"2014 Is a Year of Local Recovery"
By Capt. Fred Davis
Published: Saturday, December 27, 2014

We made it to the end of 2014.

I remember at the close of 2013 I had many questions — a paramount one being: Where did all the water go? Lakefront property owners couldn’t believe how low the water levels had dropped.

Many theories circulated in response to the question. Odd ones that made little sense like the ridiculous idea that while dredging the St. Clair River they dug too deep and punctured the waterway thus letting the water run-off. OK, if we were going to believe that theory, we have to ask: Where did it run off to?

Another answer to the question put forth was that all the communities along the lakeshore were developing fresh water treatment facilities. The developments required taking fresh water from the lakes therefore the levels dropped.

Farmers were blamed because they had enlarged their dairy herds and liquefied waste thus more water was used. In our area, blame is always placed on agriculture because that is what dominates our environment. One popular story about the whereabouts of our Great Lakes water has been around a long time — people out west are piping it out or hauling it in trucks.

Over the past several years, there have been so many ideas passed around about where the water went that it was hard to pick one. Blame was even directed overseas, claiming ships were filling their ballast and tanks and hauling it away to their home ports.

The DNR took the high ground and blamed Mother Nature whom they are closely aligned with. They announced, because the lakes did not ice over, winds caused extensive evaporation which reduced the lake levels. So after last winter’s big ice show, let’s call the DNR right and hope for another heavy freeze this winter.

In 2014 all Huron County ports enjoyed the higher water levels, and combined with successful dredging efforts, boater attendance soared. Port Austin’s new harbor facility delighted both anglers who used the launch area to get out to fish and the cruising public who arrived from distant ports. High praise was heard from them as they enjoyed the new floating docks with all its enhancements. Many boaters, new to the port, were delighted to be able to walk the short distance to the restaurants and shops.

As I see it, Mother Nature provided delightful weather for summer months in 2014 — not too hot, not too cold. Just right for summer tourist to enjoy, along with the rest of us.

A superior crop of sugar beets resulted in big yields due to the good weather and equipment required less maintenance.

The continued development of wind turbines and solar panels throughout the tip of the Thumb recognized our area’s contribution to clean, electric power. The supply of renewable energy coming from the Thumb area is the largest in Michigan. The expansion of the wind farms also helped increase the Thumb area’s work force. In December, 2013 unemployment in Huron County was at 7.9 percent — latest reports available for October 2014 note it has fallen to 5.1 percent.

The new jobs, additional income provided from turbine operations and reduction in the cost of gas provided county residents with a few extra dollars in their pockets to spread around. I bet spending was up for Christmas at area shops.

By most indications, 2014 was a year of recovery for much of Michigan, especially in the Thumb, which should lead to a profitable 2015 for all of us.




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