Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Anonymous donor picks up all the checks at coffee shop

Renee Waddell, owner of Respite Cappuccino Court, 48 Center St. in Douglas, makes a drink on Monday, Jan. 7.

Respite Cappuccino Court, 48 Center St. in Douglas
The donor of a pay-it-forward day at a Douglas coffee shop had fun watching the joy on people’s faces as they got their order paid for free.

“I sat there for awhile to quietly observe, and that was fun, too,” said the donor, who wishes to remain anonymous, about the Dec. 11 event at Respite Cappuccino Court, 48 Center St. in Douglas.

Owner Renee Waddell left a notepad for customers to write to the donor.
“They expressed their pleasure and surprise, and also felt inspired by this rather small deed,” the donor said.

Waddell was at first taken aback when the donor asked how much the shop makes in daily off-season business.

“When I replied, there seemed to be a light that came on in his head,” said Waddell.

“The idea came on its own accord, meaning that there is a higher consciousness/awareness operating all the time in each of us, and if we are ‘listening,’ so to say, then we become open to whatever serves best. Surprising things will happen,” the donor said. “I strongly believe that if we all, individually and collectively, can make supporting each other any way we can a steady impulse, then we will be lovingly guided all the time.”

Patrons were grateful and some left money to pay for the next day.

“The reaction from patrons was a gift to us. We were able to deliver the message and enjoy their reactions,” Waddell said.

The donor would like to do it again next holiday season as well.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

A look ahead: Consolidation talk, jail tour

Pre-formed jail cells are worked on Thursday, Sept. 27, at the new Allegan County Sheriff’s Department & Corrections Center. The commissioners will tour the facility on Thursday.

Here’s what’s ahead this week in Allegan County:


Douglas city council — The council will discuss the issue of consolidation and what the next steps in the process will be once the director of the department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs OKs the State Boundary Commission recommendation to merge Saugatuck and Douglas.

The meeting is at 7 p.m. at city hall, 86 W. Center St.

For the agenda, visit http://www.ci.douglas.mi.us and scroll down to “Current City Council Agenda” on the right.


Douglas Downtown Development Authority — The authority will consider capital expenditures.

The meeting is at 6 p.m. at Douglas City Hall, 86 W. Center St.

Fillmore Township — The township board meets at 7 p.m. at the township hall, 4219 52nd St. An agenda is not available.


Police committee — The Saugatuck-Douglas Joint Police Commission meets at 4 p.m. at Douglas City Hall, 86 W. Center St. There is no unfinished business or new business on the agenda. The commission will review the revenue and expenditure summary and hear the report from the police chief.

Laketown Township board — The board will discuss a liquor license proposal for the Red Barn Events Center, 3657 63rd St. The action will not be the final approval but will start the permit process at the state level. The board will also set the annual meeting date and make its annual salary resolution.

The meeting is at 7 p.m. at the township hall, 4338 Beeline Road.

Douglas Planning Commission — Planners will discuss draft updates to the zoning ordinance and hear presentations on draft multi-family guidelines and draft private road acceptance standards.

The meeting is at 7 p.m. at Douglas City Hall, 86 W. Center St.


Allegan County Board of Commissioners — The board meets twice:

At 9:30 a.m., the group will assemble at the new jail, 640 North St. in Allegan for a jail update and tour.

At 1 p.m., the board meets at the County Services Building, 3283 122nd Ave. to elect a new chairman. The board will also affirm the Police Officers Labor Council Road Patrol Deputies Unit settlement agreement, renew the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality services agreement and authorize $74,000 for work on the mezzanine system at the jail.

For a copy of the agenda and supporting material, visit http://cms.allegancounty.org/sites/pages/Calendar/default.aspx and under “Upcoming Events,” click on “Board of Commissioners.”

This will be the first meeting of the full board since redistricting and the November elections that reduced membership from 11 to seven members. For a list of the new members and the areas they represent, visit http://www.allegancounty.org/Government/BOC/Members.asp?pt=Government

Friday, January 4, 2013

Saugatuck Township starts new year with quick action

The participants in the third annual Shiver on the River on New Year's Day in Saugatuck.

 With the New Year’s holiday over, local governments started returning to their normal meeting schedules this week.

On Jan. 2, the Laketown Township board began considering the renewal of its single waste hauler contract with Chef Container. The contract expires March 31, 2014. Also at the workshop, the board set a meeting of 3 p.m. Jan. 16 to start work on the 2013-14 budget. http://www.hollandsentinel.com/news/x1665857144/Laketown-will-consider-liquor-license-proposal-from-events-facility

The Saugatuck Township board hit the new year running. The board:

• Set up a committee to examine the need for additional legal counsel or a new attorney to handle the Aubrey McClendon development: http://www.hollandsentinel.com/newsnow/x1353229353/Saugatuck-Township-sets-up-committee-to-look-at-attorneys-role

• Announced plans to revive negotiations for cemetery maintenance with Saugatuck and Douglas cities: http://www.hollandsentinel.com/newsnow/x1353229414/Cemetery-maintenance-no-longer-a-dead-issue-in-Saugatuck-Township

• Put plans in motion to make the part-time manager position a full-time hire when the current manager retires this spring: http://www.hollandsentinel.com/newsnow/x1353229614/Full-time-manager-might-be-in-future-for-Saugatuck-Township

The crowd at the first township meeting of the year was a little sparse — five people. The meetings usually draw at least a dozen people if not 20 to 30.

And a New Year’s Day tradition brought 18 people out to kayak or stand-up paddleboard on the Kalamazoo River. It was cold with light snow falling, but the river was calm: http://www.hollandsentinel.com/news/x1233663874/Stand-up-paddleboarders-kayakers-welcome-new-year

Water levels in Lake Michigan hit a new low as the National Weather Service reported that 2012 was the warmest year on record in West Michigan: http://www.hollandsentinel.com/topstories/x1665857288/While-temperatures-hit-record-highs-lake-levels-at-record-lows

Monday, December 31, 2012

Some other big stories

The Keewatin was adorned with holiday lights in its new home of Port McNicoll, Ontario. Photo courtesy of Eric Conroy/drone-on.com  

I hope you got a chance to catch The Sentinel’s Top 10 stories of 2012 at http://www.hollandsentinel.com/news/x1233663266/Top-10-Local-News-Stories-of-2012. There were a couple of big Saugatuck-Douglas stories that didn’t make the list:

Keewatin gets a new home

2:46 p.m. Thursday, May 31. The 105-year-old steamship Keewatin was pulled free of the mud of the Kalamazoo Lake where it had been for more than 40 years and towed to the channel to Lake Michigan.

R.J. Peterson, front, owner of Tower Marina, participates in a farewell ceremony for the Keewatin passenger ship Monday, May 28. Peterson brought the ship to Douglas in 1967. Holding the flag is Douglas City Manager Bill LeFevere

 On June 4, it was eased through the channel into Lake Michigan and on June 23, it arrived in Port McNicoll, Ontario, to be the center of a redeveloped waterfront park. The vessel will be transformed into a social center with a movie theater, 122-seat dining area and museums of Georgian Bay maritime history.

June 23 was chosen for the homecoming because it is the 100th anniversary of the when the ship first arrived in the Canadian port and the 45th anniversary of the year R.J. Peterson had it towed to West Michigan.

A boy fishes off the south pier in Saugatuck after the Keewatin was pulled from the channel from the Kalamazoo River into Lake Michigan on its trip to Canada on Monday, June 4. Jim Hayden/Sentinel staff
 The ship was purchased last year by Gil Blutrich, chairman and president of Skyline International Development Inc., a private Canadian investment and management company.

Eric Conroy, who once worked aboard the vessel, coordinated the move and maintains a blog about the Keewatin — drone-on.com.

The vessel has been secured for the winter and was draped in holiday lights. Conroy reports the group Friends of the Keewatin is busy collecting historic artifacts for display in the ship and preparing the pistons in the engine room to turn for tourists next season.

The Keewatin opens for public tours on May 11.

Travis Randolph, left, chairman of the Consolidated Government Committee, waits for the State Boundary Commission to negin discussion Wednesday,Oct. 10, in Okemos. Also photographed are Douglas City Manager Bill LeFever, Saugatuck City Manager Kirk Harrier, Saugatuck Mayor Jane Verplank and Saugatuck City Councilman Bill Hess.

State approves consolidation

On Dec. 12, the State Boundary Commission approved the recommendation that Saugatuck and Douglas consolidate into one city.

The recommendation is now waiting at the Licensing and Regulatory Affairs office where the director makes the final decision. If the consolidation is approved, which is expected, a referendum could be held if petitions for a vote are signed in the cities. Both sides of the issue said they will circulate petitions.

In October, the boundary commission decided the two cities should combine, mainly to save the Kalamazoo Harbor.

The state got involved in the consolidation movement after a petition was submitted to Lansing in 2011 by the Consolidated Government Committee asking for a merger to save the communities money.

The group Citizens for Independent and Cooperative Communities has been leading the opposition to consolidation saying the towns already share services and should maintain their identity.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Work continues on Saugatuck holiday star

The new star is made of aluminum. Here, it is displayed at Saugatuck High School. Photo courtesy of Brent Birkholz

Work continues on the new holiday star for Saugatuck.

The current wooden star remains attached to the radar tower on Mount Baldhead until the new all-aluminum star is ready to be placed on the tower. That star, welded together by Saugatuck High School industrial arts students, is complete except for the lights.

Organizers are waiting for the LED supplier, said Brent Birkholz who has been coordinating the work on the star.

The wooden star on Thanksgiving Day.
The wooden star has been in place for almost 60 years. It was recently vandalized and is falling apart.

The costs to replace what some council members have called a community icon is being covered by donations and money from the city’s general fund.

The wooden star, once removed, will go the Saugatuck Douglas Historical Society to be restored for possible display at the museum.

For background on the project, visit:



A closer look at the wooden star on Mount Baldhead.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

More on McClendon, planning commission

The Saugatuck Township Planning Commission discusses a proposed development by Aubrey McClendon on Monday, Nov. 19.

Saugatuck Township Planning Commission members decided on Monday that they needed more time to consider the site condominium proposal from Aubrey McClendon’s Singapore Dunes LLC to build 25 homes in duneland north of the Kalamazoo River, saying the development is one of the most complex proposed in the township.

To read the story, visit http://www.hollandsentinel.com/news/x1665837070/Duneland-development-in-Saugatuck-Township-on-hold-another-month.

Here are some more points from the almost 4-hour meeting:

Spokesmen for the Saugatuck Dunes Coastal Alliance made it clear why they believe the proposal should be denied by planners.

“The plan as submitted is deficient, simply put,” said Shawn Seymour of LSL Planning, Inc., of Grand Rapids.

• It lacks enough open space: Development in the R-3B zone where the homes are using private wells and septic systems requires 35 percent open space and the plan allots 5 percent;

• Mooring boats on the seawall is, in fact, a marina. Such a use would require a separate application and a special approval use from the commission;

• The development has one access point from 135th Street. An “internal loop road or other means” should be incorporated into the plan;

• The plan needs state and regulatory agency input on wetlands, critical dunes and endangered species.

“This is the one and only chance to look at the entirety of the development,” said Scott Howard, attorney from Olson, Bzdok & Howard of Traverse City. “You don’t get a second shot at it.”

For more on the dunes group, visit http://www.saugatuckdunescoastalalliance.com

Saugatuck Township planning consultant Mark Sisson, left, and township attorney Ron Bultje listen to discussion on Monday, Nov. 19, at a Saugatuck Township Planning Commission meeting at Laketown Township Hall.

 Attorney James Bruinsma of Myers Nelson Dillon & Shierk of Grand Rapids, who represents Singapore Dunes LLC, responded to the issues:

• There is no open space requirement in the R-3B zone because it is in the critical dunes overlay district. Township attorney Ron Bultje of Scholten Fant of Grand Haven agreed, saying the open space rules do not apply in a critical dune area because of the large lot sizes.

• The mooring of boats along the seawall has been going on for years. “We’re just continuing what’s been done there,” said Hank Byma, landscape architect for the project.

• The consent agreement that ended the 2-year-old lawsuit in federal court allows a single access road for the development. There is a well and pump station for fire suppression. The Saugatuck Township Fire District is looking over the road plans, according to Al Ellingsen, township zoning administrator.

• The issues of wetlands, critical dunes and endangered species are handled at the state level, outside the township’s authority. “There is a process — and it happens at the state level,” said Bruinsma. The developer needs the preliminary plans approved before going to the state to get the environmental issues addressed, he said.

The planning commission would be giving preliminary approval to the application, not a final OK, Bruinsma said. Changes to the plan would have to come back to planners for approval.

For more on the development, visit singaporedunes.com.

Other anecdotes:

• One resident asked the planners about street lights and the impact of them on the view around the development. No street lights are planned for the area, Byma said.

Dayle Harrison talks to the planning commission Nov. 19.
• You know it’s going to be along meeting when it takes the planning commission almost 40 minutes to approve its minutes from a previous meeting.

Commissioner Dayle Harrison wanted to make sure his objections to being recused from discussion on McClendon’s proposals was reflected in the minutes. He read a letter to his fellow commissioners then moved it be added into the minutes. No one seconded the motion, so it went nowhere. After more discussion, Harrison’s letter was made an addendum to the minutes.

For more on the recusal, visit http://www.hollandsentinel.com/news/x2053808930/Lawsuit-fears-lead-to-recusal-of-Saugatuck-Township-planner

Friday, November 23, 2012

New Saugatuck Township board brought on board

Clerk Jane Wright, right, swears in new Saugatuck Township Clerk Brad Rudich on Tuesday, Nov. 20, at the township hall.
The new Saugatuck Township board was sworn in Tuesday, Nov. 20, at the township hall.

Only one incumbent — Supervisor Bill Wester — ran for re-election. The remaining four members did not run again.

New Clerk Brad Rudich was first to become official, sworn in by Clerk Jane Wright. Rudich then read the oath to the other members:

• Wester, a Republican, who remains supervisor. He defeated Democratic challenger Jon Helmrich 872-830 in the Nov. 6 election.

• Lori Babinski, Republican, new treasurer.

• Republicans Roy McIlwaine and Jonathan Phillips, new trustees. McIlwaine received 875 votes and Phillips with 809 defeated Democrats Laurie D. Goshorn and Virginia McGinn received 779 and 689 votes respectively.

• Pat Knikelbine, former treasurer, was sworn in a deputy treasurer.

• Aaron Sheridan was sworn in as deputy clerk.

The new board’s first meeting is 6 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 5, at the township hall, 3461 Blue Star Highway.

Saugatuck Township Supervisor Bill Wester, left, takes the oath of office from Clerk Brad Rudich on Tuesday, Nov. 20, at the township hall.

Saugatuck Township Clerk Brad Rudich, right, administers the oath of office to new Trustee Jonathan Phillips on Tuesday, Nov. 20, at the township hall.

Roy McIlwaine, new Saugatuck Township trustee, takes his oath of office from Clerk Brad Rudich at Saugatuck Township Hall on Tuesday, Nov. 20.

Saugatuck Township Clerk Brad Rudich swears in Treasurer Lori Babinski on Tuesday, Nov. 20, at the township hall.