2015 Annual Lighting Awards

Excellence in Outdoor Lighting awarded in Emmet County at annual luncheon

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 OLF Founder Mary Lou Tanton (left) is pictured with the 2015 awardees, (from left) Tracie Roush, Petoskey Farms Vineyard & Winery; Kate Scollin, Preston Feather Building Center; Al Hansen, city of Petoskey; Bob Wheaton, Resort Township; and Dawn Edwards, Mackinaw Area Chamber of Commerce.


The Petoskey-based Outdoor Lighting Forum recognized Excellence in Outdoor Lighting and the Dark Sky Advocate of the Year for 2015, during a luncheon at the City Park Grill in Petoskey on April 21.

The OLF is a grassroots group of volunteers from Emmet, Charlevoix, Antrim and Cheboygan counties that works to “research and disseminate information on good outdoor lighting practices, to promote the efficient use of lighting, offer safety to the public, improve community appearance and protect the night sky environment.”

Mary Lou Tanton, OLF Founder, hosted the program while Jerry Dobek, NASA JPL Ambassador and professor of astronomy at Northwestern Michigan College in Traverse City, offered a presentation on proper outdoor lighting techniques.

Dawn Edwards, executive director of the Mackinaw Area Chamber of Commerce, was awarded with the Dark Sky Advocate of the Year for 2015. Edwards was awarded for her and the chamber’s efforts in promoting the Headlands International Dark Sky Park, its programs and its important role in the Emmet County region and statewide.

Edwards shared a story about attending a program with Headlands Director Mary Stewart Adams on an occasion when the sky became overcast and the stars overhead not visible. It did not deter Adams from engaging the program attendees, Edward noted. “With Mary, we saw everything,” Edwards said.

Honorees for the Gary R. Williams Excellence in Outdoor Lighting Awards were given to:

  • Petoskey Farms Vineyard and Winery, and its owners Tracie and Andy Roush. In accepting the award, Tracie noted how when she was first notified of the award, she and her husband thought the committee had selected the wrong farm and vineyard because they have minimal outdoor lighting. But that is the point of the award, she would later learn. The new Petoskey winery is located on Atkins Road.
  • Preston Feather Building Center in Little Traverse Township, award accepted by Kate Scollin. Preston Feather voluntarily chose to use full cut-off lighting fixtures that point light downward instead of spilling light up into the sky. “We appreciate very much being honored with this award,” Scollin said.
  • City of Petoskey – Public Safety Station West. This award was presented to City of Petoskey Parks and Recreation Director Al Hansen by electrician Bill Muller, who said he was proud to have played a role in the downward-directed lighting and LED lights selected by the city for this fire station near Bay Harbor.  Hansen said the city is looking to convert its other fixtures to LED as well.
  • Resort Township, for its exterior lighting on the township hall on Resort Pike Road. Emmet County Planning and Zoning Director Tammy Doernenburg noted, in giving the award to supervisor Bob Wheaton, that the townships’ use of downward-directed LED lighting was a voluntary decision not stipulated in their zoning code. Wheaton said the Township board used the city of Petoskey’s Public Safety Station West as an example when selecting its lighting.

“I think that says a lot about our community, that we have a number of examples of people and organizations taking these measures voluntarily,” Doernenburg said.  “It’s great to see how one thing leads to another.”

Guest speaker Jerry Dobek showed those gathered further examples of proper and improper lighting techniques in public places, and how glare-producing lights often can result in less-safe conditions in parking lots, for example. By citing examples of proper lighting that shines down and illuminates the area needed lighting, Dobek said he hopes “to show people there’s a better way to do things.”




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