Calumet trustees seated at statutory meeting
By GRAHAM JAEHNIG
CALUMET — The Village Council held its statutory meeting Monday which was the first meeting with the new trustees.
Of the four trustees recently seated, three, Peggy Germain, Virginia Dwyer and Lori Weir, have served on the council in the past. Bernice Smith, the fourth member, is new to the council.
Among the agenda items addressed was the appointment of a clerk.
Nominee Pat Pressel was appointed by an unanimous vote.
Debra Auburn was nominated to continue the duties of village treasurer and after some discussion, it was discussed and agreed upon that she must present at least an annual treasurer’s report to the council, which she has not done in the past.
“We’ll ask her,” said village President Rob Tarvis, “and tell her that is part of the job.”
While the village does not currently have a village manager, it was also decided that until one is found and hired, the village president will continue in that capacity. Under Chapter IV, Section 64.1 of the Michigan General Law Village Act, the president is the chief executive officer of the village, and so can operate as manager until such a time as one is hired. Tarvis said after a manager has been hired, those duties can be transferred. Also, under the duties of the village manager are those of a FOIA coordinator, which will currently then fall under the authority of the village president.
Trustee Pamela Que was nominated and approved as president pro tem with one trustee abstaining.
Gene LaRochelle was reappointed to the North Houghton County Water and Sewer Authority, a position he has held for many years.
Among other items discussed came during the period of petitions from the public.
Leah Polzien, executive director of Main Street Calumet, as well as chair of the Downtown Development Authority, said that in considering new council members, it is crucial that the council continue moving forward with the same momentum and success that it has achieved in the past two years.
“The expectation of myself and, I think other people here — I’ll let them speak for themselves — is that it continues to move forward.”
Polzien went on to say: “We have to work together; we have to move forward; we have to keep the highest level of focus and it has to be (about) blight and it has to be redevelopment and where are we going to find funding.”
Tim Bies, owner of the Michigan House, on Sixth Street, and a former council trustee, also addressed the council, sharing his optimism. He and his wife own three properties in Calumet, he said.
“We have felt that motion they’ve been talking about of things moving forward,” he said, “people getting along, working together — it’s not easy.”
Bies said he has lived in the village for 21 years and his experience has been that everyone who comes to the village has a core of independence.
“We’re all independent people,” he said, “that’s why we’re here. But we need to work together to get this town rolling. And there’s some new people, there’s new money, and that’s what we need. We really need investment, people with capital who will grab these buildings and see what they are, physically worth in your mind, then start building that up.”
Bies said he would like to see that forward momentum continue and see work with businesses, welcome them into the community and help them.
The Rev. Bob Langseth, village resident and president of Main Street Calumet, also addressed the council, saying he was there because of the community that is there as the village and bigger than the village.
“I have no property, I have no special interest,” he said. “Like you, I love the territory and that’s why I’m here.”
Langseth said he would like to extend an invitation to the council, but first he wanted to share what he said he heard this past summer.
While at the Calumet Heritage Center (located in the former St. Anne’s Catholic Church) this past summer, he said, people came in from Ohio and said: “You have got the finest visitors’ center and the best church of anybody in the U.P.”
While preaching at Copper Harbor, he continued, when some bikers from Iowa came in and expressed that: “You’ve got the best trails for the Deer Chase, and the best bike shop in the whole Midwest.”
He asked someone recently why he was investing so much money in the village.
“He said because this the best historic district in the area and the peninsula,” said Langseth, “and I have desire to protect it and develop it.”
He continued by relating that during the pasty fast, a lady from Italy told him that the Michigan House is really an old-fashioned pub and she likes it.
A California resident shared with him that every time he visits Calumet, he leaves with an arm load of books.
“You have the best bookshop and artists that I know,” he said.
Langseth told the council that they, as a village, have a jewel. He has heard that Calumet is a dump.
“You are not garbage collectors,” he said. “you are protectors of a jewel. And you’re not only a local jewel, it’s a national jewel. Congress has said we are a national landmark.”
His invitation to the council, therefore, was to include two sentences at the beginning of each agenda that read: Calumet is a Jewel, and we are the trustees of the treasure.
“That’s my invitation,” he said. “Put that on your agenda, because I believe it will affect how we all treat each other, and I’m here to work with you.
“I love the community,” he continued, “you love it. We’re not opposed to each other. I want to work with you; I want to be a part of you — not just as Main Street, but as the community surrounding Main Street. That’s my invitation.”