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Murch: A few questions that probably have no answers

January 11, 2013
Steve Murch - Managing Editor , The Alpena News

I've been wondering about a few things lately. There probably aren't answers to them right now, though we might find out sooner or later.

* What's going to happen to the former Alpena Buick building now that the business is in its new location on US-23 North?

Even though the building and site are tailor-made for a car dealer, I doubt Alpena can support another dealership. There isn't a full-fledged import dealer in town - the only automakers left not in Alpena - but could our market handle any kind of car dealership? With the four new-car dealers and all the used car lots, until our population reverses its downward trend I seriously doubt it makes sense. And, if someone were going to bring in a new dealership, they likely would want to be in close proximity to the other dealers. Or at the very least, have a new(er) building if they were a new-car dealer.

So back to the building for a moment.

While the building in its current state is designed for a car dealer, a creative entrepreneur with enough capital to redo the interior (yes, an issue all by itself - finding the right person) could probably make a go of it with just about any business. The building, still owned by Jack McCoy who owned the dealership before Gene Skiba purchased it, is in a great location. It's part of the downtown district; has two streets - Washington and Third avenues - that have plenty of traffic driving by; has something most downtown businesses don't have - off-street parking.

I don't know about you, but I'm interested to see what happens with the building.

* Last week the Associated Press had a story about the general lack of snow this winter, which follows a summer where drought gripped most of the country. It caught my eye because I've been concerned about the lake levels and written about those concerns. At my newspaper blog (Pardon me, but ...) I had an entry with photos of the bay at Mich-e-ke-wis Park and how much the water has receded.

In the winter there is always a buildup of ice where the water meets the shore. If you go to Mich-e-ke-wis today, you will notice that ice buildup, as minimal as it is, will be about 150 yards or so off shore where the first sand bar used to be. It's nice to have sandy beaches, but this is not what people mean.

The AP story stated, according to climatologists, it would take eight feet of snow or more to bring the soil back to pre-drought conditions in time for spring planting. Unfortunately, we know that's not going to happen.

In addition to drought conditions, lower water levels affect shipping on the Great Lakes, and barge traffic on the Mississippi River could be halted. Drought-like conditions affect crops, but also increase the probability of wildfires.

The question then is: what happens if the winter continues to be light on precipitation? Another year of drought-like conditions and continued lowering of lake levels will have an adverse affect on the regional economy. Just one more thing we just don't need.

* We get all sorts of calls at The News from people who heard this was going on, or this business was coming to town. The fact is in most instances, we haven't heard anything because most are pie-in-the-sky or simply too preposterous to happen.

There is validity to some of the rumors because from time to time businesses do look into the possibility of expanding to the area. Most of the time, I suspect, it's just people's imagination.

But the question is how do these stories germinate from someone wanting something to happen into a full-blown rumor? Does someone convince a friend or three they heard Business X is coming to town and those friends tell other friends, and so on? Does anyone bother to check with the person to find out where they heard it so it can be verified?

It's fun to speculate about what could happen, and it would be great if some of those speculations became reality. But we need to keep it in perspective. It's like Casey Kasem used to say at the end of American Top 40: Keep your feet on the ground, and keep reaching for the stars.

* The signs on Scoops say "See you when the snow melt." So, the snow has melted ...

 
 

 

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