BELLAIRE – Looking back at the events and news that occurred in Antrim County in 2012, and you’ll see a year of changes, controversy, and sadly, tragic losses, but at the same time, you’ll see a year of hope, behind the scene and unsung heroes, and new beginnings.
Change came to the county with a number of new faces in county, township, and village government as well as several controversial ordinances, including one changing how Antrim County will fund its 911 dispatch system, in a year that seemed filled with politics and was, in fact, marked with a record four elections.The face of Antrim County itself changed with the closing of longtime landmarks such as the Bellaire Golf Course and Bellaire Lanes and the demolition of both Mancelona’s former DURA building and the former Bech’s Mustard Factory in Elk Rapids.
Antrim County also faced its share of loss and tragedy, with the passing of beloved residents like Clarence Bennett, Maxine Ouvry, Ronald and Sandra Longpre and two of their three young grandchildren, Maris Spaulding, and Diane Shafer.
And 2012 was a year of very odd weather in Antrim County, with such a mild winter that ski resorts scrambled to make enough snow for those on the slopes, and for the first time in history, organizers of the annual White Pine Stampede canceled the popular cross country race. Very strange heat in March that shortened the maple syrup season led to freezes in April and May, then drought over the summer, which devastasted the area’s fruit and hay crops and led to record low Great Lakes water levels late last fall.
But it was also a year of new beginnings, marked with dedicated, behind the scenes, unsung heroes, so with that, we give you The Antrim Review’s six who made a difference in 2012:
Known to many as the husband of Carole Broadwick, director of Ellsworth’s Moms and Tots Center, Bill is one of those quiet, behind the scenes philanthropists who prefers to remain out of the spotlight and allow others to take the credit. But when it comes to supporting the Moms and Tots Center and Good Samaritan Family Services, as well as another of his causes, Antrim County’s Community Choir, it’s Bill Broadwick who takes the lead in promoting these organizations which do so much for Antrim County.
Lary Blamer/Dick Lomas
When it comes to “behind the scenes unsung heroes” in Central Lake in recent years, the first two persons who come to mind are retired Central Lake Schools Superintendent Lary Blamer and retired Central Lake Planning Commission Chair Dick Lomas, who took the reins of a recall effort of a very controversial Village Council President, emerging from quiet, retired lives to voluntarily embroil themselves in argument and dissent for the benefit of Central Lake’s residents, subsequently leading the village back to a more normal state of affairs.
For more than 65 years, when you looked behind the scenes in Mancelona, you’d find Elmer Grody. Whether it was the ambulance service, fire department, Boy Scouts, Little League or Village Council, Elmer Grody was there, helping the people of the town he was born and raised in. There are few who can say they were firefighters for 51 years, ambulance drivers for 36 years, or Village Council members for more than 20 years, who can say they helped several generations become better adults with their work with Little League and Boy Scouts. Elmer Grody can. As friends and co-workers said recently, Elmer Grody, who recently retired from public service, has been called the backbone of his community. He still is.
An Antrim County employee for 42 years, 32 of which she served as County Clerk, Laura Sexton has dedicated most of her life to Antrim County, following in the steps of aunt and grandparents, all of whom also served as County Clerks. Laura successfully led the county into the 21st Century, helping to make the transition from hard copy and micro-filmed files to electronic files, helped guide the county through three apportionment processes, required every ten years to set Commissioner’s Districts according to the latest national census figures, and supervised dozens of elections, including more than a few very controversial recalls, doing it all with expediency and grace, as well as under budget. Although she recently retired from the county, leaving it in good hands and on sound financial ground, she has now dedicated herself, and her vast knowledge and expertise, to the Village of Bellaire as a member of the Village Council for the next few years.
For many years, Antrim County’s little Elk Rapids Day Park has stood mostly unused and alone, a virtually unknown little jewel in the middle of the crown that is Antrim County’s more than 4000 acres of county-owned property. But last summer a very active and involved Elk Rapids-based artists’ group, which holds numerous annual art fairs and competitions in the area, presents free concerts and workshops for the community, and since 2006 has awarded more than $43,000 in scholarships to area art students, offered to bring awareness of the sleepy but beautiful little park on Grand Traverse Bay by creating a “Walk Of Art”, an outdoor sculpture park similar to other very popular parks in place in other areas of the state. Expected to have the Walk of Art in place by early next summer, Art Rapids! plans to develop programs for area schools to use the sculpture park for educational field trips, student art projects and community-wide, interactive art projects, and other educational activities, making sure that the appreciation of art of all kinds continues into the future in Antrim County.
Three Lakes Association -
For more than 50 years, the Three Lakes Association has acted as a environmental watch dog over Torch Lake, Lake Bellaire, and Clam Lake, conducting water quality studies, macro and microinvertebrate assessments, e-coli tributary testing, and invasive exotic plant and wildlife surveys, all at their own expense, which has been of great interest and assistance not only to riparian landowners, but also scientific agencies such as the US Fish & Wildlife Service, Michigan DEQ, and Michigan DNR. The organization has also provided valuable financial support to science programs in area schools over the years, and worked with both high school and college interns interested in careers in the environment. In addition, in recent years Three Lakes has worked closely with the grass-roots ACUTE group to acquire funding for engineering studies for new well fields in the Shanty Creek Resort area where movement of the toxic TCE plume is expected in coming years to contaminate existing drinking water, and last year, went to bat for the fishermen of Antrim County’s Chain O’ Lakes by placing 22 environmentally correct fish shelters in the lakes, including Elk Lake, to offer cover and protection to fish and invertebrates with many more shelters planned for the future. Along with all of those selected for this year’s “Six Who Made A Difference”, the Three Lakes Association works hard, every day, to make Antrim County a better place to live in for all of us.