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The National Park Service is trying to determine the best way to repair the historic lens in the Devils Island lighthouse after it was damaged by an October gale.
Apostle Islands National Lakeshore staff discovered on Oct. 25 that about a 2-foot-diameter section of the Fresnel lens had been dislodged from its mounting and fallen to the deck. Parts of it shattered into many pieces.
The Fresnel lens, deemed "the invention that saved a million ships" by one author, has been ensconced at the Devils Island light tower for all but three of 118 years since its installation in 1901.
A round "bull's eye" sits at the center of len's sections, with concentric rings radiating from it, said Kyleleen Cullen, archeology technician for Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. The multiple prisms incorporated into this design bend light from an interior lamp into a narrow beam to increase its brilliance.
Park staff believes the damaged section fell in the upright position, hit the metal decking about 2 to 3 feet below and fell over. The outermost rings cracked into multiple pieces, Cullen said, and staff isn't certain all of them have been recovered.
But the lens will be repaired, just as it was after an 1989 incident damaged a different section of the lens, Cullen said.
Although the Fresnel lens is old, expensive and fragile, the park maintains it atop Devils Island light tower — and exhibits another at the visitor's
center — for the enjoyment of tourists to the Apostle Islands, said Julie Van Stappen, chief of planning and resource management for Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.
Cullen said the park wants to allow tourists to visit the Fresnel lens deck next year, but the park may have to consider whether it can adequately protect the lens while it's under repairs.
In the meantime, the park installed temporary supports and padding to protect the lens, which the Henry-Lepaute Clock and Lens Works of Paris had manufactured, through the winter.
In 1989 the lens was removed to convert the tower to using a smaller solar-powered beacon. That process damaged a section, but thanks to the efforts of concerned local citizens and the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the lens returned to Devils Island in 1992.
Conservation projects continued over the years, and in 2010 the tower lantern was extensively renovated and a conservator specializing in historic Fresnel lenses treated Devil Islands' lens.
Cullen said an expert may not be able to inspect the lens until Memorial Day. After receiving the expert's report, the park service will review its options to repair the lens, send out bids and then talk to the community about restoration efforts.
The heavenly smell of breakfast cooking is still wafting through the air at the Son Shine on Main Cafe as Eugene Bigboy of Bad River finishes the last of his coffee.
Bigboy is often to be found at the cafe when he is in Ashland.
"I'm here at least twice a week. It's a great place to spend some time with good people," he said.
The morning stop for coffee and conversation at Son Shine on Main is a pleasure Bigboy and others had to forgo for the past three months as the cafe was closed off and on because of a serious illness to owner D'Anna Zakovec-Julian, and because she had trouble finding adequate staffing.
Zakovec-Julian had a suspicious mass in her left lung, but it disappeared prior to surgery. She attributes that to the work of God.
A woman of deep Christian faith, Zakovec-Julian has shared her faith in the cafe, decorating the walls with artwork of uplifting spirituality.
Even the name of the business is a reference to the son of God.
Zakovec-Julian thanks God for her loyal group of regular patrons. Of course it doesn't hurt that cook Nathan Thomas makes what Zakovec-Julian modestly describes as "the best burger in town." She also says the cozy operation, located in a historic brownstone building at 311 Main St. E., is much more than just a commercial venture.
"I love this place, I absolutely love it. It's like a second home to me," she said.
Now that her staffing issues have been resolved, regulars have flooded back in the three weeks since the restaurant reopened.
"I like the home cooking and it's a local restaurant," explained Bigboy. "This place is just packed full of locals. They are all good friends, good people, and a. 'Hello, good morning,' kind of people. It's the kind of people I like."
He said the Christian theme also suits him.
"I believe in my faith and I like this place," he said.
Zakovec-Julian said that while the Christian theme was central to the cafe, it us not her intent to impose her views on anyone. Nevertheless, she said the theme often moves people.
"Sometimes, the most unexpected people will come to you and ask 'Will you pray for me?'" she said. "We will stop what we are doing right now and give them a seed of hope."
In the end, it is the quality and value of the food and the atmosphere that will make or break a restaurant.
That's where Thomas said the cafe excels.
"I've been cooking my whole life and this place is different than any other place I've ever been. There is a lot of love here; it's an at-home atmosphere. It's not about cranking it out, it's about making sure that people get a good quality meal, so that they feel like family when the come here," he said.
That is what makes all the difference, waitress Francie Cook said.
"Every time I come in, it's such an uplifting place. I actually look forward to going to work," she said.
The Son Shine on Main Cafe is open Monday through Saturday, from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.
One of Ashland's most deteriorated streets will finally get a makeover in 2021 under plans unveiled at a public hearing this week.
The road long has been a pain for the 52 residents who live along the six-block corridor of Sixth Street East from 13th Avenue East to 19th Avenue East. News of the project was welcomed by some of those residents.
"It's great," said Paula Bietka, who was out walking her dog Thursday near the 19th Avenue East end of the project. "It's been a long time coming."
On the other end of the proposed project, Brian Pospeck was using a push scoop to clear snow from the driveway of his home near 13th Avenue East.
"It's certainly a road that is in dire need of being replaced," he said. "Doing the base instead of just resurfacing is the right approach."
Pospeck said he appreciated the high price of doing the project, but said it is so high because city leaders postponed critical work for so long, allowing the road to grow worse and worse.
"Ashland, like many small towns, has relied on an infrastructure that is just very, very old and beyond its life expectancy. The cost of replacing it, the economics make it harder, but I look at it favorably; it should be done and I am happy they will be doing it," he said.
As the city prepares for the reconstruction, it still hasn't resolved the problems plaguing the west side of Sixth Street, which was rebuilt in 2016 for $5.4 million and almost immediately began failing, with potholes, swales and other defects frustrating motorists.
The city since has been wrangling with contractors, engineers and inspectors about who was responsible for the defective paving and who should pay to have it fixed. City Administrator Brant Kucera said Friday that the city has hired
lawyers and is reexamining its options, which could suing contractors. The city is hiring engineers to fix the defective sections of the road and determine why it failed.
"After we get that report, we have to decide how to move forward," Kucera said.
Though residents look forward to a smooth east section of Sixth Street, Pospeck also worried about one of the same things that concerned west-side homeowners: how traffic will be handled while the project is underway.
"I think I share that with everybody else on Sixth Street," he said.
The reconstruction project is the city's major infrastructure to be funded in 2020. Because Ashland is seeking grant money to fund the project, it won't actually begin until the following year. The project is made up of six major components, including complete reconstruction of the road surface and base, replacement of 2,600 feet of water main originally laid down in 1888, six new fire hydrants to replace old ones that date back to 1937, 1,600 feet of new sewer line and 2,100 feet of replacement sanitary sewer plus sidewalk improvements. Director of Planning and Development Megan McBride said the work will meet several city infrastructure needs, including dealing with a crumbling road surface, updating an obsolete storm sewer system and removing lead water lines for 13 homes.
"The work will benefit a total of 52 households," McBride said. "This is located in sewer district seven, one of the areas that is contributing most to infiltration and inflow."
Leaky sewer pipes in Ashland, often over a century old and constructed of clay pipe that has cracked and broken over time, lead to groundwater infiltration that overwhelm the wastewater treatment plant during heavy rainstorms, forcing the city to discharge untreated sewage into Lake Superior. Public Works officials say getting a handle on infiltration and inflow is the key to preventing future overflows.
Funding for the project will come from a variety of sources. The public hearing on Dec. 3 was the first step in applying for a $1 million Community Development Block Grant. The city has committed a $500,000 match for the grant from its capital improvement budget, which will be joined with $280,000 from the city's wastewater utility budget. Any additional project costs will be covered through loans from the Department of Natural Resources Safe Drinking Water Loan Program, McBride said.
The project itself is virtually shovel-ready.
"Public works has all the design documents ready," she said.
The next step will be a resolution to be acted on by the city council in the next few months authorizing the Planning and Development Department to apply for the grant, which has a May deadline. Word back on the application will occur later in the year. The rest of the pre-construction process should be completed by the beginning of the 2021 construction season, McBride said.