Local lighthouses net grants

By Kate Hessling
Assistant News Editor
Published: Friday, March 7, 2014 4:32 PM EST

UPPER THUMB — Two Huron County lighthouses are recipients of state grant funds, according to an announcement Friday.

“I’m thrilled,” said Lou Schillinger, president of the Port Austin Reef Light Association.

The association was awarded about $40,000 to go toward rebuilding the cement pier on the dock of the Port Austin Reef Lighthouse, which is located about two and a half miles north of the Port Austin Harbor. Schillinger, who has been involved in restoring and renovating the local lighthouse since 1985, said the association will have to match the grant with about $20,000 in local funds.

Already, the Port Austin Light Association has conducted restoration work that includes new roof shingles, windows and painting. Future projects entail two phases of work on the lighthouse pier to make it navigable by all persons.

Currently, the public can visit the lighthouse, but it’s not accessible to all because of the pier’s deteriorated conditions.

“It’s very treacherous right now, and very dangerous,” Schillinger told the Tribune.

A total of $66,633 in grant funds were awarded to the Port Austin Reef Lighthouse and Pointe aux Barques Lighthouse from the Michigan Lighthouse Assistance Program funded by the state’s specialty license plate program that U.S. Rep. Candice Miller established when serving as Michigan secretary of state.

Schillinger said the Port Austin Reef Light Association originally received a $30,000 grant through that program to complete an engineering and physical survey of the entire lighthouse.