New Baltimore unveils new maritime center

Jun 18, 2013

A 24-foot security patrol boat and its docking location were unveiled Monday at the Lake St. Clair waterfront in New Baltimore.

But the person most credited with trumpeting the project was absent.

Instead, New Baltimore Police Chief Tim Wiley was a patient resting at McLaren Macomb hospital in Mount Clemens for what was described as a non-life threatening illness.

Wiley’s illness was noted by Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel, who was among the hundreds of dignitaries and officials attending, including U.S. Rep. Candice Miller, who pushed for federal funding for the project which includes a Homeland Security financed patrol vessel.

The marina and marine boat patrol was Wiley’s brainstorm. He had been promoting the idea for the past two years.

It didn’t take much for Wiley to convince Miller to support the plan since the Republican congresswoman from Harrison Township is an avid boater and supporter of securing the country’s borders.

The 18-slip boat dock is expected to boost summer activity in the New Baltimore downtown section, according to city officials,

“The marina will be a huge boom to our community and the marine patrol will keep our harbor safe,” said Mayor Larry Smith

The new facility gives boaters the opportunity to dock at the foot of the city’s downtown section and get out of their vessels and walk around the city’s hub to eat and shop in the community’s stores and restaurants.

Miller said she and several others have been campaigning for federal funds for several years. She said the northern Macomb County border with Canada presents some interesting challenges in the area of security.

“We have some immigration challenges,” Miller said. “This (Lake St. Clair) is one of the busiest waterways in the world and this (patrol) boat will be multi-jurisdictional.”

The docks cost $75,000 while the cost of the patrol boat was $260,000. In addition to federal funding, additional financing came from the Walter & Mary Burke Estate.

New Baltimore police officer Sean Yax, commander of the marine patrol, said the boat is a 24-foot Boston Whaler Justice which has twin 200 Mercury Varado engines that can do 50 miles per hour. New Baltimore will have jurisdiction one half mile out into the lake from the shore and one-half mile to the north and south into Chesterfield and Ira townships.

At the informal dedication, the patrol boat was named “the Wiz” in honor of Reserve Officer Patrick Wisniewski who was killed on June 2. Wisniewski died from injuries sustained when he was struck while riding his motorcycle while returning home from Selfridge Air National Guard Base where he served as a sergeant in the Michigan Air National Guard.

The new security vessel named, “The Wiz,” the nickname of late Reserve Officer Patrick Wisniewski. (Photo by the New Baltimore Police Department)

Wisniewski was a reserve officer who was the next person in line to become a fulltime New Baltimore police officer. He had successfully completed boating safety classes and would have been assigned to the patrol boat.

His widow, Jennifer, was a special guest at the inauguration of the marine patrol and she said she was proud and humbled to have her husband’s name connected to the new patrol boat.

Marine Officer Yax said there is more to the marine patrol than handing out drunken driving violations and arresting those who misbehave. He said the Anchor Bay area is an ideal location for smuggling drugs and illegal aliens sneaking into the United States. He said law enforcement agencies will combine their efforts to put a dent into it.

“We hope to team up with the Macomb County Sheriff’s marine patrol, border patrol, Coast Guard and St. Clair County Sheriff’s marine patrol,” Yax said. “We expect to do a lot of boater safety programs and search and rescue missions.”

The boat and marine will be run on donations and state and federal grants, according to Yax.