Looking back, moving forward: New year brings new promise

In 2021, Luther Area Public Library took part in a project to distribute books for little libraries made by the Pine River advanced shop class. Several mobile libraries were distributed to municipalities in surrounding areas, including Elk Township. 

In 2021, Luther Area Public Library took part in a project to distribute books for little libraries made by the Pine River advanced shop class. Several mobile libraries were distributed to municipalities in surrounding areas, including Elk Township. 

Courtesy photo

LAKE COUNTY — Looking back on 2021, it was a year taken in stride. With COVID precautions relaxing some, but the virus itself still a concern, people have slowly moved forward with community life. Several groups in Lake County have hopes for a better 2022.

Although the Lake County Historical Society didn't have its regular monthly programming due to COVID precautions, its members didn't miss out on inviting the whole county to celebrate Lake County's 150th birthday in 2021, in safe and enjoyable ways.

The week-long celebration included local artifact showings, cemetery tours, live folk music of the era, a founders ceremony, to name a few of the milestone events. The society also opened its museum grounds for a return to the outdoor summer concert series, "Folk Fridays."

By spring of 2022, a couple projects are expected to be brought to completion, including the scanning and digitizing of the Lake County Star by the Clarke Historical Library, (from the 1800s up to 1999) to provide public access on their Dig-Mich research site.

A project which began in 2020, a full-length documentary about Marlborough and the Great Northern Portland Cement Company should be completed and available by DVD in the museum gift shop also by spring.

The historical society is planning many fun and memorable events for Baldwin's Sesquicentennial in 2022, along with the continuation of the popular Folk Friday series and new museum exhibits for visitors to look forward to.

In 2021, Baldwin welcomed two new restaurants to downtown, Shoey's Log Bar, and 876.

"2021 hit us with some challenges, but overall our first seven months of operations have exceeded our expectations," said Trisha Shoemaker, owner of Shoey's Log Bar. "We opened up two weeks before the Blessing this year, so we jumped right into the boiling pot of water and haven't looked back. In 2022, our goal is to bring more people to town and show them what Baldwin has to offer and grow 'with' the community."

Since fall of 2021, when husband and wife Santoro and Dina Velocci, opened 876, with Glenn Forgie as executive chef and general manager, area residents and visitors have been thrilled with the new dining experience in the re-purposed Baldwin Masonic Lodge building.

"We've experienced such strong support from this community since opening our doors in 2021, making it a tough year to beat in that respect," said Velocci. "We hope that 2022 brings health and vitality to Baldwin, and we feel fortunate to be a part of building something that fuels these things: creating local jobs and cultivating a space where people can gather, celebrate life and feel welcome — showing residents and visitors alike the type of hospitality and heart that makes this area so special."

In Luther, the library is a strong center of the community. In 2021, long-time librarian Jody Lucas retired. The library also took part in the Lake County Sesquicentennial with a logging days program by Karen Neiger.

To promote reading, students from Pine River advanced shop class made five little libraries, which were placed at Sauble, Elk, Eden and Peacock Township Halls, as well as at Luther Area Public Library (which provides books for each.)

"For 2022, I am hoping we can open up more and that COVID settles down," said library director Amy Shank. "We have had more passive programs and activities, and starting up more activities, such as Saturday Movie Cinema. On Jan. 29, we will begin story hour and have Luther Fire and Rescue as guest speakers."

"We will have a bake sale for them to help buy a rescue sled for the department," she added. "The library also is forming a Minecraft and Roblox gamers clubs this month. We want to open up more and bring more people in."

Lake County Planning Commission Chair and Parks and Lake County Recreation Commission Secretary Ernie Wogatzke gave respects to member of both commissions, Melissa Herington, who passed in late 2021. She also was actively involved in many facets of the community, such as Shrine of the Pines, clerk of Cherry Valley Township and Yates Fire Department.

Wogatze said, moving forward, the planning commission hopes to hold more free training opportunities for surrounding townships, and the parks and recreation would like to see progress with the trust grant to develop the ORV training facility in Webber Township, as well as improvements on the township park.

Lake County Clerk Patti Pacola reflected on 2021, and feels the experiences will help the community grow stronger.

"Through all the changes, uncertainties and losses of 2021 - I believe we have all learned that we are stronger than we think. Going into 2022, my hopes are that our community can heal from what COVID-19 brought us, put the division behind us and continue moving forward," Pacola said.