Letters 10-24-2016

It’s Obama’s 1984 Several editions ago I concluded a short letter to the editor with an ominous rhetorical flourish: “Welcome to George Orwell’s 1984 and the grand opening of the Federal Department of Truth!” At the time I am sure most of the readers laughed off my comments as right-wing hyperbole. Shame on you for doubting me...

Gun Bans Don’t Work It is said that mass violence only happens in the USA. A lone gunman in a rubber boat, drifted ashore at a popular resort in Tunisia and randomly shot and killed 38 mostly British and Irish tourists. Tunisian gun laws, which are among the most restrictive in the world, didn’t stop this mass slaughter. And in January 2015, two armed men killed 11 and wounded 11 others in an attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. French gun laws didn’t stop these assassins...

Scripps’ Good Deed No good deed shall go unpunished! When Dan Scripps was the 101st District State Representative, he introduced legislation to prevent corporations from contaminating (e.g. fracking) or depleting (e.g. Nestle) Michigan’s water table for corporate profit. There are no property lines in the water table, and many of us depend on private wells for abundant, safe, clean water. In the subsequent election, Dan’s opponents ran a negative campaign almost solely on the misrepresentation that Dan’s good deed was a government takeover of your private water well...

Political Definitions As the time to vote draws near it’s a good time to check into what you stand for. According to Dictionary.com the meanings for liberal and conservative are as follows:

Liberal: Favorable to progress or reform as in political or religious affairs.

Conservative: Disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditions and limit change...

Voting Takes A Month? Hurricane Matthew hit the Florida coast Oct. 6, over three weeks before Election Day. Bob Ross (Oct. 17th issue) posits that perhaps evacuation orders from Governor Scott may have had political motivations to diminish turnout and seems to praise Hillary Clinton’s call for Gov. Scott to extend Florida’s voter registration deadline due to evacuations...

Clinton Foundation Facts Does the Clinton Foundation really spend a mere 10 percent (per Mike Pence) or 20 percent (per Reince Priebus) of its money on charity? Not true. Charity Watch gives it an A rating (the same as it gives the NRA Foundation) and says it spends 88 percent on charitable causes, and 12 percent on overhead. Here is the source of the misunderstanding: The Foundation does give only a small percentage of its money to charitable organizations, but it spends far more money directly running a number of programs...

America Needs Change Trump supports our constitution, will appoint judges that will keep our freedoms safe. He supports the partial-birth ban; Hillary voted against it. Regardless of how you feel about Trump, critical issues are at stake. Trump will increase national security, monitor refugee admissions, endorse our vital military forces while fighting ISIS. Vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence will be an intelligent asset for the country. Hillary wants open borders, increased government regulation, and more demilitarization at a time when we need strong military defenses...

My Process For No I will be voting “no” on Prop 3 because I am supportive of the process that is in place to review and approve developments. I was on the Traverse City Planning Commission in the 1990s and gained an appreciation for all of the work that goes into a review. The staff reviews the project and makes a recommendation. The developer then makes a presentation, and fellow commissioners and the public can ask questions and make comments. By the end of the process, I knew how to vote for a project, up or down. This process then repeats itself at the City Commission...

Regarding Your Postcard If you received a “Vote No” postcard from StandUp TC, don’t believe their lies. Prop 3 is not illegal. It won’t cost city taxpayers thousands of dollars in legal bills or special elections. Prop 3 is about protecting our downtown -- not Munson, NMC or the Commons -- from a future of ugly skyscrapers that will diminish the very character of our downtown...

Vote Yes It has been suggested that a recall or re-election of current city staff and Traverse City Commission would work better than Prop 3. I disagree. A recall campaign is the most divisive, costly type of election possible. Prop 3, when passed, will allow all city residents an opportunity to vote on any proposed development over 60 feet tall at no cost to the taxpayer...

Yes Vote Explained A “yes” vote on Prop 3 will give Traverse City the right to vote on developments over 60 feet high. It doesn’t require votes on every future building, as incorrectly stated by a previous letter writer. If referendums are held during general elections, taxpayers pay nothing...

Beware Trump When the country you love have have served for 33 years is threatened, you have an obligation and a duty to speak out. Now is the time for all Americans to speak out against a possible Donald Trump presidency. During the past year Trump has been exposed as a pathological liar, a demagogue and a person who is totally unfit to assume the presidency of our already great country...

Picture Worth 1,000 Words Nobody disagrees with the need for affordable housing or that a certain level of density is dollar smart for TC. The issue is the proposed solution. If you haven’t already seen the architect’s rendition for the site, please Google “Pine Street Development Traverse City”...

Living Wage, Not Tall Buildings Our community deserves better than the StandUp TC “vote no” arguments. They are not truthful. Their yard signs say: “More Housing. Less Red Tape. Vote like you want your kids to live here.” The truth: More housing, but for whom? At what price..

Home · Articles · News · Art · A museum grows in Harbor Springs
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A museum grows in Harbor Springs

Kristi Kates - March 9th, 2009
A museum grows in Harbor Springs
Kristi Kates 3/23/09

For years, the old Harbor Springs City Hall on Main Street - an imposing and architecturally intriguing historical building that was somewhat incongruously covered in yellow stucco - stood vacant, after the City of Harbor Springs had moved their offices to a new location on Zoll Street. It was once a grand structure, one of the largest and tallest in the Harbor Springs downtown area - so it was a natural choice when the Harbor Springs Area Historical Society (HSAHS) decided to embark on a “Museum Grows” project to restore a local building and turn it into what would be the Harbor Springs History Museum
“Since its inception in 1990, the HSAHS’s mission has been to preserve this area’s history for future generations,” Dave Harrell explains. Harrell, the museum’s Executive Director, helped spearhead the mission to revitalize the building (“a building of tremendous history,” he says) and see the museum opened at last, and the entire HSAHS team, from the board to the staff to the “Capital Campaign” committee, were ready to do their part.

The Victorian-era building was built way back in 1886 as the Emmet County seat, so Harrell and crew knew that it would take a delicate approach to properly renovate the building in order to save its historical value while bringing it up-to-date to meet current codes, and, of course, to house the museum itself. They decided to hire the nationally-recognized architectural firm of Wigen, Tincknell, Meyer and Associates, who specialize in historic preservation projects, and the museum campaign kicked off in 2003.
“The goal of the HSAHS was to open a museum that would serve as the memory of the Harbor Springs area,” Harrell explains, “without professional conservation and preservation, the stories and artifacts detailing the rich and diverse history of the area would be lost forever.”
Not if Harrell and crew had anything to say about it.
After an extensive fundraising campaign, the go was given to begin reconstruction on the old City Hall building, and the construction crews arrived late in the summer of 2007. As the building began its extensive facelift - which at times seemed more like reconstructive surgery - a plethora of accompanying stories began to develop, from the aggrevating to the simply amusing.
In dealing with such an old building, there were bound to be challenges, and the City Hall building offered up plenty of those; the stone foundation of the building was literally crumbling, for one.
“You could just run your hand across it, and chunks of the mortar and bits of stone would fall off,” Harrell remembers, “so we had to take it apart in sections, take the stones outside, clean them off, and then reassemble the whole thing. The basement was pretty scary until they got all of that completed.”
The wooden walls and finishings were hit-and-miss, as well; some of them were in great shape, while other sections were covered in up to a half-inch of paint that had to be removed before the wood could be refinished.
Weather delays, power losses, and even a small fire that started when some overheated equipment was accidentally left next to a pile of sawdust were among the setbacks; but the team persevered, and after 16 long months under construction, the new Harbor Springs History Museum was ready for its opening day on December 5th, 2008.
“Turnout was far greater than we had anticipated,” Harrell says, and the museum has made admission free for the time being (“probably until spring,” Harrell says), as their way of saying “thank you” to the public that supported this massive project.

As for the museum itself, it’s outfitted beautifully with custom cabinets by local firm Creative Millwork, custom exhibits designed by the Good Design Group of Midland, Michigan, and a treasure trove of images and photographs as carefully selected and put together by the museum’s own talented Mary Cummings. The museum does indeed offer a wealth of information on the Harbor Springs area, and many historical details that even locals may not know about; an archives room and study area are under development, so that locals and visitors alike can research even more about the region.
Permanent exhibits on the history of Harbor Springs are currently on display in the Local History and Discovery galleries, and are focused on the development of the community from the migration of the Odawa into the region through the arrival of the missionaries, the fur traders, the logging and shipping industries, resort culture, and right up to the current traditions that make the Harbor Springs community unique.
Along with the gallery exhibits, visitors can get a more interactive take on Northern Michigan through a variety of activities in the Discovery Gallery, including “controlling” a Shay locomotive that runs on a track up above visitors’ heads near the ceiling, and listening in to some old-time telephone calls in which the caller asks the operator to call simply “3” or “9” as opposed to the 526-prefaced 7-digit phone numbers of today.
“Navigating” a ship from Mackinac City to Harbor Springs without “running aground,” is another fun activity - it’s essentially a ship-themed version of the old buzzer game Operation. There are plenty of maps, and fascinating photos of Harbor Springs and its residents in days gone by; and visitors wondering what Harbor Springs residents do in the winter can sit right in an ice-fishing shanty to read about the vintage sport of “Skijoring.”
“Skijoring looked pretty dangerous, actually,” Harrell chuckles, “as you can see in the photo we have on exhibit here, people would line up like waterskiiers on their snow skis, and were holding on to tethers that ran from a car. The car would pull them along, and they’d be ‘skijoring.’ Not exactly safe!”
Another interesting tidbit is how the Knickerbocker Ice Company would cut big blocks of ice from the lake itself, to be used for cooling foods and beverages in the days before buildings had refrigeration.

The museum building itself has plenty of character, too; the two small, rectangular brick sections at each end of the building were actually heavy-doored vaults, in which the City Hall would store the monies acquired from property taxes and such, since banks weren’t very well-trusted in the good ol’ days. When Harrell and crew started work on the museum, one of the vaults was already open and accessible - but the other wasn’t. It was locked shut.
“We had a guy come in, just like you see in the movies,” Harrell explains, “he used a stethoscope, and cracked the safe so we could open the door. It was pretty cool.” The doors were moved aside, and set next to the open safe rooms as a display; inside the safes are collections of unusual smaller objects excavated from the museum area.
Upstairs, visitors might notice little clumps of pock marks in the highly-polished wooden floor. Termites? No. Bad wood? Nope - this part of the old city hall was where the policeman of days gone by were trained in how to shoot their guns. Yes, indoors.
“Well, the police in those days needed a place to train,” Harrell explains, “so upstairs it was - the marks in the floor are where the shell casings would fall as they shot at the training targets that were mounted on the wall. They had to stop eventually, though, as some of the bullets were going right through the wall and out into the neighborhood!”
When the craftsman refinishing the museum’s floors was seen simply doing his job by diligently trying to buff these story-filled pock marks out of the wood, Harrell stopped him right away. “I said, no, no, no! What are you doing? That’s history!” he laughed. And so the pock marks remain, where visitors can still view them; albeit under a few layers of glossy museum-approved varnish.

In addition to all of these great historical tales and the permanent exhibits, a series of temporary exhibits, educational programs, special events, and the museum’s own research library should bring visitors back for more.
“We hope to encourage repeat visitation through the year,” Harrell enthused. A new website launched this February allows visitors to check out the special events schedule throughout the year at www.harborspringshistory.org.
Creating the museum may have been a long and arduous process, but for Harrell, the reward is in the result.
“My personal favorite part of the whole process was watching this 120-year old building go through a massive adaptive reuse and restoration,” he says, “the building turned out beautifully, and it was a joy to watch happen.”

The new Harbor Springs History Museum is located right on Main Street in downtown Harbor Springs. Ticket prices will be $5 per adult and $3 per senior (60+) or K-12 student. For more information, call 231-526-9322, or visit the museum’s new website at www.harborspringshistory.org.
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