MESICK — When the hardware store in Mesick closed four years ago, long-time resident Craig Gabier called it “a big blow.‘
When the Huntington Bank pulled out last year, one of many financial institutions that have come and gone, residents were disheartened.
“When the bank pulled out, I looked down the street and wondered, what’s going to become of us?‘ said Sharon Ream, deputy clerk of Springville Township. “We are going to die.‘
But Ream isn’t talking about Mesick’s demise anymore.
“I can see us waking back up again,‘ she said.
The Forest Area Credit Union is opening a branch in Mesick this fall.
And Ream’s dream project, one that she’s been working on with township officials for 29 years, is under construction.
The new Springville Township Community Center and Library will also open sometime this fall, a 6,000-square-foot modern complex right on Main Street, a renovation of the old hardware store.
How a 29-year old dream came true
Sharon Ream grew up in Mesick, married a Mesick man and raised three children while working in the bank. She later logged 26 years in customer service for Ace Communications.
When she became Springville Township Clerk in 1987, a job she held until last year when she was named deputy clerk, officials started discussing a project to create a community center combined with the library and the museum.
“We couldn’t get it off the ground,‘ Ream said. “It was going to take a lot of money.‘
So the township started a savings account and by 2017, it totalled almost $600,000.
Ream is often asked how they were able to save so much money.
“I learned everything I know from Walter Maser, he was the superintendent when I started (with the township),‘ Ream said. “We’ve always been a frugal township. He mentored us. We kept our wages small. I looked at this job as a community service rather than a job.‘
“Township officials have not had a raise and we never borrowed money,‘ she added. “We did build a pole barn for the fire trucks and got a matching grant for the truck. Now the township has everything in place for the firemen to have a fulltime department with sleeping quarters because we saved.‘
Three years ago, the board voted to use the funds they had accumulated to finally start the community center and library project minus the museum. In 2003, the Mesick Historical Museum purchased a building but they are contributing to the project and their archives will be housed in the library.
“Ben Townsend, a board member and county commissioner, suggested that we redo the hardware store,‘ Ream said. “We all thought that was great. It was in the middle of town, it was the perfect solution.‘
The property was purchased in August, 2017 and construction began last April.
The design divides the building in half, with 2,400 square feet for the Mesick branch of the Cadillac-Wexford Public Library facing Main Street. The community center is behind with 2,500 square feet. With the entrance, bathrooms and meeting room, the project totals 6,000 square feet.
The garage at the back of the property will be remodeled to house the Springville Township offices.
“They have been dreaming of this since 1987,‘ said Cheryl Bader, a project volunteer who specializes in grant writing. “They had this money and Sharon took it to the board. She was the advocate along with Ben Townsend. He’s quite an advocate.‘
Organizers envision hosting community events in the new building that will be equipped with a full kitchen and a large meeting room.
“This building will create social relationships‘ said Bader. “It can connect members of the community and give them pride. I think the building is a crown jewel for the community.‘
“Nothing like this has been done here before,‘ said Ream. “It’s going to do so many things. It will bring people in, bring them to the businesses, this will be first class.‘
Those who donate $100 or more will be recognized on a memorial wall plaque in the building’s entrance. All donations are welcome.
For information call Sharon Ream, project advisor, at (231) 468-8479.