Newsletter • Fall 2018

View from the Center

Welcome to Fall 2018 edition. This new format is in step with the major trend from print to digital. It allows for many more photos with the added advantage of full color, plus videos. The President’s Letter follows this special message that spotlights the Community Center’s initiative to preserve Clark Lake’s past.  

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. Clark Lake will long remember how this building found its way to the County Park to become the Community Center. 

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.

What happened next will be forever imprinted on the minds of those who watched.  The house floated down the lake on a barge, was towed to the County Park and placed in its beautiful new setting.  Major repairs restored the wide verandas. Amidst the alluring landscaping of the Garden Angels, the house on the hill stands as a monument to the community’s dedication to preserving its past.


The Community Center is rededicating itself to this mission. A Wall of Fame will display items that speak to Clark Lake’s cherished culture and history. This new effort will showcase artifacts along with the stories that reveal their secrets. 

  • George Eagy, known at the lake as “Bowser,” left an indelible mark on Clark Lake.  He started the annual Boat Count.  He was early to introduce the motor-powered raft.  As the idea spread, so did the fun, which Bowser encouraged.  And so, 58 years ago, Raft-O-Rama was born.  On the Wall of Fame, you will see the placards that held his MC numbers and the name of his last raft, the Sea-Van.
  • The Clark Lake Post Office “49234” sign marked its location for many years.  It was replaced August 23rd.  The familiar old sign will be mounted on the Wall.
  • A piece that hasn’t been seen in public for many years will also take its place on the Wall.  The Eagle Point Hotel sign that stood for decades at the corner of Jefferson and Eagle Point Roads is sure to take viewers back to the days when the hotel, pavilion, miniature golf, and original restaurant stood on the Point.

John Deming measures the sign in preparing to mount it on the Wall of Fame

We have Bill Tuttle to thank for preserving the Eagle Point and Beautiful Clark Lake sign (below), and for donating them to the Community Center.

Will there be more?  You, or somebody close to you, may have the answer.

Clark Laker Bill Searles and local Postmaster Tim Kurtz in front of the post office.

Knowing where you’ve been is central to a community’s identity.  It also portends the future.  The Community Center is enthusiastic about this effort and hopes you will join our effort to preserve Clark Lake’s past.

Today, the house looks great.  We have volunteers and donors to thank.  But consider this. The structure began life as a summer-only cottage, and now is almost 120 years old.  There are critical needs that can’t be covered by rental fees alone.  To maintain and improve this Clark Lake icon, we need help from people like you.  Consider joining the crew that vigilantly keeps watch over it, or consider a charitable donation to this 501c3.  


Letter from the President

by John C. Karkheck

It is that time of the year again for my annual thank you tour. So many are deserving of my personal thanks. Where do we begin? If I have omitted anyone, it is completely unintentional.

Thank you to all of our guests of the Center for their bookings and brick purchases. This has been one of the largest continually booked seasons in many years.

This is partly due to the magnificent job that the Garden Angels do annually to attract guests to the CLCC. Dr. Lynn VanWagnen, thank you for another over-the-top job on the triangles this year. It seems that you do a bigger and better job each year.

Thank you to our community for supporting another flawless Raft-O-Rama. The rafts were all very creative for what continues to be a problem-free, fun-filled family event.

This event wouldn’t occur without the attention to detail from Eagle Point Marina and its staff, and the fabulous chicken and corn from the Clark Lake Lions Club.

My sincere gratitude, always, to my fellow Commit-Mes from R-O-R. It is an honor and privilege to be included in the same category with you. We are all community servants. I do truly love each and every one of you!

Finally, to Rick Belcher, we were thrilled to add you to our highly esteemed club, as this year’s Clark Lake Spirit winner. There aren’t many things that go on around the Lake that you don’t have your constant attention on.

I look forward to seeing many of you on the water before the season turns ugly on us.

Please continue to pray for the safe return home of all of our men and women serving in the military, and please pray for the safety of our police and first responders.

I look forward to visiting with any of you in the upcoming months, because it is nice being seen…with you!



By Joe Collins

We went around the world on 500 acres – of water, that is, as Clark Lake once again provided a memorable and entertaining Raft-O-Rama.  The theme for our 58th year was “Countries” and with a fleet of 20 participants, the world was well represented.  We even had a couple entries that crossed the border with great wit and creativity.

Our fine panel of judges went diplomatically about their task and presented the following awards to worthy recipients:

  • Best Overall – Adult:  #12 – England

  • Best Overall – Youth:  #10 – England Double Decker
  • Most Enthusiastic: #25 – No Country for Old Slums
  • Most Original: #9 – USA
  • Funniest: #3 – Oh, Canada
  • Closest to the Theme: #11 – Cuba
  • Most Colorful: #2 – Mexico
  • Best Special Effects: #16 – Korea
  • Furthest From Theme: #1 – Country Market
  • Rookie Award:  #8 – Scotland
  • Costumes Only: #5 – Mexico
  • Most Attention to Detail:  #19 – Ecuador
  • In addition, the People’s Choice Award – voted on by the attendees – went to #10 – England Double Decker

For photos of the winning entries and their crews, please click here.  Also included is a slide show of all other entries.

Eagle Point Marina was again home to the festivities, including the Clarklake Lions Club Chicken and Corn Broil. Sexy Monster provided some great entertainment, accompanied by DJ and Photobooth from Mid-Michigan DJs.  The weather couldn’t have been better, with sunshine all day.

The ROR Commit-mees provided Clark Lake merchandise as well as Sno Cones, a water slide and a face painter for the kids (of all ages!).  Raft-O-Rama is not just a fun event – the profits it generates get put back into the community for several worthy causes.  This committee puts in months of time pulling the event together and deserves our thanks.

To relive Raft-O-Rama 2018, check out this short video that includes views from the drones.

Video: Brett Wietecha

So we’ll give an international salute to all of our participants and thanks to all our attendees.  You’re what makes Raft-O-Rama the great tradition that it is and the best party of the year!


Garden Angels

By Sandy Pease-Simon, President

Summer! Where has it gone? 

Have you seen the Community Center gardens? Don’t miss them; they really are spectacular this year if I don’t say so myself. If fact, while watering the triangle, we angels are often greeted by passing vehicles whose occupants shout “well done” and “beautiful gardens.”  REALLY, these gardens are for all of you. They are the community gardens.

It has given us all such great pleasure to create these gardens the past few years. The Community Center has grown so popular now that we have taken great pride in making the outside just as beautiful as the inside. Stop by and take a close look at what we have done. It is always changing.

Are you interested in joining the Angels? It’s not too late. We are always looking for new members. We’ve still got a few meetings left this year before we take our winter break. Our fall clean up is always a good chance to help out and beautify the gardens and our November meeting is usually a fun time as we are busy making our Christmas greenery.

Video: Rick Belcher

Think about it! Join the Garden Angels and support the community by making Clark Lake beautiful one flower at a time.

On a personal note, I would like to add a fun little story. While doing my week of watering, I saw that we had a few milkweed plants in the “triangle garden.” Being the butterfly mama that I am, this year I scoured those plants and found several baby monarch caterpillars on the leaves. I’ve taken them home and have nurtured them and have watched them grow and transform into butterflies. I work for Clarence Owens, a retired Parkside High School teacher, who is also a butterfly fan.  Between my home and his place, we have raised well over 50 monarchs and over 30 giant swallowtail butterflies. This has been an incredible year for butterflies!

Thus, just one more reason to keep those plants blooming! Save the butterflies. 

“Butterflies are natures angels,
They remind us what a gift it is
To be alive”

-Robyn Nola


Dam Strong

by Rick Belcher

The physical integrity of the dam at Ocean Beach is crucial to Clark Lake.  If the dam failed, the lake could easily lose two to four feet of depth.  Where would that put your new shoreline? 

When the south shoulder of the dam began to leak, it was time for action.  Small fissures can widen into larger gaps.  Freezing and thawing combined with the flow of countless gallons of water passing over it could have spelled disaster. True to its mission of standing up for Clark Lake, the Foundation took action.  The community rallied around the project to rebuild the south shoulder, which seemed like a rerun.  In 2012, a similar problem threatened the north shoulder, and the Foundation organized rebuilding it.  To learn more about this threat to the lake, and how this project pushed back, please click here.

There is a wonderful upside to this most recent rebuild. One of the Foundation’s directors, Mike McKay, had a vision.  Why not extend the shoulder work around the basin, haul off the brush, create landscaping and place Spirit Trail benches in the new green space? That is what happened.  Now cyclists, walkers and runners can take a break, sit for awhile, and enjoy the beautiful, ever-changing, view of Clark Lake.  

This short video gives you a before and after look, including some of the “in-between.”

Video: Rick Belcher

Mike McKay generously underwrote the concrete work and guided the project.  The installation of the landscaping and irrigation system was a gift from Wilcox. Mike and his helpers water the newly laid sod twice daily.  There is no electrical available to run the irrigation system, so it’s up to Mike’s crew to keep the generator filled with gas.  John Collins donated the bike rack, and his team mows the grass.  The Spirit Trail benches were provided through donations to the Foundation.  

When it came time to place the benches on the concrete pads, who made it happen?  As with most projects at the lake, volunteers carry the load.  Below are Ann Swain, Mike McKay, Dan Omo, and Flip Reynolds.

The Clark Lake Spirit Foundation also brings you the DamCam.  The new improved model, donated by Mike McKay, makes possible clear views of the overflow, sunsets, and lake activity.  From its perch at the east end, it can even “see” as far as Hyde Road. Viewers, anywhere in the world, watched the start and finish lines of Run Clark Lake via the DamCam.

The Foundation is all about Standing Up for Clark Lake.  To learn more, please click here.



Clark Lake Outdoors

by John Deming

As the sun moves more and more to the south, we lose a few minutes of daylight each day. That movement does a variety of things to many creatures. Shortly, about the first of September, the male hummingbirds start their migration to Central America. Monarch butterflies start their return flight to Mexico about the same time. Their flight north consisted of several generations, but only one generation returns south.  You will start noticing flocks of birds gathering in ever increasing groups. Our local swan family will start teaching their signets to fly. No training is given on how to land, so the first few landings would be best described as a crash in which everyone survives. At the time of this writing, the swans have been able to raise five of their signets to young adults — a new record.

An eagle continues to fish our lake and I anticipate more sightings will be reported.

Photos of swans and eagle: Rick Belcher

Our weed control program continues to evolve. The treatment of the lake in 2016, I believe, was successful in controlling the original hybrid Eurasian water milfoil (HEWM) that the program was devised to do.  After the 2016 treatment was completed, a new hybrid HEWM was discovered that was resistant to the herbicide used in 2016. Rather than spend our money on a herbicide that would be unsuccessful in controlling the hybrid HEWM, it was recommended that we wait for approval of a new herbicide that had been tested on the hybrid HEWM with successful results. That herbicide, ProcellaCor, has been approved for use in Michigan. With its approval comes several issues that will need to be addressed, including the impact on native milfoils and cost of application. Both issues will be resolved later this year. No treatment is anticipated in 2018.

Invasive species multiply quickly and are notorious for taking over lakes.  It curtails recreational uses such as boating and fishing, destroys wildlife habitat and impairs navigation.  Lakes that stood idly by watched property values plunge.  Ninety-five percent of lake front property owners contacted by the Invasive Species Committee signed a petition asking for action. As a result, Columbia Township formed a special assessment district (SAD) that allows treatment anywhere HEWM exists in the lake and supports the cost through property taxes.

The  repairs to the dam last fall resulted in some modification to the CarpGard. Flip Reynolds and Lee Wilbur did the engineering and construction. Great job! I watched the DamCam during the high water periods in June and never saw a carp get past the guard.  Below is a video of how one carp met its match at the dam on May 16th.

Video: Rick Belcher

 I received a report of a 10-inch red-eared sunfish being caught by Eddie Beer. 

I want to congratulate Wynn Perry on his impressive catch and picture. What a memory he will have of that catch! Several websites indicate that a bass of that size in Michigan might be 7-10 years old. My suggestion to those of you who catch large fish is that unless you believe they will not survive, release them. Large fish, especially females, are the best at passing on their genetics, which may result in greater survival skills for future generations. Take a picture and then release your catch to be caught another day, maybe at an even larger size.



Spirit Trail

by Rick Belcher

If you aren’t out on the lake, you could be circling it thanks to the Spirit Trail.  How many people take delight in the Trail?  Over a thousand every year.  Cyclists, runners and walkers take advantage of this 7.3 mile path through traditional lake neighborhoods, rural settings, and vistas of the lake itself.  Each year, runners converge to compete in Run Clark Lake.

This year, participation in the Run increased by 150 over last year. Run Director Pat Dwyer explains how this annual event has thrived–in this short video.

Video: Rick Belcher

For full details on Run Clark Lake, please click here.

What’s impressive is how the Clark Lake community supports the Trail.  When it comes to the spring clean up and keeping the path tidy throughout the season, Clark Lake residents don’t need to be asked.  They just volunteer spontaneously.  Some projects require financial support.  Recently they included constructing the new section between Rita and Grand Boulevard or the complete rebuild of the section adjacent to the post office.  Entry fees from the Run help.  And when considering your charitable choices, know your tax-advantaged donation through the Clark Lake Spirit Foundation will be greatly appreciated.

And before you move on, click on this short video to relive the excitement of Run Clark Lake 2018.

Video: Brett Wietecha

Spirit Trail meeting in March. Co-chairs are Tucker Boyers and Ann Swain (not pictured).


Clark Lake Lions Club

by Walt Reed

Walt Reed

Another year ends for Lions Clubs International members. Sound a bit strange? But a Lions year begins on July 1 and ends on June 30. So, as the Clarklake Lions Club begins year 54, we want to thank the Clark Lake Community for all of the support that we have received from great folks who live here.

Without you, our Memorial Day Parade would be the “Littlest Little Parade” in Michigan. With your support, we have the “Biggest Little Parade.”

Video: Brett Wietecha

With your participation, our annual “Cash Bash” was a great success.

With your support, we sold all of our BBQ chicken at Raft-O-Rama. 

While we are visible because of the activities we sponsor and support in our community, we also support Lions Clubs International causes and other organizations and causes in Michigan.  The  Lions Clubs International Code of Ethics includes the following reminders:

  • Whenever a doubt arises as to the right or ethics of my position or action toward others, to resolve such doubt against myself.
  • To hold friendship as an end and not a means. To hold that true friendship exists not on account of the service performed by one to another, but that true friendship demands nothing but accepts service in the spirit in which it is given.
  • Always to bear in mind my obligations as a citizen to my nation, my state, and my community, and to give them my unswerving loyalty in word, act, and deed. To give them freely of my time, labor and means.
  • To aid others by giving my sympathy to those in distress, my aid to the weak, and my substance to the needy.
  • To be careful with my criticism and liberal with my praise; to build up and not destroy.

Our motto, “We Serve,” must include adherence to the Lions Clubs International Code of Ethics.

In this community, following the Lions Clubs International Code of Ethics is pretty easy. We find the citizens of this Clark Lake community seem to follow the reminders listed above whenever they (we) interface with one another.

Seems like if you are going to follow the Lions Code of Ethics you should be one?   Give me a call . . . 529-4979.    


Clarklake Community Church

A History-Making Week

By Allison D. McRae

 Our week-long 150th birthday celebration for Clarklake Community Church kicked off Sunday, July 8, with a great worship service praising God with music led by our very talented praise team; sermon by Former Pastor Frank Feltis entitled It’s A Journey; and memories shared by Former Pastor Bruce Cochran. Luncheon afterward featured historian Dr. Theodore Ligibel, who spoke about his book “Clark Lake: Images of a Michigan Tradition.


The celebration continued with an Ice Cream Social on Saturday, July 14. Not only were we treated to ice cream, we were also entertained by our praise team, performing many Christian songs; line dancing led by Tony Vafiadis; the Elrod family with bluegrass music; and Straight Up performing rock and roll. 

Our celebration finished with a wonderful outdoor service/rededication on Sunday, July 15, at the township park pavilion at the west end of the lake. This is near the site of the original church in the school along the beautiful shore of the lake. Walter Reed presented Pastor John Reed and the congregation with a plaque dedicating our church; it will be displayed at the current church.

Welcome was given by current Pastor John Reed, opening prayer by former Pastor Frank Feltis, and great music by the praise team.  Special speakers started with State Sen. Mike Shirkey, who brought us a great message of encouragement in the Lord and prayer for blessing. He also presented Pastor John Reed and the congregation with a framed certificate commemorating our special anniversary and a letter of congratulations signed by himself and Gov. Rick Snyder and others. Former Pastor Jim Bender shared his special memories of his time as pastor and Rev. Dr. Michael Williams, Executive Minister of American Baptist Churches of Michigan, presented Pastor John Reed and the congregation with a certificate from American Baptist Historical Society commemorating our 150th Anniversary. He brought a wonderful message of celebrating our past in service to God and community, and rededicating our church to God’s mission for us in the future.

After the worship service, we had an open house and grill-out community picnic.

Thank You to all who made this a successful celebration. We could not have done it without all of you.

We would also like to give a big Thank You to all who contributed to our drive for the Brooklyn Food Pantry. We think 150 years is kind of a big deal, but as a Christian church dedicated to ministering to others in the name of Christ, we felt we wanted to have part of our celebration be more outwardly focused. In view of the fact that the pantry actually started at Clarklake Community Church and that our pastor recently joined the board of directors, helping them serve our community seemed like a natural to us.

We had a food drive that we called 150 years (of the Lord’s work in Clarklake) — 150 pounds (of food for our community). Our goal was to raise at least 150 pounds of food in July. We ended up with nearly three times that amount – more than 400 pounds! We also raised $175 in cash donations and we thank God for the opportunity to help our neighbors.

As we begin what we pray will be the next 150 years of our story, we’d like to extend an invitation to all of our neighbors to stop by and see us.

Pastor John is here most afternoons during the week and visitors are welcome.

 Join us for Feed on the Word, Wednesdays at 5:30, as we share a meal cooked by the pastor, Bible Study and great fellowship.

We’re here every Sunday to worship at 10 a.m., and we’d love to worship with you. You’ll find one of the friendliest and most welcoming churches around, great people, great music and solid, biblical preaching.


Independence Day

Clark Lake was out on the water to view the Menard’s fireworks display. 

Video: Rick Belcher  Still inserts: Diane Deming and Rick Belcher


Our National Anthem

The Columbia Central Band played the National Anthem at the conclusion of the Memorial Day parade.

Video: Rick Belcher and Brett Wietecha