PHOTO GALLERY: A U.P. town like no other

Volunteers packing boxes of groceries

Brian Gaudreau, program coordinator at St. Francis Connection Center and volunteers Ruth Grimsby and Sue Heinz pack boxes of groceries to give away to Sawyer residents. St. Francis opened in Sawyer two years ago and also offers help getting utility payment assistance, computer access, clothing and is a site for drug counseling, among other services. (Bridge photos by Chastity Pratt Dawsey)

People eating lunch around a table

Sister Marivek helps serve a free lunch a St. Francis Connection Center

A vacant dorm broken windows and a dilapidated awning

One of several vacant military dorms near the Sawyer International Airport. K.I. Sawyer Air Force Base used to house about 7,000 people. It now houses has about 3,000 residents.

The remains of an exploded building, with a sign in the foreground stating "DO NOT ENTER"

A medical marijuana operation recently exploded near the airport, sending one man to the hospital.

An Air Force plane on the lawn of the K.I. Sawyer Heritage Air Museum

A plane left over from the K.I. Sawyer Air Force Base sits on what is now the lawn of the K.I. Sawyer Heritage Air Museum. In the background is one of dozens of empty buildings in the industrial business district.

A sign for Wood View Estates

Sawyer is not solely low-income, but also home to 287 homeowners including a condo association.

Trash spilling out of run-down garages

Trash spills out of garages on Dart Street, one of three streets in the 8-square-mile community that is suspected of being the most crime-ridden part of the former military base.

A woman talking to a police officer in a school room with chairs stacked against the wall

Janine Mackey, 40, a Sawyer resident for three years, talks to Forsyth Police Officer Trevor Boudreau about a friend’s stolen bike. Mackey helped recover the bike.

Young children smiling at the camera while sitting at round tables with plates and cups

The K.I. Sawyer Community Center serves free meals and provides a place to play for about 40 kids a day during the school year. In summer, the number will top 100.

Chuck Truitt giving a side hug to his grandson standing in their front walkway

Chuck Truitt, 71, and his grandson. Truitt rented in Sawyer for a decade and bought his home about nine years ago. He said the Sawyer reputation for crime and drugs is exaggerated.

Amy Finkbeiner holding up a quilt for the camera among a stack of them in the background

Amy Finkbeiner, site coordinator for the Care Clinic, shows off donated quilts to be distributed to Sawyer families. The Care Clinic provides pregnancy counseling, referrals, resources and free baby supplies

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Mark D
Tue, 06/21/2016 - 11:11am
Looks like Kincheloe.
Leslie Watson
Sat, 06/02/2018 - 5:43pm

I've lived at Sawyer since 2011. I've rented from Sawyer Village and a private owner who lived nearby. I never felt unsafe or had negligent landlords. There wasn't any graffiti, litter, or junk vehicles.

In 2015, I bought in The Pines Condo Assoc. that has 98 single-family homes. I have a 3 bedroom, 1.5 bath one-story home on a quarter of an acre. My backyard has a beautiful view of a grassy valley and pine ridge with blueberries on the hills. There's a trail through the wood from my backyard. I enjoy the safety of caring neighbors and know folks look out for each other here.

Forsyth Township provides prompt responses from police, fire, and ambulance service. There a recycling center. The Forsyth Senior program helps us older folks with home services and lawn care and shovels our walks in the winter. Northern Michigan University has free courses for registered seniors that includes Internet, too.

Sawyer has removed several blighted properties on one of the streets where absentee landlords rented to tenants most reputable companies would not accept.

The people who live here are working on building a ball park and Community gardens. Sawyer residents put on an annual Fishing Days family event. It is a place where neighbors help when you need it even though you may never have met before. All you have to do is post a request on our community Facebook page.

Sawyer residents are making the positive changes and it's a place that's improving all the time.