By Craig Hastings
It’s usually in the early spring and summer that residents here get a chance to see what’s next and new going on in Tuscola. However, how could have anyone not taken note of what is happening this fall? Some of you may not regularly drive through Ervin Park this time of the year but, make a pass through at your convenience. Back in the spring there was conversation and exploration by the City Council and the Mayor of investing in some much needed improvements in Ervin Park. The City Administrator and City Treasurer had done their homework pertaining to what grant awards and any assistance that might be available to the city with their efforts to make major improvements to the most costly structural facilities in Ervin Park. It was discovered that most of the ball fields, tennis courts, and basketball courts wooden light poles were in dire condition and needed replaced or removed completely. I don’t have to tell any of you how bad the surfaces of the tennis courts and basketball courts were also, so they made the wish list too.
I believe it took at least two paperwork submissions, many emails, and many good ol’ telephone conversations but, finally, a deal was struck and Tuscola was awarded monetary assistance to replace most all of the light poles, the lighting itself, and all of the required square footage surface replacement of the basketball and tennis courts. Mind you, this isn’t a resurfacing going on this time either. These courts will be brand new from the ground up this time around. These past two weeks the light poles were set in place and the removal of the old basketball and tennis courts was accomplished by city crews four weeks ago. The leveling and base layer of the courts has also been done. I have to tell you, being a lifetime resident and one that has played baseball and softball under the old lighting for many, many years, I’m very anxious to see these things lit up! Not only will they be higher in the air but will also be blessed with the much more efficient and brighter LED lighting. I’m confident that anyone playing tennis and basketball will be equally impressed with the new surfaces and LED lighting of these areas. Believe me, coordinating all of the research work, paper trails, contracting, and finally a project plan that works is a tough task for those city officials charged with the effort for sure. These large scale projects requiring a huge budget don’t just walk in the door or come to the city by an email. They require a lot of effort and a desire to see them through.
I hope all of you understand what a big deal this is for a city the size of Tuscola to accomplish. The facilities available to all of us in Ervin Park are second to none. The baseball diamonds are beautiful just to look at especially the High School diamond. Complete with a fairly new bleachers, fencing, and broadcast booth it’s truly a sight to see here in little Tuscola. The playing surface is manicured and the grass deep green in color. I called it the High School diamond but, it is owned, kept, and tended to year around by Tuscola city park employees. They do a remarkable job throughout the park keeping Ervin Park a spring, summer, and fall, a place to be in Tuscola. There is just one more structure that I hope to see vanish and a new one in its place before my last day is up. The North restroom facilities have to go and if I would ever get lucky enough to hit a substantial lottery cash payout I pledge to all of you tonight that I will fund the entire project that replaces those restrooms. I’m not saying they are not clean because they are clean. But once inside it’s easy to tell they have been standing and servicing for a very long time.
Now let’s move to the South side of Tuscola. We all were told of how big and beautiful the new Love’s Travel Stop being built on Rt. 36 at I-57 was going to be but, can you believe that project! Now 99 percent complete and for all to see in its entirety it’s truly a sight to behold. Five days a week, all day, I’m witness to the incredible numbers of vehicles coming off of the interstate and into the Love’s property. If you haven’t already, drive to Pesotum and drive back to Tuscola on I-57 after dark. You would think after the addition of the Love’s lighting added to what Tuscola already had glowing one might believe you were driving up on a city with a population of 20,000 people or more. Lambo’s and Fuel Mart both being bright and brand new add to the brilliance. Yeah I’m prejudiced because I’ve lived my entire life in Tuscola but, this place is absolutely beautiful to see from up high and at night! I’m proud to call Tuscola my home. Finally, I hope that we will indeed also witness some new and exciting revelations here in Tuscola in early 2021.
I am going to cast a little rain on the parade of good news but one always follows the other. Anytime that any place through improvements makes its presence more alluring there will be some undesirables show up to take advantage…or try too. So was the case this past weekend one morning at 2:00 a.m. on Rt. 36 right in the middle of all the brilliance I bragged about earlier. Not just this past weekend either. This summer and fall have been a constant test for our police officers to perform their duties. You see, all of what makes you and I proud of Tuscola is also what draws some undesirable travelers to drop off of I-57 and into Tuscola to take a look. A look for nothing good. And when they do they will usually catch the attention of the evening shift officers. So was the case at 2:00 a.m. Sunday/early Monday morning. A quick check of an out of state registration plate revealed the registered owner was a suspended driver and wanted on an out of state warrant. A Tuscola officer stopped the car and quickly the situation turned ugly. A struggle ensued, our officer was struck in her face and body before County deputies could arrive on scene to assist. The suspect was eventually tased in order to remove her from her car and take her into custody. Our officer sustained a serious injury to her face causing the suspect to be charged with resisting arrest and battery to a police officer.
For the past six months this has been the norm for Tuscola police making late night, early morning contacts of not only drivers of vehicles but also people coming out of nowhere just walking the streets. Physical confrontations which were once the few and far between are now also the norm. This is the America in which we all live right now with no end in sight. The conduct of people we deal with today is much more confrontational than ever before. But, I’m standing my ground! The good of the ever improving Tuscola far outweighs the bad of a few bad actors that just can’t resist stopping by and taking a look. Not to worry! Rest assured you employ a great team of patrol officers that are out here every night keeping you safe so, to our Mayor, City Administrator, Council, and our City Treasurer who makes sure all the numbers make sense, keep on building a better Tuscola.