Salted with Sharks

Archive for the ‘Law & Order’ Category

Special Council Meeting Regarding Elberta Beach

In E Beach, Gov't Watch, Law & Order, Open Season, Public Safety, Wildlife on August 9, 2017 at 1:36 pm

Update! Kristi Mills came through with a recording of the meeting. Thanks, Kristi! It’s a bit hard to hear and hasn’t been edited for levels and whatnot, but it’s worth a listen if you care about the beach.


Here are some of the officials and others who attended the meeting. We thank them! And thanks, Jon Keillor, for taking this photo.

Here are some images that were used during this morning’s special council meeting to discuss where exactly Elberta property and the public “roadway” is, as opposed to Sand Products Corporation and other private property used by Elberta beachgoers pedestrian and motorized. Thanks for the photos, Andy Bolander. I tried to record the meeting but had a tech fail. —Emily Votruba

Guest Column: Electric Skateboard Debate Ramps Up

In Activism, Breaking, Community Alert, Elsewhere in BenCo..., Environment, Gov't Watch, Infrastructure and Planning, Law & Order, On and off the Apron, Open Season, Politics, Public Safety, Tech, Transportation, WTFF (What the Frankfort) on July 14, 2017 at 5:03 pm

Please help stop Frankfort City Council’s ongoing effort to create an ordinance banning electric skateboards citywide.

By Carolyn Thayer

July 14, 2017

I’m asking for your help to spread the news about the Frankfort City Council’s ongoing effort to create an ordinance banning electric skateboards citywide based on the potential for a public safety problem.

Read the rest of this entry »

Hunting in the Village: Let the Game Begin

In Community Alert, Environment, Law & Order, Open Season, Wildlife on September 15, 2016 at 10:39 am

It’s hunting season! But it’s illegal to shoot firearms within Village limits. That includes up in the dunes. So if you hear gunshots here in Elberta, you would be correct to call the Sheriff, who is tasked with enforcing that law, because it’s also a state law. Bowhunting, however, is allowed in EDNA, as long as regulations, including legal distances from structures, are followed. EDNA hikers should be aware that there may be archery going on in the park during their visit. Hey, Blaze Orange looks good on everyone! This notice is posted on the Village website here.


August Primary 2016 on Tuesday the 2nd

In Community Alert, Gilmore Township, Gov't Watch, Infrastructure and Planning, Law & Order, Politics on July 31, 2016 at 8:51 am

Don’t miss the Gilmore/Elberta Primary Election this coming Tuesday, August 2, from 7:00 am to 8 pm at the Community Building, 401 First Street. Gilmore Township/Elberta voters will be choosing State (101st District) and U.S. congressional (1st District) representatives, as well as county prosecutor (Sara Swanson running unopposed), sheriff (Ted Schendel vs. David Tucker on the Republican side; no Dems running), county clerk (Dawn Olney and Katie Osborn), county treasurer (Kelly J. Long and Michelle L. Thompson) and several other county positions. Two Dems face off for Road Commissioner: Terry Money and Charles Brozofsky. In November, Gilmore/Elberta will choose between Gary Sauer and Donald Smeltzer for County Commission (7th District); and Laura Manville and Mary Kalbach for Township Treasurer. There’s a county EMS millage proposal and a Gilmore roads upgrade millage proposal. See our sample ballot below. You can get more information about our Primary and others in the area by going to the Michigan Voter Information Center at Screenshot 2016-07-31 08.45.55

Lines in the Sand

In Community Alert, Crime, E Beach, Environment, Law & Order, Open Season, Public Safety, Water, Wildlife on May 24, 2016 at 1:46 pm

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By Andy Bolander

Here is an annual reminder of the beautiful frailty our community possesses in the Elberta dunes and beach. It will take persistent and vocal presence for us to protect this resource.

Why is it necessary to protect the dune habitat? Well, something you may feel intuitively is actually true: Elberta Dunes are geologically unique in the world.

“Elberta Dunes lie at a latitudinal transition point between perched dunes to the north and lake-plain dunes to the south. Elberta dunes consist of five parabolic dunes perched on a glacial bluff. Characterized by stabilized dunes with overlapping arms which indicate non-concurrent periods of migration. Elberta Dunes have four distinguishable migration periods.” —Dunes in a Transitional Zone: Using Morphology and Stratigraphy to Determine the Relative Ages of Green Point Dune Complex and Elberta Dunes, Emma Fulop, Davidson College 2014

“Very few dunes in Michigan can be classed as truly migratory.” —Geological Sketch of Michigan Sand Dunes, Robert W. Kelly, Mich Dept of Environmental Quality (DEQ) Geological Survey Division, 2001

“[T]he greatest dunes of the entire region occur along the east coast of Lake Michigan because the prevailing Westerlies gather added energy as they fetch across this unbroken expanse of lake.” —Geological Sketch of Michigan Sand Dunes, Robert W. Kelly, Mich Dept of Environmental Quality (DEQ) Geological Survey Division, 2001

Human activity on the beach has the potential to change the shape of the dune. Vehicle tracks and the digging out of vehicles kills and/or displaces grasses, shrubs, and other vegetation that stabilizes the dunes. Removal of plant life exposes the sand to the wind and water erosion.

“Whenever plants on the foredune are injured or destroyed, the wind has access to the raw sand and creates a blowout, a saddle-shaped breach in the ridge, through which the sand commences a march inland. Many blowouts change the foredune into a very irregular feature called a dune ridge.” —Geological Sketch of Michigan Sand Dunes, Robert W. Kelly, Mich Dept of Environmental Quality (DEQ) Geological Survey Division, 2001

Dunes along the Lake Michigan coast have vanished before because of human activity. Pigeon Hill in Muskegon was named for the massive number of passenger pigeons that roosted there up until the end of the 19th century. The hill was sold to Nugent Sand and the Pere Marquette Railroad in 1920. By 1936 Sand Products Corporation (owner of about 180 acres of Elberta sand dunes and bluffs) had erected a conveyor system to load the sand onto waiting boats. Excavation of the sand continued until 1967. The site then sat barren until 1992, when there was a change in ownership and Harbour Towne condominiums were built. ( Dune sand mining also destroyed huge dunes that once surrounded Manistee.

But you don’t have to be a large sand mining corporation or a real estate developer to do a lot of damage to these natural areas and to the birds and other creatures who make Elberta Beach their home. The beach and dunes are subject to the everyday threat of human vehicle traffic.

“People are drawn to shorelines for their beauty and recreational opportunities so the remaining shoreline areas with dune habitat are often also public use areas. Hikers and Off Road Vehicles (ORVs) trample Pitcher’s thistle [a protected species] which harms or destroys the plants. ORV traffic in dunes also causes erosion which creates unstable areas where it’s difficult for plants to take hold. Pitcher’s thistle and its dune habitat are also destroyed for the creation and maintenance of public beaches.” —US Fish & Wildlife Service, Fact Sheet: Pitcher’s Thistle, updated 5/2001

“Off-road vehicles, which ruin habitat, crush nests and eggs, and directly kill birds by running over them are a key threat. Chicks that move across primary vehicle paths on their way to feed are in particular danger — especially when they get stalled alongside tall tire-track edges or stuck inside ruts. To save piping plovers from vehicle mortality, the Center has been working hard to keep off-road vehicles out of precious habitat through our Off-road Vehicles campaign. We’re also gearing up to petition the Secretary of the Interior and the Fish and Wildlife Service to establish rules that prohibit motorized vehicle use in all designated critical habitat and on all federal, state-owned, and state-managed public lands within piping plover habitat.” —

“The Great Lakes population of the piping plover is at a perilously low level. Since 1983, the number of nesting pairs has ranged from 12 to 32. In 2000, all of the Great Lakes pairs nested in Michigan.” —US Fish & Wildlife Service, Fact Sheet: Piping Plover

“Piping plovers are very sensitive to the presence of humans. Too much disturbance causes the parent birds to abandon their nest. People (either on foot or in a vehicle) using the beaches where the birds nest sometimes accidentally crush eggs or young birds. Dogs and cats often harass and kill the birds. Other animals, such as fox, gulls, and crows, prey on the young plovers or eggs.” —US Fish & Wildlife Service, Fact Sheet: Piping Plover

The beach and dunes are arguably the greatest asset that Elberta possesses; the village has a handful of businesses and no industry. Most of us who live here have chosen this place, or have stayed here, because we love the beach and the dunes and the forest around them. Allowing the impact of humans to change our unique natural system to a conventional mess would be a great shame. It’s up to the people who live here and the visitors who come to enjoy the beach to treat it with the respect and care it, and we all, deserve. It’s up to locals to demand that visitors behave responsibly and not destroy this amazing place.

We have been given a great responsibility. There is literally nowhere on earth like this beach and dune environment.

Driving and digging out trucks and cars on the beach and dunes not only crushes the nests of piping plovers, hurts the habitat of the Lake Huron locust, wormwood, horsetail, coreopsis, wood lilies, and other native wildlife, but it also hurts the human community. It upsets people who gently walk the beach and live through hard winters here in order to enjoy summer. It upsets people who pay taxes to keep local services running. We don’t have the manpower within local law enforcement or the DNR to deter the destructive activity that goes on down at the beach. So we need to get together as a community and protect this by demonstrating responsible behavior.

In recent years both the Village of Elberta and private citizens have spent money and time posting signs to try to cut down on off-road traffic on the beach. Vandals have removed these signs and in some cases set fire to them. Dollars have been spent and wasted on these selfish individuals, and to no avail.

I don’t have a solution today, but I hope that sharing and refreshing this knowledge of how truly special this environment is will help us keep talking until we do reach a solution.

In the meantime, if you see vehicles driving on the dunes or beach, call the DNR hotline at 800-292-7800, and/or try to get a photograph of the vehicle and its license plate.

Candidate Says Water Management, Passenger Rail, Internet Access Will Help NoMI Folks Stay and Succeed

In E Beach, Environment, Fishing, Gov't Watch, Infrastructure and Planning, Law & Order, On and off the Apron, Politics, Transportation, Water on April 1, 2016 at 11:28 am

Meet the Candidate: Lon Johnson


1st Congressional District

Image from WIkipedia

Image from WIkipedia

Lon Johnson spoke at the Bayview Grille in Frankfort to a group of potential supporters on March 29 from 6 to 7 pm. Here are selections from his remarks, arranged by topic. Meet the Candidate is nonpartisan and offers any candidate a place for long-form policy presentations. Invite this reporter to your next meet and greet! —Emily Votruba,


The American worker stacked up against anyone in the world can win. Our economy is becoming more and more interconnected worldwide, and we have to be able to compete. But I don’t think [the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP)] trade agreement hit the right marks on currency manipulation, sovereign banking, labor protections—we have to be on somewhat equal footing with the rest of the world, and when that doesn’t happen, we have what we saw with NAFTA, where our manufacturing went away. I don’t believe in protectionism, but I do believe in fair trade. The fact that, first off, [TPP] was negotiated in secret, I think was wrong.


We need real tax reform. Right now we’ve got companies parking their money offshore to avoid paying taxes. We’ve got hedge-fund executives paying a lower tax rate than somebody who works to pay rent. In our country what moves us is capital and labor: capital finances things and labor makes things for a living. For the American economy to work you need a fine balance. One can’t be over the other. When that happens things get off kilter very fast. When you look at the economy today you see the stock market [going up], you see our GDP [going up], you see our worker productivity through the roof. But what’s happening with wages? Stagnant or falling. And that’s a result of tax policies put together by Congress. We have to rethink our tax policy.


We need to keep Northern Michigan and the UP both beautiful and prosperous. We have to strike that balance, and we can strike that balance. Before we do that we have to realize what our greatest assets are here. We’ve been blessed with incredible beauty, beautiful land, beautiful lakes, beautiful rivers. These are our assets. But we have to extract from them in a responsible way. We have to continue mining and logging, but in a responsible way. Fracking is a prime example. I’m opposed to fracking. We really do have gold underneath our feet: natural gas. We need that natural gas. It is a perfect fuel as we move into renewable energy, away from carbon-based; but we’ve got to extract this gas in a way that’s responsible. And pumping thousands of unknown chemicals into the ground, the water displacement, the earthquakes—to me it just doesn’t seem sound. And until they can show us how we can move this gas out of the ground 100 percent safely, then I just don’t think it’s worth the risk.


It’s a 63-year-old pipeline that’s running through the Straits of Mackinac. It starts in Canada, runs through the UP, cuts across the Mackinac Straits and down through the heart of Michigan to Sarnia. I’m not opposed to pipelines. Pipelines are the safest way to move oil. But there are smart places to put pipelines and not-so-smart places. A 63-year-old pipeline that hasn’t been independently inspected, independently verified to be safe, in the Mackinac Straits with its associated currents is just not a smart place to have a pipeline. So we call for this pipeline to be shut down until it’s independently inspected and proven to be 100 percent safe.

If we were to move to build a new pipeline I would oppose putting a pipeline in the Great Lakes. Enbridge has enough capacity to move oil without Line 5. I was on the phone with an engineer on the way over here who said we could keeping moving propane along Line 5. This pipeline carries three things now: natural gas liquids, synthetic oil, and light crude. We can shut the oil down and still continue to move the propane, which will nullify the argument that Enbridge and the Republicans will use against us, that we’re going to drive up the cost of home heating fuel. A propane leak would do nowhere near the environmental damage that an oil leak would.

At four o’clock today at my office Mary Hess called. She’s a commissioner in Alpena. And we have a resolution right now that we’ve been pushing all around the state opposing Line 5. And it went before the commission today in Alpena and it tied 4 to 4. One person can make a difference. What we’re trying to do is get 50 towns/municipalities/counties in northern Michigan to pass a resolution opposing Line 5 so we’ll have better moral authority to put before the governor. And if you don’t think local people matter at that point, there’s your answer right there.

The fact is, this governor [Snyder], and the people of Michigan, need a clean-water win. Let’s give him one. If we make him a hero on Line 5, fine, let’s do it.


There are our Great Lakes. When you don’t show us the results of your testing, if you’re not prepared to operate 100 percent transparently, in my mind you’ve forfeited your right to move in our Great Lakes. It comes down to who do you trust. In this case we’re being told this pipeline is safe by the same people who told us the Flint water was safe. Literally the very same people. And the same people who own Enbridge, this pipeline, were responsible for the largest inland oil pipeline disaster in the history of the United States, right here in Michigan, into the Kalamazoo River. So bottom line is, who do you trust? Corporate and government officials who have very limited, short-term objectives, or the people? I’m going to side with the people all day long and twice on Sunday.

What the Line 5 debate is really about, is what do we believe is the future for Michigan? I believe it’s our credibility with freshwater. Our ability to lead in that marketplace. If we have another Flint, if we have another Kalamazoo, that credibility is gone.


The last thing I want to do in Congress, and this is the most important, is we have to create a place here in Northern Michigan where our families can stay and succeed. We’re losing too many of our kids and grandkids to downstate for job opportunities, for education opportunities. It doesn’t have to be that way. Everyone should always have the option to travel and leave the state, discover the world, and come back, but it shouldn’t be mandatory that you leave here so you can succeed.

We in Northern Michigan have a long proud history of leading the world. In the 1700s, we led the world in international trade—the fur trade. Why did the French come and settle this area? Fur. Then we led the world in mining. Copper and iron ore: We helped win the Civil War. Then what did we lead the world in? Lumber. Our lumber built the American West. You can track our lumber DNA all the way out to San Francisco. What’s next? We still have the same assets. We still have great people. We still have land, the most beautiful in the world, we still have the Great Lakes. But we need to use them smartly.


I want to do three long-term things that I think will start to create that place where people can stay and succeed. One: we need to restore passenger rail service to Northern Michigan. All the consultants downstate say don’t say that, don’t talk about it. We used these lines for decades to export lumber. For decades we used them to export value away from us. Now we need those same lines to bring value to us. As long as they go home on Sunday…[laughter]. Now, think about this: the hard work has already been done. Let’s get these tracks turned on. I’m not talking about billion-dollar bullet trains, but regular old 55-mile-an-hour passenger rail service moving from Chicago, Grand Rapids, and Ann Arbor and Detroit, bringing people to us. It can be done.


The second thing we need is high-speed internet and mobile cell phone service in all our communities. You look around, you have one bar on your phone. My wife and I literally fight over the WiFi. We’re massively moving toward an economy where people can live and work wherever they want. Nearly a third of the workforce is already there. When people can live and work wherever they choose, where are they going to go? Where it’s beautiful. And that’s where Northern Michigan can compete and win. But we’re just not ready. Why not? Because our members of Congress aren’t fighting as hard as our forefathers did when they fought the electric companies. The Rural Electrification Act changed America. What members of Congress did is they went to utility companies and said we’re going to give you a right to exist on our public airwaves and our public land, but in return you have to wire up rural America—because there was no money in that for them. So Congress struck that deal and that’s how we got wired up.

We need members of Congress who will fight just as hard. The template is already there. Internet service, cell phone service is every bit as important as electricity. We need to wire up the north. We need a member of Congress who’s going to work with other rural legislators to get this done—march into the FCC’s office, march into Verizon, AT&T, and compel them to invest in this and get this done.


The last thing I want to do, and this is the most long term: We need to position Northern Michigan as the world’s thought leader on the use and protection of freshwater. We have a competitive advantage over every other state and over every other country: 21 percent of the world’s freshwater is right here. I’m not talking about selling our water. I’m not talking about that. But in our lifetime, water will become the most valuable natural resource in the history of the world. Who better to protect that and show the world how to use it than us?

And you might ask well, how does that help us make money? Let me tell you how. At Stanford University, in the ’60s and the ’70s, some smart people got together and said you know what, computer science, computer engineering, that’s going to be the future. So they increased their curriculum in computer science at Stanford, which produced graduates who stayed in Palo Alto, which created what? Silicon Valley. Which created Google. Amazon. Microsoft. They created a whole new economy. And in our lifetime, water will become the number one natural resource. Right now millions of dollars are being spent on the use and protection of freshwater. Factories are trying to figure out how they can use less water, farmers are trying to figure out how to grow more product using less water. The military is trying to figure out how to move more troops and use less water. Cities are trying to figure out how to better manage their water and wastewater. This is a billion-dollar market, and we are losing to Israel and Saudi Arabia and Arizona and Alabama. We need to create a freshwater institute and show the world how to better use and protect water. And from that, thousands of jobs can be created.

None of this is Buck Rogers/George Jetson stuff. But you need a member of Congress who will sit down and get this done. All these things require cooperation between corporations and local governments, state governments, the federal government and even international governments. Your member of Congress is where that starts.

We have to show people in very simple terms. People are busy. They’re not ignorant, they’re not stupid, but we have to educate people about our water. You create a post on Facebook and show that a barrel of oil and its price, $39 or whatever the latest is, and you show a barrel of freshwater: it’s higher. It’s $45. You have to put it in very simple terms that people can understand. Our water is now more valuable than oil. That’s what a member of Congress does. We have a lot of education to do. We all were taught in 8th grade geography class the value of our water, but sometimes as we go through life here seeing it constantly, we think “We have plenty of water.” We become complacent.


The problem we have right now in Congress, and it’s more acute on the campaign trail, is that we can’t even have a conversation. If you mention even the word “guns” there are organizations who will take it as an intrinsic threat to their organization, not just to their issue but their organization. And they come down on these candidates with two and three million dollars in television ads, not necessarily about guns but about anything they can. The question is, how do I get elected and have that conversation both within my district and Washington? It starts with demonstrating to the voters of this district that I believe in the 2nd Amendment, first off. I’m a lifelong hunter. I was in Iraq as a civilian. I’m no stranger to what a weapon can do.

But whether you carry a weapon in war or for self-protection or for hunting, you also carry with you a set of values. And those values are primarily about responsibility, respect for that weapon. The problem is that around the country, others don’t carry those same values. Here in northern Michigan if I see a guy walking down the street with a shotgun on his arm I don’t think twice about it. In other areas of our country that’s a problem.

I’m not opposed to having the conversation. I’m not opposed to background checks. I think we also have to have an underlying discussion about why people are feeling the need to carry so many weapons. What is happening in our country? I’m not here to defend or attack anyone. But because our Congress does not address this issue in a holistic way these shootings are proliferating, and people figure well, if my government can’t protect me, my police force can’t protect me, I’m going to carry a weapon. Which creates a whole other series of problems. I’m willing to have the conversation to solve these problems.

When you cut mental health—and I’m not putting gun violence all on mental health—but when the federal government is cutting the states, the states are cutting the counties, the counties end up warehousing people in jails. Because they don’t know what else to do with them. They’re putting these folks who have serious problems into county facilities, and they’re coming out after three days, a week, after it’s been adjudicated they’re no longer a threat to themselves and others. These are people with serious paranoid delusions, and if they can get access to a weapon it’s like throwing gas on a fire. We have to have a holistic approach to the problems of these mass shootings.

I believe in bringing it local, local, local. We used to have gun boards in the state of Michigan. The county would determine whether somebody had the right to carry a concealed weapon or open carry. Just because a person hasn’t been arrested three times doesn’t mean they should be carrying a weapon. The sheriff knows whether someone’s a threat to the community or not. It’s like the old draft board. The draft board was made up of people from the community who understood who was a conscientious objector and who wasn’t. The solutions to our problems on the gun front will only come from districts like this one. When you elect people from districts with a high percentage of gun ownership. Because I can go to the gun community and say look, I hunt, I fish. No one is going to come to my home and take my gun. And I’m never going to vote for someone to do the same to you. But we have to have a conversation about how do we stop this. Right now, the minute I even mention having a conversation, organizations come in with millions of dollars spreading absolute lies.

What we need to discuss with voters here in the 1st district is what we’re going to do to provide real solutions for our communities. Jobs. Passenger rail. Internet service. Shutting down this pipeline. We need to show what we’re going to do for people specifically. If we just say “we’re going to fight for the middle class” without giving specifics, we will get beaten by these organizations coming in and saying I want to take away your guns. We have to show the voters what they get when they vote for us. And that is: a place to stay and succeed. My biggest complaint about past campaigns in this district is that we’ve listened to consultants who’ve said, just give them poll-driven, nebulous nothing. And that’s how we lose. We have to go out there and show voters precisely who we are and what we’re going to do.


I think Trump is going to be the nominee. And I think it’s going to tear [the Republican] party apart. And I don’t say that gleefully. We need a two-party system for politics to function. The whole party’s going to melt down. And that is a terrific advantage for us. But I don’t say that gleefully. This country is going to pay a price for years to come from Donald Trump being our nominee. I was in Iraq in ’05 as a civilian. I didn’t live in the Green Zone. I didn’t live in an army base, I didn’t live on a FOB or in any government facility. I lived downtown in a city of half a million people, and my neighbors were Muslims. I chose to live next to a mosque because I thought they would help protect me. And they did. When I’d walk out I’d see my neighbor out there playing with his kid, whatever, and I didn’t have to worry, because he knew what I was doing and we had a shared sense of mission. My colleagues right now doing the same job in Muslim countries all over the world, they now have to wonder what did Trump say last night that’s going to get them in trouble or get them killed. What Trump is saying right now is nothing but recruitment for Al Qaeda. This is dangerous stuff that he’s doing. This country will pay a heck of a price for his language for many years to come. I think decades.


Our campaign finance system needs to be torn down. Citizens United needs to be overturned. That’s going to take a lot of citizens’ involvement. But we have to overcome this. Millions of dollars, probably billions have poured in to our government, to our campaigns—we’re marching toward an oligarchy. I just read that we have about 158 families that are controlling the entire Republican presidential primary process. There’s the Koch brothers and 157 other families. We’re driving toward an oligarchy and we need to do better.

The 1 percent: people who run Wall Street and fund a lot of our political activities. They are looking at the demographics of our country and they’re wondering how they can win. They have been slowly grabbing the reins of power. In the last four years, look what has happened. Repealing parts of the Voting Rights Act. Citizens United. Redrawing the lines. Voting rights violations. Voter ID laws. Emergency managers. Fewer polling places. This is all by design. It’s all designed to tell you: You don’t count. Don’t bother giving $5 to Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton, because the Koch brothers are going to come in with a billion. Don’t bother running for office because we’re going to throw an emergency manager in there. Don’t bother voting. It’s all compounded to tell you to give up. Don’t participate.

One person can make a difference. The first race I worked on, in 1992, we beat an incumbent Republican member of Congress with $110,000. It was three of us, we were all in our twenties in the back of a house. The other candidate was 35 years old. Then in 1994 we won a race by 113 votes. In 2000 I was in Miami sitting at the recount tables. One person can make a difference. Let me show you how. Throw something up on social media and see how many likes you get. You’ve influenced the opinion of however many people. And that’s how this works. You have an idea, and no matter how crazy you think that idea is, there’s someone else out there who’s had that same idea. And you can then create change.

People don’t see a difference between one party and the next. It’s all corporate-bought politicians and they say forget it, it doesn’t matter. That’s why Bernie Sanders is gaining real traction. We have to show people that the system isn’t broken, and where it is, it’s your responsibility to fix it. [The big-money interests] rely on you saying “Screw it.” They want you to walk away. They win when that happens.

This is the best chance in decades to win this seat. We have an open seat. We have a three-way Republican primary, and they’re all pretty equally matched: We’ve got a three-star general out of Watersmeet, we have a current state senator from the UP, and a former state senator from Traverse City. Which means they’re going to beat the heck out of each other and be broke and banged up come August. And we’re going to have presidential year level turnout. Turnout is always a problem for Democrats, but it’s less so in a presidential year. I think we have one of the best issues of any race in the country, and that’s Line 5. It’s something all voters can care about and both Casperson and Allen are on record saying Line 5 is fine and can stay there. There’s a clear difference between the parties on this.

To win, all of us are going to have to do two and three times more than what we’ve ever done. We cannot afford to lose. If we lose this seat, Casperson or Allen will have it for 20 years. This is our moment right now. A democratic member of Congress helps with other seats. The downstream organizational value to a member of Congress is enormous. We’ve got 32 counties. We’re building an organization in every county. We have 1,500 endorsements. We’re going to ask you to make a contribution, put up a yard sign, make phone calls. We have 396 towns. That’s 4,000 elected officials just at the municipal level that we need to be in touch with.

One enormous advantage we have this year is that there’s no governor’s race and there’s no senate race. So people will vote for president and then next line underneath that is congressional. There’s always dropoff as you move down that ticket, but right now we’re the first after the presidential race.

I go to bed and I wake up with one number in my head: 1,881. That’s what Gary McDowell lost by. We can make up that number of votes. But we have to raise more money, go to more counties, get more endorsements, put up more yard signs. It’s going to take a heck of a lot of work. We hope to have yard signs by June. We have to raise $60,000 for signs. We have a website called

We’ve got a real shot. Let’s not waste this opportunity. Let’s go win. Ψ



Signs of the Times: July Council Meeting Report

In Elberta Farmers' Market, Elberta Solstice Festival, Gilmore Township, Gov't Watch, Law & Order, Meeting Minutes and Recordings, Open Season, Politics, Village Money Situation on July 18, 2015 at 12:28 am


July 16, 2015 • 7 PM

||| AUDIO |||

July 16, 2015 • 7 PM

The Village of Elberta Board of Trustees held a regular meeting on Thursday, July 16, 2015, at the Community Building, 401 First Street, Elberta, Michigan.

The meeting was called to order by Diane Jenks at 7:04 p.m.

Recitation of Pledge of Allegiance

Present:         Jenks, O’Dwyer, Soper, Holmes, Gatrell

Absent:           None

Public: Mary Link, Ron McPherson, Andrew Bolander, Gary Sauer, Ken Bonney, Emily Votruba

Approval of Minutes

Motion by O’Dwyer seconded by Gatrell to approve the June 18 meeting minutes as presented. All ayes. No nays. Motion carried.

Approval of Agenda

Motion by Soper, seconded by O’Dwyer to approve the agenda with the following additions: Ag9: Community Building. All ayes. No nays. Motion carried.

Agenda Conflicts

None stated

Public Input 7:10 pm

Ron McPherson: During work on 363 Crapo, Kirby Excavation hit McPherson’s foundation twice. Washer and dryer and pictures were askew. McPherson asked to be shown where line was. Ken Bonney said line had to be 10 ft from structure and that the line was installed along driveway of 363. McPherson talked to Kirby and was told the line could not legally be closer than 10 ft. McPherson dug down and saw that line went across his property and came out a foot from house. No one contacted McPherson for permission. McPherson considers this a trespass. Wants an apology and assurance that it won’t happen again. KB said the dispute is between McPherson and the landowner of 363; the village did not order the work done; KB is not sure who owns 363, the apartments back in the woods. Boring process hit the foundation. McPherson isn’t sure there’s damage. Wants to be asked for property access. A dispute ensued concerning an unrelated issue, McPherson’s fence. Jenks said she would talk to Kirby and the property owner.

Andrew Bolander: The Greenwood signs need to come down. They are not factual and provide no benefit to the Village. Dolores Schmitt/council did not get facts from the history books. As a new resident/homeowner on Furnace Ave., Bolander does not want to live on Greenwood Parkway. Holmes: Greenwoods established this whole area. Bolander: They had a great farm and contributed to Benzie County but not particularly to Elberta. Holmes: That’s not true. Bolander: Information coincides with other historical information from other sources. Jenks: It’s between Schmitt and MDOT. We supported her decision. Bolander: It makes a difference because I live here. It’s factually incorrect and it’s embarrassing. Holmes: It’s the best history we have. It’s just your opinion that it’s not true. Bolander: I consulted 17 references in which the Greenwoods are not cited as the first settlers. The library has many books and Dolores Schmitt apparently did not look at any of them.


  • Letter from DEQ regarding water tank
  • Letter of resignation from Cathy Anderson from Budget, Finance & Audit Committee
  • FOIA changes in allowable fees. A webinar. Mary Kalbach will be taking it and council members should let Diane know if they would also like to participate. Possibly will be recorded.

Workman’s comp fund information from MML will also be available.


None received. Jenks signed checks this week.


Items of note: None. Regular bills were paid.

Old Business

  • FEAA Contract: Jenks not comfortable signing it as is. Holmes: Have done it for 100 years. Jenks: can’t afford to mow once a week as FEAA specifies in contract. We need to take the keys away from the Community Building bathrooms because of damage. O’Dwyer: Should let them use it and have Ken Bonney’s helper clean it once a week. Jenks: They’re loud during meetings, and women’s room sink was broken off. If we give them $500 they should use it to rent a PortaJohn. This contract requires us to mow twice a week. Consensus is to support FEAA for benefit of local kids.

 Motion by Soper, seconded by Gatrell, to give $500 to FEAA with stipulation that they get a PortaJohn and not use the Community Building restrooms. All ayes. No nays. Motion carried.

O’Dwyer still wants the DPW assistant to sweep through the Community Building once per week.

AGENDA 1: Code Enforcement Officer

Jenks had found there is a Michigan Association of Code Enforcement Officers (a nonprofit). The association has rules, bylaws, and a training program. Can’t just appoint someone. Must go through process. Need to create an application. O’Dwyer said Cathy Anderson said Crystal Lake Twp. had posted a notice in the paper for such an officer. More research is required.

AGENDA 2: Fire Ordinance Outdoor Burning Stoves

O’Dwyer hasn’t checked to see if any new outdoor boilers have been installed. At present there are none. Amendment would regulate any stoves installed prior to July 16. Jenks: Every 5 years, as discussed in PPIC meeting, we need to review our ordinances to check for things that are outdated or to reflect changes in society/local law. Suggests adding a section 14 to proposed ordinance saying that in the event of any county state or federal law changes the ordinance would automatically adjust to conform to those changes. Jenks said she didn’t know whether local municipal law superseded county/state/federal law.

Motion by Holmes, seconded by O’Dwyer to accept the fire ordinance as amended. Ayes: Gatrell, Holmes, O’Dywer, Jenks. Nay: Soper. Motion carried.

AGENDA 3: Village Water Storage Project

Need to install surveillance cameras, electric fence, improve access the road, install a gate, decommission one tank. The 150K tank is adequate storage currently per DEQ. Can add on if necessary to make taller. Costs too much to repair the other tank. O’Dwyer: Is the current tank big enough. Cathy Anderson talked to Gourdie Fraser about it. Odwyer: The village is not currently growing in population. KB: If [the Waterfront Park] condos come in, they’ll have to contribute to the water tank expansion. Needs fencing around it. Combine and reapply for loans. Prepare the loan development application, contract with Gordie Fraser to write the grant and do the work. Expect interest savings on loan. KB: Some of the money can come as a grant.

Motion by O’Dwyer, seconded by Soper to contract with Gourdie Fraser to prepare the loan application for water storage improvement. All ayes. No nays. Motion carried.

AGENDA 4: Village Sanitary Sewer Project

Sanitary sewer collection system. A condition of the loan is improvement of system by 51%. We have to borrow more money than we owe in order to get this price. Lincoln Ave is bad. That’s where improvements would begin. Sewer system required $29K extra (over budget) in repairs last year. KB: clay tile pipes falling apart and full of roots. Both pumps in Waterfront Park now broken; currently jerry-rigged.

Motion by O’Dwyer, seconded by Soper, to apply for a USDA loan. All ayes. No nays. Motion carried.

AGENDA 5: Park and Rec Member

Motion by Soper, seconded by D’Dwyer to accept Andrew Bolander’s application to be a member of the Parks & Recreation Commission. All ayes. No nays. Motion carried.

 AGENDA 6: Trash in Village

Jenks: A lot of problems with out-of-towner household rubbish in Village trash containers. Village should not be paying for trash haul out in front of Conundrum Café. O’Dwyer: The businesses should install their own trash receptacles. Holmes: Those [Village’s] are expensive containers. Jenks: When they get full they [Conundrum business owners] take them out and put them next to the container. Holmes: People from all over throw personal trash in those containers in the winter time. Looks like crap to see trash bags. Jenks: Almost every day see trash overflowing. Not our job to pick them up. Holmes: If they’re not there it’ll be on the street. Jenks No it won’t. Holmes: How is Waterfront Park trash different from the Duck’s Head trash? Soper: [Duck’s Head trash cans are] on village property and they’re village trash cans. KB: She [Michele Cannaert] usually takes care of them once or twice a week. She keeps an eye on them and puts new bags in them. When [DPW] comes through we pick it up. Holmes: What are we offering to people in this town right now? Gatrell: Agree with Holmes. KB: people were dumping big bags of their household trash in Waterfront Park. O’Dwyer: DPW should just keep a closer eye on it and pick it up. KB: She [Cannaert] empties it and ties it up. She checks it every day.

 AGENDA 7: Public Area in front of Conundrum

Jenks: “The girls” have planted flowers. Have had a lot of complaints about signs and bicycles being in the way. KB: MDOT will be shutting down the street Monday and Tuesday (July 20 and 21) from 168 to the post office to repair the curb. Kirby is doing the work for the county with state money. County has patched it for the last five years but did a terrible job.

 AGENDA 8: Port-a-Johns in Market Park

People are dumping trash in the Port-a-Johns. PJs need to be pumped the day before market, not day of, because of health concerns. Contract specifies they be pumped once a week. They should do it Wednesday rather than Thursday. KB: They are doing it Wednesday. Called them the day it was full and pumper came on Wednesday. It was pumped on Wednesday and needed it again the next day. Also, planted some trees in Penfold Park and the next day someone had half dug them up. 2 PJs at Waterfront Park and 1 at Penfold. Having an Elberta Methodist Church service in Penfold this week. We have an excellent market and we want to support it.

AGENDA 9: Community Building

Addressed earlier.

Committee/Department Reports (All reports are to be in writing and a matter of public record)

Commissioner: Gary Sauer County has received 13 applications for administrator’s job. Preliminary interviews will be held July 30. That session will be open to the public; not sure but thinks it’s at 4:30. New manager Matt Steels at County Road Commission; starts on July 20. No engineer currently. 3 positions are up on county planning commission. Need applications. Need more representation from around the county. It was in the paper. Write a letter to apply. Sauer provided hard copies of surveys being done mostly online by the county planning commission.

DPW: MML insurance rep did not have well no. 1 and its building on his record, so that was added. Redid the lift station at Waterfront Park. Need budget adjusted to pay for the new pumps, about $7,000. Will require amendment to sewer maintenance budget. Need invoices still for Lincoln Ave. sewer repairs and pumps. Already way over budget; will try to flush current issue with fire hose.

How much for sidewalks: One will cost $7,500–$8,000. Must be done or we lose our Act 51 money. Did nothing last year (did not fulfill Act 51 requirement as regards yearly spending). Will put sidewalk work out for bids (next Wednesday). Do a whole block at a time. Taking the sidewalk out and replace it. Cut roots in trees. Need to put in the piece of sidewalk in front of former Lannin property. Can bill the new property owners. But to get stamped sidewalk (like other new sidewalk on Furnace) will cost more than a whole block of regular sidewalk. Jenks: We’ll do it and put it on their taxes. Previous owner blocked it so they couldn’t do the survey. MDOT said do it and bill the property owner. Need to OK lowest bid now so we can have it done by Labor Day—Lincoln from Pearson. Jenks: How will that correspond with sewer repairs. KB: Sewer in that stretch is already done and sidewalks are missing there. That’s why he picked it. KB will put out bids for one block. Holmes: Most of our sidewalks are not nice to walk on or ride a bike on. KB: Sidewalks will be 4 inches thick and where they cross a driveway they will be 6 inches thick, and 6 inches with mesh where a truck would cross.

President’s Report: Jenks talked to Gourdie Fraser. Flies and Vandenbrink did sewer work. KB: Contractor hired a different contractor and wanted the village to pay extra. Discussion of various companies that have worked on Village water and sewer

BLUA: Check will come from BLUA for $22K. Glen’s leachate was more than what they budgeted so Village and Frankfort got a one time rebate. Elberta had 31% stake and Frankfort had the rest.

Fire & Safety: Holmes: Frustrated because the Fire board hasn’t had a meeting all year. Jenks: Ask Josh and Fire Dept. that they be more visible in the Village for these new fire permits. No one in village knows they need a permit. Charlie Thompson (fire chief) needs to be going around checking they’re safe. It’s not Ken Bonney’s job. Fire chief talked to guy in yellow house twice for burning illegal stuff. He was doing it late at night. Warned twice. Charlie said he will be fined. Someone had cleaned up fireworks debris from beach and collected in bags. KB went and hauled it. KB: should consider an ordinance to regulate fireworks; outlaw them or set limits on mortar size. Should be a time period limitation as well. Stuff comes down hot. Not a single lot in Elberta that’s big enough to be shooting off large mortars. KH: Worst thing is the parachutes with the lights in them. Jenks asks Holmes to look into the Village noise ordinance.

Parks & Rec Commission: Soper: KB, please throw some paint on the LSS. A sewer pipe is broken off. Did not have a quorum for the meeting the previous Thursday, so spent the time installing required NRT grant signs in the Waterfront Park.

Employee Relations: Gatrell: Did not have a meeting. Probably won’t have one next month either.

Budget, Finance & Audit: O’Dwyer: Cathy resigned. She did 97% of the work so we’re in trouble. Need to get someone else to help. Also need to advertise for a new clerk.

Policies, Procedures & Internal Controls: Have been going over stuff by email, dealing with office procedure. Cathy Anderson and Terry McGregor have implemented some helpful policies.

Public Input 9:05 p.m.

Emily Votruba: Need a local ordinance limiting or eliminating fireworks in the village limits. Sheriff Dept. won’t do anything unless there’s a local ordinance. Recent fireworks were a fire hazard and a severe noise nuisance.

Gary Sauer: Impressed with the local units. It’s all done at the local level. The higher up you go the worse it gets. I commend you all for volunteering.

Jenks: Chad [Hollenbeck] did not come tonight to promote the Benzie Bus millage renewal, but all agree they’re doing a great job. Would like to see some smaller vehicles. Holmes: Impressed with ridership numbers.


Motion by Soper, seconded by O’Ddwyer, to adjourn the meeting at 9:11 p.m. All ayes. No nays. Motion carried.

Emily Votruba compiled these minutes and submitted them to Elberta Village clerk Mary Kalbach on July 18, 2015.


Burn After Reading: June Council Meeting

In Elberta Farmers' Market, Elberta Solstice Festival, Gilmore Township, Gov't Watch, Law & Order, Meeting Minutes and Recordings, Open Season, Politics, Village Money Situation on July 12, 2015 at 6:59 am


June 18, 2015 • 7 PM

||| AUDIO |||

The Village of Elberta Board of Trustees held a regular meeting on Thursday, June 18, 2015, at the Community Building, 401 First Street, Elberta, Michigan.

The meeting was called to order by Diane Jenks at 7:02 p.m.

Recitation of Pledge of Allegiance

Present:         Joyce Gatrell, Ken Holmes, Diane Jenks, Holly O’Dwyer, Bill Soper

Absent:          none

Public: Gary Sauer (county commissioner), Ken Bonney (DPW), Rosemary Tanner, Lois Schram, Cathy Anderson, Emily Votruba, Dolores Schmitt, Art Melendez, Christine Walkons, Mac McClelland

Approval of Minutes

Motion by O’Dwyer, seconded by Soper, to approve the May 21 meeting minutes with the following changes: Under Correspondence, p. 1, letter was from Village attorney, not auditor’s attorney; p. 2 line 10, add “bills still in arrears by June 1”; p. 3, line 3, add “worker” to “Ken and seasonal”; p. 3, line 5 name is “Hospenthal.” 

All ayes. No nays. Motion carried.

Approval of Agenda

Motion by O’Dwyer, seconded by Holmes, to approve the agenda with the following changes: Make No. 5 Change Order; add No. 7, Designate Penfold Park as Water Trail Access Point; add No. 8, Code Enforcement Officer 

All ayes. No nays. Motion carried.

Agenda Conflicts

None stated.

Public Input 7:11 pm



  • DEQ water quality report for the Village
  • Email from Bill Schuette re: FOIA request re: Library testing results. He had no info. Jenks is still looking into it
  • Postcard from a Realtor who wants to market the Library


Council reviewed revenue and expenses. Nonroutine bills were included with budget. Jenks once again praised volunteer Cathy Anderson’s efforts on the treasurer’s report and budget, coding bills in the general ledger, etc. Thanks also to Village treasurer/deputy clerk Mary Kalbach. The report is available in the Village Office.

Motion by O’Dwyer, seconded by Gatrell, to accept the treasurer’s report as presented. All ayes. No nays. Motion carried.

Motion by O’Dwyer, seconded by Holmes, to approve payment of bills. All ayes. No nays. Motion carried.

Old Business

  • Council reduction to 5 trustees: As of May 30, the Village has a five member council: 4 trustees and a president. No petitions were filed during the comment period.
  • Fire ordinance and permits: Fire pit permits are available at the Village Office. Residents required to get a signed permit for compliant outdoor burning. Can be signed by Charlie Thompson (231-651-0045), Ray Miehlke (231-631-4775) or Mark Ketz (231-383-1354). Don’t call Ken Bonney, call one of those fire officials. Complaints should also be addressed to them.

AGENDA 1: Budget Amendment

(a) Resolution reorganizing Village Park Fund accounts associated with the Life Saving Station, Waterfront Park, and Penfold Park into General Fund 101. The Village parks and general fund have always been paid from the same bank account, and reported thus on audits and financial statements so there is no effective change. Fund 208 would remain but would be exclusively for Parks & Recreation Commission revenues and expenses. This amendment is as per recommendation of the Village auditor and endorsed by the Parks & Recreation Commission financial secretary. Upon approval of the Seton bill for signs, establish a sign account within the Village Park expense account Department 751 and set a budget of $650 for the account. Upon approval of the Ganbridge and Co. POC bill for auditing services, increase the budget for auditing services 1985080600 [101?] by $2,500.

Motion by Soper, seconded by O’Dwyer, to adopt the proposed budget amendments 1, 2, and 3. All ayes. No nays. Motion carried.

(b) Proposed resolution to create a sewer fund reserve. The Village of Elberta maintains State Savings Bank account no. 3572 with a dollar amount in excess of $54K. It’s been understood by the Village Office and Budget, Finance, and Audit Committee that this money was designated as a sewer fund reserve against the existing USDA loan for the sewer system. During the recent audit it was noted that prior audits had shown the account to be part of the major and local street fund. The origin of the money in the above bank account is unclear and it is believed that the purpose of the money was misstated during past audits. The resolution will clarify the Village’s position with respect to the money going forward by designating the money in the State Savings Bank account no. 3572 as “Sewer Reserve.” This is important as the Village is required to maintain a reserve account against the sewer loans to address emergent issues with the sewer system. The sewer fund bank accounts are insufficient to fulfill that purpose. The major and local street bank account has sufficient balance to support all planned and many emergent issues in streets and does not need the money maintained in 3572. Furthermore it has been a source of confusion for the Budget Finance and Audit members and others when reviewing the Village’s fund systems why and how streets fund has such disproportionately high cash balances. This resolution is recommended by the Village auditor and supported by the Budget Finance and Audit Committee. The resolution supports the Village’s compliance with the Michigan Budget Act, proper accounting procedure and USDA loan requirements. Note that the USDA loans for the sewer infrastructure are Village of Elberta debt and are separate and distinct from BLUA wastewater treatment plant money. Resolution: Whereas the Village of Elberta recognizes that it is in  noncompliance with the terms of USDA sewer loans and desires to conform to the terms of the loan, therefore, be it resolved that the Village of Elberta designates the money held in State Savings Bank account no. 3572 as sewer reserve.

Motion by Soper, seconded by Holmes, to adopt the resolution regarding the sewer fund reserve. All ayes. No nays. Motion carried.

AGENDA 2: Fire Ordinance Outdoor Burning Stoves

O’Dwyer composed proposed ordinance using language from State of Michigan sample ordinance guidelines. Outdoor boilers tend to put out significantly more harmful particulate matter/pollution than indoor woodstoves and there have been many complaints about the one existing such unit in the Village, which had recently been removed. The proposed amendment would regulate any such stoves installed before the amendment’s passage and ban installation of any new outdoor wood fired boilers stoves. In researching the issue O’Dwyer discovered that the county does not regulate or handle complaints about these appliances, nor does the EPA, and regulation must occur by local ordinance. In the course of discussion at the meeting it was discovered that since this is an amendment to an existing ordinance (no. 17), the proposed new language needed to be worked into the existing ordinance (numbers adjusted, etc.), and no one had the existing ordinance with them. Some discussion of materials to be considered permissable for burning, what constitutes “processed” wood vs. lumber, which the DNR does not permit to be burned. According to Ken Bonney, state law forbids the burning of even untreated boards—anything that’s gone through a sawmill. Jenks said they had neglected to publicize the hearing at this meeting. Holmes’s opinion was that amendments to existing ordinances didn’t require a public hearing. A hearing on the proposed ordinance amendment will be held ahead of the July meeting.

AGENDA 3: Dolores Schmitt Petition to Add “First Settlers” Names to Village Limits Signs

Schmitt had a petition signed by many community members including some members of council, requesting that MDOT have signs under the Village limits signs, “First Settlers 1855 John and Caroline Greenwood” and she would like it approved ASAP. Jenks asked if there was proof that they were the first settlers. Holmes said they were in Blacklock’s History of Elberta. Jenks asked if their mention in Blacklock made it legal. Holmes mentioned some other families from around the same time, including the Martins. Holmes said the Greenwoods were the first settlers and John Greenwood was the first postmaster. O’Dwyer pointed out that Blacklock lists 1851 in three places as the Greenwoods’ arrival time. Schmitt said it should be 1855. She said MDOT would give a price and then “we would make a decision.” Jenks asked who would pay for the sign. Schmitt said she would handle fundraising. Schmitt said MDOT told her to OK it with the Village council and send the motion of approval back to MDOT. O’Dwyer asked if there were any other books claiming the Greenwoods as the first settlers in Elberta. Holmes said John Howard’s history. Schmitt said there “isn’t any doubt.” Holmes referred to Greenwood Landing (a former name of “Short” Grace Road). Holmes mentioned the plaque in the cemetery citing Joseph Oliver as Benzie County’s first settler, 1847. Jenks asked for Schmitt’s source for the 1855. Schmitt said she went to the courthouse and they don’t have any information on it. She said the 1855 date seemed to be true based on “other things that were going on.” Schmitt said she had been to a Benzie Area Genealogical Society meeting. Jenks said she would be comfortable approving the sign if “between now and then” there was confirmation of the date. Schmitt’s husband said the 1851 date may refer to their Nova Scotia landing. Schmitt said 1851 was OK with her. Jenks said she would get Schmitt a copy of the motion Wednesday after 1 pm.

Motion by Holmes, seconded by Gatrell, to support the sign John and Caroline Greenwood First Settlers in 1851. All ayes. No nays. Motion carried.

Schmitt went on to say that M-168, now decommissioned by the State and reverted to Village ownership, should be renamed Greenwood Parkway. Jenks said the Village would probably have a contest to rename the road. Schmitt cited a past meeting of the Village council during which it was decided by contest that the Village, when it changed its name from South Frankfort, would be called Elberta, after the peach grown here. Someone else had suggested Greenwood Village, and she felt that should have been the name chosen. Jenks thanked Schmitt for all her work on the matter.

Note on Auditor Fee

Jenks said the auditor fee had been more than double the usual cost and thanked Mary Kalbach for her efforts to argue for a reduction in the fee by half to $2,750. This bill has been paid.

AGENDA 4: Frankfort–Elberta Athletic Association

O’Dwyer said FEAA maintains the Frankfort field and the Elberta field; Frankfort’s Lockhart Field is much bigger and more active. Asked what Frankfort pays FEAA. Discussion of how much Elberta pays to maintain the ball field, mowing, etc. The FEAA membership fee is $500 per year. FEAA maintains the actual diamond. FEAA had called the Village office asking for the restroom to be cleaned more regularly and for more paper towels. Jenks said because the Community Building is being used for meetings and is rented out, it should not be open to the public. There had been some damage to the restroom (broken sink, inordinate mess etc.), lights and heat had been left on. The keys had been taken away but someone had apparently given FEAA keys again. Discussion of changing locks. The $500 had regularly been paid in the past but was not budgeted. Money would come out of deficit reduction. Requires a budget amendment, which must be an agenda item. Issue tabled.

AGENDA 5: Change Order for Grant for Apron Dock Removal

Mac McClelland explained that $735K grant the Village received for the Waterfront project. Initial demoltion of  Koch plant and Mitchell building and portions of the roundhouse cost $476K. About $259K was left over. Original contract with Luedtke to remove ferry docks was $188K. New costs bring it up to $230K, leaving a balance of about $29K. Grant ends June 30. New costs: Superstructure underneath both aprons, strapped together pilings. Requires investigation by divers over two days and additional time by Luedtke. State has approved the change order. Item two: discovery of underground scale house vault with fulcrum arm reinforced with railroad ties for weighing rail cars. Removal of that also approved by the State. Holmes mentioned that someone has the original scale in their garage.

Motion by Soper, seconded by Holmes, to approve change order for car ferry dock demolition. All ayes. No nays. Motion carried.

AGENDA 5: Designate Penfold Park as Waterways Trailhead Access Point

Resolution: Whereas the existing boat launch in Elberta’s Penfold Park provides access to Betsie Lake and Betsie River and Lake Michigan, and whereas the Village of Elberta recognizes the recreational and economic value of designated water trails, be it resolved that the Village of Elberta designated the boat launch an Penfold Park aka Mini Pond a Trailhead and Access Site for the Lake Michigan Water Trail and future Betsie River water trail.

Discussion: Does not exclude motorized boats. Opens grant opportunities and puts Elberta on a water trail map.

Motion by Soper, seconded by Holmes, to designate Elberta a Water Trail access site. All ayes. No nays. Motion carried.

AGENDA 6: Code Enforcement Officer

Jenks concerned about lack of enforcement of cleanup ordinances. Proposes hiring/creating said officer, someone not from the Village. Many communities have them. Ken Bonney doesn’t have time. Perhaps a retired police officer. Six foot pile of wood on Lincoln, sawdust, and crooked signs. Council members asked to research possible candidates.

Committee/Department Reports (unless otherwise noted, Committees submitted written reports)

County Commissioner’s Report (Gary Sauer): Thompsonville just hired a code enforcement officer. Searching for a county administrator. Karl Sparks is retiring. Maples roof code compliance/conflict situation. Architect needs to be held accountable. Losing a lot of money. Conflicting state and federal codes. Workshop on changes to FOIA request procedure will be held at Government Center.

DPW: Water reports available at Village Office and in post office. Had met with Scott Conradson and Cathy Anderson to discuss water infrastructure. A resident who had their water shut off due to non payment of bills had turned their water back on. Sheriff was called and meter was pulled. Some people including kids trespassing in Roundhouse inside fence. Structure is not stable and no one should trespass beyond fence. Gatrell asked whether ELHC’s plans to develop shops in that area would come to fruition.

BLUA: Holmes said savings on interest amounts to about $7,000. Rates will not be lowered. We will pay the debt off sooner. Anderson asked if BLUA’s council decided to keep payments the same. She said audit can’t close until there’s paper documentation as to why we’re still getting charged for the old bond and not for the new bond. Holmes added that increased revenue will result in a check for the Village from BLUA.

Parks & Recreation: Soper reminds everyone about Solstice. Emily Votruba asks that Andy Bolander’s request to join Parks & Recreation on the July agenda.

Employee Relations: Didn’t have a meeting.

President’s Report: Planning Commission working on capitalization improvement plan and the zoning ordinance. Permits and licenses for Solstice are in place and have a crew of volunteers. Would like to have a sitdown with Sheriff Schendel about Village concerns, clarification on when Village has authority to enforce. Distinction between zoning ordinance violations, ordinance violations vs. civil infractions (vandalism, beach driving), will Sheriff pick up where Village doesn’t have means to enforce. Hospenthal is doing a good job mowing.

Public Input 8:50 p.m.

Rosemary Tanner: Pleased that the trailer is gone. But other vehicles remain road right of way or sidewalks

Art Melendez: Skeptical that the Village will find a volunteer code enforcement officer.


Motion by Soper, seconded by Holmes, to adjourn the meeting at 9:52 p.m. All ayes. Motion carried.

Emily Votruba compiled these minutes and submitted them to Elberta Village acting clerk Mary Kalbach 7/12/15.

Solstice Approved: May Council Meeting

In Elberta Farmers' Market, Elberta Solstice Festival, Gilmore Township, Gov't Watch, Law & Order, Meeting Minutes and Recordings, Open Season, Politics, Village Money Situation on May 31, 2015 at 7:14 pm


—DRAFT Minutes—

May 21, 2015 • 7 PM

||| AUDIO |||

The Village of Elberta Board of Trustees held a regular meeting on Thursday, January 15, 2015, at the Community Building, 401 First Street, Elberta, Michigan.

The meeting was called to order by Diane Jenks at 7 p.m.

Recitation of Pledge of Allegiance

Present:         Joyce Gatrell, Ken Holmes, Diane Jenks, Holly O’Dwyer, Bill Soper

Absent:           vacant seat, Jean Sikes

Public: Gary Sauer (county commissioner), Ken Bonney (DPW), Rosemary Tanner, Frederik Stig-Nielsen, Joshua Herren, Kurt Luedtke, Emily Votruba

Approval of Minutes

Motion by Gatrell, seconded by O’Dwyer, to approve the April 16 meeting minutes as presented. All ayes. No nays. Motion carried.

Approval of Agenda

Motion by Soper, seconded by Holmes, to approve the agenda with the following additions: No. 7: dates for Elberta School Reunion and Methodist outdoor church service; no. 8 New Planning Commission member Patrick McConnell; no. 9 Signature for safety deposit box

All ayes. No nays. Motion carried.

Agenda Conflicts


Public Input 7:04 pm



  • Letter from auditors’ attorney stating there is no pending litigation
  • Consumers Energy will be surveying existing street lights
  • Correspondence from DNR regarding management grant


Council reviewed revenues and expenses. Nonroutine bills were included with budget. No discussion

Items of note: None

Motion by O’Dwyer, seconded by Holmes, to approve payment of bills. All ayes. No nays. Motion carried.

Old Business

  • Council reduction to 5 trustees: The 45-day ordinance posting period ends May 30. Notice was in the paper. No petitions have been filed.
  • Fire ordinance and permits: Proposed fire pit permits at post office and at Village Office. Residents required to get a permit for any outdoor burning. Need signature of DPW (Ken Bonney) and fire chief (Charlie Thompson) on permit. No construction material and no leaves. Council further discussed wording of permit. Suggested that copy of ordinance no. 17 (burn ordinance, est. 2002) be included with permit. Council discussed ordinance for outdoor boilers. A public hearing will be held on that topic before the June meeting. O’Dwyer to write proposed outdoor boiler ordinance using existing state suggested language and other resources.
  • Late water bills: Have done well collecting on late water bills, in some cases tacking late amounts on taxes.

AGENDA 1: DPW Wages and Benefits

Gatrell read the written recommendation of the Employee Relations Committee, of which she is a member. Village will restore Ken Bonney’s former benefits package, raising the monthly premium it pays on his health insurance from $300 to $350, and contributing $1,000/yr toward a retirement fund. Council discussed whether vacation days could be carried over. Decided upon a “use or pay out” policy for vacation and sick days. Bonney has worked for the Village since 2009. He gets 2 weeks paid vacation and 3 days for bereavement. But he can’t take entire days off: has to check the water 7 mornings a week. He makes $18/hr. Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays are overtime (time and a half). Bonney is on call 24/hrs a day and is not paid for that. If he did not check the water every day and something went wrong, he could go to jail; the Village would get a fine. This decision would restore the holidays and benefits he was promised when he was hired. O’Dwyer expressed concern over the Village’s financial ability to restore these benefits: “I wouldn’t want to have to take it away again.” Gatrell: “Cathy Anderson says we can afford it.” Backup water operator (Frankfort based) doesn’t charge the village unless he has to come in, at which point it’s $60/day (just water, not sewer). He charges $350/mo to file paperwork. KB: Most municipalities have two employees with water licenses. You have to work full time for a year before you can apply for a water license. Holmes estimates it will cost $10K a year to restore Bonney’s benefits/holidays. O’Dwyer tried to check MML to compare other DPW wages but because the Village hasn’t completed a survey for MML she was not able to access the database. Village will complete the survey and have access in the future. Soper: In favor of getting Ken back to where he started.

Motion by Gatrell, seconded by Holmes, to restore Ken Bonney’s benefit package with time and a half and holiday pay with adjustments as discussed: President’s Day, Thanksgiving Friday, Christmas Eve Day, New Year’s Eve Day, and a half day on Good Friday.

Gatrell, Holmes, Soper, and Jenks aye. O’Dwyer nay. Motion carried.

AGENDA 2: Sewer Maintenance and Water Billing Software

The water billing software keeps crashing. Regular updates were not performed. Now the system is so out of date, it needs a $6800 upgrade. Recent sewer line repairs also exceeded the budget. Bonney noted that Bob Kirby did not charge the Village for his machine that broke during the repair.

Motion by O’Dwyer, seconded by Holmes, to amend (increase) the sewer budget by $4K and amend (increase) the water budget by $6456 for repairs and maintenance.

4 ayes. 1 nay. Motion passed.

AGENDA 3: 2015 Village Parks Mowing Contract

All bidders are insured. Jenks asked for Ken Bonney’s recommendation. He said the only outfit he wasn’t familiar with was Mitchell. Costs the Village $860 per time to mow the parks with labor paybacks, paying seasonal help minimum wage—takes 28-29 hours. The mower is 7 years old and had just broken the morning of the meeting (blades had dropped out due to wear). When Village hired Walkley to do just the Waterfront Park it cost $600/mo. Ken and seasonal

Motion by Holmes, seconded by Gatrell, to contract with Hofmannsthal [?] to mow Village Parks.

Gatrell, Holmes, Jenks ayes. O’Dwyer and Soper nays. Motion carried.

AGENDA 4: Parks and Recreation Budget Amendment

Amendments to move Solstice Fundraiser category to the regular Parks and Rec fundraiser. Diane read the proposed motion. $5,000 from former Solstice budget would be moved to a category for ELSS and Waterfront Park improvements under Dept 753

Motion by Holmes, seconded by O’Dwyer, to approve Parks & Recreation budget amendment.

All ayes. No nays. Motion carried.

AGENDA 5: Property Foreclosure

Brief discussion of whether to make claim for foreclosed property. Property would have to be for public use, could not be sold.

Motion by Holmes, seconded by O’Dwyer, to decline purchase of property on Crapo Street up for tax sale. All ayes. No nays. Motion carried.

AGENDA 6: Solstice Festival Foundation Contract

Contract was prepared at no charge by Frederik Stig-Nielsen, one of the members of Elberta Solstice Foundation, who is an attorney. Rental fee is $2,000, plus $200 cleaning fee and $500 deposit. ESF will take care of trash/recycling disposal not using village dumpster, and intend to contract with Williams for porta-john service.

Motion by O’Dwyer, seconded by Gatrell to sign contract with Elberta Solstice Foundation to run the 2015 Elberta Solstice Festival.

Gatrell, O’Dwyer, Holmes, Jenks ayes. No nays. Soper recused. Motion carried.

AGENDA 7: New Planning Commission Member

Motion by Soper, seconded by O’Dwyer, to approve Patrick McConnell for membership in the Planning Commission. All ayes. No nays. Motion carried.

AGENDA 8: New Planning Commission Member

The Elberta School Reunion Committee wishes to use Penfold Park Saturday August 15 for the School Reunion from 11 am to 2 pm. Elberta United Methodist Church wants to use Penfold Park for its outdoor service on Sunday July 19 from 10 am to noon. Has been holding an outdoor service there since 1984.

Motion by Gatrell, seconded by Holmes, to allow EUMC and Elberta School Reunion to use Penfold Park rent free on those days/times. All ayes. No nays. Motion carried.

AGENDA 9: Safety Deposit Signatory

Need 2 new signatures. Mary Kalbach plus one.

Motion by O’Dwyer, seconded by Soper, to make Diane Jenks a signatory on the safety deposit box. All ayes. No nays. Motion carried.

Committee/Department Reports (unless otherwise noted, Committees submitted written reports)

County Commissioner’s Report (Gary Sauer): FOIA workshop will be held at the county government center June 4 at 4 pm to educate public on changes that will take effect July 1. Handed out a flier about Memorial Day observances.

President’s Report: Jenks tells Kurt Luedtke to stop by the office and Mary Kalbach will cut him a check for the ferry dock removal. Dock removal is being paid for through the Brownfield Redevelopment grant with the Village acting as a pass through.

DPW: Ken has new assistant: Santana Keillor. Well-head protection needs to be updated, due June 15. Both Fleis & Vandenbrink and Gourdie Fraser would write grant if given the contract. F&V overcharged the Village by $5K for work on Waterfront Park. 3 residences had water shut off due to nonpayment. Kidder fixed alternator switch on wells. KB got rid of docks removed and piled in Penfold Marina Park. Dumpster at LSS needs a cover. Fixed “no dogs allowed” signs that had been vandalized. KB issued 8 warnings to dog owners. Lots of complaints about dogs at large. Discussion of what fine is for loose dog or dog in park. No one knows. O’Dwyer mentioned a fine of $50 levied against one resident


Fire & Safety:

Parks & Rec Commission:

Employee Relations:

Budget, Finance & Audit:

Policies, Procedures & Internal Controls:

Public Input 8:25 p.m.

Joshua Herren: Thanked council for allowing ESF to keep the festival going. “We won’t let you down.”

Frederik Stig-Nielsen: Any revenue from Solstice fest will go to a good cause, per their mission statement, to preserve historic or natural objects. Hoping for a long partnership with Village. Thanked council for allowing rental at a slightly reduced rate.

Rosemary Tanner: Solstice quilt (made from former years’ Solstice t-shirts) is complete. Suggested beginning to sell raffle tickets soon and over a period of months to maximize revenue.

Emily Votruba: Thanked Rosemary for beautiful job on quilt. Will be collecting signatures on a petition to put a measure on the November 2016 ballot to ban fracking.


Motion by O’Dwyer, seconded by Holmes, to adjourn the meeting at 8:28 p.m. All ayes. Motion carried.

Emily Votruba compiled these minutes and submitted them to Elberta Village acting clerk Mary Kalbach 5/28/15.

February 2015 Council Meeting: Budget Adopted

In Elberta Farmers' Market, Gilmore Township, Gov't Watch, Law & Order, Meeting Minutes and Recordings, Open Season, Politics, Village Money Situation on March 12, 2015 at 12:53 am


—DRAFT Minutes—

—FINAL Minutes—


February 19, 2015 • 7 PM

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