Bacteria counts high in Acme
ACME — The Bayside Park could make unwanted history this week, facing potential posting of no swimming signs because of high bacteria counts over the past month.
The township posted signs advising swimmers to avoid contact with the water above the waist due to high fecal bacteria counts on four days this summer. Other Grand Traverse County beaches were posted just once following a heavy rain in July.
But the Acme beach on U.S. 31 at M-72 has high bacteria counts unrelated to rain and lows that are up to 10 times higher than other beaches, biweekly test results show.
"We're kind of surprised by it," said Sarah U'Ren, program director for the Watershed Center Grand Traverse Bay. "It has consistently elevated levels."
Apples will be scarce this fall
TRAVERSE CITY — An apple a day could be hard to find amid the growing season that wasn't for numerous northern Michigan fruit crops.
Area apple farmers are the latest contingent of Michigan fruit growers faced with one of the thinnest harvests they can remember after spring frosts decimated orchards. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates Michigan's apple crop will total about 105 million pounds this year, just over 10 percent of last year's 985 million pound apple harvest.
"This is the worst apple crop we've probably ever had," said Onekama Township fruit farmer Dave Meister, who expects to pick about 150 bushels of apples this year after harvesting 32,000 bushels last summer.
His ultra-scarce apple crop comes after spring frosts all but wiped out his cherries and peaches.
"It's the worst year of farming I've ever had, production-wise," said Meister.
He won't even open his farm stand in Manistee County this season.
"We just didn't have anything," he said.
Deconstruction begins on dam
TRAVERSE CITY — Some 75 to 100 people gathered Wednesday afternoon for what U.S. Sen. Carl Levin called Brown Bridge Dam's "reverse ribbon-cutting."
"This is not a new project," Levin told a crowd gathered on an overlook not far from a hill excavated in 1921 to provide the soil needed to fill the dam's berm. "We're putting something back that was disturbed for good reasons at the time.
"I congratulate you not only for doing this, but for also doing it right," Levin said.
After nine years of study, discussion, debate and engineering, preliminary deconstruction began this week at the dam site off River Road in East Bay Township following the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality's approval of a permit to remove the 91-year-old dam.
Director retires in midst of probe
SUTTONS BAY — Housekeepers at Leelanau County's Commission on Aging were overpaid as much as $84,000 in mileage costs in the last six years, prompting its longtime director to retire under pressure.
Leelanau County Administrator Chet Janik said Tuesday that COA Director Rosie Steffens stepped down last week after Janik learned housekeepers at the COA regularly inflated mileage forms to boost their incomes.
"This has probably been going on for at least five to six years," Janik said. "It's a significant amount of money."
But Steffens said Tuesday evening she's being scapegoated. She and another COA employee were instructed by a former county administrator to inflate the mileage forms to help housekeepers cover the rising costs of gasoline, she said.
Ban on fireworks likely in the city
TRAVERSE CITY — City residents may soon say goodbye to summers of bangs, crackles and pops.
City commissioners are close to unanimous in their desire to ban the use of fireworks in the city except for a three-day bubble around national holidays. During a study session Monday the board instructed staff to draft an ordinance banning the use of consumer fireworks recently legalized by state lawmakers. The ban would not include low-impact fireworks.
Commissioners and staff said they have received a number of complaints about late-night fireworks throughout the summer.
"So many people have abused it," said Commissioner Barbara Budros. "They let them off after midnight ... with no regard for their neighbors."
Residents from both ends of town encouraged the commission to enact a ban.
"Your neighbor's garage could blow up and you wouldn't know it because you would think it's just another firecracker or M-80," said resident Molly Malewitz. "We all work hard, and we want to come home, relax, and then go to bed."
Lake tour held in honor of donor
TRAVERSE CITY — The 11-Legged Lake Tour provides a tapestry of healing.
Held in honor of Ryan Giannini, who died in 2002 at age 20, this year's ride and walk fundraiser will benefit two nonprofits: the Chalfonte Foundation and the Michigan Donor Family Council.
The 2012 event was Saturday and offered a walking route and three different cycling routes for riders of all abilities. The 15-mile, 30-mile or 57.5-mile ride — around Torch Lake — covered beautiful scenery in the Chain of Lakes area.
Ryan, who gave the gift of life with organ donation, inspired his mom, Cindy, in her volunteer advocacy, support and education efforts promoting organ donation in Michigan. The family also is devoted to supporting the Chalfonte Foundation, whose summer camps provided so much joy to their son.