Year in review: Village of Sanford with Dolores Porte

Intro by Ron Beacom:  

The focus on the village of Sanford was magnified in 2020 after it suffered catastrophic damage when the dams on Wixom and Sanford Lakes were breached. As we approach a new year, we look back at what’s been accomplished in 2021.

Dolores Porte is the village president. She’s served in that role for about two years, with nine years of service on the Council.  She’s a native of Coleman but has lived in Sanford for 20 years. Porte retired from Dow as Global Accounts Payable Leader in 2016. She started there as a high school co-op. 

The Village of Sanford occupies 1.3 square miles within Jerome Township and the heart of mid-Michigan. There are 813 people and 387 households with a median age of 44.6 years. The center of the village is downtown Sanford.

Article by Dolores Porte:

It has been 1.5 years since the dam failures and the devastation of the Sanford area. It has been some heartbreaking and exciting times. In 2020, CJs Salon, J&D Plumbing, Cole’s Wrecker Service, Jack’s Pizza, Auto Parts Store and many others returned to service. In 2021, the Sanford Hardware, Ellis Party Store/Marathon and the Red Oak Lounge reopened.

Sanford Hardware reopened in the spring of 2021.Two new businesses, The Studio (yoga, dancing, tai chi) and Samaritan Appliance opened. Huntington Bank is scheduled to reopen the first part of 2022. Numerous residential homes have been finished and people are moving in; rentals are being finished and lights are back on in buildings that had gone dark. At the same time, numerous other residential properties remain empty and may be repurposed in the future. 

As a result of the 2017 hazard mitigation green space project, Porte Park has been opened and used for car shows, concerts, funeral luncheons, a Christmas display of lights, and soon, a wedding. Once funding has been secured, the rebuild of the Village of Sanford Park with playgrounds, horseshoes, a fishing platform, ball diamonds, basketball, a sled hill, a dog park will begin.

The Sanford community has come together to stage the Sanford Shines holiday event.Art is coming to town beginning with the first mural near completion downtown and eventually topiaries and possibly other art forms in Porte Park. The community garden was opened in summer of 2021. The Village of Sanford is working to write a downtown strategy, looking into storm sewer improvements, feasibility of city sewers and many other infrastructure projects.

After a tragic dam failure where multiple businesses and homes perished while others have made a comeback, the town has demonstrated their resilience and is rebuilding bigger, better and stronger. The sense of community is more visible than ever. The tagline of “best little town by a dam site” remains true even while the dam is currently out of service and the water is missing from the lake. The spirit of the community marches forward – Sanford Rising. It’s not just a town, it’s an experience.
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