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Fletcher: Good stuff about this summer

July 24, 2012
Stephen Fletcher , The Alpena News

I often write about things in this column that need to be fixed. It's just so darned easy to look at units of government that engage in very marginal practices year after year just because they have the tax dollars to spend on questionable programs.

Today I'm writing about stuff that has "gone right" this summer. Some of the topics were caused by Mother Nature, some by politicians, and some in the non-governmental side.

First, what a glorious summer for weather. Of course, we need some rain but the temperatures have been just great for boating and other outdoor activities. We have had few events rained out and top notch numbers of participants at other happenings. Score one for Mama Nature!

We spent part of one evening on Long Lake in our trusty pre-1970 runabout watching the fireworks with another couple. I did find out that night from a deputy sheriff that the "12" sticker on the boat means not the year 2012 for registration but only until March 31, 2012. You just have to read the fine print.

The fireworks were magnificent. They were continuous, voluminous, and fabulous. There was no waiting between star bursts nor wondering what and when the finale would be. They were the best fireworks I can remember in this area. Great job Long Lake Improvement Association!

That darned old deputy mentioned above warned me and dispatched me to the Secretary of State's Office on the following Monday. Now, I remember when Richard Austin was the Secretary of State and a visit to the offices he ran was like a fore-taste of purgatory. Lines and grumpy clerks were the order of the day and it was like swallowing castor oil to step in the door.

Candice Miller, who is now a congresswoman, and Terry Lynn Land, her successor, computerized the system and it's just great today. Bob, the office manager, and his people here get you through the formerly impenetrable system with ease and a smile. What a turnaround equaling government that is set up to serve the citizens rather than the bureaucrats. I'm a happy customer!

Since I have been on the water so much this summer both teaching sailing and racing, I have had the opportunity to observe the crowds on the glass-bottom boat tours. Jeff Gray, the boss over at NOAA, says there were 2,000 school kids in May alone on board and the numbers are up a bunch over last year. Kudos to Captain Paul and his crew on the Lady Michigan!

The last thing that is just right for northern Michigan is NOAA Thunder Bay's godfather, Sen. Carl Levin. Carl thought up and sent NOAA to us and it's a great research and tourism success. As chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, he made sure this spring that the Air Guard stayed in place at Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center. In addition, although he doesn't fess up to it, I think I see his hand in helping us retain air service here in Alpena. Well done, Carl!

This week we celebrate the good stuff. Who knows what I'll come up with for next week?



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