In 1996, a group of Friends came together with a straightforward purpose to Care, Share, and Enjoy the Shiawassee River. Every year, we recognize volunteers and other Friends who make our work possible. We give awards for those who care for the River, share with others their knowledge and affection for the River, and help us all enjoy what the River can give us.
The CARE AWARD this year goes to the City of Corunna, including Mayor Chuck Kerridge, Assessor/Planner Merilee Lawson, City Manager Joe Sawyer, and Tim Crawford from the Department of Public Works, for their efforts and partnership with the Friends to restore the River at the site of the former Corunna dam. In 1996 we organized our first clean-up, and the City of Corunna was of one our partners. We pulled out about 300 tires that first year, which ended up there for a variety of reasons. While most of them are irresponsible methods of tire disposal, some people made a misinformed attempt to stop bank erosion. Once in the River, a tire is unsightly and can be hard to remove.
The City of Corunna has had the equivalent of a big tire stuck in the River for many years. The dam in Corunna, built over 100 years ago, once served a useful purpose, but it has been decades since it added any value to the community. But taking a dam out is hard work, kind of like pulling out a tire mired in the silt and mud. We recognize the City of Corunna for their diligence and commitment to restoring the River. The Friends will support enhancing the new recreational opportunities provided by the dam removal.
This year’s SHARE AWARD goes to David Richardson, a Byron Middle School teacher, for his continued participation in the Friends’ Stream Team program and for inspiring his students to become life-long river stewards. When it comes to sharing our knowledge and appreciation of the Shiawassee River, perhaps nothing is better than the volunteer water quality monitoring (Stream Team) we conduct at twelve sites from Holly to St. Charles. The most rewarding part of Stream Team efforts may be our work with schools and getting students into the River to learn science hands-on and boots-in.
The Friends has been fortunate to work with Dave and other teachers watershed-wide to help hundreds of students collect data and learn about what lives in the River. Dave’s love for the Shiawassee is shared with his students with the river ecology lessons and other projects like "Salmon in the Classroom". His ability and enthusiasm to share science and knowledge and personally show his appreciation of the River to his students is truly inspiring.
ENJOY AWARDSthis year are given to two Shiawassee area artists, Linda Beeman and Tom Tomasek, for their support of the Friends and their extraordinary talents in highlighting the river through their visual artistry. When we think of “enjoying” the Shiawassee, we usually think of paddling, or fishing, or using one of the many public parks or walkways located along the River.
However, many of us just enjoy the Shiawassee for the beauty it adds to our life. Linda and Tom have a gift for capturing the special beauty of the Shiawassee, and sharing it with others. Their work has given exposure to the Shiawassee widely, even internationally. Linda has helped build a relationship between the state of Shiga in Japan and Michigan and helped facilitate cultural and scientific exchanges that have benefitted both.
Tom and Linda have also supported the Friends by donating their art for auction at our annual fundraising events. Linda also championed the painting and installation of a mural along the River in downtown Owosso. We need the beauty of the Shiawassee River, and Linda and Tom have helped many people connect and fully appreciate the beauty it offers us.
THANK YOU to all our volunteers and other Friends. Those we recognize with an award are of course only a few of those who contribute to our success. They are representative of the best that is given to make the Shiawassee healthy, clean, and available to all.