Archive for June, 2007

Associate Editor

Lake Michigan is the main tourist attraction for Manistee in the summer because of its spectacular sunsets and inviting beaches, but also because of the fantastic sport fishing opportunities to be had on the big lake. So it’s no surprise how protective the fishermen can be, who make Manistee their main port of call.
What has local fishermen concerned these days is the entry of a new type of fishing out on the lake this summer — because the waters of Manistee are in a state of change with commercial fishing now underway, as a venture by the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians.
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This business expansion will have five commercial fishing boats operating out of Manistee, and when completed, it is hoped it will bring up to 100 jobs to the area for tribal and non-tribal people alike. Currently, the operation employs about 25.
The structured fishing coalition is made up of commercial fishers from the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians and is based in Manistee, but also operates out of Ludington and Muskegon, fishing the waters of Lake Michigan from Grand Haven north to Arcadia as part of what is known as the Treaty Fishing Zone, established in the 2000 Consent Decree. They are also proposing to fish in the intertribal waters that extend north from Frankfort across to Escanaba.
“We want to protect our rights as tribal fishermen,” said Don Stone, who, along with his sons, was key in getting an accord created and presented to the tribe to fund the operation. “It’s something we had all along that’s never been taken away from us, and traditionally our people supported themselves — made their livelihoods and existence — on fishing in one form or another.”
The president of the Manistee County Sport Fishing Association, Kevin Hughes, and Howard Vaas, representing Manistee Area Charter Boats, were part of a recent meeting held with the commercial fishermen to educate the public about the venture.
“Our biggest concern is safety,” says Hughes. “They have their right to fish out there, but our concern is being able to fish and not impeding the safety of recreational fishermen.”
Hughes is optimistic so far.
“They’re doing a good job of trying to mark (the nets),” he said.
Regardless, many sport fishermen are worried that the public may steer clear of fishing in the area due to a fear of the nets, and the perception that it may be less safe to troll the waters where they are set.
“The professional guys like ourselves, we’re pretty knowledgeable and have good navigation equipment,” said Hughes.
“But I’m concerned about ma and pa — and the guy that comes from Rogers City, or the the guy who comes from Harrisville. A lot of those people came to Manistee last year because their fishing (Lake Huron) wasn’t so good. If all of the sudden people are scared to go out there because of the net situation, that’s not good for the whole economy.”
That’s why all of the fishermen seem to feel that the proper education of the public is key to the success of the situation.
And that’s one of the prime reasons for participation in a running dialogue of the sport fishermen with the commercial fishing operation — to gain information on how the nets used by the tribal fishermen will be marked, mapping procedures planned so that the charter captains would know where the nets are located, and an update on the posting of GPS coordinates of the nets on a Website and in other public places to assist local fishermen and boaters.
The tribal fishermen have promised to pass all of this information along. An agreement was also reached on posting information on the nets themselves, and assisting recreational fishermen to learn how to navigate safely around nets.
“They say they want the spirit of cooperation,” says Hughes. “And I think we’ve had that. We’ve had some good dialogue. Time will tell. The bottom line is, rhetoric is fine, but action speaks louder than words.
“We’re just taking a wait and see policy; see how well they’re marked, and are they trying to share the fishery. We’ve got to be able to have some coastline to troll out there unimpeded. I’ve been urging my members to be patient, to give it a chance — we should be able to co-exist.”
And the commercial fishermen say that they can and will work to co-exist. In 2000, the Little River Band agreed not target any fish that is caught by sport fishers (i.e., trout, salmon); and not to authorize the use of large mesh gill nets in Lake Michigan from the Manistee/Benzie County line south to Grand Haven.
They are, however, allowed to keep a certain amount of this “by-catch,” (non-targeted fish) legally, if they choose to do so.
“We’re trying to catch whitefish,” said fisherman Ken King, who is also a consultant to the fishing operation. “We’re not trying to catch brown trout or steelhead. I can count on one hand the number of salmon I’ve caught, and I’ve been fishing for 20 years. It’s not what we’re in business for. We’re just honest guys trying to make an honest living.”
They also say they don’t want to push sport fishermen out of their favorite spots if at all possible.
“We had set nets up in a place called ‘The Barrel,’ just outside of Arcadia. We had one of the charter boat captains come in and explain to us that was a favorite area of fishermen,” says Don Stone.
Stone decided to pull his nets out of that area as a result of the information.
“We’re not going to be setting there anymore,” he said. “If we had known ahead of time, we wouldn’t have set there.”
The commercial fishermen say that they want to work with others as much as possible, and to ensure that the fishing is managed properly.
“A methodical approach to commercial fisheries, in respect of charter, and what we do — everyone’s going to have a certain amount of responsibility to maintain the (fish) herd,” said Levi Stone.
“And that’s our job as individuals, not to abdicate too much, but to take enough to earn a living off of and leave enough so that it’s there for the next guy. Once there’s human intervention, you have an obligation to manage it.”
The trap net operations are limited to 12 nets per boat and the small mesh gill net operations are limited to 24,000 feet of net per operation. Tribal trap net fishers are only allowed to target and retain whitefish (19 inches and larger) and menominee. Small mesh gill net fishers may only target and retain bloater chubs.
The fishers are required to release all other species back to the lake. Commercial trap net fishers are required to observe a spawning closure from noon on Nov. 6 through noon of Nov. 29 of each year to protect the fish stocks. All trap nets must be either removed from the water, or tied closed.
Tribal Natural Resource Department director, Jimmie Mitchell, has volunteered to take responsibility over the commercial fishing program, which includes monitoring the fishing activities and mandatory catch reports. “Tribal fishing with nets is culturally inherent to our people,” Mitchell said. “Fishing in this old way has been fraught with controversy over previous years, but fishing is central to our identity as Indian people.”
And the fishermen themselves feel that they are doing their best to make the situation work for both sides.
“By going above and beyond the required markings, and marking every single amount of rigging we have on that net, we’re doing the best we can to avail them (other fishermen) of what’s there,” said fisherman Levi Stone.
“I think they (the public) need to be educated on the gear, and how the gear works,” said fisherman Mike Kerborsky, another consultant for the project. “So they can have an understanding of what’s going on out there.”
Some fishermen who are familiar with netting operations and how to navigate them even fish near the nets, the commercial fishermen say.
“Once they get familiar with them, they love them,” said Levi Stone. “There’s a guy in Ludington who just tears it up in tournaments fishing around the nets.”
CPO Mike Jensen of Coast Guard Station Manistee believes that the net markings are adequate and he hasn’t seen any problems, so far, with the operation.
“We were out there the other day, and it seemed to me that they were marked well enough that I wasn’t getting into danger with them,” said Jensen. “I know that the tribal police monitors (them) — they have regulations set in place for what type of markings they’re supposed to display — so I know they’re enforcing that. To me, it seemed adequate.”
“At night, if there’s no retro (retroreflective tape), that might be another story,” Jensen said.
He added that crabbers on the ocean do not use retro tape, and it sometimes can be a problem with fishermen running at night with the crab traps.
“Comparatively speaking, these (here in Lake Michigan) are fairly well marked,” he said.
Some fishermen who have spoken out about the situation see running their lines in low light conditions with nets in place as a major safety concern.
“You can’t fish in the dark, even if they’re marked, and some of the best fishing is right at dawn,” says Ken Glasser, who has been fishing in Manistee for years, but cancelled his plans to fish over Memorial Day weekend because of the netting, and says he won’t come to Manistee at all this year to fish.
“I’m just not coming…and taking that kind of risk. I’ll go somewhere else. They’re in places where we fish, like in the shelf, and up to the north. Once the nets are gone, I’ll think about coming back — if there’s any fish left.”
Dan Agnello, of Jackson, feels the same way.
“I’ve been going up to Manistee for 27 years, and if those fish nets are there, I’m not going to go fishing there,” he says.
It is these types of comments that are frustrating for the commercial fishermen, and the association leaders alike.
Don Stone promises that information and education are a primary goal of the new venture. To aid in this, the commercial fishermen are planning to set up nets within the next few weeks for the public to view on dry land to see them first-hand, and invite the public to stop by and visit.
Stone has also extended an invitation to anyone wanting more information about the operation to contact him at 398-9805 or come by the office on Washington Street in the Good Thunder Motorcycles building. The fishermen can also be found where they dock their boats near the S.S. City of Milwaukee.
“We have captains, a few of them, stop in…to chitchat and see what’s going on and stay informed, and that’s real helpful,” said Don Stone.
“Because if we stop talking and everybody starts feeding on misinformation, innuendo and rumor, then that’s where the problem begins. As long as we can keep talking and keep the lines of information open, then it’s going to be better for everybody.”
Cean Burgeson can be reached at:


Associate Editor

I recently went to Disney World with my family of five for the first time, and something happened to me. It felt different, somehow.
The last time I went to the magic kingdom in California, I went for myself. I’ve been there several times, the first time when I was seven years old. And I always had a blast. Every ride, every show, each attraction was amazing — no matter how hoky some of them now might seem to me as an adult.
In a world without the Internet, video games, computer generated movie effects, and 100-channel cable TV, Disney really was the most magical place on earth. For a youngster in the 70s, it was truly awesome, from the pre-Jonny Depp Pirates of the Carribbean ride to the now 40 year old Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse to the recently removed 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea ride.
It’s no wonder the parks have had to update rides and add some newer, more thrilling rides to keep the kids interested. The world is a little more cynical, more technologically adept, and quite frankly expects more. Despite these increased expectations, today’s multiple Disney Parks still provide the same thrill level for kids and adults alike.
But I wasn’t a kid anymore. And the exact same level of marvel wasn’t there. This trip to Florida’s version of the Disney-themed park was for my kids this time rather than myself — and that was okay with me.
In one respect it was a little sad that I didn’t get as excited as I used to when my parents would take me to an amusement park as a kid. Despite the fact that not all of the rides held the same magic they once did, it was far more enjoyable to see how much my own kids enjoyed the experience.
My kids were wired every day of our six day vacation. The number one phrase I heard that week was “lookit, dad” as my children took turns pointing out the characters, rides, and other wonderful sights at Disney World, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, MGM, and the Disney water parks.
Don’t get me wrong, I had my favorite thrill rides too. My interest have merely shifted from the tried-but-true log ride to scarier attractions such as Twilight Zone’s Tower of Terror and Aerosmith’s Rock N Rollercoaster.
And I have to admit that I was as excited about the Star Wars Weekend at Disney’s MGM Studio theme park as my son was. Seeing storm troopers, Jawas, droids, Darth Vader, Chewbacca, and the rest of the Lucas space opera gang walking around in their full regalia for photo opportunities by park visitors made me a bit giddy.
But what made me feel that same real thrill I had at age seven — and provided a glimpse back into what it felt like to experience theme parks for the first time — was watching my eight and almost three year old kids’ reactions to everything.
Suddently, all of the $8 chicken nuggets, stifling crowds, long lines, and other hassles inherent to Disney were all worth it just to see how much fun the kids were having. And yes, my daughter had a level 10 melt-down near the end of the trip, complete with kicking, screaming, and all of the other wonderful attributes that make a terrible two tantrum such a joy to witness. (And it was witnessed by several hundred Disney goers, some who nodded with that, “been there, done that” smile, and others who were mortified at that spectacle).
The entire Disney experience made me think about life these days.
Since the newest Burgeson came into the world about two months ago, I’ve been feeling old. It was far easier to handle the lack of sleep, multiple diaper changes, and constant care and attention that a newborn requires when we had our first son at the age of 28 — which now seems like a million years ago — because now that I’m closer to forty than thirty, it isn’t as easy to keep up with the new-dad lifestyle.
At the same time, having two kids under the age of three actually keeps me feeling young.
Through their eyes I’m seeing things that I’ve forgotten about for years. And it’s a joy to rediscover all of the joys of that time when I was young, and innocent, and seeing and experiencing a so much for the very first time.
With my two-going-on-thirteen-year-old daughter, I am re-experiencing my own trials and tribulations of growing up with a little sister. The two older kids bicker, and fight, and tattle on each other just like my sister and I did when we were young.
I know the “dad, Reidar hit me” (even though he really didn’t) trick, because it was pulled on me time and time again by my own sister. I also know the ‘stick your foot out when your sister runs through the living room and watch her take a header” trick, which I myself perfected back in 1974.
With my eight-year-old son, I get to remember the joy of learning to read, enjoying the simplicity of playing catch in the backyard, and spending lazy afternoons fishing in a 16 foot aluminum boat on the lake — among many others.
And as my children each get older, I will get to re-examine life at every stage; age 10, 11, 12, 13,…
And all the while, continue to feel young through my kids.
So, while I sometimes want to pull out what is left of my hair (about 30 percent) when my daughter rather loudly and defiantly refuses to potty on the big potty, or when my son bounces hockey pucks off of the windows in the living room, or when I get home from work at midnight and fall in bed, only to have the baby wake me at 12:15 — I realize that it’s all worth it.
Because they will never be two-years-old again, or eight-years-old again, or 7-weeks-old again. And I know that I’ll miss these crazy, hectic, wondrous times.
Cean Burgeson can be reached at:

Associate Editor

One of my favorite television programs currently running is “Heroes.” For those of you who are unfamiliar, it is a drama on NBC that chronicles the lives of ordinary people who suddenly discover they possess extraordinary super powers.
Growing up in the 70s and 80s, a lot of my heroes came from television. I watched TV when I got home from school, and after dark, I would come inside from whatever I was doing to watch my favorite shows. There weren’t VHS tapes or DVD’s or even cable companies offering fancy digital video recording devices back then, so we couldn’t afford to miss our weekly stories.
Many of those in my generation grew up watching the Fonz on “Happy Days,” and, before he jumped the shark, he was a role model for many — cool, tough, and loved by the ladies. Let’s face it: Who didn’t want to be Fonzie?
And who didn’t want to be astronaut Colonel Steve Austin: The Six Million Dollar Man? Many an hour on the playground was spent pretending to run and jump in slow motion while making that famous bionic “na na na na” sound. There was the bionic woman too, for my female grade school counterparts — with whom heated arguments ensued by the monkey bars over weather Steve’s bionic vision was a better ability than Jamie’s bionic hearing. (I still think I’d rather be able to see really far than hear through a wall.)
We had “Starsky and Hutch,” “Kojak,” and “Baretta” to look up to, as well. One program had a really cool car. Another had a cool bird. The third featured a fashionably bald detective who sucked on lollipops. They were all cool characters, and heroes to boot.
Not all the heroes were cops, though. Some were doctors. Hawkeye and the gang on “M*A*S*H” were idolized for several reasons. They were in a war, which to any elementary school kid is cool; they saved people’s lives, and they played lots of practical jokes on each other. Who said war is hell?
Then came “The Incredible Hulk.” Oh how we loved that green menace. I remember getting a rip in one of my shirts when I was younger, and re-enacting for my friends how my shirt would completely rip apart as I turned into the Hulk. The gang on the playground got a good laugh out of it — but mom wasn’t too happy when she saw my shirt.
Even as a kid, I wondered why the Hulk’s pants never ripped completely apart. And how he could keep himself in clothes when he ripped through a couple of outfits every week? All David Banner carried around was that little duffel bag full of his stuff. He’d have to have like twenty pairs of pants in there to keep up.
A new kind of hero came in 1978: the probationary former moon-shiners who cleaned up their acts to fight the evil establishment in Hazard County. Bo and Luke Duke graced our screens, forever making mom and dad wonder where those scratches on the hood of the family sedan came from. (We knew it was a good idea to practice sliding across the hood when they weren’t home, of course.) Someone very close to me, whom I won’t name, even wanted her parents to let her enter and exit the car via the window, just like the boys did in the General Lee.
Law enforcement was always a steady source of programming material, and a favorite with the kids. How could we not idolize Ponch and Jon, the motorcycle riding highway patrolmen in CHiPS? Their timing was always perfect — they pulled a guy out of a burning car almost every week and just as they made it to safety, BOOM! the car blew up. (And the car always blew up, regardless of how minor the accident was.)
Another California cop we enjoyed was the man with the perfect hair and the hot blonde partner — Heather Locklear no less — T.J. Hooker. What can we say about Hooker? He had the suave style of Captain Kirk and the chicks dug his machismo, devil may care antics while on the job.
For those of us who were tired of idolizing policemen, there was always the renegade stuntman who moonlighted as a bounty hunter we could turn to. At age 12, I didn’t have any idea what a bounty hunter was, but I knew they chased bad guys who had done something called “jumping bail,” and with the help of Howie, and yet another blonde goddess, Heather Thomas — they always got their man, and made it to the set on time to light themselves on fire and jump forty two busses for the latest action movie. This was one “Fall Guy” I could idolize.
Another pair of investigators who were always getting into trouble, but weren’t cops either, were “Simon and Simon.” These often quarreling, polar-opposite brothers weren’t exactly heroes, but they were certainly entertaining. And the king of 80’s private detectives, and hero to all of us kids who wanted to grow up, sponge off of a rich guy, live in Hawaii and have adventures on a weekly basis was of course “Magnum P.I.
The third in the line of cool TV private eye shows “Rip Tide.” With their cool pink helicopter, Mimi, Nick and Cody fought crime and made with the wisecracks, along with the help of their nerdy associate, Boz. This was towards the end of my television hero worship days, though.
I think I started growing out of TV character hero worship about the time “Knight Rider” came around, in 1984. Even then, I realized David Hasselhof was far too cheesy to count among my video idols. I just couldn’t get excited about a talking car. Maybe I was getting older, and my interests were changing, or maybe I began to realize that heroes existed in the real world.
The actual heroes were the everyday people that these TV characters borrowed their fame from — doctors, soldiers, police officers, detectives, astronauts, bounty hunters, scientists — and maybe even a real private investigator who lived in Hawaii on a palatial estate.
Who knows?
Cean Burgeson can be reached at:

Associate Editor

Sports injuries happen. No matter how much conditioning or strength training a young athlete does, they will get hurt at one point in their careers.
One of the more unfortunate incidents that happen in spring sports is being struck with a baseball or softball. Everyone who has every played ball has either been hit by a pitch, taken a bad hop off of a ground ball in the chest, or in the worst case scenario — been hit by a line drive.
My own son was hit in the face last week when a hard throw tipped off of his glove and struck his face, splitting his lip. After we washed off the blood and iced it, he was as good as new. With most baseball injuries caused by a batted or thrown ball, this is the case — but not always.
In New Jersey, a 12-year-old boy was struck in the chest by a batted ball from a metal bat. The boy went into cardiac arrest and suffered serious injuries. A few years back, a boy in Florida was the victim of a similar incident and died. Incidents like this one have gotten some parents and some lawmakers up in arms about the use of aluminum bats.
Lawmakers in New Jersey are considering banning metal bats as a result of the incident. Recently, metal bats were barred from New York City high schools after the city council overrode a mayoral veto of the bill banning the bats. North Dakota has also enacted a similar ban — the only state so far to do so.
There is a concern that high school baseball players, in particular, are becoming stronger, and bat manufacturers are developing newer, more high tech bats, which give them greater bat speed and harder hit balls. North Dakota’s ban came when an American Legion player died after being struck in the head by a drive off of an aluminum bat.
Currently, the state of Michigan and the Michigan High School Athletic Association have no plans to ban metal bats from high school competition and move towards wood bats like New York City. MHSAA assistant director Mark Uyl, told the Detroit Free Press that he thinks they may have acted too quickly on this issue in New York. “There has absolutely been no support nor have we heard any criticism that would make a change,” he said. “Wood probably is more safe than aluminum. But there is no statistical data, no testing that has proved that.”
The Illinois High School Athletic Association is conducting such a study, though, with 50 participating high schools. The National Federation of State High School Associations is funding the research, and the data should be available in June. Despite their support for the study, a representative of the NFSH has said that only a few reports of kids being hit have come in nation-wide this year.
The NFSH standard for bats is the Ball Exit Speed Ratio, which tests the speed of a ball off of a bat. The standard limits aluminum bats to a similar BESR to that of a wooden bat. This figure is used to acquire a bat weight-to-length ratio to which all levels of youth baseball must adhere to — essentially equalizing wooden and metal bats.
So, what is all the fuss? If the ball comes off of the bat at the same speed, it doesn’t make sense to call the aluminum bat the culprit in these few freak instances where injuries occur. Add to that the fact that wooden bats crack and break, and pieces of them fly in the air, and the safety issue seems to lean towards aluminum bats being the safer choice.
Aside from the safety issue, from an economic perspective, metal bats are also the cheaper choice. With education budgets shrinking, and athletic funds waning, replacing broken wooden bats would soon overcome the costs of aluminum bats, which with the right care, can last a lifetime.
As a baseball purist, I personally like to keep the game and its traditions intact. But I have to admit, I played with aluminum bats for my entire career in baseball, from T-ball up to high school, and in several adult softball leagues, and I don’t remember any serious injuries. I also know that for younger children, it is far easier to learn to swing properly, learn hand-to-eye coordination, and develop bat speed with a metal bat.
Wooden bats are one tradition that is better left for the majors. The rest of us with less than professional talents have an easier time hitting with aluminum bats, and games have a lot more action and are far more fun as a result. And for the few players who advance to the level where wooden bats are the norm, there will be an adjustment — but that number of athletes is very low, and the players who make it that far have been making that adjustment for years.
I think it’s important to protect our youth from sports injuries in any way we can, whether it is through proper instruction and coaching, or the selection of the best equipment. But let’s not get so caught up in protecting our children that we buy them flak vests to play baseball in, as was suggested years ago after that youngster died from a line drive to the chest. (It was later found that the boy had a heart defect which led to his death in the incident.)
And let’s not take away aluminum bats because of a few freak accidents.
Cean Burgeson can be reached at: