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Local troubadour and gardener Chris Skellenger and former Buckets of Rain treasurer Mike Binsfeld have created a new nonprofit called Row by Row, which helps economically challenged Guatemala women establish community gardens on vacant public land. Buckets of Rain previously taught bucket drip irrigation to communities in Lesotho and Detroit. Skellenger also plays guitar and sings at Boonedocks, Little Traverse Inn, French Valley Vineyard, Cherry Republic, and Lake Ann Brewery with an assortment of his musical friends. And Skellenger is the new nursery manager at the expanded Northwood’s Hardware & Garden Center in Glen Arbor. “We are so happy to have Chris Skellenger to help us get this going,” said co-owner Jeff Gietzen. “He is a skilled, legitimate nursery person.”

Northwoods Hardware owners Jeff and Georgia Gietzen have announced the purchase of property directly adjacent to their current business (where Wildflowers was located until last summer). The Gietzens anticipate the purchase of 50 percent of the remaining south lot by mid-July. The Wildflowers property had previously been purchased by a developer with plans to build condos, but is no longer moving forward with the development.

Northwoods Hardware in Glen Arbor has a supplier who has modified their production line to produce face shields that meet Johns Hopkins Medical School and Munson specifications. Face shields are an essential part of the PPE required in hospitals, however there is a nation-wide shortage, and there is a critical need for them at Munson Healthcare.

UPDATE (Nov. 18): Northwoods Hardware owners Jeff and Georgia Gietzen report that—thanks to front-page coverage in the Glen Arbor Sun about the lack of Fraser Fir trees for sale this year—three different tree suppliers contacted Northwoods Hardware, “and we’re now going to be in the tree business once again this holiday season!” wrote Georgia.

The Glen Lake Community Library kicks off building expansion fundraising on Memorial Day weekend at Northwoods Hardware, according to capital campaign chairperson Linda Young. The construction project will transform the present library and will nearly double the space while accommodating the needs of both children and the elderly.

What’s new in town in 2016 — particularly if you haven’t visited Glen Arbor since last July — are the forests around the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. They are completely different. That’s because of the Aug. 2, 2015, megastorm, which packed “straight line” winds of 100 miles per hour, leveled thousands of hardwood trees across Alligator Hill, along the east side of Big Glen Lake, across Leelanau County and on Old Mission Peninsula north of Traverse City. The storm was the most dramatic thing to hit Glen Arbor in modern times, and it changed the experience of visiting our beloved National Lakeshore for generations to come.

During one extraordinary week in August 2015, the sounds that dominated our town were the whirr of winds and the ugly crack of trees, followed by the buzz of chainsaws, the hum of generators, and the cheering and car honking as Consumers Power trucks and linemen rolled into town like a liberating army.

By day, it’s Northwoods Hardware. By night—well, Thursday night—it’s Car Central. Every Thursday night from July 10 until the end of August, the parking lot at 6053 S. Glen Lake Road/M-22 becomes a convocation of motorheads. It’s Cruise Night in Glen Arbor.

What services are imperative for a small town like Glen Arbor? How about a grocery store, a hardware store, a gas station and an active Chamber of Commerce. Check three of four for Jeff and Georgia Gietzen, the Grand Rapids transplants who acquired Northwoods Hardware three years ago (and became sole owners in 2011), who have also become Chamber leaders, and this spring bought the gas station just north of town. Northwoods Filling Station now boasts vintage 1950s signage, sells gasoline and quick bites, and most importantly stays open 7 days a week, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. That’s a big improvement over having to drive to Empire or Maple City for petrol.

We’ve now owned Northwoods Hardware for 13 months, and in that time we’ve come to realize just how significant our moose is to our customers. Dee and I originally thought after closing on the purchase last July that we’d remove him, as neither of our families are hunters and we felt “bad” about the moose. But we soon realized in casual discussion that we would have many unhappy customers, and that kids “like” our moose.