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Lake Detroiters elect new board, promote invasive species awareness at 77th annual meeting on June 18

Members of the Lake Detroiters Association held their 77th annual meeting at Detroit Lakes High School on Saturday, which featured presentations on aquatic invasive species, an update on weed collection and the election of new board members.

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Jim Wolf, member of the Knights of Columbus, serves French toast and sausages during the 77th annual meeting of the Lake Detroiters Association held at Detroit Lakes High School on June 18, 2022.
Michael Achterling / Detroit Lakes Tribune
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DETROIT LAKES — Members of the Lake Detroiters Association held their 77th annual meeting at Detroit Lakes High School on Saturday, June 18.

The group, consisting of about 300 members, heard presentations concerning aquatic invasive species and the future of weed collection along Detroit Lake during the meeting, which also featured the election of new board members.

"Our mission is to enhance and protect the lake," said Laurie Olson, outgoing president of the Lake Detroiters Association. "It's our greatest resource in Detroit Lakes, one of the greatest, I mean, the town is named after it."

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Laurie Olson, president of the Lake Detroiters Association, delivers remarks during the association's 77th annual meeting, held at Detroit Lakes High School on June 18, 2022.
Michael Achterling / Detroit Lakes Tribune

She also said they have about 350 members in their organization, but there are about 800 properties around Detroit Lake. Adding, residents don't have to be lakefront property owners to be part of the group.

"Our goal this year was to reach 400 (members), I think we're at about 350," she said. "Our (other) goal is to help communicate different issues to all of our members. Right now, one of our biggest issues is the weed pick-up."

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Olson said the Pelican River Watershed District facilitated an aquatic weed pickup for years, for the property owners along the lakefront, but that service is ending after 2022. Miller Yard Care was also present at the meeting and said they will be continuing the weed pickup for the lakeside property owners next year, but the owners will have to pay for the service out-of-pocket.

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Volunteers sign in members and register new ones during the 77th annual meeting of the Lake Detroiters Association, held at Detroit Lakes High School on June 18, 2022.
Michael Achterling / Detroit Lakes Tribune
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Event attendees make their way through the registration desk during the 77th annual meeting of the Lake Detroiters Association, held at Detroit Lakes High School on June 18, 2022.
Michael Achterling / Detroit Lakes Tribune

"The homeowners are assessed for (the weed pickup) and they'd kind of like to see that continue," she said. "But that money is now going to go toward chemical treatment, which is important too."

Olson added that she thinks a separate committee will be formed by the association this year, to address the issue going into 2023

The association also features other committees that are used to better inform the organization about possible policy changes that would require advocacy from the group. Those committees include: land protection and use, shoreland protection, annual meeting organizing and beach captains, who are each responsible for maintaining sections of beach along the Detroit Lake shoreline.

During the meeting, members also played a video and presented findings from the University of Minnesota's Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center, concerning the rising cases of Starry Stonewort, an aquatic invasive species that is becoming more prevalent in Minnesota lakes.

The invasive species is an algae, without a root system, and can usually be plucked out of the lake if it is discovered early enough, one of the members said. However, if it's left alone, a specialized vacuum is needed to ensure all part of the plant are removed from the water.

Laurie Olson was also awarded the organization's 2022 Friend of the Lake Award for her dedication to the organization and its goals.

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Outgoing association president Laurie Olson, right, receives the 2021 Friend of the Lake Award from Brad Wimmer during the 77th annual meeting of the Lake Detroiters Association, held at Detroit Lakes High School on June 18, 2022.
Michael Achterling / Detroit Lakes Tribune

"Laurie's heart is certainly with Detroit Lakes and Lake Detroit," said Brad Wimmer, member of the Lake Detroiters, during the award ceremony. "She's done more than you can believe for Detroit Lakes and the Lake Detroiters Association."

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Elections for new board members also occurred during the meeting. The new board members will serve three-year terms, expiring in 2025.

New board members for the Lake Detroiters Association will be:

  • Craig Caulfield
  • Cheryl Chivers
  • Ross Gonitzke
  • Leon Senn
  • Dick Hecock (renewed)
  • Jamie Skarie (renewed)

After the meeting, new board member Ross Gonitzke said he moved to Detroit Lakes only five years ago, but felt a strong connection to the area in a short time and decided to join the association's board.

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John Flynn, treasurer of the Lake Detroiters Association, delivers the group's financial report during the 77th annual meeting of the Lake Detroiters Association, held at Detroit Lakes High School on June 18, 2022.
Michael Achterling / Detroit Lakes Tribune

"I love Detroit Lakes, it's the best place I've ever lived," said Gonitzke. "I think (the Lake Detroiters Association) will do a lot of good work on the invasive species that are coming, and (will) probably continue to get worse, if we aren't being proactive."

A pancake and French toast breakfast, hosted by the local Knights of Columbus, was also served to members who arrived to the meeting early to participate in the group's social hour.

The Lake Melissa and Sallie Improvement Association also held their annual meeting on June 18 at the Shoreham Chapel.

Multimedia News Lead Reporter
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