Shorebird project creating fun look

Some would contend The Alpena News went “to the birds” a long time ago.

Faithful readers, like Chris Witulski, know better. The executive director of the Besser Museum for Northeast Michigan always has been a supporter of newspaper efforts and projects. As the museum’s leader, she knows first-hand the value of good publicity and exposure from the newspaper, and how stories help drive attendance her way.

Thus, when she learned about the Thunder Bay Arts Council’s shorebird project this spring, one of the first ideas that crossed her mind was decorating a bird with newspaper clippings. Armed with newspapers, scissors, adhesive and silicone spray, she set to work. This week she visited the newspaper office and dropped off the bird for display outside.

Trust me, the bird is beautiful. I urge readers to stop by our office and see for themselves the beauty of her work. Naturally it is interesting to read the bird and see the words Witulski selected. The part I like best about the bird is the thought Witulski put into making it. For instance every reporter’s byline is represented on it.

It was the intent of the TBAC members this summer to decorate the city with interesting birds. With the help of a woodworking class at Alpena High School taught by instructor Zach Grulke, about 80 bird silhouettes were cut out, and attached to stakes. Community residents, like Witulski, then volunteered to decorate the birds and when completed, place them around Alpena.

“We’re just trying to get people to have fun,” said TBAC board member Midge Connon in an April newspaper article describing the project. “You don’t have to be artistic to do this.”

The shorebird project is great fun and when all the birds are decorated, they should add a whimsical, interesting and unique look to our community.

As for Witulski, I’m sure the project provided her some respite from a full summer schedule and lots of commitments at the museum, which is in the midst of its own special display – a tribute to Vietnam War veterans. The display represents contributions from 40 veterans of our region, and contains about 400 items. Since its unveiling last month it has received rave reviews. Area residents, visitors, school groups and community service organizations have visited the museum just to see it.

The display, created by Facilities and Exhibits Director Randy Shultz, will remain up until October.

As today’s editorial discusses, Northeast Michigan really shines this time of year. With things like the shorebird project of TBAC and the Vietnam display at the museum, it makes our community glisten and glow all the more.

Thanks Chris for your thoughtfulness and creativity. We hope visitors and residents not only “flock” through our doors, but yours as well.

Bill Speer can be reached via email at or by phone at 354-3111 ext. 331. Follow Bill on Twitter @billspeer13. Read his blog, More BS?(Bill Speer) at