An Elk Rapids Live Exclusive
As a follow-up to the recent Coast Guard/Grand Traverse Band signing of a memorandum, I met today with Commander Jonathan Spaner, who emceed the event, to get more insight into the background of the process leading up to the signing as well as the intent of the document.
Commander Spaner has been stationed in Traverse City since 2009. When he arrived, the Coast Guard already had an operational agreement in place with the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians. And an ensuing cordial relationship between Commander Spaner and GTB Chairman Derek Bailey led to increased informal ties between the two organizations.
The major purposes of the memorandum are to (1) codify and formalize a broader relationship, beyond operations, to include cultural and community ties and (2) create a formal relationship that sustains past the organizational tenures of Commander Spaner and Chairman Bailey.
And the intent is to promote better understanding of both communities and to do good works in the community at large. For example, the memorandum explicitly calls for a yearly community service project sponsored and run by both organizations.
Last Saturday, I was struck not only by the formal aspects of the signing ceremony but also by the cordiality and emotional aspects of the event. Commander Spaner himself was surprised by the degree of mutual respect and genuine feelings that surfaced during the ceremony, attributing it in part to the special relationship that he and Chairman Bailey have created. It was truly a remarkable event.
Commander Spaner leaves Traverse City in May to attend school at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. I warned him that, now that he knows our area, he is fated to return to live here once again. I sensed that nothing would please him more.