2009-11-08 / Front Page

Two shoot the rapids for dedication

Many thanks for contributions to River Restoration project
By Jeanne Marcello Staff Reporter

CROWD GATHERS – After the dedication event inside the Riverfront Grille event center, participants walked out to the edge of the rocks along the Shiawassee River to watch the kayak demonstration instead of a ribbon cutting. CROWD GATHERS – After the dedication event inside the Riverfront Grille event center, participants walked out to the edge of the rocks along the Shiawassee River to watch the kayak demonstration instead of a ribbon cutting. CHESANING – There was a large turnout at Chesaning’s rock fishway dedication despite the chilly afternoon, Nov. 1. The formal presentations and recognitions took place inside the warmth of the Riverfront Grille event center, and were followed by a gathering by the river to watch Neil Pullman and Damion Frasier shoot the new rapids of the Shiawassee River kayak-style.

Shiawassee River Restoration Chairman Michael Maier introduced members of the Shiawassee River Restoration group present, which included Michael Maier, Tom Meder, Denise Ebenhoeh, Joe Sedlar Jr., Robert Corrin, Marlene Schultz, Neil Pullman and David Duey. Maier also mentioned those who started the project years ago, such as Daniel Lea and Sandy Richardson.

TOKEN OF APPRECIATION - Village President/Mayor Joe Sedlar, Jr. (left) presented Senator Roger Kahn, MD (right) with a special plaque handmade by Neil Pullman from wood that was removed from the river as part of the old dam. Also receiving handmade plaques during the event were Tom Meder and Michael Maier. Sedlar had another plaque made for Pullman, so Neil didn’t have to make his own plaque. (TCC Photo by Jeanne Marcello) TOKEN OF APPRECIATION - Village President/Mayor Joe Sedlar, Jr. (left) presented Senator Roger Kahn, MD (right) with a special plaque handmade by Neil Pullman from wood that was removed from the river as part of the old dam. Also receiving handmade plaques during the event were Tom Meder and Michael Maier. Sedlar had another plaque made for Pullman, so Neil didn’t have to make his own plaque. (TCC Photo by Jeanne Marcello) Maier explained that the project was initiated based on the philosophy of “Taking care of what we already have.” And so the individuals involved endured many hours of meetings and fundraising efforts. “It seemed to be endless of what needed to be done,” Maier continued. “We were always going for replacing or fixing the dam.” But they learned that the grants to fix the dam were no longer available. They then became aware of funds available for a fish passage.

SPLISH SPLASH – Neil Pullman and Damion Frasier dedicated the River Restoration rock fishway by shooting the rapids. Above, Frasier maneuvers over the rocks in the river. (TCC Photo by Jeanne Marcello) SPLISH SPLASH – Neil Pullman and Damion Frasier dedicated the River Restoration rock fishway by shooting the rapids. Above, Frasier maneuvers over the rocks in the river. (TCC Photo by Jeanne Marcello) According to Maier, it was Meder who suggested the project be turned over to Chesaning Parks & Recreation to help them apply for grants. Once that took place there was a point where there were 15 government agencies looking at the project.

The group realized they needed to raise match funds to qualify for many of the grants available. “The best thing was the Five Year Pledge program,” Maier stated. It made it possible to get the engineering done for the project, which opened possibilities to seek grant money. The Five Year Pledge program will be over in 2010, Maier reminds pledge participants that even though the project is finished, they are counting on the balance of the pledges to finish paying for the project. Maier recognized the efforts of Tom Meder and Denise Ebenhoeh in getting the letters out for the pledges.

As he continued to talk about the project, he commented, “Fortunately, we chose WadeTrim. They’ve been absolutely wonderful to work with.” He thanked village engineer and township resident Chuck Rolfe for attending meetings and providing a lot of information. Rolfe brought a great deal of experience. “He’s a good mediator, too,” Maier added.

Maier expressed great appreciation to Senator Roger Kahn, who was responsible for obtaining a $900,000 grant through the state water quality initiative for the project.

He pointed out, “That playscape got used a lot,” as he talked about how the playscape became the perfect viewing platform to watch Pete’s Contracting in action. Pete’s Contracting was praised for its work creating the rock fishway with the guidance of Elon “Sandy” Verry of Grand Rapids, Minn. who designed the structure which allows fish to swim upstream.

Commissioner Mike O’Hare presented Tom Meder with a resolution from the Saginaw County Board of Commissioners. During this presentation, O’Hare said, “The 146 year old dam was removed and redesigned for walleye and sturgeon to pass through.” He talked about the area historically being a spawning ground for fish and congratulated Meder.

“It only took nine years to get here,” explained River Restoration project spearhead Tom Meder. He talked about having requested $1.5 million for the project. But he was speechless when he learned that Senator Kahn had been successful in obtaining the$900,000 grant for the project. Plus, the rocks that were donated for the project counted toward the match.

Seven thousand yards of rock was donated by July 2009. And at that point Meder was sure they had enough. But in August, Meder was calling his rock haulers back saying, they would need another 1,000 yards of rock. And despite having other work, they stopped what they were doing and hauled more rock to the site within a week. Meder thanked the rock haulers for their dedication to the project.

“We would not have been able to do this if it weren’t for the farmers in the community,” Meder said. “I would like to thank all of the generous farmers.”

Meder provided a list of the farmers who contributed rock to the river restoration project:

CHESANING: Jerry Birchmeier, Charles Collins, Mike & Betty Devereaux, Tom Eickholt, Dave & Mary Eickholt, Gerald Gengler, Vivian Hornak, Ken Hudecek, Dale Kettler, Tim & Jane Krupp, Ralph Krupp, Philip Neumann, Lloyd Potter, Ken Schnell, Elwyn Schnick, Bill Turnwald, Tim & Cindy Weisenberger, Denny Weisenberger and Roy Wendling.

HENDERSON: Delores Nixon.

NEW LOTHROP: Brian Jacobs, David E. Klein, Don Weisenberger and Ron Weisenberger.

OAKLEY: Hortense Fuoss, Karen Nixon, Francis Sloan, EMJ Schneider and Mike Wirostok.

OWOSSO: Ralph Bitterman, Jim Richardson, Bill Richardson, Bob Richardson, Ernie Richardson and Gilbert Wildermuth.

SANFORD: Don Eickholt.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va.: Bette Biddle.

As with any enormous fundraising project, it is an enormous challenge to thank each and every individual without missing a single person or organization. As Meder attempted to thank those who contributed he added Chesaning Chamber of Commerce and its President Steve Keck for allowing the River Restoration project the opportunity to use the land where the rocks were collected. He also thanked his wife, and all the spouses of those who attended the many meetings it took to make the project possible.

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