In case you missed it the Mason County Historical Society  will be asking you to vote on raising the millage to support their effort "to help preserve the county's history."

They want to raise an additional $2.5 million dollars to pay for list of dubious improvements the majority of which have nothing to do with  preserving the county's past.

  Expanded parking at White Pine Village, $200,00

  New entrance from South Lakeshore Drive to the village, $150,000

  Enhanced security and noice suppression fencing at the village, $150,000

New exhibits at the village, including themes of Native American village, steam locomotive and train station, military compound with quonset hut, and public ground transportation to and from the village, $250,000.

It seems that these have almost nothing to do with preserving the county's past and everything to do with providing thea shuttle service for fudgies between the Maritime Museum and White Pine Village.

  The completion of several maritime museum exhibits including 1940 Armistice Day Storm, U.S. Coast Guard duty station, maritime heritage trail exhibits, $600,000.

While these have to do with our county's past isn't it a bit premature to be asking for more funding for the Maritime Museum before it even opens.  Let's wait until it is open to the public and see how it plays out before burdening the Mason County taxpayers with mo' fees. Personally this sounds like a slush fund to cover the daily operational costs for the new museum.

There is over half of  the mileage that has nothing to do with with our county's past.

  New research library and welcome center, $900,000.

I have no first hand  knowledge with what improvements might be needed to a research center, I know I would like to see better access online. But a welcome center??? Let's split this $900,00 up into just the research library and leave off the welcome center.

  ADA compliant restroom facilities, walkways, and building accessibility improvements throughout the village, $150,000.

Here is the one necessary improvement to White Pine Village.  $150,000   Couldn't this best be handled by a fundraiser? a grant? or raising the admission cost amortized over 5 years to cover the expense?  $30,000 a year for 5 years wouldn't take much belt tightening.

Vote No on this pipe dream for mo' money.

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It's to bad White Pine Village doesn't attract enough paying customers who would be willing to fork over enough money so that White Pine would not need to be subsidized with tax dollars. I personally love the place and I consider it one of the finest museums of it's kind. A major drawback, as I see it, is it's location. If it were located closer to town, at the fairgrounds or a similar location, I would bet it would be a major attraction for the area and could survive on it's own.

I've always wondered that too Willy, why is it 6 miles out of town, and for visitors, probably hard to locate. I just thought the land may have been donated. As for shinblind's find on this mega-dollar improvements, it's ridiculous, over $2 Million for what? And that admission charge of $12 pp, also way too high imho. I was there on their last day last fall, late, closing in 1/2 hr., and they insisted me, as a local, pay the full admission. I declined and left, and probably won't be back as in the past. Wonder where their quotes for services came from, more out of town pavers/construction companies? I'll bet they are too. Maybe if they sought quotes from locals, along with volunteer work, they would only need a fraction of this $2 Million, like $200K. How do we find this out, PM Twnshp.?

Thanks for posting this shinblind, I saw the article in the local newspaper and was going to comment, but I think I will wait for some more information to filter down.  You covered most of my initial concerns, and did it well. 

As Willy says, it is a hidden treasure, and it would probably me more sustainable if so many other local attractions weren't overspending on their own marketing (and often with public funds via DDAs and room taxes via the CVB).  But, as Aquaman notes, it may be asking for too much at the gate and scaring away repeat visitors and even locals.  I would hope there is a better solution than starting a millage, and making an already overburdened Mason County taxpayer pay even more.

If the Mason County Historical Society is proposing a tax to county residents to pay for improvements  that are primarily elective, then county taxpayers should get free access to White Pine, The Maritime Museum and the research library.

it is absolutely ludicrous to say to county taxpayers that we are going to both tax you and then charge them regular admission.

8,615 attendees not paid admission, were who visited the White Pine Village last year. That is not even $100k in money coming in. Against that they expect county taxpayers to foot the bill for spending $2,500,000 for improvements. No lending institution would loan money under these circumstances.


Yeah, the location is a challenge, the land being donated years ago, but it is a pleasant spot on a warm summer day. And they will be aided by tying in with the Maritime Museum hopefully offering a dual admission price. Let's wait a year or two and see how this is going to play out. The most immediate need at White Pine Village is to make site handicap friendly. The estimate for this is $150,000 which they should be able to cover with current revenues.

shinblind, you say 8,615 attendees not paying admission? How is that? Where is that info.? That in itself is about $100,000 in unpaid guests. And what about the contractors submitting bids? Thanks.

Update: after some phone calls got this; Dr. Rick Plummer, Exec. Dir. for both White Pine and Maritime Museum. Called village and they refuse to give us his phone number, you leave your name and number, and he calls you back. M.C.Commissioners will have a mtg. at MC Courthouse on this matter on Tuesday, May 9th, at 9am, to determine whether the projects proposed will go to voters on the ballot. Figures for all this work are "Not Bids", they are pie in the sky estimates from the firm of Progressive A.E., (Architects and Engineers) of GR, 616-361-2664. This is the same firm the COL used for the West End Project drawings, where the architect would NOT divulge the plans to me about a year ago without the express written permission of John Shay III, city mgr., whom refused that request. I ask myself this: how does any historical society present a valid and accurate proposal to voters when the info. is kept secretive and no actual bids have been made for work? What's in this agenda? Who dreamed it all up? What was the cost to get that Architectural firm to dream and estimate all this so far in advance? Now I'm a bit concerned more so than previously. Anyone else?

Those tidbits are interesting, thanks for your research into the matter, Aquaman.

Aquaman you are correct, that phrase is confusing.

That twisted nomenclature was how it was stated in the "Pure Ludington" press release, r calling them "attendees" rather than paying visitors. Since they used the word "attendees" I used the same word, but it doesn't distinguish between those who pay to cross the threshold of White Pine Village and those who don't. Are the school children who visit White Pine Village for field trips considered attendees? I would think so and I would also assume that they did not pay full fare or any fare for admittance.

In retrospect it would have been better to have written;
8,615 attendees [not all paid admission] were visitors to White Pine Village last year. That generated less than $100,000 in gate revenue.
Another point I left out was that with only around $100,000 in gate revenue, the 5 years that they claim the millage would run would in fact have to be renewed every 5 years in order to pay the initial $2,500,000 cost of improvements.

I have no idea where they got their estimates for the construction costs. Your point on that is also valid and a concern.

The Finance and Rules Cmte. will also have a mtg. this week on Friday, April 7th, at 2pm, as shinblind's link for MCP says. That's right now on Friday at the MC Courthouse. That mtg. should also be open to the public, or is it? As far as free attendees on school field trips, I would encourage that too. But is that the majority of visitors? If so, then this millage request is benign imho. They should be soliciting more donations, from public events to promote this, picnics, BBQ's, car shows, beach parties, anything that attracts attention and gets people out for support. Taxing more is a poor idea, and just generates more dependence for government $$$. Hope some people go this Friday for an update on how things are going to shape up.

Correct Aquaman, it is 2 months before the Maritime Museum even opens and they are planning to hit up the county taxpayers up for another $600,000 so that they can complete their exhibits.

What the hell they already went through $4,000,000 and they didn't think far enough ahead that they might need some finished exhibits?

If this ever shows up on the August ballot please go to the polls and VOTE NO.

Local Historian also against the upcoming millage.

Great essay by the second-best known historian of the area (after William Anderson).  My favorite part:

"The Federal tax return the 990 is required by law to be shared and the public allowed to have a copy of those forms, but not much else. I requested a copy of the 2016 990 filing from MCHS and a copy of the bylaws and I was refused those documents. I’d like to see a more detailed budget and copies of board minutes, if we are being asked to provide public funding should we ask for less?"

Nope.  The unfairness to other historical-oriented groups unwilling to take our money through the power of the state and local treasurers was my second favorite part.


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