November 17, 2003 Thurston Nature Center Committee Meeting

7:00-8:00 pm, Thurston Elementary School Library


Present: Janet Baty, Vicki Botek, Beth Caldwell, Mike Conboy, Tom Edsell, Neal Foster, Heidi Koester, Katie Richter, Dave Szczygiel, Elsa Stuber


Heidi explained that Scott Dierks from the Miller’s Creek Study would not be addressing the group, as he did not have all of the information he wanted to present yet.  She expects him to come to a future meeting.


After the attendees introduced themselves, Heidi went over the agenda for the meeting:

1)      Adopt-a-Tree Program–Mike

2)      Kiosk–Heidi

3)      By-laws and procedures–Elsa

4)      Purple loosestrife–Vicki

5)      State of the Huron–Neal



Mike reported that the program was very successful, with about 20 families signing up.  Most of them showed up on the work-day weekend to pick out their trees and start working on them.  Since then, a couple of more families have contacted Mike.


Mike asked that if anyone had not been able to call all the possible volunteer families on his or her list, that the names be turned back in to him, or the person could still try calling the families and giving them Mike’s number.  There are still trees left to be adopted.


Heidi will submit a story about the program to the OHMHA and Thurston P.T.O newsletter.  It was suggested that we advise people what to do if their adopted tree is iced in a storm: it should be left alone to thaw out naturally.


Mike suggested that we could still plant more of the Michigan trees “worth knowing.”  He passed out a list of trees, indicating which ones we have in the center and which we could still plant.  Paw-paws were suggested, although past efforts to establish them in the TNC have failed.



It was suggested that the “kiosk” be called a “sign,” as a more suitable description.


An informative welcome structure for the TNC was suggested in the Master’s study done in the early 1990s.  Chris Wiseman put it in his eagle scout project proposal.  There are still issues to resolve about the composition and form of the structure and its location. 


Heidi presented an overview of  responses from OHAC regarding the sign, which could possibly be placed on OHAC property.  The issue of obtaining OHAC permission was discussed.  It was reported that putting it on OHAC property might necessitate special permission for Thurston students to go look at it, since it would be off school property.  Heidi will find out more about that issue from the teacher who had brought it up.  How the view would affect the view for neighbors was also discussed.


Two non-OHAC locations were suggested and discussed: at the dead end of Yorktown and near the amphitheater.  An advantage of the former was high visibility, especially for people not already familiar with the TNC.  Disadvantages were its proximity to the pool parking lot inviting vandalism and its being the spot where the city plows up snow from Yorktown.  An advantage to the latter was a more protected location and proximity to the amphitheater for teaching purposes.  However, it would be less visible to the general public and maintenance issues might be less readily recognized.


The design of the sign was discussed.  It needs to be of outdoor materials and have some sort of protection for the posted items.  It should be low maintenance and not too complex.  The posted materials need to be able to be changed easily as needed.  Heidi will give Chris a checklist of factors to consider.  She will suggest that he think about what the sign needs to do, and that he visit other similar structures to arrive at a benchmark.


Purple Loosestrife

Vicki reported on some information she had gained from MSU’s Purple Pages on the Web regarding the control of purple loosestrife, particularly the beetle project.  She had contacted two people listed on the Web site.  One suggested that if the infestation is not too great, mechanical control (pulling plants and removing flowerheads) might be the best control.  Vicki said that she had been removing flowerheads this summer, but it was more than she could keep up with, plus some plants were out of reach.  The other person (teacher at a middle school) contacted had tried the beetle project, but had not been very successful in raising the beetles yet, due to not keeping the environment wet and also to a temporary ban on field trips.  She said that the MSU classes “really do tell you everything,” and the program supplies you with plants, beetles, etc.  She did not particularly care for the lesson plans provided.  She had just received a new shipment of beetles.

There is a place on the Web site to register for MSU’s spring class.  Vicki will try to find out more about that and our eligibility for the project and what steps we need to take for those interested.  Neal would like to participate.


By-Laws and Procedures

Elsa presented the research she had done into the former by-laws and procedures of the TNC committee.  We discussed how well the current group fits the definition of membership.  It was decided to invite Pat Manley, principal of Thurston to be a member, as per the by-laws.  It was agreed that we should invite more interested parties to attend meetings, via our e-mail list, and the OHMHA and school newsletters.  The issue of designating voting members was discussed.  It was agreed that in any case, it would be one household, one vote.  It was agreed that the two-year term in the by-laws applied to officers only, and that any officer could be re-elected for a consecutive term.

It was agreed that Roberts’ Rules of Order would be used as needed, particularly in voting situations.  Elsa will write up a draft based on the discussion.  She would appreciate help with the project.


State of the Huron

This topic may be discussed at the next meeting.



Neal is interested in resuscitating the TNC Web site.


Tom and volunteers will move the wood duck nesting house out of the pond to keep it from being a tempting “target” for people who may be on the ice this winter.


Tom asked if we need to keep an eye out for people dumping items in the TNC, as some evidence has been seen.  Neal agreed to write up a notice to distribute in the neighborhood, or put something in the OHMHA newsletter.


The next meeting will take place on Monday, December 15.