7-Aug-2020

PSA:  Four Lakes Task Force is hosting a GoToWebinar on Monday Aug 10, 2020 at 3:00pm to provide updates and answer questions related to Secord Lake and Dam. This meeting is open to the public and anyone is welcome to attend however, the subject matter will only pertain to each individual lake.  CLICK HERE TO REGISTER

###

Amended 8-Aug-2020:

Secord Lake Community: 

The Annual Membership Meeting of the Secord Lake Association will be on Saturday August 15, 2020 at 10:00 a.m. The meeting will be held via Zoom due to coronavirus restrictions on in-person gatherings. Click here for Zoom meeting details.  No registration or password is required to view/hear the meeting.

At this meeting, election of directors will take place.  There are four (4) Director positions up for renewal.  The election, too, will be electronic. It will be via a secure voting platform. Our ByLaws provide that nominations for vacancies may be made “from the floor” at the meeting. Once again, due to Covid19 Gathering Restrictions, we must require any such nominations be made via email to secordlakeassociation@gmail.com by midnight on Tuesday, August 11.  No nominations will be accepted thereafter.

In order to appear on the ballot, each nominee, including the Board’s proposed slate (Phil Dast, Chuck Sikora, Susan Morgan and Jeanne Ballor) MUST submit a brief written statement no later than midnight Thursday August 13. Statements should be emailed to SLA at secordlakeassociation@gmail.com.  These statements will be read aloud at the meeting before voting opens.

In this statement, the nominee must:

  • accept the nomination;

  • explain their goals in serving as a director of the Secord Lake Association; and 

  • include a statement of their view of the FLTF plan for Secord Lake. 

Remember that both the nominator and the nominee must be members in good standing when the nomination is made. 

On Saturday August 15, 2020 at approximately 10:35 am when voting opens, Secord Lake Association Members will receive an email to your email address on our membership record that includes a link to the ballot. Each member’s link is distinct and can be used only once.  We will also provide voting eligible members with more information about how to receive assistance if you need some help.  When the vote is closed, SLA will receive a vote tally; we will announce the results via email to all SLA members and on our website 

Only members “in good standing” can vote. Last year, many people paid dues and became members at the annual meeting. Unfortunately, due to ballot preparation time requirements, this will not be possible this year. Instead, dues must be received by midnight on Friday August 14, 2020. You can send a check, give a check or cash to a board member, or pay by debit/credit card at our website membership page .  If you have not paid your 2020 dues by August 14, 2020 at midnight, you are not a member in good standing and cannot vote!

Secord Lake Association supports the Four Lake Task Force Plan

Secord Lake Association supports the Plans of the Four Lakes Task Force as reviewed at its July 16th Board meeting, it was held over Webinar, and posted on the FLTF Website.  This was also discussed on July 18th at a Secord Association Board meeting held over Zoom.

  • We see Boyce’s current engagement into the Secord Lake Community as nothing more than trying to extract more money out of the community before going into bankruptcy which is apparent by all the public facts.   

  • We simply do not believe, based on prior performance and his statements, that Lee Mueller and the Boyce Companies he co-manages has the best long-term interest of Secord Lake and our Communities. 

To be clear about the condemnation process,

  • Condemnation is the act of eminent domain which refers to the power of a government, in this case the counties, to take private property for public use.  The Counties, with the Four Lakes Task Force, are doing this out of necessity to restore and repair the dams.  It is not about tearing down the Secord Dam. It is so we can repair them to keep the property remains as lake.  Something Boyce has not done and is not capable of doing.  

  • If Boyce’s statement is true, that Secord Lake Levels can come up with a $30,000 repair, then this would be true regardless of the owner. 

In a recent video conference held on July 11 held by Secord Lake Preservation, led by Chris Ringo, Lee Mueller made the following concerning statements:

  • Boyce has the ability to proceed with construction necessary to satisfy FERC, he just doesn’t have the funds. 

  • Boyce has never made a profit in the 12 years it has owned the dam.

  • Boyce has invested in $6.0 Million dollars in the four dams, including a $3.5 Million investment in a New Sanford Power Turbine in 2014.

  • Boyce was aware of the hole in the Secord Dam for the last five years and that there is a need for a Secord Dam Spillway. 

Based on Public Records, Boyce owes $6.0 Million in bank loans.  Now he says he has no more money to spend on the dam. In 2014 he made a major investment in Power, where he could have spent in on the improvement and repair of the dams. 

Chris Ringo:  We have tried to constructively engage.  It is clear that you don’t have a formal agreement with Boyce to bring up the water this year, and it’s clear, very clear, that you don’t have the funds. We disagree with your position of hope that Mueller will solve this and that your group has time to create a new Special Assessment District.

We cannot rely on Boyce Hydro looking after our best interest:

We need to get our Lake Back and the FLTF plan is the best path to achieve this

###

19-July-2020:  In the spirit of our mission to promote community awareness and concerns regarding our waterways and transparency, we are sharing the Zoom meeting video/audio from the 18-July-2020 Board Meeting.  The audio quality is poor and we apologize for that, however we are transcribing as best we can into our meeting minutes and a separate Q&A that will be published shortly.

  CLICK HERE FOR ZOOM RECORDING

###

18-July-2020:  CALL TO ACTION

Kyle Grove, Gladwin County District #1 Commissioner, is asking to hear from anyone who supports the Four Lakes Task Force long term goals to bring these dams back so they are there for another 100 years.

 

If you support the Four Lakes Task Force in this effort, please email Kyle at kgrove@gladwincounty-mi.gov.  PLEASE PUT IN THE SUBJECT LINE "Support 4LTF"

###

18-July-2020:

We encourage you to read the recently received  communication below from Russ Hicks, Eaton Rapids, Dam Safety Speakers Bureau, Association of State Dam Safety Officials

FOUR LAKES TASK FORCE CLARIFIES DETAILS RELATED TO SANFORD AND EDENVILLE DAMS

 

Midland, MI – June 8, 2020 - On May 19th, the failures of the Edenville and Sanford dams and the resulting flood created a catastrophic change to thousands of people in Midland and Gladwin counties. But it has not changed the spirit of the towns and communities that live around the lake, and it shows in their efforts to recover and renew themselves.

In difficult times, it is natural for some people to come to their own conclusions and find blame. But this commentary from a few, including the owners of the dams and the State of Michigan, should not distract our community from its mission of recovery. Four Lakes Task Force (FLTF) wishes to clarify important facts as they relate to dam operations and procedural matters. Our desire is to provide information that will help an independent investigation to occur and allow our community to move forward with the vital work of restoring our lakes and dams.

FLTF was formed in 2018 by the lake communities when it became apparent that the system was not sustainable. FLTF went to the Board of Commissioners of Midland and Gladwin counties about the concern, and the community collectively took action, and worked within the State’s legal framework to deal with a compromised private hydroelectric dam system regulated by federal and state agencies.

FLTF is a Michigan non-profit charitable organization representing the lake associations and property owners of Secord, Smallwood, Wixom and Sanford Lakes. It became the Counties’ Delegated Authority to acquire, repair and operate the dams under Part 307 of the Michigan Natural Resource and Environmental Protection Act, MCL 324.30701 et seq. FLTF was in the process of acquiring the dams, on behalf of the counties, through negotiations with Boyce Trusts. The transfer of ownership was to start this year but now cannot proceed under the purchase agreement that was signed on December 31, 2019.

Some Key Facts

  • All four dams have been under full operational control of Boyce Hydro since it acquired the property in 2006 and were under the Federal Energy and Regulatory Commission (FERC) regulatory jurisdiction.

  • FERC revoked Boyce’s license for hydropower for the Edenville Dam September 2018, “because of Boyce’s long-standing failure to increase the project’s spillway capacity to safely pass flood flows.”

  • Regulatory Jurisdiction for the Edenville Dam then fell under the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE).

  • In October 2018, the State inspected the dam. “During the inspection, the dam was observed to be in fair structural condition. Its earthen embankments were well maintained, with only a few bare spots, minor erosion, and no visible signs of significant distress (sloughs, slumps, differential settlement, cracking, sinkholes, etc.). All embankment drains appeared to be functioning. The dam’s two concrete spillways showed signs of moderate deterioration (spalling, exposed reinforcing steel, minor cracking, and efflorescence), but appeared to be stable and functioning normally. All spillway gates appeared to be operational.”

  • In May 2019, the State lake levels for the dams were established at the exact same level as the federal levels. To allow continued operation of Edenville without power, FLTF entered into an agreement with Boyce to operate the dam at those State levels, as both parties negotiated a purchase agreement, and a permit was issued by EGLE.

  • At no time did FLTF assume, take control of, or operate the dams. The purchase agreement between Boyce and FLTF was very clear that FLTF would not assume operational control until the closing on that agreement—which never happened.

  • As a prospective purchaser of the Boyce assets, FLTF was undertaking appropriate due diligence in its efforts to acquire the dams. FLTF was engaged and transparent with EGLE as we moved forward to purchase.

  • FLTF acted in good faith to make priority repairs to the Edenville Dam prior to purchase with appropriate EGLE permits. FLTF was also planning an anticipated $2 million worth of repairs to the Edenville Dam to prepare it for the winter operations.


Safety Reports and Failure
​All four dams have FERC Safety Reports, and FERC has assured the lake communities that there would be a handoff to the State once the license was revoked. The State received the FERC Safety Reports. Moreover, the knowledge that FLTF’s engineers obtained through their diligence was shared with EGLE’s Dam Safety Unit. FLTF agreed to write an additional dam safety report at the request of EGLE on September 20, 2019 in anticipation of its purchase. And in a December 18, 2019 meeting which was attended by representatives of EGLE, FLTF and others — FLTF verbally agreed to submit the report in March 2020. That date was picked because of FLTF’s anticipated payment of a first installment payment on the dams in January 2020. The report was being prepared by Spicer Group, FLTF’s contracted engineer. Knowing this was a complex transition from FERC to the State, given the complexity in purchasing the Boyce dams, EGLE Dam Safety has been proactive with FLTF, and FLTF and EGLE Dam Safety have been and still are engaged in a transparent and open process.

However, because of the cloud of the legal issues between the State and Boyce Hydro, FLTF was not able to obtain the needed financing (a bond-anticipation note) to begin the process to acquire the dams and was unable to close the deal in January 2020 as planned. The date for closing on the option and first installment payment was pushed back to June 2020. After the dam breach on May 19, the issue of the report resurfaced. FLTF agreed to submit a draft version of the report, although according to Michigan Statute the Delegated Authority is only required to submit a dam safety report every third year. This means that FLTF was not legally obligated to submit a report until May 2022. On Tuesday June 2, EGLE verbally instructed Spicer Engineering not to submit the report because of concerns related to classified information. The State subsequently characterized this in written correspondence as a “refusal” to provide the information, which was inaccurate. Neither FLTF nor Spicer Group ever refused to provide the draft report.

The information contained in the dam safety report concerning the condition of the Edenville Dam was information that EGLE’s Dam Safety Unit already had in its possession. EGLE was aware of the deficiencies associated with Edenville Dam. FLTF has been cooperative and forthcoming with information, often going above and beyond the required activity in good faith, for the betterment of the community. Moreover, FLTF had provided verbal and written statements to EGLE in September 2019 that had expressed its conclusion regarding Edenville Dam’s ability to meet the State’s Probable Maximum Flood (PMF) requirements. In September 2019 communications, FLTF’s engineers noted: “[a]t this point in time, based on documents reviewed, the FLTF does not believe that the Edenville Dam can be operated to meet the EGLE dam safety requirement to pass the ½ PMF without certain repairs and improvements.”

Why is Four Lakes Task Force going to this effort to explain all this? To protect our efforts to save our lakes.

An EGLE Communication Manager contacted FLFT to establish a relationship. In the discussion EGLE suggested it would be a good idea to come to agreement on a set of stipulated facts as we communicated to external parties. The attorney for Four Lakes Task Force contacted the Assistant Attorney General assigned to the Boyce litigation, and a meeting was refused.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has ordered EGLE to commission an investigation of the Edenville Dam. FERC has ordered Boyce to form an independent Board of Consultants for investigation of the other three dams. Before these investigations have even commenced, the State Attorney General’s office and EGLE are creating their own narrative on the blame for the Edenville Dam’s failure.

​For all the hyperbole and narrative of blame, an independent investigation is needed to determine the cause of the failure of the Dam. Observations show an embankment failing on Edenville Dam and the Sanford Dam being overcome with the excess water that came from the Edenville failure. The cause of this still needs to be determined. While the investigation team seems qualified, Boyce and the regulators who were responsible for the operations and oversight should not have direct involvement with the team of dam safety experts performing the forensic investigation.

The forensic team must be completely independent of the dam operator and regulators. Convening a forensic team and administering its activities through a qualified, impartial third party should be in order. For example, the Association of State Dam Safety Officials (ASDSO) has a reputation of independence and integrity. FERC and the State need to step back and allow this investigation to be truly independent, especially since the Attorney General’s division of Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture and Boyce Hydro, in the rush to sue each other, are creating a narrative without exercising diligence for the truth.

The counties and Four Lakes Task Force, on behalf of the lake communities, were trying to get control of their future over a bureaucratic system that was failing us. We are still committed to our mission to acquire the property from Boyce and restore the damage created by this flood. We have been encouraged by the engagement of every federal and state agency coming into our community to help. Well almost. We implore the Attorney General to insist that her Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture Division work from the facts and apply critical thinking to the problem and insist on it from all parties involved. Our devastated communities deserve that much.

####

5-June-2020:    Protecting Your Lakefront Assets

With the loss of our lakes, we now face issues in many places with erosion of the exposed lake bottom that threatens seawalls and even building foundations.

Boyce Hydro is the owner of the dams and therefore responsible for any damage those dams cause, whether the dams are regulated by FERC or Michigan State Dam Safety. As we recently learned, that includes erosion damage caused by a dam failure. However, entirely depending on anyone else to “make you whole” may be unwise. What to do?

You may take action to stabilize the exposed lake bottomlands in front of your property. That can include planting ground cover or installing riprap (rocks) to keep the slope in place. During this emergency, EGLE (formerly DEQ) does not require a permit for such actions. Four Lakes Task Force gives you permission to do that in Midland County, where FLTF owns the bottomlands. Boyce owns the bottomlands in Gladwin County, but has remained silent on this topic. You may decide to treat Boyce’s silence as consent. It’s that or watch the slow destruction of your property by erosion!

There are a number of excavating companies that can install riprap. There are a number of landscaping companies that can install seed and mulch. Seed and mulch are things many of you can install yourselves. There are grasses that the State of Michigan uses to stabilize highway shoulders and sand dunes. There are straw or fabric mats that can stabilize the slopes until the seeds sprout. Local landscapers should know about this. Don't be shy, protect your property! Don't count on anyone else to come along and protect your property.

So in summary there are three things we as property owners can do:

1. extend drain tiles

2. rip rap to protect sea walls

3. seeding to help with erosion

Work on bottom lands such as dredging is NOT ALLOWED WITHOUT A PERMIT

 

               Phil Dast, President, Secord Lake Association

REMINDER:  Please pay your dues for calendar year 2020!

Dues must be paid in order to vote in the election of Directors at the August meeting

Head to the Membership page to pay online

 

 

Upcoming Meeting Agenda

August 15,2020  10:00am

via Zoom

Secord Lake Association Board Members:

Phil Dast, President

Chuck Sikora, Vice President

Jeanne Ballor, Secretary

Susan Morgan, Treasurer

Richard West, Director

Deb Stover, Director

Bruce Plowman, Director

Rita Lewis, Director

Carl Kerr, Director

2020 BOARD MEETING SCHEDULE

Open to the Public

3rd Saturday of the Month

Saturday April 18, 2020 11:00am

CANCELLED

Due to Stay Home, Stay Safe Order


Saturday May 16, 2020 11:00am

CANCELLED

Due to Stay Home, Stay Safe Order


Saturday June 20, 2020 11:00am

CANCELLED

Due to Governors Executive Order


Saturday  July 18, 2020 10:00am

VIRTUAL MEETING ONLY


Saturday Aug 15, 2020 10:00am

VIRTUAL MEETING ONLY

VIRThis will be the Annual Membership Meeting

Saturday Sept 19, 2020 11:00am

Secord Lake Eagles Club

3485 Lakeshore Drive, Gladwin

Saturday Oct 17, 2020 11:00am

Secord Lake Eagles Club

3485 Lakeshore Drive, Gladwin

No Public meetings November-April

Like us on Facebook!

 

Secord Lake Association | P.O. Box 176 | Gladwin,  MI 48624

email:  secordlakeassociation@gmail.com