Recently, I attended a Barry County Commission Meeting where they approved an official declaration of ownership of the Gun Lake Dam. It was a unanimous vote – however, the mood in the room was not exactly “cheery”. Picture an episode of Maury Povich, where Maury announces “Yes Michael, the test results show you’re the father! Oh, and by the way, your kid needs some expensive surgery…” I overheard murmurs of “Are we supposed to owns dams?” and “Can we give it to somebody – like the Drain Commissioner?” (Russ Yarger is going to own this baby one way or the other…LOL!..and that’s OK with me!)
So at least the first step has been taken – but I get the impression this “walk towards replacement” is going to be quite the trek….. and being the impatient person that I am – it seems like anything the government does, moves in slow motion.
BUT – things DO get accomplished!!! (doing a Happy Dance!) I think it was in his first year as the Yankee Springs Supervisor, that Mark Englerth invited Michigan Senator Rick Jones, Representative Mike Callton, several county and township commissioners (plus a handful of local residents), to go on a guided tour of Yankee Springs State Park.
The property for the park was purchased in the 1930s by the Federal Government; and through the efforts of the CCC, it was developed into a beautiful, wooded getaway and learning center, destined perhaps, to become a National Park? But WWII had the Gov’t divesting itself of things not related to war efforts, so in 1943, the park was given to the State of Michigan. And through the years, maintenance for the State Park was often underfunded, and some of the landmark buildings began to show their age.
So Mark’s tour group found themselves standing inside the beautiful Roosevelt Pavilion, on the east side of the Day Use area, and looking up at rotting beams and seeing daylight where bits of the roof were simply gone. The big structure that had provided shade and shelter for thousands of beachgoers, company picnics, wedding receptions, and countless gatherings for decades, was looking a bit shaky. A sturdy long table, hand-hewn from the local trees and still sporting its CCC identification tag, was being threatened by leaking rain, year after year. The buildings needed MAJOR structural repairs. Mark implored our elected officials to not let these pieces of history be lost.
Maybe a year later – lo and behold! – money became available from the State, earmarked for the restoration!!!! I’m sending a huge (((HUG!))) to our elected officials who made that happen. And it took almost another year for the crews to finally show up – but yesterday, I took this picture of the Roosevelt Pavilion after its lengthy makeover, looking strong, protective, and dignified once again.
PS: These are some of my kids/grandkids at a family celebration held at the Pavilion a year ago – you can see the pine trees have been removed, which will probably help the shingles last longer now that they’re not buried in pine needles. Yes, I truly love this building!!