Don't sell The Snowblower Yet!
Ann Johnson At Work Gerry Johnson Building Fitzgerald
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.
Winter Letter From Eagle Harbor – 2002
Don't Sell The Snowblower Yet
---Two days ago we would have taken most anything for a slightly used snow blower and a good Yooper Scooper. They haven't seen much duty this year. HOWEVER-some lovely fluffy flakes have been drifting down for a day or two and those indispensable items are back on the "keep" list.
To illustrate how much snow we have missed this year-our mailbox has needed very little shoveling. One of the hardest winter tasks has been keeping that bank of mailboxes cleared every day. In past years, our wonderful snowplow drivers seemed to take delight in filling those six feet of roadside with the highest bank of fresh snow or the heaviest ice they could scrape off the highway. This year there has been so little to shovel or scrape it has been a pleasure to scoop once in awhile.
This has been a very quiet three months in the Harbor. There were fewer holiday festivities. The Christmas Eve service at St. Peters By The Sea was a high point as always. Without the invigorating snow activities and the frosty cold days, the pace of life was much slower than usual. The Christmas star still shown brightly from the lighthouse tower and homes were decorated inside and out. Many Harborites were away visiting family and friends this year. Santa did come early in December to hear some requests at the tree lighting in the Township Hall.
The ski trail is groomed and in great shape at last. The snowmobiles are going by in droves twenty-four hours a day. The trails are still rough with minimum coverage, but usable.
The good news from the Township front is the continuing effort to acquire land for those wonderful skiing, hiking, snowmobile and off-road vehicle trails. As more of the land is sold we will see gates and "private property" signs limiting access. If the Township is successful in purchasing the acreage currently included in grant applications, we will be able to have public access to many acres from the cemetery to Sand Bay for generations to come. At the same time, we will be preserving wetlands and dune areas with all of the flora and fauna that are native to the area.
The prison work crew has been hard at work this fall and "Winter" (if such it can be called) creating a lovely park area on the shore of Lake Eliza. This land was purchased with grant funds last spring. A plan to restore the lake and recondition the dam is under consideration in cooperation with the Michigan Dept. of Natural Resources and the Dept. of Environmental Quality (DNR and DEQ) A grant application has been submitted for the necessary funds. The project would require drawing down the lake, dredging above and below the dam to remove sediment and weed growth, then allowing the lake to refill to a higher level. While the lake was down, the dam would be improved for a longer life. After the lake filled it would be stocked with trout, making it one of the better trout habitats in the UP.
The Land Use and Planning Committee co-chaired by Barbara Been and George Hite has completed the analysis of the surveys sent out last summer. The results will be discussed at a joint meeting of the Township Board and the committee in February. Our County Commissioner, Don Keith, is working hard at the County level to gain support for our property owners' goals and visions for the future of this area in land use and zoning.
Next week begins the Township budget process. The fiscal year ends March 31st. All of our funds are in the black and there has been an increase in the general fund income from state revenue sharing this year due to the increase in population.
Our Township continues to increase in land values. The property sales studies for the last two years are the basis for another increase in State Equalized Valuation for the Township. Enough, already!! Our assessor has been given the daunting task by the State and County Equalization Departments (NOTE: Not our idea at Township level) to add an additional five million in valuation to our already high SEV. (Last year he had to add nine million.) We will reach over 40 million in property values this year. If there truly is a slow-down or recession, perhaps our property sales will reflect it in the next year or so and we can spiral down a bit in SEV. The assessment notices will be out late in February and the Board of Review will meet the 11th and 12th of March to consider requests for changes in valuations or answer questions on assessments.
There are five (possibly six) of our residents and neighbors who will be taking a course to become "First Responders". The course requires over one hundred hours of training for certification. The Township Board has committed the funds for the course expense and for providing those who become certified with the necessary equipment, including radios. Additional funds will be available for one or more defibrillators for our first responders. Currently, there are first responders in Copper Harbor and Allouez. Keweenaw County coverage for emergency situations will be greatly enhanced by having first responders in our Township.
The bird watchers are congregating at Anne and Jim Boggio's from as far away as Houghton and Chassell to enjoy the sight of a meadowlark and a cardinal who are wintering here. They appear several times a day to feed and Jim says they usually have an audience of admirers. We have to be content with watching chick-a-dees and nuthatches flit from feeder to trees in our woods.
Breakfasts at the Shoreline have been added to Friday nights at the Eagle Harbor Inn as meeting and greeting occasions. That is how we know we are not alone in this remote area and we take comfort in the neighbors who don't go skittering off to warmer climes. We do look forward to the return of the snowbirds, however. With a bright sun shining and temps in the 30's today, it shouldn't be too long until we can regale you with tales of the mild winter we are enjoying.
Your Eagle Harbor Correspondents,
Ann and Gerry
Ann & Gerry Johnson
HC 1 Box 280 B
Eagle Harbor, MI 49950
Ann and Gerry Letter Archive:
Winter, 2001 Fall, 2001
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