by Lake County Sheriff Rich Martin from https://www.lakecountystar.com
M-37 to close for Baldwin’s Blessing of the Bikes.
The word is that the 2021 Blessing of the Bikes is a go this year, which requires much planning and participation by the Lake County Sheriff’s Office as well as area public safety departments and agencies.
As we all know about the Sunday of the Blessing, we also have a large event Saturday that requires the same planning and partnerships. In this edition of the “Sheriff’s Corner,” I cover the shutting of downtown Baldwin on the Saturday before the Blessing of the Bikes.
It all started in 1972 with eight riders and four motorcycles who would meet at the local catholic church. Since then it has grown into one of the largest events in the area and probably one of the largest biking events in the state.
Along with this, on Saturday afternoon, the bikers will park their bikes all away down the center lane and on both sides of the street in Downtown Baldwin. Historically, this was a small section with two blocks. A couple years back, I opened it up to five blocks for a larger area as well as for safety reasons.
Regardless of what blocks are shut down, we have to reroute traffic around the downtown area.
Increasing to the larger far block area requires the help of area fire departments as well as other law enforcement agencies. This totals about 17 traffic control points as well as 40-plus paid employees and/or volunteers.
BLESSING OF THE BIKES WEEKEND
This year the event will start on the afternoon of Thursday, May 13, when the vendors start setting up downtown, and will run through Sunday, May 16. The actual “Blessing” starts Sunday morning at the Baldwin Airport. The main gate opens at 9 a.m. The prayer will take place about 1 p.m. or shortly thereafter.
THE SATURDAY DETOUR
As we do our best to not inconvenience those who live in the area, as well as limit customers on reaching area businesses, there is no easy answer for this to be perfect. Remember the inconvenience is only one weekend that brings a lot of revenue to area businesses. It isn’t like this is the first time this has happened. To be exact, this is the 49th year that there has been a Blessing.
My primary concern is for the safety of our public safety professionals that are out working, as well as the safety of motorists and residents.
It is never fair to yell, scream or cause an incident with any public safety personnel while working their traffic post. They are only doing their job with many who are also doing this for free.
Since this is an M-Route (or state highway), the village of Baldwin has to pull a special permit to close this section of M-37.
• The closure will commence at 3 p.m. Saturday, May 15, and will expire at 9 p.m. The road will reopen as soon as the motorcycles are cleared.
• Travelling North: Northbound traffic will be rerouted East onto 6th Street, North onto Norway, then West onto 10th Street, ending again northbound on M-37.
• Traveling South: Southbound traffic will be rerouted West onto 10th Street, South onto Maple, the East onto 5th Street, ending again southbound on M-37.
PUBLIC SAFETY PARTNERS
I would like to give a big thanks to those agencies that are coming to assist us while also making this possible to happen. Without their help we could not shut down the larger area.
• Luther Fire Department
• Pleasant Plains Fire Department
• Lake Township Fire Department
• Carr Settlement Fire Department
• Reed City Fire Department
• Mason County Sheriff’s Office
• Osceola County Sheriff’s Office
• Newaygo County Sheriff’s Office
• Lake County Sheriff Reserve Division
SHERIFF FUNDRAISER SHIRTS
Due to the generous donation from Northwest Realty in Baldwin, we will be selling the official 2021 Lake County Sheriff’s Office T-shirt. A price has yet to be set but all proceeds from shirt sales will be later issued to area charities.
For the record, I added the phrase “Come on Vacation, Leave on Probation” to the back of the shirt.
Before someone gets bent out of shape, this is just a funny thing that has been said about area law enforcement for many years. It is not meant to imply that we are out to get people. It’s just a joke … so, be cool.
They will be available for purchase at the Chamber of Commerce tent for most of the weekend.
This information is provided to you for clarification on specific laws, and not legal advice. This is not to be construed as a personal opinion, agreement or disagreement of any specific law. Topics covered are for educational and informational purposes only. As needed, excerpts from other articles are used for reference and/or content. If you have any questions on any specific topic, you may contact the Sheriff’s office.