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Press Release

May 6, 2011

CONTACT:   Matt Bach
Dir. of Communications
Michigan Municipal League
(734) 669-6317 or

West Branch Wins Region 6 Nomination in League Competition

City’s "Fabulous Fridays" Now in Running for Statewide Community Excellence Award

west branchKALKASKA, Michigan (May 6, 2011) - West Branch won the Region 6 Community Excellence Award for its “Fabulous Fridays” program at the Region 6 Education Seminar in Kalkaska on Wednesday, May 4, 2011.

The event was the first of seven regional seminars in the 2011 League Tour leading up the League’s Annual Convention Oct. 4-6 in Grand Rapids.
West Branch was among four communities seeking the regional CEA honor in the upper half of Michigan’s northern peninsula.

The other projects vying for the award were Hillman’s “Extreme Makeover” bridge and street reconstruction project, presented by Hillman Village Manager David Post; Rogers City’s $7.6-million water and sewer project, presented by Rogers City Manager Mark Slown; and Petoskey’s improvement plan for the Bear River Recreation Area, presented by Petoskey City Manager Dan Ralley.

West Branch’s “Fabulous Fridays” program was presented by City Manager Tom Youatt and councilmember Rusty Showalter, and prepared by Pete Fabbri of the West Branch retail merchants committee.

"It was a great competition and there were some great projects in our region presented today,” Youatt said. “We feel very honored to win our regional competition and look forward to presenting in Grand Rapids.”

Fabulous Fridays started a few years ago, cranking up the city’s historic downtown economy with themed Fridays, including a very popular Gong Show and Classic Chassis car show. More than 14,000 people have attended over the past three summer seasons, and overall business is up 10-15 percent annually for the entire downtown, Youatt said.

“The Fabulous Fridays increase the exposure to the downtown business district in our city and it’s generated a lot of interest in West Branch and our downtown,” said Youatt.

“Plus it brings back that small town, old town feel when a community would gather together,” added Showalter.

Alpena Mayor Carol Shafto, League board president, said all four nominees did an excellent job, providing ample proof that Michigan communities continue to develop excellent programs and projects despite the economy.

“I honestly thought all four of the projects were really excellent and I didn’t know who to vote for,” said Shafto. “It shows that for a small region we have a wide variety of projects with each having excellence in its own rights. I thought it was amazing.”

West Branch will now compete against the other six regional CEA winners for the statewide CEA honor at the League’s Annual Convention Oct. 4-7, 2011 in Grand Rapids.

Read more about this peer-selected “Race for the Cup” contest that recognizes outstanding community services, projects and programs.

For more information contact Matt Bach, communications director for the Michigan Municipal League at (734) 669-6317 or


The Michigan Municipal League advocates on behalf of its member communities in Lansing, Washington D.C., and the courts; provides educational opportunities for elected and appointed municipal officials; and assists municipal leaders in administering services to their communities through League programs and services.




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