May 15 – 29, 2009

A preliminary report by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said the dredging of the St. Clair River is not to blame for the drop in water levels in Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. The International Joint Commission, collaborative effort between the U.S. and Canada, performed the $3.6 million study.

The study blames an ice jam on the St. Clair River for expanding the waterway and draining about four inches of water from Lake Huron and Lake Michigan.

Public comment on the study was originally slated to close July 1, but public pressure forced the authors to postpone the deadline. Public hearings about the study begin next week, but the only hearing scheduled in Wisconsin will be in Superior. Four of Wisconsin’s five largest cities are on the shore of Lake Michigan.

Three hearings will be held near Lake Superior, the same as the number near Lake Michigan, even though Lake Superior was not the focus of the study.

Property assessing may be changing in Wisconsin. Holly Hansen, head of Door County’s Real Property Listing, said the state is planning to consolidate assessing procedures.

The Department of Revenue is in charge of about 1,800 assessing districts and would like to cut that to about 100. The state is considering creating Unified Districts for assessing, which may not mean county-by-county, but could combine multiple counties into one district.

Individual municipal assessors typically assess properties every five years or when a property is improved, Hansen said.

“This is very preliminary,” Hansen said. “The big question everyone’s asking is who’s going to foot the bill?” Hansen said the state has been pursuing the change since the 1970s and feels the technology is finally available to make it happen. The state is hoping to make the change by 2015.

The Liberty Grove Town Hall will undergo renovations this summer, and town board meetings will be moved to the Ellison Bay Women’s Club building by the Ellison Bay Beach. Town chairman John Lowry said he expects meetings to move there in June.

Liberty Grove will build two communication towers to improve communication for the fire department. One tower will be located at the Town Hall on Old Stage Road and another will be placed at the North Station. The town will offer space for lease on the towers to wireless providers to improve access to high-speed Internet.

Liberty Grove has formed a Commerce Committee. The committee will research ways to improve the business climate in the town and help existing businesses.