Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Bridgeport Township DDA Board Meeting March 11th, 2015

Today's meeting was a presentation by Mike Szukhent, Executive Director, Birch Run/Bridgeport Chamber of Commerce and Convention & Visitor's Bureau.  Also present was Andy Suski, Chair of the Chamber of Commerce and Jerry Preston, Vice President of Marketing for the CVB.
There are two breaks in the video, once when I had to change the battery and once when they took a brief break for the purpose of getting more information from the office downstairs.
It was a long but very informative and convincing presentation.  The Birch Run/Bridgeport Convention & Visitors Bureau is working towards getting 75% of the hotels accommodations tax that is paid by the hotels in Birch Run and Bridgeport that currently goes to the county.  That 75% would go to the Birch Run/ Bridgeport CVB to be spent on advertising for the Birch Run & Bridgeport communities.  Part of the requirement made by the county and the Great Lakes Bay CVB is that the Birch Run/ Bridgeport CVB have generated at least $200,000 in local funds.  The Birch Run Village DDA has contributed $75,000 to the local fund and the Birch Run Township DDA also contributed $75,000 to the fund.  Today the Bridgeport DDA voted to contribute $50,000 to the local fund.
It is a big investment for the DDA but the payback will be even bigger.  I believe that with the merging of Birch Run and Bridgeport, with the outstanding members they have working on this, that they can make it happen.
This is a investment in the future.  With the things that Bridgeport has to offer now and is working on for the future, this was a wise decision.  We have things now like the Historical Village, the Bridge Fest festival that continues to grow, the Historical State St. Bridge on the Cass River and the pedestrian trail from the bridge through Lyle Park, Davis Park, the Liberty Park complex.  The plans for the future here include the canoe launches, the Cass River Trailhead park area at the bridge, extending the pedestrian trail to loop all the way around back to the bridge, and a little further down the road the Great Lakes Discovery Center, possibly expanding the trail to connect with the trail in Birch Run.  When you take these things and the possibilities of growth that the CVB could bring, the future for Bridgeport looks promising.
I would like Bridgeport to stay my nice quiet little town forever.  I will miss being able to spend hours at the river and park with my dog and never see another person; but Bridgeport will die with out new growth and I would love for more people to enjoy the Cass River area as much as I do and have for my entire life. 

"Best of Awards" presented by the Birch Run / Bridgeport Chamber of Commerce January 14th, 2015

I was busy at the cup cake table so I sadly missed the introduction of our local area dignitaries by Mr. Mike Szukhent.
Video starts with the introduction of the newly crowned Miss Bridge Fest Chelsea Nedrow.
Inspirational Guest Speaker Eric Thomas segment starts at 7:02
Andy Suski, Chamber Chair, speaks at 32:30
The awards ceremony starts at 37:25

I had shared this video on my blog back in February but I did not have the time to talk about the event then so I am re-sharing it now (only two months later, Sorry!).  I think this fits in nicely with today's DDA Board Meeting.

This event was the "Best of Awards"  presented by the Birch Run/Bridgeport Area Chamber of Commerce and Convention & Visitors Bureau, and held at the Candlelite Banquet Center in Bridgeport.  The event was wonderful!  Good Food, Good Company!  My two favorite parts of the evening were - the Guest Speaker, Eric Thomas and the sinful cupcakes from SugarHigh Bakery!
Eric Thomas is truly a inspiring man and entrepreneur.  He has a website and several facebook pages I would like to share with everyone:
Website -
EZ Awareness Facebook -
Inspire Facebook -
I could never tell his story like he does.  You can see him in the video and check out all that he does on his sites.  I love his Inspire initiative!

Here is the Chamber's website and the Birch Run/ Bridgeport Happenings Facebook page:
Website -
Facebook -

The awards presented that night were:
Chamber of Commerce Service Award - Outgoing President Kurt Kendziorski
Birch Run Student of the Year - Joe Okopien
Birch Run Educator of the Year - Wendy Holt
Bridgeport Student of the Year - Emilie Zissler
Bridgeport Educator of the Year - Chantel Eisenhauer
Birch Run Firefighter of the Year - Tom Mitchell
Bridgeport Firefighter of the Year - Jerry Childs
Taymouth Twp Firefighter of the Year - Cody Fritzler
Village Police Officer of the Year - Manuel Trevino
Village Employee of the Year - Mike Setzer
Village of Birch Run Partnership Award - McDonalds
Birch Run Twp Employee of the Year - Brad Thomas
Bridgeport Twp Employee of the Year - Steve Dobis
Birch Run United Methodist Church Volunteer of the Year - Chad Morse
Birch Run Moose Lodge #2426 Volunteers of the Year - Karl & Linda Eastman
Birch Run Knights of Columbus Volunteer of the Year - Kenneth E. Bezemek
Birch Run Rotarian of the Year - Louie Schultz
Fleschner Memorial Library Volunteer of the Year - Sandy Bearup
Birch Run Business of the Year - General RV
Birch Run Citizen of the Year - Mike Braun
Bridgeport Business of the Year - Subway
Bridgeport Citizen of the Year - Heather Wilson
A Belated Congratulations to all the award recipients!! 

I am looking forward to next years event and hope to see more people and businesses from Bridgeport involved with this.  It is a fantastic community event and with the Birch Run and Bridgeport Chambers merging, it could be an even larger event next year.  There are many people here in Bridgeport who do so much for the community and get little or no recognition.   We have plenty of businesses here in Bridgeport that could help sponsor this event.
List of this years event sponsors -

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Bridgeport School Board Meeting March 9th, 2015

First I want to apologize that I had to switch batteries right after the public comment period was over and even though I thought I hit record after I got the new battery in, the rest of the meeting did not record.  Second I want to apologize for the audio quality.  I have no control over the audio that is provided by the school board, it was so bad tonight that I had trouble hearing many of the speakers and the board members and it will unfortunately be very hard for you to hear them.
The Birch Run Bridgeport Herald News was at the meeting, also Channel 12 News and the Saginaw News.
Some of the speakers during the public comment period were Veronica Tucker with an update on the parent teacher group they have started. 
John Rhines spoke again about some very important issues with the schools and school board and once again there are no answers provided by the school board.  Mr. Rhines brings up issues that should concern all residents of this community and should be addressed publicly by the school board.  At the February 23rd meeting the school lawyer got up and said they would be addressing these issues by sending home a memo with the students and they would also be posting the update on the website.  It has been 2 weeks and there is still no update posted.
Larry Brown also spoke with his updates and some still unresolved issues, and the need for strong leadership in this district.  Mr. Rhines and Mr. Brown both brought up the issue of whether or not Mr. Hill is still the superintendent, why is he still being paid his regular salary?  Considering that the Bridgeport School System has the financial troubles they do it would seem like that is an issue that would be best settled and soon.
There were many speakers that spoke about the firing of the football coach Anwar Jackson and assistant coach Jason Farmer.  Tonight was the first I heard about the matter.  There is a story up on Mlive tonight about it and also on Channel 12 News.  After tonight’s meeting and the news reports, I am left with many questions.  From what I heard tonight it doesn’t sound like there was a proper investigation done by Bridgeport.  Bridgeport School District should be standing behind Coach Jackson and Coach Farmer and getting to the bottom of this.   My understanding of the issue of them being fired has to do with an allegation that Coach Jackson recruited two students from Arthur Hill and there was a complaint filed by the athletic director of Arthur Hill with the Michigan High School Athletic Association and they have suspended him and the assistant coach from being eligible to coach any sports at Bridgeport.  I heard that Coach Jackson once coached for Arthur Hill and left and came to Bridgeport. The first thought from my overly suspicious mind was “was there some bad blood”?  I hope this doesn’t turn out to be a case of payback (let me repeat again that I have a overly suspicious mind and that is the only basis for those thoughts).   . 
One of the students involved got up and spoke tonight and said that he was never recruited and that he was never asked if he had been recruited by anyone.    One woman spoke and read a letter from the mother of one of the students involved.  She states that her son was transferred to Bridgeport only because of the E20 program that is offered here, not for the sports program.  Coach Farmer spoke and said that no one has ever contacted him and asked him what happened.  What kind of investigation has been done?  The life and careers of Coach Jackson and the Coach Farmer are being affected by this decision, also the students are affected and the school district. I was glad to hear board members Patrick Nelson, Dempsey Allen and Larry Long say that they hoped that “due process” was taken in regard to this matter.   Please Make Sure That It Is Done!! 
Mr. Arnett that runs the Camp Pride football camp spoke on behalf of Coach Jackson and explained very well exactly what happened at the camp in January.
I will add that I found it very disturbing that these two students were forced to hand over their phones and for the one they even demanded his password for the phone.   
Mrs. Cruz-Weaver spoke about the robotics program that they have started at the school.  She stated they need some financial support for the program and Mr. Rhines says his company will sponsor the shirts for the robotic team.  They will also need support for when the team goes to Lansing because it will involve the cost of staying overnight.  The first competition will be held at Midland Dow High School on March 20th and & 21st, starting at 8:00 am both days.  The competition in Lansing will be on April 2nd and 3rd.
There were other speakers that spoke about issues of the school, teachers and students and it is worth the time to listen to what they have to say.
Some of the items on the agenda that I did not record were the student and staff recognition awards.  I am truly sorry for missing that and for not being able to remember their names to mention them now.  They did recognize the coaches and the players of the 7th and 8th grade basketball teams and congratulated them on having a undefeated season. 

Blues Kinda Night

Some days only the blues can soothe the soul



Joe Bonamassa - Chains & Things - Tour de Force Live in London 2013 


Eric Clapton - Before You Accuse Me - MTV Unplugged 1992 


Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble - Cold Shot


Stevie Ray Vaughan - Crossfire 









Monday, March 9, 2015

Bridgeport School Board 2015 Meeting Schedule

click on photo to enlarge it

This is the meeting schedule posted on the Bridgeport Community Schools website.  As far as I can tell the only way to find out about special meetings, cancellations, changes to the schedule is by checking at the high school for any notices posted.  I would think in this modern technology age they would have a better way to keep the public informed and engaged.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Bridgeport Township Board Meeting March 3rd, 2015

On tonight's agenda:
Public Comment begins at 2:52 in the video
Unfinished Business -
- Fire Department Station Upgrades begins at 4:15
New Business -
- Little Free Library - Carmen Sawshuk begins at 7:02
- Hoffman Canoe Launch - seeking public input begins at 15:50
- R15-2 DNR Trust Fund Grant canoe/kayak launch Hoffman property begins at 17:48
- Bridgeport Cass River trail head - seeking public input begins at 18:38
- R15-3 DNR Trust Fund Grant Bridgeport Cass River trail head property begins at 19:40
- Oath of office for two New Police Officers begins at 20:48
- Building Department Truck purchase begins at 29:10
- Police Department Tahoe purchase begins at 30:31
- Fire Department Hazardous materials response technology begins at 34:20
- Police Department & Governmental Center Grant for AED Machines begins at 37:24
- Commitment of Fund Balance Funds begins at 39:13
Board Comments begins at 41:29

Welcome to Bridgeport's two new police officers!  And again Thank You to the voters that approved the assessment so they could be hired.
I think the Little Free Library will be a nice thing to have here in downtown Bridgeport.  They are seeking public input for the Hoffman property canoe launch, that property is located on the Dixie where it crosses the Cass River. They are also seeking public input for the property where the former Bridgeport Oil and Gas station was located next to the historic State St. Bridge.  It would be nice if community members would get involved in these projects now and help provide input.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Bridgeport Township Parks & Recreation Advisory Board Meeting February 25th, 2015

On the agenda:
Committee Reports- a. Park & Landscape Committee, b. Recreation Programming Committee, c. Finance Committee, begins at 2:43
Old Business -
a. Canoe/Kayak Launches begins at 11:25
b. Basketball Season Summary begins at 26:57
New Business -
a. Parks & Recreation Advisory Board Meeting Dates begins at  30:15
b. Easter Egg Hunt begins at 32:00
c. River Clean Up July 25, 2015 begins at 37:00
d. Baseball/Softball Season begins at 42:50
e. Great Lakes Bay Miracle League begins at 43:18
f. Young Champions Cheer Leading Program begins at  50:57
g. Free Fishing Weekend begins at 54:08
Parks & Recreation Director Report -
a. 2014 Year in Review begins at 58:08
b. State MRPA Conference Report, c.CYSA Certification, d. Grant Writing Class Update begins at 1:00:38
e. Seasonal Employees begins at 1:11:45
Board Member Comment begins at 1:13:42

Parks & Recreation Director Bill Wheeler will be holding more regular scheduled meetings.  This meeting is very informal and more fun than some of the township meetings.  The members seem like a great bunch of people.  Hopefully community members will start attending the meetings and get involved in the committees and events.  I will get the exact dates for the meetings and keep the public updated.
The Parks Department offers some great activities for residents like the sports programs, easter egg hunts, the Cass River clean up, etc....
After the meeting I looked at the proposed site plan for the canoe/kayak launch in Davis Park and it is good.
There are some exciting things happening in Bridgeport.  Bill Wheeler and the board members have put a lot of work into these programs.  Good Job!!
The Parks & Recreation Department are on Facebook, go give them a like and keep updated on all the latest events --  Bridgeport Parks & Recreation Department

Bridgeport Township DDA Board Meeting February 25th, 2015

On the agenda:
New Business -
- Mike Szuhkent from the Birch Run Bridgeport Chamber of Commerce begins at 3:00 in the video.
- Business Development.Marketing begins at 13:50
Old Business -
- Canoe Launch and walking trail discussion begins at 17:45
- Great Lakes Discovery Center begins at 28:12
- Beautification begins at 30:57
- Review of 4422 Williamson begins at 33:50
- I-75 Billboard begins at 1:13:38
- Carpenter Plaza begins at 1:15:45
DDA Member Comments begins at 1:19:16
Next Meeting will be on March 11, 2015 at Noon in the Governmental Center

First up was Mike Szuhkent from Birch Run.  I am a person that is resistant to change but they have won me over as far as the merging of the Bridgeport and Birch Run Chamber of Commerce groups.  I am very impressed with Mr. Szuhkent, with his positive attitude and energy, with his vision for the future.  I believe that the Birch Run members and Steve Dobis can make this merger work and bring some good things in the future for our two communities.  Mr. Szuhkent will be making a longer presentation at the March 11th DDA Board meeting.  I plan on being there and look forward to hearing what he says.
The future of the Great Lakes Discovery Center is finally closer to being a reality and that will be exciting.
The canoe/kayak launches are going to be a reality soon.  I don't think I am the only resident that  will be excited about that!!
The former Bridgeport Oil & Gas / B & S Heating property is now called Bridgeport Cass River Trailhead.  I think that is a great name for it and hope they keep that name.  Here is the proposed plan for the restoration and improvements for the site from December 2014.  Click on the photo to see a larger version and see the detail.

Several of the board members are concerned about the cost of this plan.  That is a very legitimate concern but I just don't quite agree with their suggestions for lowering the cost.  The largest line item on the cost projection is for the restoration of the old gas station.  The plan is to restore the facade of the building to make it look like the old Hamann station and then working on the inside to install public bathrooms.
Here are two photos of the station, first one is from 1956 and the second is from 1970.

The gas station may not be as old as the bridge but it is as much a part of Bridgeport as the bridge is.  Restoring the facade to look like the old station would be a nice touch to the proposed park area.  The station and station owners were a much loved part of Bridgeport and restoring it would be supported by many members of the community.  By not restoring it, it may cost the loss of some support from the community for the park area.
One board member mentioned the old gas station on Washington  Ave. in Saginaw near St. Mary's Hospital.  It is a very cool old building.  It was sitting boarded up and I believe it had graffiti painted on it.  To try and hide some of the blight in Saginaw, they have had some talented artists paint murals on the blighted buildings.  It looks nice, but it is still a boarded up blighted building.  Here are two photos of that gas station on Washington posted on the Pure Saginaw and Lost in Michigan Facebook pages.

In my opinion -- I would rather see the facade of the building painted to look like the old Bridgeport Oil & Gas Station than having a mural painted on it to look like a painted blighted building.  How much money would really be saved by doing the suggestion of the board members or in their other suggestion of just tearing the old station down?  Tanya Moore is the professional here and I trust her work and vision on this project.