Commercial Record

Last year through glass, onto now

By Scott Sullivan
As 2023 dawns despite our protests, we return to Rear In Your View lessons 2022 didn’t teach us.

Community Church of Douglas, having sold the west 50 of its 80 acres at 6874 Wiley Road to Lakeside Pastures LLC, hosts a mortgage burning. The new owners, says CCD manager Mike Mora, have no development plans and have asked the church to maintain public trails it’s built through ex-orchards there.
Fennville offers Kathryn Beemer its city administrator job.
Dig in, who knows what you’ll find? Border cities Saugatuck and Douglas kick in another $17,400 each on top of their start-up $39,500 shares to complete water line installation unde being-rebuilt Campbell Road.
Cow Hill Yacht Club’s Venetian Festival will return post-Covid full starting Friday July 29 with ‘80s band StarFarm, dancing, food and beer, Dinghy Poker Run Saturday, also launching from Coghlin Park, starting at noon, lit evening big boat yparade and more.
Remains found in August 2014 on a Ganges beach are confirmed 7+ years later belonging to Ronald Wayne Jager, whose fishing boat was found vacant off Lake Michigan’s Wisconsin shore in 2000.
Saugatuck City Council votes unanimously to approve rainbow-striped crosswalks on all four corners at Butler and Culver streets outside city hall. Now displaced former members in 2020 had disputed flying an LGBT Pride lag next to U.S. and state ones then outside the building’s entry.
Daniel DeFranco is named new Saugatuck Township Manager.
Wicks Park Bar & Grill owner Christine Murphy Pierce appeals the Saugatuck Planning Commission’s limit of 25 combined indoor and outdoor seats at her planned backyard business add-on speakeasy in Allegan County Circuit Court.
Forty-five thousand baby kings — chinook salmon fingerlings — are kept in a holding pen just off Saugatuck’s Dockside Market, then placed in the Kalamazoo River to imprint themselves on the water, so when the grow go out in Lake Michigan, they’ll spawn running back here.

Locals pose tableau vivant-style costumed and frozen in positions Saugatuck-Douglas Art Club members choreograph to replicate painting masterpieces via photography.
Douglas secures a long-sought $500,000 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Brownfield grant to raze the long-empty former Haworth plant.
The 10th annual Saugatuck-Douglas Area Forces Day Luncheon breaks fundraising and crowd records.
Veterans parade through Saugatuck and Douglas downtowns, then gather in parks for high school band-accompanied firing-of-blanks salutes, wreath placings and speeches as Memorial Day flowers bloom.
Pigeon Creek Shakespeare Co. will debut its new take on the Bard’s “The Tempest,” “Blue Eyed Hag” June 11 in the Saugatuck Woman’s Club.

Fennville’s privately-planted poppy field west of the graveyard pops again. Park cars nearby with care and don’t pick them, Pleasant Hill Farmers ask.
“You call this red? This is salmon,” a returnee to Tony Amato’s reopened and repainted Red Dock asks. Three f-bombs in Amato’s first-sentence response assures the Key West/Hippie-style bar back.
Is Independence Day free from threats possible anymore? Saugatuck Mayor Garnet Lewis says this year’s parade will go on, more tightly secured on a shorter route.
Will fourth-year Old Root Beer Barrel vendor Mick White get a new Douglas lease serving cold steins, footlong hotdogs and more enroute from downtown to Lake Michigan beaches? Stayed tuned.
Sixty-five Saugatuck sixth-grade students end their year’s study raising and releasing 45,000 king salmon fingerlings with volunteer charter fishing trips onto Lake Michigan. They reel in, cook and eat more than 100 now-grown fish.
The errant car Goodwill Collections took through its Blue Star glass window was not a planned donation.

Our photographer needed to study the macaw man’s black t-shirt better at the July 4 parade. Its red, white and blue U.S. map silhouette, framed by the words “My Rights Don’ End/Where Your Feelings Begin,” turned out fragmented by black AR-15 icons, one whose barrels intersects what would be Chicago. Less than an hour later a gunman slays six at a Highland Park parade.
You know you’re in Saugatuck when the Big Bananamobile rolls in to chauffer Old Root Beer Barrel patrons around town while its pilot in pith helmet explains the eccentric vehicle’s origins and uses.
Woodman may spare the 70-year-old silver maple next to Douglas City Hall after all. City council, which had slated for removal to lay a sidewalk south on the west side of Union Street from Center Street to Blue Star Highway, will have an arborist check more thoroughly and report on the old tree’s health.
Saginaw Voyageurs cap an 8-day statewide tour paddling 1700s fur traders’ canoes camping their last night at Wade’s Bayou. Check out their replica boats, tents, outfits, campfire cooking and stories told.

Native American stone sculptor Jason Quigno erects his new “Seven Grandfathers” in front of the Douglas Old School House thanks to a Saugatuck-Douglas Fennville Arts Initiative Bequest.
The Grecian Venetian Festival boasts a toga party theme, dancing, drinking, navigation of sorts and splashing.
A semi driver hauling a 48-foot-long trailer of cherries sees it topple on I-196 south of Saugatuck-Douglas. A crane is deployed next day to help scoop up thousands of fruits scattered roadside.
The Michigan Supreme Court strikes down past Saugatuck Township and Allegan County Circuit rulings that Saugatuck Dunes Coastal Alliance backers lack legal standing to appeal permits granted North Shore of Saugatuck’s planned development of what preservationists call Saugatuck’s “Wild Heart.”
Six-year Saugatuck city zoning administrator Cindy Osman will resign Aug. 5 to a week later move from Saugatuck Township supervisor to its fulltime ZA post. Still to come: depositions of her and more city officials, past and present, regarding Dunegrass lawsuits.
Saugatuck City Council votes 4-3 to approve a consent judgment letting Water Street Bar & Grill expand into a converted 121 Mary St. home behind it, allowing 30 and 60 seats indoors. The planning commission this spring had set a 25-seat combined cap.
A Douglas-hired certified arborist confirms the historic maple next to city hall is too rotted from a 5-foot-long gash near its base to remain for long standing safely.
The final Felt Series summer concert features bass player/singer Delilah DeWylde and guitar-slinging husband Kirk Harrier, former 14-year Saugatuck city manager. With the stored $75,000 unused vacation time granted him by now mostly former city council members plus MERS benefits, by contract also, Harrier now he works as Otsego County Road Commission manager up north near Gaylord.

Should Saugatuck’s ex-River Market/Gleason’s Store and current Big Lake Outfitters buildings at 650 and 640 Water Street, sold together Oct. 15, 2021 for $1.75 million, be razed and replaced by a 20,327-square-foot, 3-story mixed-use building? Integrated Architecture representative D.J. VanderSlik removes his proposal from the Saugatuck Planning Commission public hearing docket after word gets out.
Saugatuck Township agrees to ask voters Nov 8 to OK a 19-year, 0.5-mill property tax assessment to operate, maintain and improve public parks and trails. The Blue Star Trails has its own, different funding source.
A Chevy Equinox’s 2:36 a.m. call on a Blue Star chiropractor finds him not working then, but first responders are. Finding the vehicle on its driver’s a few feet from the building, they extricate its driver and call in Consumers Energy to replace the power pole snapped on his errant route.
It’s official. Just-resigned Saugatuck City ZA Cindy Osman moves from Saugatuck Township supervisor to its fulltime ZA, clerk Abbie Bigford takes her place as supervisor and planning commission chair Becky Israel takes hers as clerk.
Saugatuck city hires Frank Walsh to seek candidates for three city positions: two old ones combined plus one new.
Musical chairs north in Laketown Township see clerk Michell Sall become new community development director, leaving the board 45 days to fill her now-open slot.
Saugatuck Township History Center Executive Director Eric Gollannek, Ph.D. calls The Commercial Record running a “Tripping Through Time” photo of a 1929 local chamber of commerce minstrel show showing civic leaders posing in blackface “an inappropriate, hurtful and harmful” from our past lacking perspective from Ferris State University’s Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia available now online.
Laketown Township will help threatened monarch butterflies by planting a chemical-free half-acre of milkweed pods at behest of resident Laura Judge.
Gollannek, whose Ph.D. in Art History came from the University of Delaware, will present a one-hour Tuesday Talk called “Carl Hoerman in Saugatuck” at the History Center. Drawing on teaching experience at Kendall College of Cart and Design and at Grand Valley State University Honors College and Liberal Arts program, plus his now four years here, Gollannek will describe what the 1885-1955 painter and architect’s work reveals about his art in Saugatuck and travel networks vital to him.
Douglas Zoning Administrator Nick Wikar — criticized by developers as overly-stringent and hard to reach, but praised by others for his letter-of-the-law adherence — is fired after three years here.
Jonathan Burnett, 36, arrested in Saugatuck last September after taking illicit photos of a girl living in an apartment over Kilwin’s, where both then worked, admits too to making child` pornography after police find more than 200 images of young girl he had sexually abused last year, all while being a pre-registered sex offender.
The Shore Acres Open, with disk golfers flinging towards chain baskets west of the Felt Mansion, will return post-Covid for another fling. Headline sponsors will be Green Koi marijuana provisioners in Douglas and Holland’s Big Lake Brewing.
Local developer Dave Barker, scheduled for arraignment Sept. 8 on three felony charges involving a dispute over laying boulders to protect a Ganges Township private beach, hasn’t let that stop him from proposing Forest Gate: 90 condominiums on 13 acres at 485 Ferry St. west of the former Haworth plant. He plans to plead not guilty.
Saugatuck residents now have two Ryans in city hall, as new planning, zoning and project management director Ryan Cummins joins manager Ryan Heise. The former, newly-combined job is listed as paying $87,500 yearly.
Sorry, but publisher Mike Wilcox does not want to pay for your student loan.

Tang that fueled early astronauts helps rocket Blue Star Bridge walkers crossing the Kalamazoo River 0.19 miles in Saugatuck-Douglas’s 24th annual Labor Day odyssey. “We couldn’t find Gatorade,” says midway aid station maestro Max Matteson, dispensing paper cups of the day-glow orange drink to trekkers, many towed by dogs on leashes.
Dan Fox, critical of new Saugatuck City Hall leadership, resigns as planning commission chair. Fox, a supporter of ex-city-now-township zoning administrator Cindy Osman, calls new ZA Ryan Cummins, 25 years younger, “an unqualified person” despite the fact he came here as Grand Haven mayor pro-tem, zoning board of appeals chair and planning commission member. Cummins, also Muskegon city police community coordinator, has also served 7 years with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, with the Northwest Ottawa Recreation Authority and as a sheriff’s marine deputy. Fox says he was told yesterday it should take Cummins “6-8 months to come up to speed.”
Douglas Planning Commission member Louise Pattison apologizes to developer Dave Barker for a letter included in council’s Aug. 15 meeting packet saying he’d gone bankrupt. “I never filed for bankruptcy,” said Barker that night. “I intend to pursue legal action. I’m working on a $30-millions project for the city, have investors flying in and I see this.”
Douglas Wishbone House cat lovers schedule a Coral Gables Crow Bar-hosted town hall meeting Equinox evening discussing board implications their weathered thrift-shop shelter building might be shut down.
Douglas Poet Laureate Jack Ridl questions the publisher’s math last week stating “Tenured professors, on average make over $200,000 a year.” After teaching for 37 years at Hope College, my pay at retirement was around $60,000. If one combines the salaries of all universities and colleges and calculates what would be the average salary, it comes out to $103,000.*

  • Data from the Association of University Professors
    More than 400 registered runners brave the beautiful, brutal 22nd annual Mt. Baldhead Challenge on a sunny Saturday to raise funds for the second-year Boys and Girls Club in Saugatuck Public Schools.
    The Saugatuck-Douglas District Library joins peers celebrating “Banned Books Week” 30 miles southwest from where Jamestown Township’s Patmos Library faces shutdown after voters, decrying its not pulling “LGBT-prepping” books from shelves.
    Crane’s Ciderfest celebrates 50 years and three generations running/growing family orchards sharing fresh treats from surrounding land, live music, hayrides, pie-eating contest and, for kids over 21, hard cider.
    The 11th annual Lakeshore Harvest Ride draws some 600 cyclists to raise $40,000 for the planned 20-mile Blue Star Trail from Saugatuck to South Haven.
    Douglas approves a $21,127.02 separation agreement with fired 3-year ZA Nick Wikar.
    Add to “the Only Strange Thing in Saugatuck is When It’s Not Strange” files seven friends donning witches’ outfits to paddleboard
    off Saugatuck Yachts Club’s launch ramp and cast spells Kal lake and river-wide or as far as chill first-day-of-fall pre-dusk allows.
    Three ex-Saugatuck city mayors, an ex-clerk, planning chair and more sign an 84-signature petition calling for Mayor Garnet Lewis to rectify her “power abuse” mis-appointing planning and ZBA candidates without ordinance-required counsel of surrounding staff. Lewis and city manager Ryan Heise, having consulted new city attorneys, apologize.
    Wishbone House’s Town Hall Meeting raises $8,065.02 that night with more pledged and coming to keep the cat shelter, food pantry and thrift center open through winter, with hope for far longer.

Douglas, after yearlong negotiations with donor Larry Gammons, accepts his and late partner Carl Jennings’ $286,000-valued gift of a carefully-manicured Pride Garden downtown park. Gammons vows to maintain long as he’s alive.
Saugatuck City Council candidate Mark Miller, asked during a public forum whether he had gathered his own signatures, concedes he had not. Ex-longtime council members and mayors Catherine Simon and Jane Verplank say they are running because their constituents want change. Two-year council members Scott Dean and Lauren Stanton, plus Helen Baldwin, said changes made since their rivals departures are a start.
Nearby resident Jane Underwood’s years-long pleas for Saugatuck city action addressing Park Street safety nets a walking tour from the Saugatuck Yacht Club to Perryman Street. A sunny fall day makes the stroll and words shared invigorating.
Fennville faces a fiscal fracas, reports Commercial Record correspondent and city commission member Jim Hayden, listing and detailing past years’ budget irregularities uncovered by investigatory auditors Plante Moran.
Saugatuck city hosts its traditional downtown family parade/costume contest; at night Douglas its notoriously well-behaved adult parade calming remaining clamor.
Add “Beaver” to “Signature” and more “-gates” alleged or actual in Saugatuck’s standard pre-election rush.

Photojournalist James Cook, whose Frank Old Shield portrait appears on this week’s B Section cover, agrees with Publisher Mike Wilcox there are many dark-money sources. Rounding out Mike’s citation last week of West Coast liberal George Soros ($121 million) might the Illinois’ own Uhline family, owners of Uline (121 million) GOP funders near home.
Shop local voting, Wilcox reminds readers. One or two votes near home add up fast.
NFL quarterback Kirk Cousins and wife Julie, who with two children live in Dune Grass home, agree to buy 96-year-old, 18-hole Clearbrook Golf Course from owners John and Candy Jeltema, but not the Grill Room restaurant or clubhouse also there.
Douglas studies obtaining a state flooding study grant applied to where Washington Street under Blue Star Bridge has unearthed after two years blocked by high-cycle waters.
Fennville’s 5-year Police Chief Greg Rekucki resigns for unreported reasons effective 1-1-23 and collect his contracted back vacation time through then. advantage of accrued by contract back vacation time. The city, now uncovered, scrambles to find public safety, agreeing to advertise for a full-time police officer, not chief. Voting No, Hayden asks, Wouldn’t contracting with the Allegan County Sheriff’s Department, whose trained road patrols pass through routinely, make more sense, at till New Year’s, to better think this through?

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