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This year was a banner year for news in Leelanau County. The Glen Arbor Sun’s top viewed stories on our website in 2023 included the strange—a relationship coaching cult in Suttons Bay (“Twin Flames, a Suttons Bay cult, an inferno of controversy” was our fourth most-viewed story of all time); the heroic—a neighborhood effort to rescue boaters from a burning craft; the celebratory—The Mill made its long awaited opening on the Crystal River, and collaboration between the National Lakeshore and Leelanau Conservancy to preserve Glen Lake ridge property; the breaking news—an 18-hole putting course and restaurant planned to open next year in Glen Arbor; the historical—our 12-part series covering Leelanau’s farming families; and the reflective—remembering Horndog Newt Cole. Thanks for your readership, and Happy New Year! Here’s the list of our top 10 stories by online views in 2023.

Late last month Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore acquired 8.66 acres of picturesque Miller Hill ridgeline property with views of the Glen Lakes and Lake Michigan from the Leelanau Conservancy for $685,000. Conservancy executive director Tom Nelson said the conservation of the Glen Lake Ridgeline project was the result of a collaboration with true, unsung heroes in the Glen Lake community and Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. The Conservancy and the Lakeshore have an innovative history of working together to acquire and preserve pristine and sensitive land. In 2005 the Conservancy acquired property along the Crystal River that had been potentially slated for a golf course and turned it over to the Lakeshore. The acquisition represented a happy ending to a saga that divided the local community.

Detroit native Pam Baad—pictured here jogging up the Lake Michigan Overlook at Pierce Stocking Drive—was named women’s “champignon” of the 2021 Bordulac Attack. The informal race is organized by the Bordulac family, includes six segments in and around Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and must be completed between June 15 and Halloween. Anyone can form a team or compete solo on any given day by using the Strava mobile app.

Soon after Jason and Jennifer Mott Paupore, their children and dog embarked in their 2006 Galaxie Deck boat on Saturday, July 15 for an early evening of tubing, they accelerated and heard a sudden bang and a pop from the boat’s engine. Jason saw smoke and flames coming out of the engine. He used the fire extinguisher to attempt to put out the fire, but it didn’t help. “We couldn’t stop the fire, so we hopped in the lake and let the boat burn,” said Jason. Conor McCahill, owner of On the Narrows Marina, pulled up to the burning vessel, hopped on board and took Pepper onto his own boat, “like a hero running into a burning building,” said Jason. “A huge ‘thank you’ to the Glen Lake Fire Department, the sheriff’s office, the McCahills both for their work on the water and their hospitality when they got us back to shore, and to everybody on Glen Lake who came by and offered to help!”

The historical and human significance of the presence of the Johnsons and other African-American families in the Empire and Glen Lake area cannot be overestimated. To be there they would have had to deal with all the exigencies of frontier life, mainly the constant hard work and the ability to maintain good cheer and endure isolation. In addition, to get there in the first place, they would’ve had to have survived slavery, including the physical brutality and the trauma of family members being sold. They would have needed to be diplomatic enough to circumvent the laws that made it illegal for slaves to learn to read, write or own property in order to acquire the skills and the goods they’d need if they were later to escape.

In early June, Glen Lake Association (GLA) watershed biologist Rob Karner reported a significant fish die off, the likes of which he had never before seen in his more than 40 years of observing the lakes and rivers in the Glen Lakes watershed. The die off included at least four species—perch, small mouth bass, northern long nosed gar, and sand shiners.

Michelle and Greg Christensen bought their house on the east side of Big Glen Lake in September 2016, when they still had a sandy beach. Within a couple years the rising water had claimed the beach and threatened to erode and devour their grass lawn. They hired Len Allgaier of Peninsula Pavers in 2018 to install stone riprap to protect their lawn.

Invasive PPE masks routinely defile oceans but rarely the Glen Lakes. “Fight invaders,” says Jack Beam. “Fight COVID. Fight plastic. Wear washable cloth masks.”

The Glen Lake Association (GLA), which turns 75 years old this year, is advocating for the creation of an “Overlay District” to protect the Glen Lake and Crystal River watershed. The initiative, three years in the making, is modeled after the Crystal Lake Overlay District in Benzie County, which took effect 25 years ago. A consultant hired by the GLA also championed the Crystal Lake district in the mid-1990s.

The McCahill family hopes to greatly expand its boating business on the Glen Lakes by acquiring Crystal Harbor Marina. But they face staunch local opposition.