26 December 2016: The Year in Review

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2016 Boat Launch Cleanup

As 2016 draws to a close it is a good time to reflect on what has (hasn’t) been accomplished this year. In many ways it has been a banner year for the Clary Lake Association: with 116 current members, our membership is at an all-time high and community involvement in and support of the Association and it’s activities has never been higher. Even during the height of the water level petition process in 2012 and 2013 we only had at most 70 members, and last year we had 82 members. Furthermore, our current membership is engaged and informed like never before and willing to step up and participate when the need arises (see picture above!).

DSC_16902016 was the 5th full year that we’ve been engaged in our battle to restore Clary Lake which fact in and of itself, is rather sobering. Who would have thought this problem would take so long to resolve? The fact that after all this time we’re still waiting for the Water Level Order to be enforced is simply hard to believe, and even harder to accept. Through it all the Clary Lake Association Board has steadfastly remained diligent, attentive, and responsive, and 2016 was no exception. We officially met 12 times this past year to conduct Association business, discuss strategy, and make decisions, not to mention the piles of emails sent and phone calls made. It has literally been a full time job for some of us, and I’m deeply grateful for the dedication and commitment of all our Board members. It’s a great group of people and I’m proud to count myself among them. That said, I feel like we have not done all that well at “preserving and protecting Clary Lake” this last year. Perhaps I’m being too harsh on myself, but it seems like we could have accomplished more though in retrospect I have no idea what more we could have done. I would like to have seen more progress made towards implementation of the WLO and more progress on the WLO appeal, though DEP’s establishing the elevation of the normal high water mark of Clary Lake was certainly a big step in the right direction. On the other hand, I was deeply disappointed that efforts by counsel for the dam owner to reach a settlement agreement with DEP, though apparently carried out in good faith, ultimately failed. I never learned why the negotiations failed as nobody is talking, but I have my suspicions and I feel strongly that the dam owner blew a great opportunity this year by not striving to reach a settlement with DEP. Mr. Kelley apparently still believes he can win this battle.

On top of the disappointment of failed settlement discussions, both the WLO appeal and the private lawsuit filed by Robert Rubin and Cheryl Ayer were stayed or delayed much of the year. Nonetheless, significant progress has been made on both cases and at the conclusion of the day of hearings back in mid-November it became clear that both the WLO appeal and the Rubin/Ayers lawsuit are finally going to move forward. I expect to see some serious courtroom activity this coming winter. I can’t wait.

DSC_0807If 2016 wasn’t a particularly good year for us, it was unquestionably a bad one for the Clary Lake dam owner, Paul Kelley, and his partner in crime, Richard Smith. On top of an expensive and disappointing 2015, they continued their losing streak throughout 2016 and undoubtedly spent a lot of money doing it- a trend I expect to see continue, at an accelerating pace, in the coming months as the court cases heat up. Putting it bluntly, the sooner Kelley and Smith run out of money, the better. Starting with their botched foreclosure auction (picture above) late last January followed by months of fruitless (and no doubt expensive) negotiations between Pretiflaherty lawyers and DEP, I don’t think anything really worked out in their favor in 2016. Granted, they managed to slow (but not halt) the progress of both court cases for a while and they probably chalk that up as “winning” but I don’t believe those delaying games gained them anything and in fact I think they lost ground. Now from what I can tell, neither the State nor the Judge are interested in entertaining additional delays going forward. Kelley and Smith are fighting an expensive losing battle, and they’re out of timeouts.

An awful lot happened in 2016 and we have all the website posts to prove it 🙂 You can of course find everything by simply just scrolling down through the news feed and I like to do that from time to time myself, but it can get pretty tedious looking for a certain post or going back to May 2016 or June 2013 to see what happened then just by scrolling. The archive function provides a faster and more convenient way to review website posts, you’ll find a pull-down list on the news page showing months and post totals.

Here is an archive listing by year:


5 thoughts on “26 December 2016: The Year in Review

  1. Malcolm Burson

    Excellent summary, Mr. Secretary, and your continuing dedication to the cause is by itself a matter to celebrate. May the New Year bring us glad tidings!

  2. Jack Holland

    George, Thank you and all others involved in your tireless efforts and many hours spent towards reaching the goal of making our lake “whole” once again. Very much appreciated.

  3. Mary Gingrow-Shaw

    Despite the lack of progress towards implementation of the water level order, the increase in membership and community engagement are very positive accomplishments! Secretary George Fergusson is virtually singlehandedly responsible for the increase in membership…..THANK-YOU George for all your hard work and commitment!

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