2017-10-05 / Front Page

Snowmobile Club Marks Milestone

By Stephen King

Snowmobile club officials (from left) Jeri Griffin, Stu Volkers, Maryann Noah, and Jack Onstot, accepting a Certificate of Recognition from Jessica Holley. Snowmobile club officials (from left) Jeri Griffin, Stu Volkers, Maryann Noah, and Jack Onstot, accepting a Certificate of Recognition from Jessica Holley. The efforts of snowmobiling devotees and supporters in the community were celebrated at a 50th anniversary ceremony for the Les Cheneaux Snowmobile Club, whose members gathered Saturday, September 23, at the Clark Township Hall in Cedarville.

“The Les Cheneaux Snowmobile Club was founded on November 7, 1967,” recounted John Griffin, an area businessman and long-time club member. “The first meeting was held right here in the Clark Township Hall. There were about 35 charter members there. Three of the key members were George Cunningham, Archie Visnaw, and Tony Autore.”

Added Mr. Griffin, a past president of the club and the Michigan Snowmobile Association: “They were a group of people who enjoyed snowmobiling. They started out to clear trails and establish trails.”

“We didn’t know at the time that someday the DNR (Department of Natural Resources) would make us get a permit to do this,” Mr. Griffin quipped.

The celebration included a social hour, presentation, and awards. Mr. Griffin, the keynote speaker, said the club has been active in community: in 1968, members packed down a ski hill, using snowmobiles; in 1979, they planted flowering crabapple trees, some of which can still be seen around town.

He noted that in 1985, the club started contract grooming with the DNR.

Members first groomed by pulling bed springs, then bought a groomer and drag rig.

The club was named MSA Snowmobile Club of the Year in 1993, as well as sponsoring more riders in the “For Women Only” ride that raises money for Easter Seals than any other club in the state.

Special guest speaker Jessica Holley, DNR statewide motorized trails analyst, praised the club for its 50 years of devotion to snowmobiling. She presented a 50-year plaque to its officers: Stu Volker, president; Jack Onstot, vice president; Jeri Griffin, secretary; Maryann Noah, treasurer. Ms. Holley also presented the club a Certificate of Recognition from Governor Rick Snyder’s office.

Mr. Griffin brought to the front of the room some of the groomer drivers who maintain the trails.

“I want to thank all of those drivers who put in the long hours out on the trails, but I also want to thank the many spouses and family members who spend so many long hours wondering if their family member is safe or is stuck out on the trail,” he said. ‘These people go out in all kinds of weather, including blizzards, and, sometimes, when they break down, there is no cell phone coverage. Some have spent nights in the groomer, awaiting rescue. So, tonight I want to thank not only the drivers, but their families who worry about them and support them.”

Ceremonies concluded with a meal and a dance. The club has about 185 members, three groomers, and two groomer barns. It belongs to Michigan Snowmobile Association and the Eastern Upper Peninsula Snowmobile Council.

Club members participate in the community Fourth of July celebration as well as the wintertime Snows Fest. They offer a snowmobile safety course each winter, usually the Friday after Christmas. They also participate in various fundraisers, help when needed during emergencies on trails, and help utility workers gain access to their lines when necessary.

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