By Benjamin Gohs
Boyne City’s annual State of the Community luncheon featured its usual line-up of Boyne area leaders, each of whom reported on yet another great year in Boyne.
Charlevoix County Commissioner Chris Christensen (R-District 2), Superintendent of Boyne City Public Schools Peter Moss and Boyne City Manager Michael Cain each spoke at the Thursday Sept. 11 event.
“The first thing everyone probably wants to know is what’s going on with the non-motorized trail from Boyne City to Charlevoix,” said Christensen. “It was scheduled to start this past summer but it got delayed, and it’s kind of interesting because … the language in the paperwork regarding how the trail was going to run through the state park … was the difference between an easement and a long-term lease … and you find out the actual dispute was between the DNR parks division and the DNR real-estate division.”
Christensen said, ultimately, most of the issues have been worked out, and the project will go out for bids this fall.
Christensen said, hopefully, both phase one and two will be built and complete in 2015.
Another major change to the county building was the new firm handling the county’s IT services. Christensen said it has been a serious improvement, and will save the county between $50,000 and $90,000 annually, which will be reinvested into the county’s IT infrastructure.
Christensen also spoke about the county’s new recycling program. In 2012-2013 the county filled 813 of the large collection bins at an approximate cost of $262,000. Under the new recycling service, over 2013-2014, the county has seen an increase in usage with 933 “pulls” or bins emptied, at a cost of $174,000.
“We’ve been able to save an incredible amount of money,” Christensen said.
Kings Highway on Beaver Island was recently finished using funds from the Charlevoix County Road Millage. This makes 37.2 miles—or 60 percent of the initial roads listed—of completed road since the millage was first levied.
The three largest projects left include Deer Lake and Korthase road area (6.25 miles), Ellsworth Road (total reconstruction of 3.79 miles) and Marion Center Road (7.12 miles).
Christensen also discussed the county’s plan to offer several new millages for voters to consider. A veterans millage is slated for one-tenth of a mill to help pay for mileage to VA hospital, in addition to health, compensation and emergency help for veterans as well as hiring a second veterans affairs worker at the county building.
A recreation millage would be used for county and township parks and recreation projects, and is slated for .15 mills—which would cost county taxpayers an additional $298,000 annually and be levied in four-year intervals. The moneys could also be used to help maintain county trails.
“The parks millage would be no different than the senior millage, it would be no different than the other millages” said Christensen. “It would come to the county and then the money would be spent accordingly.”
• Moss discussed his school system’s accomplishments over the past year.
“The cornerstone of what we do and will continue to be is student achievement and I’m happy to report that Boyne City continues to improve in most content areas and consistently outscores the state average in others,” he said.
The last graduating class—73 in all—collectively earned approximately $600,000 in scholarships and grants.
Boyne City Elementary School scored in the 85th percentile in the state’s Top to Bottom ranking.
Moss estimated that nearly 90 percent of the high school’s students are involved in some sort of sport or extracurricular activity.
Moss said Boyne City’s sports teams performed well last year, several of them attaining state rankings and regional championships.
Now in its third year, the Boyne City Public Schools Blaze Robotics team now has 25 students, and the team has won at least two awards for its efforts.
Moss said he was disappointed with the foundation allowance allocated by the state.
“We’re not flush by any means but we’re not broke, either,” Moss said.
Boyne City Public Schools was able to maintain its staffing levels despite difficult economic times.
“Very little turnover through the years lends itself to the continuity of leadership,” said Moss. “It allows the accomplishment of long-term goals.”
Moss also said the schools are working with the Boyne City Police Department to help prepare school staff for potential emergency situations.
• Cain gave an overview of the city.
“Boyne City is blessed with institutions that work,” he said. “Our businesses, our chamber, our schools, our main street program, our city—they all work, and they work well … and what’s even more, they work well together.”
Cain said Boyne City stands out because it works with those who give grants, and it does what it says it will do with those moneys.
Just last year, Boyne City garnered $1.3 million in grants to help pay for new decorative bike racks, added music to the SOBO Arts Festival, provided new marina infrastructure, acquired a new ambulance, reconstruction of some streets and more.
Cain said the city’s success with attaining grants helps keep more money in taxpayers’ pockets while provide more and better services.
“With all the good things going on in our community, we still have plenty of challenges to work on and projects to do,” Cain said, adding that the city’s facilities are woefully inefficient and antiquated, and that the city is working to improve them.
He also mentioned the issue of food trucks and fluoridation of the municipal water system, as well as the search for a water wastewater superintendent and a new main street director.
“We stand ready, as we always have, to reasonably work with anybody who reasonably wants to work with us,” Cain said.
Cain also mentioned the recently opened dog park—the first of its kind in Charlevoix County—the prospect of the Dilworth Hotel reopening in coming years, the $7.5 million proposed Catt development, and the drag races that were saved just in time for Labor Day weekend as some of the great things happening in Boyne City.