Life In A Deepfreeze
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 Ė 2003
Life in a deepfreezetests our mettle!! We moaned and complained November, December and half of January about the lack of snow and the spring-like temperatures. Mother Nature unleashed her fury with a vengeance the last two weeks. The sauna roof will soon need shoveling and the fluffy flakes continue to fall. The snowfall is welcome, but the sub-zero temps and high winds are not.
The cross-country ski trail is groomed and we hear it is wonderful from the few hardy souls who have braved the cold to test it. Snowmobiles are roaring through the woods and into the village looking for a warm place to thaw out before roaring out again. The riders look like alien species with their dark-visored helmets and complete outfits. They come through in packs of three to twenty and we believe the leader is the only one not needing a gas mask to avoid asphyxiation from the fumes of those in front. Our little rat terrier announces them with a few barks, but he really goes wild when the snowplow goes by. Guess he feels obliged to challenge the really big kids on the block.
Christmas in the Harbor was a magical time as usual. Santa was welcomed by an amazing number of children at the tree decorating party in the Township Hall. Outstanding outdoor lights on houses were matched by spectacular northern lights. The star shown from the lighthouse, but the sweeping light is out due to needed repair. The Coast Guardís budget may not be able to cover the cost. There was a full house for the Christmas Eve service at St. Peterís By the Sea. An exciting event for young and old was a horse drawn wagon ride through the (barely) snow-covered village, jingling sleigh bells and all. Arranged by Doug and Ginny Schubert, it was a happy addition to the seasonís festivities.
As we celebrated, we also grieved for the loss of two long time residents, Bob Black and Dorothy Boggio. We joined their families in services celebrating their lives and contributions to this community. We continue to follow Don Koopís progress in the aftermath of his severe spinal injury last fall. He has had carpel tunnel repair to make wheelchair life easier and will be going to Marquette for more rehab soon.
Now to the Township businessóThe purchase of the 390 acres known around the office as "the Eliza Lake/Long Lake Refuge" is finally completed. The deed is in our lock box and Lake Superior Land has the $174,000 dollars provided by two grants and our wellhead protection fund from the water department. Surprise! No tax money is involved in land acquisition so far. We are waiting for a promised grant of $240,000 to be matched by an anonymous donation of $60,000 for the next purchaseó360 acres known as the "Dunes & Marshes Project". Attached is a map outlining all the purchases made, or in progress, as well as some hoped for acquisitions to complete the recreation/preservation area. An incredible amount of work by our past and present supervisors has gone into these projects. Other concerned, dedicated residents have lent their support and efforts to make the purchases possible. We are grateful for Lake Superior Landís cooperation in holding these properties for us through the long, long grant process. As LCL identifies more land in the Township that will be sold, we will be looking as some one-time opportunities to purchase acreage that will have long term benefit to the Township.
Preparation of budgets has taken the spotlight the last couple of weeks. A long work session by the Board members, and Committee and Department heads ended with preliminary balanced budgets for all funds for the next fiscal year which begins April 1st. A public hearing will be held prior to the March Board meeting before the budgets are formally adopted.
Matt Arko, our assessor, tells us the increase in property values wonít be quite as shocking this year as the last two years. In spite of the gloomy economy, property values continue to rise as sale prices are Recorded. Buyers are paying far above the equalized values. We have no control locally over the increases caused by the high sale prices. The State and County work out the math and pass the bad news to us. As usual, the assessment notices will be out late in February and the Board of Review will meet to answer questions and hear protests the second week in March.
There is a breakthrough at the County level! Two Eagle Harborites were appointed to the County Zoning & Planning Board. Janet Shea ( a resident who also has a business in Copper Harbor) and Rich Probst (our friendly young host at the Eagle Harbor Inn) will serve on the Board. The land use plan worked on so diligently for the last two years has been adopted by the County. Our Township Land Use Committee headed by Barb Been did an outstanding job and contributed in major ways to the success of that project. The plan now becomes a basis for future zoning regulation to preserve the flavor of each of the five Townships in Keweenaw County.
The Volunteer Firefighters spent a very cold five hours sitting up at the Keweenaw Academy (the old radar base0 last Wednesday. A hug propane tank was leading and the VFD was called out to stand by for a possible disaster if the leading gas ignited. The wind chill on Mount Horace Greeley was bitter and it demonstrates the commitment the firemen have to all of our Township. Saturday, they participated in a cold-water rescue training session. They have received a grant and donations for equipment which have provided two cold water rescue suits and will also provide for lighter protective gear for fighting warm weather grass fires or forest fires. In a meeting over a year ago, Chief Radigan presented a five-year plan to the Township Board. The first priority was a second truck to be able to serve the whole township better. They are actively pursuing grants to make that acquisition a possibility within the next few years. The truck purchased in 2000 will be paid for with assessments on the 2003 and 2004 winter tax bills.
Those of you who are not on the cable system, but have internet access can take advantage of a new service. Send a request of Jeane Olson by e-mail at email@example.com and she will add you to the list receiving copies of notices posted on channel 28 of the cable. You would be able to plan for the potluck suppers, church services, and 4th of July events as well as the Junk Jettison Day at the solid waste in July.
The lack of snow cover during the first major cold spell here could have serious consequences for some of the water lines, especially from the service turn-on valves to homes. Please fo not turn on any water supply without notifying the Township Office 48 hours in advance. The water operator, Rick Finke, will be made aware, so he can monitor any spike in water usage and would have an idea where to look for leaks. Actually, the Water Ordinance specifies that the operator should be involved in all turn-ons and turn-offs, but long-standing habits of "do-it-yourself" handy neighbors are hard to change. Water meters will have to be checked in the spring, also, to be sure they are operating properly. Upon request, Rick will take samples of any Township Residentís well water for testing at the same time he is taking the monthly system samples. There is a charge by the State for the tests.
Time to put another log in the wood-burning stove to keep warm. Then out to blow the driveway so we can go to a great Super Bowl Party. Never ask "what do you do to keep busy all winter?" We might bore you with a long dissertation. We never find time for all the winter projects we plan, but we have FUN!!
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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