Newsletter • May 2019

View from the Center

Welcome to the Spring 2019 edition.  Last year, we introduced this new format that reflects the major trend from print to digital.  It allows for many more photos while taking advantage of the ability to present them in full color and also include videos. 

The Community Center has renewed its effort to preserve Clark Lake’s past.  To understand the community support that powers this initiative, relive the events that led to that amazing day in 1997 when the Graziani cottage floated down the lake to become the Community Center.

The Graziani cottage stood watch on Kentucky Point for 100 years and saw Clark Lake’s fascinating transformation from rural agriculture to what it is today. In the late 1990s, it looked like the cottage would meet its demise. Many were horrified by this prospect, and the Clark Lake spirit sprang into action. Committees formed, fundraising began, and engineering geniuses formulated a plan.

How did the House on the Hill come to stand as a monument to the community’s dedication to preserving its past?

Take five minutes to enjoy the house’s trip down the lake. Share in the excitement as you hear people describe how it felt.  The video includes recent comments from two Clark Lake residents, interspersed with archival video recorded at the time of the event, and a Channel 6 news story.    Bob and Laurie LaZebnik purchased the house on Kentucky Point and spent summers there.  But the house was old and not in good condition.  Laurie tells what happened next. 

The house is collecting historical items, and is putting them on display in the building, starting with the recently created Wall of Fame. 

Letter from the President

by John C. Karkheck

Welcome back to all of you that leave for the winter.

The Community Center continues to serve its mission of preserving Clark Lake’s past.  Artifacts of that important history will be displayed on our “Wall of Fame”. Check back often as we rescue cool Clark Lake items so all can view them now and in the future.

The board of directors is working on several major projects that may take place yet this year. Once details are available, we’ll pass them along. 

L to R: Meredythe Hill-Van Dusen, Dotty Karkhec, Sandy Petykiewicz, John Karkheck, Diane Deming, John Deming

October 12, 2019 is the date for our Harvest Moon Party to be held at the Clark Lake Yacht Club. We will be featuring a Polish dinner with golumki, Kapusta, and pierogi along with music and auction items.  More details will be available on as we get closer to the date. Space will be limited to 150 people.  Below are some of the smiling faces of those who attended the last Community Center fund-raising party—Oktoberfest in 2017.


The Center continues to seek people to join its board of directors. You’re invited to attend a board meeting to find out more about the Community Center’s mission. Check with the calendar on this website for meeting dates or you can contact me, John Karkheck (517) 745-2929.

You can rent this historic building for activities such as weddings, showers, reunions, birthdays, graduations or just a get-together. To learn more, click here or contact Meredythe Hill-VanDusen (517) 206-9802.

If you’d like to honor someone or a family, we can help.  You can purchase a brick for placement in the path surrounding the Community Center.  If you’re honoring a veteran, consider the Ring of Honor.  Click here for details and the order form.

The Garden Angels continue to transform the landscaping surrounding this historic house. We thank them for their hard work and applying their touch of magic!  

Don’t forget to put the Raft O Rama date of August 4th on your calendar. For more details see the article by Joe Collins.

Again, as I do annually, I ask that you watch out for our children, attend the Lion’s Club Memorial Day Parade honoring our fallen heroes, and pray for the safe return of all our men and women serving us in the military.

I look forward to seeing all of you on the water or at our functions, because it’s good being seen… with you.



by Joe Collins

READY – PLAYER 1! – but hundreds are invited to play during the Clark Lake Summer Festival with special bonus points for Raft-O-Rama 2019!

We log in on May 27th with the annual Clark Lake Memorial Day Parade.  A veritable Centipede of local organizations will wind from the Clark Lake Alternative School on North Lake Road to Hyde Road.  Always a colorful display.  Click here to view the 2019 parade and all that went with it.

Toggling into July we find ourselves in the Halo of the The Great American Crab Races, taking place at the Beach Bar from Sunday, July 14 to Tuesday, July 16.  Crabs will be racing through their tracks like Asteroids through space to the delight of children as well as adults.  A great time for all.

Our own live action version of Mario and Luigi navigating perils to get to the prize happens on Saturday, July 27th.  It’s time again for the Kids Triathlon, hosted by the Clark Lake Yacht Club. Hot dogs, refreshments and prizes make this a great, free event. 

Saturday, August 3rd, brings us the super Sonic speed of the 43rd Clark Lake Run.  Watch men and women of all ages avoid any Pitfalls and race to the finish line.


The Final Fantasy of the festival is Raft-O-Rama 2019, on Sunday, August 4th!  Our theme this year was suggested by votes from the attending public—Video Games!  Participants get to Joust for awards in several categories.  No need to run to the quarter machine – we don’t charge for your participation and cardboard is provided by one of our sponsors. And remember, most traditional board games have video versions.  They qualify to be part of it as well.  Checkers, anyone?

Our version of Gran Turismo (but a little bit slower) the raft parade begins at the west end of the lake at 10:30 am.  Following a circle of the lake, the event continues at Eagle Point for the Clark Lake Lions Chicken and Corn Broil.  Dig Dug in for one of the finest meals around. Rockstars Dedfoot will provide live music and dancing. Raffles, photo booth, a DJ and kid’s activities, not to mention Clark Lake hospitality are included.  Award winners in a variety of categories will be announced, as well as the People’s Choice.  Registration details will be provided later this summer.

So hop like Frogger to all of these great Clark Lake events!  Winners all!

Raft-O-Rama 2018 turned Countries of the World into modern-day Clark Lake fun.  Relive the action with this video.


To review the winning entries and the entrants, please click here.

The Raft-O-Rama Committee meets year around.  This photo was taken at one of those meetings on a chilly evening last September.


Clark Lake Spirit Trail

by Rick Belcher

Supported by a small army of volunteers, the Clark Lake Spirit Trail continues to flourish.  This 7.3 mile path follows the circumference of Clark Lake and allows walkers, runners, and cyclists to take it all in—rural vistas, canopied forests, traditional lake neighborhoods, views of the lake’s blue waters, and even nature’s holding pond of critters and wild flora, otherwise known as a swamp!

Spirit Trail Committee

The Trail requires maintenance. And most of it comes from the energy of the committee and other volunteers.  One shining example of that occurs every spring for the Annual Spirit Trail Clean-up. 

It’s most gratifying to see people perform ad hoc upkeep along the route without being asked.  But that is not always enough. Recently outsiders were called in to cull dead trees that posed a hazard along Jefferson Road and to install erosion-inhibiting gravel along the concrete path that goes through the Magic Forest. 

That, and major infrastructure transformations, call for financial support. Fund raisers help.  Ladies Wine Tasting is a recent example.


You can make a donation through this website by clicking here, or by mailing a check to PO Box 224, Clark Lake, MI 49234.  Your donation will be tax-advantaged through the Clark Lake Spirit Foundation, a 501c3.

As said often, the Spirit Trail offers a variety of engaging vistas.  Have you seen this one, and can you identify where it is?

What’s ahead for the Spirit Trail?   One important project is the sign that will be part of the donor wall planned for an area along North Lake Road. Another is placement of Spirit Trail benches.  Stay tuned!


Clark Lake Outdoors

by John Deming

Clark Lake’s spring beauty was slow to arrive this year.  As late as Mother’s Day, it was only 48 degrees and a heavy mist settled over the lake.

What this most recent cold spell has done is provide perfect bird watching from the comfort of our sun room window. This small area with a southern exposure provides shelter, water from two fountains and a small shallow bird bath near the ground. Birds are drawn to sources of water, so if they feel safe they will come for a drink or a bath.  I believe many of the migratory birds are forced to seek food from different areas than they would normally. Most of the insect-eating birds are forced to seek insects that are not in the tops of the trees, but are on the ground.  Indigo Buntings, Nashville Warblers, Palm Warblers and Yellow-Rumped, or Myrtle Warblers, are some examples of what we have seen outside our window.

  • Indigo Bunting
  • Nashville Warbler
  • Palm Warbler
  • Female Yellow Rumped Warbler
  • Male Yellow Rumped Warbler

Our normal migratory birds that arrive on the 1st of May or shortly thereafter, are the hummingbirds and orioles. True to their schedule, the hummers returned to our feeders on the 1st and the orioles arrived on the 5th.  We have both the Northern Baltimore and the Orchard Oriole using our oranges and sugar water feeders. We had an oriole slam into a window and it had a difficult time recovering, but we believe after 3 or 4 days of rest and special feeding arrangements,  it has recovered and joined the other orioles on their northern migration.

We have an active Osprey feeding on fish that venture too close to the surface. I have also noted a Bald Eagle that is around, but is not as visible as the Osprey.  I have noticed the eagle at very high altitude-so high as to make it difficult to see, yet alone identify. The white on the head and tail are sure signs of what it is. The swans have returned and have, at last count, 8 cygnets.

The CarpGard protects the lake from carp jumping the dam. Carp are an invasive species; and the fewer in the lake, the better. Installation was done by Flip Reynolds and Lee Wilbur. These two have taken on this job and I really appreciate their help.

Cold spring weather delayed treatment of the lake for invasive weeds. In order for the treatment product to be effective, a pronounced thermocline was necessary.  A thermocline is where the top 10 to 20 feet of water is warmer than the water below it.  That keeps the product working where the weeds are. The thermocline developed much later than expected. Read the full report by clicking here.

The State of Michigan has passed a new law regarding the transportation of invasive species. It’s your responsibility to ensure your watercraft and trailer are free of any invasive species  before and after you enter any body of water in Michigan.  There is also an effort by the State to assist property owners in paying for some of the costs associated with weed control. Currently Clark Lake’s SAD pays for the weed treatment from a tax levied on lakefront property owners.

I have nothing to report from the fishermen. I will gladly provide whatever is made available to me for publication—the good, the bad and the ugly.  You can reach me at (517) 529-9117.


Dam Strong

by Rick Belcher

It’s a good thing Clark Lake is Dam Strong.  The rebuild of the south side of the dam and donations in support of it were outstanding examples of how the community unites to meet important challenges.  What if the dam had failed, and the lake level dropped two to four feet?  That’s no longer a nagging question.  Both north and south shoulders have been rebuilt, ensuring the integrity of the dam. 

A major plus was development of the area around the dam.  Now four Spirit Trail benches surround the dam basin.  For protection of those visiting, a new security railing has been installed. Clark Lake’s Wilcox laid the sod and donated the landscaping, Mike McKay engineered the project and contributed the concrete.  John Collins of the Beach Bar lends his team to maintain the lawn.  Then there are the donors who wrote checks to the Clark Lake Spirit Foundation to get the job done.  Click here to check out the Dam Strong Honor Roll.

As well as Dam Strong, the Foundation publishes the Clark Lake Spirit website which gets about 126,000 page views annually.  It covers Clark Lake news, researches and replays important moments in its history, and remembers the people who made the lake the wonderful place that it is today. Ever popular, the DamCam looks out over the the dam and the lake.  It can “see” as far away as Hyde Road and has captured in real time many fascinating moments, including some amazing sunsets. Thanks to Mike McKay who made purchase of the latest camera possible.


Clark Lake Garden Angels

by Sandy Simon

Spring, a time of rebirth. The season of the year between winter and summer. Days become longer, weather becomes warmer, our gardens awaken and need our attention. The Clark Lake Garden Angels have been busy working at the Community Center and the triangle (where North Lake and Ocean Beach roads meet). Thank you to all of you that have worked to make the grounds so lovely. Thank you to our honorary Angels, Lee Wilbur and Phil Simon, who have stepped in and moved quite a bit of mulch for us. Lee has really helped with the clean up of the Community Center grounds. The winter weather and wind left sticks and leaves and debris. Lee and Shelly Wilbur were instrumental in cleaning and burning all of the debris from the grounds. This “thank you” isn’t really enough. If you see these two people or any of our Angels give them a shout-out. There is a lot of love given to this land; give them a pat on the back. It’s just the beginning.

2019 photos

Planting has been delayed because the weather has not cooperated. Every year the grounds evolve into something more and more beautiful. Come on up and take a look. Better yet, why not join the Angels. Have you ever just wanted to learn more about gardening? This is really a great place to learn. We have fun, do a little work, meet with wonderful friends and other garden clubs. We usually meet the second Tuesday of the month. Questions? Call Sandy Simon, president, Clark Lake Garden Angels, (517) 740-5340. We would love to see you.

Do you have any lilies in your gardens? Are they getting defoliated by a little red beetle? It’s a growing problem and pinching them off won’t cure the problem. They are laying eggs in the ground and will continue to emerge until the eggs are killed. We gardeners have found that using BioAdvanced Tree & Shrub Protect & Feed granules (I know, odd stuff, but it works.)  gets in the ground and kills the eggs. I personally have many large lilies that have been totally defoliated by these little buggers. This beetle is pretty new, like in the last 5 years, and is quite the little pest. I really don’t like using chemicals on my gardens, but this calls for it! 

What are the Garden Angels all about?  They will tell you in their own words.

In closing, we decided not to have our fundraising event this spring. Time got away from us again. We are always accepting donations. You can make a contribution by check to the Clark Lake Spirit Foundation. Please note Garden Angels on the memo line, and mail to PO Box 224, Clark Lake, MI 49234 or you can click here and do the same through this website. The Foundation is a 501c3 and your donation is tax-advantaged. We’re forever grateful for donations, as they are used to purchase mulch and flowers to beautify the Clark Lake Community Center.


Clark Lake Yacht Club

The Yacht Club is offering Learn to Sale Classes.  But why would you want to learn?  The video reveals the secret. 

The video was produced by the Clark Lake Spirit Foundation at the Yacht Clubs Regatta in October.  This annual event attracts sailors from multiple states and Canada.  Review the Regatta by clicking here. 

For the history of the Clark Lake Yacht Club, please click here.

For more information on Learn to Sail, click here, send an email to or call Craig (248) 705-0312.


Clark Lake Lions Club

by Walt Reed

Another year ends for Lions on June 30. Many of you know our outgoing president, Walt Shuberg. Walt is completing two years as president of the Clark Lake Lions Club. And many of you know our new President, Todd Kennedy.  They are two very busy guys who have found time to use their business acumen to help others.

While many Lions aspire to become officers in their clubs, it certainly isn’t a requirement. Most members join Lions because “We Serve” and are content to work on the projects to support the community or to raise money to support others.

Walt Shuberg has expressed a desire to serve as the Clark Lake Lions “Tail Twister”. The job of the club Tail Twister is to challenge and fine members at the monthly meetings. The two-fold purpose is to have fun and to raise some funds to cover the cost of meetings and other club expenses. Money Lions raise from donations must be used to support our eyeglass program, disaster relief, and scholarships.

Walt Reed at a Memorial Day Parade

If you know Walt Shuberg well, the Clark Lake Lions meetings will certainly be a lot of fun in the next couple of years. Lions, bring your quarters!

Having fun is one of the benefits of becoming a Lion. Lions are dedicated to making our community a better place to live by organizing and supporting community events and providing eye examinations and eye glasses for members of our community.   Having fun is the frosting, as people say.  Helping others, having fun with friends, and making new friends . . . It doesn’t get any better!

Want an example? We held our annual Cash Bash this month and two of the people who were “having fun” accepted our invitation to join the Clark Lake Lions.  Of course, it helped a little that they won some money!  But I think the “having fun” part was the sales clincher.

The Lions held an Easter Egg Hunt the day before Easter.   It was rainy affair, but it didn’t stop the kids from having fun.


The Lions welcome members. If you would like to join an organization that has fun while supporting great causes, give me a ring.  (517) 529-4979.


Clarklake Community Church

by Walt Reed

Last year, 2018, was the anniversary year of 150 years of service to the Clark Lake community by the Clarklake Community Church.

We celebrated the anniversary in July on the shore of Clark Lake in the Township Park. That is the place where the original 14 citizens of Clark’s Lake met in the one-room school house and agreed to charter the Clark’s Lake Baptist Church.

They met, as they had for several Sundays prior to that Sunday in May 1868, in the school house that they had helped establish and build on the shore of the lake.

This is the church that they built on the northwest corner of Jefferson and Hyde road in 1868. Sparks from a passing train set fire to the church in 1928 and the next church was built near the present church.

We also celebrated our 150th birthday in the church fellowship hall with lunch after the celebratory church service on the lake. (We are still Baptist after all).

At the lunch we were treated to a Dr.Ted Ligibel’s wonderful talk on the history of Clark Lake and why churches were the foundation of many small communities across this great nation. What a great history lesson of the role that churches and schools had in building small communities like Clark Lake. Dr. Ligibel reminded us that as people traveled to claim the land that brought people west, they first founded schools and then used those schools as houses of worship until a church could be built.  The pioneers’ dedication to the education of their children and their belief that God needed to be thanked for the freedoms and opportunities they had been given provided the catalyst that binds people of all nationalities into a functioning community.

In 1954 the Clarklake Baptist Church changed its name to become the Clarklake Community Church. It was still affiliated with American Baptist Churches, but church officials believed the name change would be a better welcome for the many summer visitors who came each year.

Summer visitors have been replaced by families that live here year-round. Schools of choice came to take children to other communities to learn. Bread winners drive miles away from our community to earn a living.  Therefore, churches and schools are no longer the binding agent for the small communities that I think made America great.

I grew up going to the Clarklake Baptist Church (way back when it wasn’t even 100 years old) that held monthly dinners to bring folks together to laugh and share stories of their struggles with their farms and raising families. Dinners highlighted the cooking excellence of the women of the church. Pies, cakes and special dishes became the hallmark that each lady of the church was noted for.  Summer Bible School, taught by a visiting pastor, Mr. Goodman (yes, that was his name), was a treat we school kids looked forward to each year. And, during the school year Mr. Goodman would come to our school on the shore of the lake and teach Bible lessons in the school.

Today Clark Lake is still a friendly and generous community. But today people who live here join together because they want to share the beauty and recreational opportunities of the lake. Modern school systems ensure that our children will be educated and existing churches provide the venue to praise God for the gift of the life we have been given.

Times have changed. Our little church has tried to keep up with the times. But, we have always believed that a community church has a special place in and of the community. We still do.

If you do, please join us.


Beach Bar Band Schedule


Photos and videos in this newsletter produced by Rick Belcher.  Collaboration with Brett Wietecha for the Memorial Day, Raft-O-Rama and Run Clark Lake videos.