way instead of being in the audience.”

Tort explains how emotion can be conveyed through dance and is adaptable to what’s going on in a dancer’s life. Tort said not only dance, but the arts, introduce people to something they may not have experienced before.

Williams is a big advocate for the arts.

“A lot of people recently are saying, ‘oh we don’t need the arts’, but we do. ‘The Nutcracker’ is a really good example of why we do,” said Williams. “You get music, you get dance, you get costumes and acting. All of a sudden everyone has something good to say about it. This is a good thing that’s happening.”

Elizabeth Williams encourages everyone to support the arts and attend one of “The Nutcracker” performances.

“It’s a holiday tradition and you don’t have to be a big fan of the arts. It’s more of a celebration of the holiday spirit,” said Williams. “I love to see grandmas walk in with their granddaughters all dressed up. I love to see young men come with their girlfriends and notice my guys are jumping all over the place.”

Tickets will be on sale in two weeks and can be purchased at a discounted price in the studio, located on 128 West Grand River Avenue, or at the door on Dec. 8 and 9 for full price. The performance will be held at Williamston High School’s performing center.

My Work

Williamston Red Cedar Garden Club is hard at work, even with end of summer

WILLIAMSTON – Although the summer may be coming to a close, this doesn’t mean the Williamston Red Cedar Garden Club is calling it quits for the chilly months ahead.

The club purchases, plants and maintains six gardens owned by the city. These include the gazebo, butterfly garden, Blue Star Memorial, the area around the McCormick Park restrooms and two planters in downtown Williamston. They also maintain the Williamston Depot Museum and the Williamston U.S. Post Office.

Williamston Mayor Tammy Gilroy said, “They have been very integral with keeping our community very colorful.”

In the cooler months, the 47-member club finds plenty of ways to stay busy when they can’t be outdoors beautifying the city.

“Most people don’t realize that education is a really big part of what we do,” said Williamston Red Cedar Garden Club president Cathie Ware.

The group works with the National Garden Club and the Michigan Garden Clubs to provide the public with presentations regarding garden care, plants and insects. Locally, the club offers several educational meetings. Examples of topics covered include pest control without chemicals and how to better prune trees.

“It’s part of our goal that we have six educational meetings a year and they’re open to the public, as well as to our membership,” said club treasurer Arla Weaver. “It’s that kind of thing that we do when we can’t get out there and really plant and get dirt under our fingernails.”

The club encourages the love of nature to the youth by hosting a contest where elementary students must create a poster illustrating Smokey Bear or Woodsy Owl.

In addition to hosting a contest for younger students, the club raises money for future undergraduates in fields relating to horticulture. The club sends money to the state and the state provides between 15 to 20 $1,000 scholarships.

In November, the club will be selling wreaths, swags, and grave blankets. In December they are decorating holiday mugs and filling them with greenery and candy. These are given to people in nursing homes and rehab facilities.

Williamston Red Cedar Garden Club is always looking for ways to not only beautify the city but help out the community.

“Things I find most rewarding are new things that we are doing within the club and new ways we have of connecting with the community,” Ware said.

Mayor Tammy Gilroy said the Williamston Red Cedar Garden Club is just one of the several volunteer organizations in the city that make Williamston such a great city.

“We rely on them. We praise them,” said Gilroy. “We give them the accolades because without those service organizations we’d just be an ordinary community. I think because of all of our service groups that put time and effort into Williamston, it makes us extraordinary.”

Through the organization’s fundraising and volunteering events, Weaver, explains how she has meant so many great community members.

“I love the camaraderie and the fact that I can do anything from maybe getting a new plant somebody shares with me, from getting a tip with what I can do to make the plants I have actually grow, or how I can fight the bug that’s getting my plant down,” said Weaver. “It’s just the being able to rub elbows or shoulders with those who have the same love.”

The club is open to anyone, regardless of one’s gardening experience. There is no Williamston address or attendance requirement. The meetings are held the second Monday of every month. For more details, contact Williamston Chamber of Commerce at 517-655-1549.