2014-01-02 / Local News

Resurgent Northport part of 2013’s many important stories

Several other Leelanau County stories received votes from our staff, but did not make the top ten list. They include:

• Northport, whose commerce benefited from a location at the tip of the Leelanau Peninsula early in its history, had suffered from commercial retraction in more recent years. The year 2013 will be remembered for turning that trend around. Construction started this year on a $1 million, solar-powered golf course, and a recreation center called Tucker’s that includes bowling alleys is being built on the lot formerly occupied by Woody’s Settling Inn. Other commercial establishments are springing up as well, and the village is finishing up renovation of its marina area.

• Unease and uncertainty continue to brew at fire departments that cover five of the county’s 11 townships. Firefighters for the Cedar and Leland Township fire departments have been awarded backpay because they were underpaid while on standby. The Cedar department this year voted to unionize, and the former Leland fire chief was awarded $65,000 in a wrongful discharge suit. The developments accompany major capital improvement projects being considered by both departments.

• A program to mandate inspections of private septic systems when homes are sold got underway in Empire Village, and is being considered by other townships that border Glen Lake.

• The Benzie-Leelanau Health Department continues to operate without a health officer after demoting Bill Crawford, who had served in the position for years. Crawford had been targeted by a sexual harassment investigation by the department in 2012. In 2013, he filed suit against the department and his replacement, former health officer Jenifer Murray, who has resigned. Crawford just last month dropped Murray from the suit.

• Several programs offered by the county Senior Services department have been cut or culled back due to budget problems, and the Leelanau County Board of Commissioners has authorized an increase in the department’s property tax rate back to its voter-authorized level of .275 mill.

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