BOYNE CITY: State of the community is excellent

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A record crowd attended the 9th Annual Boyne City State of the Community event last week at Boyne Mountain.

Boyne Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Ashley Cousens opened the luncheon, which featured a number of local business, governmental and educational leaders.

“I’m excited because it’s kind of my one-year anniversary of speaking to a large group of people in Boyne City,” Cousens said before introducing Pastor Jamie Woodall, who gave the invocation.

Cousens said her time in Boyne so far has been fun, exciting, and challenging.

“[W]e have formed an ambassador committee that helps with member recognition events like ribbon-cuttings and with other like today,” she said… “We are looking strategically at membership structure—at both recruitment and retention efforts.”

Cousens said one of the board’s main goals is to be more inclusive of the entire Boyne Area Chamber of Commerce’s geographic area, which includes Boyne City, Boyne Falls, Advance, Horton Bay, and Walloon Lake.

Nearly 190 people attended the event.

Five speakers gave insights into their area of expertise concerning the Boyne and surrounding area.


Chris Christensen
Charlevoix County Commissioner Chris Christensen (R-District 2) gave attendees an update on what the Charlevoix County Board of Commissioners has been doing over the last year.
Christensen mentioned the county’s recently approved budget, which came in at just over $15 million and, while technically up a little over a percent from the previous year, contained a provision to put half a million dollars toward county retirement expenses.
Christensen also gave kudos to the county’s treasurer and the fact that foreclosures have gone down as have delinquent taxes, which have been reduced by 34 percent.
Technology at the county has been upgraded, as too has security.
The county’s website has also been updated.
The county has also worked with East Jordan, Charlevoix, and Boyne City to provide internet service.
Ironton Ferry’s ramps also need to be rebuilt. And, the Ferry’s engine may also need to be replaced in order to reduce noise.
The county invested into a park which it will have logged, with profits going back into the parks programs.
More than 30 parks and recreation projects totaling nearly a quarter of a million dollars have been undertaken thanks to the county parks millage.

Michael Cain
Boyne City Manager Michael Cain gave an update on Boyne City.
“I would dare to say that, since we met here almost a year ago, it has been an exciting year of historic successes,” Cain said.
Cain discussed the growth of numerous Boyne City businesses, including Stiggs Brewery and Bob Mathers Ford, which recently celebrated 100 years in business.
“It is one of Boyne City’s goals and objectives to foster economic development by providing in our community the climate for success,” Cain said.
Cain also talked about the completion of Boyne City’s new facilities, the work toward acquisition of the Boyne City Open Space, a new fishing pier, and work at Avalanche Preserve among many other projects and partnerships.
“It is really our partnerships and our ability to work together, all of us, that is the key to our recent successes,” Cain said.

Pat Little
Boyne City Public Schools Superintendent Pat Little talked about the work of Boyne’s biggest school system.
Little thanked the community for all the support it gives the schools. He also spoke of the large amount of work school board members do, and the knowledge they must have, in their volunteer roles.
“We recognized that the heavy lifting in the school district really is with the teachers, the parapros, our food service folks, who have that daily, hourly, minute-to-minute interaction with our kids,” Little said.
In his second year on the job, Little said he has had many discussions about programs and projects with community members.
“I’m really looking forward to what we’re doing now,” Little said.
The schools are experiencing stable enrollment, despite the trend statewide for a loss in enrollment.
Little also touched on some of the school’s exciting programs. The WEB—where everybody belongs—program helps elementary students transition to middle school.
Little also said construction at the school is wrapping up, he reminded attendees about the proposed enhancement millage, and the new streamlined strategic plan.

Kelsey King-Duff
Boyne City Main Street Program Executive Director Kelsey King-Duff talked about what her organization has been doing over the past year.
$12,000 in matching grants for facade improvements have been allocated over the last year.
The downtown area has seen growth with new businesses over the last year, in addition to one business having receive difficult-to-obtain federal tax credits.
King-Duff also talked about the farmers market and work being done to the Veterans Park pavilion, which will be used as a winter market location.
This past Boyne Thunder event was the largest in event history.
“Main Street has continued work on installation of public art,” King-Duff said, adding that there are efforts in place to add two more pieces of public art.
King-Duff also touched on Restaurant Week, which is ongoing now and features more eateries than ever before.

Allison Bond
Allison Bond, who works for Hotel Walloon, gave attendees an idea of the work going on in Walloon Lake.
“The Village of Walloon has grown a lot in the past three years,” she said.
Several new businesses opened in Walloon over the last year, including an events center and sweet shop.
“In addition to the new businesses in the Village of Walloon, there were many fun events that kept the community and surrounding areas busy this last year,” Bond said.
Outdoor movies, the Hemingway Festival, big sales, and celebrations are held in Walloon throughout the year.
Bond said Walloon remains open in the winter sports enthusiasts, with hotels, eateries and gas pumps for the snowmobilers.
Chamber director Cousens summed up the event by saying, “I think it’s safe to say the state of our community is excellent.”
To hear the full speeches, go to


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