2018 Riverdays to join forces with the Midland Balloon Festival, change date


Beginning in 2018, the Midland Balloon Festival will be a part of the Midland Area Community Foundation’s annual Riverdays Festival, another weekend-long event that draws thousands of visitors each year. The partnership will bring about a location and date change for the event.

“This is a natural partnership,” said Dave Kell, co-chair of the Riverdays planning committee. “Since we moved most events to the Farmers Market side of the river this year with overwhelmingly positive feedback, Chippewassee Park is now wide open. It’s a perfect opportunity to combine these events.”

“Events like this take a ton of behind-the-scenes work. By combining Riverdays and the Balloon Festival, we’re able to focus more on doing what we do best: flying balloons,” said Steve King, competition director for the Midland Balloon Festival.

The dates for the event are set for August 2 - 5, 2018. Riverdays will take place on the 3rd and 4th, with the other two days primarily featuring hot air balloon events.  

“In addition to the Balloon Festival and other aspects of Riverdays, we culminate the weekend with the Esther Gerstacker Fireworks show,” said Kell. “We’ve long thought about spacing our display from the July 4th show. Combining these events is a great opportunity to do that.”

Many of the events surrounding the Riverdays weekend will take advantage of the updated festival-friendly streetscape in downtown Midland, including the Main Street Glow event on Thursday, August 2nd and the Riverdays street party on August 3rd. Event organizers say that more information will be available on both websites in the coming months.

Students get a PASS

New program addresses teen school suspension through The ROCK

By Kathleen Davis
MACF Volunteer

A solid physical and mental foundation enable people to be strong and resilient so they may reach their potential to achieve their goals. The ROCK (Reaching Our Community Kids) Center for Youth Development is a teen-focused organization that helps youth succeed and thrive to reach their potential. The mission of The ROCK is to build hope and resilience in youth based on a foundation of acceptance, support, and respect that results in positive life choices.  

This comprehensive non-profit organization for middle and high school students uses three proven programs – ROCK Exposure (life-skills and character development programs), ROCK Grounded (after-school programs) and ROCK Unplugged (community events) to provide youths with the tools and skills to cope in a positive manner with today’s myriad of issues and challenges in a safe and healthy environment. Many youths in the school districts of Midland, Bullock Creek, Coleman, and Meridian continue to take advantage of the high-quality programs The ROCK has to offer.  

The ROCK is sustained by many generous donors which includes the Midland Area Community Foundation. The MACF, along with other foundations, corporate donors, and individuals enables The ROCK to serve community youth with the fundamentals to help create solid foundations for them.

As The ROCK continues to respond to the needs of today’s teens, a new program was introduced in January 2017 that addresses school suspension. The Positive Alternative to School Suspension (PASS) program is providing skill building and structure for middle school teens from all four of Midland’s school districts who get suspended. The initial funding for this new program was made possible by a $40,000 grant from the Midland Area Community Foundation.   

The PASS Advantage

Research shows that students are better off when alternatives to school suspension are presented. Typically, students who get suspended encounter poor school performance, low self-esteem, peer group or public humiliation, and get involved in destructive behavior and activities. The PASS program will provide a structure for those teens who are not in their classroom due to suspension. Components of the program include skill building, homework/study, development of a personal success plan, and may also include exercise and community service. The intention of PASS is to reduce the deficits realized from school suspension and help to increase the teen’s academics and behaviors. “Providing a positive alternative to school suspensions has been a dream of ours for years. We are excited to see it become a reality in all four school districts. The long-term impact of school suspensions can be devastating to a youth. This is a powerful move that has the potential to address deficits and build skills,” said Beverlee Wenzel, Executive Director, The ROCK.

Currently, the program is available only to middle school students on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays at the ROCK’s location within the Greater Community Midland Center. The ROCK plans are to expand the PASS program to include high school students and make it available Monday through Friday as more funding is secured.  

To learn more about The ROCK or the PASS program, contact them at rockon@therockc4yd.org or visit their website at www.therockc4yd.org. To provide funding for The ROCK and their PASS program through the MACF, contact them at 989.839.9661 or info@midlandfoundation.org. 

News Release: Input sought for Midland County Public Transportation Study

A study focusing on Midland County’s public transportation is currently underway. The goal of the study, being conducted by consulting firm RLS & Associates, is to identify gaps and needs within the service and derive potential solutions for improving the overall system. 

The study also seeks to increase accessibility and mobility of Midland County residents, enhance efficient transportation services, and promote cooperation and connectivity between individual providers. Inadequate public transportation was listed as one of the top needs in Midland County according to a needs assessment study completed by the Midland Area Community Foundation (MACF) in 2013.

Midland County residents have an opportunity to submit thoughts and ideas regarding public transportation. An online survey is available at http://bit.ly/ecityhall and open to all residents. A paper version of the survey can be picked up and submitted at the Midland Area Community Foundation office, 76 Ashman Circle, between 8AM – 5PM Monday through Friday.

Public input sessions are scheduled for Tuesday, November 8th, 6PM at the Grace A. Dow Memorial Library and Thursday, December 1st, 6PM at City Hall. Free and open to any Midland County resident, the sessions are expected to last 90 minutes. Residents are asked to RSVP by calling the community foundation at 989.839.9661. 

Public input on this issue can also be provided on November 16th, 4PM – 7PM at the Grace A. Dow Memorial Library during a public open house for the Long Range Transportation Plan, which is being developed for the Midland area by its Metropolitan Planning Organization, the Midland Area Transportation Study.

“We face some unique challenges regarding public transportation in our community,” said Maja Bolanowska, Midland Area Transportation Study Director. “Dial-A-Ride and County Connection do a wonderful job with their resources, but community feedback seems to be that the first come, first serve reservation system is not ideal for many. We want to look at all of our options and identify potential solutions.”

Funding for the public transportation study comes from a federal grant as well as an $11,600 grant from MACF. For more information, contact MACF at 989.839.9661 or info@midlandfoundation.org.