Dan Perkins 2017-01-25 01:07:39
SAVING LIVES OVER A WEEKEND Lions built the life-saving station at Little Presque Isle Point over a weekend. Little Presque Isle is one of the most beautiful and isolated beaches in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The beach also is deceptively dangerous. Swimmers in the shallows who enjoy the 65-degree water can succumb to the currents and quickly find themselves in 40-degree water coping with fierce winds and waves. In mid-June two swimmers drowned there. A few days after the tragedy, Jim Reevs, the editor of the 170-year-old Mining Journal, called me to talk about it. “We need life-saving stations,” he told me. He explained that the Department of Natural Resources built them at nearby Picnic Rocks and McCarty Cove, and there had not been a drowning there in four years. “Have you seen them? They are simple shelters with flotation rings, vests and ropes,” Reevs said. I knew what was coming next. “Can your Lions volunteer to build them at Presque Isle Park?” Reevs’ newspaper has written about our service projects for as long as Lions have been in the area. That’s been close to 100 years. The Marquette Lions Club was chartered in 1919, and my club right next door in Ishpeming followed in 1920. “When do you want these stations built? “I know this is short notice, but can you do them by next week? I think we really need those safety stations before the holiday crowds hit the beaches.” ‘We need life-saving stations,’ he told me. The time frame was nearly impossible. I’m a roofing contractor, and all the Lions who are builders here desperately try to get our work done in the five months of the year where it isn’t snowing. At the intersection of three Great Lakes and the 46th parallel, our area is blessed with 200 to 300 inches of snow per year.We’re lucky if we don’t see any of it in June, July and August. I called the presidents from the clubs in my zone and soon had Bill Lambert of the Skandia Lions Club and Pauli Kniivila of the Republic Lions Club on board. Both are well-seasoned tradesmen as well as committed Lions. They agreed to work through the weekend with me. The next step was to get the materials paid for. We happened to be holding a zone event that week to celebrate a club anniversary. We passed the hat around, and Lions members donated enough for the materials for the safety stations. Bill, Pauli and I built three stations on Friday and Saturday. On Sunday, Craig Swanburg from my roofing crew volunteered to help me put the metal roofing on the stations. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Waterfront Safety Task Force provided the safety gear, which was hung on the structures that afternoon. Turns out that our job was done not a moment too soon. DNR sent me an e-mail from Tiffiny Micyus, a vacationer who came to the beach just a few hours after we were done. She and a friend were swimming when a storm hit. The high waves hit them with force. “The conditions on the lake changed so rapidly that we could not have predicted the swells,” she wrote. “I felt infinitely safer wearing a life jacket.” I hope this story makes you feel as good about being a Lion as it does for me.
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