The attention of many Salinians is now on the near completion of the Michigan Avenue renovation and streetscape project. Though there have been delays, the long wait for a renewed main street is almost over.
A ribbon cutting is scheduled for Tuesday, November 29 at 7:00 p.m., in conjunction with the annual lighting of the Christmas tree. The event will occur downtown, by Key Bank.
But there are more new things to celebrate. For one, Saline now has an historical marker in the downtown area, celebrating the history of the town and the salt spring that drew settlers here.
About 20 people, many of them city officials, gathered downtown around 6:30 on November 21 for the unveiling. The sign is green with gold lettering stating that this is a Registered Michigan Historic Site and providing a brief history of the area. It stands on a pole about 6 feet above the ground near the Farmers’ Market site on South Ann Arbor Street.
The project was envisioned by Jim Peters, who also did much of the legwork to bring the project to completion. He drafted the words which were further edited in conjunction with the Michigan Historical Commission.
The Saline Arts and Culture Committee and Saline Area Historical Society paid for the installation.
On Monday night, a group of shivering participants stood around the marker while fresh pavement was still being laid a block up the road. Mayor Brian Marl introduced the project and its significance.
Jim Peters then spoke of what this area was like at various times in the past. Ten thousand years ago, one could have taken a 15-minute walk south to the salt springs and could perhaps have seen mammoths, mastodons, saber-toothed tigers or other Pleistocene megafauna.
Five hundred years ago, the large animals were gone, but Potawatomi Indians might be seen making salt by evaporating brine from the spring. By 340 years ago one might see French fur traders in the area, the first white men to visit the area.
Peters continued with these historical snapshots, up to the arrival of Orange Risdon, founder of the city. Then Jack Dempsey (not the boxer) of the Michigan Historical Society gave a short talk.
When the speeches were complete, Marl, Peters and Dempsey removed the shroud covering the marker. One side of the marker tells about the salt springs and the other provides a more general history of the city.
The marker is next to the summer site of the Farmers’ Market and there is something else new about that. Recently Nancy Crisp, who has been manager of the market for 16 years announced that she would retire. Taking her place is Christine Easley.
During the City Council meeting that took place not long after the unveiling of the historical marker, City Manager Todd Campbell introduced Easley. First, however, Marl honored departing manager Crisp by reading a letter of recognition.
“She is the first and only director when the market was founded and established 16 years ago and we are indebted to her service,” Marl said before reading a glowing review of her service.
“This job has been one of the most fun jobs I’ve ever had,” Crisp said. “I met so many wonderful people, the venders themselves, they kind of changed my life; they changed my attitude.”
“And I’m also really happy that I’m retired,” Crisp added.
Meanwhile, Easley has been phasing into the manager role, working during the last few weeks of the summer market and helping to organize this year’s winter market at Liberty School. She thanked Crisp for training her and for introducing her to the network of people who make the market work.
“I’m really excited to work on this market,” Easley said. “I’m excited about the amazing platform that Nancy has given me: some great vendors, some great community support. And I’m going to try to take some of the things I’ve learned at other markets that I’ve run and bring it in.”
At a meeting a week earlier, Campbell introduced another new community servant. With the retirement of Justine Mira, Eleanor “El” Getschman will become the new Administrative Assistant to the City Manager.
Following jobs in Brighton, Novi and Plymouth, she began her job in Saline last week. She went around the room shaking hands with each member of City Council.
One more new addition to Saline is a proclamation from U.S. Senator Gary Peters honoring the City on the occasion of its 150th birthday. Chris Matus, Regional Director for the senator, presented this proclamation before City Council and the attendant crowd.
The proclamation ended with a quote from city founder Risdon, who said, “may Saline continue to shine in light, knowledge and liberty with the same increasing brilliance that she has shown from infancy to present time.”
“This will be one of our treasured items that we will proudly display here at city hall, because it’s not every day that you receive something that was put into the Congressional Record,” Marl said.
This proclamation was perhaps the last of many events this year commemorating Saline’s sesquicentennial.