AJ's Letter Ann Johnson Gerry Johnson


Eagle Harbor Web

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

There Is a Santa Clause!

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.


Dear Friends:

There is a Santa Claus - and he came to Eagle Harbor on December 15th when the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund Board recommended a grant in the amount of $493,000 for our purchase of 157 acres around the Eliza Lake-Long Lake area. The recommendation was the culmination of two years of negotiation with Lake Superior Land Company by Supervisor Jim Boggio and a grant request put together by Dick Lantz last spring. The grant is to be used to develop a recreational area which will include nature trails, cross-country ski trails, snowmobile trails, hunting and fishing-all to be enjoyed by Township residents, visitors and tourists in the years to come. The dedication of the area to recreation will insure that there will be no private development on those 157 acres, as well as on over 450 additional acres owned by Lake Superior Land between Eliza Lake and the stamp sands. An incredible amount of work has gone into this project which will be a wonderful legacy for future generations. Judging from the instructions and requirements that came with the official notification from the Trust Fund office, we will be struggling with the paperwork portion of the recreation area for several years. But it will be worth it!!!

To backtrack a bit - December 5th found lots of hardy tree-trimmers out by the Rathbone Schoolhouse to welcome Santa. After his visit, we all gathered in the newly painted and lavishly decorated Community Building (i.e. old schoolhouse) for refreshments and fellowship. The interior work done by John and Nancy Clarkson is outstanding, especially the spacious new bathroom. The kitchen is beautiful with new refrigerator, stove, sink and moveable serving table thanks to Shirley Stenson and her committee that have raised money over the last three years by teas and bake sales. Donations from many of our citizens and descendents of early settlers have made restoration of the building possible. There is still work to be done next summer and donations are always appreciated.

As usual there were parties galore during the Holiday Season-Culminating with the New Year's Eve Gala featuring music by the "Harborites" in the Community Building. Pat Ryan, Patty Keith and Bob Masnado kept us singing, dancing to polkas and waltzes, and swaying to the Copper Country Anthem, "The Blue Skirt Waltz." Rumor has it that a few "illegal" fireworks welcomed in the New Year down on the beach.

The next order of business will be the election on February 22nd. This is a Republican Party primary for the presidential candidates. Write for your absentee ballot right away if you wish to vote in this election. Send your request to EH Township Clerk, HC 1 Box 263, EH, MI 49950. He will return a form "Request for Absentee Ballot" and will send a ballot after he receives that form.

The 2000 Census will be taken this spring. Everyone will be receiving papers by mail to be counted in this census. PLEASE indicate Eagle Harbor Township as your DOMICILE if you claim this as your residence for voting, homestead exemption, and driver's license address. The State of Michigan shares sales tax revenues with the Township based on only 80 people who were counted in the 1990 census. We now have over 200 registered voters and hope to have even more than that on our census count. We receive only $5,000 per year in State Revenue Shared funds. Our General Fund budget would get a real boost from more counted noses in April. At this point we don't know how the snowbirds will be counted, but don't let Florida or Arizona claim you!

Our new bright red fire truck should be here by the end of February. Chief Mike Radigan reports the manufacturer will send inspection videos before the end of January and will set the loan closing date at that time. By the last week in February he and another VFD member or two will travel to Wisconsin to be checked out on the new equipment, then drive the unit back to the Harbor. After the last few weeks of activity by the firemen, we will all breathe easier when it is here. There were three dangerous brush fires and one Lac La Belle structure fire in December. The three brush fires came during high winds-one at Agate Harbor, one on the cut-off road and a really scary one behind Pine Street on the Lake Eliza woods road. Contractors were piling brush back there as they widened the road and made a loop for future development from the cutoff road north of the solid waste facility. Bad judgement in setting fire to the huge brush piles on a windy day created a situation that took our firemen, Copper Harbor VFD and the DNR fire fighting equipment and crew eight hours to put out. Those of us who live on Pine Street were trying to decide what valuables to save if we were forced to evacuate. Fortunately with the use of 55,000 gallons of township water, it was kept under control. (We have billed the contractor for the water!)

"Murphy's law", of course, was in effect the day of the fire as the contractors for the water department project down Center Street were flushing the new lines. That meant there was very little pressure to fill the tankers until they could hook up to the new line being flushed. Luckily we had water department expertise in town with the construction engineers, and our new water department man to keep the pumps running at full capacity.

The ballyard is the location of a neat ice skating rink thanks to the hard work of a number of dedicated enthusiasts. Rich Probst came to the December board meeting with his request to try to build a rink. With the Board's blessing, it was done in spite of dire predictions of pneumonia and frozen digits from older residents who had previous experience with such projects. Dick Lantz provides the skating music from his porch and there are even bleachers set up for spectators when skating or broom ball games are in progress. At least this rink is a whole lot safer than the cleared ice up at Eliza last year. Some of our smaller Holiday residents reported jumping up and down on the ice up there to be sure it was strong enough for skating. (Why parents and grandparents have gray hair!)

At the January 10th Township board meeting Supervisor Boggio was on his soapbox. Under Supervisor's remarks on the agenda he commented at length on the changing responsibilities and workload of small government units such as ours. Administrative duties and paperwork have increased dramatically with our assessment districts covering the new fire truck, the Little Grand Marais East road project and the Hebard Plat Survey. Water construction projects will be ongoing. Wellhead Protection is a hot button with the State and local health departments. The continuing renovation of the Community Building will take a lot of time and effort. Cemetery records are still being brought up to date and many await their purchase certificates. Currently, we have fifteen bank accounts to make deposits into and pay bills out of each month. Elections are more complicated now that we have more registered voters, many of whom vote by absentee ballot. The State of Michigan mandates how and when voter registrations are handled. All citizens of Michigan will vote according to the address on their Michigan Driver's License. Actually, the County Clerk is wrestling with the problems created by the QVF (Qualified Voter File) which goes by zip code. (Hello-our zip code is the same as Mohawk-how do we determine Eagle Harbor Township voters?) The powers that be in the large Metropolitan areas cannot conceive of an area such as ours and generally make no provisions for the differences. Jim's bottom line was that office facilities and personnel will have to be expanded to handle the increasing workload and elected officials and other employees will have to be compensated more realistically for their work.

Now we come to the weather. What a disappointment the snowfall has been this year. The dedicated trail groomers have had little opportunity to groom anything and when they did try to set the cross-country ski trails they were sometimes followed by wandering snowmobiles that destroyed the track. There are a lot of the noisy sleds racing around the woods, but the riders we have encountered at the Inn say the trails are really rough. There just is not enough of a base or fresh snow to make these winter pastimes as enjoyable as usual. Maybe things will change before the Spring News is published.

Whether you are of the school that believes we are in the last year of the old millennium, or are a believer that this is the first year of the new millennium-we wish you health, happiness and some quality time in Eagle Harbor in 2000.

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
Winter, 1999
Spring, 1999
Fall, 1999

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