Unapproved October 2016 Village of Bear Lake Council Minutes

The following DRAFT Minutes were obtained via FOIA – no Finance Reports were attached. The Clerk confirms that none were prepared for this meeting. One Trustee declined to approve paying the presented bills in the absence of financial statements.

The Village no longer audio tapes it’s meetings. The following is one of two independent audio recordings of this meeting.

Village of Bear Lake Council

REGULAR MEETING September 21, 2016 [error in DRAFT as received, these are the October Minutes] Bear Lake Village Hall

Unapproved Minutes

The regular meeting of the Bear Lake Village Council was called to order by President Jeff Bair at 7:00 p.m. at the Village Hall.  Pledge of Allegiance was said by all.

Present:  President: Jeff Bair Council: Peggy Bass, Ron Ronning, Jackie Johnson, Janene Gee, Carver Edwards    Treasurer: Sally King  Staff: Jared Bair, Larry Gibson

Absent:  Clerk: Cindi McPherson 

Guests:    Pauline Jaquish, Jeanne Walsh-Vision, Lee Vision, Donna Ronning, Bernard Ware Jr., Sally Gibson, Myrna & Richard Walter, Paula Preuss, Bill Beaver, Janette May, Barb Farfsing

Motion to Adopt the Agenda as presented by Bass and seconded by Johnson, motion carried.

Aye: Edwards, Johnson, Gee, Bass, Ronning and Bair

Nay: none

Public Comment:  from Jeanne Walsh-Vision regarding the Updated Planning Commission Ordinance.  Walsh-Vision stated she has requested a copy of the original and the Village has been unable to locate it.  President Bair stated that was the purpose of reviewing and voting on the Ordinance this evening.  Walsh-Vision also stated the website as an incorrect Ordinance posted on it.  Further, members cannot be appointed until there has been an Ordinance approved.  The current membership of the Planning Commission (PC) is in violation of the Michigan Planning and Enabling Act of 2008.  Walsh-Vision read from the Act and closed by stating every decision that’s been made is arbitrary and capricious and is in violation, including the Master Plan.  [The Act can be found on the web at: www.legislature.mi.gov/documents/mcl/pdf/mcl-Act-33-of-2008.pdf]

Correspondence:  none


  1. September 21, 2016 minutes:  add N in Unapproved at the top.  Motion to approve minutes as corrected by Bass, seconded by Ronning.

Aye: Edwards, Johnson, Bass, Ronning and Bair

Nay: Gee

  1. Maintenance Report:  Reports for Park, Water, Equipment and General were read by Jared Bair.  Written report on file in the 2016 Minutes binder.
  2. Treasurer’s Report:   read by King.  Report on file in the 2016 Minutes binder.

Equipment Fund  checking/savings total 3,275.18

Honor Bank CD                 25,994.18

Minor Street checking/savings total           22,252.96

Major Street checking/savings total             41,858.68

Park checking/savings total           25,422.20

Water  checking only           14,578.91

Money Market Account           10,037.38

General checking/savings total           40,660.07

Motion to accept Treasurer’s Report by Edwards seconded by Ronning – motion carried.

Aye: Edwards, Johnson, Gee, Bass, Ronning and Bair

Nay: none

  1. Bills to be paid were read by King.  Motion to pay the bills as presented by Johnson, seconded by Bass.  Motion carried.  List of bills is found at the end of the minutes.

Aye: Edwards, Johnson, Bass, Ronning and Bair

Nay: Gee

  1. Reimbursements to the General Fund were read by King.  Total to General Fund:  $2,015.00

Reimbursement list is found at the end of the minutes.

  1. Committee Chair Reports:

Park:  Closed.  5 trailers there but will be gone this weekend.

Trees:  One more which Mark Thompson will be checking near the corner of Virginia and Stuart.  Gee suggested checking on Arbor grants or something similar as we’re losing so many of our trees.

Streets:  nothing

Water:  Test wells have been drilled on new property; one came in at 160’ and one at 320’, good pressure on both.

Equipment:  waiting on potential grants.

Sidewalk:  no report

Museum:  has been disbanded

Blight/CABA:  Blight Enforcement Officer, Larry Gibson offered sincere Thanks to all who showed support for his family during their recent loss.  Follow-up on Stuart Street – met with owner, her request for financial assistance has been denied-she will appeal but feels she will lose the property in January due to non-payment of taxes.  Virginia Street – met with owner’s daughter who stated she is in negotiation with a party to purchase the property.  Gee questioned status on Variety Store – Blight Enforcement Officer will contact attorney Jeff Jocks and have full report at next meeting.

Planning Commission:  later in meeting.

Ad Hoc – Policy, Resolution & Ordinance Committee – no report


  • Hall signage:  Lee Vision has talked with school; they’re not able to take on at this time.  Will check again later in the year.  Jeff has also checked into plasma cutting on metal.  Will wait for more information.
  • Speed bumps:  Janene will have more information at a later date.
  • Manistee County Trail Committee:  Volunteer, Dendra Best, has not been able to attend meetings nor do a video conference.


  • Adoption of Title VI PlanTabled, not everyone received a copy so it hasn’t been reviewed.
  • Planning Commission Ordinance and By-Laws – Discussion ensued.  Barb stated all items have passed through the Village Council for approval.  When asked what things have been discussed Barb listed:  crowd funding, how to attract new businesses, sewer issues, water project, lakes to land for Manistee and Benzie counties.  Village Clerk to call Manistee paper on Monday regarding copy of original publication.  Tabled.


Jeanne Walsh-Vision questioned our milfoil payment; it is for the Village portion of the lake per President Bair.

Richard Walter – requested blight complaint form for the Reed building business operated by the Leckrone’s.  Blight Enforcement Officer provided form to Walter and others.  Also discussed speeding on Russell Street and possible solutions.  President Bair to check with County and State as necessary for speed limit on Russell Street.

Myrna Walter asked about the possibility of limiting the use of engine retarding brakes (Jake brakes) within the Village and possibly even approaching the Village.  Specifically on US 31 and on Russell and Potter Streets.

Bernard Ware Jr. asked everyone to get out and vote on November 8th.

Pauline Jaquish reminded everyone of Sparkle in the Park getting started.  Set up in November, with the opening the Friday of Thanksgiving.

General Note:  First day to not park on streets at night is November 15th.

COMING EVENTS:  Community dinner at BLUMC Thursday evening 5:00 – 6:30.

Meeting adjourned at 8:07p.m.

Respectfully Submitted,

Sally King, Village Treasurer (Substituting for Clerk)

Bills To Be Paid and Reimbursements to the General Fund

Date: October 19, 2016

Staples $104.92 General Fund

Northern Fire & Safety $104.00 General Fund

Bittner Jennings Attorney’s – FOIA $700.93 General Fund

Mark Thompson – Tree/stump removal Wise/Maple St. $2,300.00 General Fund

Mark Thompson – village clean up $233.75 General Fund

Ron Brown – Asphalt $171.60 Minor Fund

Ron Brown – Grade, Cody Street $1,138.00 Major Fund

Pioneer Printing Co. – flyers for water info session $24.00 Water Fund

Bittner Jennings Attorneys $2,902.35 Water Fund

Haviland $460.50 Water Fund

Bear Lake Ace Hardware $5.98 Water Fund

Bear Lake Ace Hardware $108.82 Park Fund

Auto Wares/Auto Value $214.82 Park Fund

Bear Lake Improvement Board $441.00 Park Fund

Ron Brown & Sons – Gravel $362.20 Park Fund

$177.90 Park Fund



               Major Street 9/01/2016-9/30/2016 $440.00

               Minor Street 9/01/2016-9/30/2016 $440.00

               Park Fund 9/01/2016-9/30/2016 $915.00

               Water Fund 9/01/2016-9/30/2016 $220.00

               Total to transfer to General Fund = $2,,015.00

USDA Village of Bear Lake Water Project Documents

Go to this link to view documents obtained through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), Electronic Freedom of Information Act Amendments of 1996 (E-FOIA) and USDA regulations (7 Coded of Federal Regulations, Part 1, Subpart A) and Michigan Freedom of Information Act Public Act 563 of 2014:

Request for electronic copies of documents relating to Village of Bear Lake proposed water system improvement project.

“RE: FOAI Request 2016-RD-05481-F

Dear Mr. Burke:

Thank you for contacting USDA Rural Development with a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, which was received on August 30, 2016, which you have requested electronic copies of the following documents:

  1. Dates, times and those in attendance at any and all meetings between USDA, Rural Development, Village of Bear Lake Council Members (or their representatives and agents) for the period 2013- current date.
  2. Any and all correspondence, documents, contracts, notifications between USDA, Rural Development, Village of Bear Lake Council Members (or their representatives and agents) within the same time frame.
  3. Notification of final satisfaction of award conditions and actual agreement of award of funds for Village of Bear Lake proposed water system improvement project.

USDA, Rural Development, has conducted a search of our records for documents responsive to your request.  A file of was discovered which was responsive to your request.  USDA, Rural Development, has carefully reviewed the documentation.  The documents were reviewed to determine if any of the exemptions allowable under FOIA were applicable to the information contained in the documents.  It has been determined that the records responsive to your request is releasable and contained 239 pages. 

I trust the attached information fully satisfies your request.  (Due to the large volume I will be sending the information in 7 separate emails.)  If you need further assistance or would like to discuss any aspect of your request, please do not hesitate to contact me at (517) 324-5193 or our FOIA public Liaison, Joseph Shunk, at (202) 692-0032.

Sonya K. Trudgeon
Management Control Officer | FOIA Coordinator | Civil Rights Liaison Rural Development
United States Department of Agriculture
3001 Coolidge Road, Suite 200 | East Lansing, MI 48823
Phone: (517) 324-5193 | TDD/TTY: (517) 324-5200 | Fax: (855) 790-7473
www.rd.usda.gov | www.rd.usda.gov/mi | www.rd.usda.gov/in | “Committed to the future of rural communities”

Note the reference to an “Application Conference” held here in October 2014.

Here is a record of that meeting – 10114meeting
there is no mention in the Council Minutes.

A search for the term “USDA” and ‘water system’ in the published 2014 Village of Bear Lake Minutes returns the following mentions:
1. October 15, 2014:
Motion by Jackie seconded by Ron to send a letter to Gary McBride correspondence regarding the installation of the four fire hydrants that have already been purchased and are in storage. They should be installed as soon as possible CC: Howard Higley and Sean Adams Fire Chief. Motion carried.

Fleis and Vandenbrink to attend the December 2014 meeting to present the recommendations for upgrading the water system.

-Friday October 24, 2014 at 10:00a.m. at the Bear Lake Methodist Church – A study session to with Michigan Rural Water to help determine our course of action. Meeting to be posted to the website.

-In the future there will be public meetings held to inform the community. [none were held or published]

-USDA Funds become available this month (October).

2.  November 19, 2014
-Repairs are needed to the water system. Mike Engels would like to meet with each board member to go over the findings from the water reliability study that he performed. This can be done in small groups of 2 at the Methodist Church. The study will help determine the exact method of calculating water bills, how to set rates, and building a reserve.

-Fleis & Vandenbrink will be attending the December meeting.

3. December 17, 2014
Motion by Ronning seconded by Edwards to pay Fleis and Vandenbrink Engineering $9,500.00 to complete the Preliminary Engineering Report, Environmental Report, and complete and submit the USDA-RD RUS funding application. Professional Service Agreement signed. Motion carried.

Discussion was held regarding the water project. [see Report here]

A search for MDEQ in 2014 produced no returns.

In 2015:-

A search for USDA returned –

May 20, 2015
Motion by Johnson seconded by Bass to amend the March 18th, 2015 minutes to include discussion held by John Devol regarding the USDA Water System Project that was discussed and potential impacts of the project with no public comment. Motion carried. Discussion held. [the March 18, 2015 Minutes state: Motion by Ronning seconded by Bass to Sign and send in the application for Federal assistance for the water project. Motion carried. Discussion held. – it should be noted that at this time no Agendas or Minutes were being published. Agendas and Draft Minutes are still not published. Corrected and approved Minutes are only available after the following month meeting

April 15, 2015
Water: The water project is moving along and still going through the USDA process.

In 2016:

March 16, 2016
Meeting with USDA rep & Fleis & VanderBrink to start conditions process on Water Project. To be held on Friday, March 18, 2016.

The March 18, Special Meeting Minutes were received April 29.

Village of Bear Lake Council

Bear Lake Village Hall

Present: President: Jeff Bair Treasurer: Sally King, Clerk: Cindi McPherson.
Guests: Blake Smith, USDA and Ken Micek, Fleis & VanderBrink.

No meeting was called to order, no pledge of allegiance was said nor roll call done.

This was a meeting with representatives from USDA and Fleis & VanderBrink.  Smith delivered a packet from USDA regarding the Water System Improvements.  The purpose was to provide an updated list of documents needed for the water project.  The documents are required before a loan closing can be scheduled.

Discussion was held.
No action was taken at the meeting.
Cindi McPherson, clerk

Two Condition Letters were received and revieiwed
LOC Bear Lake Water
Bear Lake – Water

April 20, 2016:
Village office is working on the first 19 items required by USDA for Water Project.  Waiting on lawyer approval for wording.  Fleis & VanderBrink will take over, bidding will begin.

Village office is working on the first 19 items required by USDA for Water Project.

Jeff Bair updated on Bear Lake school property to purchase for the water well project.  An official letter was sent to Bear Lake Schools to purchase the land.  Waiting to hear back from them.

Water Review Board Bylaws were presented by Jeff Bair for review. Denise Hubble from Hubbles’s Restaurant will be the village resident on the board.

Motion to accept bylaws for Water review Board pending approval by the Michigan Municipal League.  Ronning moved, Gee seconded, motion carried.

Aye: Ronning, Johnson, Edwards, Bass, Gee, Bair
Nay: None
Bylaws are placed on file in 2016 Minutes binder.

Discussion was held on applying “Past due water Charges’ to property owner tax bills.
Motion was made to apply past due water charges to property tax bills. Bass moved, Johnson seconded, motion carried.
Aye: Ronning, Johnson, Edwards, Bass, Gee, Bair
Nay: None

June 15, 2016:
Bond Resolution to Purchase, Acquire, and Construct Improvements to the Water Supply System and to Publish Notice to Issue Revenue Bonds.  Discussion was held.  John DeVol , Fleis & VanderBrink Engineering, Inc., was present to answer questions
Motion was made to accept the bond resolution, moved by Ronning, seconded by Hyrns.
Aye: Ronning, Hyrns, Edwards, Bass, Gee, Bair
Nay: None
Absent: Johnson

Agreement Between Owners (Village of Bear Lake) and Engineers (Fleis & VandenBrink Engineering, Inc.) for Professional Services was signed by Jeff Bair.  Village attorney, Randy Hyrns, and USDA representative did review & support this agreement.

Motion was made to sign the agreement between the village and engineers for professional services, moved by Hyrns, seconded by Gee.  Bills to be presented to the board for above items.
Aye: Ronning, Hyrns, Edwards, Bass, Gee, Bair
Nay: None
Absent: Johnson

Motion was made to accept the appointment of a Water Review Committee by Ronning, seconded by Bass.  Committee members appointed: Treasurer, Sally King, Council member, Jackie Johnson and village business owner, Denise Hubbell.  They The board will review and make recommendations to the Village Council as to the remedies, if any, and the Village Council shall make a binding decision. necessary, any water bill being disputed.
Aye: Ronning, Hyrns, Edwards, Bass, Gee, Bair
Nay: None
Absent: Johnson

Resolution to Participate , Joint Resolution to USDA to Determine Feasibility of Municipal Sewer Capacity.  Brian Sousa from Wade Trim – spoke on resolution, there is no financial obligation with this resolution.  Many area village/townships are looking at this also.
Motion was made to accept the resolution, moved by Ronning, seconded by Bass.  Bills to be presented to the board for above items.
Aye: Ronning, Hyrns, Edwards, Bass, Gee, Bair
Nay: None
Absent: Johnson
Discussion was held to add: CONDITION: No monies to be spent without prior approval of the Village of Bear Lake Council.


Audio recording of Village Water System Meeting 10/13/16

The Following documents were handed out at the meeting.

A new revised construction plan: (Click to view full size)


mdeq201416102016_2 – 2014 Notice

mdeq2014_financialactionplan16102016 – 2014 Suggested Financial and Asset Management

MDEQ January 20, 2015 re USDA Application – Notice regarding USDA application.

The following comments came from attendees via the web:
1.Why if it’s $1.4 why was the Notice for $1.8m
2: were any less expensive phased in approaches explored?
3. In the FB report it states “The MDEQ recommends the firm capacity of any water supply system meet or exceed the maximum day demands placed on the system. The historic maximum day demand (highest maximum day demand in the last 5 years) is 134 gpm, which is 69% of the Village’s firm capacity. The existing firm capacity is adequate to serve existing and future projected maximum day demands.”
4. why did $5000 have to come from a savings account to make the current bond payment?
5. why was the audit 6mo late?
6. why did the bored dismiss village residents petition?
7. if that’s correct, about it controlling flows, then why does your report forecast an identical before and after water usage – 106,000
8. 2.5mil grant dollars – how much of that has actually been secured?
9. can he speak up please
10. how can a meter possibly stop leaks
11. where in USDA guidance does it state that metering is mandatory?
12.  if hydrants are an issue why ahsn’t the Villlage installed the4 it already has
13. you haven’t ‘figured out’ quite a lot it seems
14.  is this meeting pointless? it sounds like it’s a done deal – and yet “we haven’t figured it out”!
15. $4 million project cost divided by 300 residents over 40 years means each man woman and child will pay over $333 per year for the next 40 years and that does not include usage and repairs. The median income of the Village is about $35,000 per year and over a third of our residents are at poverty level. How can they think taxpayers can afford this?
16. And one off every 6 taxpayers live on a fixed income!
17. why not replace the house lines instead of meters
18. These costs don’t even include sewer service – which is the next boondoggle
19. Actually that’s not true – there are funds available for distressed communities and the application was just released
20. it sounds like you don’t have many answers to the questions – I don’t know – we’ll see
21. $135 a quarter was what you sent out in one of ‘3’ notices – But the charge will have to add on the debt repayment fee?
22. your in the red already due to mismanagement
23. old faceful is gonna be maxed out!
24. great leaders!
25. Don’t use Mesick as an example – it is MUCH bigger and actually has a business base
26. So are we paying for the past neglect of the Village Council?
27. how many Council members that voted for this expect to be alive
28. so personal having the “leaders” so far away, couldn’t they have sat a little closer?
29. When was that pump calibrated? How do you know that’s an accurate figure
30. what’s stopping me from putting in my own well?
31. Those figures don’t add up – look at the Preliminary Engineering Report
32. yes I agree – analysis of the financials show this.
33. true your balance sheet shows an income of $113k to balance this budget and yet currently, with projected income is $65k, with the $135 a month in place and IF you say that includes the old $53k Bond payment – So where is the rest coming from?
34. then the village defaults
35. I will offer my services to provide free wells up to 25ft for all village residents!
36. you cannot have a well now the Village Council voted to prohibit it just prior to doing this project
37. how is money set aside when the village is in the red
38. But the engineering report projects exactly the same wter usage before and after
39. By ‘we’ I tak it not ‘we’ the people?
40. I’m sorry those figures are bogus – what about the school population aren’t they residents – why are you only dividing pumped water by 286 ‘resdients’?
41. have these funds/grants been awarded? or are they still pending?
42. would you be open to doing a smaller scale project only a portion of the village and those who By in and rewarded in their water bill is lower
43. This sounds like salesmaniship not logic
44. I’d like to see the Minutes of when that decision to expand the project was made
45. So basically it’s a done deal
46. have these funds/grants been awarded? or are they still pending?
47. So are we paying now for the past neglect of the Village Council?
48. what do you think about the ability to adopt a fire hydrant and take ownership of that and be able to paint it whatever color you want to paint it and make sure that it’s working and taking care of the removal of snow around that fire hydrant
49. there are rumors that Nathan wilder Evans would like to start in an initiative to adopt a fire hydrant
50. You have GOT to be joking! Transparency?
51. Where are the proofs and docuemnts
52. if you want to share information why did you wrong to not record meetings
53. if you want to share information why does the board not respond to foia request
54. if you want to share information why does the village not have a Facebook or social media account if you want to share information about the minutes
55. The only way to do soemthing about this is not vote fr them
56. Does anyone actually believe anything said toniht?


Recording and comments from Village of Bear Lake Water System Meeting 10/13/2016

USDA have provided 289 pages of documents via FOIA request. After review a link will be posted here.

1. Proof exists that the USDA application began before the November 2014 election. Who made that decision, at what Village Council meeting was it discussed and approved?

2.Who met with USDA to discuss and move forward with this project when there are no notations of this in the public record? [We have received, in response to the FOIA request of USDA, documents related to this]

3. At the December 2014 Village Council Meeting, David Bluhm, Fleis & VandenBrink arrived with a complete contract in hand to proceed. Audience members questioned how this was possible when no one knew the project had got to this point. There was no response.

4. Question – who reviewed and approved this contract beforehand?

5. Why was there no publication of a Request For Proposals?

6. Why were new members of the Village Council caught blind side by this with no briefing?

7. Has the Wellhead Protection Plan been updated? If not why? The Village intends to purchase land from the School as the location of a new well site. Why? How much will it cost to create a new Wellhead Protection Plan for a new well site? 

8. What are your plans for the current site – which have been the subject of speculative discussion by non Village residents at the recent Planning committee meetings? Why are you discussing options to contact a developer?

9. In March 2015 a Special Meeting was posted at which Village representatives met with USDA and Fleis and Vandenbrink and were given a set of actions that had to be completed prior to application. Although the Village stated that no action was taken and hence no minutes were recorded – that list was sent to the Village Attorney Randy Hyrns to commence delivery.

10. Of that List – see prior posting – how many have been completed at what cost?

11. Who authorized the contracts, no bid, with a Bond Counsel AND a Financial Consultant?

12. In that list from USDA it states:

Cost Overruns – Cost overruns exceeding 20% of the development cost at time of loan or grant approval or where the scope of the original purpose has changed will compete for funds with all other applications on hand as of that date.  Cost overruns must be due to high bids or unexpected construction problems that cannot be reduced by negotiations, redesign, use of bid alternatives, rebidding or other means prior to consideration by the Agency for subsequent funding.  Such requests will be contingent on the availability of funds.

13.. Has a Request For Bids been authorized by USDA and issued? If so when, where? How does the Village plan to address under budgeting for this project, or cost over runs?

14. At which Village Council Meeting did you discuss and agree to name Fleis and Vandenbrink AS the Engineering Consultant?

15. Has Fleis and Vandenbrink supplied a certificate of liability insurance? A performance Bond?

16. Why didn’t the Village Council issue an RFP for consulting engineering services prior to signing a $594,000 no bid contract with Fleis and Vandenbrink?

17. You have been repeatedly told “This letter does not constitute loan and/or grant approval, nor does it ensure that funds are or will be available for the project.” Where is the proof of grant approval?

18. When and who made the decision to abandon the original Fleis and Vandenbrink recommendation of $2,555,000.

19. “8. Qualified Status under Section 303(3) of Public Act 34 of 2011 – Prior to bidding, you and/or your bond counsel must verify that “Qualified Status” has been obtained or is ready to file an application with the Local Audit and Finance Division, Michigan Department of Treasury.”

The Village was denied Qualified status due to audit and budget irregularities. This resulted in fines and penalties and a 30 day Notice of Corrective Action.Why was this not noted or discussed at the September Village Council Meeting. How does the Village intend to put it’s financial house in order? How can you possibly assure Village residents that you are even capable of managing a multi million dollar project when you can’t manage your current finances?

20. Who interviewed and appointed Roger Swets of Clark Hill to BE the Bond Council for this project? At what Village Council Meeting was this discussed and payment/contract approved?

21. Mr. Swets prepared the Notice of Intent to issue $1.8m in Revenue Bonds, published one time on July 6, 2016 – why was no address, phone number, web site or email to obtain information included on this display ad?

22. How does the Village plan to address the contingency of committing the General Fund as the back up should insufficient funds be generated in any year to make the annual Bond payment?

23. Why does the Village currently constantly dip into fund balance savings to meet the current Bond payment?

24. Where on the Village web site was the Notice Of Intent published? Or indeed, to date (10/15/16), there is zero mention of any of the details of this project.

25. Where on the Village web site is the Resolution to issue $1.8m in Revenue Bonds published?

26. Why is there no named, numbered Resolution referenced in the June Minutes?

27. Why has the amount for loan/Bond increased?

28. Will Fleis and Vandenbrink, or Mead Hunt be paid $9,000 per year, after the project’s completion – as the licensed operator? – see Budget page previously posted.

29. What is the progress to require the current Village employee to acquire CEUs to become a licensed operator as the previous one was?

30. The Village has never placed either the 2013 Water Reliability Study or the 2015 Preliminary Engineering Report ( – see attached Budget page) on it’s own web site for public scrutiny. Why? Why was it necessary to obtain this information via FOIA?

34. Questions re Budget: [see previous posting]

  • In 2015 you were projecting a whopping $303 in operating income surplus on this project following completion !!!  That was based on conditions that have changed significantly.
  • A Bond repayment was estimated at $51,933 a year but was based on $1.2m in loan.
  • The increase to $1.8m – for 40 years – means that will likely go up to $67,000 – effectively eliminating that meager surplus.
  • Income is stated at $113,288. MUCH has been touted that current water rates will rise, in this current fiscal year, to $135 a quarter (or $45 per month based on the standard of Residential Equivalency Unit or REU)
  • We understand the need for the CURRENT water system to be self sufficient and for employment of qualified employees and ongoing routine repairs and maintenance.
  • HOWEVER – if this is the year of full REU billing, and the Village lists water fund income from that of $60,005 (source Village FY2016-17 Budget)- how do you anticipate generating the additional $53,283?
  • Exactly how much will the quarterly water bills be to operate the system, fully fund reserves, AND make the projected Bond Payment? In documents obtained via FOIA from USDA it is projected as high as $130 per month! (operation AND debt repayment)

35. QUESTIONS: as listed in the report narrative

** The planned project scope is to replace both Well 2 and Well 3 with new wells of higher capacity installed through a single new well house.

**  The ability to increase capacity will be dependent on the results of the hydrogeological study that will be compiled as part of the project design.

**  It is anticipated that the existing generator will be adequate to run at least one of the new wells and will be moved and reconnected. If the new wells require larger pump motors, a new generator may be required.

  • How do you know the aquifer has enough capacity to serve 2 new high capacity wells without damaging the supply for users in Bear Lake Township? Have you done a new aquifer pump test to determine this?
  • Why would you be proposing 2 new high capacity wells when your report states that at a time of drought, in 2010, the oldest well came close to sucking air?
  • Why, if you have read the WHP Report which identifies the vulnerability of ground water recharge to the aquifer, would you NOT enact water conservation measures?
  • If you are proposing 2 new wells to the same aquifer, why would it be necessary to move the location to school property? Where a greater lift is required, obviously resulting in greater expense? Bigger pump, more electricity costs, higher maintenance.
  • Your own report casts doubt on the data – when was the last time the pumps were calibrated? Are you basing your flow figures on faulty data?
  • Why haven’t you pulled and cleaned both well screens?
  • Why did you abandon the original plan to replace the oldest well first and see IF the aquifer could handle increased capacity?
  • How do you plan to maintain sufficient flow through the system during months of decreased use/decreased population? Other communities in NW MI have seen significant freezing events during recent winters.
  • How do you plan to raise the ISO rating to ‘commercial’ when your own report states the new water tower, only installed a few years ago, does not meet that ISO capacity threshold? AND that increasing the size for such a small population would lead to a degradation in water taste and quality due to sitting dormant over extended periods of time.

“Based on the Ten State Standards “Recommended Standards for Water Works”, the storage capacity of a water system should exceed average daily use.

The highest historic average day demand (highest in the past 5 years) was 75,227 gallons and the projected 2032 average day demand is 74,000; the existing storage tank has the required capacity to meet the existing and projected future average day demands.

Tanks are also sized for fire flow capability, and based on current total storage and well capacity, the Village has the capacity to meet a residential ISO fire classification, but lacks the capacity to meet any classification above residential (commercial, industrial, institutional). Storage capacity improvements are not recommended to increase system capacity, as it would promote longer detention time for the water in the storage tank which may result in a degradation of water quality.

Instead, it is recommended that the Village install a new well(s) to increase system capacity should they desire to meet a higher fire flow classification.”

Can you explain how a rating that is governed by insurance companies can be guaranteed to rise?

36. Why would you plan for a ‘commercial’ grade transmission line through a functionally obsolete commercial district? Where, even should a developer be inclined to PROPOSE a revamp, the set back lines are 60’ from the center of US31 – effectively preventing any rebuilding on the lake side, and running through the middle of current structures on the other.

37. How can you possibly justify this statement: “Yearly O & M Cost Before Improvements: $46,662.00 Yearly O & M Cost After: $43,600.00”


The Engineering Report forecasts an identical before and after water usage – 106,000?

Water Customer Information:

Residential Dwellings 142, approx. 71,0000

Other Users 16,  approx. 35,000

Totals 158 106,000

  • How can you then justify the statement that water meters cut leaks?
  • What will the base gallons per property allowance be – what will the base meter fee be, the billing and admin fee?
  • Will no more seasonal shut offs be allowed?
  • How can you then justify the cost and maintenance and reading costs:

Install 158 water meters for all Village water customers, including new meter reading equipment, Village computer and software necessary to complete meter readings and billings.  $213,100 [or $1350 each]

  • Why not just replace lead lines as part of this project for those who need it?
  • Why not do a ‘smoke’ test NOW to determine where the water leaks actually ARE?
  • Replacing leaking lead lines, or those of an age likely to be leaching lead, will be both a health service and cut down on water waste, AND cut down on pumping costs.

39. Water Use Discrepancies:

1. The Per Capita current and future projections are alarming, and vastly greater than the normal 75-120 gpd per person, but do not take into account the daily influx of 400+ at Bear Lake Schools.

2. The average daily per capita usage in 2017  is stated at 238 gpd – and is projected to be identical in 2031? That is totally illogical! The math is wrong.

3. In Fleis Vandenbrinks 2013 Water Reliability Study it states:

“The Village is supplied by two wells, designated No. 2 and No. 3. Both wells are active and the lead well position is rotated after each pumping cycle.

The firm capacity is defined as the capacity delivered with the largest well out of service; the rated firm capacity for the Village is 195 gpm with Well No. 3 out of service.

The firm capacity was lowered from the previous study period value of 220 gpm because the new water tank was installed at a higher elevation than the old tank and the additional system head reduced the flow rate of the existing wells. (an independent engineer questions the rationale for this statement?)

The MDEQ recommends the firm capacity of any water supply system meet or exceed the maximum day demands placed on the system.

The historic maximum day demand (highest maximum day demand in the last 5 years) is 134 gpm, which is 69% of the Village’s firm capacity.

The existing firm capacity is adequate to serve existing and future projected maximum day demands.” which is at direct odds with the reasoning that the Village needs 2 new high capacity wells to meet adequate future demand, if indeed the projected population growth is a mere 17 in the next 20 years -?

Why hasn’t the village installed the 4 hydrants it bought?


1. Why not create an independent water board?

2. Why not proceed with a phased 20 year repair and replacement plan as originally proposed?

3. Why do non-village residents seem to know more about the rational AND AGENDA behind, and the progress of, this water system project?

4. If you are so sure this is the right thing to do then answer these questions and put it to a vote!

5. If MDEQ was aware of the issues with one of the wells in 2010, why is there no mention of this in the Village Council Minutes, and why wasn’t State Revolving Loan Assistance offered or requested to make well repairs or replacements then?

[A number of additional comments and questions came in via text and IM and will be included here]

It is our hope that the Village of Bear Lake keeps to its promise of transparency as it would appear residents will have little opportunity to amend this project.

Village of Bear Lake September 2016 Council Meeting Audio

The following audio was obtained via FOIA. Note that at this meeting the Village Council voted to discontinue audio taping its meetings.

The following letter was presented to be read into the Minutes.


Reminder of the following opportunity to voice your opinions at: