Tuesday – How It Started and Ended

Tuesday morning was cool, really cool at 55 degrees.  The sun shone brightly, skies were a bright blue, humidity was low, and breezes pleasant.  Temperatures reached mid-70s.  Clark Lake was at its best.  And the sunset stayed true to that form.  Here are three views in chronological order.

Dam at Risk

A recent evaluation reveals that the south side of the dam at Ocean Beach has weakened.  If not corrected, it could lead to a catastrophic failure of the structure.  Should that happen, the level of the lake could drop by two to four feet. With the depth of the lake in mind, consider where that puts the new shoreline.

Five years ago, the same scenario faced Clark Lake when it was discovered the north side was deteriorating rapidly. No governmental agency claimed ownership or accepted responsibility.  As defender of the best interests of the lake, the Clark Lake Spirit Foundation raised funds, hired a contractor, and saw to it that the dam was repaired. And now, as the lake faces a similar challenge, the Foundation’s directors have voted to initiate repairs, in line with the Foundation’s mission of Standing Up for Clark Lake

Reconstruction of north side of dam five years ago

This activity is not without a significant price tag.  The cost of reconstruction will exceed $10,000.  The Foundation plans to ask for donations, and will refer to this as “Dam Strong for Clark Lake Fund.”  Donations can be made via this website, or by writing a check and mailing it to PO Box 224, Clarklake, MI 49234.  The Foundation is a 501c3, and donations are tax-advantaged.

Prior to discovery of this new infrastructure fault, a separate plan to clean up unwanted brush and establish eye-pleasing landscaping around the dam was initiated.  This activity is supported by a generous donation from M-R Builder’s Mike McKay.  The plan calls for installing four Spirit Trail benches on cement pads and a bike rack.  The newly refreshed area will be inviting to cyclists, walkers and runners using the Trail along Ocean Beach Road.

The placing of the benches offers another opportunity to raise the much-needed funds.  Funds from these four benches will be allocated to repairing the dam, and Spirit Trail maintenance and improvements.  Details to follow.  

These two photos illustrate some of the trees and brush at the dam.  As roots grow and expand into the infrastructure, fissures can develop.  The problem is compounded when water seeps into the openings, and damage is compounded due to freezing and thawing.

Weekend’s Last Look

Sunday fun at Clark Lake was interrupted by on and off rain–a total of about an inch.  While lawns and gardens gratefully soaked it up, it did take most boaters off the lake.  A few could still be spotted, even with rumbles of thunder nearby.  Lightning usually motivates people to head toward shore. 

Cloud conditions made for an interesting sunset.  Below are photos of various stages of the sunset, starting early and going late.  Finally there is a photo taken by Ann Swain looking east. She captured the cloud formations early on that went into making tonight’s sunset.

Welcome, A Plus Electric!

Please welcome Carl Evanson’s A Plus Electric as a new sponsor to this website. 

As you may know, this website is published by the Clark Lake Spirit Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to the benefit of Clark Lake.  No one who provides content, edits, or publishes the website derives any compensation.  But there are third-party expenses such as hosting, domain names, and development costs (when coding is necessary).  So support from community-minded sponsors and contributions from individuals are important to continuing the activities of this website.

Carl and his kids at Run Clark Lake

Carl Evanson is all about Clark Lake.  It’s where he, his wife, and kids live.  From their deck, he can see his parents place across the lake.  His sister and her family live on the north shore. Clark Lake is also where his business started. In April, A Plus Electric celebrated 11 years of growing.  How did it start and where is it going?

On April 19, 2006, after nine innings of play, the Tigers were victors over the Oakland A’s 11-4.  It was the same day that Carl Evanson launched A Plus Electric.  Would his turn at bat as an electrical service company, also lead to a win?

It sure looks that way!

Carl explains “it was a chilly 43 degrees at 5 o’clock that Wednesday morning, and that’s how I felt—a bit nervous, but excited.  I sat down with a blank paper in front of me at Bob Evans, ordered coffee, and began to sketch out a client list.” 

Carl in front of the familiar sign at Jefferson and Hyde Roads

Carl likes to say his business began out of a closet.  “That’s where I stored my equipment. For a while, I was the entire company.”   A year into the start-up, he hired his first employee, and then a second.  Both are still at A Plus Electric.   Today he has 13 electricians in the field, and four people in the office.  

What were early challenges like? Carl says “we sacrificed…we took jobs anywhere, anytime, and did what it took, no matter what lay in front of us whether it be some knotty problem, snow or a midnight call. And we’re still the go-to guys because we haven’t let up.”

Looking back over the eleven years, Carl remarks “I am tremendously grateful to our customers and to our team who believe in their work–and perform like the pro’s they are.  Our business is built entirely on one customer recommending us to another, and you don’t get referrals unless you’re good at what you do.”

To read this Exponent interview, click on image.

A Plus Electric sums up the approach to business this way–quick, quality and affordable.  Carl adds “we serve homeowners, companies large and small, and are at construction sites.  Our team understands the need to innovate, and we’re very much at the heart of it, setting up sophisticated electronics at home or at work.”

Carl remembers that Wednesday in 2006 warmed up—to 71 degrees.  “I had filled my notebook with potential customers I planned to call on.”  Kelly Fuels was his first customer.  And if A Plus Electric were a baseball game, what inning would it be? Carl smiles, “we’re in the middle of the 2nd with bases loaded, and we’re heading for the playoffs.  Stay tuned!”

Carl and his family are active at Clark Lake, and regularly participate and sponsor events.  A Plus Electric is also highly visible in the community. Here is a sampling.

  • Memorial Day Parade on Hyde Road
  • Installing electrical at the Pointe's outside bar
  • Abby & Carl at Beerfest
  • A Plus Electric is a Crab Race sponsor
  • A Plus working on the Beach Bar's new Gear Garage

To read more about Carl Evanson’s view of customer service, click here.  Click here for the main page of the A Plus Electric website.

Crab Races Final 2017

“And they’re off” became “now they’re finished,” at least for 2017.  It was the thrill of victory in the final Great American Crab Race this evening at the Beach Bar.

Here are the cash winners.

Walter Rountree, 1st place

Heather Breening, 2nd place

Kasi Minden, 3rd place

The Great American Crab Races are sponsored by the Clark Lake Spirit Trail, Columbia Academic Boosters, Napoleon Athletic Boosters, and Napoleon Lions Club.  They would like to thank all the race sponsors (see below), and salute M-R Builder, B&B Hardware & Mobil Subway, Country Market, and the Beach Bar. 

Update on the War on Weeds

PLM, the company treating Clark Lake’s invasive weed invasion, will be here at the lake on August 3rd.  Steve Hanson of PLM, and a representative of SePRO, will survey the lake and collect additional information about our situation.  SePRO provides products to tame or eliminate invasive species.  According to Steve Hanson, SePRO has “been very good at providing a guarantee of control if they are involved in the project development.” 

PLM also treats other lakes in our region, and they have found each lake to be individual. Take, for example, this chain reaction when Eurasian milfoil enters a lake.  The invader mates with the native plant.  The resulting hybrid mates with other hybrids and native plants.  Or varieties of hybrids travel from lake to lake by boat or other means. Darwinian evolution implies improved sustainability and thus, a greater opportunity to procreate, and become immune to threats like treatment programs.  Take that cycle through several iterations, and you can see the challenge in knocking off an invasive species.

During the 2016 season, PLM treated about 30 acres of HEWM with a product called Renovate (active ingredient, triclopyr).  According to PLM’s Steve Hanson “initial results were good, but follow up surveys indicated regrowth of HEWM by summer’s end.”  Steve noted “these results were concerning to me, as I expected our treatments to have at least season-long effects, if not multiple years.”

Based the upcoming August 3rd survey, SePRO may recommend a different product like Sonar, or a new product.  “This new product,” says Steve Hanson, “is currently being tested in Michigan.”  It’s not known if it will be approved, nor is pricing available.

Clark Lake declared war on the advance of the invasive weed–hybrid Eurasian water milfoil (HEWM).  Why? Where left unchecked, HEWM can diminish recreational use of a lake, destroy wildlife habitat, and negatively affect property values.  A majority of Clark Lake lakefront property owners petitioned Columbia Township to establish a special assessment district (SAD) to deal with the problem.  The SAD allows treatment of HEWM wherever it exists in the lake and covers the cost of the project through the property taxes of lakefront landowners.

Step into Raft-O-Rama Fun

The creative types at Clark Lake are already conceiving the cool ideas.  The engineers among them are thinking of how to translate those ideas into metal, wood, cardboard & over the top mechanical and electric devices, all of which must float on two pontoons.  The plotters are looking to surprise us as they map out strategies to take the prize.  And the secretive G-2 contingents are looking to conceal their furtive activities as their creations take form–the competition must not find out!  This is the state of Clark Lake at this time of year as the 57th Annual Raft-O-Rama draws near on Sunday, August 6th.

Before you dive into the 10 Things You Need to Know about Raft-O-Rama but Were Afraid to Ask, know that there is plenty of free cardboard available, generously supplied by Georgia-Pacific.  You can pick some up at 474 S. Woodland Drive.  

Thanks to Dotty Karkheck for creating this colorful, information-filled piece.

The Latest on the Township Park & County Park

Once again, parks took the spotlight at the monthly meeting of the Columbia  Township trustees.  A new version of Ordinance 18 was unveiled–that’s the law that governs activity in the Township Park.  The intent behind the new document is to modernize language, update it to other current laws and regulation, and to toughen enforcement.  The current modest fines for infractions would be replaced with amounts much higher–up to $500. 

Trustees may vote it into law at the August meeting.  You can read the full text by scrolling down past the county park story. 

Judi Kelly who spoke at the last meeting returned to give her opinion on current conditions at the park.  She painted a much different picture tonight as you’ll see in this video.  After Judi’s comments, Police Chief David Elwell’s responds, and Treasurer John Calhoun comments. Finally, Clerk Barry Marsh asks Township Attorney Eric White, who helped draft the new ordinance, about enforcing the “no pet” rule.  Exceptions are made for service animals, but stops at that.

Judi Kelly operates Doyle’s Market and lives adjacent to the Township Park.  John Calhoun also lives at Clark Lake, and is in the vicinity of the park.

The county commissioner for the Clark Lake area is Phil Duckham.  He told trustees the county is thinking about offering townships the opportunity to take over some county parks on a 99-year lease.  That could include the County Park at the east end.  Also, he noted the new parks director was “embarrassed” by what he saw at the Clark Lake county park.  Duckham said a building damaged in a storm would be fixed.  Duckham attributed the lack of attention to turnover in the parks director position. 

The building described in the video has been closed for a number of years.  It was damaged by a falling branch in a November, 2016, storm.

National Rebel Championship Results – 2017

Aerial photos courtesy of Andrew Lajdziak

The Rebel National Championships, held at Clark Lake this year, attracted 12 entries from places as far away as New Jersey.  There was healthy representation from Michigan, and from local sailors.  There were 9 races in the regatta–three on Friday, four on Saturday and two on Sunday.

A meet like this is a reunion for many of the participants, and you can see that friendships have developed. But once the starting horn sounds, these competitors are in it to win. 

One area where skill and experience come into play is at the start.  Unlike a car or power boat, you can’t idle at the starting line. Boats circle waiting for the starting horn.  That is more challenging considering changing wind conditions, and being in close proximity to other boats trying to be at the line a nanosecond before the race begins. Collisions aren’t unheard of, and sometimes words not permitted on prime time TV have been heard.  Similar skill and experience is demanded when rounding the buoys.  Check it out for yourself, above.

Because of the shape of Clark Lake and other natural forces, wind conditions can change a lot from moment to moment. The map above shows how the lake is divided into sections.  The race director decides where buoys will be placed depending on current conditions.  Once the boats are on the course, it’s up to sailor and crew to make the most of these changing conditions.

The races are scored by place of finish in each race, and then added together to determine the final outcome.   The lowest score, as in golf, is the winner.  Starting with first place, here are the finishers as compiled from all 9 races this weekend.

Dave Nickels of Fenton and crew, Peter Klein finished first. Sail 4176.

Ed Cox of Grand Rapids and crew, Linda Cox, finished second. Sail 4165.

Mary Reif of Grand Rapids, and crew Alan Vorel finished third.  Sail 3914.

4th – Kevin Nickels of Fenton, and crew, Marissa Nickels. Sail 4140

5th – Mark Melling of Clark Lake, and crew Brendon Melling. Sail 0092

6th – Neil Robb of Jackson, and crew Ethan Stebing. Sail 4162

7th – Jeff Schushardt of New Jersey, and crew Karyn Schushardt. Sail 4136

8th – Bill Sellick of New Jersey, and crew Richard Avery. Sail 4182

9th – Tim Nickels of Fenton, and crew Brad Nickels. Sail 4200

10th – Scott Wright of Grand Rapids, and crew Soren Wright. Sail 4180

11th – Steve Cummings of Jackson, and crew Lindsey Cummings/Kathie Hill. Sail 4167

12th – Jay Topping of Fenton, and crew Pat Topping. Sail 3994

Bruce Nowak and Hugh Harris are standing by the trophy display that illustrates the proud history of Rebel championships. 

For this contest and others, Bruce Nowak was race director.  Hugh Harris, and his wife, Helen, were part of the judging team on the Yacht Club raft.

It takes a team to put on a race like this.


And They’re Off!

Kids race first in the Great American Crab Races.  And why do they want to win?  Up for crabs are terrific prizes–$200, $100, and a brand-new bike.  The many sponsors are the strong foundation for the Crab Races (see schedule below to see who sponsors each race).  The Kennedy’s of Country Market, made a big difference in providing today’s prizes for the kids.

Adults will also do their best to win at the Beach Bar, too.   In the finals, 1st prize is $600; 2nd, $350, and 3rd, $200.  Adults go at it starting at 6:30 pm today (Sunday).  For other times, check out the schedule below.

The Great American Crab Races are sponsored by the Clark Lake Spirit Trail, Columbia Academic Boosters, Napoleon Athletic Boosters, and Napoleon Lions Club.  The Crab Race Committee likes to refer to it as “a joint venture for the kids.”  They would like to thank all the race sponsors above, and have a special thank you to M-R Builder, B&B Hardware & Mobil Subway, Country Market, and the Beach Bar.