Source: Sherman Publications

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Optimist partnership saves Deer Lake

by Trevor Keiser

July 20, 2011

From left, Sue Ring, immediate Optimist past president; Larry Rosso, Optimist member and township trustee; Don Brose, international vice president; Jeff Reed, president; Ken Elwert, parks and recreation director; Jim Evans, founder of Clarkston Area Optimist Club; Bobbie Nelson, parks and rec beach supervisor; and Katherine Sloan, parks and rec swim lesson supervisor, help rescue Deer Lake Beach with a $20,000 check. Photo provided.
According to Independence Township Parks and Recreation Director Ken Elwert, Deer Lake wouldn't be in full force today if it wasn't for the partnership between Parks and Recreation and the Optimist Club, which donated $20,000 towards the beach this year.

"It really wouldn't have been manned with lifeguards, swim lessons or anything if they hadn't come forward," Elwert said. "The township then stood up and matched the amount. That was really the only way it was going to work this year."

Jeff Reed, Optimists president, said the club was fortunate to receive a grant early in the year. The club is celebrating 25 years in the community on Aug. 20 this year, so they wanted to do some big events for the community. He said they heard a lot of concerns about Deer Lake.

"The fear was the beach was going to be closed," he said. "We know that wasn't the case, but people were concerned about not having lifeguards or swim lessons there."

Reed said the club prioritized what they thought the grant money could be spent on and took a vote to the Optimists and Deer Lake was ranked number one.

"We were proud to make that happen," he said. "So many people have come to me and said 'I learned to swim at that beach and now it's good that my kids and my grandkids can do it.'"

Elwert noted as more budgets tighten across the nation that there will be "more commercial and service club partnerships to keep things going at the same level people have expected in the past."

The Optimist Club also supports other Parks and Rec programs, including the playground at Baycourt Park, spray park at Clintonwood, as well as the Friendly Forest. They are also involved in the schools. The club is funding a summer reading program later in August for the elementary schools as well as an anti-bullying called "No Place for Hate" at the junior high and high school.

"Our motto is 'bringing out the best in kids,'" Reed said. "I just recommend whoever stops by the beach they take the time to read our Optimist Creed that's posted on the sign there."