2006-07-29 / News

Father Jim Williams Appointed to Park Commission

By Karen Gould

The Mackinac Island State Park Commission (from left, front row) Father Jim Williams, Chairman Dennis Cawthorne, Vice Chair Karen Karam, and Director of Mackinac Island State Parks Phil Porter; (left, back) Secretary Laurie Stupak, Richard A. Manoogian, Joan Porteous, and Frank Kelley. The Mackinac Island State Park Commission (from left, front row) Father Jim Williams, Chairman Dennis Cawthorne, Vice Chair Karen Karam, and Director of Mackinac Island State Parks Phil Porter; (left, back) Secretary Laurie Stupak, Richard A. Manoogian, Joan Porteous, and Frank Kelley. Father Jim Williams, parish priest in St. Ignace and Moran, has been appointed to a seat on the Mackinac Island State Park Commission. No stranger to Mackinac Island, the former Island priest of Ste. Anne's Parish says he has projects he would like to work on that will keep him busy for the next six years of his appointment.

He was appointed to represent Mackinaw City on the commission Wednesday, July 19, by Governor Jennifer Granholm.

His term expires April 12, 2012. Fr. Williams, a Democrat, replaces Audrey Jaggi of Mackinaw City, a Republican, who served on the commission since 1997.

The appointment came two days before the commission's mid-summer meeting, which was held Friday in the Post Hospital building at Fort Mackinac. He said following Friday's meeting that he hopes to give a voice to all area people, since he lives in Mackinaw City, was the Island's priest for 15 years, and now serves as priest for St. Ignatius Loyola Catholic Church in St. Ignace and Immaculate Conception Church in Moran.

"It's like a dream that's been fulfilled once for me and now I have a second chance at it," said Fr. Williams of his appointment and the opportunity to serve the Island community again.

"It's under different auspices, but a similar agenda of trying to do something for the people," he said.

"Some of my first memories here are coming to the park as a young lad and looking down from the Fort at the statue of Father Marquette and saying, 'Gee, I would love to be that man,'" he said.

"I wasn't even a Catholic at that point. Then, to become Catholic and succeed him as pastor here and then I always thought I'd come here as an older man, when I got ready to retire. But I came here earlier than I planned. Now that I'm ready to retire, I can come back."

Fr. Williams hopes to retire from the priesthood next summer.

He said he is interested in seeing the commission and the City of Mackinac Island continue

to work together and in finding new sources for revenue for Mackinac State Historic Parks' programs.

"It's important for our state that this place remains the jewel that it is. So it's a great opportunity to be a part of that. That's what I'm looking forward to," he said.

Following Fr. Williams' first commission meeting on Friday, Commission Chairman Dennis Cawthorne said, "Commissioner Williams brings a wealth of knowledge of the Straits area to this commission and will be extremely well prepared to be a valuable member. He knows the people in this region and

has many contacts statewide that will be of great assistance to us."

The seven-member Mackinac State Park Commission, which was formed in 1895, is responsible for managing Mackinac State Historic Parks.

The parks include Colonial Michilimackinac, Historic Mill Creek, and Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse in Mackinaw City. On Mackinac Island, the park covers approximately 1,800 acres, or 80 percent of the Island, and includes 14 original buildings at Fort Mackinac, which were built in 1780, and also historic buildings in the downtown district.

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