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News & News Archives
(latest entry at the top, blog style)

INDEX

2014:
First work trip of the season
MLA Conference 2014 etc.
SlickCraft Boat in the water!
Board Meeting of May 12, 2013
Board Meeting of March 10, 2014
DNR Friends Summit at Grayling

Board Meeting of February 10, 2014
Board Meeting of January 13, 2014

2013:
Annual Meeting of Dec. 8, 2013

Board Meeting of November 11, 2013
This is the Webmaster speaking
FILA documents open to the public
Maybe the last trip of 2013
7th Fall Harvest Festival
Board Meeting of September 9, 2013
FILA Party at Sandy's
Fourth trip - work & fun
Board Meeting of August 12, 2013
Port Oneida Fair
Third work trip
Inland Seas Classic Boat Show
Second work trip
Board Meeting of July 15, 2013
Cruising through the Foxes
DNR Trip of June 11, 2013
Board Meeting of June 10, 2013
First trip of the season
Board Meeting of May 13, 2013
Board Meeting of April 15, 2013
Board Meeting of March 11, 2013
Board Meeting of February 11, 2013
SlickCraft Boat Donation!
FILA's historical material available to the public
A Presidential Birthday
Board Meeting of January 14, 2013

2012:
Board Meeting of December 2, 2012
Annual Meeting of December 2, 2012
Board Meeting of November 12, 2012
Meeting with the DNR
Board Meeting of October 8, 2012
6th Leelanau State Park Harvest Festival
Leland Heritage Festival
Board Meeting of September 10, 2012
4th Work Crew Trip of this summer
Board Meeting of August 13, 2012
FILA at the Port Oneida Fair
Classic Boat Show Suttons Bay
Hon. Brian Calley at the GTLM
Hot Day, Cool Water
Board Meeting of July 9, 2012
Taming the jungle: Island trip of June 30
This is the Webmaster speaking....
Board Meeting of June 12, 2012
Media Release by MSHDA
Lilac Latrine Revival: First island trip of the season
New hinges for the Boat House doors
Historic Structures Report completed
Board Meeting of May 16, 2012
Board Meeting of April 9, 2012
Board Meeting of March 12, 2012
Board Meeting of February 16, 2012
Board Meeting of January 16, 2012
January Presentations


Archived Pages

2011 all articles

2010 all articles

2009 all articles

2008 all articles

2007 all articles

2006 all articles

2004 / 2005 all articles

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First work trip of the season

On Thursday, June 5 we (John McKinney, John Nelson, Don Stauffer, John Wells and I) traveled to the light station on South Fox aboard the Islander. This was our first trip of the season and as such was the latest start FILA has had; a month ago the southern end of the island was still locked in ice. We had a cloudless and calm day for the uneventful run out there despite the 35 degree water temperature.

We were carrying one of our recently rebuilt lawn mowers, and, as soon as we got it ashore, it was put to use cutting all the lawn areas. Other team members cleared the side walks, cut brush along the paths, maintained the equipment and inspected all the buildings. All appeared as we left them last autumn. There was some evidence of ice damage in the harbor with the landing crib sustaining minor damage (loss of a portion of the deck).

In the afternoon, we continued mowing while others policed the beaches. We were joined by a seaplane of University of Minnesota Plover habitat investigators and spent some time with them discussing their project and our earlier bird surveys. Later we loaded up the last of the worn-out mowers and our gear and departed.

Though the pleasant weather continued, the return trip was eventful: a short distance from the island we suffered a major engine failure (the first problem we have had with the Islander). We deployed our emergency propulsion unit (6 hp outboard) and had a leisurely return voyage. This was the first full test of the outboard to go the whole distance; slow but sure we returned to Northport in the late evening.

Subsequent investigation revealed a likely blown head gasket, and the boat was delivered to Manitou Marine for repairs.

Three Johns

Three Johns: John Nelson, John Wells & John McKinney (from left to right).
 

Access to skeleton tower
The ground beneath the 1934 Skeleton Tower was cleared for access by ladder.

 Lean-to in miserable shape
A sorry sight: the lean-to behind the 1867 Lighthouse.

Phil von Voigtlander
June 8, 2014
Photos by Don Stauffer

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Michigan Lighthouse Alliance Conference 2014 etc.

The Michigan Lighthouse Alliance Conference May 22nd and 23rd at the Great Lakes Maritime Academy in Traverse City was two days of information and exchange of stories and a shared love of those Light Stations. Believe me; the ?remote? group (those of us on islands around the Great Lakes) shared the most information and best stories as well as input to the seminars. We (FILA) are not alone. In fact, FILA is in way better shape than some groups. I found this out over the cocktail hour(s). Don?t worry?.I did not embarrass the FILA Family name and made a lot of friends for FILA. Met some passionate folks who care very much about Light Stations.

Ken Czapski, who did our HSR, has found shingles that match the 1910 Assistant Keepers Quarters building roof. The shingles are in an attic in a church he was doing an HSR for. That will take some phone calls / e-mails to determine availability of the shingles and location of the church. God bless Ken. He also bought me a beer!

May 25?. on to visit two light houses and one fog signal building??saw two very good representations (complete restorations as far as I could tell) of 1867 Lighthouses. The fog signal building was a disappointment. One 1867 light house was a land based Station?. (Read: parking lots to drive up to at Ontonagon, MI). The other at Copper Harbor, MI required a boat ride of ½ mile.

 Boat to Copper Harbor Lighthouse
Boat to Copper Harbor Lighthouse.
 

Copper Harbor Lighthouse
Copper Harbor Lighthouse, built 1866.

Another view
Same Lighthouse, different view.

Fog signal building at Eagle Harbor, MI
Fog Signal Building at Eagle Harbor, MI.
 

Oil House at Ontonagon Harbor Lighthouse
Oil House of the Ontonagon Harbor Lighthouse.

Ontonagon Harbor Lighthouse
Ontonagon Harbor Lighthouse.

1600 miles, 6 nights and 7 days to circle Lake Superior.

Just a note: the ice is very much on the waters of Lake Superior harbors. We refilled our cooler with Lake Superior ice.

John Wells
June 2, 2014

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SlickCraft Boat in the water!

After a fun adventure of lost keys, a dead battery for the front winch, and no gas (will fill up this weekend sometime), we finally launched the SlickCraft last night about 9:15pm.
 
The duct tape that was used to 'seal up' the hatch has to be removed - *note to team: NEVER NEVER NEVER use duct tape on a boat hull unless an emergency. There's about 4 hrs time to get the residue and sticky string off the deck. Will be a good 'hang out on the boat' kind of project.
 
The cabin needs cleaning, closet door latches need to be tweaked, and the anchor line needs to be installed on the windlass. There might be an issue with the motor lift, didn't seem to go down all the way. Will be looked at this weekend.

SlickCraft boat at Elmwood
The boat almost ready for action.

The boat will stay in Elmwood until Northport opens up.

Catherine Allchin
May 23, 2014

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Board Meeting of May 12, 2013

The financial report was approved and its influence on the 2014 Project List was discussed. So were the dock application status, the endangered species survey, and FILA's participation in the Great Lakes Lighthouse Conference (May 21 - 23) in Traverse City.

Cathy Allchin reported on the plans for the launch of the SlickCraft boat. Northport Harbor isn't open yet. Summer festivals were discussed.

Main items of the Island Projects list: Assistant Keepers Building Roof, Lean To on the 1867 Lighthouse Building, gutters on Assistant Keepers Building, and Boat House Doors and Windows.  

Cathy mentioned that the projected total funds for the Crib Project would be about $230,000.

Hans Joerg Rothenberger, based on Don Stauffer's minutes
May 23, 2014

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Board Meeting of March 10, 2014

Since there was no quorum, the February meeting minutes and financial report were deferred. According to John Wells, the Year End Appeal garnered around $8000.00.

Ham Hobson, our DNR man, reported on the dock application status (currently in review at the DNR) and the Endangered Species Survey. In April, FILA will meet with the DNR concerning this year's work permits etc.. According to Cathy Allchin, the Partnership Agreement with the DNR has been completed and submitted.

The Michigan Lighthouse Assistance Program did not grant FILA?s application for money to fund a window restoration workshop, but there may be another opportunity in cooperation with the Michigan State Housing Development Authority.

John Wells reported on the very well received DNR workshop presentation by Karen, his wife, and him. The priorities of the items on the island project list for 2014 were presented and discussed. A book writer contacted FILA concerning a research trip to the Light Station, which is the central topic of a book in the making.

Ham Hobson notified the board of an inquiry by the Northwest Michigan Council of Governments regarding a proposed water trail project for canoes and kayak with a possible stop at the station. Ham suggested that Paul check out the FILA website for further information.

Hans Joerg Rothenberger, based on Pamela Nickerson's minutes
March 14, 2014

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DNR Friends Summit at Grayling

The DNR-sponsored "Friends Summit" was held at the DNR's South Higgins Lake facility in late February. The event was designed to promote understanding, communication, and a sharing of ideas between the DNR and its non-profit friends groups. These groups present a hefty lot who volunteer at the over one-hundred state parks and recreation areas throughout Michigan.

FILA's John and Karen Wells made a thirty-five minute presentation which was well received with many questions asked by the audience afterwards. The Wells highlighted tips on how the annual Leelanau State Park Harvest Festival  has become a success. This coming fall, FILA, in conjunction with the Leelanau State Park at Northport, will hold the Eighth Annual Harvest Fest (date to be yet announced).

Sandy Bradshaw, based on John Wells's notes
March 2, 2014

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Board Meeting of February 10, 2014

The Board Meeting at the GT Children's Museum saw a big attendance including two participants on a transatlantic phone line. Ham Hobson (DNR) reported that the dock application is now being reviewed by the Army Corps of Engineers. Ways to prevent problems for endangered species were discussed.

The proposed 2014 budget, as distributed at the January meeting, was accepted. Participation in regional events was outlined. The list of island projects got updated.

The Michigan Lighthouse Alliance will be holding a conference at the Haggerty Center in Traverse City on May 21st ? 23rd. FILA board members are welcome to attend at their own cost.

Hans Joerg Rothenberger, based on Pamela Nickerson's minutes
February 12, 2014

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Board Meeting of January 13, 2014

The FILA Board, meeting at the GT Children's Museum, approved the minutes of the Annual Meeting and the financial report incl. a summary of the 2013 budget. Cathy Allchin reported on the state of the dock plans. John Wells briefed the board on the End of the Year Appeal and other fund raising projects. Ham Hobson of the DNR informed the board that the DNR will place fire extinguishers at the station and that storage is now available to FILA at the Grawn Field Office. John McKinney submitted a grant application to fund a class on wooden window restoration to train 6 - 8 people.

John Wells reported that the logbook of Allan Caine, last lightkeeper at the South Fox Light Station, has been located. Phil von Voigtlander and Cathy presented the island projects for 2014. John Wells will be giving a workshop on how to put on a fund-raising food event at the DNR Friends Summit being held at the Ram Center in Higgins Lake.  The workshop is scheduled for March 1st, 2014.

Hans Joerg Rothenberger, based on Pamela Nickerson's minutes
February 12, 2014

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Annual Meeting of Dec. 8, 2013

Fox Island Lighthouse Association held its 10th Annual Meeting on December 8. Twenty plus supporters joined for good food and good conversation plus a viewing of Doug McCormick's 1981 walk-about video of the lightstation where he spent time as a child. His reflections and insight were a perfect complement to the theme of our gathering. During the business portion we elected officers and welcomed a new Board member, Dan Schafer.

John McKinney
December 9, 2013

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Board Meeting of November 11, 2013

The September meeting minutes and the financial report were approved. Cathy Allchin reported on the SlickCraft boat winter storage, and the board decided to spend about $250.00 on shrink-wrapping. Cathy also briefed the board on the planning for the dock at the Light Station.

John Wells reported on fundraising, including the Year End Appeal he will write and send in the near future. He also commented on the visitor log from the station (including amazingly many kayakers) and on the inventory list of items owned by FILA, and he outlined the plans for the Annual Meeting.

John McKinney asked member to submit their volunteer hours. Cathy and Phil von Voigtlander presented the island projects for 2014, comprising Boat House doors and windows, the Assistant Keepers' Quarters rood and the dock.

Hans Joerg Rothenberger, based on Pamela Nickerson's minutes
December 8, 2013

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This is the Webmaster speaking

On September 10, 2013, our FILA Website got hacked. A malicious code was inserted on all HTML pages, a pretty crude script that tried to download spyware to the visitor's computer. The risk was minimal, though, since every decent antivirus program issued or updated after June 2012 is able to intercept the little meanie.

I spotted the malware code within less than eight ours (it got implanted while I was sleeping, Central European Time, still evening the USA) and immediately removed it. However, there still are Internet service providers and search engines that list the site as infected and issue a warning whenever you visit it. That's because those blacklists usually are updated only once in a few months. If you are getting a warning, don't worry, the site is clean.

Thanks to Karen and John Wells for notifying me of the persistence of those warnings!

By the way, I wonder why someone would go through all the hassle of cracking pretty sophisticated access passwords in order to damage such a little Website with about 75,000 visits in 9 years (which is not a bad count, though, considering the small circle we address).

Hans Joerg Rothenberger
December 5, 2013

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FILA documents open to the public

John Wells is to be thanked for his singular efforts to collect and place the FILA archival files in two Michigan historical institutions - the Bentley Historical Library at the University of Michigan and the Leelanau Historical Museum in Leland.

The collection at the Bentley Historical Library is now available to the public. Please click here to visit it.

The Lightstation on South Fox has a long and important history in the maritime story of northern Lake Michigan and John recognized the need to preserve it and make it available to all.

Thanks John.

John McKinney
Nov. 18, 2013

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Maybe the last trip of 2013

Don and Gary Stauffer, John Wells and Phil von Voigtlander traveled out to the Fox Island Light Station today aboard the Fox Light Star Craft. The rapidly changing weather provided a brief window of opportunity to access the Station; 36 hours prior to this, 10 foot waves were focused on this exposed shoreline. Last night the wind had gone N and moderated. By this time this evening the ESE wind is back up to 15 knots; so our timing was good.

Immediately upon landing, Gary got the mower started and made good progress on the final cutting of the season prior to the mower acting up. Attempts to revive it were unsuccessful (3rd mower to pack up this season) so we focused on other projects. All buildings were confirmed to be secure and interior inspection of the Shop, Fog Signal and Lighthouse were satisfactory. The Boat House interior was cleaned up and 2 garbage cans full of trash removed for disposal on shore.

Station seen from the boat at anchor
Fall colors kicking in around the Light Station.
 

 Grave cleaned
Because the mower broke down, Gary and Don cleaned the area
around the grave north of the Assistant Keepers' Quarters.

Phil serviced the latrine with compost and cleaned up shoreline litter around the lighthouse property. Meantime, the rest of the crew cleared the path to the west beach, put away the seasonal equipment and picnic tables, secured all buildings and prepared to load the boat. We returned with the lawn mower, emergency food buckets, medical kit and 2 full garbage cans of trash.

Concrete columns W of Assistant Keepers' Quarters
Concrete columns from the former
front porches of the Assistant
Keepers' Quarters.

This was the 7th* and perhaps last FILA trip of the season.

Phil von Voigtlander
October 14, 2013
Photos by Gary Stauffer

* 5 trips  by FILA boats, one by the DNR boat and one by private sailboat

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7th Fall Harvest Festival

The FILA Pancake Breakfast and Brat Lunch at the seventh Annual Leelanau State Park Fall Harvest Festival was very successful. Seems like each year we get more and more in attendance; it is becoming an established and recognized event, one people in the community look forward to.

The weather cooperated, the chance of rain never materialized. Certainly that helped too, both in attendance and happy faces. Frank Keegan and Bob Ashmun were indispensable and worked hard at making the yummy pancakes for the hungry crowd while John Wells grilled sausages and brats all day long. The crew eventually ran out of supply because of overwhelming demand.

A special thank you to the cooks as well as Don Stauffer with his beautiful beads and each and every other volunteer. And a special thanks to Al Ammons for hosting the event as well as the Michigan State Park System for making this a free entrance day to all state parks throughout Michigan.

Frank and Bob flipping pancakes
Frank (left) and Bob ready for the crowd

Pancake line
Line at the pankake counter

Sandy Bradshaw (photos by Barbara Keegan)
September 29, 2013

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Board Meeting of September 9, 2013

Topics that were discussed at the meeting: fire extinguishers provided by the DNR (will be placed at the station by the DNR), SlickCraft boat (ready to launch), dock plans (the $20,000.00 DNR grant has been extended to two years; approved), Year End Fundraising Appeal (the Board has to decide what project to use), Message in a Bottle (DNR will check if FILA will be allowed to release bottles into the lake), Bay Harbor Foundation grant (no decision yet as to what organizations will receive monies), Kathy Firestone's 1991 VHS cassette, narrated by Dough McCormick (got transferred to DVDs), FILA inventory for grant applications (updates to John Wells by the next Board Meeting), and the FILA Annual Meeting (scheduled for December 8th).

Committee reports: Fall Harvest Festival (Don Stauffer has done 10 lighthouse beads for his cookie cutter project), FILA Raffle (will run December 2013 - December 2014), history (the Bentley Museum is digitizing 800+ pages of archival material), and island projects (Boat House doors ready for painting, must get transported to the station, possibly even airlifted).

New business: invasive species (parts of the Phragmites colony northeast of the station has been replaced naturally by native willows), and volunteer hours 2013 (need to be documented to be submitted to the DNR).

Hans Joerg Rothenberger, based on Pamela Nickerson's minutes
September 18, 2013

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FILA Party at Sandy's

On Friday, August 16th, Sandy Bradshaw and Joerg Rothenberger hosted a FILA potluck gathering at their Suttons Bay home. There was lots of good food and great conversations. Needless to say that lighthouses, boats and water were important items on the agenda.

 Party at Sandy's 1
 From left to right: Gary Stauffer, Frank Keegan, Jeff Nicherson, Barbara Keegan, Jane Stauffer, John Wells, a little bit of Terry Pratt, Phil von Voigtlander, Pamela Nickerson, a glimpse of Anita Pratt, Sandy Bradshaw and Sharon Williams.
 

Party at Sandy's 2
Loading the plates:  Pamela Nickerson, Jim Williams, Sandy Bradshaw, Terry Pratt, Sharon Williams, Jane Stauffer, Gary Stauffer.

Party at Sandy's 3
 Clockwise, starting at 9:00: Jane Stauffer, Gary Stauffer,
Terry Pratt, Sharon and Jim Williams, Frank Keegan,
Jeff Nickerson, Anita Pratt, Barbara Keegan.

FILA gives a hearty welcome to new members, Frank and Barbara Keegan, who were at the party. They recently moved here from Baltimore and got in touch with our group at the Inland Seas Classic Boat Show in Suttons Bay in July. So nice to have more sailors who happen to love lighthouses join FILA. And it is good to see FILA knows how to work but enjoys a nice low-key gathering just for some onshore fun too!

Sandy Bradshaw
September 9, 2013

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Fourth trip - work & fun

On August 12, 2013, Sandy Bradshaw and Laddie welcomed Anita and Terry Pratt, long-time FILA supporters, aboard the recently recommissioned Lightkeeper, again captained by Joerg. Despite the sunny weather, the ride to the island was rough enough to knock Sandy off the deck salon sofa due to an freak wave. As on the previous trip, the boat was anchored a good half mile NNE of the Light Station to avoid the cross seas and southerly wind around the lighthouse point.

While crew, mutt and equipment were rowed to the beach, the wind, as forecast, veered through a full 180° within an hour. The new ground tackle of the Lightkeeper (two big anchors with long chains) handled that sharp shift with ease. The entire material had to be carried to the boat house. Because of the pretty cold wind, the kitchen was set up in the Boat House, which also dubbed as a dining room.

The next morning, Joerg gave the Pratts a tour through the buildings. Then he continued the survey work in the arid area north of the Station, while Sandy checked the medical emergency kit for missing items. Joerg came back with photos of very big canine tracks, some of which had been found already by the Stauffer brothers two weeks before and had triggered speculations about the possible existence of wolves on the island.

Sandy checking the emergency kit
Sandy checking the medical emergency kit at the
picnic table next to the Nickerson Fire Circle 

 Emergency kit in lighthouse bathroom
The emergency kit is stored in the bathroom
of the 1867 Lighthouse

1867 Lighthouse
The 1867 Lighthouse tower

The second evening sported a dramatic panorama of heavy black clouds, but they brought no rain. After a nice dinner in the Boat House, Terry even built a fire in the Nickerson pit to make s'mores.

 Black clouds over the Light Station
Menacing looking clouds over the Light Station but
no thunderstorm

S'mores at the fire pit
S'mores session at the fire pit despite the cold wind

The lake looked a bit calmer the following morning. While Joerg was finishing his survey work in the dunes, the Station was visited by three young guys from Johnson's ranch. They confirmed Joerg's theory concerning the alleged wolf tracks: There is a big mastiff at the ranch that sometimes roams the beaches.

 Three visitor's from Johnson's ranch
The three visitors from Johnson's Mirada Ranch

Brunch on the dock
Brunch on the old dock after breaking camp. From left to right: Anita, Terry and Sandy.

Around noon, Terry and Joerg moved the boat to the regular anchorage next to the old dock to get material, people and dog aboard. The ride back into Grand Traverse Bay was gentler than the way out, and the trip was polished off by a nice dinner in Omena.

 Terry changing shoes at the dinghy
Terry ready for the row to the
Lightkeeper

At anchor off the old dock
At anchor off the old dock
 

Terry at the helm
Terry steering the
Lightkeeper into Grand Traverse Bay

Hans Joerg Rothenberger
August 20, 2013

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Board Meeting of August 12, 2013

Topics after approval of the July minutes and the financial report: The Light Station Lease for 25 years was signed by John McKinney, notarized and sent to the DNR. The Gift and Acceptance Agreement will be revisited if changes are made by the DNR. The Lightkeeper (boat) title has been transferred out of FILA's name. Maintenance on the donated SlickCraft boat was completed. FILA found out that the floating docks actually do not belong to them. The DNR has proposed giving FILA $6000.00 in return. As a consequence, Jim Schiffer is redrawing the dock and breakwall plans.

John Wells reported on fundraising projects: two Year End Appeal letters, Lighthouse mugs, commemorative FILA glass beads, Lighthouse cookie cutters with Lighthouse bead, message in a bottle, and auctioning a trip to the island. John has sent the Bay Harbor Foundation Grant Letter of Intent.

Don Stauffer reported on regional events at which FILA had presented its projects. Volunteers are needed for the Fall Harvest Festival. Island projects (Phil von Voigtlander & Cathy Allchin): The Boat House doors and windows are nearing completion.

Cathy is in touch with Airworthy Productions regarding producing a program on the South Fox Island Light Station. FILA will join the Great Lakes Lighthouse Keepers Association this year. John Wells will conduct an inventory of FILA's tools and promotional materials.

Hans Joerg Rothenberger, based on Pamela Nickerson's minutes
August 24, 2013

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Port Oneida Fair

On Aug. 9 & 10, we were at the Port Oneida Fair. Two long days in the sun but many great visitors stopped by to talk with us. We sold some FILA hats and a few other FILA merchandise. Catherine Allchin, John McKinney and John Wells helped staff the booth. Sandy, Joerg, Molly and Joey were there on Saturday to help, also. The glass bead making demos helped to draw in people. We made a couple hundred dollars over the two days.  

 Inside the FILA booth
From left to right: Don Stauffer, Joey Webb, Molly Stauffer, Sandy Bradshaw
 

People at the FILA booth
The FILA booth; Don attracts the kids, then FILA attracts their parents.

Sandy making a wood peg
Sandy testing her skills of wood peg making

Traditional music
Traditional music in the Burfiend Barn

Don Stauffer
August 24, 2013

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Third work trip

After two years out of commission, the Lightkeeper had been launched by Captain Joerg on July 25 after a thorough overhaul of 2 1/2 weeks. On July 29, we left Ahgosatown Marina north of Omena. Crew was Sandy Bradshaw, Donald Stauffer and Gary Stauffer, plus Laddie, Sandy's collie. Joerg was experimenting with propeller pitch and fuel consumption calculations, so we had a pretty slow trip. It was windy and we approached the Light Station from NNE to anchor in the lee near the northern boundary of the Lighthouse property, about 1/2 mile from the boat house.

Lightkeeper in Ahgosatown Marina
Joerg welcoming the crew aboard the refurbished
Lightkeeper in Ahgosatown Marina.
 

 Approaching the anchorage 
Edging into the anchorage in the lee of the lighthouse.

Shuttling crew to the beach  
Don, Laddie and Sandy after boarding the dinghy.

We only took what we needed to set up camp that night. It was a short night as everyone was up early to return and unload the boat. We made four trips to get everything to the boat house. Donald brought his small mower from home and the Stauffer guys started the tough task of cutting the tall grass at the lighthouse.

 Gary & Don carrying the lawn mower
Don (left) and Gary carrying the lawn mower along the beach.  
 

Don mowing grass
Don with the lawn mower in front of the 1867 lighthouse.

Sandy hauling stuff at the boat house
Sandy removing lumber from the boat house.

The wheels were set as high as they would go and it was tough mowing. Joerg got out his transit and proceeded to take measurements around the property. Sandy cleaned the boat house and set up the kitchen. Gary and I cut back the briars and cleared the paths. We had some rain which stopped the mowing.

The next day we finished the mowing and trimming around all of the buildings. Sandy cooked a "Mustgo" dinner  since the ice was melting and we had a whole chicken and great baked bean dish. Gary and I swept out the two assistant keeper's apartments closest to the lighthouse. Laddie, the lighthouse dog, was a great traveler and followed us around the property and stayed close. The wind was nasty on Wednesday but we worked around it.

Thursday morning, we closed up the buildings, packed up the tents and gear and were able to move the boat out front of the boat house. We made four trips in Joerg's new dingy out to the boat to get loaded for departure. The weather cooperated and the wind died down somewhat, so we started our slightly quicker trip back.

Leaving South Fox behind
Looking back to South Fox Island.

Joerg was still experimenting with different throttle settings. It was fun to watch him steer the boat through two 90 degree turns just using the gear shifter.

Don Stauffer
August 1, 2013

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Inland Seas Classic Boat Show

On July 20, 2013, there was the Inland Seas Classic Boat Show in Suttons Bay. Sandy Bradshaw, Joerg Rothenberger and Donald Stauffer set up the FILA booth and the Glass Bead Making tent. The festivals are more ?friend raising? than ?fund raising? but it always helps to have FILA staff around to talk to people looking over the display. John Wells and John McKinney helped to spell those at the booth. Don was making glass beads and donating half of the profits to FILA.

 Inland Seas & Madeline
Madeline (MHA, left) and Inland Seas (ISEA) side by side

FILA booth at the festival
FILA's booth next to the two tall ships
 

John McKinney talking to the Sheriff
 John McKinney (right) talking with Leelanau County Sheriff Michael Borkovich

Musicians
Musicians next to the FILA tent

Don Stauffer
August 24, 2013
 

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Second work trip

On July 16, co-captains, Phil von Voigtlander and Donald Stauffer, met Gary Stauffer, John McKinney, & Jim Schiffer at Northport for an 8:00 am departure. Calm seas allowed a quick one and half hour trip out to the Lighthouse.  Phil assigned tasks to be completed and we started in. Jim S started the survey for the new crib in the water. A major problem soon developed as the only lawnmower wouldn't start or run!

The stones in the water by the old crib and in front of the boat house were removed to provide better access by dingy. Phil tried to "kill" the poison ivy and Gary became Rod Man to the surveyor. Donald cleared the path through the woods to the West beach. Weather started to get windy and that meant more waves, so a quick dip out by the Islander was taken before we left for Northport.

We had a slightly bumpy ride for part of the trip back but still made it in one and a half hours. This is the Islander's 5th trip out to the Lighthouse and we used $90 for gas this trip. We will try another work trip next week, weather permitting. If we don't get the grass knocked down, we will need a hay bailer!

We really need to get two mowers for use at the Lighthouse. When the mower goes down, we waste a trip and have to return soon. We talked about having sheep or goats out there, but couldn't come up with a viable plan. Anyone have a heavy duty mower for us?

Don Stauffer
July 16, 2013

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Board Meeting of July 15, 2013

The Board met at the Grand Traverse Children's Museum without any absences from either side of the Atlantic Ocean.

After approval of the May minutes and the financial report, the following topics were discussed: details of the Emergency Handbook / Crisis Management Plan (Ham Hobson, DNR, attending the meeting, will check to see if he can get fire extinguishers for the station), Light Station Lease for 25 years (John McKinney will sign it), Gift And Acceptance Agreement (unlikely to be signed, reasons discussed), loaning the floating dock sections to Michigan Boaters' Association for a boat show (approved), Lightkeeper boat title transfer (within the next few days), new boat shake-out cruise (could take 2 - 3 weeks, financing within the budget approved), fundraising, and Bay Harbor Foundation Grant Letter of Intent.

FILA's participation in the Inland Seas Festival in Suttons Bay, the Port Oneida Fair, the Fall Harvest Festival and a summer raffle were discussed. New FILA hats will be sold at events. John Wells checked with the Crist Point Light Historical Society as to how they got so many members and got some hints.

Island projects: The Boat House doors will be constructed by the DNR, painted by volunteers, diassembled, transported to the Light Station, reassembled and hung. The Boat House windows will be restored by qualified volunteers.

H. Joerg Rothenberger has compiled satellite photos of the entire Light Station property from three sources. The differences (different seasons, different times of the day) can be used for assessing many interesting features that are not visible from ground level. He will make the pictures available on the Website. Joerg also offered to make digital copies of Cathy Firestone's South Fox video tape on his professional grade VHS equipment. Ham Hobson mentioned that the DNR also has some video footage of the station that could be made available.

Hans Joerg Rothenberger, based on Pamela Nickerson's minutes
August 23, 2013

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Cruising through the Foxes

On Wednesday, June 26, I stopped off for the evening at South Fox with the intention to get the place at least mowed. I anchored off the west beach and went ashore prior to dinner and inspected the station; all is well and the marked trail was appreciated.

After dinner I hiked the northern boundary to assess the condition of the signage; some was missing or weathered to the point of needing replacement. We should discuss the issue of more permanent signage at the next board meeting.

I had hoped to mow Thursday morning  but an advancing thunderstorm forced me to relocate to the lee of the island in the middle of the night. Thursday was wet and foggy and I needed to travel on.

There is gas in the mower if anyone gets out that way.

Phil von Voigtlander
July 1st, 2013

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DNR Trip of June 11, 2013

The DNR boat left Leland harbor shortly after 9:00A.M., captained by Conservation Officers Steve Huff and Rebecca Hopkins. FILA staff: Catherine Allchin and John Wells, DNR staff: Keith Lounsbery, Brent Rayle and Ham Hobson.

According to John, "The entire day had a common dominator: FOG. It is interesting to be at the proper location - according to GPS and radar - in dense pea soup fog, and land is nowhere even close to being seen. Land must be nearby. Then, slowly a beach appears; looks like a long cloud in fog - and sure enough, there?s the Boathouse! Bingo! There?s Phil?s favorite mooring buoy! Set the anchor. Familiar neighborhood."

Quoting Cathy: "Ham had a Youtube moment when he stepped out of the dinghy, got his foot stuck in the line and almost did the splits while trying to get out of the boat. Fortunately no camera was rolling but he IS the first to 'take a dip' out at the station this year!"

Again John: "I top coated the Boathouse rails (I know, not an HSR priority item) but I wanted them to look nice. It only took me two years.  Hope you all understand. I have a love affair with Rust-oleum paint."

Back to Cathy: "John worked the hardest painting the rails and hauling the 'emergency food buckets' up the hill. The rest of us took the grand tour. They were amazed at how dry the basements were! We did not get up the steel tower however; the bolt was cut and will be replaced with a combination lock so we never lose the key and it will be more accessible on future trips."

Ham and John laid out the trail to the west beach with wooden stick markers, and a few 'No smoking, No open flame' signs were put up.

Cathy: "Measurements were taken for the downspouts on the Assistant Keepers Quarters and the 1867 Lighthouse. After a survey of the lean-to, there was a discussion as to how to proceed. We took detail shots of the roof on the AK building - there is further plaster falling in upstairs rooms and the south side lower single apartment rot from water has not gotten any better.

We removed the wooden frames from the Boat House windows and brought them back to be rebuilt on the mainland, then reinstall. Open windows were boarded up. Measurements were taken for the back door of the Boat House. This door will be made by Ham & crew. They are also assembling the big Boat House doors - waiting for a few missing parts.

Fog continued to roll in and out during the day. Temperature on the island was perfect! Landfall in Leeland at 5:55 p.m.."

Epilogue by Ham Hobson: "The weather was great but foggy, shrouding a mysterious island in even more mystery! The Association ( FILA) has made tremendous progress on the buildings and grounds. Finding ways to overcome the monumental task of logistics, just getting people and materials to the island let alone accomplishing all the work that has been done!

Thanks FILA!"

Reports by Catherine Allchin, John Wells and Ham Hobson,
compiled by Hans Joerg Rothenberger
June 16, 2013

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Board Meeting of June 10, 2013

After approving the minutes of the previous meeting and the financial report, the Old Business section saw topics such as the Emergency Handbook (some fire extinguishers possibly supplied by the DNR), DNR Partnership Grant application (originally for the permanent crib and dock, to be transferred to other projects), plans for the permanent crib, a report covering the overhaul of the donated SlickCraft boat, fundraising ideas, event advertising, an effort to get more people to the station in order to broaden FILA's member base, and Cathy Allchin's upcoming presentation of our activities to the Michigan Waterways Commission.

Details of FILA's appearance at various summer events and Island projects including the Boat House doors were discussed. The doors will be installed by the DNR. John Wells mentioned that Cathy Firestone has a VHS cassette from the 1980s of South Fox.

The board decided that FILA join UpNorthMedia.org and the Great Lakes Lighthouse Keepers Association (GLLKA).

Hans Joerg Rothenberger, based on Pamela Nickerson's minutes
July 8, 2013

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First trip of the season
(a.k.a. The Love Boat Episode)

May 26th was the first trip to South Fox Island for 2013. Co-Pilots Donald Stauffer and Phil von Voigtlander prepared the Islander and launched the boat with Catherine Allchin, Heather Landis, member of the HSR team in 2010, and her fiancé, Jordan Devries. A nice, calm day resulted in a smooth hour and a half ride out to the island. We anchored in 6 feet of water and had everyone ashore in two dingy trips.

 Dinghy on the way to the old dock
Looking for a landing spot.  

Equipment on the picnic table by the Nickerson Fire Circle
Base camp at the Nckerson Fire Circle.

We carried our supplies up to the fire pit picnic table and did a walk around the buildings. Phil and Catherine prepared a list of the day's activities. We cut grass, trimmed with the weed whacker, swept up clippings, hauled dead limbs, and cut a path from the fence of the Fog Signal tower over to the base of the tower. We put up the large ladder so Catherine could go up to the top and measure the window  for a replacement window pane. Don blazed open the path through the woods to the West beach with the whacker.

 
Jordan, Heather and Catherine in front of the 1867 Livhthouse.

The toilet seat in the lilac jungle
The Lilac Garden Throne, a.k.a. the outhouse without a house, still in usable condition.
 

1867 Lighthouse from SE
The 1867 Lighthouse seen from the SE corner of the
septic field area.

The Lighthouse structures wintered well and the crew was able to complete the grounds keeping tasks by 5:00 pm. About 45 minutes later, we had the Islander loaded for the trip back home. As we approached the boat, we noticed that it had turned into a love nest for tiny black flies. Thousands of tiny flies were over every part of the boat, dash, cockpit, floor, windows. What was the attraction for those sex starved insects? The Islander became the "Love Boat" for frantic sexual antics and then they died!  But they didn't blow away.  The carpet and dash will have to be vacuumed and cleaned again. We thought the trip home would blow them off..... but no, they stayed for the entire Love Boat cruise back to the mainland.

 
Cockpit coaming and seats all covered with insects.
 


What a mess!

Insects on the dashboard
Insects on the dashboard.

The Islander ran great and will serve as a back up boat to the donated 25' AMF Slickcraft, which should be in service for the next trip.  With two operating boats available, we hope to get more people out to see the island lighthouse project..  Once you visit, you become enthralled with the history, mystique, and lore of the past and the hope of the future.

Don Stauffer
May 29, 2013
 

Additional photos

Here are four panoramic photos contributed by Heather Landis (click on them to see them in higher resolution and pan around a bit -  it's worth it!):

View from SE
Approaching the Light Station from southeast.

Stone wall by the Boat House
The stone wall along the walkway on the south side of the Boat House.


Inside the lantern room of the 1934 Skeleton Tower, starring Cathy Allchin.

 
Stunning view from the Skeleton Tower, looking NNW.

Thank you very much Heather!

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Board Meeting of May 13, 2013

Vice President Cathy Allchin presided the meeting at the GT Children's Museum. The April minutes and the treasurer's report were presented, discussed and approved. Details of the Emergency Handbook & Crisis Management Plan were presented by John Wells, and possible ways to handle the DNR grant for the working dock were discussed.

Cathy reported on the donated EZ Dock parts and their future use, including a possible involvement of the manufacturer and the long-running issue of the Safe Harbor project. The Michigan Waterways Commission is meeting in Leelanau County on June 21. Cathy will try to get on the agenda.

After a brief update by Cathy concerning the title transfer of the Lightkeeper and the registration of the new boat, John Wells presented his plans for fundraising including small grants from local foundations. Cathy reported on the schedule of the FILA segment on the UpNorth TV channels and their availability on youtube,com.

According to John Wells, FILA received a grant from the Biederman Foundation to cover the cost of archiving the historical documents. John and Karen Wells and Cathy Allchin, with DNR rep Ham Hobson, attended the DNR Non-Profit Summit held at Higgins Lake.

Island Projects: The pending Boat House door issue was discussed, and John Wells presented a Keeper Program proposal written by his wife and a list of people interested in visiting the station. A June 21st trip is scheduled so the Michigan Waterways Commission representatives can visit the light station with DNR representatives.

Hans Joerg Rothenberger, based on Pamela Nickerson's minutes
May 19, 2013

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Board Meeting of April 15, 2013

This month's meeting at the GT Children's Museum, again presided by Vice President Cathy Allchin, approved the minutes of the March meeting, the Treasurer's report including the submission of Form 990N to the IRS for 2012 and the 2013 budget compiled by Karen and John Wells.

John had sent out a one page recommendation for the updated Emergency Handbook/Crisis Management Plan. Ham Hobson, DNR representative, again kindly attending the meeting, offered to share some documentation that the DNR uses in similar situations. He said the application for the DNR Partnership Grant is on track for completion at the end of April.

Cathy reported on the meeting of FILA representatives with the DNR concerning a 25 year lease. The Board decided to have President John McKinney sign the amended lease contingent upon an inspection of the site by the DNR.

A number of EZ Dock floating dock sections have been donated to FILA. They have to be brought to the DNR office in Grawn, looked over and transported to South Fox Island. Other island projects were presented, including the Boat House doors and windows, the Volunteer Keeper Program and the DNR trip.

Participation in local and regional events was discussed, including also a summer raffle and an interview on Up North Live with the possibility to produce and broadcast a video on local cable and YouTube. John Wells suggested a summer membership drive to be held at Peterson Park south of Cathead Bay.

Hans Joerg Rothenberger, based on Pamela Nickerson's minutes
April 16, 2013

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Board Meeting of March 11, 2013

FILA Vice President, Cathy Allchin presided the Board Meeting, again at the GT Children's Museum. The for the DNR Partnership Grant has been submitted to the DNR. Much appreciation and thanks go to Ham Hobson (who attended the Board Meeting) and Wendy Jo Bazzett from the Michigan DNR for their help in filling out the application. Details of the Light Station Lease draft and insurance coverage for DNR personel in accordance with the Friends Agreement, a proposed three-year contract between the DNR and FILA, were discussed, and the agreement was approved by the Board.

Technical and financial aspects of the planned service dock and the estimate provided by Home Depot concerning the materials needed to repair the lean-to attached to the 1867 Lighthouse were presented.

Archival records have been sent to the Bentley Historical Museum in Ann Arbor and the Leelanau Historical Museum and are now available for the public to view; an index will be available online to aid in research.

By the way, in 2012, 1933 hours were volunteered for our project!

Hans Joerg Rothenberger, based on Pamela Nickerson's minutes
March 12, 2013

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Board Meeting of February 11, 2013

The Board met at the GT Children's Museum. A draft of the 2013 budget distributed by Cathy Allchin, the volunteer hours sheet and the necessity to update the Board members contact sheet were discussed. Cathy reported on two presentations she gave (International Shipmasters Association and Twilight Rotary Club), and it was mentioned that archival FILA documents were packaged and sent to the University of Michigan and the Leelanau Historical Society Museum.

Cathy also presented a list of projects for the 2013 season at the Light Station. Plans for new and refurbished equipment for work at the station, the construction of a service dock and a possible DNR visit to the island were outlined. Legal aspects of the Light Station Lease draft and insurance based on the current lease were discussed.

Home Depot has agreed to help estimate the materials needed to stabilize the Lean-To attached to the 1867 Lighthouse, knowing that materials will not be purchased at Home Depot as FILA must use materials deemed appropriate in the Historic Structures Report.

Hans Joerg Rothenberger, based on Pamela Nickerson's minutes
March 11, 2013

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SlickCraft Boat Donation!

Arrow Roofing and Supply of Grand Rapids and Traverse City has donated a 25ft AMF SlickCraft inboard/outboard (sterndrive) boat to FILA. The boat has large open aft area and a 9 ½ ft beam. This will make for a perfect boat for hauling volunteers, camp gear, supplies, construction material and other goods to the island. The boat has a good engine and will serve us well. Now to outfit the boat with required USCG safety items and other necessary equipment.

Thank you Arrow Roofing & Supply for getting us on the water and to South Fox this season and many more to come.

Donated Slickcraft boat
The new boat on her trailer.
 

Boat from behind
 View from behind.

Cathy and John at the stern
Inspection by FILA Vice President Cathy Allchin and President John McKinney.

John Wells
February 18, 2013

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FILA's historical material available to the public

After several months of planning, organizing, copying, and indexing the records, photos, newspaper articles, oral histories, and other historical material about the Light Station, this material is now available to the public. The Bentley Historical Library on the campus of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan and the Leelanau Historical Society Museum in Leland, Michigan now have hundreds of pages of historical data available to the public.

Researchers, historians, educators, writers and the general public are invited to check on line at the respective institution for an index to the material. Please check with each of the two facilities to view policies and procedures to access the material.

John Wells
February 18, 2013

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A Presidential Birthday

A milestone was recently celebrated for our President, John McKinney. We won't mention that special age he just reached but all that know him are ever so happy as he is in great health, and an example for many far younger than him!

On January 27, we all (that could make it) met at Sleder's Tavern in downtown Traverse City, the restaurant that is famous for it's "Kiss the Moose" logo, though we could not persuade John to do so!


From left to right: Board member Sandy Bradshaw,  FILA member (and right-hand man of many board members) John Wells, his wife, Karen, FILA Prez John, his wife Anne, Vice-President Catherine Allchin, FILA member John Tremblay and FILA friend Robert Barker.
 

John unwrapping presents
The birthday child unwrapping presents under the eyes of Robert Barker. 

John and Anne McKinney
 Anne and John McKinney.

Happy Birthday and congratulations! And thanks for all you have done and continue to do for that lighthouse we all love.

Sandy Bradshaw
February 3, 2013

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Board Meeting of January 14, 2013

The FILA Board met at the GT Children's Museum. After the Treasurer's financial report, the Board discussed the basics of the 2013 budget. The 2012 year end statement and operating statement by Karen Wells were accepted. The Year End Appeal neatly met its financial goal and even resulted in a few new FILA members. The group now has about 160 members.

The Board discussed the necessity to compile an Emergency Handbook / Crisis Management Plan, i.e. how to handle media and others in the unfortunate event an accident on the light station happens. The handbook will have emergency procedures as well as suggestions on how to respond to crises as they arise.

Plans for how to operate the now three (!) boats that are available for FILA were outlined. The Archival project, managed by John Wells, is moving along.  John distributed a required  list of data groupings of FILA archival materials.  These will be sent to the Bentley Historic Library and the Leland History Museum.

Phil von Voigtlander's Volunteer Keeper Program proposal was approved. Dan Mullen, the DNR district chief, proposed a visit to the light station in 2013. The DNR will supply the boats and organize the trip. FILA may partner with the DNR to do something on DNR property.  FILA board members should propose a project that ranges from $5,000 - $20,000 to qualify for DNR grant money. John McKinney will forward the information to the Board for review and suggestions.

Hans Joerg Rothenberger, based on Pamela Nickerson's minutes
January 27, 2013

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Board Meeting of December 2, 2012

The FILA Board had a brief meeting in the course of the Annual Meeting (see separate article below). The Secretary's minutes of the November and the Treasurer's financial report were approved. John Wells reported on the Year End Appeal. FILA thanks everyone who donated throughout the year of 2012.

The officers, President ? John McKinney, Vice President ? Cathy Allchin, Secretary ? Pamela Nickerson, and Treasurer ? John McKinney (pro tem), were approved for the 2013 term. Cathy Allchin and John Nelson, whose terms as Board members were expiring, were confirmed for another term. The exiting Board member, Roman Grusz, was thanked for his help.

Hans Joerg Rothenberger, based on Pamela Nickerson's minutes
January 22, 2013

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Annual Meeting of December 2, 2012

On Sunday, December 2 FILA held their Annual Members Meeting at the Traverse Public Library Main branch. The early afternoon lunch and other activities were in the McGuire Room of the Library from 12:00 to 3:00.  A short business meeting of the Board of Trustees of FILA preceded a ?pot luck? lunch and Power Point presentation by Vice President Catherine Allchin. Accomplishments of the 2012 season highlighted the presentation. A second viewing made up of all volunteer photos over the past years was also shown. Many old friends and island volunteers of FILA and the Light Station had a chance to see themselves captured by the camera in years past.

Annual Meeting 2012 overview
 

Cathy giving her presentation
 Cathy Allchin giving her presentation.

Thanks to all who attended and made for another great Annual Meeting of the Fox Island Lighthouse Association.

John Wells
December 5, 2012

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Board Meeting of November 12, 2012

According to the Treasurer's report, a donation of $1000.00 was received from the William E Slaughter, Jr. Foundation. The meeting with the DNR of Oct. 18 was discussed, including the efforts to get the South Fox Island Light Station on the National Registry.

The possible donation of a boat was announced. Cathy Allchin is in touch with the donor. George "Carp" Carpenter, former FILA Board Member, received certificates to thank him for his work on the Historic Structures Report project.

Plans for the Annual Meeting in December were made, including a brief presentation of accomplishments, acknowledgments, invitation postcards and press releases. Board nominations and expiring terms were discussed.

Island: The station is closed for the winter season. Dan Mullins, the regional DNR manager, proposed a DNR sponsored trip to South Fox Island next spring. Stef Staley of the Grand Traverse Lighthouse Museum proposed to include the South Fox Island Light Station in the tour of the Five Lights; the visit would be on July 6th as part of the tour.

Hans Joerg Rothenberger, based on Pamela Nickerson's minutes
December 2, 2012

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Meeting with the DNR

On Oct. 18, Phil von Voigtlander and I met with the DNR staff to share FILA's 2012 boating season efforts. Dan Mullins, Lisa Gamero, Ham Hopson, Tim Schreiner and Troy joined us for this annual exchange of progress and future plans. 

Phil gave an item by item description of our island activites which he will detail later. Also particular attention was paid to the 'need' for a lease agreement and the meeting is being set up with Brenda Mikula of DNR's lease program staff to formulate terms suitable to FILA and DNR. Updates were provided on the new Web Cam potential, National Register application status, archival plans with Ann Arbor's Bentley and Leland's County Historical collections. 

Dan Mullins, DNR Supervisor for northern Michigan parklands including South Fox, is working on a 2013 boat trip to SF for Lansing staff and others that will have FILA folks as guides. Once again we had a mutually friendly face to face with the Lightstation owners.

John McKinney
Oct. 19, 2012

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Board Meeting of October 8, 2012

The FILA Board met on October 8, 2012, sans quorum, and made some considered decisions:

Given the input the Board decided to go with an Annual Meeting Sunday December 2nd, Traverse Area District Library McGuire Room, 1:00-3:00.  Potluck has worked so let's do that.

John Wells was appointed to head the Election Committee with Board Member John Nelson as member.  They are looking for at least one more.  The Johns will be canvasing Officers and Board Members as to their intentions and will be seeking additional candidates as appropriate.

The meeting with the MDNR is scheduled for October 18th.  Members may plan to attend and share topics that need to be discussed with the Lightstation owners.

John McKinney
Oct. 10, 2012

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6th Leelanau State Park Harvest Festival

September 29, 2012: With a cool & breezey (and with a bit of hail) beginning, FILA participated for the 6th time at the Leelanau State Park Harvest Festival. Pancakes, sausage patties, coffee and other great items were served all morning by the volunteers of FILA. Later, around noon, the fare switched to hot dogs, brats, chips and ice cream and apple pie. The breakfast and lunch was held again this year as a fund raiser for FILA. With the help of some local grocery retailers as well as several donations of popular local food, it was a successful event for both ?friend raising? and fund raising.

As part of the Festival, FILA also had on display brochures, photos, newsletters and other great  information about the light station on South Fox Island. New friends, long time friends and FILA members stopped by to have a bite to eat and catch up on the latest ?happen­ings? out at the island.

Several other non profits participated in the day long Festival with demonstrations of wood working and cider pressing.    

John Wells
Oct. 2, 2012

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Leland Heritage Festival

FILA was very pleased to have been invited as one of the preservation groups to attend the Leland Heritage Festival held Saturday, September 15th. We were able to share  stories of our efforts at preserving the South Fox Island Lighthouse with many interested persons.

The old port holds a mixture of old and new sites and sights. We were fortunate to set up our display right on the harbor walkway. John Wells, Sandy Bradshaw, and Donald Stauffer manned the booth and did a great job of "friend raising". 

Next Saturday, Sept. 29, we will be in Northport for the Harvest Festival serving our "famous" pancake breakfast and brat lunch for our last fundraising / festival of the year.

Setting up tent
John Wells and Phil von Voigtlander setting
up the new FILA tent.
 

FILA tent on the harbor walkway
The FILA tent on the harbor walkway, a
prime location.

View from the booth onto the Fishtown harbor
A booth with a view....

Little girl making a donation for FILA
 This sweet girl put in odd change out of her own little purse - she was so excited to help the Light.

Don Stauffer
Sept. 18, 2012
 

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Board Meeting of September 10, 2012

The board reviewed and approved the minutes of the August meeting and the Treasurer's monthly report. Details of the sale of the Lightkeeper and the trailer were discussed. Due to extremely rare use by the public, the necessity to keep all the meeting minutes available on the Website was questioned and eventually negated by the board. Plans concerning the future handling of accumulated FILA materials were discussed, no action taken yet.

The schedule for promotion activities and the island trips for the rest of the season were outlined, and the purchase of a tent for festivals was approved.

John Wells is resigning as the FILA Board Advisor to focus on other projects but will stay close to our group also in the future. The board wishes him well in his new career direction, in grateful appreciation of all he did for FILA, which was a huge lot.

Hans Joerg Rothenberger, based on John McKinney's minutes
September 13, 2012

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4th Work Crew Trip of this summer

On Sept. 3rd, the fourth FILA work crew set out at 9:00 am for South Fox Island Lighthouse in the Islander. Co-Captains, Phil and Donald, had the boat ready and in 1 hour and 10 minutes we were at our favorite little spot on the island.  The weather was good with only a light NW wind. The work crew of John Mc and John W. helped unload the supplies into our new dingy and in two trips, we had everything on the island that we needed for the day, except for Phil's tea (which has only made it out to the actual shore one out of the last 4 trips).
 
We decided that mowing around all the buildings and the center area, trimming the blackberry bushes, and scraping the boat rails in the boat house were to be the day's main projects. John Mc hoisted the FILA flag and Donald set up the emergency VHF phone. When he keyed the mike, he didn't get a response but hopefully the message was received. Last time we went out, the network responded to our call in service and when we went out of service. We will keep an eye on this for the next trip.
 
Phil started the mowing, John Mc got the Puller Bear out to attack the small saplings, John W. took on the boat rail as his project and Donald started trimming the path to the west beach and trimming the blackberry bushes. The weather turned out warm with a light breeze and all the projects were completed by 3:00 pm.
 
We did a beach swim on the west side and then secured the buildings and took our supplies to the beach. John W. did a great job of getting the rails scraped and undercoated.  We left at 4:00 pm and returned to Northport with a slight NE wind at 5:20. The Islander completed the fourth trip to the island without a problem. Gallons of gas used was reduced because of the faster return time. We are running 21-20 miles mph and fuel consumption was the least expensive of all 4 trips. Less than $70 at $4.09/gallon.
 
We hope to make two more trips out to the island but the weather decides for us!

   John McKinney & the Pullerbear
 Mr. Prez, John McKinney, with the Pullerbear.
 

Front yard pullerbeared
The pullerbeared front yard. Hard work, great result.

Two Johns and two rails
Two Johns, two rails and a lot of rust.
 

First coat of Rust-Oleum
What a difference after the first coat of Rust-Oleum!

Rusty spiral staircase in the 1867 Lighthouse
Yet another Rust-Oleum candidate: the staircase in
the 1867 Lighthouse.

The Islander at anchor and rusty coal conveyor
And how about this? (Not the boat, silly!)

Don Stauffer
Sept. 8, 2012
 

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Board Meeting of August 13, 2012

The board met at the GT Children's Museum, with intercontinental attendance (Joerg) and a guest, David Coyne. Joerg presented Website stats and updates on the lighthouse property survey. Cathy showed her Harvest Festival poster, which will go to the Website a.s.a.p..

Sale of the Lightkeeper to said transatlantic board member was approved, payment to be finalized. Participation at recent regional events was reported, upcoming events and the advantages of FILA having their own tent and tables were discussed; no action taken.

Island: The new Boat House doors and hinges will be installed this fall. A lump sum of $5000 for completing the repair of the Assistant Keepers' Quarters' roof, stabilizing the lean-to of the 187 Lighthouse and assisting in installing the Boat House doors was approved.

Hans Joerg Rothenberger, based on Don Stauffer's minutes
August 15, 2012

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FILA at the Port Oneida Fair

Friday, August 10, and Saturday, August 11, saw FILA's booth at the Port Oneida Fair at the historic farmsteads. The heat of the previous weeks had been replaced with more comfortable temperatures just in time, and despite occasional dark clouds, the attendance was good. As usual, sometimes Don's glass bead making and Laddie, Sandy's dog, got more attention than the lighthouse, but the interest in FILA's mission was great too. The last lighthouse T-shirts and hoodies got sold.

Joerg & Don ready for action

Friday morning, Joerg (left) and Don awaiting the first
visitors.

John Wells with visitors
John Wells (2nd from left) and Don Stauffer
(background right) surrounded by visitors.

Don Stauffer demonstrating glass bead making
Don's glass bead making in the focus of interest of
kids and adults alike.

Dave Taghon and Sandy
Dave Taghon of the Empire Historical Museum and
Sandy Bradshaw of FILA.

Laddie with South Fox hat
Laddie The Lighthouse Pooch.

Hans Joerg Rothenberger
August 13, 2012

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Classic Boat Show Suttons Bay

The Classic Boat Show in Suttons Bay was held annually for 25 years until 2004. The Inland Seas Education Association plans to revive the show and make it an annual event. "We are pleased to bring the Classic Boat Show back to Suttons Bay," said ISEA's Executive Director Tom Kelly. "This event will bring together a diverse group of sailboats, motorboats, canoes, kayaks, rowboats and prams and will give the public a chance to meet the owners and see these boats up close."

Despite the heat and humidity and a short spell of rain, FILA was pleased to be among those participating in the 2nd Annual Classic Boat Show in Suttons Bay. Many persons showed much interest in our efforts with many kind comments noting our dedication in saving the South Fox Island Light Station.

We must make mention too that this year's Classic Boat Show was dedicated to the memory of Suttons Bay sailor Mark Pleune, who was one of the long-time organizers of this event.

Sandy, Cathy, John W. & Don
Sandy Bradshaw, Cathy Allchin, John Wells and Don Stauffer.
 

Don & John N
Don and John Nelson.

Bob Core & Sandy
 Bob Core of the Maritime Heritage Alliance and Sandy.

Thanks Tom Kelly and all at ISEA for making this event happen!

Sandy Bradshaw
August 7, 2012

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Hon. Brian Calley at the GTLM

The Lieutenant Governor of Michigan, the Honorable Brian Calley, visited the Grand Traverse Lighthouse on Friday, July 6th. In his speech to the small crowd gathered he spoke of the significance of lighthouse preservation, "Michigan has more lighthouses than any other state," he said. "It is important that we preserve these for future generations."  

Hon. Calley was both distinct, kind and down to earth and eagerly mingled with the guests. Sandra gave him a short briefing on the South Fox light.

Stef, Sandy & Brian Calley
Stef Staley, director of the Grand Traverse Lighthouse
Museum, Sandy Bradshaw of FILA, and Hon. Brian Calley.

Sandy Bradshaw
August 7, 2012

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Hot Day, Cool Water

Taking advantage of a brief respite from the south winds, Don, Gary and Jane Stauffer and I motored out to the Light Station on Sunday. The light NW wind did little to lower the temps but it was nice to have a little air moving out there.

Despite the heat the Stauffers completed the mowing around the Fog Signal building, the sidewalk edges and the trail to the beach. Both the mower and the brush cutter were kept busy by Gary and Don. Meantime, Jane raked up the cuttings and pulled the weeds from the sidewalk seams. I finally got after the poison ivy and was pleased to note that we are continuing to make headway year by year; I only needed 4 gallons to spot spray this year's crop.

Work done and heat prostration impending, we headed down to the Lake to cool off. The trip back was fast and uneventful and we were happy to have had another good day at the Station.

Phil von Voigtlander
July 15, 2012

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Board Meeting of July 9, 2012

The Web cam on the 1934 Skeleton Tower has been reactivated and can be viewed at the Grand Traverse Lighthouse Museum. Streaming connection to the Internet is still not available there, but plans were discussed.

The Lightkeeper has been moved to Suttons Bay, and the board has received a bid from a board member. The board will vote on the sale at the next meeting with a quorum.

Participation in regional events was outlined. John Wells, consultant to the board, presented plans for storing archived FILA material at the Leelanau Historical Museum, where it would be available to the public. A long list of things to do this summer on the island, all projects approved by SHPO, was discussed.

Hans Joerg Rothenberger, based on Pamela Nickerson's minutes
August 14, 2012

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Taming the jungle: Island trip of June 30

Don, his friend Jan, John Nelson and I once more ran the Islander out to the South Fox Light Station on Saturday. It was a bit rough going out as a fresh NW 10-15 was in the process of countering the long term southerly swell of the previous days. It calmed as we approached the island and was well behaved thereafter.

On the island, we had hoped to mow (with the new mower that we carried out with us) and spray the poison ivy. However, a quick assessment of the situation lead to a full team press on reclaiming the previous years perimeters. Out came the clippers, brush cutter and the new Puller Bear.

Don on the emergency radio
Don reporting the crew's stay to the Leelanau
County Police through FILA's emergency
radio system.

Lunch at the picnic table
Lunch at one of the picnic tables.
From left to right: Don, John and Phil.
 

Phil with the new lawn mower
Phil with the new lawn mower.

John clearing brush
John attacking the brush.
 

Going for a swim
Don and John going for a swim.

The Islander on the trailer
After the trip: the
Islander on her trailer.

We kept the mower busy all afternoon while the other three cut back and pulled the larger vegetation that had invaded the lawn edges. We got it pretty well done before the collective need for a swim to  prevent heat stroke and remove the residues of poison ivy led us to the cool refreshing water.  After closing up, we loaded on the boat for a nice fast run back to Northport.

Next time, the reemerging poison ivy will be dealt with....

Phil von Voigtlander
July 1, 2012
Photos submitted by Don Stauffer

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This is the Webmaster speaking....

Many visitors to our Website may have noticed that there were no updates in the last five months, quite the opposite of our normal practice, this Website usually being on the ball almost as much as a newspaper.

The reason: As mentioned already in April 2011, the little company that hosted our Website since 2006 got purchased by a bigger competitor, and the change resulted not only in a raise of the hosting fees but also in a drastic reduction of the features offered to access the servers. Worse still, after some more changes in February 2012, uploading new data became downright impossible. After many complaints, those guys promised to send me instructions for fixing the problems, but they sent them to my Webmaster email account on the same, inaccessible, server, so I did not receive them.

"Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former."  --  Albert Einstein

Now, after months of nerve-racking waste of time, things seem to be sorted out. I apologize for any inconvenience.

Hans Joerg Rothenberger
June 24, 2012

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Board Meeting of June 11, 2012

John McKinney's minutes of the May meeting and the Treasurer's report were presented and approved.

The new FILA display at the GT Lighthouse Museum, a press release concerning the Historic Structures Report and storage space issues were discussed. Don Stauffer will finalize FILA's participation in summer festivals and send out a schedule.

The first trip of this year to the Light Station was covered, featuring the maiden voyage on behalf of FILA of Don's and Phil von Voigtlander's new boat, the Islander, with substantially lower fuel consumption compared to the Lightkeeper. Plans for the next trips were made. Phil offered to sell the Lightkeeper's trailer to FILA in order to facilitate the sale of the old boat.

Hans Joerg Rothenberger, based on Don Stauffer's minutes
June 20, 2012

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Media Release by MSHDA

Please click here to read the complete media release by the Michigan State Housing Development Authority, a very nice summary of FILA's efforts to save the South Fox Island Light Station.

Hans Joerg Rothenberger
June 11, 2012

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Lilac Latrine Revival: First island trip of the season

We (Don, his 11 y.o. guest, Drew, from Indianapolis, John Wells, John McKinney and I) finally got it together to visit the Light Station. It was the first trip of the season and for Don's and my new boat. It is smaller (22') than the Lightkeeper and much more economical to operate.  It is planned to serve as a personnel carrier rather than a freight hauler. The boat performed well as did the new RIB dingy. We found the station in good order but the grass in need of mowing and got a good part of that done before the old mower needed a rest, i.e. it ran out of oil. We also picked up brush and swept the sidewalks.

Importantly, we determined that the power system is operating by testing the radio 911 call box. The latter was almost left behind by the gents of a certain age, but luckily Don's young guest, Drew, reminded us as we were loading up for departure that it had been left at the Tower station. Oh, and the compost treatment of the latrine had been successful so it is once more open for business.

A good first trip on a beautiful day. The next trip should include the new lawn mower and some oil for the old one.

Ready for launching
Readying the Islander for launching at Northport Marina 

 

Don at the helm of the Islander
Don at the helm of the
Islander
 

The new dinghy
The new dinghy ready for action

The Islander at anchor
The
Islander at anchor

Dinghy docking
At the dock

starting the lawn mower
Quite a crew for starting the lawn mower
 

Mission accomplished
Mission accomplished!
 

The crew in Northport
 Back in one piece -- well, actually five.
From left to right: Don, Phil, Drew, John
McKinney, John Wells

Phil von Voigtlander
June 5, 2012
Photos submitted by Don Stauffer and John Wells

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New hinges for the Boat House doors

We are getting closer to completed doors for the Boat House on that little island.

Lots of ?mill scale?, welds splatter, sharp corners of steel and fine black dust to clean before even thinking about priming and top coating. I?ve learned over the years:?Painting is 80% preparation and 20% application.?

So on to priming and top coating with Rust-Oleum enamel paint. Final top coat color will be flat black. Then - delivery to our carpenter, Andy Batteiger. Holes must still be drilled in the 3/8? thick hinges to match up with the hemlock lumber spacing. We can work this out with Andy.

Many thanks to Dan Nickels, owner of Black Rock Forge. Could not have done this without you!     

Hinges and cant bolts close-up
These hinges are strong enough to put on a
bank vault door! We are very lucky to get them.
 

Hinges and cant bolts overview
Now  to clean these guys up and put on some primer.
 

John Wells
June 1, 2012

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Historic Structures Report completed

FILA is pleased to announce we have received the coveted Historic Structures Report (HSR). It was completed this spring under the careful guidance of Project Manager George "Carp" Carpenter, former FILA board member. George worked hard to see this accomplished and we all thank him!

FILA and George worked closely with the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) and the Department of Natural Resources and Environment (DNRE). SHPO approved the report in late February of this year. The 200-page report, which cost approximately $34,000, was meticulously conducted over many months by Ken Czapski of the U.P. Engineers & Architects, Inc (UPEA) in Marquette, MI. Much of the cost was funded by the Michigan Lighthouse Assistance Program (MLAP). The remaining funds were raised by FILA.

"The South Fox Island complex is a rare intact collection of buildings, including both a lighthouse tower and a skeletal tower," said SHPO architect Bryan Lijewski. As the architect assigned to work with lighthouses, Lijewski works with lighthouses both on land and off shore. "South Fox is remote. The fact that it lacks a docking facility makes the transportation of materials and equipment a greater challenge than usual, but I know the committed volunteers will make it happen."

Happening it is!

Sandy Bradshaw
June 4, 2012

To see the Proposed Site Plan from the Historic Structures Report, an outline of possible projects for the future, please click here.

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Board Meeting of May 16, 2012

The board accepted the 2012 budget. The Grand Traverse Lighthouse Museum has again offered space for a South Fox display. Plans were made for retrieving the old student panels stored at Sally Frie's, for simplifying storage of FILA materials in general, and for the future of the stained glass artwork.

This year's use permit has been signed by the DNR. Lots of minor topics were discussed, such as questions to ask the DNR (privy, Waterways Commission agenda), boat trips to the island, what to do there, what to do with the Lightkeeper, how to handle the new root puller contraption (PullerBear), Web Cam status including possible directional beam connection to Fisherman's Island (still pending). The Visitor Book was shown and discussed. According to John Wells, the metalwork for the Boat House doors is done, the carpentry part coming next.

John McKinney
May 2012

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Board Meeting of April 9, 2012

An important Board Meeting today for FILA. Several key items came to pass for this small non profit with a big heart.

First?.approval from the State Historic Preservation Office for the 2012 work season projects on the island. Second?.reimbursement for over $23,000 of Historic Structures Report monies.  Third?.a 2012 budget with numbers all attending Board members agreed on. Fourth?. a much clearer definition for the first time ever of specific projects the State of Michigan and FILA conferred on and came to a positive conclusion for all parties. Fifth?.money back in the bank that we have been patiently waiting to receive?.much of this money had been raised by FILA in the summer of 2010.  Sixth?.reassurance from our ?landlord? we are doing the right thing and moving ahead on a difficult and long term project?.on a remote island.   Seventh?.a small group of dedicated volunteers who stick to a mission and vision better than most groups its size (or bigger) could ever do.

Nice Job FILA. Some non profits with far larger budgets and full time staff in our area wish they had their HSR fully funded and completed. Well?.FILA has theirs done and paid for. Some older, more established non profits wish they could pull off what FILA does. Believe me, I watch them closely and know what to look for in their weak links.

Nice job Executive Committee. Nice job Board members. Good job on all fronts. Pat yourselves on the back. You just hit a major milestone.

John Wells
April 9, 2012

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Board Meeting of March 12, 2012

The January and February meeting minutes and the Treasurer's report were discussed and approved. Cathy Allchin reported on the branding project with the NMC.

Historic Structures Report: Final approval from the State Historical Preservation Office was received, and FILA was asked to send a copy to RAM Construction Services in Livonia. Cathy Allchin and John Wells submitted the application for the Governor?s Service Award with photos of approximately 60 volunteers.

Dave Markel will go to the Chicago Archives and get copies of all documents that pertain to the South Fox Island Light Station to pass on to FILA. Cathy reported on her correspondence with Ginna Bourisseau, great-granddaughter of Louis Bourrisseau, South Fox Lighkeeper.

Cathy also reported on the meeting with the Department of Natural Resources and Environment of the very same day, which covered important topics such as the Assistant Keepers' Quarters roof, the Boat House doors, the collapsing lean-to on back of the 1867 Lighthouse, installation of a privy to replace our famous Lilac Garden Throne, the Camper Keeper Program, the Safe Harbor Project and a possible long-term lease for FILA.

Participation in local and regional festival was discussed.

Hans Joerg Rothenberger, based on Pamela Nickerson's minutes
April 4, 2012

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Board Meeting of February 16, 2012

The FILA Board met at the Horizon Book Store in Traverse City. The December minutes were approved. The minutes of the January meeting, where there was no quorum, will be published later. The financial state of affairs, the 2011 Operating Statement and the 2011 Year End Statement, both prepared by Karen Wells, were discussed and approved.

Blake Harrigan and Jason Helbig, two visual communications/graphic design students, members of a team at NMC under the tutelage of Professor Caroline Schaefer-Hills, attended the Board meeting. They are working on project initiated by Cathy Allchin to create a brand for FILA, including a video for presentation and educational use, a new look for the website including more interactive features, and redesigning the FILA logo.

The current state of the Historic Structures Report and the funding thereof was reported and discussed. The Grand Traverse Lighthouse Museum has informed FILA that they cannot host FILA's Webcam service and store our historical materials any longer. Plans for moving the stuff were made.

Visitor statistics of FILA's website and several articles in magazines were presented by Sandy Bradshaw. Cathy will report to the DNRE on March 12. The possibility of moving the mainland antenna for the South Fox webcam to Fisherman's Island in order to get a high speed connection to the Internet from there with the help of the DNRE was presented. Cathy suggested the repair of the roof of the Assistant Keepers' Quarters as one of the priorities of 2012. The procedure for the new Boat House door and some details of the Camper Keeper Program with participants from schools in Michigan were discussed too.

John Wells recommended that FILA apply for the Governor?s Service Award as a means of raising awareness of FILA?s mission on a statewide basis. He and Cathy will work on the application, which is due for submittal on March 1st, 2012.

Hans Joerg Rothenberger, based on Pamela Nickerson's minutes
February 22, 2012

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Board Meeting of January 16, 2012

The meeting at the TG Children's Museum took place without a quorum. The treasurer's monthly report, the 2011 Operating Statement and Income Statement and the 2012 budget template were presented and discussed. Reimbursement request documents for the Historic Structures Report (100% draft relayed to the board) submitted by George Carpenter were circulated.

FILA is on the GuideStar charity website, and John Wells is our monitor. Cathy Allchin talked through her new PowerPoint presentation and suggested a branding initiative with a student team at the Northern Michigan College. For more details see the February Board Meeting.

Our presentation at the meeting with the MI Department of Natural Resources and Environment on March 12 was outlined, and the idea of a Camper Keeper Program was presented. A Brad Boese Award for outstanding service was proposed.

Hans Joerg Rothenberger, based on John McKinney's minutes
March 23, 2012

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January Presentations

Cathy Allchin, FILA's vice president, gave two presentations in Traverse City this month, each a great way to help us off to a New Start for 2012. The first one, on January 5th, was given to the Traverse City Power Squadron. Sixty members were on hand to hear about updates on South Fox Island. This included a slide presentation, a briefing on the Historic Structures Report, as well as the marine survey arranged by Lisa Gamero from the DNRE last summer. "We had a good response from the audience," Cathy reported.

On January 10th, Cathy gave a slide presentation and talk addressed to the Traverse City Rotary Club to approximately 175 members. "I shared our recent appeal for monies at the rotary for a new dingy and was called within an hour from a gentleman offering us a Porta- Bote!" she stated. FILA has received this new addition to our growing little fleet! It is twelve feet in length, folds to a convenient four inch depth, and weighs approximately fifty pounds. It has a beam (width) of 50 inches and has three seats. "It's about forty years old, a little dirty around the edges, but still sound. It is in need of oars and some hardware. Our intent is to clean it up and have it on the island for our volunteer camper keepers program to be newly inaugurated this coming Summer 2012."

John Olsen of Traverse City kindly donated the little craft.  Thank you from all of us at FILA Mr. Olsen!

Sandy Bradshaw
January 13, 2012

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Earlier News articles are available in the Archives section.

 

  

 

Latest update June 10, 2013