Prayers Needed

Andrea Keehn, daughter of Dennis Keehn of Beaver Island, was involved in a car accident this weekend.  She is presently in the ICU unit at Munson Medical Center in Traverse City, Michigan.  Her family has asked for prayers for her quick recovery.

Also let's not forget those who died in the space shuttle tragedy today, February 1, and their families.

Mary C. Feindt 1916-2003

Dr. Mary C. Feindt passed away on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2003, at the age of 86 following an extended bout with cancer. She had been a resident at Boulder Park Terrace since November, 2002.

Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. on Monday, Feb. 3, at the First Congregational Church of Charlevoix (UCC), and will be officiated by the Rev. Mary Willis. Visitation will be 2-5 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 1, at the Winchester Funeral Home in Charlevoix.

A pioneer in women in surveying, Dr. Feindt was the first woman licensed as a professional surveyor in Michigan in 1944, and graduated with a master's degree in civil engineering from the University of Michigan the same year. She also held a BA degree from Albion College and was awarded an honorary doctorate degree in science and industry from Ferris State University in 1999.

Mary received a Gubernatorial Appointment to the Michigan State Board of Land Surveyors in 1979, and was the first chair of the United States Forum for Women in Surveying from 1983-84. She received an honorary membership in the American Congress on Surveying and Mapping in 1988 and an Award for Outstanding Service to Surveying and Engineering in 1993 from the Ferris State College of Technology. She was also active during the past several years in FIG, an international organization for surveyors and geographers, and to that end traveled to many countries as a U.S. representative.

In addition to land surveying, Mary was engaged in a land title business for many years. She was just as involved with the title profession as she was with surveying, and spent much of her professional career as a liaison between the surveying and title professions. She was deeply involved in the development of the present ALTA/ACSM Land Title Standards. The Michigan Land Title Association honored her with the creation of the Mary C. Feindt Award in 1987 to be given to title persons for meritorious service.

Dr. Feindt was also active on the local scene. She was the Charlevoix County Surveyor continuously since 1945, and had been involved with the Charlevoix Area Chamber of Commerce since its inception. Mary was an avid member of the Charlevoix Downtown Development Authority, and has served as a trustee of the First Congregational Church of Charlevoix (UCC). She was also a member of Zonta International of Charlevoix and the Order of the Eastern Star.

The city of Charlevoix declared "Mary Feindt Day" to commemorate 50 years of service in 1994, and Mary received the Outstanding Citizens Award from the Charlevoix Area Chamber of Commerce on Jan. 9, 2003.

Mary (Bastian) Feindt was born in Chicago, Ill., in 1916 and grew up in Albion, Mich. She was the daughter of Ernest H. Bastian and Lila M. (Waitt) Bastian. She first moved to Charlevoix in 1938, and owned and managed Charlevoix Abstract & Engineering Company (now known as Advanced Geomatics) from 1944 until her passing. Her dedicated and enduring work effort and service to society earned Mary the Michigan Outstanding Older Worker award in 1998 from Green Thumb, Inc.

Mary married J. Lawrence Feindt in 1942, and they worked together in the business until her husband's death in 1988. She was joined in the business by her son, Larry, professional surveyor, and by her daughter-in-law, Faye, in 1971. Her stepson, C. Fred Feindt (now deceased), was also a member of the business during the 1970s and 1980s. Her granddaughter, Amy Feindt, is currently employed at Advanced Geomatics and received a degree in surveying-engineering from Ferris State University in 2000.

Mary is survived by her son, Lawrence R. (Larry) Feindt and daughter-in-law Faye A. (Whitley) Feindt, who reside in Charlevoix; sister, Lois Metzler, who lives in Bradenton, Fla.; and three grandchildren, Amy C. Feindt who resides in Howell, Mich., Rene P. Feindt who resides in Charlevoix, and Jacob H. Feindt who is currently a student at Northern Michigan University. She also is survived by three great-grandchildren, Christine and Isaac Zeitler of Howell, Mich., and Jesston Whitley of Charlevoix.

The family suggests memorials be given to the Mary C. Feindt Surveying Scholarship c/o Debra Jacks, Ferris State University, 330 Oak West 100, Big Rapids, Mich. 49307; the Mary C. Feindt scholarship for women entering the fields of mathematics and science at the Charlevoix Zonta Club; or the First Congregational Church of Charlevoix (UCC).

Mary was a well-known figure on Beaver Island.  There aren't many year 'round residents who didn't call upon her to survey their property.  She was a long time visitor to the island and even met her future husband on a trip to the island where he was an engineer.  Our prayers are with Mary's family.

Winter Scenes

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While the winds are blowing and snow is slowly arriving the birds are now making appearances at home feeders.  This cardinal and blue jay were checking out things from our cedar hedge while the town ducks huddle under the Strang dock where a bubbling system keeps the water open.   Fish shanties are beginning to dot the harbor ice and some nice soul had plowed a large area near Arranmore Park for ice skating on the harbor.

Possible State Aid Cuts to Schools

Michigan's new governor, Jennifer Granholm, wants to makes cuts into the state aid to Michigan schools.  Upon reading that I decided to ask the principal of the Beaver Island Community School, Kitty McNamara, a few questions.  Since our schedules didn't mesh we did this via email.. interesting way to do an interview.  The following is the end result with my question to McNamara in bold black and her responses in blue.

If the possibility for cuts wanted by Governor Jennifer Granholm in state aid to Michigan schools in coming months becomes reality, how will it affect the Beaver Island Community School?

It is a little early to know just how the cuts will affect our school.  The state legislature has up to 30 days to review the Governor's proposal and offer other alternatives for balancing the school aid fund.  The most recent scenario would cut each district's "state aid" by a certain percentage, 3.8%.  Our school receives very little "state aid"; about $35,000.00 this year.  Over 90% of the funding for our school comes directly from non-homestead property taxes, so if the cuts come in this way, it is unlikely that we will need to make any more major cuts to our already beleaguered budget.

Beaver Island Community School is one of very few in the state whose low student numbers and high non-homestead tax base means that almost all of what the state determines we should be able to operate on (based on student # times a foundation grant allowance) is generated here with the winter tax collection.  Almost all of the 6 mills of State Education Tax revenue levied by the state on all island property goes to Lansing to be used by other districts.  The finance committee will explore the possibility of the district being able to maintain more of its own tax dollars to use here - the district was successful in gaining this advantage through a "small schools payment" three years ago.  That small schools payment allowed us to maintain programs and a reasonable fund balance for a couple of years, but its benefit has been used.

Since these cuts are coming in the middle of the school year, how will they affect the island specifically?

As I mentioned above, if the cuts are in state aid, there will not be further significant cuts this fiscal year.  The school's fiscal year begins July 1 and ends June 30th.  Obviously, we are already more than half-way through the fiscal year.  The bigger impact will likely be in next year's programs as the state has made it very clear that they will not be increasing the foundation amount districts are entitled to.  In the next 4-8 weeks the school's finance committee will be planning for next year and will keep staff, parents, and community informed about the process.

What would be the first items slimmed down here on the island?

For the past several years, the budget has been pared down in a systematic way - according to board policies, budget cuts take place as far from student support as possible.  For example, board members receive no compensation for serving on the board, dollars for repair and maintenance have been cut.  We have tried to protect the things that most directly affect students - classroom textbooks, supplies and instructional staff.

Areas where we will continue to try to contain costs include: reviewing the amount of copying and printing that students and staff are doing, sending more parent information home with students rather than mailing, freeze or limit spending in areas like professional development and student travel.

Will it affect staffing?

Budget cuts over the past several years have already affected staffing - three years ago we had a full-time person assisting with school-to-work coordination, financial aid and some alternative education - those duties have been absorbed by other staff.  Secretarial and administrative assistant hours have been reduced, school maintenance hours are strictly kept to 15 hours per week, a freeze on pupil transportation reimbursement has been put into effect.

I do not anticipate any further cuts in hours for staffing for this school year - obviously this is subject to change if the final cuts by the state are more extensive than are currently being proposed.

What or how will they affect the 2003/2004 school year?

The school board's finance committee (Barb Schwartzfisher, treasurer; Joddy Croswhite, President; Sharon Nix, trustee) will be working with me and Rich Speck to sort out the implications for next year.  Over the next couple of months the finance committee will estimate the revenue available for the 2003/04 school year and assess the impact for next year and the following year.  We do not anticipate any increased funding from the state, in fact, with 11 students graduating and only 4 students currently enrolled in next year's kindergarten class, the revenue is likely to be much lower given the state's school funding scheme based on a per pupil "foundation grant amount".  The finance committee knows that fixed costs, such as heat and electricity will continue to increase and that health care costs are predicted to rise anywhere from 15% to 20%.

During the upcoming budget evaluation process, all aspects of school spending will be up for review - the committee will be looking at all programs and making tough decisions about what is essential and what is not.  Interestingly, at the same time that these touch economic times are hitting, the state and federal government are imposing stricter academic guidelines and standards that districts must meet.

Because of strong local support and smart programming by the school, the school district has certain revenue that is not tied to the state per pupil allocation and therefore, stable revenue.  Nearly $100,000.00 per year is generated by a vocational-technical millage  this revenue is allocated for use in supporting technology, career preparation, and two state-approved vocational programs.  The Business Education and Services Technology program (leading to Microsoft Office User Specialist certification) and the Allied Health Program (leading to Paramedic and EMT certification) are both high-quality programs whose funding is secure.  Also, passage of the Sinking fund last summer means that those are secure funds that can be used to make necessary and long overdue capital improvement to the building and grounds - these funds cannot be used for general operational items or even for routine maintenance.

And of course anything else you'd like to add as principal of the school here.

I do not want to be too pessimistic here, the board of education and district administration has a long history of making ends meet when things looked bleak.  This small district was one of the hardest hit when Proposal A was implemented 10 years ago and determination of funding for schools moved from local decision-making to state mandated funding levels.  Since implementation of Proposal A, the board of education has made every effort to maintain a high quality K-12 program of instruction for the community, and the current board of education and administration is dedicated to that objective as well.

Thank you, Kitty, for taking the time to answer my questions.

Finally... It's Snowing!

Having spent the first part of the winter looking at grays and browns, Mother Nature must have decided it was time to give us some of the white stuff.  In fact, she gave us it in full strength Saturday so that the island contingency who were heading to the Bellamy memorial service in Grand Rapids via a chartered Island Airways plane were unable to leave the island.  Today it's been snowing on and off so I set off to snap a couple of quick pictures before my hands got too cold.  As you can tell from some of the shots, it's blowing pretty good out Gull Harbor way.  There was another snow squall between Beaver and Garden.

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Islander Basketball

Islander basketball scores for this past weekend against Paradise were: Friday 93-77 and Saturday 77-67.  

Islander Volleyball

This past weekend the Islanders played Paradise in the upper peninsula.  Again, the ladies did an outstanding job with the score on Friday 15-6 and 15-3 while Saturday scores were 15-8 and 15-7.  Coach Connie Boyle said it was challenging to play in a small gym, but that they did a great job.  The lady Islanders are now 8-0 in the Northern Lights League.  They play Grand Marais this coming weekend, which will be a tough match as Grand Marais beat Mackinac Island and are probably also undefeated so far.  The Islanders need to beat Grand Marais both Friday and Saturday to hold onto first place in the league standings.  Way to go, Ladies!!

Rural Arts Grant

By Cindy Ricksgers

You've heard it mentioned here when we covered the House Party at the BlueBird and if you've checked the Community Calendar you'll see it mentioned there, but what is going on with the Rural Arts Grant?  The Rural Arts Grant is being executed in several ways: in-school art and enrichment programs for students, evening enrichment classes primarily for adults (our "Winter Wednesdays", 3 nights per month through March - possibly longer, if the demand is there) and outside programs designed to get the entire community involved.  The house parties were an example of this in action.  Only two people present were being paid as musicians.  Their job was to act as host, and keep the music flowing.  The hosts receive only a fraction of what they'd normally be paid for a night of entertaining. The rest were participating for the pure joy of it.  The musical hosts for the first House Party at the Bluebird Bed and Breakfast were Cindy Gillespie-Cushman and Edward Palmer, and they gave 120%!  Mary Ann and Danese, who opened their home for the party, provided coffee and their home-made cookies as well as their hospitality, will receive only a receipt of their donation (valued at $100.00) for tax purposes.

We'd like to see "Second Sundays" expand to include more of the community.  Through the grant, we will work to promote this by displaying student's art work in various businesses and lobbies on the day of the house party.  Imagine churches offering special breakfasts on that day, businesses offering promotions or sales in addition to showing student works, galleries and shops opening their doors for a few hours, offering lemonade or iced tea... Imagine our main street lined with families out walking, visiting friends and neighbors, and heading home for an early dinner before going to a house party for the evening.  We'd like to see the house parties take on a life of their own, continuing long after the grant is done.

The enrichment classes, too, are something there has long been an interest in.  The grant is allowing participants to "test the waters": teacher's will be paid by grant monies; students will pay nothing more than an occasional materials fee.  If the classes go over well, it's also something that could continue on it's own steam later.

As for specific schedules of times, places, artists, and entertainers, the best thing to do is watch for posters.

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