Editorial Archives
May 24, 2011 To August 6, 2014

       On this page you will see personal opinions expressed that may or may not be representative of those of other individuals or groups.   Some will be triggered by events, actions, observations — or perhaps pent-up frustrations.  Some of you will agree — some of you will disagree — some of you will simply exit.  Please remember that what you are reading here are opinions.  Whatever your reaction, thank you for taking the time to at least give a look.
Note: The oldest articles are at the bottom of this page.

Contents

91. Missing: Our Volunteers
90. Presque Isle Township Budget
89. Treasurer Appointment
88. 6 Months After
87. A Bit of Background Information
86. As We Move Into 2014
85. Where Is The Leadership?
84. We All Lose
83. Our Fire Departments — What's Up?
82. Investigation Moves Forward
81. Muddy Water Clears A Bit
80. Fire Department Public Meeting
79. New Fire Season Begins
78. Things Not Always As They Appear
77. Thanks & Best Wishes
76. Presque Isle Fire Department
75. Resolutions For A New Year
74. Patrick — Thank you
73. We Begin A New Chapter
72. Let Us Maximize Our Opportunities
71. Where Does A Chuckle Lurk?
70. "Welcome to Presque Isle" Banners
69. Range Light Porta-John
68. When Will We Ever Learn?
67. A Special Place In The Heart
66. Quorums, Jetties, Lenses & ...
65. Looking Forward (and Back A Bit)
64. Failure To Issue Checks
63. Applicants For Township Committees
62. Statue of Patrick Garrity
61. Contents Of Meeting Minutes
60. Deputy Treasurer Positions
59. Township Committee Appointments
58. Recent Site News
57. Let the 2011 Season Begin

Go to Editorial Archives for July 2, 2010 to May 7, 2011

Go to Editorial Archives prior to July 1, 2010


91. Missing: Our Volunteers

August 6, 2014

A recent Feedback contribution raised the topic of our missing township volunteers and the associated impact upon this community. Perhaps that topic is worthy of a few editorial words.

Let us step back in time a few years. Every Monday morning throughout the year, a regular crew of volunteer workers met at Garrity Hall to set about various tasks. Although regulars numbered only 6 to 8, on any given day an entire squadron could be mustered for a major blitz — as happened several times a season. And, what was being achieved?

Annually, many hundreds of man-hours were freely contributed by these dedicated volunteers. No pay was provided and volunteers often supplied materials and personal equipment at no charge. If you did an accounting of those unpaid hours and services provided, it would be in the tens of thousands of dollars annually. For each each individual, the feeling that his/her efforts were valued and that a better community resulted, was reason enough to justify their commitment. Collectively, they loved what they were doing. They were proud of their role.

Now fast-forward to 2014. Any Monday morning — Garrity Hall is empty. No volunteer crew in sight. No trail maintenance in process. Gardens in need of care. Paint and signage on the decline. Spring cleanup behind schedule. Brush and debris piles waiting ... and waiting. No volunteers tending as in the past. A downward spiral, one might call it.

So where did all the volunteers go? Most are still volunteering — with the Chapel, Presque Isle Harbor Association; Grand Lake Association, Grand Lake Sportsmens Club, other local clubs & organizations, and in nearby communities — but NOT with anything under the direct control of Presque Isle Township. What happened???

In a nutshell, they were abandoned by those that stood to derive the greatest benefit from their efforts. As with any volunteering activity, there will be those who criticize — and frequently those who make little or no contribution to the effort make the greatest fuss. That took place in this situation, but with some other complications. The individuals making the most noise were not getting their way, so they escalated their complaints to Lansing with an onslaught of exaggerated claims. The insecurities of our elected officials showed through when they failed to take a stand to defend the our Township and the efforts of the volunteers, and at the same time shut down the chronic complainers. Our elected officials looked like wimps — both in the eyes of local residents, and in the eyes of upper government officials. They were not in charge of their own ship. All volunteer efforts and projects involving our historic properties were officially halted by local decree. In-process projects were abandoned — only partially completed. The message clearly delivered: "Your efforts are unsatisfactory." Demoralized, the volunteer force vaporized.

So why did this unfold as it did? Was it politics? Timing was coincidental with the 2012 election and the change of Township Supervisor — and there were tensions on that scene. Was it revenge? That call is yours to make. Did the governmental overseers of our local historical properties have serious concerns about the quality of our care? Actually, they were pleased that we were actively maintaining the properties and thus taking them off the hook. Then the squeaking wheel. Was intimidation in the picture? The complainers had threatened for months to launch a letter-writing campaign. Influential contacts were a distinct possibility, and that was abundantly clear. Most believe that it is nothing more than a one sided power struggle that was permitted to get out of hand. The ball was dropped — perhaps a couple of times — and we are left with what we have.

Going forward, we do have a VERY small number of surviving volunteers performing a few tasks. Services previously performed by the volunteer crew are being assigned to our paid maintenance employee on a priority basis. Some will be turned over to local contractors. Others will simply be neglected. The previous annual savings of thousands of dollars will now come out of your tax dollars. Is this the way it should be? It could have been avoided.




90. Presque Isle Township Budget

July 22, 2014

At a special meeting of the Board of Trustees held on June 16th, the Budget for 2014/2015 was set. It is available as part of the minutes for that meeting. What may be more meaningful to local taxpayers is how it compares to the budget set 1 year earlier. Click here for a line-by-line comparison of the 2 budgets.

As you look at the comparison, note that the "Actual 6/16/14" column is about 2 weeks prior to fiscal year-end. Some of those numbers will change (probably increase). Also note that in 1 or 2 cases, amounts have changed classifications giving some distortion when you do the comparison.

Your study will probably commence with the right hand column of the table. Generally, percentages of + or - 10 are not a concern. In some cases, big percentages can be explained and are fully justified. There are some, however, that should be questioned — perhaps just for clarification, or possibly challenged for being unreasonable. Here are some that deserve a good look.

Line #5 — Payroll Admin:
Why is there a specific amount allocated for Payroll Admin? Should that task not just be part of the duties of the Clerk, Treasurer or Admin Assistant? Does "Milking the system" sound familiar?

Line #6 — Treasurer:
Supervisor and Clerk allocations are unchanged, so why should the Treasurer amount be any different? Typically, rookies start at a lower pay scale and then get increases as their experience builds. Revenues barely increased, so what is the justification? Perhaps it has to do with the previous Treasurer remaining on as a Deputy to train the new Treasurer. Remember the quote: "the job is not difficult". Over the years, previous Treasurer Bette was very quick to suggest that others donate various goods and services to the township. Bette, this is your opportunity. More milking!

Line #9 — Zoning Board of Appeals:
Seems high as a percentage but is actually a small amount. Probably a simple explanation and not an issue.

Line #10 — Admin Assistant:
20% is a huge increase when other positions are much lower or even stable. Excessive! Perhaps quality of performance should be should be taken into consideration as well.

Line #23 — Cemetery Improvements:
For years, trustees have not considered our cemetery a priority. This is a good indicator that appropriate respect is on the upswing.

Line #25 — Community:
Perhaps this number should be reinstated to previous levels. When you look at the amount of money that taxpayers hand over to the Township, you see that most gets gobbled up in maintenance and administration — very little gets returned as a direct benefit to taxpayers. The Township should be (financially) more supportive of the community. In the big picture, this amount is miniscule.

Omission
With the demise of Presque Ilse Fire Department #2, there is taxpayer money being spent and money being held by the Township, that does not show in the budget. It seems appropriate that there should be something included in the budget to reflect that. At a minimum, an addendum should be included. The community deserves such.

Local taxpayers and citizens should be concerned about the way the local tax dollars are handled. The above points are food-for-thought. What happens is in your hands.




89. Presque Isle Township Treasurer Appointment

June 23, 2014

At the April 14, 2014 meeting of the Board of Trustees, it was announced that Bette Tadejewski was resigning as township Treasurer — a position she had held for 26 years. Since that time, a new treasurer has been selected, and now is the time to make some observations and comments on that process.

The vacant Treasurer's position was advertised in local newspapers with 5 applicants requesting consideration. These 5 individuals, with a wide variety of skills, experience and qualifications, eagerly made the effort to submit applications and résumés — with the understanding that they would have an equal and fair opportunity to be selected based upon their ability to do the job. Now that the process has concluded, it appears that the "equal and fair" aspect may not have actually been on the table.

Now, as you read this, what would you consider as being appropriate experience and qualifications for the position of Township Treasurer? Remember, this individual will be handling millions of taxpayer dollars down the road.

In the field of applicants for the position, all of the above points were in the picture in some degree — but not all of them are positive factors. The last two actually have little to do with one's ability to do the job. They do, however, cloud the perception of transparency and fairness in the selection process. They also lead to suspicion of favoritism and the impression of "keeping it in the family" — not a good thing for the local citizens — and something that we have fought against from the beginning.

On May 20th, a special public meeting of the Board of Trustees was held to select the new treasurer. At that time, the 5 applicants were individually interviewed. Although set questions were asked of each, there was also Board discussion of each applicant. Perhaps the most disturbing comment was made by Supervisor Koel when he criticised a statement in one application referencing the applicant's willingness to computerize the position. Supervisor Koel spun the statement as a slam against the departing treasurer. However, during the meeting he STRONGLY (and frequently) emphasized that it was an expectation that the incoming treasurer would implement those same state mandated computerization standards. Supervisor Koel, in this criticism, effectively neutered that applicant for the selection process. I guess that it was just coincidence that the candidate in question happened to be by far the most qualified as to credentials, willingness and ability to take on the role, but was not a member of "the family".

Another issue of concern pertained to the role of the departing Treasurer in the selection process. Officially, she was not allowed to participate in the process, but was required to be present to respond to questions regarding the duties of the position. On many occasions during the process, she made statements that were not in response to questions. Repeatedly she stated that the position is not difficult, it just requires a lot of time. She also volunteered that named applicants had approached her for information pertaining to the position. This particular statement was not in response to a question and should have been declared out of order by Supervisor Koel — but he failed to do so. Her comments throughout the process were definitely intended to influence those making the decisions — clearly in violation of her legal responsibilities in the process. A level playing field it was not.

A comment by Trustee Morrison supports "the family" factor in the selection process. He stated that he had known one applicant and the applicant's family for a long time and that all were reputable and hard working and had lived in the community for many years. This statement, although intended to support the integrity of the applicant, more accurately supported the "keep it in the family" message. Perhaps, ability to do the job should have been a greater priority.

A previously noted quote, "the position is not difficult, it just requires a lot of time", needs to be evaluated a bit more closely. What is being said is that the role does not require skill, just time. Does it not cross your mind that someone with recognized money management (accounting) skills and significant experience in that field should be a minimum requirement for the Treasurer's position? Perhaps such a person would not require that same time investment since their process rate would be greater with fewer mis-steps. Perhaps the position could even be part-time as advertised. Related to this comment as well is the departing Treasurer's claim (and supported by some others around the table) that the position is actually full-time in reality, but part-time in definition. In that room were 5 applicants that applied for a part-time position — and at the interview were told that it was actually full-time with only part-time pay. The expectation is that, for some of your efforts, you work for free. Employers in the real world face substantial fines and/or jail time for those antics.

The new treasurer, Jennifer Wieczorkowski, has been selected. She was initially appointed to the Parks & Recreation Committee in November of 2013 and appears to have no other township involvement prior to that time. From what has been revealed about her, bookkeeping/accounting/academic and treasurer related credentials are minimal. From a qualifications perspective, she would be rated at or near the bottom of the applicant list. However, her mother has been the Deputy Treasurer for the Township for many years (personally appointed by the outgoing Treasurer) — and is thus qualified as "family". Need we say more. She will not have an office in the Township building nor regular office hours to serve the citizens. Her office and the records to go along with, will be in her home. Hmmm ..... since that office will receive the public from time to time, will she require a Special Use Permit and have to jump through various hoops as do other office seeking citizens within the township? Or will she be privileged?

The selection has been made and from here we move forward. The new "family member" will fit in well with the majority of the trustees — for them a good choice — unfortunately, not a good choice for the taxpayers of Presque Isle Township.




88. 6 Months After

February 17, 2014

Six months has now lapsed since our Fire Department #2 closed, and where are we now? Our township has failed to take the bull by the horns to deal with the loss. All they have done is to authorize a band-aid in the form of mutual aid.

A Fire Committee, chaired by John Laycock, was acknowledged at the November Board meeting and has now met several times and has posted their minutes on the township website. Their objective is to develop and recommend to the Township, an Emergency Services vision for the future. Progress was being made.

However, there appears to now be a second group called "District #2 Restoration Committee" under the wing of our Treasurer. They have been functioning without consultation with the original Fire Committee and have done no formal reporting on their non-publicized meetings. The problem is that this group very much has the appearance of being emotionally charged vigilantes without regard for process, legalities or consequences. They have already trespassed on Fire Department property to place snow barricades and have threatened to claim ownership and change the locks. Such actions could place these hot-heads behind bars (actually not a bad idea) and do great harm to the mechanics of finding a solution (not a good idea). The bigger problem here is that the 2 citizen committees are not working together -- with the "Restoration Committee" keeping the original "Fire Committee" in the dark. Thanks Bette! All this does is to neuter both groups.

And where is the Board of Trustees as an entity in all of this? One would think that they would have come together by this time and established a course of action to move forward. Why hasn't our Township Supervisor presented a proposal to put some process in place to deal with this? All we have now is the band-aid with a limited lifespan; 2 citizen committees going in different directions; a group of citizens ready to mount machine guns on pickups and make a raid on the #2 fire hall (this is a bit over stated, but you get the picture); and the best the Supervisor can say is: "it is a good idea to have a new set of eyes look at this situation."

Come now, Mr. Supervisor, it is time for you to lead. You got us into this situation, it is time for you to guide us out. The monthly bashings, name calling and running around in circles is achieving nothing. Quit letting other individuals run the ship and show us that you are up to handling the office to which you were elected. There are people within our community with vast corporate experience in developing strategies and frameworks to achieve difficult objectives. Get with them and recruit their expertise. They may even make you look good.

The clock is ticking.




87. A Bit of Background Information

February 8, 2014

The Alpena News of February 8, 2014 published a Letter to the Editor entitled: PI Dist. Fire Dept. no. 2 saga continues. As with everything that has been publicized, there continues to be details that are not revealed or are so colored that they are not recognizable. Perhaps some clarity can be generated here.

Much information has been revealed in the past 15 months. There have been rampant rumors, lies and uninformed opinion flooding the community gossip channels — and those need not be rehashed. Most have been addressed in previous editorials and reader feedback on this site.

You will notice that the letter immediately names one individual — and that name remains synonymous with the Fire Department throughout the letter. It is obvious that the letter is actually a personal attack on the individual, with the Fire Department only being incidental to the intent of the letter.

Reference is made to phone calls not being returned. There is no attorney in the country that would advise a client to return those calls. In the past months, the named individual has been on the receiving end of frequent and repetitive vulgar, threatening and harassing emails, phone calls and messages, as well as face-to-face profanity laced confrontations both day and night. He has received threats to his person, his family, his property, and his ability to earn income. There has been vandalism to his property. Employers have received demands to not employ him or his family and to dismiss him from his jobs. On one occasion, he was very publically confronted by a couple of local citizens on property of Alpena Public Schools (while he was performing his job) and verbally threatened and abused with profanities while in the presence of students and teaching staff. Physical contact also occurred. And you wonder why he does not return calls! Where is the Christianity in the above behaviors? Just to be accurate here — he does return calls to those who have earned his respect and his trust to conduct themselves in a sane and civilized manner. Obviously, the author of the letter and her associates have not so qualified.

The letter writer demands that the Fire Department corporation be dissolved immediately. That can only happen when Articles of Dissolution are filed with the proper authorities — and that will take place only when the corporation chooses to do so. Just because there is no mailbox, no flag flying and no snow removal, it does not mean that the corporation is dead. Let me assure you, it is far from dead. What we have is what we have — a legal private corporation with the heat still on and still breathing. The author of the letter and her like-minded associates appear to wish otherwise.

As our readers can tell, there has been and still is a lot of nastiness related to the Fire Department #2 issue. What everyone must focus on now, is recovering from the loss of our safety and security. As long as letters to the local newspaper carry the tone of the one referenced here, we are going in the wrong direction. If you applauded when you read the letter in the Alpena News, then rest assured, you are part of the problem and it is unlikely that you will be part of the solution.




86. As We Move Into 2014

January 10, 2014

The beginning of a new year always brings with it good wishes and expectations of better times. It also provides an opportunity to reflect on where we have been as a reference to where we are headed.

As we enter our 5th year online, we too take a look back and reflect. Over 40,000 page views have been delivered by this website — that translates into about 30 pages each and every day. The Shadow has established a very respectable following for such a small community. Our goal from the beginning was to increase community interest in our township and its government — an objective that has seen progress, but is a long way from the ideal.

When we look at where our township has been in the past year, it has not been pretty. Without question, the greatest issue has been our Fire Department #2. It may (or may not) have started out as good intentions on the part of certain of our township officials, but politics, personal agendas, bad decisions, and meddling in fire department affairs resulted in Fire Department #2 refusing to contract with the township and closing its doors.

Other areas under the township umbrella have also encountered negative issues. The volunteer base has almost entirely evaporated — or perhaps more accurately described, "harassed out of existence". Never-ending criticism of their efforts; red tape; delayed and/or denied expense reimbursement; and general interference by certain individuals, has chased most volunteers out of the picture. Those many thousands of dollars of (free) volunteer labor hours will now have to come out of our treasury.

Perhaps the one issue that has many scratching their heads, is the financial state of the Lighthouse Gift Shop operation. After a season that saw record tourism numbers in Northeast Michigan, they ended up significantly in the red — and, on the heels of a very profitable 2012 season. What happened?

This past year has seen issues with the range light swimming area having a mind of its own; a stalled range light park pavilion project; a proposed park across from the township hall that is in perpetual circular dialogue; and the evaporation of the Besser Building acquisition hopes. It seems that most of the dreams of one year ago have gone poof. It is sad to look back and see so much negativeness.

However, there were some bright spots. Many compliments were received on the state of our lighthouses and parks. A new porch on the 1905 house and fresh paint — unfortunately done at a pace that makes a snail look speedy. New glass was installed on top of the New Lighthouse and other small maintenance projects were completed that will protect our assets into the future. The cemetery received a new sign and gained approvals for the construction of an informational kiosk. Perhaps of greatest significance, was the establishment of a citizen committee to study the impact of the loss of Fire Station #2 and make recommendations for the direction of our emergency services into the future.

The year 2013 was a very bumpy year for our township. The upside is that many citizens began to pay attention — and this can only be good. For 2014 and beyond, we must all think positively and work towards making things better. We all have choices to make as to how we personally move forward. You can take the easy route by doing nothing and thus stagnate and regress; or you can prune and fertilize to build a stronger future. The choice is yours.

2014 is underway. Mother nature is having her say and will do her thing. What about you?




85. Where Is The Leadership?

November 27, 2013

More than 3 months have passed since the departure of Presque Isle Fire Department #2 from our emergency services scene. What has happened in the interim? Generally speaking, not much.

The immediate needs of our community have been addressed. Until December 31, 2013, Alpena Township will be providing coverage to FD #2 service area at no cost — in appreciation for extensive and exceptional service provided to Alpena Township in years gone by. Incidentally, that noted service was provided by Fire Department #2 — the same entity that so many local citizens have been throwing rocks at in recent months. As of January 1, 2014, and until June 30, 2014, Presque Isle Township has contracted with Alpena Township to continue their coverage at a flat rate of $7,000 per month. Beyond that, there is nothing in place.

One would think that after 3 months of looking this predicament in the eye, our Township leaders would have some strategy in place. At the September Township meeting, an audience member suggested that a committee of 7 - 9 be struck to work on a solution. Although 2 trustees volunteered to assist in the establishment of such a committee, there was no discussion as to frame of reference, specific objectives, timelines or anything else to encourage a productive outcome — a significant leadership gap.

This is the point where you should pull out your copy of the October 14 minutes to see what was accomplished in the first month. {From Audience Comments}

S. Paltelky asked what the progress was on getting a group of citizens together to form a FD committee. She stated that she had contacted P. Hart. B. Tadajewski stated that she has had a few people contact her as well. B. Koel stated that he would have a signup sheet with him for whoever would like to be a part of that. A. Koopikka stated that she knew of a few residents that signed up to attend the PITWP #2 Fire district meeting, that were never contacted, and she has heard of meetings that are being held with people that aren’t in that fire district. B. Koel advised that he had no knowledge of any meetings. B. Tadajewski stated that she would try and locate the list so she can contact anyone that was missed and provide them with some updated information.

Come on everyone, this is a critical issue and nobody is taking it seriously!

Fast forward 1 more month to the November meeting. Progress? Nothing shows in the minutes other than a meeting called for December 10 ... the day after the next Board of Trustees meeting!

Well, here we are. More than 3 months have passed and what progress do you see? And what is Supervisor Koel doing in all of this? He is the Township Supervisor — the one who was elected to be the leader of our Township. Are you seeing any leadership here? After 3 months, the citizens of this community should be able to see the beginnings of a plan — a strategy — something — anything (I am begging, here) — pointing towards the restoration of our emergency services. We need leadership, strong decisive leadership to resolve the dilemma facing this community. Perhaps we should pin our hopes on Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny or maybe the Good Fairy. At the moment, that appears to be our best bet.

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84. We All Lose

August 24, 2013

The closing of the Presque Isle Township District #2 Fire Department after 40 years of service is a blow to our community. Everybody loses. Not only does it impact those within the coverage area of that department, but it also reduces the effectiveness of emergency services for many miles around. Reduced apparatus levels and fewer personnel, combined with longer travel times, means that overall coverage is thinner. We are not as safe as we were a month ago.

However, our losses will probably not stop there. The entire situation was, at a minimum, unfortunate. The way in which it was handled could be called ill-conceived, poorly executed, perhaps illegal, and possibly criminal. It was based on a moral sense of responsibility to the community — a very honorable concept. However in this country, "legal" trumps "moral" every time.

The main reason for Fire Department #2 not contracting for the coming year was the failure of the Township to meet the terms of last year's contract. That contract was very minimal in content, but basically said that the Fire Department (a private corporation) would provide emergency services in exchange for payment from millage generated tax dollars. Herein lies the problem. Fire Department #2 provided the services — Fire Department #2 did not receive payment for those services. What did happen was, the Township diverted in excess of $120,000 and sent it to 3rd parties in lieu of transferring the money to the Fire Department. Money was due to Fire Department #2 and they did not receive it. Morally, that approach may have had merit — legally, it was in all likelihood, a "breach of contract".

Now this is where the course of events hits quicksand. The Township must authorize and approve all financial transactions and payments. With the contract in place, at no point, did the Board of Trustees (in a public meeting) approve the issuing of the checks to other than the Fire Department. (The only exception to this is the IRS levy which arrived after all monies had been disbursed.) Some will argue that Fire Department #2 agreed to the process, albeit not willingly — "under duress", one might call it. We may very well in the future see a demand to pay Fire Department #2 the amount that was diverted — and that would have to come out of township funds as the original tax monies are gone. Should this happen, then another ugly beast will show its head. For those who authorized, signed, or were a part of the process that sent checks to the 3rd parties, the term "misappropriation of funds" would appear in a cloud above them. The ramifications could be quite serious.

Where do we go from here? The highest priority is to resolve the emergency services shortfall so that our community can return to the safe and secure feeling enjoyed for so many years. Township officials are currently addressing that issue. The question that will linger for some time is: "at what cost?" Perhaps bygones will be bygones and we will move quietly into the future. Or — will the other shoe drop and those who were victimized exact their pound of flesh. No matter how it goes down, we all lose.




83. Our Fire Departments — What's Up?

June 29, 2013

For the past 6 months, our community has been dealing with the turmoil surrounding our Presque Isle #2 Fire Department. In spite of the fuss and resulting stress, that department lived up to their contractual obligations and did not miss a single call. However, perhaps we should not have been quite so focussed on that department, but paying more attention to the emergency services for the township as a whole.

It has recently come to light that our other fire department, the East Grand Lake Volunteer Fire Department, has been unable to match P. I. #2 FD in terms of reliability of service. An Alpena News Letter To The Editor reports a medical call for which there was no response from EGLFD responders. This follows an apparent similar situation a few months back when P. I. #2 FD had to cover an EGLFD call when they could not.

In general terms, the emergency services provided to our township have a high rating. For those who have spent a lifetime in this community, services have never been so good. For those arriving from urban areas where 3-5 minute responses are expected, the reality of 10-20 minutes seems unacceptable. It is what it is, and we must work with what we have.

Perhaps it is time to take a long hard look at how emergency services are delivered within our Township. We see that the "contracting" method has its problems. Should we move to the model used in many areas where the Township owns and operates the fire services? Obviously our current township administration would not be up to that task — but it may be appropriate to study that alternative as an option for the future.

As for the short term, let us clean up what we have. P. I. #2 FD has been dissected and knows what it has to do. The EGLFD needs to stop its chortling at the issues of the other fire department and stop salivating at the prospects of its counterpart's demise. Bad blood, politics, personal agendas, a generation of animosities — sweep them all out the door. (We can dream, can't we?) Leadership starts at the top — in the township, and in both fire departments. Our community has everything to win — and everything to lose.




82. Investigation Moves Forward

June 19, 2013

The investigation into the situation involving the Presque Isle Fire Department #2 issue continues to move forward.

One phase of the investigation has now wrapped up and it has concluded that Patrick Pokorski of the fire department, is clear of all wrong-doing. A second phase, into the internal operations of the fire department itself, is close to being finished and the results will be made known in due course. An additional investigation has apparently been launched into the involvement of the township in this matter, and specifically into the actions of individual trustees. It may be a considerable time before this aspect concludes. The investigations are primarily in the hands of the State Police.

It now appears that the initial complaint filed with the authorities contained some arguments that were blatantly incorrect. Additionally, early reports released through the Township included details that were biassed and highly disputed by the fire department. On top of that, many defamatory statements have been made specifically against named fire department personnel — which may fit the definition of "Defamation Per Se". If that turns out to be the case, serious repercussions could be realized.

As far as the future of fire protection within the township is concerned, things have stabilized to a considerable degree. Negotiations are under way with both township fire departments for the next contractual period — and that is a good sign.

... End of Message ...

Note: Added June 22/13     See related feedback.



81. Muddy Water Clears A Bit

June 4, 2013

After several months of rumors and one sided reports from our Township Supervisor, the May 30th meeting brought a bit of clarity. Yes, there were some internal issues with Fire Department #2, but that can, and does happen in many organizations.

What needs to be said is that the Fire Department is a private corporation that contracts fire protection to the Township. They are just a contractor like any other that performs services. At no point did the Fire Department ever fail to live up to its contract of providing service to its coverage area or Mutual Aid responsibilities. They fulfilled their contractual obligations, and continue to do so.

On the other hand, the Township did breech their side of the contract when they withheld the funds due to Fire Department #2. With the resulting shortfall of revenue, they were unable to meet financial obligations. Up to that point, the Fire Department did have the situation under control, although only delicately balanced. A crisis was now created thanks to contractual default by the Township.

There are some very concerning points that hang over the heads of some of our township officials.

A serious question here is whether this exercise has been a legitimate concern for the well-being of our community or simply a vendetta by a few against the Presque Isle Fire Department and specifically, Patrick Pokorski. There is a faction within the community, including Brent and Bette, that have made it clear that Patrick is not in their clique. It was an noble flag to fly that the "Township" is only looking after the best interests of the community. However, the sheep's wool is beginning to reveal the wolf beneath.

Our township officials have not only exposed themselves to serious personal liability, but also placed the township itself in litigation jeopardy. Our Township government is at risk through the actions of 4 people. As taxpayers, we should be concerned. We must all now do what we must do.

Next Board of Trustees meeting: Monday, June 10, 2013 — 7 pm at the Township Hall.




80. Fire Department Information Meeting

May 24, 2013

Since the end of 2012, rumors have been circulating regarding financial issues within the Presque Isle #2 Fire Department. It is important to emphasize that this is the fire department located on US 23 south of Rayburn Highway (and north of the Hideaway Bar) that services the southern and western areas of Grand Lake, the northeastern areas of Long Lake and along US 23. These issues do NOT relate to the East Grand Lake Fire Department located on East Grand Lake Road next to the former library building.

Apparently, at the request of the Presque Isle #2 Fire Department, a public information meeting has been called for 7 pm on Thursday, May 30 at the Township hall. While no specifics have been indicated as to what details will be forthcoming, it is most important that local citizens attend to obtain the information first hand. To date, unreliable rumors have filled the air. The only "facts" have come from the Township Supervisor, Brent Koel — and his personal relationship with some Presque Isle #2 Fire Department personnel has been very strained in the past. These "facts" may be tarnished.

It is hoped that the air will be cleared with a complete explanation of the situation and what it will mean to the community going forward. At this point, there are concerns for the future of fire protection within our township. It is not out of the question that the #2 fire department may cease to operate. What will happen then? We may also find out that the situation has been greatly over-blown, and fire protection will continue uninterrupted.

There may also be some fireworks. Those who have been paying attention believe that, in the handling of this issue, the Supervisor and select officials have overstepped their authority to the extent of misdemeanor violation and open-ended civil liability. The whole issue surfaced near the end of November, and to date, there has not been a motion before the Board of Trustees at a public meeting, to authorize any actions by any township official. Supervisor Koel, Treasurer Tadajewski, and Clerk Paavola chose to intervene by cutting off the funds rightfully due to to Presque Isle #2 Fire Department (a private corporation) and thus prevent them from paying their bills. It should be noted that at the time those actions took place, the #2 Fire Department was meeting all of its contractual obligations to the Township. The decision to take this action is in violation of Michigan's Open Meeting Act: Public Act No. 267 of 1976, part 15.263, sec. 3 — actions which has been known to cost elected officials their positions (or worse). The only related Board approval came in May to authorize payment of a very large legal bill. The associated legal services should have been authorized in advance, since they had grossly exceeded the budget allocation. Also, some trustees were not informed of the situation until several weeks had passed (not even a phone call or email) — all the while other board officials were actively involved in talking to lawyers and controlling fire department funds. There may also have been legal boundaries crossed with with respect to the Township interfering in the internal operation of a private corporation. Let us hope that liability insurance premiums are paid up.

Regardless of what has happened; or what didn't happen; or what should have happened, the taxpayers of Presque Isle Township should take notice and attend the May 30th meeting. Your tax money, your safety and your government is at issue. Do not rely on rumors or reports. Attend and obtain your information first-hand.




79. New Fire Season Begins

April 30, 2013

Winter took forever to end, but finally appears to have moved on. However, the disappearance of the snow cover and the increasingly warmer temperatures, now moves us not just towards summer, but directly into fire season. Already local crews have had to deal with outdoor fire issues.

At this time of the year, before the growing season generates the lush green landscape, all of the duff and dry dead vegetation from last season is prominently exposed. Residents eager to encourage this new season are doing tidy-up and this often leads them to burn the debris leftovers. A gust of wind; a distraction; some judgement lapse, and the cleanup exercise becomes a struggle to control Mother Nature's version of starting anew.

Most wildfires have human origins. Before you strike that match, not only make sure that you can control the results, but that you can burn legally. Outdoor burning requires a Burn Permit. Failure to obtain one can leave you on the hook for any damages and resulting costs. You will be amazed at the size of the bill coming from the fire department — 3 or 4 ... perhaps 5 zeros! And the court may take a kick at you as well.

For us in Presque Isle Township, obtaining a burning permit is a simple process; there is no cost; and it will ensure that conditions are safe for burning. Using the internet, go to the State of Michigan (DNR) interactive map and then click on Presque Isle County. What you see then is the status of your Burn Permit. If it says YES to "Burning Permits Issued", then you have your permit for yard rakings and brush ONLY. There is nothing to print — you are good to go. (Of course, you are still responsible for all damages resulting from the escape of the fire.) If it says NO, then any outdoor debris burning would be in violation of state law. By telephone, the burning permit hotline is 1-866-922-2876.

Yes, spring is time to do cleanup and start afresh. If you choose to burn in that process, please do so responsibly and legally. Our community is counting on you.




78. Things Not Always As They Appear

March 22, 2013

Near the end of 2012, rumors began to circulate about financial problems with the Presque Isle #2 Fire Department. At the January Board of Trustees meeting, the issue was briefly addressed in response to a comment from the audience. In the February meeting during the Correspondence section, Supervisor Koel commented on the situation and referenced a letter he had drafted for the Board to review. This letter and several related documents were included in the "Submitted Meeting Reports" that were attached to the February minutes. Although these reports were available on the board website for a few weeks, they are no longer directly accessible there. In the minutes for the March Board of Trustees meeting, the topic did not rate a full sentence. This seems to be the extent of the information publicly available.

This topic of financial issues within the Fire Department #2 is concerning. Some very strong terms have been put out there: mismanagement, repossession, warrants, misappropriation, embezzlement, malfeasance, Attorney General, & $70,000. The State Police has initiated an investigation based on a complaint received. These are definite attention-grabbers.

To date, all information has painted a very one-sided picture. This is where the caution flag must be raised — things are not always as they appear. This is not to say the information is wrong, or there is no problem — but care must be taken as to how one interprets the details. Frequently there is more to the picture. Perhaps the following points may shed some light:

There is no question that the alleged irregularities must be addressed. The citizens of this community need to be assured that our emergency services are protected and able to function at their maximum capability. If the Fire Department has violated the community trust and mishandled taxpayers' money, then the appropriate players need to answer.

There are members of the community who, in light of the information/rumors out there will say: "If it looks like a duck ..." and will lay blame accordingly. This would only serve to create another injustice. At this point, we really have very little information about the situation — and all coming from one source. To be fair, we must hear from all the players and weigh the relevant information carefully before we pass judgment individually. As to the complaint that was filed, that is in the hands of the authorities. We must have faith that they know the definition of a "duck" — and all of us keep in mind that things may not be as they appear.




77. Thanks & Best Wishes

March 10, 2013

For the past 4 years, visitors to our Township Offices have been greeted by the smiling face of the Admin Assistant, Erika Comerford. That is about to change as March 15th marks the final day for Erika in that role — she has announced her departure for a new opportunity.

Erika's presence will be missed. Perhaps the ones to feel the impact the greatest will be the Board of Trustees. Frequently she was able to make sense of the debris fields that they generated and made them look respectable. The various committees and other township personnel also counted on her to keep them on track. It is through her efforts that we have the recycling trailer program. Had Erika not done all the leg work and pushed the process, we would not be where we are now.

To Erika, the citizens of Presque Isle Township appreciate your efforts. Thank you. We wish you well.




76. Presque Isle Fire Department

January 17, 2013

In recent days, information has surfaced regarding financial difficulties at the Presque Isle Fire Department located on US 23 between Long Lake and Grand Lake. Although no specific facts have been revealed, there has been speculation as to the future of that department.

The Presque Isle Fire Department is a well equipped facility that provides emergency services to the southern portion of Presque Isle Township. Included in their coverage zone is the US 23 corridor in the Long & Grand Lakes areas, the southerly part of Grand Lake, as well as a portion of Long Lake. It is a key component in the Mutual Aid structure for Alpena and Presque Isle Counties. Crews from that department would respond to a call to our Township Offices as well as to our Treasurer's residence.

Of utmost importance in this situation is the possible impact on services and area coverage provided by this department. Residents located within the response area of should be particularly concerned. For those served by the East Grand Lake Volunteer Fire Department or other area fire station, you also should not ignore this situation. It is the Presque Isle Fire Department that serves as backup in the event of major emergencies, or multiple simultaneous incidents, or in the event that the EGLVFD be unable to adequately respond. Everything must be done to get past this bump in the road and return our township fire services to solid footing.

Since fire protection is critical to the residents of our township, our township Board of Trustees should take an active role in resolving the situation and avoid any negative impact on services. However, each fire department is a private entity and just contracts their services to the township. In light of that relationship, there are limits as to what township can do to assist the ailing fire department.

One possibility for a local solution would be for the East Grand Lake Volunteer Fire Department to step up. With Township Supervisor Koel being a member of EGLVFD, he could facilitate his department coming to the aid of a brother in distress. This would be a feather in his cap. Rather than salivate at the potential spoils, the EGLVFD family could use this opportunity to come together to preserve the safety and well-being of our community.

Emergency services are important to everyone who lives in or visits Presque Isle Township. Any loss of capability is a detriment to our lifestyle and the future of this community. We all need to pull together and work to overcome this hurdle and thus preserve the safety and security that we have come to trust.




75. Resolutions For A New Year

January 1, 2013

The ball has dropped and we are in a new year — 2013 — with abundant opportunities ahead of us. For many, thoughts of a fresh start take a step forward in the form of New Year's Resolutions. Everyone at least gives the concept a passing glance — some actually take the plunge.

For those of us in the Presque Isle Township community, there are resolutions that could be a small step towards better times. For those struggling for a starting point, perhaps the suggestions below may be just what are needed. Remember, these are just suggestions

Board of Trustees:
- Resolve to personally prepare in advance rather than play catch-up after the fact.
- Resolve to enable progress rather than hinder it.

Trustee Hart:
- Resolve to continue to seek out grants that will fund projects for the betterment of our community.
- Resolve to rely on your head and trust your gut to direct your efforts.

Trustee Morrison:
- Resolve to continue to work diligently on the development of our natural environment, and extend that effort into the all areas of township operations.
- Resolve to be more concise in idea contribution — quantity does not always translate into quality.

Clerk Paavola
- Resolve to continue to actively support and participate in community activities.
- Resolve to enhance your knowledge and skills in your township role.

Treasurer Tadajewski
- Resolve to take good care of our money, and in so doing, advance your procedures to embrace this electronic age.
- Resolve to avoid imaginary conversations with various authorities. May help to reduce the spread of self-serving rumors.

Supervisor Koel
- Resolve to lead by example.
- Resolve to follow YOUR own direction and resist special interest influence.

Presque Isle Township Citizens:
- Resolve to pay attention to local government and educate yourself as to what is actually happening.
- Resolve to attend at least one Township meeting in the coming 12 months.

Presque Isle Township Shadow:
- Resolve to raise awareness of actions and happenings pertaining to our township government.
- Resolve to encourage participation and volunteerism in activities that support this community.

Presque Isle Township is our community with generous and caring individuals. We are blessed with a history and natural wonders worthy of being shared with the world. With efforts driven by our pride, we can achieve beyond our monetary wealth. It is a new year. Resolve to make it the best possible.




74. Patrick — Thank you

November 25, 2012

November 12, 2012 saw Patrick Pokorski chair his final Board of Trustees Meeting as Township Supervisor. In the course of the evening, several members of the community recognized him for his contributions to Presque Isle Township during the past 4 years. It was emotional for those present.

Today, our parks are showpieces to the world. The fresnel lens has returned to the New Lighthouse after seemingly having been "lost" for years. Maintenance of Township properties has become a priority. Volunteerism has increased to an all-time high. The Recycling Program was embraced by the community in record time. A new State Park has been established. Numerous community projects have been completed with several more in process. The auditor says that we are in good financial shape — came in significantly under budget. Our township profile has increased dramatically. Our community is becoming a destination.

To Patrick -- all of this happened on your watch. For the past 4 years, you have been there to lead by example. Board & committee meetings ... always present. You rolled up your sleeves when there was work to be done. As Sexton, you provided service & comfort for those in a most stressful hour. Many compliments have been received on our well maintained and quaint cemetery. For community events, not only did you attend, but you actively participated. You provided escorts for Santa. The community picnics — burgers & brats on the BBQ ... your specialty. The summer science fairs. Balloon animals. You were a cheerleader — you were our ambassador. Thank you for giving your all. You have set the bar high.




73. We Begin A New Chapter

November 13, 2012

The voters have spoken and we are poised for the next chapter in the history of Presque Isle Township. The Shadow chose to stay out of all of the nonsense of the recent election — we did not want to be a part of the lies, mud-slinging, and outright meanness of a political campaign. Our philosophy has always been that voters are intelligent individuals capable of making wise choices — but we also know that these same voters can be hoodwinked by the unscrupulous. The people have spoken. Now we must move forward.

The Presque Isle Township Board of Trustees will see one new face — Brent Koel will take over as Township Supervisor. Returning are Clerk - Cynthia Paavola, Treasurer - Bette Tadajewski, Trustee - Lynn Morrison, and Trustee - Pat Hart. Newly elected Supervisor Koel is a member of the East Grand Lake Volunteer Fire Department — but beyond that is an unknown with no experience and little exposure to Township government. He is a pure rookie and will have to get on stride quickly.

With the team now in place that will guide us down the road ahead, our citizens have expectations of those who will lead. The following is addressed to that elected group:

  1. Remember that you represent all the members of this community. You do not represent yourself; you do not represent your neighbor; you do not represent your relative; you do not represent any one individual or interest group. You are your own person with a conscience and a concern for the outcome of your actions. You stand for honesty, fairness and the well-being of Presque Isle Township as a whole.
  2. You will be diligent and perform your duties to the best of your abilities. Part of that is doing your homework and being prepared for the tasks you face. In advance of meetings (and not just 5 minutes before meeting time), you will have reviewed all relative documents and done appropriate research so that the meeting can move forward productively. It is a waste of everyone's time when one is unprepared — and embarrassing for all when someone comes across as an idiot.
  3. Recent years have seen the contribution of volunteers rise dramatically. You must cultivate that resource and make those skilled, eager and generous individuals feel that their services are valued. Abusive criticism, as has been occassionally seen in the past, must not be allowed. Volunteer efforts may not be perfect, and at times you may have to bite your lip. We will all be rewarded when this resource is well managed.
  4. You will be an advocate for this township. Your voice and your actions will promote all of the good things that this community has to offer. You will go out of your way to ensure that we move out of the past and into the future and build on what we have been blessed with. Our unique historical legacy should be embraced, enhanced, and shared with the world. To do otherwise, we will stagnate and fade into oblivion.
  5. By accepting your elected status, you understand that you are on the clock 24-7. You are there to respond to your community at all times. Although it is a paid part-time position, you do not simply punch in and punch out. You are invited (actually you are expected) to attend and participate in community events and to join volunteers in tasks of community betterment. There is no better way to meet those that you represent and demonstrate your committment to the position entrusted to you.

Our citizens also have responsibilities if this new chapter is to have a successful outcome. The community is obliged to participate in their government — the casting of the ballot was only the beginning. Everyone must pay attention as time moves forward with the objective of guiding, supporting, and if necessary, criticising the elected officials. The most fundamental step is to attend the monthly meetings of the Board and its various committees. Meetings are open to the public and you are encouraged to attend. The chairs are there waiting for you. At each meeting, there is an opportunity for public comment. If you are unable to attend, minutes are published. However, those minutes are only a small capsule of what transpired, and do not necessarily reflect the background, emotions and personalities of issues. Do not abdicate your responsibilities. You are part of the picture.

The final comments here are directed to Brent, the newly elected Supervisor.
Congratulations on your accomplishment of achieving the Supervisor's chair. You have challenges ahead. Because you are the new kid with little experience to draw upon, you are vulnerable. BEWARE, for there are wolves in sheep's clothing. There will be individuals or groups that will befriend you and present convincing advice on how to proceed. They will humor you, cajole you, entice you, bribe you and even threaten you -- with the objective of having you do their bidding or to get their hand into the cookie jar. Attempts will be made to manipulate your every political move and turn you into a puppet. Do not lower yourself to travel down that road. When someone offers to assist, warning flags should pop up. The greatest risk comes from those that position themselves closest.
You have demonstrated in your personal life that you have a strong will and can take control of challenges. Please bring that strength to your role on day 1. There is a new quarterback in the game. If you are going to be in charge, then be in charge — no plays from the sidelines. The community is watching the new kid. Please do not drop the ball. We wish you well.




72. Let Us Maximize Our Opportunities

September 3, 2012

Recent news out of Alpena paints a rosy picture, should the Unmanned Vehicle Systems Center ('Drone') Project come to town. It will most definitely give a boost to Alpena, but what is in it for us here in Presque Isle Township? Well, that depends ... we can be spectators, or participants. It all depends on us.

Our community has lots to offer and you can be sure that those arriving in town will give us a look. Let us make an effort so that we provide them with something to see. We have housing that will be attractive to some. Our natural environment with its many attractions will be enticing as well. We have community spirit with many events and activities available. How can we build on what we have in order to maximize this opportunity being presented?

Firstly, we must promote this area as a place friendly toward the new arrivals. We need attractive bait on our hook -- you can be sure that other nearby places will be out there trolling as well. We know the gem we have to offer, but keeping it a secret will not lead to long term benefit. "Historic", "quaint", "secluded" and "relaxing" are features that we are proud of — but we need more than that to pay the bills.

It is time to actively move forward and promote our township not just for tourism, but to attract the anticipated new arrivals into the area. We should have a committee whose responsibility is to advise our elected officials and the community in general on ways to attract aspects of the opportunity. Can we harvest not just in accommodation and recreation, but also become hosts on the commercial side? When names such as General Dynamics and the University of Texas are in the mix, what can we offer them and the other players?

Perhaps, it should go a step further with the establishment of a Business and Economic Development wing of our township — or at least partnering with the Alpena equivalent. Here before us is an opportunity the likes of which has evaded this region for decades. We cannot let it go by without at least making an effort. When opportunity knocks, we must at least answer the door.

NOTE: To follow the Unmanned Vehicle Systems Center Project, visit the website: www.mi-uasc.com . The site is in the early development stages so there are many empty areas — but will be filling out in the near future.




71. Where Does A Chuckle Lurk?

August 19, 2012

Attendees at the August 13 Board of Trustees meeting have reported that it was one of the more "entertaining" events of the year. Yes, there were the usual important business items transacted. And yes, there were other lively tidbits in the air as politics and personalities interacted — as is all too common. However, there was a chuckle hiding in the hall that evening — waiting to be let loose.

It occurred at the point on the agenda where the Treasurer’s laptop was being discussed. Now, when you read the minutes, there is no evidence that a defining moment occurred. It all took place when "Robert & his Rules of Order" had departed the room. (a potty break perhaps?). And the 'Sanitizer of Minutes' was ready for the challenge.

The Treasurer made a motion to purchase a new laptop computer. There was a seconder. Now for the vote.
Betty: Nay ... because she did not like the negative balance in the account to be used.
Yes, you did read this correctly. Betty made the motion to purchase a computer for her direct benefit. Betty voted against her own motion. What???
Pat Hart: If Betty voted against her own motion, then I guess I will too. Nay!
'Naysayer' Betty's reaction: akin to a drop of water on a hot stove. The 'chuckle animal' was loose and in full stride! One too many nays, Betty. Your motion was about to go down!

Now remember, the vote was in progress but 'Robert' was out of the room. The Supervisor, realizing what was about to happen, then proposed that a different account be used for the laptop purchase and called the vote a second time. The nays changed to ayes and Betty's heart rate suddenly dropped back into the normal range. Whew! That was a close one!

For those who think township meetings are boring, it is unfortunate that you slept through this one. Your attendance at these meetings is crucial to ensure that the affairs of our Township are being responsibly handled. On this occasion, had your chair had been occupied, you would have discovered first hand, one place that a chuckle can lurk.




70. "Welcome to Presque Isle" Banners

August 12, 2012

Township banner

In October of 2011, Trustee Pat Hart proposed the acquisition of a quantity of promotional banners to be displayed throughout the community. This summer, that proposal become reality when 10 of the impressive 30" x 60" blue and white greetings appeared on utility poles and trees throughout the township.

Response from citizens and visitors alike have been overwhelmingly positive with the colorful banners being the talk of the town. What a great way to promote our community. The only negative has been that there are not enough of them. Be sure to pass on your comments to Pat Hart and the other members of the Board of Trustees regarding this very positive expression of pride in our community.

Acquiring the banners was the easy part — hanging them was the challenge. Not an easy task ... a lot of ups & downs and ladder slugging. Getting just the right positioning was frequently a problem, trial and error often the only way. Not fun when you are 10' off the ground on a ladder ... on a hot day. Permission was obtained to use only certain utility poles, but often the choice ones were not available due to safety restrictions. In some places, no utility poles existed.

Hopefully we will see more banners appear in the future along with them changing with the seasons. Specific credit must go to Trustee Pat Hart for her efforts seeing the project through. Photo credit goes to B. Lewis for the images used on the banners. But please do not overlook the physical efforts contributed by the members of the Presque Isle Fire Department who call home on US 23 in the southwest corner of the township.

Presque Isle Township welcomes all to visit and enjoy our community.




69. Range Light Porta-John

July 19, 2012

There has been considerable fuss of late regarding the Range Light Project and its potential impact on neighbors. In the "tweaking" of specifics, the Porta-John (which has been in place for more than a year) has become a hot potato.

The immediate neighbors of the Range Light have not been fully comfortable with the location of the Porta-John from the beginning, and have used it as a negotiating tool to modify some details of the bigger project. As a result, the Porta-John was recently moved and a mini-firestorm has erupted. There appear to be 2 separate issues at the heart.

1. Authorization for the relocation.
When you look at meeting minutes, there is minimal reference to the relocation as to process, budget, location, provider or approval. The $1000 cost (which, by the way, is only partial) was approved after the fact. The relocation exercise seems out of character for our township when you consider the usual tunnel vision when it comes to debate, site plans, estimates, approvals, etc. Jumping through hoops and clawing your way through red tape has been a way of life. Perhaps those behind the relocation felt that in order to achieve the result before many snows pass, that it was expedient to simply "do the deed". One must admit, this might actually have been a valid approach. Perhaps the greatest problem was that the Board of Trustees was less than open with citizens concerned about the relocation. If mistakes were made, then they should acknowledge that fact. If they are comfortable with the way it occurred, then openly say so. This community is quite capable of identifying a "dodge and weave". The episode has most definitely been a public relations failure.

2. Porta-John Relocation Site
The new location is about 50 feet from the original position. To many, it is actually a very good location — nicely obscured from view so that it creates minimal interference with the natural scenery. The major issue is not the new location, but the fact that a handicap accessible facility has been taken out of service — AND unnecessarily. This is not only a slap in the face for those who are in need of the facility, but it may also jeopardize the grants for the Range Light Project. As of this moment, there is approximately 60' of terrain that cannot be traversed by a disabled individual. What should have happened here was the new slab and the corresponding handicap-accessible path should have been completed prior to the Porta-John and its enclosure being actually moved. More than 2 weeks have passed with no progress on the path. In consideration of those who need it the most, the Porta-John unit should immediately be returned to the old slab until the path is completed — 2 bodies & 5 minutes is all that is needed. The public deserves better.




68. When Will We Ever Learn?

June 11, 2012

The May 14, 2012 Board of Trustees Meeting included a letter from Clayton Peters, resigning from his position on the Parks and Recreation Committee. What a loss! Was it a surprise? No!

Mr. Peters not only has been the backbone of the Parks and Recreation Committee, but also a tireless volunteer in the maintenance of our 2 lighthouse properties. It is unlikely that he (or anyone else) could count the number of proposals, estimates, reports & quotes that he has authored in their regard. Add to that the endless hours of labor invested into his pride and joy — his favorite pastime — the treasure of our community. We are indebted to him.

Our lighthouse parks are focal points within Presque Isle Township. They attract both the locals and visitors from far and wide. Everyone views them with awe and pride. It is not surprising that the entire community feels that these 2 historic landmarks truly belong us.

BUT ... when are we going to learn that everyone cannot be in charge? When are we going to learn what the process is for public input into the operation of our parks? When are we going to learn that those who are assigned the task of custodian be allowed to perform that task without interference? When will those who contribute so little, cease to be so critical of those who contribute so much? When, when, when???

The resignation of Mr. Peters was not a surprise. Previous resignations from non-elected positions have cited public interference in relation to their duties, name calling, threats and harassment. Add to that the frustrations of administrative foot-dragging, needless red tape, lack of funding and even challenges of one's integrity. Now, another casualty. And there will be more if we, as a community, do not learn and get our act together.

For all of us, let us learn what the process is. There is opportunity for our input. We have elected trustees that invite your communication. We have public information sessions open to all citizens. We have once-a-month public meetings by various committees that invite your attendance and comments. We have a Township office that provides another opportunity for your input and comments. These channels are yours and are the acceptable routes to our Township government. As for direct contact with non-elected officials and volunteers, that is hands-off. We have many within our community that give freely of their talents and time and ask only that their efforts be appreciated. They do not need or appreciate others criticising their efforts — particularly those that specialize in flapping their lips but unwilling to get off their butt.

When Will We Ever Learn?




67. A Special Place In The Heart

April 21, 2012

In everyone's life, there are certain experiences that claim a special place in one's heart. For those of us privileged to spend a chunk of our allotted lifetime here in the Presque Isle Community, there are many local triggers that set your heart aflutter, soothes your daily woes — and generates that warm and fuzzy feeling. These may be spectacular at the moment or insignificant within your day. However, when you reflect back over time, then you truly recognize what they mean to you.

As the new seasons gets underway, locals and visitors alike get a renewed opportunity to build and refresh your special bank of experiences. They are from your perspective and reflect what is meaningful to you. Perhaps the following are already in your bank.

Take time to reflect on all that our community offers. As we go about our daily routines, Mother nature provides untold offerings for us to admire. We are truly blessed.




66. Quorums, Jetties, Lenses & Phone Calls

April 2, 2012

The Minutes of the March meeting of the Parks & Rec. Committee brought to light some points that are of concern ...




65. Looking Forward (and Back A Bit)

February 8, 2012

With the new year having a firm foot-hold, (and winter NOT), we can take a glance back and then begin to look to the coming months within our community.

2011 was a rebuilding year, and did we rebuild! When you visit our lighthouse parks, admire what has been accomplished by our volunteers. With the energetic guidance of the Parks & Rec. Committee, and the support of both the Planning Commission and the Board of Trustees (except for the trustee whose favorite word is "nay"), major advances have been made — with more in store. Just note the achievements:

But look ahead. Many projects are in development with results expected in the next few months:

With signs that the darkest part of the economic problems may be behind us, 2012 holds promise. All of our efforts will support the high season and attract the tourist traffic and ultimately their dollar. We must focus on ways to keep our visitors around a few days and not allow them to just pass through. Our Township officials are very aware of this need and have identified opportunities to do just that. Behind the scenes things are happening, and in due course, announcements will be made.

Our community is very quaint and a source of pride for all of us. It is a hidden jewel and should be shared with the world. The "Pure Michigan" advertising campaign has been highly successful and has attracted many to our region. In the tourism market, it is not 'catch and release' — they are all keepers. Let us not allow them slip the hook.


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64. Failure To Issue Checks

November 30, 2011

The most recent Board of Trustees Meeting brought to light the fact that our Treasurer had failed to release an expense check for a volunteer, although the expense had been previously approved. She claimed that it was an error on her part and whined about not being allowed to make a mistake.

When one looks back in the record, it becomes evident that this was not "a" mistake, but in fact one of many similar failures to appropriately issue checks. The March 14, 2011 meeting records note that there was "discussion regarding the issuance of checks for preapproved expenditures" resulting from a situation where a vendor check was not provided as arranged. The June 14, 2010 meeting refers to a situation where the hired maintenance man's $2000 pay claim was being delayed.

Additional delay in payment incidents are also noteworthy. When Trustee Hart was appointed to the Board of Trustees, her first check was delayed because she "missed the cutoff" — nobody informed her as to the cutoff date, and nobody took the responsibility to check with her when everybody else had submitted their claims and her's was missing. For the 2009 Olde Fashioned Christmas, the township check was not issued until January, 2010 — well after the event. In 2010, the check was issued almost a month after the event, leaving the organizers to cover those expenditures from their own pockets. (Note that the 2011 check was issued in advance of the event.)

When you look at these incidents, the treasurer has played a critical role. Looking more closely, you may notice that the treasurer had opposed the underlying issues in the first place — and in some cases, her opposition was very aggressive — possibly even to excess. Perhaps the check issuing delays were just "mistakes". If you consider that as a possibility, then you must also think of other possibilities such as retaliation for not getting her way, political interference, or possibly simple incompetence. Or, perhaps this was just her way of saying: "I run this place!"

No matter how you see these incidents, this is not how our township should operate. It is time for our Treasurer to join the team!




63. Applicants For Township Committees

November 18, 2011

At the most recent Planning Commission meeting, it was announced that 2 applications had been received for vacancies on the Commission.

While it is encouraging that there is interest from the community in becoming involved, the following facts covering the past 2 years are concerning:

Yes, we need new blood. However, in the best interest of the applicant, prior attendance at various township meetings seems like not only an appropriate way to prepare for the new role, but is also a very strong indicator of their commitment level. We need responsible, creative and hard-working individuals to help shape our community. We encourage those to step forward.




62. Statue of Patrick Garrity

November 9, 2011

The wheels have been set in motion to commission a life-size statue of Patrick Garrity to be placed at the old lighthouse. Not only is this to honor the longest serving lighthouse keeper in our community, but will be a tribute to all lighthouse keepers who served along our shorelines. The target date for completion of this project is the spring of 2012.

In order to finance this project, fund raising efforts must be successful in an amount of approximately $4500. Donations are requested and can be submitted to the Presque Isle Township office and tagged for the "Statue Fundraiser".

To have Patrick Garrity as a greeter to those from far and wide, will be a major attraction. Generous compliments are in order for our Parks & Recreation Committee for their efforts. Please remember that we need your cash donation in order to make it all happen.

Click for additional information on this project.


61. Contents Of Meeting Minutes

October 25, 2011

It seems like our Board of Trustees just cannot get a handle on the "official minutes" for their meetings.

For years, accusations have been levelled that minutes have been incomplete, incorrect, skewed, — or even "cooked". At the beginning of this year, we commented more than once on the unsatisfactory state of the official minutes. Here we go again!

Take a look at the Draft minutes for the Board of Trustees meeting of October 10, 2011. Under the agenda item of Correspondence, Trustee Paavola read in its entirety, a Letter of Interest from K. Pettalia regarding a vacancy on the Parks & Rec. Committee. If you rewind to 1 month earlier, you will see that Supervisor Pokorski read a similar letter from D. Trelfa.

So, what is the problem? You will notice that in the minutes, the D. Trelfa letter was referenced only, while the K. Pettalia letter was published word for word. Is that not odd?

Should full text of a Letter of Interest be published in the meeting minutes? Most people will say not. Since the October minutes are still in their draft version at this point, the full text of the K. Pettalia letter should be removed — not simply "struck", as with routine errors or corrections, but fully purged from the final version.

But now for the more serious issue as to why the full text appeared in the draft at all. Do keep in mind that a paid office staff member generates those minutes, as is indicated at the bottom of each report. There may be no clear-cut reason for this particular incident, but perhaps there is some correlation to the concerns that have been ongoing. Following is a list options that you might consider:

In light of the concerns, some changes to the production of the minutes process should occur. This record is too important to turn over to unsupervised office staff. At a minimum, an official should vet the report and release it over his/her name. Office staff answers to the Board of Trustees and should not be placed into a circumstance of having to answer to the public. Perhaps confidence in our "official" public record can be enhanced by simply changing the name at the bottom of each set of minutes.

There is reader feedback on this item. Click Here

*** Update Nov. 23/11*** — The published letter noted above has now been removed from the "Official Minutes", and will be treated as an attachment only. The cause for the incident, however, has not been openly addressed. Hopefully, that has been done behind the scenes. If not, the monster will reappear down the road.




60. Deputy Treasurer Positions

October 17, 2011

The most recent Board of Trustees Meeting brought up an issue regarding the Deputy Treasurer's position relating to banking transactions.

It seems that the bank wanted to be very clear as to who is to have signing authority. You may think it obvious that the Treasurer would be the one — but in fact, there are 3 people in the picture. It seems that our Treasurer, Bette, thinks it appropriate to have 2 Deputy Treasurers. TWO, you say? Apparently the rules indicate that only one is permitted — so Bette wishes to use a "platooning" approach. She even brought forward a (non-agenda item) resolution regarding the matter. Fortunately Trustee Hart's strong reaction resulted in the issue being tabled.

There are many in our community that do not understand the need for a Deputy Treasurer at all, except perhaps for a couple of weeks a year. Even if you concede the need for such a position, should 1 person not be sufficient?

Well, it seems that Treasurer Bette's choice for deputy is a snowbird — and she wants to appoint a "Substitute Deputy Treasurer" for the winter months. If she wishes to protect her snowbird deputy, then she herself should fill in the gap rather than bringing another individual into the picture. If the Deputy Treasurer role is a 12 month position, then she should appoint someone who is available for 12 months.

Perhaps there is more to it than just the treasurer's workload. One has to wonder if it just a means having more friends draw from the trough. Many citizens question whether the treasurer's duties are as demanding as she says. In these tough times, we all must do more with less. However, someone is attempting to do less with more. Treasurer Bette should not only find ways to become more efficient in her duties, but also exercise good judgement by engaging a deputy capable of meeting the needs of the position.




59. Township Committee Appointments

October 10, 2011

A Reader Feedback comment recently made reference to committee appointments and term limits. This is an aspect of township administration with room for improvement.

Year-end Board meetings for the past couple of years have experienced a circus of last minute appointment & reappointments to various committees. In some cases, the trustees were unaware as to which terms were about expire, or whether the appointee actually desired the position. Additionally, there has been no clear process in place for the open solicitation of local citizens who might wish a committee appointment.

The following is a suggested process that could be used to streamline the filling of the various committees and provide the community with the sense of administrative openness and opportunity to become involved.

There have been some steps taken recently to improve the way in which committee positions are filled, but much distrust remains. Local citizens wish to see a clear-cut process that gives anyone an "honest" opportunity for a committee appointment. As it stands now, they see a closed system with a stagnant aroma. It is time to freshen up the process.




58. Recent Site News

August 12, 2011

We're back ... we think. The Shadow is now hosted on a new server — the fourth time that we have moved in the past 6 months. This game of musical chairs began early in the new year when we left our original host due to their inability to support some new features that we wished to develop. Host #2 didn't last long since they couldn't provide what they advertised. Host #3, a new hosting company, just simply disappeared one night after about a month of sluggish service. Then it was on to Host #4 — they were not able to provide the technical support needed to get a new customer off the ground ... just wanted to sell us new services without ensuring that what we had was functional. Net result: a lot of distractions, down-time & wheel-spinning. (Not uncommon in the experiences of those who pay attention to local politics!)

Now we have almost finished the move into our 5th home. The coming weeks, I am sure, will see some bumps in our road. We are back and look forward to bringing you the comings & goings of our the Presque Isle Township local government.




57. Let the 2011 Season Begin

May 24, 2011

Here we are in the days just before the Memorial Day Weekend kick-off to the Summer of 2011. The abnormally wet and cool spring, although beneficial to our vegetation and water levels, has created challenges as everyone preps for the influx of seasonal visitors. Individuals have tidied up their properties from Mother Nature's wrath, and fresh coats of paint are visible everywhere.

The Township Board of Trustees, along with the Planning Commission and Parks & Recreation, have established a well thought out direction for the public places within the township. Volunteers have worked overtime in their efforts at our lighthouses and parks. Although being forced to endure some mindless nonsense, their dedication has enabled them to "stay the course". Fresh paint, major landscape improvements, and a lot of debris cleanup will make this a more inviting and safer community as we put on our best face.

This season, our lighthouses will feature concessions operated by the local Museum Society. For the first time, ALL profits will stay in our township for public benefit. Our hats are off to the Museum Society members, and in particular Drew and Jeni Matuszak, who worked tirelessly to make it happen. We ask that you stop by and support their efforts.

As you cast off your winter cocoon, be sure to take in the enhancements already completed as well as those still in process. The spit 'n polish of the 2 lighthouses; new signs throughout the community; fresh landscaping; new and refurbished trails; Range Light additions; our cemetery; Lake Esau Park; Grand Lake Access with its breakwall project — and much, much more. This is Pure Michigan! Our thanks to those who make it all happen.


Go to Editorial Archives for July 2, 2010 to May 7, 2011

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I have no illusions of the future. Or maybe it’s all illusion. I don’t know. I’ve always been ready for it.
... Gord Downie (1964-2017)