Ann Johnson Gerry Johnson


Eagle Harbor Web

An unofficial source of Eagle Harbor, Michigan news, views and information.

Be Careful What You Wish For!

Ann Johnson At Work                                                                                 Gerry Johnson Building Fitzgerald

Ann and Gerry's Letter

Ann and Gerry Johnson are Eagle Harbor veterans and astute observers of the local scene. Luckily for us, they are also a wonderful writers. Their quarterly "letter to taxpayers" is a Harbor institution, eagerly anticipated and read by many Township property owners, especially those who are yet to make Eagle Harbor their permanent home. A big "Thank you" to Ann and Gerry for contributing their letter to George's Eagle Harbor Web.

January, 1999. News from the Johnsons at Eagle Harbor.


BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR - Snow gods are listening!! Picture it---December 16th and not a flake of snow on the ground or in the air. Now jump to January 15th and try to figure out where to put the 130 inches we have so generously received. Compared to the trouble the cities down below have experienced, we really have no problem. As usual the Keweenaw Road Commission is doing a beautiful job. A snowplow was stuck across from the Shoreline during one big blowing, drifting storm, but the sand truck answered the driver's call for help and pulled him out.

The world is white up here-trees are sculpted with loads of snow on every branch. Skiing is wonderful after the groomers, Bruce Olson and Dick Lantz, worked hard to track our trail. Mike Owen and Barry Bogart did the honors before Bruce returned from Christmas break. Thanks to Jon Davis for his equipment and storage facilities. (Of course, his driveway gets blown out every time it snows so that the groomers can get to the equipment.)

Now to Township news. We have just completed six years of the latest regime in the Township. Maybe it is time to look at what has been accomplished and what is still on the agenda for the next two years. (This is a personal appraisal, not approved by, nor endorsed by, the Board.)

Remember the mess at the DUMP and the years of discussion about how to meet the mandated State requirements? The operation now is a model of efficiency and about as convenient as possible with the size of the Township and the limited personnel. Clarence Bach has stepped into Don Keith's shoes and gives us the same helpful, friendly service. We hope the future holds recycling, but in the meantime the burn barrel is handling the tons of cardboard that accumulate.

Many inequities still remain in the taxable values of properties, but not because of the negligence of the Township or our dedicated assessor, Bob Taylor. The State of Michigan beat us by one year in capping the taxable values of all property unless it is sold or otherwise changes owners. As a result there are many owners who pay on much less than the State Equalized Value of their property, while others are paying near or at the maximum. In looking back to 1993, the mills going to our Township are the same. We are operating on a higher budget because of new construction, sales of property at high prices, and the small yearly increases in taxable values allowed by law. We will be working with a new assessor, Matt Arko, in February. Bob Taylor is retiring but promises to keep his hand in by helping set up the computer program that will be added to the township office. It boggles the mind how property values have gone up, but Bob has done a masterful job in this important area.

These six years have seen a dedicated, trained volunteer fire department led by a professional, Mike Radigan. The time and effort these men and women have invested in this community has been an inspiration. Now, we are trying to complete the necessary steps to be able to give them the equipment they have requested. We have been notified of a $40,000 grant and a low-interest loan from the Rural Development Department of the Federal Agriculture Department. We are working on dotting the I's and crossing the T's in all the paperwork, and hope to report the issuance of bid requests for the new fire truck soon. Two new fire fighters are taking the long, arduous training this spring.

The historic schoolhouse here in the Harbor was finally deeded without restriction to the Township and during the past two years work has been going forward to restore it to its original look. At the same time, the building is being stabilized and renovated to become a usable community asset. These goals are being met by generous donations from longtime Harbor families. Supervisor Jim Boggio's hope is for a grand dedication ceremony in the year 2000.

Eagle Harbor Village can boast of the purest, best-tasting water in existence. At least, that is how we feel about it. The new water system has meant higher bills for all of us connected to the system, but what an improvement! The water operator, Don Keith has made that aspect of life easier for us all. The water department snowmobile has not been working, but Don treks out to the pump house daily in deep snow to do his thing. That's dedication and commitment. The Board recently adopted a new water ordinance updating rules and regulations to fit the system. Customers will be receiving information with the next water billing.

Computers!!! What more do we need to say? The Township has moved into the cyber age. Once again, we have lucked out by having Ivan Fisher, the only man we know who can write a program for anything we need. He has written the program for the Water Department billing, the cemetery records, the printing of the complete tax roll, the reporting of the tax payments, as well as the tracking of assessment changes. Now his problem is convincing this "monkey-see, monkey-do" operator that when the computer says there is a discrepancy, it is not the computer's fault.

The Cemetery records are an ongoing challenge. Every scrap of information we have been able to glean from old records and from onsite research is being fed into the computer. Two land purchases have been made in recent years that have extended the boundaries of the cemetery and burial sites are a hot item. Documents are being prepared for those who have lots. Don't give up-they will be sent to you as soon as possible. Any of you that are contemplating purchase of burial sites in our beautiful Pine Grove Cemetery should be aware that the price for lots sold to property owners will probably go up from the present $100 per site by July.

All-in-all, Eagle Harbor Township has been moving gently with the tide as growth and government regulations have forced changes. The flavor of our existence has not changed-we still are a family- oriented, neighbor-friendly community with wonderful outlying neighbors from Jacob's Falls to the Devil's Washtub and from Grand Marais to Gratiot Lake.

Note! Congratulations are in order for Tom Westlake. The Westlake Hotel has been placed on the Michigan Register of Historic buildings. Tom and Carol have done a wonderful job of restoring the building to show the 19th century workmanship. It is worth a visit next summer to see a bit of Township history.

The Friday evening gatherings at the Eagle Harbor Inn are growing every week. Aerobics continues Monday through Friday and we are hoping to resume the "chicken-foot" games on Wednesday afternoon now that the holidays are behind us. All of a sudden we have the January thaw (it is now Jan. 17th) and snow is a bit mushy, but that will change!! With the quantity of snow and the bitter cold the last few weeks, there have been many comments about a bad winter. Look at the record. We had nine months of "summer" before the winter started and can only expect about two more months of winter. That is an amazing statistic in the Upper Peninsula.

Wherever you spend the rest of the winter, enjoy, and look forward to returning to this special place when the geese fly north-farther north than Cat Harbor, we hope!!

Your Eagle Harbor Correspondents,

Ann and Gerry

Ann & Gerry Johnson
HC 1 Box 280 B
Eagle Harbor, MI 49950

Ann and Gerry Letter Archive:

Fall, 1996
Winter, 1997
Spring, 1997
Fall, 1997
Winter, 1998
Spring, 1998
Fall, 1998

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