Newsletter – May 2018

The View from the Center

Welcome to the first digital version of the Community Center newsletter.  It begins with the traditional message from Community Center President John Karkheck.

Dear Clarklakers:

Pres. John Karkheck & VP Walt Reed


Changing the delivery of the View from the Center recognizes that people are moving online for news.  By reducing costs, it allows the Community Center to maintain and improve this treasured landmark. The new digital platform also means unlimited photos, in vibrant color instead of monochrome, as well as videos that add action to the stories. I hope you’ll see how this change brings the Clark Lake experience more fully to life. I want to give a big thanks to Rick Belcher and the Clark Lake Spirit Foundation for putting the newsletter online.

In many ways, the Community Center itself tells an amazing Clark Lake story.  As a cottage on Kentucky Point, it was the summer home of the Graziani’s.  You can read Carla Graziani’s account of those years on this website.  She describes not only what their family experienced, but chronicles the many changes and events since 1899 that led to where we are today. 

About 100 years after it was built, it looked like the cottage might meets its demise.  Many at the lake were horrified by this prospect, and the Clark Lake Spirit sprung into action.  Committees were formed, fundraising began, and engineering geniuses formulated a plan. What happened next will be forever imprinted on the minds of those who watched.  The house floated down the lake on a barge and was towed to its beautiful new setting in the County Park.  Major repairs restored the wide verandas. Historical pieces graced the walls.  And amidst the alluring landscaping of the Garden Angels, the house on the hill stands as a monument to the community’s dedication to preserve its culture.  

Today, the house looks great, and we have volunteers and donors to thank.  But consider this.  This building started out as a cottage, and now is almost 120 years old.  To maintain and improve this Clark Lake icon, we need help from people like you.  Consider joining the crew that vigilantly watches over this historic landmark.  And know this–without Clark Lake’s generosity, its existence in next 100 years is not assured.  Please think about a donation through “Buy a Brick” or by simply writing a check.

While I pen this note on a beautiful morning, many exciting things are happening at Clark Lake. The Garden Angels held a plant and bake sale at the Center. They continue to do their magic in the various garden areas of our community, including the Community Center.

Raft-O-Rama is in full swing with this year’s theme, “Countries.” Let’s get your creative juices flowing. Following the raft parade, Eagle Point Marina will be the site of a fabulous Clark Lake Lions chicken barbecue. There will be plenty of children’s amusement activities. Doyle’s will graciously carry R-O-R merchandise.

Last October, the Community Center, with the generous support of the Clark Lake Yacht Club, held an Oktoberfest at the Yacht Club. For those of you who attended, it was a full house and you were treated to an outstanding evening of food and entertainment. If you missed that event, don’t miss it next time.

The Community Center is available for various activities such as birthdays, reunions, weddings and showers. If you are interested, contact Meredythe Hill-Vandusen  at 517-206-9802 and Rent the Center on this website.

A volunteer is needed.  We are looking for someone to coordinate a Kids Day summer program that would feature crafts, painting and other fun activities for kids.

Again, I ask that you watch over our children, who may unknowingly do unusual things. As always, please pray for the safe return of all of our brave men and women in the military.

I’m looking forward to meeting you on the water and meeting our new residents, because it’s nice being seen … with you.

Feedback?  Please scroll down to the end of newsletter and use the email address.

Summer Festival

By Joe Collins

Check your boarding pass, keep your seat in the upright position and get ready to jet off to the four corners of the world with the 2018 Clark Lake Summer Festival.  Our grand tour will culminate in Raft-O-Rama #58 with our theme this year – Countries!

Our first port of call will be the Memorial Day Parade on Monday, May 28, at the west end of the lake.  Take the opportunity to join with the indigenous population in a fun event with bands, bikes and floats.  Most importantly, remember those who gave so much for their country.

On Sunday, July 15, a large group of athletes will be traveling by land and sea (or lake, anyway) for the Clark Lake Triathlon.  Sign up to join in or just show up to cheer them on.

Our next destination will be the Beach Bar on July 15-17 for the Great American Crab Races.  Hermit crabs make a mad dash for the borders to the cheers of kids of all ages, and there are valuable prizes for the winners. This is an important fundraiser for the community and a great time for all.

We’ll traverse the globe to the south side on Saturday, July 28, for the Kids Triathlon, hosted by the Clark Lake Yacht Club.  The young ones will get a chance to show off their skills and earn a medal – not to mention a hot dog and cold drink at the end.

Saturday, August 4, we clear customs and checkpoints with the Run Clark Lake, 42 years and going strong!  Runners from here, there and everywhere can compete in numerous categories.


Finally, on August 5, to complete this global adventure, we’ll all be getting our passports stamped at Raft-O-Rama 2018.  “Countries” is the theme, and with hundreds to choose from, we expect a large and varied group of rafts.  Don’t forget that there are no tariffs involved – Raft-O-Rama is a completely free event.  There is no cost to enter and cardboard for decorating is provided by sponsors.  The parade will start at the west end of the lake at 10:30 a.m. and make a full circle around.  Don’t forget to declare your best smiles for the camera as you pass the gas dock!  Following the parade, you’ll take in the local color and sample exotic cuisine at Eagle Point for the Clark Lake Lions Chicken and Corn Broil.  Live music, dancing and raffles make for a fun time for all involved.  You can even book passage on our free Shuttle Service, offering passage around the lake from 12:30-5:30 p.m.  Awards for all the winning “goodwill ambassadors” in a variety of categories will be presented, including People’s Choice, voted on by you, the attendees.  Registration information will be provided later this summer.

The Clark Lake Summer Festival will be your passport to a tour of fun for globetrotters everywhere, so get your itinerary in order!

Clark Lake Outdoors

By John Deming

Just like clockwork they arrived. On the morning of May 1, while sitting at the counter browsing the web, I saw a dark-colored bird attempting to use our hummingbird feeder attached to the window. Too large for a hummer and too dark for a Baltimore Oriole–it was an Orchard Oriole. Up went the feeders for the orioles; oranges split in half with part of the pulp scooped out and replaced with grape jelly. For our efforts, we were rewarded with numerous orioles, at least 8 at a time, trying to get to the treats we were offering. Then a Rose-Breasted Grosbeak arrived to join the fray. A real feeding frenzy!  Still no sign of the hummingbirds, which normally arrive at the same time.


May 1 was a gorgeous day for a change, and we were sitting on the front porch in the late afternoon watching the first flotilla of rafts and boats cruise by when a female hummer buzzed by as if to say, “I’m back!” So the season has begun. By the end of hummingbird season, Oct. 1, we will have gone through 40 pounds of sugar. In the days since the 1st, we have seen our resident swans and their 10 cygnets. Last year they started with 8 and ended up raising one cygnet to adulthood. We also have a female mallard nesting near our front porch, which makes it difficult to come to our front door. We would appreciate her hurrying up the incubation process.

The barred owls that have nested in our back woods for at least eight years are gone. Last spring we noticed that the two fledgling owls were being fed by only one parent. We were hoping that the lone adult would find another mate and return. Unfortunately, that did not happen.

I’ve watched the fishermen utilizing the early season catch-and-release bass fishing regulations with some interest. The word in the regulation that seems to be forgotten by the fishermen is “immediately.” The regulation requires the immediate release of all bass caught. It doesn’t mean release after you fumble with your camera or cell phone to take pictures.

 The carp returned to the newly repaired dam only to find the carp-guard in place to thwart their attempts to jump the dam. Thanks to Flip Reynolds and Lee Wilbur for engineering that project.

The invasive weed control program that was initiated in 2016 has entered a new stage. For a full explanation of what has happened and what to expect, go to Invasive Weeds.

Feel free to contact me with comments or questions. (Phone-517-529-9117 or email I would love to hear from you about your outdoor experiences in Clark Lake.

Clark Lake Spirit Trail

by Rick Belcher

An inhospitable spring delayed the annual clean up day by three weeks.  The good news is that many around the lake took the initiative.  In brief moments of decent weather, they took it upon themselves to clean up portions of the Trail, including the cut-throughs and along Jefferson Road.  For this, the Spirit Trail committee is very grateful. 

In this short video, some of the clean up crew tell the story.

Volunteers handle most work, and expenses are generally limited to supplies.  Major infrastructure improvements require financial support.  Two recent examples include the rebuilding of the section along the post office and the installation of new pavement that connects Rita Drive to Grand Boulevard.  

Only through generous donations can these projects go forward.  The good news is that the Spirit Trail can receive tax-advantaged contributions through the Clark Lake Spirit Foundation, a 501c3.  When considering charitable donations, please remember the Spirit Trail.

Garden Angels

By Sandy Pease-Simon, President

After our fourth winter at Clark Lake, spring is finally here!  The Clark Lake Garden Angels had the Spring Garden Sale and successfully raised more than $700.  Due to a cold spring, the plants weren’t as vibrant and plentiful as we would have liked.  Honestly, several of the plants I potted up last fall were barely visible at sale time, so I couldn’t even bring them. We did our best!

I’d like to thank all of the Garden Angels who spent the last several weeks working tirelessly around the Community Center grounds.  It took a lot of love and hard work to make the grounds beautiful in preparation for the sale.  The other board members–Fern Kerr, Shelly Wilbur and Mary Kennedy–all worked very hard to make this event a success. And to all the other members who came and spent their entire day with us, we ALL appreciate your time and dedication. 

We not only like to garden, we are darn good cooks too. There were some pretty incredible baked goods at the sale.

 Another person the Angels would like to thank is Rick Belcher. Have you seen the great video he did for us? Check it out below; it’s pretty nice. Rick, we really appreciate all of the time you spend snapping photos of us, visiting with us and promoting our club. Because of your efforts, we’ve gotten a couple of new members! 


Since my theme seems to be giving thanks, there is one more person who needs a great big THANK YOU. Shelly Wilbur’s husband Lee has been an incredible Secret Angel to us these past few weeks. Lee is single-handedly responsible for spreading more than 55 bags of mulch at the triangle on the east end of the lake. If that wasn’t enough, he came back a few days later and helped us spread mulch around the Community Center. We are very appreciative, Lee!  

Lee Wilbur

Now that most of the hard labor is complete, we will be planting more perennials and annuals. Things will be popping up all over the place. It is our hope to use our fundraising money to get irrigation over to the triangle so we aren’t hauling a hose across the street. Thank you, Clark Lake, for helping us once again make our little piece of heaven just a little bit more pretty. We love keeping the Spirit of Clark Lake alive.

Happy gardening, happy summer!

“My garden is my most beautiful masterpiece.”

-Claude Monet

Sandy Simon can be reached at 740-5340.

Dam Strong for Clark Lake

by Rick Belcher

Only a year ago, the dam’s infrastructure was in trouble.  A jumble of weeds and tree roots, and cycles of freezes and thaws, had threatened catastrophic failure.  Today that ugly picture has been erased. The recent reconstruction of the south shoulder has preserved its function.  The laying of a cement apron around the basin, landscaping, and plans to create seating and bike rack have elevated its appearance and utility.  The predicted loss of two to four feet of lake level was stopped in its tracks.  As the landscaping and amenities are installed, the look and feel improve every day. 

How we got to this point is a measure of the Clark Lake Spirit. Upon learning the dam’s infrastructure was compromised, the Clark Lake Spirit Foundation initiated the Dam Strong project.  The community immediately arose to the challenge.  In short order, the cost to rebuild the south shoulder was covered.  This video reviews, in the words of people you may know, how it happened.


Generosity is a Clark Lake hallmark.  Click here to view the Dam Strong Honor Roll.  Other fundraising activities such as underwriting the Spirit Trail benches and the sale of t-shirts and hats helped.  We have Mike McKay to thank for magic finishing touches.  It was his vision that took the project in this direction.  The laying of concrete and the landscaping are his gifts in fulfilling it.    

View from the DamCam the morning after the concrete was laid

Spirit, as a concept, is intangible.  But the results of its presence can certainly be seen and felt.  Dam Strong thoroughly exemplifies how the Clark Lake Spirit thrives in our community.  

Clark Lake Invasive Species Report

by John Deming

Spring has finally arrived and with its arrival comes the regeneration of our weed problem. The treatment plan that is currently under consideration is for the use of a new herbicide, Procellacor. Procellacor has been approved by the federal government and is currently under review by Michigan’s DNR/DEQ. It is anticipated that sometime this year, probably late summer, the approval for its use will be received. When approved and depending on the timing of the approval, the new herbicide may be used to treat our weed problem yet this year. This website will actively follow the approval process and provide you with the latest information.

The invasive species problem continues to evolve not only with newly developed treatment options, but with the type of invasive species that we are facing. Our weed problem has changed and with that change a new approach is required.

What we have not discussed is how to prevent invasive species from entering our lake. Without a concerted effort to prevent invasive species from entering our lake, we will continue to react after the unwanted invasive specie is discovered. As far as I know, the property owners will be the only party that will be impacted financially by being asked to solve the problem by paying for a treatment or allowing the invasive specie to destroy property values. The source of most, if not all invasive species, is by the transportation of an invasive specie by a watercraft from an infected body of water to our lake. The transportation can take place in the bilge water or a small particle of a weed attached to the bunk of a trailer.  A majority of the watercraft at our lake never leave the lake to visit an infected body of water. Therefore, they are not the source of our problem. We need to discuss the problem of how to prevent the infected watercraft from entering our lake. The discussion needs to include all five launch site operators and potentially the DNR/DEQ. We can either begin the discussion and be proactive or wait for the next invasive specie to gain a foothold. The next invasive specie may be more costly than our current one. You can contact me, John Deming, either by phone 517-529-9117 or by email at  

Clark Lake Lions Club

By Walter Reed

The Clark Lake Lions Club continues to grow!

Lions’ Walter Reed at the Memorial Day Parade

That is good news, but the better news is that there is still plenty of room for you and your spouse in the Clark Lake Lions Club.

We need people from the Clark Lake and Brooklyn communities who are too busy to join another club. I have found that the best members, those who are always ready to help with another project, seem to be those who are already deeply involved in the community.

Little League, Run Clark Lake, Raft-O-Rama, the Clark Lake Community Center, Cancer Walks, Church, or children’s school activities are keeping you busy.

But one of the great things about the Clark Lake and Brooklyn communities is that they aren’t just “bedroom” suburbs where folks live when not working.

We are communities of friends and neighbors. We parade together on Memorial Day. We parade together in the annual Raft-O-Rama celebration. And we rally and support our neighbors when they need help or moral support. That’s you . . . I have met you!

Raft-O-Rama Float at the Memorial Day Parade

So, if you are “too busy” to take on another activity, the Clark Lake Lions Club is just the place to take on another project. We will help you squeeze it in.


The Clark Lake Lions meet once a month to have dinner on the fourth Tuesday of each month except January and February. We have some snow birds. There is no penalty for missing a meeting except you will probably miss a good meal and a couple hours of friendship.

Most “club business” is conducted by the elected Clark Lake Lions Club board. Information is passed to the members who can’t make a meeting via email.

Our major projects include the Lions Clubs International annual White Cane drive, Easter Egg Hunt, and the Memorial Day Parade –this weekend! These activities require about two hours of your time.

Joining Lions gives you membership in the largest service organization in the world — 1.4 million members in 46,000 clubs. While most people know that Lions help the blind and provide eyeglasses for those who need financial assistance, most people don’t know that Lions clubs are now actively assisting those with diabetes, the number one cause of onset blindness in older folks.

So, if you are too busy to get involved in another project, give me a call. We have just the projects that you thought you needed to avoid. Call me at 529-4979.

Clarklake Community Church

by Pastor John Reed

We are having a birthday party, and you are invited!

 It all started in a one-room schoolhouse on the west shore of Clark’s Lake in 1868, when 20 citizens of the community were using the school for Bible study.

“Resolved, that we the undersigned do hereby for the Service and Glory of God form ourselves into a body to be known as the Clark’s Lake Baptist Church of Columbia, adopting for our creed the work of God and the Declaration of Faith and Covenant recommended by the Baptist Convention of Michigan.”

This year is our 150th Birthday and we are scheduling a week long celebration of our service to the Clark Lake community.

Our church started as the Clark’s Lake Baptist Church. Most of the founding members’ families came from New York in the 1850s. They built a one-room schoolhouse on the west shore of the lake. The members used that one-room building as a community center, and met in the schoolhouse for Bible study.

Once they obtained their charter as members of the Baptist Convention of Michigan, they set about building a “real” church. It was built on the northwest corner of the intersection of Hyde Road and Jefferson Road. That church burned to the ground when a passing train’s sparks set fire to the buildings.

The second church, built farther away from the railroad, was built on the property where the first dwelling was built.

Clark Lake was founded by farmers and merchants who came west and purchased land from the Government. But Clark Lake was soon recognized as a beautiful vacation spot. Located on the Cincinnati Northern Railroad, and with a small train station of its own, southern visitors quickly began spending summers on the lake.

Several hotels were built on the lake and a steamboat taxi system carried visitors from the train station to those hotels. Hidden in our history is that there were actually two boarding houses that provided visitors with accommodations on Vining Street near the train station.

 In 1957, our church members wanted to reach out to the vacationers who spent their summers with us. The congregation officially changed its name to the Clarklake Community Church as a way to indicate that all Christians were welcome to worship with us. 

A third church (our current church) was built around that second church in 1961. More modern and with indoor plumbing (the second church installed indoor toilets in 1950), it has served both our congregation and several other community organizations since.

The church has hosted Boy Scouts, the Clark Lake Lions, local quilting groups, memorial services, and family reunions for more than 150 years.

Our celebration begins on Sunday, July 8, 2018 with a church service led by past ministers of the church.   After the service, the church will host a lunch with Dr. Ted Ligibel, discussing the history surrounding our church and our lake community.

An ice cream social is scheduled for Saturday, July 14, at the church. We have invited several musical groups and families to provide the entertainment for a community birthday party. Everyone is invited. We want to share some of our history with you.

The Sunday, July 15 service will be held in the Township Park. We will rededicate our church to continuing to spread the “Good News” Gospel of Christian faith.

John and Laurel Reed

We are going back to our roots. Our church began on the shore of Clark’s Lake. We continue to baptize our members in the lake. Now Clark Lake, the lake and the community are our soul. It defines who and what we are.

We will continue to update our plans for a great birthday celebration. We would love to have you join us. It is not only a celebration of the founding of a church, it is a celebration of the history of a wonderful community.

Standing Up for Clark Lake

by Rick Belcher

This phrase describes the mission of the Clark Lake Spirit Foundation, and it takes it seriously.  In 2017, weakness in the dam’s infrastructure threatened the loss of two to four feet of lake level.  Without pausing a beat, the Foundation created Dam Strong. The resulting community outpouring of the Clark Lake Spirit empowered the project to completion.   Donations to the Foundation eliminated a similar threat in 2012.  Now both north and south shoulders of the dam have been rebuilt. 

In what other ways does the Foundation stand up for Clark Lake? 

It benefits lake organizations like the Spirit Trail, Garden Angels, Raft-O-Rama, Run Clark Lake and Crab Races through its 501c3 status. Donations are tax advantaged, but it doesn’t stop there. Accounting is a big job, and we have Ann Swain to thank.  She devotes a huge number of hours to this important function as the Foundation’s treasurer.

When hybrid Eurasian water milfoil jeopardized the lake, the Foundation supported the genesis of the Clark Lake Invasive Species Committee.  That led to today’s program that reduces invasive weeds.

When the cemetery at the head-of-the-lake was in disrepair, the Foundation helped turn it around.  The gazebo in the Township Park was built through the Foundation’s support.  

The Foundation publishes the website you are on right now, The vigorous reporting and editing goes forward only through countless volunteer hours.  More and more, Clark Lakers are reaching out to the website not only to tell their stories, but learn the stories of other.  Collaborators, those who contribute photos or articles, are making a big difference. Publishing this website on behalf the Foundation, I want to thank Mike McKay. Because of his donation, we now have a state of the art DamCam.  From its perch over the dam, it can spot traffic as far away as Hyde Road or watch carp trying to jump the overflow.

The Foundation, through its expertise and financial support, took part in moving the Graziani cottage from Kentucky Point to its current location in the County Park.

The Foundation addresses every day needs, and it is ready when unexpected events occur. It does this through its unpaid volunteers and could not operate without the generosity of people like you.  When you see one of the directors, please consider a “thank you.”

The officers are Rick Belcher, president; Tom Petitto, vice president; Ann Swain, treasurer; and Linda Reynolds, secretary.  The other directors are Michele Ambs, Tucker Boyers, Peggy Collins, Mike McKay, Joe Thorrez, and Mick Thorrez.

Beach Bar Band Schedule