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The Eastern Echo

The Eastern Echo Podcast Logo Fall 2019

Podcast: May 14, 2022

On this week’s episode, Food Gatherers cancels Grillin' 2022 and launches a matching campaign, and the City of Ypsilanti updates residents on the Peninsular Paper Dam removal.

On this week’s episode, Food Gatherers cancels Grillin' 2022 and launches a matching campaign, and the City of Ypsilanti updates residents on the Peninsular Paper Dam removal. I am your host, Jacob Walter Kendrick, and this is the Eastern Echo Podcast. 

Starting off, Food Gatherers announced that the organizations Grillin’ event will be canceled for the third year in a row. A matching fundraiser has been created to take its place. 

Grillin’ for Food Gatherers is an annual outdoor picnic and fundraiser held at the Washtenaw Fairgrounds to help provide meals to those in need in Washtenaw County. The fundraiser brings together over 1,000 people to enjoy food from local businesses and fun with family and friends. 

Helen Starman, Chief Development Officer of Food Gatherers, said to the Echo: “This event takes months to plan and implement, and we weren’t sure what the public health situation would be in June and how comfortable people would feel gathering in a large crowd. But also, the current stress with inflation and supply chain issues … it just seemed like we were not going to be able to pull off a successful event,”

Food Gatherers has launched a matching campaign in an effort to continue their fight against hunger. All donations will be matched 1:1, up to $40,000, through the Harold and Kay Peplau Family Fund. 

Chief Development Officer Starman said to the Echo: “The goal of this campaign would be that anybody who normally attended Grillin’ and bought tickets to do that and came and purchase an auction item would make a donation to this campaign in a similar amount,”

Starman emphasizes the importance of the Grillin’ event to the community, as plans have already begun for next year's in-person fundraiser.

Starman said: “Ultimately, Grillin’ has a 30-year history in this community of bringing people together for both fun but also to support the fighting and hunger, and celebrate what they’ve done throughout the year to help feed their neighbors. So its a loss to not be able to host the event this year,”

Visit their website for more information about Food Gatherers and the matching fundraiser.

Finally, the City of Ypsilanti updates residents on the Peninsular Paper Dam removal

Ypsilanti officials hosted a town hall meeting on April 27, to update residents of Ypsilanti about their progress in the removal of the Peninsular Paper Dam across the Huron River. 

The public town hall that was held at the Ypsilanti Freighthouse, was met with a crowd of residents split between those who support the dam removal, and those who are not yet ready to let it go. 

The dam, built in 1867 and rebuilt in 1920, once provided power for paper manufacturing for Peninsular Paper Co. In the mid-1980s, the dam was donated to the city of Ypsilanti, but it now poses a safety threat and harms the environment. 

A feasibility study was conducted in September 2018 and was presented to the City of Ypsilanti. The City Council held a Town Hall meeting in February 2019 to let residents of Ypsilanti know the results of the study and to get feedback on how to move forward. In the study, they found that the total cost of removing the dam was around $2.7 million. Meanwhile, the cost of repairing the dam was found to be nearly $807,000. 

According to the City of Ypsilanti, “the City is required to pay for inspections and repairs of the dam so it has fewer funds to spend on community programs and infrastructure. Also, since the dam harms the river and wildlife, the quality of life in the community is compromised.”

Overall, the removal of the dam will benefit native fish species and officials will have to find new ways to manage invasive species as the area above the dam begins to “green up.” Fish like walleye, white bass, and smallmouth bass will continue to benefit.

Officials also discussed how the dam affects residents and businesses of Ypsilanti and how the removal of the dam would benefit said individuals. Huron River Watershed Council, the city’s partner for the removal, also presented a plan for the environmental restoration of the area above the dam.

The removal will allow for the expansion of Peninsular Park, and the city wants the resident’s voices to be heard in the process of narrowing down their vision over the next year. This could include the preservation of the Peninsular Paper Dam building with the infamous neon sign. 

For study reports, plans, and more resources, visit the Huron River Watershed Council website.

Thank you for joining us today!

Reported: Cedrick Charles

Scripted: Tre Briscoe

Produced: Chase Hunter

Host: Jacob Kendrick