Community Foundation Awards $3.1 Million in Second 2022 Grant Round
Fremont Area Community Foundation recently awarded $3.1 million in its second community grant round of 2022, bringing the total awarded in both rounds in 2022 to more than $5.6 million.
Grant support was awarded to a variety of organizations serving Newaygo County residents, including programs addressing watershed restoration, post-secondary education opportunities, summer reading, and more. Most grant awards concentrated on the Community Foundation’s focus areas of community and economic development, education, and poverty to prosperity.
More than 50 grants were awarded in total, including a $12,500 grant to Goodwill Industries of West Michigan for their Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. VITA offers free tax preparation services to low- and moderate-income families in Newaygo County. It also helps families identify tax credits they might be eligible for, like the earned income tax credit. For more information, call 2-1-1 or visit vitawestmichigan.org.
Another grant for up to $43,450 was awarded to Newaygo County Regional Educational Service Agency (NC RESA) for their 2023 summer internship program. Local young adults ages 16-21 can apply for paid summer internships at a variety of work sites throughout the area, gaining valuable career-related work experience.
Other grants included more than $53,000 for summer camp scholarships for Newaygo County youth and $59,000 for new materials at several local libraries.
The Community Foundation accepts community grant applications online twice each year. Applications for the first grant round of 2023 are due on March 1. Find more information at facommunityfoundation.org/grants.
Sara Bouwkamp was honored for her years of service at the regular meeting of the Newaygo County Board of Commissioners meeting on Wednesday, January 25th.
Ms. Bouwkamp retired after 19 years at the county with her last nine being with the Sheriff’s Office where she finished her career as Office Manager. The resolution read by Board Chair Bryan Kolk praised her as being “a role model to all who were lucky enough to work with her.”
In other business the Board named Doug Harmon to a 3 year term on the Board of Public Works, accepted a bid for flooring work at the Commission on Aging and accepted a grant from the Fremont Area Community Foundation to continue support of the economic development partnership between the county and The Right Place.
White Cloud office offering Safe Use Kits for IV drug users
From our friends at DHD#10:
District Health Department #10 now offers Safe Use Kits, which are aimed at reducing the negative effects associated with drug use, and include syringes, alcohol swabs, sterile water, cookers, cottons, tourniquets, fentanyl test strips, and condoms. A Substance Use Disorder (SUD) resource sheet with treatment, recovery, and naloxone resources are also provided.
Safe Use Kits can be accessed Monday – Friday from 8:30am – 4:30pm in Crawford, Kalkaska, Lake, Manistee, Mason, Mecosta, Newaygo, Oceana, and Wexford Counties.
In addition, individuals can dispose of syringes, needles, and other sharps at all DHD#10 offices. Sharps/needles brought into the office must be sealed in either a standard biohazard sharps container or a laundry detergent jug that is tad shut and labeled sharps. Loose sharps will not be accepted inside the building. A 24-hour drop box is available on the external wall of the buildings. This option is intended for small amounts of loose sharps that are not in a container. For safety purposes, sharps containers should not be left on the ground outside the building. Free sharps containers are provided and can be picked up at all DHD#10 offices.
“IV drug use is a serious issue and one that impacts our communities” said Angie Gullekson, Public Health Educator/Certified Prevention Specialist for DHD#10. “Sharing of injection equipment between people who use drugs has led to several outbreaks of HIV and hepatitis C and spread of other serious infections in the U.S. Since the 1980’s, providing clean injection equipment has been used as a safe and proven way to prevent the spread of these infections. People who inject drugs and regularly use a program providing clean injection equipment, called a Syringe Service Program (SSP), are more than five times as likely to enter treatment for a substance use disorder and nearly three times as likely to report reducing or discontinuing injection as those who have never used an SSP. Providing Safe Use Kits reduces risk in various ways.”
For more information on these programs, visit https://www.mi.gov/ssp and https://www.cdc.gov/ssp.
Newaygo County Schools Participate in Michigan Green Schools
By Katie Clark, Newaygo County Environmental Coalition
Newaygo County Environmental Coalition (NCEC) is proud to coordinate Michigan Green Schools for Newaygo County. On January 18th, NCEC Board member, Katie Clark, presented Scott Sherman, principal of Fremont High School (FHS), and Julie Anderson, FHS MI Green School Coordinator and orchestra teacher, the school’s Michigan Green Schools Emerald Award and flag to display.
“I saw that the coordinator position was open last year, and I like to do my part to be environmentally responsible. Plus, as the orchestra teacher, this position allows me to work with more of our student population. I’m hoping to continue to grow the program,” stated Ms. Anderson.
Michigan Green Schools encourages and recognizes schools that focus on environmental stewardship. A school is eligible to receive a Green, Emerald, or Evergreen School Environmental Designation if the school or students acquired a certain number of points within four categories: recycling, energy, environmental protection, and miscellaneous activities of their choice.
Fremont Public Schools are all active in the MI Green Schools Program, and all earned an Award this year:
Michigan Green Schools is now coordinated by EGLE (Michigan’s Environment, Great Lakes & Energy), and is “…dedicated to assisting all Michigan schools, public and private, achieve environmental goals, which include protecting the air, land, water, and animals of our state along with world outreach through good ecological practices and the teaching of educational stewardship of students pre-kindergarten through high school.” The program started as an idea from some Michigan students and teachers in 2005, and it was presented as a bill in 2006, which was unanimously signed into legislation that same year. In its first official year, 18 schools participated, and in 2016 MI Green Schools program had over 650 Michigan schools engaged.
The new EGLE MI Green Schools portal has a wealth of resources for those participating. There are virtual trainings, resources that schools can borrow for specific activities that are geared toward environmental lessons specifically about Michigan air, water, land, climate, flora and fauna.
If your Newaygo County school would like to participate in the MI Green Schools program for 2023-2024, contact the Newaygo County Michigan Green School Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find information at the MI Green Schools website: www.michigan.gov/egle/public/egle-classroom/michigan-green-schools.
Task force seminar leads to investigation, arrest
A human trafficking investigation has led to the arrest of a 30-year-old Philadelphia, Pennsylvania man in Michigan.
The Grant Police Department is a member of a county-wide task force working to
educate youth on the dangers of illicit online activity. After attending an in-school
seminar regarding human trafficking the victim approached the school resource officer asking for help. Officers from the Grant Police Department then began an investigation. While traveling to meet the victim, Patrick Adam Lathrop was arrested on January 14, 2023 after being intercepted by GPD officers at the Gerard R Ford International Airport. Additionally, multiple electronic devices and hard drives have been seized as evidence. On January 17, 2023 Lathrop was arraigned in the 78th District Court in Newaygo County.
Lathrop is being held on a $75,000 cash bond in the Newaygo County Jail. He is charged with (1) count of Child Sexually Abusive Activity, a 20-year felony and/or $100,000; (1) count of Using a Computer to Commit a Crime, a 20 year to Life felony; (1) count Children – Distributing Sexually Explicit, Visual or Verbal Matter, a 2-year felony. Additional charges in federal courts are possible.
Grant Police Department was assisted by the Newaygo County Prosecutors Office,
Newaygo County Sheriff’s Office, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Gerard R Ford International Airport Police, and the Philadelphia Police Department.
Grant Police Chief Bradley Wade: "Education provided to Grant Students utilizes the K-12 Human Trafficking Education curriculum. This education provides students with information regarding, grooming, red flags and safety measures pertaining to human trafficking. Through this education, it gives students a voice to report any suspicions to a trusted adult".
Teresa Fetterley: "As the Newaygo County Human Trafficking Taskforce Chair, we are relieved to know that this student is safe. The catalyst that triggered the student to come forward was the A21 Prevention Education Curriculum, specifically the online grooming lesson. We are grateful for the passionate staff at Grant High School willing to take the time and energy to address this pervasive and hidden crime of Human Trafficking in our schools, county, state and nation."
Anyone with information regarding this investigation is asked to the call the Grant Police Department at (231)834-7212.
Grants awarded to help fund school resource officers
LANSING, Mich., Jan 17, 2023- Today, Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced that 195 school districts, intermediate school districts, and public-school academies will receive nearly $25 million to support the hiring of 195 school resource officers (SROs) for the next three years. The program will improve safety and security for more than 334,000 students in our state.
Here are the grants awarded to local schools and their enrollment numbers:
Fremont $131,966 2,086
Grant $118,14 1,639
Hesperia $90,000 843
NC RESA $128,77 1,050
Newaygo $109,850 1,531
“Every parent wants their kids to be safe at school,” said Governor Whitmer. “These grants will help us hire almost 200 more School Resource Officers so we can make sure our children, teachers, and staff are safe at school.
A panel consisting of representatives from education and policing awarded the grants, giving priority to schools and school districts without a school resource officer currently in place, as well as schools from more communities with lower student enrollment and less total per pupil funding. These funds administered by the Michigan State Police (MSP), Grants and Community Services Division, may be used to support salaries, benefits and training for SROs, which are law enforcement officers responsible for keeping students safe in school. A 50 percent match is required to be provided by the applicant jurisdiction.
“These grant awards will not only help to provide better safety in our school buildings by increasing the number of schools throughout the state with at least one SRO, but very importantly, by prioritizing smaller schools in more remote areas, we will reduce the time it takes for a police response in the event of an emergency,” said MSP Director Col. Joe Gasper.
Fremont Area Community Foundation Awards $5 Million Mission-Related Investment to Great Lakes Energy
Fremont Area Community Foundation recently awarded a $5 million mission-related investment to Great Lakes Energy to expand local access to broadband internet service in Lake, Mecosta, Newaygo, and Osceola counties.
The investment will support Great Lakes Energy’s expansion of their Truestream fiber network, empowering more rural residents with access to the internet connections they need for work, school, and telehealth. The expansion is slated to impact all four counties served by the Community Foundation and its three geographic affiliate foundations.
Approximately 53 percent of people in Newaygo County do not have broadband access, according to FCC data. While numbers are more encouraging in Mecosta County, a quarter of the population still lacks access to broadband. In Lake and Osceola counties, the number is over 70 percent. This creates significant barriers to working and studying from home, accessing telehealth services, and completing important tasks like looking for a new job or filing taxes. Affordable access to reliable internet can also create new possibilities for business expansion and increased home sales.
“Rural areas like ours are still not widely served by the reliable, high-speed internet that is now a necessity for most people and businesses,” said Shelly Kasprzycki, president and CEO of the Community Foundation. “We are excited to support the local expansion of broadband service.”
Kasprzycki noted that a mission-related investment is a unique, flexible tool that philanthropic organizations can use to create positive impacts in a community beyond regular grantmaking programs.
“Unlike a typical grant, a mission-related investment is repaid, and because these investments are recovered, it allows our resources to go farther and be used again,” said Kasprzycki. “Great Lakes Energy has an over 85-year history in our state, and we’re proud to partner with them on this important project.”
Great Lakes Energy is the largest member-owned power company in Michigan, serving rural parts of 26 counties in western Michigan. They provide electric service to nearly 29,000 homes and businesses in Lake, Mecosta, Newaygo, and Osceola counties. They launched Truestream, a fiber internet and voice service, in 2018 to provide connections to underserved and unserved rural areas. Nearly 4,000 miles of fiber line has already been installed in 10 counties and nearly 16,000 homes and businesses have been connected.
“This partnership with the Fremont Area Community Foundation furthers our goal to bring internet and voice services to our members,” said Shaun Lamp, president and CEO of Great Lakes Energy and Truestream. “We have already begun expanding the Truestream network in Newaygo County and with this investment will continue the momentum to connect more homes and businesses to life-changing fiber service.”
For more information about Great Lakes Energy’s Truestream network visit truestreamfiber.com.
Conservation Officer, Newaygo County Man released from hospital following ice rescue; DNR urges ice, snowmobile safety ahead of holiday weekend
From our friends at Michigan DNR:
Leading into a long weekend for many Michiganders, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources reminds outdoor enthusiasts to use extreme caution when on or near the ice – including snowmobilers.
The DNR is emphasizing such caution after an ice rescue Sunday on Blanche Lake in Newaygo County. A 21-year-old Grant man and a DNR conservation officer received treatment for hypothermia, and both have since been released from the hospital.
“The department is beyond grateful that one of our conservation officers and a young man are both doing well after spending an extended amount of time in the cold water,” said Chief Dave Shaw, DNR Law Enforcement Division.
“As anxious as we all are to enjoy our favorite winter activities, the unseasonable winter has created unstable ice conditions throughout much of the state, particularly the Lower Peninsula,” Shaw said. “Everyone should use extreme caution when on or near the ice, consider wearing a personal floatation device and have ice picks easily accessible. There is no such thing as safe ice.”
Conservation Officers Jeff Ginn and Tim Barboza and probationary Conservation Officer Brandon Benedict responded to Blanch Lake, located east of M-37 and north of State Road after a caller contacted 911 around 3:20 p.m., stating a man walking on the ice had broken through into the water, where the depth ranges from 15 to 20 feet. Wearing a personal floatation device, Ginn crawled on the ice to the open water, about 50 to 75 yards from shore, where the man was clinging to the edge of the ice about an inch thick. The man displayed signs of hypothermia and was too weak to swim.
“When I was about 10 feet from the man, I threw him a personal floatation device and a rescue rope,” Ginn said. “He was unable to hold the PFD because he was holding onto the ice shelf.”
The officers attempted several ice rescue methods, including tossing the man a throw rope and ice picks.
“He was unable to wrap the rope around himself because he did not want to let go of the ice,” Ginn said. “I threw him ice spikes, but he couldn’t reach them.”
Ginn was using an off-road vehicle ramp for weight distribution, and used the ramp to push the ice picks closer to the man.
“Water began to flood the surface of the ice, then broke underneath me, causing me to enter the water,” Ginn said. “Once in the water, I swam to and grabbed ahold of him. I grabbed the PFD I previously threw to him, had him hold it to his chest, then grabbed the rope and ice spikes and swam us to the edge of the ice. I used the ice spikes to hold us against the ice shelf and attempted to tie the rope around his body under his arms.”
Barboza then crawled on the ice to tie a rope through Ginn’s PFD. Additional ropes were tied to the original line, which emergency responders used to try and pull the men from the water, but the ice continued to break. Ginn was eventually pulled from the water but jumped back in to keep the man from sinking.
“I knew we were going to be in the water for a while, and kept talking to the man to keep him alert,” Ginn said. “I knew if I let go, he’d sink.”
Dressed in cold-water survival suits, emergency responders from the Newaygo Fire Department deployed an inflatable raft to successfully secure the 21-year-old and remove him from the water. Then Ginn climbed out of the lake onto the ice, and rescuers used the rope to pull him to shore.
The 21-year-old was in the water for more than 30 minutes and had a reported body temperature of 87 degrees Fahrenheit; he was transported to a hospital in Grand Rapids, treated for hypothermia and later released.
Ginn, in the water for about 20 minutes, was transported to Gerber Hospital in Fremont, where he was treated for hypothermia and released Sunday evening. Ginn had a reported body temperature of 89 degrees Fahrenheit.
Additional assisting agencies include the Ashland-Grant Fire Department, Life EMS, the Newaygo County dive team and Newaygo County Central Dispatch.
“Going into a long weekend, this is when conservation officers usually see a lot of snowmobile and ice-related activity,” Shaw said. “We hope everyone keeps safety in mind by being cautious on the ice and operating snowmobiles sober and at a safe speed.”
The DNR is not releasing the name of the 21-year-old man.
Winter outdoor recreation activities require preparation and caution. If you witness someone break through the ice, immediately call 911. Before spending any time on or around ice, review ice safety tips at Michigan.gov/IceSafety.
City selected to host Community Development Fellow
On Friday, the Community Economic Development Association of Michigan (CEDAM) announced the ten communities chosen to host Community Development Fellows in 2023. The City of White Cloud is among this year’s cohort, the only community from West Michigan.
CEDAM’s Community Development Fellowship program was created in 2018 to help add capacity to communities working to achieve their economic development potential. Fellows have a proven track record of securing grant funding for projects, supporting the integration of planning and zoning best practices, gathering important resident feedback and much more! This program is made possible through funding and partnership with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. This technical assistance program places a trained community development professional in selected communities for 15 months, at minimal cost to the community.
“We are thrilled that White Cloud has been chosen for this amazing opportunity! We are looking forward to hosting a fellow and working collaboratively with local leaders, stakeholders, and residents to continue to work towards White Cloud’s full potential. It’s a marathon and not a sprint, but this is an excellent step assisting us in the goals we have.” says City Manager, April Storms.
This opportunity will capitalize on the momentum the City of White Cloud has had over the past 12 months, including: significant progress on redevelopment ready communities’ certification, partnership with developers on workforce housing PILOT opportunities, securing several grants for upgrades to parks, security, sidewalks, and several park upgrades.
“The City of White Cloud’s participation with the CEDAM Fellowship program is another example of the growth focus exhibited by their current leadership,” shared Julie Burrell, Newaygo County Economic Development Director and Regional Partner Lead for The Right Place. “It is exciting to see communities take advantage of the resources available, and we are excited to work alongside White Cloud through this incredible opportunity.”
Packer Athletics honor Doug Harmon
By Ken DeLaat
It was halftime at the Fremont/Tri County boys basketball game and I was sitting next to Doug Harmon who had been ensconced behind the microphone since before the earlier girls game preparing for the evening's events.
Actually Doug has been in that seat quite a bit longer. For over a quarter of a century Harmon has been announcing Packer athletics and on this night unbeknownst to him there was a bit of a surprise in store.
As the teams exited to the locker room for intermission Former Packer Coach Pete Zerfas appeared at courtside, picked up a mike and delivered a tribute to the man who has givenn a voice to Packer athletics since the mid 90’s.
“Welcome to everybody here from Fremont, and our sports community. Today we’re taking a moment to recognize the contributions of an important member of our Fremont athletic organization, who has been a crucial part of our sporting events for 27 years. I’d like to recognize the work and dedication of the one, and only, Doug Harmon at the announcer’s microphone.”
As Doug looked over at Pete he also saw his family enter the gym and take their place at center court. As he scanned the area he also saw friends from throughout the community who may not be regular attendees at the games but showed up to honor the man who brought a level of dedication and professionalism to the high school athletes that compete on the court or football field. He then joined his family at center court after receiving a plaque to commemorate his tireless efforts over the years.
Harmon is a true professional. Over the years of covering sports I’ve had the privilege of sitting beside him courtside or being on the field and listening to his announcing from the booth. A master at his craft he seems to effortlessly work his way through the games, injecting the occasional PSA and playing a pre-planned series of musical interludes during breaks all the while giving life to the game and credit to those who play it.
But don’t be deceived by the ease with which he performs his tasks. Harmon does his homework. From the programming and timing of the music to ensuring the names of the participants are pronounced correctly he prepares for each contest with the professionalism he brings to any task. In his introduction Coach Zerfas spoke to how Doug has always treated every athlete coach and official with a heightened level of respect. This is who Doug Harmon is.
Having known him for many years and witnessed him in action as he serves the community through many committees and boards as well as pitching in at various events throughout the area, I have been continually impressed with his good nature, his work ethic and above all his integrity.
These are all elements Doug has brought to the sporting events he has been announcing since his own children wore the Packer uniform.
Coach Zerfas: "For all the years I coached Doug was a fixture at the table announcing our players and coaching staffs. He has been a constant and important piece of Fremont Athletics. Though he has announced basketball and football games for the past 25 years, his service to our community and our school system goes far beyond that. It is almost impossible to put into perspective all the community service, time and energy he has given to our community.
"The games were always important, but when you heard Doug's Voice, 'The Voice of Fremont', it just felt like the game was that much bigger.
"It was always nice to see Doug before the game and talk about fishing, hunting and the outdoors. Doug is a pillar of our community and I am lucky enough to call him a friend.”
After the presentation Doug was obviously touched by the outpouring of appreciation received. But there was a second half to play and with the task at hand he settled in at the mike and, as always, seamlessly called the rest of what turned out to be a Packer victory.
Catching up with him later he gave us this response:
“I was humbled and was feeling blessed. Family and friends, coaches, staff and players surprised me with a presentation of a plaque and kind words from former boys coach Pete Zerfas. Totally caught off guard, I thought maybe I was getting my walking papers. It was a wonderful expression of appreciation for 27 plus years of announcing Fremont sporting events. I have been blessed to have the support of my wife Holly and family for all of the years of my involvement.
“Working with so many wonderful people over the years, coaches, officials, staff, players and scoring table volunteers has been such a positive experience.
“I thank everyone for allowing me to be a small part of the local athletic experience. In my heart there is nothing better than high school sports.”
In any community there are the people who step up. Those who can be counted on to help out in any way they can.
Doug Harmon is such a person.
And the community is better for it.