Salted with Sharks

Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

The Best $15,000 a Year We Will Ever Spend

In Uncategorized on September 16, 2016 at 3:02 pm
Editorial by Emily Votruba
I don’t do this very often (even when it hurts not to) but I am going to voice a strong a opinion regarding Village governance. If you’ve been seeing improvements around the Village, and you’ve had a positive and helpful interaction with our Village clerk, Catherine Anderson, I strongly urge you to take a moment to contact members of the Village council and encourage them to approve a separate contract with additional pay for Cathy so we can keep her here.
Cathy has asked for a reasonable additional compensation of $15,000 a year on a contract basis to continue to go above and beyond her normal clerk duties (paid hourly). There would be no new precedent set for the clerk position. Basically, Cathy would have two positions: clerk, and contractor, continuing to handle the extra, nonclerk duties that she has taken on so successfully for free till now: applying for and overseeing grants, managing building projects, managing contracts, and building and improving and maintaining our website. These are all things we would have had to (as we have in the past) either hire out or find volunteers to handle. (Hey, have you voluntarily written a grant for the Village yet? Yeah, there are three of you out there that I know of. Thanks. Want to do it again?)

Read the rest of this entry »

Interview with Charla Burgess, Head of Beer Education, Stormcloud Brewing Company

In Uncategorized on September 21, 2014 at 11:40 am
Charla Beer Educator

Charla Burgess forecasts a sunny future for Michigan craft brewing. Photo by Ron Shepard

The Alert Facebook-buttonholed Charla Burgess in between bouts of tasting beers and peaches to ask her about her new job and Frankfort’s upcoming Beer Week, October 6-11.

You accepted the mission of Special Events and Beer Education Coordinator at Stormcloud. What does this entail?

My mission is to develop an appreciation for craft beer—as a drink and an industry—in the community. I hope to help people learn about the history and process of brewing, but even more so the diversity of taste in beer offerings, particularly, for Stormcloud, in Belgians. Wine and food pairings have long been mainstream and respected. It’s time beer got its due. People are really now coming to understand and respect that craft beer also offers similar creativity, that it’s an art form. There’s discipline and science and innovation that goes into these craft beers. Some brewers really push the envelope. Those of us who really like to be surprised by different flavor combinations can appreciate that. I think Brian [Confer]’s beers are sophisticated, with lots of layers. There’s life and complexity from the Belgian yeasts. Brian is always thinking about and working with the chef [John Snyder] on how the beers pair with our food, because he’s a foodie. He understands that it’s all about the total experience.

You’re a farmer. How does this knowledge help you in your new, exalted Beer Priestess position?

As a farmer, in order to sell the vegetables, I had to SELL THE VEGETABLES. In my subscription CSA model, I often had to teach customers about new vegetables. How to eat them. What flavors they combined well with. I sent people recipes. If I didn’t somehow dangle a carrot of approachability to some vegetables, some people would never try them. We get a lot of customers new to the craft beer scene or who say they don’t like Belgians. They’ve been drinking their Bud Light for years, it’s what they know, and it’s what they are comfortable with. At the bar we help them to identify the tastes they like, match that with our offerings, and they often come away learning that light beers don’t have to be one-dimensional and watery. That they can be just as smooth, but also be fresh, twangy, yeasty, and they might like them even more. Wine drinkers (i.e. “I’m not a beer drinker”) discover they like our traditional Belgian dubbel for its rich, raisiny depth balanced by the caramel malt tones. I’m a teacher, too, so I get a thrill in seeing people discover new things. I also know, as a farmer, that it makes economic and environmental sense to use fresh, local ingredients as much as possible. Things just taste better the fresher they are. Our 24:30 Harvest Pale Ale (hops harvested 30 miles away and used within 24 hours of harvest) is a testament to this.

I often say that Stormcloud has offered me the chance to combine all the elements of my farm business that I loved—I truly get a thrill in watching the chef and helping him come up with new food offerings to pair with the different beers, and with my farm or the new Stormcloud kitchen garden, to grow some of the items. I get to grow, create, taste. share—and it’s all organically centered around and growing out from the beer.

Beyond the food and beverages, it seems like a lot of people have really appreciated Stormcloud’s activities—Trivia Night and Game Night, and the spelling bee last year. The brewery has become a kind of community center, especially in the winter.

As a farmer I also learned that success comes from the value-added products. I think at Stormcloud the owners are always asking how we can add value to the total experience—for the customer, the community. And most ideas around here begin with Confer or Schmitty [Stormcloud co-owner Rick Schmitt] saying “We should…” 99% of the time, we really should. Stormcloud’s mission has always been to develop a sense of community.

Why is craft brewing taking off in Michigan?

The success of craft beer in MI right now? Brian or Rick could likely speak best to this, but I would say a combination of things: Traditional markets for cherries and other fruits were declining in profitability. Growers saw how well vineyards produced in our climate, how similar our climate was to other areas having success in growing hops, and with the increase in breweries, perhaps due to the loosening of regulation, hops were in high demand. About 10 years ago I went to a hop growing workshop in TC. A good number of traditional farmers were there, looking to shift gears. I think that breweries may also be thriving here for the same reason that small farms are increasing in number. Collaboration. Cooperation. Sharing of knowledge freely. You love something this much, this good beer, you want to share your passion for it. We have really skilled brewers in Michigan, along with talented chefs, and beautiful local farm/food offerings. In Frankfort, we are blessed with a brilliant microcosm of these. Synergy works to fuel the industry. In these transitional days from traditional manufacturing to tourism and service and entertainment, the businesses that are going to grow are the ones that innovate and work together. I think that’s also what we hope Frankfort Beer Week will generate—synergy among Frankfort’s businesses and a sharing of our passion. With Beer Week, we hope to involve as many local businesses as possible.

What have you been doing to get ready for Beer Week?

We’ve been taste-testing beer with ice cream, chocolate, and other food items all this week, in preparation for our beer pairing workshops, and it’s astounding how food can really complement or dramatically CHANGE the taste of the beer on your palate. And vice versa. Harvest Pale Ale and a fresh white peach? Brilliant! I’m looking forward to celebrating some of the most alluring things about Frankfort and Michigan, draw in locals and visitors, with state-wide promotion. AND…Frankfort ? October? Always breathtaking.

Village Seeks New Deputy Clerk

In Community Alert, Gov't Watch, Uncategorized, Village Money Situation on September 12, 2014 at 12:47 am

The Village is *NOW ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS* for the position of DEPUTY VILLAGE CLERK Elberta residency NOT required. This is a part time position, 12 – 16 FLEX TIME hours/week. Pay is $10.50 – $14.50 dependent upon education and experience. Complete job description and application available at the Village website or at the Village office. Or for more information call Robin Rommell at 231-590-0844. Application deadline is noon on September 25, 2014.

Elberta Business Owners Speak! On State Proposal 14-1

In Education, Gov't Watch, On and off the Apron, Politics, Public Safety, Uncategorized, Village Money Situation on August 4, 2014 at 10:18 am
Like a rock: A large Petoskey stone at the Conundrum Café, probably not subject to the personal property tax.

Like a rock: This large Petoskey stone at the Conundrum Café is probably not subject to the personal property tax.

By Emily Votruba

Tomorrow, August 5, voters will decide whether to adopt a proposal to eliminate the personal property tax. The strangely worded measure doesn’t actually mention “personal property tax,” but instead says the following:

Approval or disapproval of amendatory act to reduce state use tax and replace with a local community stabilization share to modernize the tax system to help small businesses grow and create jobs. (Read the full ballot language and more about the proposal here and here.)

If you own a business in Michigan, you pay personal property tax (PPT) every year on equipment you use (machinery, vehicles, furniture, computers, refrigerators, cash registers, kitchen appliances). You’re supposed to pay the same rate (set by your local government) every year, based on the price you paid for the item, for the life of your business or until you get rid of the equipment, even as the item decreases in value. In communities with big business and manufacturing bases, the PPT forms a large share of local revenue, used for schools, fire, police, EMT, park maintenance, and other services.

In 2010, Elberta derived 3.32% of its property tax revenue from personal property tax.* That means out of the Village’s $129,933.48 in total property tax revenue, $4,313.79 came from business owners paying tax on their various movable assets, most of which they had already paid sales tax on at the time of purchase. Businesses are in effect taxed twice—more than twice—on material regular consumers are taxed for once.

According to the Tax Foundation, a nonpartisan DC based think tank, seven states have eliminated PPT altogether, four states assess a very small PPT, and other states have enacted exemptions for businesses of certain types or sizes. Michigan itself has already enacted a personal property tax exemption for businesses with less than $80,000 worth of equipment. More on that below.

Some voters may be wary of taking Lansing’s word for it when it promises any local revenue lost from eliminating PPT will be replaced through the use tax, which the proposal also promises not to increase. The Senate Fiscal Agency estimates that state general fund revenues would be cut by $126 million in 2016, the first-year the proposal would begin taking effect, and by $483 million in 2023 when fully phased-in.

What is use tax? Most of us never pay it because we don’t buy goods wholesale. But if you have a state business ID, you can buy goods without paying sales tax, as long as you pay that 6% eventually—whether you pass the expense on to consumers when you sell products, or by declaring that amount to the state and paying it at the end of the year.

This use tax might be an unpredictable source of revenue. Let’s say you purchase 50 pounds of coffee wholesale with a business ID. If you don’t make cappuccinos with it, you’re supposed to pay the state 6% out of pocket on whatever you have left that isn’t spoiled. That’s to keep you from just buying all your personal groceries wholesale. You can see how abuse of the use tax might be hard to detect and enforce.

In Michigan, use tax is also assessed to lodging establishments for their rooms and amenities and in sales or transfers of recreational vehicles to nonfamily members. Wired communication services, Internet sales, and all imports of goods from outside Michigan are also subject to use tax. You can read about it in more detail here.

Use tax revenue, like that from PPT, fluctuates according to consumer activity and whether or not businesses are investing in inventory. The Local Community Stabilization Authority that Prop 14-1 creates would distribute the use tax revenue directly to municipalities and would theoretically ensure that communities receive the same revenue they’re accustomed to, and perhaps more (some argue). Proponents say eliminating the PPT will also save both businesses and local governments the paperwork headache involved in filing and adminstering the tax.

Since tax law is really confusing, and businesses are the ones who’ll (supposedly) be most immediately affected by this proposal if it passes, I asked some Elberta business owners what they think of the measure and how they’re going to vote.

Steve Hubbard, owner of Bayshore Tire & Auto, says he’s been so busy he hasn’t had time to investigate the proposal. “I’ll say any measure that’s going to cut my taxes, I’m probably for. Michigan taxes the crap out of small businesses. We lose so much money just processing that stuff.”

According to the US Small Business Administration, over 98% percent of Michigan businesses are “small”—with fewer than 500 employees. Indeed, the vast majority of Michigan businesses (670,000+) have no employees at all.

Katie Condon, along with her sister Janet Condon Whiting, has owned the Mayfair Tavern since January 2012. They pay personal property tax on kitchen equipment, TVs, their computer system, and any other tangible business assets they acquire. Condon says she’s definitely voting yes on Proposal 14-1. “[Personal property tax] is a dumb tax. It kills small business, and up here in Northern Michigan we’re all small.”

Diane Jenks, owner of A Shear Class Experience Salon & Day Spa, and also a member of the Village council, said in an email on Friday that she was still researching the issue. “I want to know where the replacement dollars are coming from and how and when it will be disbursed back to municipalities. I wonder if there will be any hidden criteria or restrictions on funding replacement of personal property tax dollars.”

Jim Barnes is a new business owner in the Village, with both Elberto’s Taqueria and Eco-Building Products opening here in 2013. He suspects that if the personal property tax is eliminated, that revenue won’t be replaced. He said he hadn’t yet been assessed personal property tax by the Village, but has paid it in Elmwood Township and Traverse City for Northern Delights and Eco-Building Products.

“In the past, our personal property taxes have been a nominal annual fee. The hassle of filling out the forms is more painful than paying the tax,” Barnes wrote in an email. He noted that the Village has “an extraordinarily high real property tax rate”—it’s the highest Village rate in the county at 16.1565%but says he will probably vote no on eliminating the tax, because he believes “federal, state, and municipal taxes are necessary to maintain infrastructure and provide valuable services to our citizenry.” Barnes says he’s more than willing to keep paying the PPT. “I just hope it isn’t too much when the Village gets around to assessing ours.”

Sheila Lafleur, proprietor of the Lighthouse Café, said Saturday that she hadn’t decided how she’ll vote on the measure and didn’t want to go on the record with her opinion of it. She said she’s had the same kitchen equipment for a long time, it’s still serving her well.

Colleen and Ed Jones acquired the Betsie Bay Marina from Kris Mills in mid-June this year. Colleen is familiar with the PPT from previous business ventures. “The existing tax law is really poorly written. It’s difficult to put reasonable values on your property, and it’s not enforceable. It’s a double tax on business owners.” She plans to vote yes on Tuesday to eliminate PPT, but concedes that the proposal “isn’t ideal—the allocation measure for replacement of revenue is kind of weird.”

Michele Cannaert of the Conundrum Café was undecided on the proposal when we spoke on Friday. She had applied for and received the new exemption, for businesses with less than $80,000 in equipment. “That’ll be $700 less that I’ll owe for next year. I can use that money to increase my inventory, or hire another person.

“I’m looking into whether that exemption will still be in effect if the proposal doesn’t pass,” she said. Cannaert, who is also an educator in the public schools downstate, is concerned about loss of revenue for schools and other services, but thinks the personal property tax is a disproportionate burden on small businesses like hers, not just in terms of money, but time and hassle. She files her taxes quarterly, and must submit a list of equipment values every time.

“It would be great if they could just keep that [small business] exemption in place even if the proposal doesn’t pass,” said Cannaert. “That would cover it. I don’t see why these larger companies need another break. But I do wonder how they’re going to offset that loss with the use tax. The use tax is unpredictable too.” Ψ

*Source: MLive report

Guerrilla Beautification Incursions

In Uncategorized on August 1, 2014 at 8:12 pm

Freshly weeded and mulched trees along old M-168

By Emily Votruba 

When the Michigan Department of Transportation began ceding M-168 to the Village of Elberta four years ago, they paid to improve the roadway with sidewalks, street lamps, and 60 new trees lining the old highway. The maples, thornless honeylocusts, and Callery pears alternated along the road, each with a huge pile of mulch at its base.

Most residents I talked to were happy about the improvements (though wistful about the enormous elms that once towered here). But with near unanimity, the cry went up: “Now the Village has to maintain it! With what money!”

Now in 2014 we are down to just one full-time member of our Department of Public Works, Ken Bonney, and his helper Doug McPherson, to take care of the Village’s 70-plus acres of public space and parkland.

Enter the Guerrilla Beautifiers! Village residents and fans who are taking matters into their own hands.

With the Village council’s permission, Friends of Elberta created a community garden in Penfold Park at the end of May. Since then, colorful annuals have mysteriously appeared, and weeding has occurred. Randomly, stealthily.

In July, Phil and Rosemary Mix were spotted weeding and mulching every tree along M-168, a gargantuan task they accomplished quietly and *totally without permission.* Don’t embarrass them too much with your gratitude, but do embarrass them a little.

Also in July, when a westerly storm blew a bunch of horribleness over to Elberta Beach from Wisconsin, Jen Wilkins and Sue Oseland got down and dirty and did what they could to restore our pristine sands.

Parks & Rec held a work party one morning to clean up Tot Park. They threw down some mulch, scooped the feral cat poop out of the sand box, and picked up trash.

And the lovely plantings in the whiskey barrels along Frankfort Avenue? These are the work of Linda Manville for the second year in a row.

In a world of seemingly endless red tape and bureaucracy and cries of “liability,” it’s nice to know that some people still have the courage to stand up (or crouch down) for what they believe in. Sometimes it really is OK, if not better, to ask for forgiveness rather than permission. It’s your Village, after all.

One of Linda Manville’s planters from 2013


Village Offers Beautiful, Affordable Event Locations

In Community Alert, Farmers' Market, GOOD NEWS, Infrastructure and Planning, On and off the Apron, Open Season, Uncategorized, Village Money Situation on July 31, 2014 at 2:21 am

By Diane Jenks

The Village of Elberta is struggling to survive with low fiscal scores and the threat of an emergency manager. The State of Michigan has many communities in this situation and is willing to help the village work its way back into the black. The departure of the former clerk, Sharyn Bower, and treasurer Laura Manville, with no notice and nothing in place for the incoming staff, has been traumatic. The new clerk and treasurer (Mary Kalbach and Sheila Applebee) are in training and working diligently to get the office up and running. Elberta residents have survived a lot of pitfalls and we continue to be the mouse that ROARS.  This community will roll up its sleeves and trudge on and fight for the right to shine like the gem this little village continues to be. I can’t help but wonder sometimes what keeps this little community together, but I realize that when good people gather for a good cause amazing things happen. I am proud to be part of Elberta and urge everyone out there to support this village, because it is here to stay.

The Village of Elberta is offering the opportunity to rent several of its facilities.

The Elberta Life Saving Station at the Waterfront Park is already available for weddings, private parties and events that require indoor space and a beautiful setting. A large deck overlooking Betsie Bay is a perfect way to watch the night sky calm the hectic day. Check out the Lifesaving Station page on our website at

We also offer our Waterfront Park Bandshell (performance pavilion) for $100 a day. This venue is available during the week for concerts or a performance with hillside seating overlooking our beautiful park and Betsie Bay. It makes holding your own concert or other event affordable.

You can rent the Amphitheater for your own little Film Fest. Elberta Parks & Recreation held the first annual Mushy Peach Film Festival in 2012.

You can rent the Bandshell for your own little event. Elberta Parks & Recreation held the first annual Mushy Peach Film Festival here in 2012.

If you’re looking for a place to hold your family reunion, birthday party, class reunion, or private party, our Waterfront Park Picnic Pavilion is only $75. The pavilion offers a beautiful fire pit, electricity and picnic tables. The children’s playground adjacent to it is one-of-a-kind in the area. The playground is handicapped accessible and starts with a ramp that little tykes can hop right on. Nearby is a swing set that includes with a handicap swing.

Perhaps you are looking for a little more privacy. If so, Elberta’s Penfold Farmers Market Park is a great venue for a more intimate gathering, but still conveniently located on the Betsie Valley Trail at the junction of old M-168 and M-22. For just $50, you get a spacious pavilion, picnic tables, two grills, a porta-john, and electrical outlets. Your guests can kayak down the Betsie River and put in at the small boat launch to get to your party.

If you’d like to hold a birthday party, open house, meeting, or baby shower indoors, we have our Community Building on First Street with a capacity 68. You can rent this space for $150. Although there is no kitchen, the building does have tables and chairs and places to plug in crock pots. This facility has the ball diamond and ample parking with restrooms that can be entered from inside and out.

The newest addition to Elberta is our Dunes South Park. It is located on the south side of the village on the west side of M-22. This fabulous rustic setting offers a parking lot and a flat space big enough to set up for a festival or event. Imagine your group or organization incorporating hiking the dune and embracing nature at its finest. You can rent this park for only $300.

For more information on renting any of these spaces, contact Diane Jenks at

Thank you for your support of the little village that can. Ψ

Parks & Rec Cites Improper Transfer of Funds by Village President Pro Tem

In Gov't Watch, Politics, Uncategorized, Village Money Situation on June 19, 2014 at 6:11 pm

By Emily Votruba

At their June 12 regular meeting, the Parks and Recreation Commission voted to submit a letter to Council reprimanding president pro tempore Robin Rommell for improper transfer of funds. (Full disclosure: I am one of the signatories of that letter.)

A statement obtained by P&R secretary Jennifer Wilkins from State Savings Bank on June 12 (see below) shows a transfer of $20,000 from the P&R/Solstice account on May 22 to another Village account. The sum reappears in the P&R/Solstice account on June 10.

Wilkins and clerk Mary Kalbach discovered that the P&R/Solstice account was $20K down on June 10, as they were preparing to send out checks to pay expenses for the Solstice Festival, which takes place this Saturday. When they discovered the missing funds, which would have resulted in the bouncing of these and other checks, Kalbach alerted Linda Manville, and Rommell transferred the money back into the P&R/Solstice account.

In an email to me, Rommell stated: “It was a mistake. Instead of transferring money out of the deposit account into the checking account, we mixed up the numbers and pulled it from the wrong account. When we realized our mistake, we transferred it back.”

Mary Kalbach, acting treasurer Toni Flynn, and trustee Linda Manville, who has been helping out in the office in budget and other matters, all say they were not aware Rommell had transferred that sum. The transaction was not logged in the General Ledger accounting program.

Kalbach told me she alerted Rommell in May that the Village had about $18K in checks out to BLUA and that money needed to be transferred from another account in order to cover those checks. She says she did not specify an amount. She says Rommell later told her she had transferred money, but did not mention the amount or account of origin.

Kalbach says it’s been customary to draw from the Streets account or from the Tax account when money is needed for general expenses. A “cheat-sheet” listing each account number and its corresponding fund name is in the Village office and copies were made available to everyone involved in transferring funds.

In the letter of reprimand, the P&R Commission states that the transfer was a violation of the Interfund Borrowing Policy Council adopted in March. They request

  1. “That a review of all village bank accounts be conducted and checked against the journal entries to find, and remedy, any other unauthorized transactions that may have been made,
  2. That Ms. Rommell be censured with an official reprimand to be entered into the Village record, and
  3. That Ms. Rommell be removed as a signatory from all village accounts and that all Village financial access passwords be changed and withheld from her.”

The Interfund Borrowing Policy (see below) specifies “the Treasurer may utilize short-term interfund borrowing to satisfy Village cash flow needs, provided that the loaning fund is repaid by the borrowing fund within 90 days. … If a short-term interfund loan is necessary, then that condition shall be disclosed, in writing, to the Council by the Treasurer.”

Because of the cut in hours at the office and personnel turnover, both Robin Rommell and, less frequently, Linda Manville, have been performing financial transactions that would normally be performed not by the Village president or pro tem but by the Village clerk and treasurer.

In an email to me, Linda Manville explained the current system in the office: “The process regarding bill paying has settled in, for now, to coding and authorizing by staff and BFA [Budget, Finance, and Audit Committee] members. Once bills are coded, Mary [Kalbach] will total them and go online to bank and check balance in checking account. Depending on balance she will call Robin. If money needs to be transferred to the checking account, Robin will tell Mary how much to take from specific accounts and move to checking.”

According to Kalbach, some checks have bounced and some payments have been returned or charged late fees because payments were sent in without stubs and the receiving institution did not know where to apply the payment. Some other loose ends may remain: According to Wilkins, Village bank account cards issued to former employees Sharyn Bower and Laura Manville have still not been deactivated.

The Parks & Recreation letter further states: “The Village can ill afford to suffer additional financial harm, trigger additional audits, or be found to be in direct violation of the recently enacted Corrective Action Plan and ordinances. As residents and friends of the Village of Elberta we have the gravest concern that Ms. Rommell has shown poor judgment and a blatant disregard for the rules and regulations that she has sworn to uphold.”

Last Thursday, P&R secretary Jennifer Wilkins asked that the issue be added to the agenda for the meeting tonight. According to Wilkins the agenda, which was compiled by Robin Rommell, does not show that item or any of the other items Wilkins requested.


New Civic Group and Ice Rink Form in Elberta

In Activism, Community Alert, GOOD NEWS, Uncategorized, Water, Weather on February 21, 2014 at 8:06 pm

By Emily Votruba

The Friends of Elberta met for the first time on January 15. In just a couple of weeks, they agreed on a mission statement and held an event, the Fire & Ice Skating party on February 9.

The Friends’ mission is to “preserve, promote, and enhance the quality of life in the Village of Elberta.” The new group took particular inspiration from the natural ice rink in Penfold Park made possible by this year’s cold winter. Penfold Park, aka the Marina/MiniPond/Farmers’ Market park, is located at the juncture of M-22, old M-168, and the Betsie Valley Trail.

Bill Soper, Eric Pyne, Emily Votruba, and Bill O’Dwyer began making the rink back in January. They just wanted to skate. After determining that the ice was safe (well over 16 inches throughout) they cleared the pond with a snowblower, shovels, and brooms. Then, with help from Village DPW superintendent Ken Bonney, they flooded the space with a pump and a hose. It’s no Sochi, but conditions are good enough to get a glide on.

“We could challenge Benzonia in pond hockey,” Bill Soper suggested.

Soon other people noticed the rink. As snow accumulated again over subsequent days, others took it upon themselves to pitch in to clear it—and skate.

Friends of Elberta was started by Jen Condon Whiting and Jim Barnes. The group now meets at the Mayfair Tavern on the second and fourth Wednesdays at 7 pm, and they have a Facebook page. Many people contributed to the Fire & Ice party. Jen Whiting brought a grill and hot dogs. Sue Oseland brought cocoa, tea lights and luminaries. Emily Votruba and Eric Pyne made torches to line the path to the rink, and Eric, Bill Soper, Bill O’Dwyer, and Steve Hagen did last-minute pond clearing and parking lot plowing. Bill Soper was the bonfire master. Jeannie Sikes went around to resale places buying up skates to lend out. Cathy Anderson made a great flier to publicize the event. Coach Reznich lit the torches during the party. Thirty dollars in spontaneous donations were collected.

About 100 people total, including a ton of kids, showed up to skate and commune with each other in this unique park space. Stories went around about skating days past: skating to Frankfort across the bay, skating in the then-open water behind where the Village office is now; how, back in the day, kids would cut a hole in the ice near where the car ferries came to port, and when a boat came in, it would cause the water to rise in the rink, and by the time the boat left, there’d be a perfect frozen disk of ice to skate on. Ella Whiting started out thinking she couldn’t skate and, according to her mom, she was Peggy Fleming by the end of the day.

What’s your skating story? If you don’t have one yet, you can make one at Penfold Park. Meanwhile, Friends of Elberta will be coming up with more fun things to do in the Village. Ψ

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Budget Fuss: A Choppy Start to Turning the Fiscal Ship Around

In Gov't Watch, Uncategorized, Village Money Situation on February 19, 2014 at 4:59 pm

By Emily Votruba

During its regular board meeting this Thursday, February 20, the Village Council will review and most likely adopt the proposed budget for fiscal year 2014–15. At least one council member and budget committee member won’t be voting to adopt it.

“We’ve had no budget meetings,” says Jennifer Wilkins. “This budget has been prepared by the Village treasurer in conjunction with [DEP/CAP consultant] Chris Olson with no input from the budget committee, which is a violation of the internal controls policies we’re supposed to be following.”

Wilkins, along with other members of council, saw the proposed Proposed Budget 2014–15 for the first time when they received it as an attachment to an email from treasurer Laura Manville on February 12.

In the Treasury Report on Village Internal Controls, Read the rest of this entry »

Frankfort’s Kinda Progressive Zoning Ordinance

In Agriculture, Community Alert, Gov't Watch, Infrastructure and Planning, On and off the Apron, Uncategorized on February 5, 2014 at 12:55 pm

Frankfort Zoning District Map

By Emily Votruba

It’s probably not anarcho-syndicalism in the making, but the City of Frankfort’s planning commission under the leadership of Bruce Ogilvie has put together a fairly progressive and forward-thinking zoning ordinance. The comment period is NOW, and the public hearing is set for Tuesday, March 11. Take a minute to read it and either weep or rejoice, depending on your POV.

Some Frankfort property owners (this one included) will be stoked to find that the minimum footprint for a residential dwelling in the North Residential and Rural districts has shrunk from 1,000 square feet to Read the rest of this entry »