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 · Features · Northern Michigan ups its...
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Northern Michigan ups its Adaptive Recreation

Ross Boissoneau - April 7th, 2014  

Slowly but surely, Northern Michigan is improving its adaptive recreation scope. Miles of trails, adaptive skiing and sailing, and more mobility mats at beaches are giving people of all abilities access to outdoor fun.


Barb Hutchens is a member of the board of Disability Network Northern Michigan and a volunteer at Traverse Area Community Sailing (TACS). For years, she’s been instrumental in developing adaptive sailing programs for enthusiastic sailors of all ages.

“The challenges are community awareness, to help people understand that we all don’t have access that able-bodied persons do,” said Hutchens.

TACS’ equipment is specially designed with a joystick, accessible dock, and a lift to help put people in the boat.

Hutchens said adaptive sailing helps persons with nearly any type of disability, whether cognitive or physical.

“We had a woman with a brain injury, and [after sailing] it was the first time she could remember anything about her past. She had sailed before her accident,” she said. “Children with autism find it soothing – there’s a therapeutic effect to being on the water.”


Paul Derby of Cadillac suffers from spina bifida, a birth defect in which vertebrae around the spinal cord do not fully form. Typically it leads to leg weakness, paralysis, and/or hip dislocation or scoliosis.

He grew up skiing, but as his condition worsened he was unable to join his family on the slopes.

“I can’t describe what it was like, watching my family ski without me,” he said.

His parents then took him to the National Sports Center for the Disabled in Colorado.

“They said, ‘You will take lessons.’ I said, ‘Yes, I will,’” he said with a laugh.

He worked out to build up his muscles, then visited his neurosurgeon, who suffered from the same affliction, to get permission for the trip.

“She said, ‘They said I’d never be a neurosurgeon.

Who the hell am I to tell you that you can’t ski?’” he said.

Derby is now comfortable on the slopes, as well as being an advocate for others with disabilities.

“Every time I’m out there it means something to me,” he said. “People come up to me, ask me about my equipment. They say thanks for being out here.

“I ski because I enjoy it. But I also ski to show everyone it can be done.”

Derby is also active on the water in the summer. “Another passion of mine is sailing,” he said. But unlike the specially equipped boats used at TACS, he still sails on his family’s boat.

“I’ve found different ways to get around,” he said.

“The adaptation there is in my mind, finding different ways to safely do things on the boat.”


Mobility mats and beach pathways are solid surfaces installed on beaches. They are designed to enable people in wheelchairs or using walkers and baby strollers to get close to the water.

There are several mobi mats in the region, including Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Clinch Park in Traverse City, Traverse City State Park, Whiting Park in Boyne City, and Petoskey State Park.

Annie Campbell, the director of development of Disability Network Northern Michigan, said those efforts are continuing.

“We hope to raise money by the end of spring to have Bryant Park in Traverse City and Camp Petosega in Alanson accessible through the purchase of beach pathways,” she said.

The success of the program has other parks planning their own, Campbell said.

“A number of different parks have contacted us asking for our input,” she said. “They’re planning on putting in accessible beach and kayak launches.”


Solid surface hiking trails also enable everyone to enjoy the outdoors together. The TART trail, Little Traverse Wheelway, and the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail all provide access for those who wish to walk, run, or use wheeled conveyances.

“TART allows walking, wheelchairs, and hand cycling,” Campbell said. “[It] is one of my favorite parts of Grand Traverse County.”

Programs through schools, at the YMCA, and Northern Michigan Adaptive Sports and Recreation Program through Munson Healthcare’s Physical Rehabilitation Services also offer additional opportunities.

Though advocates say more can be done and needs to be done, improvements continue to be made. Northern Michigan is becoming an accessible vacation and recreation destination, whatever the season.

Petoskey’s Challenge Mountain Offers Year-Round Programs

In 1982, founder Darla Evans took her daughter Chrisi to the National Sports Center for the Disabled in Winter Park, Colo. Chrisi had been confined to a wheelchair due to numerous birth defects.

By the end of the week, the five-year-old was skiing with special equipment adapted to her needs. Rather than accepting payment, the director of the program elicited a promise from Darla that she return to Michigan and begin a similar program.

And she did. Today Challenge Mountain offers year-round programs in sailing, kayaking, fishing, biking, and maple sap gathering.

“It’s a safe, comfortable environment for families,” said Elizabeth Gertz Looze, the executive director.

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