Meeting in Suttons Bay on April 8, commissioners said the northwestern Lower Peninsula county is wealthy enough already and that they don't want growth. They said it's up to people to find their own jobs and businesses to make their own plans. (more...)
EDITOR'S NOTE: The Park IS open. You can enjoy trails and other amenities.
While the sequestration - the automatic, across-the-board permanent spending cuts that was triggered by the Federal Government's inability to come to a budget deal - is a largely ephemeral concept for most so far, it has some very real consequences for Leelanau's #1 tourist attraction.
On March 1, 2013, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore was required to reduce its annual budget by 5%. That's a $234,000 reduction from a budget of $4,676,000, and as the fiscal year ends September 30, they have just 7 months to make the required reductions. Superintendent Dusty Shultz explains that, “The park remains open, welcoming visitors and continuing to protect the resources entrusted to our care.”
Here are the major actions being taken to implement the cut:
Staffing and fixed costs like utilities make up about 98% of the park’s budget, and they shortened 22 seasonal positions and cut 5 seasonal jobs.
Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive will not open until Memorial Day Weekend and will close after Labor Day.
Ranger programs, including environmental education programs for school groups, will not be available until Memorial Day Weekend and will cease after Labor Day.
Other than those at the Visitor Center and campgrounds, restrooms and trash cans will not be available until Memorial Day Weekend and will close after Labor Day. This includes the Manitou Islands.
Mowing of picnic areas and historic farmsteads will be sharply reduced.
Protection and monitoring of the endangered Piping Plover will be sharply reduced.
Follow-up control of invasive plants such as black locust will be sharply reduced.
A new National Park Service report shows that the 1,348,304 visitors to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in 2011 spent almost $133 million in communities surrounding the park, supporting an estimated 2,347 jobs in the local area. The information on Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is part of a peer-reviewed spending analysis of national park visitors across the country conducted by Michigan State University for the National Park Service.
Park Superintendent Dusty Shultz explains: “Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is a wonderful place to learn about America’s story. We attract visitors from across the U.S. and around the world who come here to experience the park and then spend time and money enjoying the services provided by our neighboring communities."
Most visitor spending supports jobs in lodging, food, and beverage service (63 percent), followed by recreation and entertainment (17 percent), other retail (11 percent), transportation and fuel (7 percent) and wholesale and manufacturing (2 percent).
The Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail officially opens with a ribbon cutting ceremony at the Dune Climb on Wednesday, June 20, 2012 at 1:30 p.m. The ribbon cutting celebrates the completion of nearly five miles of trail between Glen Arbor and the Dune Climb. When fully completed, the 27-mile trail will run from the southern edge of Leelanau County through the National Lakeshore, Empire, and Glen Arbor, to Good Harbor Bay. They selected this segment as the first to connect the Dune Climb and dunes trails, historic attractions in Glen Haven, the group & D. H. Day campgrounds and the village of Glen Arbor. Construction of the remaining segments will continue as funds are raised.
Julie Clark is the Executive Director of Traverse Area Recreation and Transportation (TART) Trails, Inc. and says, “This spring we surpassed a million dollars in private funding, much of that generated by the local community. We’ve got some big milestones ahead of us this summer to keep trail construction rolling next year, but I think we can now see and experience the trail and benefits it can bring, and they’ll want to help keep the project going.”
The trail was included in the National Lakeshore's most recent General Management Plan and then was analyzed and approved more specifically in an Environmental Assessment. National Lakeshore Superintendent Dusty Schultz says, “The Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail is the single most exciting project to come out of our recently completed General Management Plan. The trail will provide a wonderful way to explore and learn about the park, as well as become a meaningful alternative for visitors to travel between park sites and local businesses - without having to use their cars!”
Funding for trail construction is secured from the Dune Climb to Empire and Glen Arbor to Port Oneida. To move forward with construction, nearly $500,000 in matching funds are needed. To learn more about the project and how you can be a part of the effort, visit www.sleepingbeartrail.org or call Pam Darling, Development Director, TART Trails, 231-941-4300.
Traverse City is the biggest little beach town on the "Third Coast" - the U.S. shores of the eight-state Great Lakes coastline. The region's 180 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline basically trace the upper left edge of Michigan's "mitten." Add another 149 inland lakes that are 10 acres or larger and you get a rambling Cape Cod-on-freshwater summer playground: quaint port villages, sandy beaches, historic lighthouses, rolling orchards, family-friendly festivals (including the National Cherry Festival, July 7-14), and summer-only Traverse City Beach Bums pro baseball games (team members bunk with local families).
Head northwest from Cherry Capital Airport to the Leelanau Peninsula and Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Michigan's monumental sandbox is best known for its 150-foot Dune Climb (or roll), but there’s also 35 miles of pristine Lake Michigan beach. Take the 7.4-mile Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive loop in time to watch the sunset from Lake Michigan Overlook observation deck, perched 450 feet above the water.
Added to the Sleeping Bear Dunes' designation as the most beautiful place in America by Good Morning America last summer and it's clear that our region is a white-hot tourist destination. As you can see from the video below from Pure Michigan and the Traverse City Convention & Visitors Bureau, Leelanau & Traverse City are definitely being marketed nationwide as a package destination.
In Community Wind Faces Roadblocks, IPR News Radio explains that the village of Northport owns the hill behind its new sewage treatment plant, and a planned wind turbine about half the size of the windmill outside Traverse City will supply half the electricity for the plant.
Tom Gallery and more than a dozen other investors formed a private company and put up their own money to finance the turbine,allowing them to use federal tax credits and incentives that would not be available to the village of Northport.
Despite the benefits of local owners generating clean energy and using it on site, community wind projects are rare in Michigan. And Steve Smiley says it's because the state makes them difficult to do. "Every time we turn a corner someone's putting up a wall in front of us."
Smiley is the project manager for Leelanau Energy. He says, under state rules, there's an incentive to keep these projects smaller by paying less for the electricity as the projects get bigger. Originally, the Northport turbine was designed to supply all the electricity at the sewage plant. But at the lower rate, the numbers didn't make sense.
And Smiley says if state rules required a fair price for all community wind it be a lot easier to do. "We wouldn't have to go through tons and tons of paperwork and complications and have twenty or thirty people involved for a year just to try to do a piddly little project."
Read on for the rest of this interesting piece - what do you think?
The Leelanau Enterprise reported that last Tuesday night Leelanau commissioners voted 7-0 to hire Chet Janik as County administrator. He's the seventh county administrator since the position was established in 1985 and will resign his current position as superintendent at Charlevoix Public Schools. They add that:
Janik, who immigrated to Cedar in 1961 with his family at the age of 5, will receive an annual salary of $73,780, which along with benefits raised his overall compensation over $80,000.
...Janik started his professional career as an administrator at the age of 23 with Northwestern Michigan College, and previously served as superintendent in Buckley before accepting the Charlevoix position.
Proud of his heritage, Janik couldn’t help but comment about paczkis being gobbled up by officials and residents during a short break in the meeting agenda that allowed he and Van Pelt to sign his contract.
"This federal funding helps pay for improvements that make a real difference in economic development and quality of life," said State Transportation Director Kirk T. Steudle. "Transportation enhancements like these make Michigan communities even more attractive to residents, visitors and business investors."
Under federal law, 10 percent of federal surface transportation funds are set aside for TE projects. Administered by MDOT, the grants enable communities to invest in projects such as streetscapes and non-motorized trails. TE funds provide a maximum of 80 percent of the money required for each project, with the remainder coming from state and local government and the private sector.
Neither of these new laws would stop piracy, which we at Leelanau.com are opposed to. Both, however, would put control of online content in the hands of large entertainment corporations and the government, placing a giant burden on web media outlets like Wikipedia, WordPress, YouTube ... and even little old Leelanau.com.
With our Leelanau.com, Absolute Michigan and Michigan in Pictures websites all down yesterday, there was some time to think about the issue, and we'd like to share one thought: We live in a world very different from the early 1700s when Parliament enacted the Statute of Anne to address the concerns of English booksellers and printers (you can look it up ... for now, on Wikipedia).
We are encouraged at every turn and by every consumer device to sing along to commercials, dance to the latest music and in general, swim in a sea of ever-present media. You can debate the pros and cons of doing that but it seems that expecting our candid videos, blogged observations or FacebookedTM thoughts won't incorporate background music or samples, brand names is flat-out silly. We need intelligent and well thought out laws that recognize the modern world, and SOPA and PIPA definitely aren't either of those things.
Click hereto watch a short video or read more about this issue and please take a moment to contact your elected officials through the links we provide!
Voters around Leelanau County went to the polls yesterday. There's weren't many momentous decisions on the ballot, but it's always nice to have a chance to practice your democracy skills. Some highlights from the Traverse City Record-Eagle Leelanau Election Results:
Bay Area Transportation Authority Millage renewal passed 2541-865.
Leland Public Schools operating millage renewal passed (467-149) as did the Leland Township operating millage renewal (361-119), EMS and fire millages.
In Suttons Bay Township, the park system millage was defeated 440-252.