Jack Hall Blog
ESCANABA, MI--MARCH 2, 2015-1:46 A.M.
We start a new work week today, and for me, it will be a busy one.
 
We are officially beginning "March Madness", or as the Michigan High School Athletic Association calls it, "March Magic". Either way, today starts a three-week sprint to the state finals in basketball, hockey, and wrestling.
 
On pretty much every single night, you can hear a game on NewsTalk 600 AM, and then afterwards, you can see all of the scores nightly at www.rrnsports.com. It is a fun time of the year, with a lot of emotion from kids who "step it up" with championships on the line.

Before I close, I want to congratulate the Escanaba High School FIRST Robotics team. The kids won a state-qualifying event on Saturday downstate at Standish-Sterling High School.
 
The "Robomos" won an event that included 40 teams from across Michigan. That's a great accomplishment for a bunch of kids who are clearly smarter than I ever will be!
 
---later, Jack
 

GLADSTONE, MI--FEBRUARY 26. 2015-1:40 A.M.
Today is the last day that Gladstone residents who want to run in the May 5th City Commission recall election to get their petitions in to the city clerk's office. The deadline is 4:00 Thursday afternoon to get on the ballot alongside three men who are the target of a recall.

Wait. This is a "recall" election. So, why should anybody but the commissioners targeted for recall be on the ballot at all? Well, that's because the state law changed last year.
 
Commissioners Joe Maki, Hugo Mattonen, and Dave Nemecheck, are being targeted by some Gladstone residents who object to a 2014 vote on the city's millage rate.
 
But even though this is a "recall election", the ballot reflects not only the three men being targeted, but any others who also want a seat on the Gladstone City Commission.
 
I don't like that. I feel that if people in the community want to oppose votes that their elected officials cast, and feel strongly enough to throw them out of office, then there should be a clean vote of the people on whether those officials should stay, or go. Then, later, if the community wants those officials out, then you can have an election for the newly-open seats.

As for the merits of this particular Gladstone "recall", I look at it in the following way. By the letter of the law, the commissioners did nothing wrong when they voted, in a public city commission meeting, to raise the tax levy within the millage that was already on the books.

The city could have collected that rate all along, but chose not to, until money got real tight last year. So, they voted to raise taxes to the level allowed under had previously been approved, and that does not require a specific public hearing.

However, I am of the opinion that the commission should have paused and scheduled a public hearing, or at least a "special" commission meeting, to let people who wanted to vent about the "tax increase" do so. That prudent step might have prevented what we now have.

Everyone hates tax increases. But many more hate sneaky tax increases. And some people in Gladstone think that last year's vote was the later. We will see on May 5th just how many feel that way.
 
---later, Jack

ESCANABA, MI--FEBRUARY 24, 2015-2:44 A.M.
There's lots of basketball being played this time of year. But in Escanaba, a "special" tournament is set for this weekend, featuring Special Olympians from across the Upper Peninsula.
And I hope that you will get out and support it!
 
The Escanaba Noon Kiwanis has put on this event for the past 38 years, bringing together Special Olympians of all ages and ability levels for two days of fun. Coordinator Dorothy Kuhlman says that they are getting help from other Kiwanis Clubs in the area, as well as from the "Key Club" at the Escanaba High School, and from the "Circle K" club from Bay College.
 
She says that some 350 athletes and coaches from around the U-P will be there for the event, which begins with opening ceremonies Friday night at 6:00 in the Escanaba High School Gym.
 
The games will from 6:30 until 9:00, and during that time, there will also be a dance in the high school commons area, featuring the band of Dan MacDonald, for those Olympians who are not playing at that time.
 
The games start again Saturday morning at 8:30, and closing ceremonies are set for 3:00 Saturday afternoon. Kuhlman says that the closing ceremonies will feature some of the law enforcement officers who took part in a statewide "Torch Run" to raise money for Special Olympics. They will be on hand to hand out the awards to the winners.
 
There is no charge for you to attend any part of this tournament. These people, of all ages, get together to play through (and despite) their disabilities. They just have fun, and hope that we will have fun with them as we watch. I encourage all of you to go watch these boys, girls, men, and women play some hoops. To me, the spirit that they show is what sports are all about.

---later, Jack

GLADSTONE, MI--FEBRUARY 23, 2015-1:53 A.M.
Over the years, I have learned a lot about the various sports that I write about on our web site and talk about on the radio. Hockey has been in my blood my whole life, and baseball has been a close second. But there are some sports that I still have no idea how it all works.

And that sport is Competitive Cheerleading. I see the girls do their routines, and they all seem to be in sync with each other. They smile a lot, and they all seem to know how the girl next to them will move and jump. But I have no idea what makes one team earn 699 points and another team earn 730.

I don't know how the judges determine that difference! So, I am making a road trip next Saturday.

I have no hockey or basketball games to broadcast, so I am going to drive down to Rockford (near Grand Rapids) to watch the Gladstone and Kingsford girls compete in the regionals. I will take some photos and videos for rrnsports.com, but I am also going to interview a judge and have her explain how the scoring works. It will be an interesting trip, plus, of course, I will quietly root on the U.P. teams.

Before that, it's a busy week for me as I take care of my news duties in the office, and also broadcast four Gladstone Braves basketball games. The boys tonight at Westwood and Friday against Escanaba. The girls Tuesday at home against Kingsford and on the road Thursday at Iron Mountain.

We're getting close to March Madness, so why not start early??

---later, Jack

ESCANABA, MI--FEBRUARY 20, 2015-3:28 A.M.
This is probably the worst-kept secret I have ever heard while living in Escanaba.

Meijer is coming to Escanaba. Really? We've all heard that for months. But those were just rumors. But on Thursday, the city received an official application to build a 208,000 square foot store on more than 47 acres of land on the city's west side.

In a small town like Escanaba, many people saw the surveyors out there doing their work on the land. We all heard the rumors. But now, there is an official application, and by all that I have spoken with, I am of the opinion that this is a done deal. Meijer is coming to our town.

I think this is a good thing. There will be jobs created. The city will get tax revenue from Meijer, and the city will certainly get money from the electricity and water that the store will use.

I remember being a teenaged kid growing up in suburban Detroit, and going to Meijer to just hang out in the "Purple Cow" area that ws kind of a ice cream place that served as a food court. My mom liked to buy Meijer milk and bread, and you will too. My sister worked at that Meijer downstate, and she said that it was the best company that she ever worked for.

I am excited about Meijer coming to Escanaba because of my earlier experiences, but I also must say that even though I am a Meijer fan, I will still frequent some of our local stores just like I do now. For example, Elmer's County Market, where I stop by for food items pretty much every night after I get off of work. That business supports our community, heart and soul.
 
I know that some local businesses will be concerned, and rightly so. This Meijer store will have a gas station in the parking lot, so, I guess some local gas station owners will be worried about the low prices Meijer will offer for fuel. But I truly believe that our local businesses will survive as long as they provide something special that not even Meijer can provide. And, they do!

---later, Jack

ESCANABA, MI--FEBRUARY 19, 2015-2:11 A.M.
Last winter was brutal. This year, for the most part, we've made it through with very few snowstorms and only a few shots of very cold air. But, the next few days are going to be brutal, and everyone needs to take extra caution to get through it without injury.

Yes, hearing (or reading) know-it-all radio guys like me discuss winter safety advice can be boring. But things like: check on your neighbors, bring in your "outside" pets, have a half-tank or more of gas in your car, wear extra layers of clothes...well, those are just common sense tips.

This Arctic cold weather has forced every school district in Delta, Alger, Marquette, Menominee, Dickinson, Iron, and Schoolcraft Counties to close their doors for Thursday.

And Bay deNoc Community College is closed, on both the Escanaba and Iron Mountain campuses. That is unusual: Bay doesn't close just because local K-12 schools shut down.
 
Keep tuned to the Radio Results Network stations for weather updates, road reports, and cancellations as we head through Thursday toward Friday. I suspect that more schools and others will shut down on Friday, as the forecast is not promising.

We have a small staff at RRN, but we all work hard to get the updated information to you as quickly as possible. So keep listening to NewsTalk 600 AM, Magic 97 FM, Moose Country 102.5 FM, Kool 105.5 FM, and Crusin 1490 AM. And here on-line at radioresultsnetwork.com. (and rrnsports.com for sports) for updates as we receive them.
 
---stay warm and safe, Jack

ESCANABA, MI--FEBRUARY 18, 2015-2:20 A.M.
A warning to all of you who read, watch, or listen to the news. Over the next couple of months, you will be bombarded by studies that tell you how bad Michigan's roads are.
 
Every one of these studies, of course, will tell you that if only we spent more money...a LOT more money...that our roads would be safe again. After all, right now, every time you get behind the wheel, you put your life in your own hands because our roads are crumbling. Right?

Well, yes, there is no doubt that our state's roads could be better. Yes, there are potholes every spring. Yes, we'd all like a smoother ride. But to suggest in these "studies" that our lives are in danger unless we approve a billion dollars a year in extra road funding, well, I feel that this is at least stretching the truth, and at worst, boldfaced lies.

A lot of groups across Michigan want you to say "yes" to a one-percent increase in the state sales tax as part of a plan to fix more of our roads. But there's a lot of what some would describe as "pork" on that plan.

Like restoring the state's Earned Income Tax Credit, so that low-income people who get all of the income taxes they pay throughout the year returned to them, along with a check for even more money that they never paid in. Like extra money for a Detroit mass-transit system that already has reliability issues to the point where some people don't count on riding it.

And an extra $300 million for schools. That is usually seen as a good thing, but I thought this was all about the roads. If you want to give schools more money, then propose a bill to do that, and have our lawmakers and governor approve it. Don't try to trick voters by attaching it to a proposal that is supposed to be about making our roads better.

But get ready for all of these "news" stories about how our roads and bridges are falling apart and need immediate help. You will hear some of those stories in my very own reports, I must tell you. Also, get ready for the TV commercials that pull at your heart strings. If you say no to this massive tax increase, your grandma's blood will be on your hands if she has a traffic accident on the way to Bingo because she hits a pothole and crashes into a stop sign.

So, on May 5th, you have a decision to make. Vote yes, or vote no, that's up to you. You can probably guess what my attitude is on this proposal.

---later, Jack

ESCANABA, MI--FEBRUARY 16, 2015-1:33 A.M.
It was a wild weekend of weather across the Upper Peninsula, and this was one of the rare times where Delta County got to share in the lake effect blizzard conditions that the folks along the Lake Superior shoreline deal with many times during the winter.

It is very rare that we have to have highways closed here in Delta County because of whiteout conditions and snow drifts in the middle of the road. That happens a lot on M-28 between Munising and Marquette. But it also happened Saturday on US-2 between Gladstone and Manistique, and on M-35 between Perkins and the Marquette County line.

The high winds sent just enough fluffy lake effect snow to our area that there were huge travel disruptions. Even in the City of Escanaba, it was hard to see where you were going Friday night, Saturday, and even into the early part of Sunday.

There are still some snow-covered and slippery roads throughout the area as we start another work week, but everything is open for the Monday morning commute.

Although....remember that Monday is President's Day. That's a federal holiday. You won't get any mail, the Secretary of State and other state and federal offices are all closed. Some local school districts are also closed. And the Stock Market won't be open, either.

I don't know the status of every single governmental unit, or every bank, so you may want to call ahead if you want to do business with them...some may be open. All I can say for sure is that our radio stations will be open for business, so, we again miss out on "days off".

---later, Jack 

NEGAUNEE, MI--FEBRUARY 13. 2015-2:27 A.M.
Sometimes, hard work trumps skill. And we saw that here in Negaunee Thursday night as the Negaunee High School hockey team upset the Escanaba Eskymos, 6-5.

Negaunee's players worked hard all night, as Eskymo Coac Matt Hiughes noted in our post-game interview. The Eskymos had beaten the Miners in hockey 19 straight times since 2009, and most of those games weren't close at all.
 
Earlier this season, Escanaba won, 9-1. Maybe the Eskymos got a bit too comfortable when Escanaba took a 4-1 lead Thursday night. Yep, we've got this! Another hockey win over Negaunee! Well, I must say, the Miners had other ideas. They have improved big time since that early-season loss to the Eskymos.

And now, while we tip our hats to a great Negaunee effort, where do the Eskymos go from here? They still have a good team that can make some news in the playoffs. I hope the guys keep their confidence and get back to pratice on Monday with a mission to dominate!

---later, Jack

ESCANABA, MI--FEBRUARY 12, 2015-1:33 A.M.
Delta County remains the hotbed of high school wrestling in the Upper Peninsula.
 
Sure, there are other really good programs out there.  Norway and Iron Mounain have strong teams seemingly every year (including this year), and St. Ignace has had several individual state champions who have gone on to join college wrestling teams in recent years.
 
But the Escanaba Eskymos and Gladstone Braves have been competing at a high level for many years.
 
And they both won district championships Wednesday night. The Braves cruised past Kingsford and Negaunee by identical 60-6 scores, while the Eskymos (pictured at left) had to scratch and claw their way past Sault Ste. Marie, 39-36.

That Eskymo win came down to the wire, as Breyden Paipneau needed a pin in the final match to secure the match with Escanaba trailing by three points. Had he simply won by a decision, Escanaba would have received three points, and the matchwould have been tied at 36-36.

But young Papineau got the pin, in just 18 seconds, to help the Eskymos win the team trophy yet again. Also, a huge pin for freshman Scout Wunder when Escanaba trailed, 30-24, late in the match. This was a good test for the young Eskymo team, with so many underclassmen.
 
Gladstone Coach Jesse DeBacker and Escanaba Coach Jamie Segorski both run programs where character is more important than winning.
 
Gladstone (pictured left) is low on numbers this year, but DeBacker juggles that lineup to get the best possible match-ups through various weight classes.
 
Segorski does the same thing in Escanaba, and he has had to do it a lot this season, with three key wrestlers out for various reasons. That's at least 12, and sometimes 18 points, that Escanaba is doing without, and has to find from some very young wrestlers. And the kids have responded.

Gladstone will face some tough competition at regionals next week in Grayling, and Escanaba will have to face some incredible teams at regionals in Bay Citty. But the kids who will be on the mat downstate for both teams will battle hard, and...who knows???
 
And quickly...good luck to the Bark River-Harris Broncos wrestling team Thursday night at their Division Four districts in Iron Mountain. Going up against Norway and Iron Mountain will be tough, but I think the Labadie boy will do well, and again, for a few others, who knows?
 
---later, Jack

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