By Benjamin J. Gohs, Editor
It was another big year for the big little city of Boyne City and surrounding communities as a number of major projects were planned, some longtime goals realized, a number of notable deaths occurred, and there was plenty of both laughter and tears.
• The Boyne City Public Schools Board of Education authorized an election in May to renew its Operating Millage and a Headlee Override proposal. And, though only 10.54 percent of the voters turned out for the May 8 election, the people did support both measures overwhelmingly.
• On Saturday Jan. 20, on the anniversary of the 2017 National Women’s March, a similar march was held throughout the United States. In Boyne City, more than 100 people joined for their own commemorative march through town.
• Boyne City Public Schools was the target of another bomb threat. On Jan. 24, 2018, a threat was made to all three buildings on the main campus. Law enforcement cleared the property and no explosive devices were found. Joseph Benjamin Baugh, 18, of Boyne City, was arrested on Friday June 1 in connection with the bomb threats. He was sentenced Friday Nov. 2 in Charlevoix’s 33rd Circuit Court to one year in jail and a year on probation.
• At its regular Tuesday Jan. 9 meeting, the Boyne City Commission approved a suggested code of conduct for the people of Boyne City.
“The statement is basically a policy statement outlining how we would suggest, hope and ask people in our community to engage with each other,” said Boyne City Manager Michael Cain. “There are no mechanisms to enforce this.”
The statement begins: “We are committed to encouraging, creating and sustaining an environment that honors the inherent dignity of every member of our community. Respectful behavior should always be the norm in all forms of communications and in all situations.”
• On Wednesday March 14, students from Boyne City and across the nation marched for 17 minutes in honor of the 17 people killed in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School mass shooting which occurred on Feb. 14 in Parkland, Fla.
• Throughout 2018, the Village of Boyne Falls Council draw attention for a number of issues related to questionable practices in both governance and the handling of public meetings.
Concerns over financial oversight and the use of public resources ultimately prompted a legal opinion and police investigation. The Charlevoix County Sheriff Office investigated Village of Boyne Falls Clerk Debra Taylor after she admitted to using village gravel for her home driveway.
No charges were filed but the matter eventually made it to the Charlevoix County Prosecutor who issued a letter urging the village to train board members on open meetings policies.
• Also, last spring, the Boyne City Gazette was a finalist for Class D Weekly Michigan Press Association Newspaper of the Year. The newspaper—now in its 10th year—took 14 honors including second place for Newspaper of the Year.
• In April of last year, former Boyne City Police Chief Randy Howard, 65, died.
Howard had served Boyne City for nearly 35 years, beginning as a dispatcher in March of 1976 and going on to become a police officer in 1977, and eventually chief of police where he served from 1991 to December of 2011. Howard liked to call Boyne City a “big little city.”
In a Boyne City Gazette interview from long ago, Howard said, “We’re a stand-alone. We’re unique. We have unique characteristics in this city that no other place that I know of has—It’s a destination. Boyne City is all about commitment, partnership, communication, shared decision-making and leadership.”
• Boyne’s Jill Crissman was also lost in 2018. Jill was born on December 12, 1956, to parents Larry and Hellen Fineout, and married Dennis Crissman on May 24, 1980.
She was strong in her faith, being a part of Walloon Lake Community Church for 26 years. She worked as a Paraprofessional at Boyne City Schools, devoting 24 years of her life to helping children. She left behind a loving family and many friends.
• It was also last Spring that the Michigan State Police closed its investigation into Charlevoix County Prosecutor Allen Telgenhof for his questionable municipal credit card usage.
According to Det. First Lt. Richard Simpson of the Michigan State Police, the case—which was opened in summer of 2017—was officially closed on March 5.
The Michigan Attorney General Office determined that, since there was no provable intent to permanently deny repaying the moneys spent using a Charlevoix County municipal credit card, no action should be pursued against Telgenhof.
The Charlevoix County Board of Commissioners—concerned with what appeared to be a pattern of improper use—had suspended Telgenhof’s credit card privileges and sent the matter to law enforcement officials for review.
According to county documents, Telgenhof had made numerous personal and “inappropriate” purchases using a credit card held by the county.
The first rash of incidents occurred back in 2014 with nearly a dozen unauthorized charges using county credit and/or taxpayer funds.
The last time this happened, Telgenhof was admonished by the board and required to repay the money … but no further action was taken.
• The Boyne City Commission was urged last April to head off future financial difficulty.
In his March 13 letter to the Boyne City Commission, Boyne City Manager Michael Cain discussed the past, present, and future of the city’s purse.
“The city continues to be in very good financial shape, but there are warning signs that I believe greater attention needs to be paid to,” Cain stated…. “[O]ther matters, like our increasing pension payments—something that we will need to account and budget for until 2024—give me pause. They cannot simply be made to go away.”
Cain added, “Unless something changes, we cannot continue to spend at our current rate. If we did and saw similar deficits in the coming years, by FYE 2022 we would have drawn our fund balance down to about $920,000, about $100,000 less than what our 25 percent fund balance policy requires.”
Cain then proposed the city retain the services of a municipal financial consultant to help create a financial forecast model which will give a clearer picture of what the coming five years holds.
• On Wednesday June 20, Boyne City officials held a ribbon-cutting to celebrate the completion of the first two phases of the expansion and renovation of its popular Veterans Park Pavilion.
The process began in 2012 when the Boyne City Main Street program secured a grant through the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) to facilitate a community discussion and develop design concepts for changes to the Pavilion. Just after Labor Day 2017, work began on over $345,000 worth of improvements to this Boyne City landmark.
The resulting two construction phases renovated the exterior to match the nearby new City Facilities building, significantly increased the under roof open space, insulated the walls and roof, completely renovated and updated the bathrooms including new access from outside the building, and added energy efficient LED lights throughout the building.
• Boyne City’s longtime educator and coach Dave Bricker retired after 45 years of work in education—44 of those in Boyne City.
“The kids and parents have always treated me with respect and that has made my job the best job in the universe and that has made it so easy for me to work for 45 years,” Bricker told the Boyne City Gazette. “I plan on continuing to coach track next year.”
• A shakeup at Boyne Falls Public School occurred in June when the principal and two board members resigned in protest.
Several resignations were tendered in the weeks following the May 21 Boyne Falls Public School Board of Education meeting wherein a student’s disciplinary action for alleged alcohol consumption at an event unrelated to school was overturned.
At a special meeting convened Wednesday May 30, Boyne Falls Public School Superintendent and K-12 Administrator Cynthia Pineda and two board of ed members resigned in response to the disciplinary action reversal.
Shortly after the incident, Pineda returned to her position as school administrator.
• There was no shortage of planning meetings in 2018.
From goals and public safety to housing needs, there were a number of public input sessions held in and around the Boyne area.
Nearly two dozen residents, business owners, and public officials gathered Monday July 16 to discuss the future of Boyne City.
Boyne City officials hosted the event—which they say already had the input of more than 500 people leading up to last week’s session—in the newly renovated Veterans Park Pavilion.
Those in attendance then broke into five groups to discuss and take notes on the five topics:
• Keeping young adults in Boyne
• Water quality protection
• Family supporting jobs
• Downtown vitality
• Affordable housing
• 2018 was a big year for anniversary’s. One of the biggest was that of the Boyne District Library, which celebrated its 100th anniversary.
• Then, in August, the Boyne Area Chamber of Commerce, in conjunction with the City of Boyne City and surrounding townships, organized Boyne Housing Solutions, a group focused on scouting solutions to the housing needs in the Boyne area.
A forum was held on Aug. 29, during which a number of stakeholders discussed the apparent lack of affordable housing in the area.
A number of sessions on housing were held throughout 2018. The group’s goal is to come up with action items to help alleviate the problem before it worsens.
• Another notable loss included the death of longtime Boyne City resident Roni Linn Fish. She was 57.
Born on Sept. 5, 1960, at University of Michigan Hospital in Ann Arbor, Roni moved to Boyne City as a young child with her father Richard Fish, late mother Janet Fish, and her brothers Kyle and Corey.
• In November, the Boyne City Commission voted unanimously to buy the Open Space for $3.24 million.
At an 8 a.m. special meeting held Thursday Nov. 1, commissioners voted unanimously to purchase the lakefront property located at 475 North Lake St. in Boyne City—otherwise known as the Open Space—for a total estimated cost of $3,240,455.29.
“[A]fter about at least 15 years, we’re actually on the cusp of buying the property,” Boyne City Manager Michael Cain told city commissioners at the open of the special meeting. The property is roughly 4.7 acres with 600 feet of frontage on Lake Charlevoix.
“We’ve been working on this for quite some time,” Cain said. “It’s been kind of a goal that previous city commissions talked about in closed session for years and there were lots of discussions behind the scenes.”
• Along with a good number of goodbyes were some hellos as new faces came into the Boyne community.
In December, the Boyne Area Chamber of Commerce announced it had found its new Executive Director—Kimberly Akin—who most recently served as the chamber of commerce director for Houghton Lake.
“I am very excited to start this new chapter in my life,” said Akin. “I am looking forward to learning about the Boyne area, meeting community members, and working to help in any way I can.”