BREAKING NEWS ...
Former Township Supervisor Dies In Fire
A house fire on US 23 just south of Grand Lake Rd. has claimed the lives of a father and son. The Saturday June 17 fire destroyed the residence and resulted in the deaths of Patrick Pokorski (62) and his son, Ross (27). Patrick's wife, Karen, was not at home at the time.
|Patrick Pokorski||Ross Pokorski|
Patrick was very active in the community and served as Presque Isle Township Supervisor from 2008 - 2012. He was very involved with the community including acting as chair of NRTH - an advisory group for the combined state parks of Negwegon, Rockport & Thompson Harbor. It was NRTH efforts that influenced the Rockport property being elevated to State Park status. He was also active with the Friends of Rockport, and Friends of Thompson Harbor groups.
Both Patrick and Ross were qualified first responders, and both were members the Presque Isle Volunteer Fire Department #2 for several years. They were well known for their community safety awareness presentations. The youth of the community was not overlooked as Patrick and Karen both actively serve as directors of the Michigan Science Olympiad — an extracurricular educational program for school children with a mission to inspire the next generation of scientists, health professionals and engineers. In recent years, he operated a school bus for the Alpena Public School District.
Fire investigators have been attending the scene to determine the circumstances surrounding the fire.
Update June 20, 2017
A Celebration of Life Ceremony for Patrick and Ross will be held on Monday June 26 at the Aplex of Alpena, 701 Woodward Avenue, Alpena at 5 pm.
Editorial Note: Donations towards funeral and other expenses will be greatly appreciated.
In The Press...
Here you will see articles that have appeared in various publications. They will be presented as published. Some editorial comments or notes may be added in the form of footnotes to clarify, correct or challenge.
Note: The oldest articles are at the bottom of this page.
40. Re-building a fire department in Presque Isle Twn.
Behind the scenes efforts have already started to re-establish a fire department in Presque Isle Township.
The City of Alpena will be instrumental in making sure that happens over the next 2-3 years.
A 3-year contract between the City and Township starts Monday. Under the terms of the agreement, City Fire Chief Bill Forbush and his staff will recruit, train and equip Presque Isle volunteers and respond to emergencies alongside them until they are able to operate independently.
The City will be paid $35,000 per year.
The first order of business is to recruit staff, including volunteer medical first responders, firefighters and people who can do both. Forbush says a couple of paramedics have already stepped forward and he hopes to have a staff of six by years end. Interested volunteers should contact Forbush at 354-1840; or through email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Volunteers do not have to live within the township and can be as far 5-10 miles from the township line.
As for equipment, Forbush said he will work with the township to first secure a pumper tanker truck. He said the township will use an older model ambulance from the city. Township officials are currently working on the fire house to make sure it is in good condition.
The township’s previous private, non-profit department closed in 2013 following financial difficulties and alleged mismanagement.
For the original article, go to True North Radio Network Online
39. Alpena Fire to Provide Services to Presque Isle Fire Department
Alpena City Council members recently approved of an agreement to establish a governmental operated fire department in Presque Isle Township.
The township requested help to re-establish the Presque Isle II Department to serve the west side of their township after a private, nonprofit department closed as the result of financial difficulties in 2013. Presque Isle Township contracted with Alpena Township to provide temporary emergency services from their north station in exchange for seven thousand dollars ($7,000.00) a month.
Looking for a more permanent solution, the three year agreement between Presque Isle Township and the City of Alpena will result in a transition to a Presque Isle Township owned, governmental volunteer fire department.
Presque Isle Township will cover all costs associated with rebuilding the department and pay the City a management fee of 35 thousand dollars ($35,000) per year. That will cover associated costs so city taxpayers are not subsidizing the effort, but also leave enough funding for Presque Isle to purchase equipment and cover expenses.
Presque Isle Township has approved the agreement after legal and insurance provider reviews, which were also approved by the City Attorney, insurance carrier and firefighter union.
The final step is Presque Isle Township giving Alpena Township a 60 day notice to end their agreement, as the city would recruit volunteers, implement training, organize paperwork or other requirements and officially begin operations when practical to do so.
For the original article, go to WATZ North Country News Online
38. Question about what happens to fire district
In Response to Mike Fox."PI Township board responsible for fire mess."
Mr. Fox, if you are Mr. Fox, as you sound so much like a woman most of us know.1
- You are right the township supervisor should not be a member of the Fire Dept. Thankfully the Supervisor we have now is not currently acting on a fire dept.2 The Former Supervisor was not only the supervisor but on the fire dept. in question,on the board of directors, Asst.Chief, self appointed acting Chief, self appt. Treasure and acting fire responder.
- It is Totally up to the fire dept. if they want to be Township or a non profit 501(c)3.
- If you went to meetings and listened, you would know the response time we have under the current protection is well with in range of 10 min.3 They are not volunteers.
- We are worried about our insurance ratings which is why we want a Fire Dept.4 We would love to run our own Fire Dept. (Certainly could not for $7,000, under the last directorship the Dept. went belly up on $142,000) The corporation we had as a fire department took it away from us, sold the equipment out from under us and is letting the building deteriorate.5
- The township does take this issue very seriously.
If you want to move, so be it but chances are you are now living with in the area of an acting fire Department and Not in the area with out.
1What kind of a shot is this? Author's credibility goes out the window before she even gets started.
2The current Supervisor was with the East Grand Lake Volunteer Fire Department when this fiasco unravelled and although claiming to having stepped aside, is still wearing the EGLVFD uniform and responding to calls. His actions have placed his own department under scrutiny and actually jeopardized its future. He is now a liability to EGLVFD.
3If you went to meetings and listened (and used your head), you would realize that your claims cannot be true. Do the math. Response time cannot be "well with in range of 10 min" for most of the district — unless Dale Earnhardt is at the wheel. Also, Alpena Township Fire Department has 6 full-time staff (spread over 7 days and 2+ fire stations) — the majority are volunteers. Arguments here are typical of the self-serving "truths" that you and others have spread.
4Obviously you are convinced that those who determine our ratings will view the current situation as inferior to the previous, which it is.
5This statement is irrelevant. Your $7,000 & $142,000 in the same sentence are apples vs. oranges. The contract was not renewed — and both sides were in agreement on this. Nothing was "taken away" — to be accurate, the Fire Department was "chased away". It is too early to say that the building is being allowed to deteriorate. What is it to you anyway? You (and this community) have no claim to any of the Fire Department assets.
37. Question about what happens to fire district
As a member of the committee seeking restoration of emergency services to Presque Isle Township Fire District #2 I have a question for the Board of Directors of Presque Isle Fire Department. What is your exit strategy or how do you see the end of this game playing out?
If you think refusing to be accountable or hiding under your cloak of silence is endearing yourself to the community you were entrusted to serve you are gravely mistaken1.
One of the benefits of circulating the petition for dissolution of your corporation was to actually take the pulse of of the community and see where our sentiments lie. Two things became perfectly clear: 1. The present Board of Directors of PIFD have wore out their welcome in this district, and; 2. This district will not tolerate another corporation controlled emergency services facility2.
That brings us to our present standoff.
A typical act of piracy involves a ransom demand. We have not heard of any demands, in fact, we have not heard anything at all. With no demands or offers of resolution forthcoming we can only conject this is some sort of vicious game of political spite and malice3. That being said, Presque Isle Fire Department, you lose.
At present Presque Isle Township Fire District #2 has excellent emergency service, thanks to a contract with Alpena Township and mutual aid from surrounding Departments4. What has suffered is the reputation of the officers of the Department. Their legacy will be the organization that brought down a 44 year old community institution5.
If the Presque Isle Fire Department has a magic wand, now might be the time to wave it.
1The Fire Department has not been silent. They appeared at a public meeting this past May and stated their case. Their arguments and explanations were rejected outright; they were shouted down; were accused of being liars and thieves; subjected to verbal assault; and treated with gross disrespect. A portion of those present were there not to listen, but to abuse. At that point, it was over. No need to go any further — and understandably, they have not.
2You are "tolerating" East Grand Lake Volunteer Fire Department??? Turn on them as you did with FD #2, and they too will be gone in a heartbeat.
3Since it is not piracy, then your other option must be correct. You are admitting that this has been a game. For the aware, that has been obvious for more than a year. Take a good look at FD #2's opponents and determine their role in all of this. Start with the mirror.
4Emergency responders are now almost 10 miles further away — the quality of service is not what it was. Mutual aid has always existed for backup purposes — and never intended as a primary service.
5Please give credit where credit is due — achieved "with a little bit of help from my friends" (be sure that you sing along to show your enthusiasum for a job well done).
For 44 years, the Township (you) contracted with a private corporation for emergency services — and you accepted that arrangement. This is the same manner that one would do business with a plumber. You give him money ... he provides a service. You stop paying the plumber, he stops providing the service. When the plumber ceases to work for you, your relationship with him ends and you have no claim on his assets or his future — he owes you nothing. Stop whining. Move forward and build anew.
36. Committee seeks answers about fire department
Regarding the demise of Presque Isle Fire Department No. 2, concerned citizens of the district affected have formed an ad hoc committee to determine what legal recourse can be pursued to protect the remaining assets (building and equipment) for the benefit of the citizens of Presque Isle Township. This committee approached the Presque Isle Township Board to request a comparatively small sum of money to consult an outside attorney regarding this matter and was understandably approved by a 4-1 vote of the Board.
The actions of Mr. Pokorski and others channeled through their "non-profit" corporation have led to numerous federal, state, and private bank liens and notices of foreclosure and/or repossession to be placed on Fire Department assets1, despite the Department being funded to the tune of at least $142,000/yr by Presque Isle Township. In addition, fire and safety equipment were operating for some time without insurance coverage and even phone and electricity bills were not being paid2.
Mr. Pokorski's "non-profit" corporation hired him in 2010 as "Fire Administrator" and was paid $40.000, while neighboring departments were paying full time personnel $13.65 per hour. At least five members quit the department due to mismanagement in 2011, however Mr. Pokorski's compensation jumped to an astonishing $53,000 by 20133.
Our committee exists for the reestablishment of a functioning fire department for the citizens of District No. 2 that are the true victims of this travesty. Ms. Paltelky and other Pokorski apologists who have encouraged turning a "blind eye" to Mr. Pokorski's own admission that there was a $70,000 embezzlement4 within his "non-profit" would do well to "get the true facts" for themselves5.
1Some of these obligations occurred prior to Mr Pokorski becoming the department administrator. Other issues arose only after the Township failed to make payment in the usual manner for contracted fire services.
2This occurred only after the Township interrupted the Fire Department's cash flow. They were not operating illegally in light of this.
3Amounts are in dispute. Mr Pokorski did not receive the amounts indicated.
4The embezzlement occurred prior to Mr Pokorski becoming the department administrator. In an effort to keep complicit individuals out of jail, he opted to work through the issue internally. A conviction may not have been possible or affordable. Unfortunately, this left him vulnerable to his adversaries — leading to where we are now.
5We do not know what the "true facts" are here. Many of the so-called facts are "he said" - "she said" items. People have chosen what they wish to call facts and repeat them until they become "facts" whether they are true or not.
Since Mr. Pokorski's name has been mentioned several times, the above letter must be construed as a personal attack on the individual. Please keep that in mind. As to the underlying crisis, it should be noted that the majority of the critical information out there has been channelled through a single source, the Township Supervisor. He has been a political foe of Mr. Pokorski for some time and has had personal clashes with Mr Pokorski on numerous occasions — even on emergency fire scenes. Also, Mr Koel is a member of the East Grand Lake Volunteer Fire Department, which has feuded with Fire Department #2 for years. It is not unreasonable for a fair and informed observer to conclude the following:
• not all the facts are on the table
• some untruths have now become "facts"
• what has been presented has been colored by its origin
• that this issue has turned "very personal" — and innocent local citizens are paying the price.
35. PI township board responsible for fire mess
I personal Hold the Presque Isle Township board accountable for what's going on the Presque Isle Township fire services.
- The township supervisor should not a member of fire department. It's a conflict of interest.
- The both fire departments should be township fire department and not a nonprofit 501(c)3.
- Why isn't the Township or it citizens worried about fire and EMS response times?
Why aren't township or it citizens worried about ISO insurance ratings?
I am seriously thinking of sale my house in Presque Isle Township because the Township board dose not take this issue seriously.
Why is the Presque Isle Township board paying $7,000 a month to Alpena Township, When we can run our owe fire departments on that money?
34. Alpena Township Working on Contract for PI FD II
The Alpena Township Fire Department has been providing emergency service for the Presque Isle II Fire Department since that department folded because of funding issues. East Grand Lake and Maple Ridge Fire Departments were also available if needed.
Now that the Presque Isle II Department coverage area has been handed over to Alpena Township, Township Supervisor, Marie Twite is developing a contract for services Alpena Township provides, she is also hoping the Presque Isle station will once again be operational.
Twite is sympathetic to the situation, saying, "It's not fair for the folks that live there, they're paying for a service that's not there." But, she adds, "It's not fair to Alpena Township to cover costs outside of the Township area." The contract Twite is working on is intended to cover costs of responding on Presque Isles behalf. The coverage includes the north end of Long Lake and the south end of Grand Lake areas.
One of the fire fighters in attendance said that during Presque Isle's state of transition, Alpena Township will respond and will help out. He added, that for many years Presque Isle helped out Alpena Township when ever necessary.
It was noted that while the township will be available, there needs to be an end plan in place.
For the original article, go to WATZ North Country News Online
33. Lighthouse Keeper Sculpture To Be Unveiled
A metal sculpture paying homage to one of the two women in Michigan's history who served the longest amount of time as lighthouse keepers will be dedicated Saturday at 11 a.m. in Presque Isle.
The sculpture, created by Cheboygan artist Dawn Barr, memorializes Anna T. Garrity and is situated at the entrance to the Presque Isle Range Light Park on E. Grand Lake Road.
This old photograph depicting Anna T. Garrity was used by sculptor Dawn Barr of Cheboygan in creating a lifesize sculpture that mark’s Anna’s 23 years of service as a lighthouse keeper in Presque Isle.
Anna was born March 29, 1872 to a family of lighthouse keepers who spent their lives within the solitude of the guiding towers. The daughter of Patrick Garrity, Sr. and Mary (Chambers) Garrity of Presque Isle, she served as keeper of the Presque Isle Range Light for 23 years from 1903 to 1926.
She and her parents, along with her siblings, lived first at the 1840 Old Lighthouse and then at the 1870 New Lighthouse. Most, if not all, of the family served as keepers during their lifetime, but it is Anna who is most remembered because of the longevity of her service.
"At the age of 31, from the front porch of the Range Light cottage, Anna would walk along wooden boards to each tower as it was her responsibility to make sure that the towers' oil lanterns remained lit to navigate the vessels as they pulled into port ready to load," said Debbie Trelfa, who spent a year doing research on the Garrity family in anticipation of a sculpture being commissioned
According to U.S. Coast Guard information obtained by Trelfa, Anna was one of 27 women who served as lighthouse keepers for the State of Michigan. Julia Toby Brawn of Bay City was the only other woman among them who stayed on the job for as long as Anna did.
Trelfa was inspired to work on the sculpture project after having volunteered at the lighthouse parks alongside Presque Isle Township maintenance personnel Clayton Peters and Gene Campbell, as well as many other volunteers.
"I spent a lot of time on the lighthouse grounds," she said. "Their dedication and passion to keep these vital landmark structures and grounds preserved and pristine soon also impressed upon me their importance. Not only was the work being done for the visitors, but also because of the history they represent for our area."
Over time, Trelfa met many visitors who came to snap photographs of the lighthouse and the keeper's home. She noticed that often these visitors did not spend much time pouring over old photos of the people such as Anna who kept the lighthouses operational.
"Photo albums would lie on the table or shelves waiting for someone to glance through to see what life was like then," Trelfa said. "It was hard to see that the lives that kept the towers maintained and operational, and kept the many seamen safe, seemed to be of less importance and unknown like the unknown or forgotten soldier."
As she flipped through the albums, Trelfa recognized how difficult life was for them, but also how dedicated they were.
"Being a keeper was not just a job; they had a passion for it and gave their heart and soul," she said.
Trelfa, along with Kathy Dean, was inspired to pursue the possibility of commissioned statue. She contacted Moran Iron Works of Onaway, which immediately recommended Dawn Barr as an artist whose large-scale works are displayed at the Besser Museum in Alpena and the Bradley Museum in Rogers City.
Anna was not the first commissioned sculpture related to the lighthouses, however. That honor belonged to Anna's father, Patrick, who served the longest in Presque Isle. Barr made a life size statue of him that now proudly stands at the entrance to the grounds of the 1840 Old Presque Isle Lighthouse. Each year visitors take hundreds of photos with the sculpture.
"Shortly after that one was completed I thought, what about the women keepers?" Trelfa said. "They deserve recognition as well. They too were hard-working and dedicated. To be named a keeper back then was a great achievement."
Trelfa contacted Barr again, who agreed to "make this one for the ladies." The project, like the previous one, gained the support of township officials and committee members.
Barr worked on this second sculpture from October 2012 to June 2013, putting in approximately 250 hours of welding, molding and shaping large pieces of steel. She paid particular attention to small details taken off an old photograph of Anna.
The sculpture of Anna, constructed of stainless steel and mild steel, now weighs approximately three to four hundred pounds. The funding for it also was the result of the combined efforts of local citizens working together. They donated items that were sold during a community wide garage sale in Presque Isle County. Monetary gifts also were given so that the total cost of the sculpture was covered within a month's time.
"I was so touched by how a few people pulled together without hesitancy to raise the money needed," Trelfa said. "That once again showed me the importance of history, whether it be in your backyard or elsewhere. People do care."
A plaque also is being placed alongside the sculpture of Anna. It will mark her service and that of all the women who served on the coastline of the Great Lakes.
The dedication and unveiling ceremony on Saturday will be followed by the annual Presque Isle Labor Day Picnic that is slated from noon to 2 p.m. at Garrity Hall, located at the New Presque Isle Lighthouse. The public is welcome.
For the original article, go to The Alpena News — Lifestyles
32. Controversy Over Presque Isle II Fire Response Area
Alpena Township Fire Department with assistance of East Grand Lake and if necessary Maple Ridge Fire are all currently providing emergency medical and fire response to part of Presque Isle Township on behalf of the Presque Isle II Fire Department.
According to Pat Pokorski, Presque Isle Township through separate millages contracts with and pays Presque Isle II and East Grand Lake Fire for services. Presque Isle II is a non profit organization and recently reorganized with a board of directors. It staffed the department with a full time administrator, having provided fire and medical response services for over 40 years.
Money received from Presque Isle Township was earmarked for operational costs and to cover loans on equipment, but Pokorski says payments were cut off and the department started to default on truck payments despite continuing to provide service.
While funding was released, additional demands were imposed and 2 state investigations showed no improper actions by the department or its board.
Pokorski says because of the inability of Presque Isle Township to honor their previous contract, the fire department board will not sign a new contract with the Township at this time.
Presque Isle Township Supervisor Brent Koel (cale) says his township did not withhold money and has paid all due but has not signed a new contract, feeling there were irregularities and potential misspending of funds. He also explained bills and liability insurance has not been paid. "As a new supervisor, I am not part of the past and I am trying to be a part of the future. But it is not in the best interest of Presque Isle Township to enter into a contract with so many unknowns," he said.
Alpena Township Supervisor Marie Twite says that she had been asked by Koel for her department to provide service in the Presque Isle II area, basically along the West side of Grand Lake. Initially, that will be in the form of a mutual aid agreement as a short term solution, but not for a long term.
She indicated she can't allow Alpena Township resources to be expended unless offered a contract or some sort of agreement to provide coverage. She also explained that she has worked out a budget and will seek assistance from people in the service area to operate under Alpena Township direction to provide service if an agreement is approved by the 2 township boards.
Koel says he has no authority to demand records or equipment from Presque Isle Fire as they are a private entity and have purchased those items, but hoped equipment would be turned over for local use.
For the original article, go to www.watz.com
31. P.I. Township Fire Dept. Relationship Goes Up In Flames
The Presque Isle Township District No. 2 Fire Department has stopped operating and owes the IRS for unpaid payroll taxes.
Patrick Pokorski, a former township supervisor and administrator of the privately-owned fire department said in a press release the unit was having problems paying bills because the township was not upholding its end of a contract for fire services.
"That is very false", says Presque Isle Township Supervisor Brent Koel. "They are under an IRS levy for wage taxes, do not have workmen’s comp, and have no insurance of any kind on their firefighting equipment."
Koel told True North Radio that it’s a matter of public record that between July of 2012 and June of this year the department was paid in full for all services rendered, totaling approximately $142,000.
A special meeting was held last Monday at which time the relationship between the township and the fire department was dissolved. In the meantime, Alpena’s Maple Ridge and Northside departments along with East Grand Lake are covering fire duties for the township.
Taxpayer money paid for all the equipment owned by Pokorski’s fire department.
No stranger to the hot seat, Pokorski survived a recall effort in 2010 amid allegations of misconduct in office following a tree harvesting incident on the historic Presque Isle County Lighthouse property.
The fire department consists of three people. In addition to Pokorski, that includes his son Ross and Shirley Hart of Alpena.
For the original article, go to www.truenorthradionetwork.com
30. Rockport Grand Opening In The Works
ROCKPORT - A group of supporters of the newly designated state recreation area and the Department of Natural Resources are planning a grand opening for the reinvention of the former Rockport Property.
Members of Friends of Rockport/Besser Natural Area have planned a celebration of the creation of Rockport State Recreation Area by the DNR, starting with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday morning. On Saturday, the friends group will join the DNR and other organizations to host a grand opening celebration ...
For the complete article, go to The Alpena News
29. Paying tribute To Lighthouse Keepers
A life-sized statue in the likeness of former lighthouse keeper Patrick Garrity Sr. donned in a historically accurate uniform will be unveiled Saturday at 12:30 p.m. Garrity’s statue will stand to the left of at the turnstile at the entrance of the 1840 Old Presque Isle Lighthouse to greet each and every visitor just as in years past. His grandson John Garrity will be attending.
The event is from noon to 2 p.m. as organizers wants people to visit the lighthouses, museums, or even hike the trails while on the peninsula. The project was the inspiration of Presque Isle resident Debbie Trelfa, who didn’t believe enough was being done to recognize their service. Trelfa and a couple members of the Presque Isle Township’s recreation committee were working together on the adopt-a-plot project at the Old Presque Isle Lighthouse, and while there, Trelfa commented to another volunteer that, "everything is about the lighthouses. What about the keepers? The keepers made the lighthouses. We got to thinking and came up with the idea."
Moran Iron Works founder and owner Tom Moran was contacted and gave them the name of Dawn Barr, who was commissioned to create metal sculptures at the Presque Isle County Historical Museum in Rogers City. With the blessing and support of the township board, Barr was commissioned to create the likeness of Garrity for approximately $4,500. The project is partly funded by the Community Foundation for Northeast Michigan, along with area businesses, citizens, Presque Isle Men’s and Women’s Club and funds from the township.
Supervisor Patrick Pokorski said the support of the community has been tremendous. "It’s projects like this that are community builders," said Pokorski. Appointed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1861, Garrity along with his family resided at the 1840 lighthouse from 1861 to 1871. After the decommission of the 1840 light, he and his family then operated the 1870 New Presque Isle Lighthouse and served from 1871 to 1913. Two of his children, Patrick Garrity Jr. and daughter Anna, followed in their father’s footsteps.
Anna served at the Presque Isle Range Light and became the first female appointed keeper on the Great lakes. A total years combined with the Garrity family was 75 years.
28. Sculpture To Honor Lighthouse Keepers
PRESQUE ISLE - A sculpture honoring the keepers of the Old Presque Isle Lighthouse soon will be unveiled to the public.
The unveiling is set for June 23 from 12-2 p.m., Debbie Trelfa, ad hoc member of the Presque Isle Township Parks and Recreation Committee, said. It will take place at the Old Presque Isle Lighthouse park ...
For the complete article, go to The Alpena News
27. PI Remembering Its Lighthouse Keepers
Lighthouse keepers are the sentinels upon whom the captains rely when darkness covers all, to guide them safely through. Though some may have lived lonely lives, their service has saved an untold number of lives. Our lighthouses are the pillars safely standing on land and our waterways. Lighthouse keepers, men and women who have given and given without asking for anything in return, guiding vessels and saving lives.
The citizens of Presque Isle Township with the support of their Township Councilmen and Committees are paying "Tribute to All Lighthouse Keepers". Placement of a life size statue constructed of various metals of Patrick Garrity Sr. will be placed at the Presque Isle Township 1840 "Old" Lighthouse Park, in Presque Isle.
Appointed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1861 Patrick Garrity Sr. along with his family resided at the 1840 Lighthouse from 1861 to 1871. After the decommission of the 1840 Lighthouse by the coast guard he and his family then operated the 1870 "New Lighthouse" of Presque Isle and served there from 1871 to 1913. Two of his children, Patrick Garrity Jr. and daughter Anna, followed in their father's footsteps serving as keepers in Presque Isle. Daughter Anna served at the Presque Isle Range Light becoming the first female appointed Keeper on the Great Lakes. A total years combined within the Garrity family was 65 years.
This project is partly funded by the Community Foundation for Northeast Michigan, donations from area businesses, citizens, clubs and Presque Isle Township. Placement of statue is expected in June 2012.
26. Olde Fashioned Christmas at Presque Isle returns Saturday
Rogers City is known for putting on the popular Nautical Festival every year. Posen has the Potato Festival and Onaway has the "greatest Fourth in the North." County residents have come to associate each event with the host town. And now the same can be said for the Olde Fashioned Community Christmas in Presque Isle. Just as Presque Isle spans a large geographic area, so does this two-day holiday event. There’s a visit from Santa, horse-drawn sleigh rides around New Presque Isle Lighthouse and the 1905 keeper’s house, hot cider and cocoa, the sound of bells and Christmas carols, ice skating, soup, chili, kids activities and stories. There’s something for all ages. New this year is the "Kids’ Korner" at the Presque Isle Harbor Association Clubhouse (PIHAC).
"Children will be able to come in and buy gifts for family," said Sharon Jacobs, Presque Isle Women’s Club president. There will be socks to buy for dad, jewelry for mom and toys for siblings and all at kid friendly prices. "Everything is free," said Jacobs. Plus, there will be free gift wrapping. It will be only for the children, because organizers want the adults to stroll over to the PIHAC gymnasium to browse and shop the arts and crafts vendors.
"We have 32 and we are maxed out," said Jacobs. The arts and crafts are both days; however, the Kids’ Korner is Saturday only. It’s been a lot of work for the volunteers, but there’s been a tremendous amount of community support from locals and companies alike in bringing everything together. The only thing that hasn’t cooperated is the snow, which will cancel the ice skating and snowman building.
The popular sleigh rides will be a go come snow or rain and will be from noon to 4 p.m. on both days. There will be a children’s choir performing at New Lighthouse Park’s Garrity Hall from 12:30 to 1 p.m. Santa will be on hand from 1:15 to 4 p.m. The 1905 keeper’s house will be historically decorated and open both days. At 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday, Frosty’s birthday will be celebrated at the Grand Lake library.
Lake Community Chapel handbell choir performs at 2 p.m. and is followed by the New Day Singers at 2:30 p.m. for an hour of Christmas songs. On Sunday, the Bifocal Brass, consisting of local musicians, performs at Garrity Hall from 2 to 3 p.m.
The East Grand Lake Fire Department has a chili lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Chili and hot dogs will be served with a freewill donation being asked. The Presque Isle Fire Department hoped to have an ice skating rink both days, but will instead have children’s activities on both days from noon to 4 p.m. Additionally, the holiday movie "Annabelle’s Wish" will be shown at 12:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. at the Presque Isle Township Hall. Santa will be available for pictures on Sunday only. Organizers also are gathering nonperishable grocery items. There will be drop boxes at all locations.
... End of News Story ...
25. Annual Wooden Boat Show This Weekend
PRESQUE ISLE - The distinctly throaty sound of the antique wooden boat engine will echo throughout Presque Isle Harbor this weekend during the 19th annual wooden boat show. Authentic and restored boats ...
For the complete article, go to The Alpena News
24. A Lighthouse Partnership
PRESQUE ISLE - Presque Isle Township officials and the Presque Isle Museum Society signified their partnership in working with the lighthouse parks by joining together for a ribbon cutting ceremony Thursday. Members of the township and society board mingled ...
For the complete article, go to The Alpena News
23. Partnership To Help Lighthouses
PRESQUE ISLE - Presque Isle Township will work with the Presque Isle Museum Society to restore the township's lighthouses to their original historical splendor. The township asked the society if it would take over the business of running the museums and gift shops ...
For the complete article, go to The Alpena News
22. Naysayers Need To Change, Be Supportive
Cold months of winter are behind us, we come out of hibernation with the anticipation of warmer weather, gathering to do improvements that are well deserved around our homes, neighborhoods, city and community.
Volunteers gather together in numbers for direction from their Township leaders and Committee Members of Presque Isle. With positive attitudes, eagerness and strong support for our Township Leaders, many deserving improvements were planned and started. Unfortunately there are some that will do or say anything to hinder positive things. Our township held strong in support of the Supervisor, Patrick Pokorski and continue to do so.
Improvements being done and include, both the 1870 and 1840 Lighthouse Parks receiving a fresh coat of paint, a board walk bridge, a groomed trail to the shoreline of Lake Huron, Adopt-A-Plot Beautification Project at the 1840 Lighthouse, Presque Isle Township Cemetery, which is receiving a new entrance drive, thanks to Presque Isle Harbor Association. Plans for The Range Light Park are being developed to enjoy the beauty of Presque Isle Harbor and Lake Huron. An improvement at the boat launch located south of Grand Lake is under way and the 4th of July fireworks. These plans are being discussed/done for everyone to enjoy, not just the residents of Presque Isle.
I've lived. raised my family in Presque Isle for 18 years, volunteered in Presque Isle Township for six years, have met, worked with, many gracious neighbors, citizens and visitors during many hours of volunteering. It is amazing to see those joined together in two years to bring Presque Isle back to what it deserves. With community input, support, we step forward in leaps and bounds.
Encourage new ideas. Be supportive, open minded. One's ideas may be a great one.
Here are the 'facts'. I salute volunteers everywhere.
21. East Grand Lake FD To Receive New Fire Truck
PRESQUE ISLE TOWNSHIP - The East Grand Lake Fire Department will get a new fire truck this fall thanks to a grant from the Department of Homeland Security Assistance to Firefighters. The department was awarded $243,960 in vehicle acquisition dollars.
Grant author Paul Fournier is a firefighter, EMT and the president of the organization. He said because one of the station's trucks does not meet the National Fire Protection Agency's standards for safety, the station was in need of a new truck. High emission levels and open cab passenger seating in the 1986 truck were deemed unsafe by the NFPA, and the new truck will come with upgrades as well as more storage.
"On the new truck, it might have a main pump with a 1,000-gallon tank with a 1,200-gallon-per-minute pump and a lot more cabinet space for tool storage", Fournier said.
Getting a vehicle with more storage space was high on the department's list of priorities.
"All of our storage is full, and there's no room to carry equipment. The other truck will have more room for hoses," a lighting generator, saws, hand tools, axes and forcible entry tools", Fournier said.
The new truck also will feature more air bags and will be harder to roll over.
"It's going to be a big benefit to people of the township", Fournier said.
The truck is an initial attack truck meant to carry two firefighters to the scene of an emergency and will be followed by a tanker, which carries six personnel.
The department will provide a 5 percent match in funding for the new truck, which will take seven-eight months to be built, Fournier said.
Assistant Chief Joe Slaught said the station keeps a truck replacement fund and has been adding to it in anticipation of needing a new truck for five-10 years. Even so, the fund is not enough to replace a vehicle on its own.
"Without getting a grant, we would of had to live with an older truck or buy a used truck", Fournier said.
The old truck will be sold but not for emergency purposes. Slaught said the next major grant for which the station will apply will be for equipment like air compressors to fill air tanks or a building grant.
Erika Fifelski can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 358-5688..
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20. Olde Fashioned Community Christmas Exceeds Expectations
| MANY VISITORS to New Presque Isle Lighthouse Park enjoyed horse-drawn wagon rides around the lighthouse. It was a little cold, but the beautiful scenery easily made up for the minor inconvenience. Besides, the rides didn't last that long and hot chocolate was never far away. (Photo by Peter Jakey)
The 3rd annual Olde Fashioned Community Christmas in Presque Isle far exceeded expectations. Building on the success of the first two years, which centered around horse drawn rides around New Presque Isle Lighthouse Park and a trip back in time to see what Christmas was like in 1905, activities were dramatically expanded throughout the township this year.
Children played a live version of Candy Land, people enjoyed soups and chilies until every spoonful was gone, and if the New Day Singers at the Grand Lake Community Chapel didn't get you into the holiday spirit, then not much will. "It was a lot of work, but I do think it paid off," said Sharon Jacobs, chairman of the Olde Fashioned Christmas committee. "Overall, I thought it was very successful. "We will have a meeting to go over all of our thoughts, to see if there are areas where we can improve."
One area that will probably be talked about is the need for more space. Jacobs said there wasn't enough room for Candy Land at the Presque Isle Harbor Association, nor for the visits with Santa. "We need more room," said Jacobs. The same deduction was being reached on Sunday at the arts and crafts holiday bazaar. "The arts and crafts show was a huge success," said Sharon Paltelky. "We received several comments about the high quality of items that were for sale. It was so successful, we're moving it to the association clubhouse, so we can have more." Paltelky said they had to turn away three or four vendors because there wasn't enough room.
"We had an excellent turnout," said Jacobs. Numbers for all the events were not available; however there were about 250 people at the chili cook-off at the East Grand Lake Fire Department's and enough food to feed 350 at the soup and salad luncheon. Additionally, Skippy and Dave's Rock & Roll Christmas performed before a packed room at the Presque Isle District Library. Township supervisor Patrick Pokorski said, "All I wanted was for community to come together, and for people to see what we have. Exactly what I was hoping for happened."
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19. 'Olde' Fashioned Christmas
PRESQUE ISLE — The citizens, businesses and government officials in Presque Isle Township take great pride in spreading Christmas cheer and promoting holiday spirit.
This past weekend in the township, visitors from all over the state gathered to celebrate the third annual Olde Fashioned Christmas.
The event was spread over six strategic locations in Presque Isle, each hosting events people of all ages enjoyed. The highlight of the weekend was the arrival of Santa Claus to the Presque Isle Harbor Clubhouse on Saturday, where Mrs. Claus patiently awaited his appearance.
Presque Isle Township Trustee Pat Hart said the event continues to grow, and thanks to all the public support, provides friends and families a place to celebrate the Christmas holiday with the entire community.
"This is wonderful, because this event started with the Woman's League and now it involves the entire township," Hart said. "It allows folks a place to bring their children and grandchildren to plat and interact with other children and grandchildren."
While Santa was posing for pictures with the kids, Mrs. Claus was busy reading the children Dr. Seuss's The Grinch that Stole Christmas, while members of the community acted out the story in costume. Mrs. Claus, who was played by Marilyn Kettler, said events such as the Christmas celebration go along way to pulling the community together.
"We have a very large sense of community and togetherness, especially when it comes together for something as special as this. We are all on the same page as far as knowing the importance of building a strong community. Seeing the participation from everyone to get this organized, and then to see the appreciation from those who attend, makes it all worth it."
After the children visited with the Clauses, they took turns playing the popular game Candy Land. What made playing the game so unique though was that it life-size.
Hillman resident Nicole Klein said her son Sydney was looking forward to giving Santa his Christmas list, then take part in the other activities.
"All the kids really seem to like it," Klein said. "Sydney couldn't wait to see Santa and then do the other things."
Hart said there is a lot of focus on the children, but that there were other things happening, such as a chili cook-off and an arts and crafts show that would be appealing to adults. She said the event has really taken off since its inception. She said the State of Michigan even helped to promote the weekend.
"The children's events are always very popular, but so are the sleigh rides and the lighthouse tours," Hart said. "The entire event has really expanded. We even got some advertising from Pure Michigan on the other side of the state. I really don't think there is another event quite like it in the state."
Steve Schulwitz can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5689.
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18. Celebrating The Old-Fashioned Way
The third annual Old-Fashioned Community Christmas unfolds this Saturday and Sunday in Presque Isle, with a variety of activities planned for all ages. Included on the schedule are the following:
- Arts & Crafts Holiday Bazaar - Saturday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. and Sunday from noon-4 p.m. at the Presque Isle Township Hall, 12653 E. Grand Lake Rd.
- E. Grand Lake Fire Dept. Open House and Chili Cook-off - Sunday from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. at the fire department, 8954 E. Grand Lake Rd. Firemen will compete in the cook-off, with the public voting for the winner. Chili and hotdogs will be served by free-will donation.
- Soup & Salad Luncheon - Saturday from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. at Grand Lake Community Chapel, 8025 E. Grand Lake Rd. The Grand Lake Community Bell Choir will perform from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. and the New Day Singers from 2-3 p.m.
- Skippy & Dave's Rock 'n' Roll Christmas musical puppet show - Saturday from 11 a.m.-noon and 1:30-2:30 p.m., Presque Isle District Library, 18132 Lake Esau Highway.
- Children's Activities - Saturday from 3-5 p.m. at Presque Isle Harbor Association, 6424 Kauffman Rd. There will be life-size Candyland game, stories with Mrs. Claus, popcorn and Santa arriving at 3:30 p.m. on the fire truck.
- Christmas at the Lighthouse Park - Saturday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. and Sunday from noon-4 p.m. at the New Lighthouse Park, 4500 E. Grand Lake Rd. The 1905 Keepers House will be historically decorated.
There will be guided tours, horse-drawn wagon rides, live music and refreshments. Additional Sunday activities include lighthouse climbs (weather permitting), animal balloon making and family photos by a professional photographer.
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17. Presque Isle expands its Olde Fashioned Christmas
Presque Isle is becoming a holiday destination the first weekend of December. The Presque Isle Women's Club will be conducting their 3rd annual Olde Fashioned Community Christmas Saturday and Sunday and it is expected to be bigger and better than ever. Area residents have come to enjoy horse drawn wagon rides around New Presque Isle Lighthouse Park, the historically decorated 1905 Keeper's House and sipping warm refreshments with Santa.
That's only a tip of the iceberg this year, as there are additional activities throughout the community of Presque Isle. According to one of the committee members Sharon Paltelky, the Presque Isle Township board, particularly supervisor Patrick Pokorski, asked club members if they were interested in spearheading an expansion that would include more locations in the township.
"We went to work to involve many organizations in our community," said Paltelky. And they got many groups and organizations involved. "Both fire departments are involved," she said. "The East Grand Lake Fire Department will have a chili cook off and the Grand Lake Fire Department will be bringing in Santa on a fire truck." The firemen will be competing in the cook off Sunday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Chili and hot dogs will be served with a good will offering being accepted. Visitors to the fire hall will vote for their favorite.
THE GRAND Lake Chapel will be hosting a homemade soup and salad luncheon Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The church's bell choir will perform from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., while the New Day Singers will entertain starting at 2 p.m. On Sunday, the Bifocals will be performing at Garrity Hall at New Lighthouse Park. At the Presque Isle District Library, a musical puppet show will be put on Saturday from 11 a.m. to noon, as well as 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. The Presque Isle Harbor Association will be the place for children's activities, but a must stop Saturday from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. "There will be a live Candy Land game going on," said Paltelky. "Some of us have worked for weeks and weeks (to create it). You will walk into this room and literally see the Candy Land game with gumdrops, a peppermint forest and 8-foot tall ginger bread houses. They are not built out of ginger bread, but they are decorated with real candy. There are eight of those in the ginger bread village." Mrs. Claus will be reading stories and there will be pictures with Santa, after he arrives at 3:30 p.m.
ADDITIONALLY, THERE will 18 vendors at the arts and craft holiday bazaar at the township hall. The hours are Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday noon to 4 p.m. Weather permitting, the lighthouse will be open for climbs to the tower. "There's nothing here that includes a mandatory cost," said Paltelky. "Some places are asking for donations for the soup and chili, but we don't want anyone to not come because they think there is a cost involved." She added that there will be plenty of signs posted and brochures available to guide people around.
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16. Presque Isle Voters Need To Get Out, Vote
Proud of Northeast Michigan.
The voters of Presque Isle Township in this side of Michigan have the predilection to act when an elected official proves reckless and unproductive in carrying out the duties of their office. Voter apathy is not forgiven. Come and help us support our township supervisor recall on the Nov. 2, ballot.
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15. Pokorski Won't Face Charges For Tree Clearing
Charges against the Presque Isle Township supervisor involving tree removal will not be pursued.
Earlier this year an investigation was launched against Supervisor Patrick Pokorski involving the harvesting and clearing of some trees near the Old Presque Isle Lighthouse. The case was investigated by the Michigan State Police and the facts forwarded to Rick Steiger for review and possible charges. A recall effort against Pokorski also was started.
Last week it was announced that according to the facts of the evidence, Steiger would not pursue charges against Pokorski.
Pokorski, who is also a write-in candidate for the state House 106th seat, said he knew he didn't break the law and is happy the truth about his innocence is being told.
"It's validation that I was innocent, and I knew I was," Pokorski said. "It was nice to hear it from the prosecutor and the police to completely validate it. All I have is my life is my integrity and I think this proves I have integrity."
Pokorski said the timing of the accusations were curious because the incident involving the trees occurred in the fall of 2009, but the allegations weren't brought forward until this summer. He said he believes he fell victim to a political attack.
"It really damaged me through the primary election because there were all these questions in people's minds because of the accusations," Pokorski said. "Now that I have been cleared I hope the voters will realize that this was politically motivated. That is why I'm remaining a write-in candidate for the House seat."
Pokorski knows that his chance of winning the seat as a write-in is slim, but now that his name is cleared he said if he doesn't win this time, he will give it another run in the future.
"I would definitely run again. We need people in Lansing who listen and not tell people what to do," Pokorski said. "I want to represent the people. Remember the term public servant? That is what I want to be."
As far as the recall effort on the November ballot, he said he hopes those for, and against, him can come together and make amends.
"Right now I just want the community to begin to heal," Pokorski said. "I want this to be put behind everyone, so we can move forward with what's best for the township.
Several requests were made by The News, beginning on Oct 13, for comment and confirmation from Steiger but he did not return calls made to his office.
Steve Schulwitz can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 358-5689.
... End of News Story ...
14. Pokorski's Investigation Concludes With No Charges Levied
Presque Isle Township Supervisor Patrick Pokorski will not face any criminal charges related to the clearing of trees last October at the lighthouse parks and cemetery, or in the course of performing other duties in office.
Presque Isle County Prosecutor Rick Steiger reviewed a thick report Michigan State Police trooper Steve Bullock submitted and decided against authorizing any warrants.
"After the completion of a very thorough investigation, the matter was reviewed by our office and it was determined that there was no criminal wrong doing that took place," said Steiger. "(State Police) were looking into whether there was any willful neglect of duty."
In the middle of his first four-year term in office, Pokorski is uncertain if he'll be allowed to complete it with with a recall election less than two weeks away. The timing of the news might be a blow to those pushing for his removal. Pokorski was notified Oct. 7.
At the heart of the controversy was the clearing of two to four acres of trees and overgrown brush between the 1905 keeper's house and Lake Huron, along the sides of the road to the Old Presque Isle Lighthouse, and the Presque Isle Township cemetery.
In the aftermath, many residents were outraged with the way things looked at the parks. Pokorski was accused of moving forward with the removal of the trees by contacting a contractor, not sending the project out for bids, without approval of the township board.
Earlier this year, Presque Isle resident, Barry Schatz initiated the recall effort and successfully collected enough signatures to get the question placed on the Nov. 2 ballot in the township.
"The fact that the prosecuting attorney's office could not prove malicious intent doesn't excuse Patrick Pokorski from acting on his own in removing $7,000 in forest products from state historical landmarks," said Schatz. "The tree cutting wasn't scheduled to start at the end of October because no plan, bid, or contract was ever submitted by Pokorski to the township for approval."
Pokorski said, "When I did this, I did this purely out of what I thought was my job as Township Supervisor. One of the minutes they (state police) looked at was from August 2009. The chair of the parks and rec committee for the Presque Isle Township, who was Peter Pettalia, gave a report saying that at the end of October, the tree cutting was going to start. "I wasn't the one pushing this project," said Pokorski.
In August, voters narrowly removed Karen Silver from office in Bearinger Township. "We've got to stop this," said Pokorski. "It's gotten to the point that enough is enough. If they did a three or four month investigation and found nothing, why are we still going through with the recall. Nothing I did was out of malice. I did everything for the betterment of Presque Isle Township."
Schatz said, "There are many reasons for the recall. The tree cutting wasn't the first time Pokorski acted without the boards approval. Other reasons include unprofessional conduct at meetings, creating conflict with other township officials, and misleading the public by blaming others for his wrong-doings."
Pokorski is not only hopeful the "yes" votes outweigh the "no's" on Nov. 2, but he also faces the uphill battle of trying to win the 106th District seat as a write-in.
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13. No Charges Sought Against Presque Isle Township Supervisor
A State Police investigation against Presque Isle Township Supervisor Patrick Pokorski has been closed and will not lead to any charges.
Pokorski told WATZ that the investigation involved accusations of him having trees removed at Lighthouse parks without township board approval, the associated costs, and whether or not he profited.
The investigation took place last summer and involved a review of township books, meeting minutes, and the books of the contracted forester. Various witnesses were also interviewed.
Presque Isle County Prosecutor Rick Steiger declined to offer details into the case and did not confirm Pokorski's account. But he did say there appeared to be no wrongdoing. "Upon review of the investigation, our office determined that there was no criminal violation," he said.
State Police Sergeant Gale Owen echoed that, saying, "The case has been closed out with no charges authorized."
Pokorski said "I know I did not do anything wrong but, for a full investigation and a warrant being dismissed, feels pretty good."
He added "I hope this gets the community to come together and be a community of one and move on."
Pokorski still faces a recall effort on the November 2nd ballot after Presque Isle Township resident and former Township Parks and Recreation board member Barry Schatz filed the petition. The County Clerk eventually verified signatures for the question to appear on the ballot.
As previously reported, the language includes accusations of exceeding his 2009-10 budget, not preparing the 2010-11 budget on time, calling a special meeting at taxpayers' expense and failed leadership.
Pokorski will also appear on the ballot as a candidate for 106th State House Representative as an Independent along with Democrat Casey Viegelahn and Republican Peter Pettalia.
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12. Lies Are Acceptable
I recently sat in at a petition hearing to understand the validity of allegations in a recall effort. What I learned astounded me. The commission before which we sat was bound to make its determination based on the clarity of the language only. The language for the recall petition did not need to be factual or truthful. I was further astonished when the presiding judge clarified by reading from an analysis of HB 5381 (1983), which recognized that even truth itself is not a consideration in determining the clarity of the recall petition language.
With that in mind, it seems to have become open season on elected officials across the state, two of which are in my own northern county of Presque Isle.
Michigan is one of only a few states that still allows for these unfair petitions to exist. It assumes that the voters will seek out the truth for themselves. I suggest that if it is written down, voters have a tendency to believe what they read. It is time for the law to be rewritten.
... End of Letter ...There is editorial comment relative this article. Click Here
11. Recall of Presque Isle Township supervisor Pokorski to go on November ballot
Presque Isle Township supervisor Patrick Pokorski will find out Nov. 2 if he'll be allowed to keep his job, as the effort to remove him from office will be placed on the ballot and left in the hands of the voters. According to Presque Isle County clerk Sue Rhode, petitioners collected enough valid signatures to get the question placed on the November ballot.
Rhode said there were 274 original signatures submitted by petition sponsor Barry Schatz. When the clerk went through the names, some were removed for various reasons, leaving 243. Approximately 239 signatures were needed, a number that represents 25 percent of the people who voted in the last governor's race.
Rhode said Pokoroski was mailed a notice Sept. 1 and has a chance to respond with a "justification of conduct of office," which would be placed on the ballot with the recall language. It can only be 200 words. In the meantime, Pokorski's appeal of the clarity hearing conducted in June has been answered by the Presque Isle Election Commission and awaits further legal action in 53rd Circuit Court.
10. Cutting Trees Was Wrong, Created An Eyesore
Cutting trees is an issue.
This letter is in response to Mrs. Paltelky's letter to the editor. You really need to pay better attention at the Township meetings that you attend. The trees that were removed from both of the lighthouses were township property. Furthermore, there are procedures in place that require competing bids on such projects. Did we get those bids? Had we gotten those bids, we would have known what the trees might be worth. The trees that you called "dead or scrub" fetched $7,000 for the company that removed the trees. I should quit my day job for money like that. That money belongs to the taxpayers and Mr. Pokorski should be held responsible for that.
Next you say that I should volunteer my time to help clean up the mess. What a joke. If this would have been voted on and bid out, the cleanup could have been done by those that cut down the trees. How can you say that the cleanup costs are "minimal?" It's not done. Do you have a crystal ball? That $7,000 would have gone a long way to help clean up the mess.
The mess at both of the lighthouses is a terrible eyesore. What Mr. Pokorski has done is criminal and he should be recalled and held accountable for the mess. Just think, I gleaned all of this information without attending a single meeting. Thanks to the Freedom of Information Act, I can review township minutes and the records of trucking companies. My facts are in order, are yours?
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Mr. Doyle, I am not sure of your definition of: "My facts are in order" — they may be in order, but they are not complete, and in some cases, not correct. You have, however, clearly displayed ignorance of highly relevant facts — possibly with the intent to taint the reader's view, or perhaps due to simple naivety.
- Your $7,000 figure is not only in question, but you use it in a manner designed to deceive the reader. It is possible that the wood products from the cutting may have a market value of that amount, but you failed to factor in the costs to harvest those products. I would suggest that you quit your day job and invest close to a million dollars into the highly specialized equipment that was used. To simply do the cutting, a contractor would have charged $10,000 or more so that the township would receive a check for $7,000. Do you get the picture?
- The removed trees were mostly dead, damaged and scrub. There was almost no wood of lumber quality. Much of it was a fire and/or safety hazard. Also, in case you have not been paying attention, the forestry industry in this region has declined 80-90% in the past 5 years. Many of our wood harvesters have gone out of business, and those remaining are scrambling to remain solvent. The timber products market is dead. We were fortunate to find someone who would swap product for service.
- One cannot use the blanket term of "eyesore". Many, many, many favorable comments have been received about the view of the lake from the front porch of the 1905 House. Visitors do not call that an eyesore. Yes, there are some aspects of the scene, as well as the other work areas, that are distracting, but it is a work-in-progress. It is a construction project, and construction is rarely quick and rarely viewed as pretty. Mother nature has already done much to tidy up the edges. Our volunteers are investing extensive effort. Within a short time, the distractions will have disappeared — leaving amazing results for all to treasure.
- I would not be proud to brag about not attending a single meeting. If you had graced the hall with your presence, you would have experienced first-hand the discussion about the proposed clearing of the swath and the nodding of the heads at the offer to remove the trees at no cost to the township. You don't even comprehend the minutes very well. In the August 10, 2009 minutes, the Parks & Rec. report to the Board of Trustees from Peter Pettalia clearly indicated that the clearing was expected to occur as soon as the park closed. If you properly considered everything, you would see that there are numerous players in this situation. It is unfair to place everything on the shoulders of Mr. Pokorski. There are too many individuals, like yourself, who are simply trying to score points at the expense of others. Take a good look in the mirror. Are you being fair?
9. Cutting Down Trees Should Not Be An Issue
This letter is in response to Robert Doyle's. In the past three years, I have attended 90 percent of all Presque Isle Township Board meetings, have you?
September of 2007, I attended a Parks and Recreation meeting where the need for cutting of the trees was discussed. A year ago, the chairman of the Parks and Recreation group, Peter Pettalia addressed the township board requesting trees be cut down but "not until after the parks closed for the season". The question was asked about cost; answer, no cost. Since there was no money involved a roll call vote was not required; however, one board member said, "that's a no brainer" and every member of the board, was in agreement1. Furthermore, it has been substantiated the trees in question were not valuable but either dead or scrub. Cost of clean up to taxpayers is minimal. A group of volunteers who have worked at both lighthouses restoring and cleaning for years has taken on this project, perhaps you should join them.
Old pictures of the new lighthouse show the same clearing down to the lake. If we are concerned with historical accuracy then cutting these trees was necessary.
... End of Letter ...
1 Although parts of this exchange are not recorded in the meeting minutes, numerous audience members attest to the accuracy of this claim.
8. PI Township Supervisor Should Be Recalled
I'm writing this letter in response to the article in The Alpena News discussing the recall effort that has begun against the Presque Isle Township Supervisor, Pat Pokorski. All of the points the News covered are dwarfed by the destruction that Mr. Pokorski did by having trees cut down at both of the Presque Isle lighthouses. The cost of the cleanup is now the burden of the tax payers of Presque Isle Township. Everyone that I have talked to, finds it hard to believe that such devastation to our beautiful township parks could have happened.
I voted for Mr. Pokorski, and I now stand firmly behind the recall effort. Mr. Pokorski should have to answer for what he did in a court of law. If we taxpayers don't demand this, what's going to stop the next person from cutting down trees on township property? Mr. Pokorski was never given authorization from the Presque Isle Township board of Trustees to do what he did. The taxpayers need to set a precedent and restore democracy in Presque Isle Township.
Furthermore, Mr. Pokorski refers to the whole recall effort as "political mudslinging". I don't think that the trees that are gone had any party affiliation whatsoever. The only person that is making this a political mess is Mr. Pokorski himself. His running for the 106th district has no bearing on this at all.1
If you are still undecided about the validity of the need for a recall, take a drive to the lighthouses and see what Mr. Pokorski has done. The missing trees won't lie about the criminal act, and the voters surely don't need a criminal in charge.
... End of Letter ...
1 Come on now — anyone with even half a brain can see the political opportunism that Pokorski opponents are exercising. Do you think it is coincidence that this author chose to speak a mere week ahead of the primary election? And, what about the timing of the push for "recall signatures"? Please don't play everyone for fools.
7. Request To Recall Township Supervisor Underway
Not one, but two township supervisors in the county are being targeted for recall from office.
Voters in Bearinger Township will be asked in August if they want to remove their supervisor, while a similar effort is just getting off the grounf in Presque Isle Township.
Barry Schatz filed wording with the county clerk office to collect petition signatures to remove supervisor Patrick Pokorski from his post.
The proposed wording for the petitions was submitted June 18, said clerk Sue Rhode. She was required to schedule the hearing within the 10th and 20th day of receiving the request.
A clarity hearing was conducted Wednesday afternoon (past press time) by the election commission which includes probate judge Donald McLennan, treasurer Beth Heinzel and Rhode.
Shatz cites several reasons for the recall effort, and include:
- Removed acres of trees at the lighthouse parks without approval from the township board. No contract with contractors that did the work.
- Committed DEQ (Department of Environmental Quality) and other violations by not getting permits.
- Cost for cleanup, repair and restoration will exceed $5,000, including $2,000 to remove stumps and brush from wetlands. Additional trees were cut from private property adjacent to the township cemetery without the owner's final approval
- Exceeded 2009-10 budget
- Budget not prepared for the May 2010 meeting, so trustees could examine it prior to approval. A special meeting was called at taxpayer's expense.
- As township sexton, exceeded his budget.
- Has behaved unprofessional at township meetings, has been argumentative and raised his voice to attendees, blames others for his errors and decisions. In general has failed to provide leadership and management for the township. Does not communicate with board members, committee members or staff.
The hearing will be conducted to determine if the language is understandable to voters, not if the allegations are true.
If the petitions can be solicitated, sponsors will need the signatures of 239 registered voters within 90 days. The number is based on 25 percent of the voters who took part in the last race for
Schatz facilitates the blog "My Presque Isle" where he states a "criminal investigation has begun." Pokorski is a candidate for the 106th District of the State House of Representatives.
"This is purely political," said Pokorski, who believes opponents are trying to derail his state house bid. "I've always acted in the best interests of the people of Presque Isle Township."
6. Pokorski Faces Recall Effort
Vows to fight, stay in 106th race; petition organizer not present at hearing
Presque Isle Township Supervisor Patrick Pokorski, who also is a candidate for the 106th State House, vowed to continue to fight through a local recall effort that has sparked a large public display of support. Even though he could be removed from his post locally, he still intends to follow through on his quest to serve in Lansing.
On Wednesday a clarity review hearing for a recall petition took place in Rogers City. The Presque Isle County Election Commission determined the language in the recall petition was acceptable and 239 signatures from registered voters from the district are needed to put the issue on the November ballot.
Thirty-one supporters showed up to defend Pokorski, and they attempted to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the petition's claims. Probate Court Don McLennan said the hearing was not about finding guilt or innocence but to determine if the claims are easily understood for Pokorski to respond.
"This isn't to determine if an allegation is true or false, but to make sure the language is clear so the accused can make a defense," McLennan said. "Government can't get in the way of the people for this. The only thing it is used for is to allow it to go through if it can enable defense."
The complaint was filed by Barry Schatz of Grand Lake, who wasn't at the proceeding. Schatz listed seven reasons for the recall, including accusations about over spending budget money, unprofessional behavior and failing to provide leadership and management to the township.
Commission members had concerns that more than a few of the claims were vague in description and their clarity. County Treasurer Beth Heinzel said because there is a limit on how many words can be used on the document, it is often hard for the filer to include a lot of detail.
"When you are limited to 200 words and you have seven reasons on the petition you're almost forced to be a little more general," Heinzel said. "Overall I think it was pretty well written considering the restrictions. I think the voters will be able to understand it, but it is important to remember that we were not here to decide if what he allegedly did was right or wrong or if he did anything at all. That will be left up to the voters to decide."
McLennan said it is very important to educate the voters about the ballot language and to make them aware that the hearing was only to determine if the wording is clear. He said some things on the petition may not be accurate, but that in the case of a recall it is up to the voters to decide what is fact and what is fiction.
Pokorski said he appreciates the support he has gotten from his supporters and it is because of them he is going to move forward and serve them the way he always has.
"I have always done everything with input and with the best intent and it shows by the amount of people who showed up today to support me," Pokorski said. "They took time out of their day to be here because they care. I'm going to continue to do my job for all the residents, not just the ones that are supporting me now."
He said other candidates for the 106th have been using the possible recall to garner support for themselves. Pokorski said he has no intent of backing away from running in the primary in August. He said the mudslinging needs to stop and that each party must take a close look in the mirror, because both the Republicans and the Democrats have been making mistakes.
"My opponents are using this against me for the 106th seat, but I will continue to campaign because I feel I can serve the people in the district as well as I have the people of Presque Isle Township. This recall is purely political driven." Pokorski said. "I am running as a Democrat, but both sides are guilty of making poor choices. All the bickering and grandstanding needs to stop. I am going to continue to fight for what my constituents and I believe is right."
5. Economic Progress Hurts Enjoyment Of Parks
It seems that our parks have moved away now belonging to some other presence down-state.
New Lighthouse Museum 1905 Cedar Climbing Tree (right next to the road) — Lower branches just high enough to raise the grandkids. Room for a small family once you get up there.
Road Around Lighthouse — Armored by evergreens on both sides of the road, crowning out the sun, adding to lighthouse's inscrutability.
Old Lighthouse Museum 1870 Very Unique Location— Sitting on the heel of the peninsula, jutting out into Lake Huron, ancient cedar trees, limited adjacent parking, with the lighthouse museum, its history, and cedar foot trail along the beach from the break wall of the marina adding to its beauty by creating a very special, historical entirety.
Sorry Presque Isle Township. Trees have been removed — for wider roads, more parking, and tour bus drivers. It's always been true, "You don't know what you've got till it's gone."
Whither-or-not the presence from down-state prefers such a diminished experience will soon be seen. I enjoyed sharing my parks with others, but now this has become a controlling factor. My heart is forever saddened even if it becomes economically successful.
4. Presque Isle Has Best Neighbors In The World
After spending my entire life in Detroit and the surrounding area, I retired, and with a little reluctance, moved to the more rural area of Presque Isle at the coaching of my wife. I have now resided in the area for almost four years, and would be hard pressed to find a better place to live. Recently I was severely injured in an accident at my home. Until now, I have never known that such a neighborly compassion existed. It may sound like an old cliche, but my wife Betsy and I cannot begin to thank all of my new neighbors and friends for their visits, gifts, and support. So to all of you, we can but offer an eternal gift of friendship. We sincerely hope that we will live up to the task. And to anyone who travels 20 miles north of Alpena, when you see a sign that reads " Blue Horizon Drive," take note that you are among the best neighbors in the world.
Vic Mastrogiovanni, Presque Isle
One of the greatest resources that our township has — friends.
3. Presque Isle Township Supervisor Goes Too Far
Supervisor Pat Pokorsky gave his approval to clear acres of trees from township property without the board's approval. He finally admitted to doing so after skirting several requests from Board members and citizens during public comment at the November meeting.
Numerous citizens attended to oppose the reckless clearing, unhappy with changes and questioned clearing at the Township cemetery.
Although he repeatedly tried to fault the Parks and Recreation Committee for the approving the clearing,1 committee members denied involvement. Board members and the public voiced their concerns at the bold move to clear township property without their knowledge2 and proper planning. Members of the audience said they were "sickened" by the devestation. An admission of fault and an apology would have been appropriate.
Pokorsky called a special meeting without notice on Nov. 2 to obtain approval to buy gravel and clear stumpage to complete construction on the new "parking" areas that he had cleared. Surprised board members refused to give approval until the citizens were given a chance for public input.
Unfortunately, an unsightly mess and ugly landscape is left for the taxpayers to clean up.
Pokorsky believes he did nothing wrong.
Board members learned without their knowledge, Pokorsky approached the Harbor Association to request clearing at the cemetery for parking.3 Pokorsky claims 20 years experience in local government, yet permits for parking lots must be obtained and planned according to local ordinance.
Records show that Pokorsky charged the township $900 for attending a seminar in August on "Hiring and Retaining Fireman." The township does not hire nor manage fire departments within the township.4 Apparently, Mr. Pokorsky needs supervision.
Trustee Lynn Morison, Treasurer Bette Tadajewski and clerk Karen Fournier should be commended for standing up for the citizens.5
1The Parks and Recreation report to the Board of Trustees on the August 10, 2009 stated that the New Lighthouse tree clearing was to be done "this fall" after the park closed.
2At the Arts and Crafts Show and the Township sponsored Labor Day Picnic held at the New Lighthouse in the summer of 2009, there was open discussion amongst those present regarding the planned clearing of the 3-4 acres south of the 1905 House. Also, see previous footnote. People should not have been surprised.
3There was never a parking lot proposed for the cemetery — only a short access drive.
4The budget for local fire protection is about $290,000 annually and must be approved by the Township Board of Trustees. The township and fire department ARE linked. The fire department has encountered difficulty in recruiting sufficient personnel to assure an adequate response level. Our supervisor wishes to be proactive in this matter.
5What about Trustee Paavola? Is she also a black sheep? Perhaps she judges things on their merit and ignores the forces that attempt to control the Board of Trustees.
2. Guidelines Needed For Township Supervisor
The people of Presque Isle Township acquired a new Supervisor during the election of 2008, that choice was Patrick Pokorski. As the supervisor, he is the manager of the township assets, supervisor of township employees, and chairman of the township board. There is also a statute limiting him, and other board members, from independently representing the township without board approval.
Although there is not a specific competetive bidding process currently required, a manager of a public entity should have the wherewithall to ensure that he is providing the best possible services at the best possible cost. Without competitive bids, without proper preplanning, without complete project assessment, without proper documentation, no one within this township has any assurance that our assets are being utilized properly.
Two recent examples of unsuccessful actions are: 1) the grading and seeding of the new cemetery section. More than 50% over budget and no documentation.1 2) Removal of trees for parking and access at the lighthouse parks and cemetery. No board approval, no competetive bids, and no documented scope defined. It was not managed as a project but rather as a one step at a time sequence: give away the trees,2 then request money to clean up the mess.
I'm sure that there are some things associated with managing the township that Pat Pokorski is good at, but based on the overcapacity public turnout3 at the Nov. 9, 2009 board meeting, and the disassociation shown by most of the board members at that meeting, managing our township dollars and maintaining a cohesive board of directors are not on his qualification record.
The Planning Commission is taking action this winter to develop a 5 year capital plan along with specific guidelines for assessing and obtaining project approval and guidelines for obtaining competetive quotations.
1The cemetery expansion was commenced several years ago by previous the Board of Trustees with Peter Pettalia as Township Supervisor and Sexton. The shortcomings of that project should fall on his shoulders. Patrick simply took over a stalled project and got the wheels moving again.
2Trees were not "given away". They were exchanged for the labor costs for removing them. With the highly depressed current economical situation, the township most likely won big on the trade.
3The large crowd was the result of the recruiting efforts of the particular interest group that selectively mailed out the "Concerned Citizens" letter and invited the press to the meeting.
1. Removal of Lighthouse Park Trees Scrutinized
| Patrick Pokorski, Presque isle Township Supervisor
Some citizens of Presque Isle Township voiced their concerns about the clearing of trees at the lighthouse parks and township cemetery and had several questions at Monday's meeting, especially for supervisor Patrick Pokorski. According to a one-page letter, which arrived in the mailboxes of many township residents Monday, it is estimated that four to five acres of trees have been cleared at New Presque Isle Lighthouse from the 1905 keeper's house to the lake,1 while "the swath of trees cut at the Old Lighthouse Park is about 1 1/2acres."
The access roads to the Old Lighthouse has been widened after complaints have been received that buses and motor homes have been scraping against branches and the parking area at Old Presque Isle Lighthouse is too far for elderly visitors. The cemetery clearing was to improve access as well, as some people were driving over graves.
The letter, sent out by "concerned citizens," alleged Pokorski arranged with R & R Tree Company of Posen to remove the trees without board approval, with compensation to the contractor coming from the harvesting of the resources. "We believe, all residents should be concerned about the deliberate circumventing of the legislative process," stated the letter.
Additionally, the project appears to have violated the township's greenbelt ordinance with the amount of trees cleared to the lake, said zoning administrator Linda Taylor. TRUSTEE Lynn Morrison said there was no protocol followed on this project. "Those are valuable assets to the township. I understand we talked about it, but there was no motion. I never ok'd that to happen. I had no vote, no say in the cutting of these trees." Pokorski said there had been discussion at the parks and recreation commission (P & RC) about clearing the trees at New Presque Isle Park.
"In my mind, I thought we had full go ahead," said Pokorski after the meeting. He said P & RC member Clayton Peters was under the same impression. Pokorki was disappointed a letter was sent out instead of people coming to him to get the facts. "When we started cutting some of that, we found a lot of dead trees, so we took out the dead trees," said Pokorski. "Come to me and talk to me. I'll explain to you how we got to where we're at. When we've got dead trees that are going to fall down and we have to get volunteers to get them up. This guy is here, let him take out these trees." P & RC CHAIRMAN Peter Pettalia said, "the New Lighthouse most certainly would have been approved, but no motion was made,2 " for a recommendation. "There was never any discussion about the Old Lighthouse," added Pettalia.
Pokorski, who was elected to the supervisor's job a year ago, has been involved in township government for nearly two decades, serving on the planning commission and zoning board of appeals, before winning election in 2008. Clerk Karen Fournier referred to township attorney Jim Florip when asking for a clarification if protocol was indeed followed when Pokorski made the decision without the board's approval. Florip said, "whatever the township does, the board authorizes it and acts on it. And that's the way it has been for 150 years ... the business of the township is conducted by the board."
"I am 100 percent behind coming to the board to make a decision," said Pokorski. "I had talked to board members and had brought it up at a previous meeting. "Earlier in the meeting, during the citizen comment period, Judy Kimball said she was "devastated" and almost brought to tears when she saw how much had been cleared. Mary Ellen Parker said, "One of the things that is attractive about this area is that it is still in its natural state. Man hasn't tried to improve it, and thereby made it worse, until I saw what I saw today. I don't think our natural beauty has been protected. If someone wants to see the lake from the New Lighthouse, let them walk."
Pokorski said the clearing at the cemetery was more than it should have been. "If people are upset, man I apologize for them being upset. Do I think I think it's the right thing for safety and for the betterment of the lighthouses? Yes." Morrison said the mess now needs to be cleaned up.
During further discussion about what the next step should be, and possibly scheduling a site visit, Taylor said the board has violated their greenbelt ordinance. "When there is clearing adjacent to any waterfront in the township, we do require that 60 percent of the indigenous vegetation remain, and we need to take that under consideration," said Taylor. Fournier said more information would need to be gathered before moving forward, "Because now what has been done there is against our own ordinances."
1This area was historically clear as documented in photos displayed in the lighthouse museum. Failure to maintain this area over the years allowed it to become overgrown.
2The Parks and Recreation report to the Board of Trustees on the August 10, 2009 stated that the New Lighthouse tree clearing was to be done "this fall" after the park closed. With that timeline being only 2 months away, should a formal request for the Board of Trustee approval not have been made at that time — unless all parties believed that it was okay to proceed?
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It is not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves, that will make them successful human beings.
... Ann Landers (1918-2002)