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/  

I hope you got a chance to catch The Sentinel’s Top 10 stories of 2012 at 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 —

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.

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