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News Archives 2009
(latest entry at the top, blog style)

For other years, please click here to go back to the News page.


South Fox Lighthouse in the Record-Eagle

A rare day in October
Board Meeting of October 13, 2009
Seawall Project, Phase I
An Epic September
Third Fall Harvest Festival
Board Meeting of September 8, 2009
Carpenters On Board!
Team Nickerson, Episode III
Board Meeting of August 11, 2009
DNR and SHPO visit
Team Lee cleaning up
Team Geezer: Sailors do the work!
Northport Lighthouse & Maritime Festival
Board Meeting of June 9, 2009
First trip of the season
Board Meeting of May 12, 2009
The MLAP Grant explained
Meeting with the DNR, April 15, 2009
Board Meeting of April 14, 2009
Important support from the State!
Marie Baumberger — an interesting visit
Board Meeting of February 10, 2009
Board Meeting of January 13, 2009

For other years, please click here to go back to the News page.  

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South Fox Lighthouse in the Record-Eagle

FILA got coverage in the Traverse City Record-Eagle twice in just a few days, a whole article published December 9 and a paragraph in the Cheers section of December 14.

Hans Joerg Rothenberger
December 14, 2009

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A rare day in October

On October 28, a rare opening in the weather gave us a chance to return to the Light Station to finish up the season's projects, clean up the camp site, close up the buildings for the season and pack out equipment.

On short notice we were able to assemble a crew including Jerry Spears, Chris Young, Steve Craker and 2 of his hunting companions. The latter 3 were critical to the major task of launching the barge off the harbor beach. After completing that, Jerry delivered them to their camp site at the north end of the island.

Upon return, Chris and Jerry completed the seeding of the cleared areas around the workshop and the fog signal building. The seeded areas were blanketed with straw secured with mesh to protect it from blowing off. Meantime, I moved the personal equipment, tools and supplies from the buildings, baited them with rodenticide and securely closed them up for the winter. I then hiked around the perimeter of the property and installed 6 more of the DNR "No Hunting" signs in strategic locations. A few more would be good in the future as these signs provide the public with a good delineation of the State land and the restrictions on its use.

After cleaning up the materials on the beach and loading the Lightkeeper up, we departed. The moderate easterly breeze that had plagued us in the harbor was now an asset; as the Lightkeeper broke the heading swells, the barge was tucked in between our wakes and drove safely back to the Bay. A rare October day indeed when one can safely navigate a pontoon boat half way across Lake Michigan!

This was the 15th and last trip aboard the Ligthkeeper that I have completed without serious incident this season in addition to 3 South Fox missions on my sail boat. Thank you to all who have contributed to the success of these missions.

Phil von Voigtlander
October 29, 2009

Thank you very much Phil for all your hard work!

Hans Joerg Rothenberger

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Board Meeting of October 13, 2009

The FILA Board met at the Great Lakes Children's Museum. Suggestions for membership renewals, file storage at the Grand Traverse Lighthouse Museum, details concerning the Michigan Lighthouse Assistance Program grant (workshop roof repair bids) and the outcome of the Fall Harvest Festival at the Leelanau State Park were discussed.

Cathy Allchin outlined ideas for developing a strategic plan in cooperation with NorthSky. Plans for the Annual Meeting in December were made, including the agenda, renewal of Board terms, possible new Board member candidates etc.. The pending Newsletter was discussed in detail.

There was considerable discussion concerning the work on the seawall and boat house ramp that had been done recently by two professional excavation people and the remuneration thereof. Merchandise issues, in particular quantities and prices of hoodies and hats, were discussed too.

Hans Joerg Rothenberger, based on George Carpenter's minutes
December 3, 2009

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Seawall Project – Phase I

On October 1st, Jerry Spears, Chris Young and I returned to the South Fox Light Station with a large load of supplies, gear and equipment. Once ashore, Jerry and Chris went back to work on the excavating and grading of the boat house ramp. I set about mowing the lawn areas: first I used the mower to clear all around the assistant keepers quarters and then mowed the other areas bounded by sidewalks. Later in the afternoon, I completed the base trim of the south corner of the boat house and then departed to Northport.

Jerry and Chris, for the next eight days, focused on completing the big dig, i.e. the boat house ramp, and building the retaining wall along the north side of it. They frequently worked into the night under floodlights and at times under the shelter of tarps. During some periods of heavy rain, they cleaned up the front rooms of the Lighthouse in preparation for eventual painting. They also used the excavating equipment to complete the clearing around the fog signal building and along the adjacent sidewalk. This involved pulling all the stumps from the saplings that John McKinney and I had earlier cleared. They finished off their work by grading the areas in preparation for seeding.

By the 9th, Jerry and Chris had completed the objectives involving the excavating equipment and, as more bad weather was forecast for the foreseeable future, decided that it was a good time to end this phase of their island adventure. They then commenced moving their equipment to the landing site at the Mirada Ranch.

On the morning of the 10th, FILA Advisory Committee member John Wells and I departed Northport prior to sunrise for a fast trip to the island. As we were approaching we noted the the wind shift (to the SW) was already upon us and snow clouds were moving in fast. We got a quick tour of the projects, closed up the buildings and started loading up the boat while Jerry and Chris completed the equipment transit. Due to the deteriorating conditions we then vacated the island briefly after noon.

The trip back was, well, terrible but our spirits were high; the work that Jerry and Chris had completed is truly a turning point for FILA and the future of the Light Station. Proceeding carefully through quartering seas and occasionally reduced to surfing off to the East,  we navigated despite continual blinding spray and rain back to Northport. It was only at the inner buoy that conditions cleared sufficiently to provide a continual clear view of our objective. We quickly secured the boat and headed for hot showers and dry clothes. I noted that the wind had peaked a 39 mph.

Look at the pictures. We think you will be, as we were, very impressed by the quality of work that this hardy team has completed!

Phil von Voigtlander
October 11, 2009

Backhoe in front of boat house
Jerry Spears maneuvering the backhoe.

Boat house ramp cleared
The ramp from the beach up to the boat house
was dug out.

The ramp looking eastward
The new retaining wall north of the ramp.

Walkway south of the boat house
Cleared walkway from the dock to the south side
of the boat house.

Walkway west of the boat house
Walkway west of the boat house thoroughly cleared.

Workshop area cleared
The area around the workshop got cleared from bushes.

Fog signal building area cleared
Cleared area along the fence of the skeleton tower.

Photos provided by John Wells.

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An Epic September

We have had a lot of activity at the Light Station in the month of September. On September 4 while on vacation, I visited there simultaneously with 2 other sail boats (Dutch and Bonnie - FILA members and Fritz Seegers, with Howard Meyerson on board). While giving them the Lighthouse tour it became clear that Howard is the outdoor editor for the Grand Rapids Press. He took many pictures and, based on our discussions and interviews with John McKinney and Anna Sylvester, wrote an excellent piece for that (click here to read the article) and the other Booth Newspapers.

Next, in the evening of September 8th, Jerry Spears landed the first of his excavation implements (the Toro Dingo) from his powered  24 foot barge in the company of Matt Young aboard Not For Hire. Back on shore on the 9th, Jerry and Chris Young assembled the parts for a small (8' x 8') temporary crib dock. The following day, Jerry, Chris and I transported all our equipment to the island. In the course of the day, we constructed the crib and used the Dingo to fill it with stone. That evening Jerry and Chris returned to Northport.

On the 11th, I started the construction clean up of the workshop and cleaned up and organized the remaining lumber in the boat house. That evening Jerry, Chris and Matt returned with the Toro Workman and we unloaded it via the crib, secured the barge up on the shore, unloaded their tools, gear and supplies after which Matt returned to Northport aboard his boat.

On the 12th and 13th, Jerry and Chris commenced clearing off the seawall with the Dingo and Workman while I completed the workshop clean up. We had many visitors; 10 came ashore on the 12th from various boats and a sea plane for whom I gave tours, and on the 13th Dick Parker and crew showed up aboard The Lake Effect and Matt returned aboard his boat to return Jerry and Chris to Northport. While back on shore, Jerry arranged to have his Kubota excavator transported to the island aboard the Mirada Ranch landing craft while I worked at the station and awaited their return.

In the course of the ensuing week, I cut up two downed maples and hauled the wood to the fire circle and removed brush from the lawn areas. I also completed base trim for the workshop and boat house and the primer coats of paint on the south wall of the boat house and all the new wood trim on the workshop. I had a surprise visit from Matt and Cindy Young in the evening of the 19th and set them up to spend the night on the island (nice to have some company after 6 days!).

On the 20th, Jerry and Chris returned with John McKinney with their gear and supplies. In the course of the day we moved the excavator from the Ranch to the job site and loaded my stuff onto the Lightkeeper while Matt cleaned out the tower from the top to the bottom and John hauled more wood and raked up the last of the shingles at the shop. That evening John and I returned the boat to Northport in the company of the Youngs aboard their boat while Jerry and Chris remained to continue the excavation with the enhanced help from the excavator.

On the 25th, McKinney, Craig Gulseth (DNR), Jim Schiffer and I returned to the island with the Lightkeeper and were amazed and delighted by the fine work the Jerry and Chris had completed. The seawall was not only cleared but the banks were built up with boulder walls and similarly the area behind the boat house was cleared of stone and landscaped with boulder walls. They had also initiated the excavation of the boat house ramp down to the rails and back filled the seawall in areas where it have been undercut by erosion.

During that day, they reviewed the progress and plans with Craig and discussed the feasibility and plans for preserving and reconstructing the seawall with Jim Schiffer. Jim is a civil engineer with a special interest in shoreline structures. Craig spent the balance of his time installing the property signs around the borders and tagging the buildings with State Inventory tags. John and I worked on closing down the station after the longest continuous (16 days) occupation of the FILA era. We packed out through the West beach and proceeded slowly into the SE swells and wind back to Northport.

Phil von Voigtlander
October 10, 2009

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Third Fall Harvest Festival

September 26th: The weather was just about perfect for the Third Annual Leelanau State Park Fall Harvest Festival and Silent Auction/Pancake Breakfast hosted by Park Manager Al Ammons.

Willing volunteers were many and included George "Carp" and Trudy Carpenter, Maxine Gordon (Trudy's Mom), myself, "Greeter Tale Waggers"  Laddie Bradshaw and Ms. Cricket Carpenter, John and Ann McKinney, Tom and Kathy Larkin, Phil von Voigtlander, Anne Braise, Bob and Sandy Zwemer and Sally Frye. They all worked hard to make sure the event was a fun one for all.

Mouthwatering displays of home-grown vegetables tempted festival goers. Various individuals presented a wide assortment of cottage industry wares and beautiful local floral arrangements. Fun for all children's games and old-fashioned cider making were some of the activities.

The event was again a success, reaching our goals, both in attendance, as well as apparel sales (did you get your FILA hat yet?!) and great bidding on the Silent Auction items. Local merchants and others made the auction again a success. We wish to especially thank the Northport Lion's Club for loaning us their grills, and  Busby Oil & Propane for providing fuel to keep 'em hot and cooking! After breakfast of pancakes and sausages, John and his crew changed over to grilled Brats, and there was delicious Kilcherman's cider, doughnuts and coffee for all.

We certainly hope to see you next year at the Fourth Annual Fall Festival!

 Preparing exhibits
Preparing exhibits.

FILA's apparel department.

 Mr. President making pancakes
Anne and John McKinney, Kathy and Tom Larkin
(from left to right).

Mike Waning (DNR, Leelanau State Park, with Laddie Bradshaw), Frank Ditzler and Tommy, Mike's son (from left to right).

Sandy Bradshaw
December 1, 2009

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Board Meeting of September, 8, 2009

The meeting took place at the Great Lakes Children's Museum. Lacking a quorum at the beginning og the meeting, some items on the agenda were skipped. The treasurer's report, sent to the board member before the meeting, was accepted.

Sally Frye reported on plans being made by the Traverse Area Light Chain. Phil von Voigtlander suggested that TALC consider representing all of the lighthouses at the Chicago Maritime Festival in February 2010. George Carpenter reported on the re-shingling of the workshop. According to the Parker Team, the old shingles seemed to have been painted red. The team found a rusty single shot handgun under a soffit.

Upcoming public events were discussed, and Phil presented pending projects for the light station. Sally reported on interviews with former inhabitants of the station and on plans for the 2010 meeting of the Michigan Lighthouse Association in Traverse City.

Hans Joerg Rothenberger, based on George Carpenter's minutes
November 10, 2009

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Carpenters On Board!

On Friday, August 28th, I delivered the Parker team of carpenters, Dick, Lee, Dennis and Sheldon, and George Carpenter to the Light Station at S Fox along with the construction equipment, gear and supplies for the week end. After unloading and lunch I returned to Northport as bad weather was approaching. George helped the team settle in and handled their care and feeding as well as thoroughly documenting the work as they commenced re-roofing the Workshop.

Saturday was an atrocious day weather-wise, but regardless they completed the installation of all the available shingles after having replaced the face boards and many of the roof deck boards. They made repeated attempts (including a sign in the field of the webcam!) to call back to the mainland to request more shingles be sent out. They then set about additional projects including a more permanent provisional repair to the1867 Lighthouse dormer roof.

On Monday, when Greg Nickerson and I returned to join them, they requested that we return to Northport ASAP to get 2 more sq of shingles to complete the job. Lee, Dennis and I did so and by 3:50 I returned with the material. Dick and Sheldon worked right up to dinner time completing the job at 7:00. During the day Greg salvaged parts of his boat. We loaded these, the tools, gear and the remainder of the team and returned to Northport at 10:10 pm after a fast, calm and moon-lit voyage. The expertly installed cedar roof assures the protection of this historic structure.

Phil von Voigtlander
September 2, 2009

To see a detailed photo report by George Carpenter, please click here.

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Team Nickerson, Episode III

On Tuesday, August 18th, the Lightkeeper transported Jan Nickerson, Pamela Nickerson, Sally Frye, Audrey and David Markle and Phil von Voigtlander to the Light Station. The Markles served at the Station in 1957 and were returning for the first time. We were accompanied by Greg Nickerson on board Neu-Sense with Zach, Brendan, Kate and Sarah.

We had a moderately rough and therefore slow crossing and limited protection from the SW swell as we unloaded the crews and gear. As the wind picked a bit more, Greg helped me shuttle 1000 lb of lumber off the Lightkeeper.

While the Nickersons set up camp, Sally toured the Station with the Markles and collected their recollections of their season there 52 years ago. In the course of the afternoon the wind increased from the SW and we decided to stay at the island with the Nickersons for the night. Greg and I moved our boats to the NE anchorage while the Markles benefited from the camping gear recently donated to FILA by Harvey Van Dam.

In the morning, conditions had moderated, and, after breakfast with the Nickersons, Sally, Audrey, David and I returned to Northport.

On August 23rd, I ran the Lightkeeper out to the Light Station with a load of roofing materials and back loaded with the Nickersons and all their gear. They had a rough week of wind, rain and cool temperatures. Despite this, they were able to do a lot of clearing under the tower and along the sidewalks. They came prepared to paint the boat house and got the south side prepped prior to the rain; the wet weather subsequently precluded any painting.

Their adventure was also dampened by the swamping and rolling of Greg's boat in the heavy surf conditions that developed Thursday and Friday. I reported this loss to the Coast Guard and arranged for  a salvage boat to return it to Northport. The calm day also allowed them to complete this mission today. As the sun was setting, we enjoyed a pizza picnic at the Marina Park and two hours later the tow boat guys finished up the leftovers.

Phil von Voigtlander
August 23, 2009

 Before clearing 1
Before clearing: the workshop.

Before clearing 2
Walkway to the fog signal building.

 Laura Nickerson as Daisy Duke
Laura Nickerson posing as Daisy Duke.

Zach Conners & Brendan Nickerson
Zach Conners (left) and Brendan Nickerson.



Photos provided by Jan Nickerson.  

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Board Meeting of August 11, 2009

As usual, the board met at the Great Lakes Children's Musueum. After the presentation of the financial report by Phil von Voigtlander, options for storing FILA's documents were discussed. Secretary George Carpenter reported that a subcontract for re-shingling the workshop was being issued. Reworking the belated newsletter was organized, and membership strategies were discussed.

Phil reported on the fairly complex plans for getting several teams to the light station and back in the near future. There was considerable discussion concerning the impact of our activities on the environment. Participation in upcoming events was prepared, particularly the Leelanau State Park Harvest Festival of September 26 at the Grand Traverse Lighthouse Museum.

Hans Joerg Rothenberger, based on George Carpenter's minutes
Sept. 11, 2009

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DNR and SHPO visit

On August 5th, FILA's Executive Committee, John McKinney, Cathy Allchin, George Carpenter and Phil von Voigtlander, hosted a trip to South Fox for State officials. Guests were Anna Sylvester and Lisa Gamero of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), and Bryan Lijewski and Denise Sachau of the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO). This trip was mandated by the terms of the recently awarded Michigan Lighthouse Fund grant to provide the SHPO administrators an initial inspection of the buildings covered by the grant.  It also provided a great opportunity for the Parks Division personnel to assess this remote property that they are responsible for.

The NW breeze provided a challenging (and slowed) trip out to the island aboard the Lightkeeper. After landing we had a brief orientation. Then those whose appetites had returned had lunch. The afternoon was spent touring the buildings and property. George focused on the grant-related structures with the SHPO team and Phil reviewed all the progress that FILA has made for the DNR while they inventoried the buildings and site.

The afternoon went quickly and soon we had to be back underway into a freshening SW wind. We arrived back in Northport just in time to share a picnic dinner in the Marina Park Pavilion put on by FILA board members and volunteers. Thanks to all those that contributed to this great end to a successful inspection trip!

Phil von Voigtlander
August 7, 2009

Anna Sylvester & Craigh Gulseth
 Anna Sylvester and Craig Gulseth (both DNR).

Bryan, Denise, Lisa & Gracie
Bryan Lijewski, Denise Sachau (both SHPO), Lisa Gamero (DNR) and Gracie Johnson.

Denise, Phil, John & Bryan
Denise Sachau, Phil von Voigtlander, John McKinney and Bryan Lijewski.

John, Cathy, Carp & Anne
 Cathy Allchin and Anne Brasie.

Addendum: Bryan Lijewsky published a very nice article covering the trip on the MLAPgrants Blog. Please click here to read it.

Hans Joerg Rothenberger
December 2, 2009

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Team Lee cleaning up

On Thursday, July 23, volunteers Carole and Willie Lee and Marcia Billings and board members Sandy Bradshaw and Joerg Rothenberger were transported to the South Fox Island Light Station aboard the Lightkeeper by George Carpenter. After setting up their camp and getting an orientation to the tasks at hand, they got to work. Clean up, painting and surveying the property occupied the volunteers over the next 3 days. Quite a few heavy downpours could not discourage them. Joerg, assisted by Sandy, continued his survey program started last year, this time with recently acquired professional grade equipment.

The heaps of slash from the earlier clearing around the Tower and Fog Signal were cut up, hauled to the Nickerson Fire Circle and gradually burned over the next several days.The excavation of the walkways around the Assistant Keepers Quarters was completed and the walks swept clean. Inside, the bachelor apartments got a thorough sweeping and the entrance door was scraped and painted as were the window frames of the workshop. Meantime, survey work was completed, comprising more than 400 carefully recorded measurements that will provide for an even more accurate and detailed map of the property.

On Monday morning, the team broke camp, closed up the Station and departed aboard the Lightkeeper with Phil von Voigtlander and George Carpenter for an enjoyable and uneventful trip back to Northport.

Phil von Voigtlander
August 2, 2009

Sandy, Laddie & Marcia in the dinghy
Sandy, Laddie and Marcia boarding the dinghy.

Joerg & Laddie surveying the property
Joerg and Laddie doing their survey stuff behind the boat house.

Carole painting window frames
Carole doing an excellent paint job on the workshop window frames.

Sandy holding the leveling rod in the rain
Sandy in make-shift rain gear (a folded pair of jeans), holding the leveling rod for Joerg.

Carole & Marcia in the boat house kitchen
The boathouse was used as a kitchen because
it was closer to the Fire Circle when a rainstorm
rushed in.

Willie with the wine bladder
It may look like an organ transplant, but it's
just boxed wine without the box, Willie's
clever idea for saving packing space.

Willie, Sandy & Carole hauling wood
Willie, Sandy and Carole hauling branches down the cement walkway.

Carole & Willie
Carole and Willie aboard the
Lightkeeper on the trip back to the mainland.

Photos by Carole, Sandy and Joerg

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Team Geezer: Sailors do the work!

I just returned from supporting the efforts of Team Geezer of Ann Arbor at the Fox Island Light Station. As this is a group of sailors, I joined them on my sail boat. I arrived at the island Thursday evening after a windless crossing under diesel power aboard my sail boat.

On Friday, June 19, I transferred supplies ashore. Most of the day was then spent spot spraying the emerging poison ivy. I also inaugurated the emergency radio system with a call to Leelanau County 911 to let them know that we would be at the island for the weekend. The radio worked perfectly.

Early Friday evening the other Geezers, Don Duquette, Rob Pasick and Paul Webb, arrived on board Donna Marie. I introduced them to the Light Station and the various tasks at hand. All had a lot of questions about the history of the place and of each building. As we conversed about these, the sun was setting and we retired to our respective boats.

Saturday we went ashore early. Paul and Rob put the new pruners, loppers and saw to good use clearing the major walkways of overhanging vegetation and broomed them off. Don discovered a passion for digging rocks off the boathouse walkway. I helped with some of the wheel barrowing and spent some time cleaning up the interior of the Lighthouse. Towards the evening we departed to the northeast anchorage as the southerly wind was building.

Sunday offered up a great SW sailing wind on which Donna Marie departed. I spent the morning hiking around the north end of the island to the site of the stranded NOAA buoy that I had discovered on my last trip there and documented it with photos and a GPS reading. In the afternoon, I attempted to return to the Lighthouse but the southern anchorage was too rough for safety and I returned to the NE anchorage for the evening. 

Monday morning I had a great sail back to Northport despite the intermittent rain and associated poor visibility. My thanks to the hard working Geezers for making this trip a great success!

Team Geezer aboard Donna Marie
Team Geezer aboard
Donna Marie.

Team Geezer in front of the 1867 Lighthouse Left to right: Don Duquette,
Rob Pasick, Paul Webb.

NOAA bouy The stranded NOAA buoy.

Xanadu, Phil's boat Xanadu, Phil's boat, under the FILA flag.

Phil von Voigtlander
June 30, 2009

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Northport Lighthouse & Maritime Festival (June 22, 2009)

A big thank you to Sally Frye, Sandy Bradshaw, Phil von Voigtlander, Pamela and Jan Nickerson, John Nelson, Bob Zwemer, Ken Scott, and Karen and John Wells, who all came to the Festival and worked. The Nickerson family loaned us their tent and Jan, through Britten Media, donated the two very nice banners which set us apart from many of the other booths. We gave out over 50 brochures, and we got a list of people who want to volunteer to go to the island.  

Schooner Inland Seas
One of the highlights was the schooner
Inland Seas taking people aboard for Maritime History Tours. Captain Tom Kelly took 72 persons onto the lake on three separate trips. It was both a fun and educational sail.

The FILA booth The FILA booth was busy all day long with many people interested in learning more about S. Fox and FILA. The most frequently asked question of the day to us was, "Where exactly is S. Fox?"


Phil von Voigtlander, FILA Treasurer and Island
Project Manager, actively recruiting volunteers,
here Marcia Billings.

Enthusiastic FILA members Karen and John
Wells took over for the afternoon session in
the FILA booth.

 George "Carp" Carpenter (left), FILA Secretary,
Miss Cricket (below), Carp's Supervisor, and
Norv Hall (right), GTLM Board Member and
GTLM liaison for the Leelanau State Park
and the Leelanau State Park Harvest Festival
to be held on September 26, 2009.

Sisters Pamela (left) and Jan Nickerson along
with  their Mom, Donaldine Nickerson. They
each gave many hours that day to working
in the FILA booth and sharing some of their
stories of life during the lumbering era, when
the Nickerson family ran a sawmill on S. Fox.  

George Carpenter, with photos and captions by Sandy Bradshaw
June 23, 2009

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Board Meeting of June 9, 2009

The FILA Board met at the Great Lakes Children's Musueum.

The Treasurer's report was presented by President John McKinney, because Treasurer Phil von Voigtlander was expected to join the meeting later. John McKinney welcomed U.S. Coast Guard Law Enforcement and Public Affairs Officer Lieutenant Nathan  Noyes, who had been invited by Advisory Committee Member John Wells. Lt. Noyes gave a detailed description of the technical and organizational possibilities of the Coast Guard for providing help in an emergency.

Procedural details concerning the Michigan Lighthouse Assistance Program grant and contract were discussed, as well as creative ways to use money from unscheduled donations and the like. Vice-President Cathy Allchin reported on the pending issue of the newsletter including its e-mail version, and a few suggestions concerning membership renewal were made.

Phil reported that the trip to set up the emergency radio at the light station had gone well. He suggested efficient ways to schedule trips to the island. Secretary George Carpenter mentioned several additional trips that might be necessary this year. Sally Frye reported that the Traverse Area Light Chain was talking about a joint history booklet project. Carp handed out copies of a new brochure, asking for comments.

Plans were made for FILA's presence at the Northport Lighthouse and Maritime Festival on June 20, including a new banner donated by Britten Media in Traverse City. Carp launched a discussion concerning merchandise (shirts, sweaters, hats).

Hans Joerg Rothenberger, based on George Carpenter's minutes
July 11, 2009

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First trip of the season

We had a big crew (Harold Carlton, George Carpenter, Sean Mauney, John McKinney, Dick Parker, Ken Scott and Phil von Voigtlander) for our initial trip to the Fox Island Light Station on May 30, 2009. Our approach to and landing on the island was a bit rough due to freshening SW wind and subsequent close encounter with a thunder storm, but we managed to get all the personnel and gear ashore without incident.

Through the remainder of the day and the next, we greatly benefited from our many recently donated tools. The most excellent extension ladder was essential for the installation of the new emergency 911 radio and call box by Harold and Dick. It also provided Ken with the opportunity to use the top of the Tower as a vantage point for many of his photographs of the Station and its environment and for Dick to later clear the eaves of the Assistant Keepers Quarters. While up in the Tower, Harold also checked out the web cam power system, camera and transmitter.

Meanwhile Sean and Phil made good use of the reconditioned wheel barrow and splitting gear to move, split and stack the remaining logs from the clearing project of 2 years ago.  John set about sweeping up the Lighthouse 2nd floor and stairs and just about everyone took a crack at using the new shovels to clear stones from the boat house and adjacent walkways.

George kept the crew well fed, completed the window sills on the Work Shop and with John's help did some site measurements. Dick also worked up the design and materials list for the repair of the front end of the Boat House. All the while Ken was taking advantage of the fine weather and clear night sky to create photo artistry of the Station.

We found the Station to have overwintered well, with no particular problem other than the continued collapse of the shed addition to the 1867 Lighthouse. We did note that 3 more ridge tiles were missing on the Quarters roof and hope to attend to that on a later trip.

We had a leisurely evening trip back to Northport and arrived just prior to the return of significant rain showers. It was a great trip that afforded FILA the various benefits of professionals volunteering their expertise to the project.

Phil von Voigtlander
June 1, 2009

Some photos submitted by George Carpenter:

Rogue Gallery
 Here's Carp's own caption:
The rogues gallery consists of (from left to right)
Ken Scott, photographer; Sean Mauney, seriously
heavy duty worker, sailor and great guy; Dick Parker,
Parker Stark Builders who planned, squared and kept
the Boathouse from falling down; Harold Carlton, Grand
Traverse Mobile Communications, who implemented the
camera and transmitter system last year and donated
our 911 emergency radio communication system this
year; and President McKinney.   

Skeletal tower from W beach
The 1934 Skeletal Tower seen from NW.

Decaying lean-to shed
The lean-to shed is near collapse.

The new ladder at the skeleton tower
Sean Mauney entering the
skeletal tower. The new
aluminum ladder was donated
by a company whose name
is withheld by request.

Miss Cricket at Leader's grave
Miss Cricket, Carp's dog, visiting
the grave of Leader, the dog of
Lighthouse Keeper Allen Cain.
Leader was killed in a hunting
accident in 1953.

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Board Meeting of May 12, 2009

The May meeting of the FILA board took place at the Great lakes Children's Museum, presided by Vice-President Cathy Allchin. Treasurer Phil von Voigtlander stated that an unexpected $10,000 grant had been received from the Ted and Jane von Voigtlander Foundation.

Suggestions for a new Volunteer committee were made. Phil reported that the Lightkeeper, FILA's boat, had been launched the previous weekend. Trip scheduling, First Aid box contents, First Aid training and a grant for the emergency communication system were discussed.

Cathy suggested a selection of short history stories to be used for displays and the like. Committee reports included the FILA display at the Grand Traverse Lighthouse Museum, a new brochure, event planning, merchandising ideas, etc..

The board also discussed strategic planning and board assessment. Carp reported that Stef Staley, director of the Grand Traverse Lighthouse Museum, was resigning from FILA's Advisory Committee.

Hans Joerg Rothenberger, based on George Carpenter's minutes
June 6, 2009

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The MLAP Grant explained

The Michigan Lighthouse Assistance Program (MLAP) has awarded $19,166 to the Fox Island Lighthouse Association (FILA) to conduct an Historic Structures Report (HSR) and to re-roof the Carpenter’s Shop at the South Fox Island Light Station. MLAP is funded by revenues from the Lighthouse specialty license plates available through the Secretary of State’s Office. The grant program is administered by the State Historic Preservation Office of the Department of History, Arts and Libraries.

The HSR will study the original 1867 Lighthouse building at the Station by conducting an historical review, an engineering and physical assessment of the current condition, and developing and prioritizing repair and restoration needs of the structure. A state qualified historical architectural consulting firm will be hired to conduct the HSR study.

For the Carpenter’s Shop re-roofing project, a local building construction contractor will be hired to remove the deteriorating cedar shingles, replace roof deck boards, rafters, and face boards as needed, and install new hand cut cedar shingles consistent in type with the deteriorated shingles.

FILA will provide transportation and accommodations to the crews while they work at the Station. FILA will also provide $9,584 in matching funds and services and expects to complete both projects during the 2009 Field Season. Requests For Proposal will soon be going out to qualified bidders. 

George Carpenter
April 21, 2009

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 Meeting with the DNR, April 15, 2009

FILA board members John McKinney, Phil von Voigtlander, Bob Zwemer and avid supporter John Wells met with Craig Gulseth, Lisa Gamero and Anna Sylvester of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to present the work done in 2008 and to discuss the projects for the 2009 season. According to John McKinney, the meeting was a success, and the use permit for 2009 was signed.

Meeting with the DNR
Phil von Voigtlander, John Wells, Craig
Gulseth, Anna Sylvester, and Lisa Gamero.

Hans Joerg Rothenberger
April 18, 2009

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Board Meeting of April 14, 2009

The FILA board met at the Great Lakes Children's Museum. Phil von Voigtlander's financial report showed almost no transactions. The board decided to pay $6000.00 to reduce the lien on the Lightkeeper boat. Plans for the meeting with the DNR, scheduled for April 15, were discussed.

Based on Anne Brasie's report on the mailing of the annual donations / membership appeal, many aspects of membership renewal and recruiting were discussed. John Wells reported on possible solutions for emergency calls from the island, on First Aid kits for the boat and the Light Station, and on donations he collected.

Strategies for gathering and storing historic information and plans for FILA's participation in three major events of the 2009 season were discussed. Wells stated that FILA needs a set of plans and goals to present while soliciting materials or going after larger grants and donations. The board asked him to gather suggestions from board member, to be discussed at the next meeting.

Secretary George Carpenter commented on details concerning the MLAP grant, and Sally Frye reported on technical changes concerning the Web cam at the Grand Traverse Lighthouse Museum and on important contacts to lighthouse organizations. The need for an organized set of books for audits was discussed.

Hans Joerg Rothenberger, based on George Carpenter's minutes
May 12, 2009

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Important support from the State!

Grant announcement in the Record-Eagle

Thanks to George Carpenter for sending me this, and of course many thanks to all you folks who have been working on it so hard!  

Hans Joerg Rothenberger
April 3, 2009

Addendum: For the final, updated figures, see Carp's article of April 21!

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Marie Baumberger — an interesting visit

On February 16, 2009, George Carpenter visited Marie Baumberger in Tucson, Arizona. Marie is Allen Cain’s daughter. Allen Cain was an Assistant Keeper at the South Fox Island Light Station from 1946 to 1948 and Keeper at South Fox from 1948 until he was transferred in 1958. He was the last resident Keeper before the light was automated in 1958.  

Cain started his career in 1934 as an Assistant at the Chicago Crib. He was transferred to Beaver Island in 1934 and then on to First Assistant at the Grand Traverse Lighthouse from 1938 until 1946. Marie’s mother was Ruth Elizabeth Huyette Cain who made it to the Grand Traverse Lighthouse and briefly to South Fox. Marie said her mom hated the Island because it was so lonely and she didn’t like the boat ride. She was ill and died in Northport.  

While Cain was an Assistant at South Fox, he married Anna Dolwick Cain and she helped him when he became Keeper in 1948. It turns out that he had not made it past the fourth grade and so was very unsure about his ability to keep the log and do the records. Anna had graduated from high school so she said she would write the log, all he had to do was sign. Quite a team!  

After leaving South Fox in 1958, the Cains moved to a light at Alpena where he worked until his retirement in 1961. They moved back to Northport where Allen Cain died on December 18, 1966. He and Anna are buried in the Northport Cemetery. Marie never lived at South Fox, having married Noel Baumberger before her father was posted there. She did visit once (a drive by on the way to Beaver Island) with Doug McCormick.  

According to Robert Harris, an Assistant Keeper at South fox in 1958, Allen Cain’s dog “Leader” is buried in the South Fox Island Light Station graveyard. Marie didn’t remember that Allen had a dog at the Island but did say that her father had been an avid hunter and fisherman.  

George Carpenter
March 23, 2009

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Board Meeting of February 10, 2009

The February Board meeting was held at the Great Lakes Children's Museum, again with transatlantic attendance.

Phil von Voigtlander's 2009 budget was discussed and accepted, the possibility of on-line membership fee payment was evaluated, projects for the 2009 season including material needs and donations were presented, contacts with two former crew of the Light Station were reported and FILA's participation in various events was discussed.

The Web cam at the Light Station keeps acting up in bad weather, and there are technical troubles with the other end of the transmission line too, both issues being taken care of. Future board meetings might be held at the soon to be finished new Grand Traverse Yacht Club building.

Hans Joerg Rothenberger, based on George Carpenter's minutes
March 23, 2009

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Board Meeting of January 13, 2009

The first Board Meeting of 2009 was held at the Great Lakes Children's Museum in Traverse City, with Sandy Bradshaw and Joerg Rothenberger attending by conference call from Europe.

The minutes of three meetings were approved. Phil von Voigtlander's financial report, briefly put, said that there are funds to see FILA through another year. The expired terms of Sandy Bradshaw, Phil von Voigtlander and George Carpenter were renewed, with a modification in order to guarantee staggered renewals in the future.

FILA's new committee structure was discussed and approved. Sally Frye reported on activities of the Traverse Area Light Chain (TALC) incl. their possible participation in the PassBook project by the Northwest Lower Michigan Historical Network. Sally also reported on the state of her work on the documents FILA "inherited" from the former FIEA. Bob Zwemer suggested to make important documents available on the Web site.

Before the meeting, Sally had provided all board members with a draft of the Safety Plan. Details were discussed. Carp suggested a slight change to the "traditional" agenda item pattern. He also answered questions concerning the grant application for the Historic Structures Report on the 1867 lighthouse.

Hans Joerg Rothenberger, based on George Carpenter's minutes
February 2, 2009

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For other years, please click here to go back to the News page.

Archived February 18, 2012