Classic 3x3 competition coming to Newaygo County
Publisher Note: I recall what were known as the ZIT games that took place in the driveway across the street from where I grew up.
The Zerfas Invitational Tournament, a 3 on 3 or sometimes a 2 on 2 set of games featured a variety of players from various parts of the Grand Rapids area and were hosted by former Fremont Head Coach Pete Zerfas’ Dad and Uncle.
Some good players hit that pavement and the games were nothing but serious. As kids we emulated the games playing driveway ball for bragging rights and hopes of one day being invited to play with ‘the big guys’.
Then after a couple of decades, the Macker franchise came along and I was thrilled to see the genre taking life in venues throughout the state and indeed the nation.
There is nothing like it.
Now the game is coming to Newaygo County.
The River Country Chamber of Commerce is bringing Gus Macker Basketball to Newaygo County with Cory Nelson Custom Homes as one of the major sponsors of the event along with Spectrum Health Gerber Memorial, Jerry’s Towing, Newaygo Fitness Club, and Velocity.
America's Original 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament will hit Newaygo County, MI, July 16-17.
Ever been to a Macker?
It is a grueling quest for glory that involves the classic 3 person hoops at its best. A tournament that brings out hoopsters of all ages who play for the absolute love of the game. Gus Macker Tournaments are designed for basketball players who embrace the fun of the driveway game – male or female, from age 7 to 70-plus, short and tall, the most experienced or those with little or no experience who just want to play. Through the years there have been almost 1,500 sanctioned Gus Macker Tournaments presented for over 700,000 teams or almost 2.7 million players and played in front of almost 28 million spectators across the country.
This year, 2022, is the 49th year of Gus Macker Basketball. For the first 13 years it was a single tournament started by a pair of brothers and their friends in Lowell, Mich., in 1974 but became a festival phenomenon and America’s Original 3- on-3 Basketball Tour in 1987.
This year, basketball fanatics across Newaygo County and the surrounding communities can be a part of it, because teams are now computer-matched into male and female divisions in one of three categories: Junior, Adult, or Top. The age, height and experience of all four players on each team are considered in bracketing.
Teams receive at least three scheduled games each tournament. Macker is a double-elimination tournament, but with a consolation bracket historically called “The Toilet Bowl” for teams that lose the first two games. Macker tournaments normally maintain order in almost all cases with registered officials calling fouls and violations.
In addition to the economic impact of bringing thousands of players and fans into Newaygo County, the charitable aspect of the Gus Macker Tournament is very important. For 2022, The Chamber will be engaging Newaygo County non-profit organizations who will be able to benefit financially through volunteer opportunities. The Gus Macker organization estimates that since 1987 - approximately $16 million has been raised for local charities. If your business or organization would like to be a part of the planning process or volunteer, we want to hear from you.
“Family fun, a competitive spirit, all in an outdoor festival atmosphere is our goal of bringing Gus Macker to Newaygo,” said Dale Richardson, Chairman of the River Country Chamber. “Fire up and get to work on your game!”
Learn more at macker.com.
River Country Chamber of Commerce of Newaygo County announces Kelly Rider as incoming Executive Director
“We are delighted to announce that after a comprehensive search, River Country Chamber has hired Kelly Rider as our new Executive Director” stated Dale Richardson, Chamber President.
“Kelly has a strong background in the skills we need to move the organization forward, and also has deep Michigan and local roots.”
Kelly will succeed Colleen Lynema, who will retire from this position after 11 years.
Ms. Rider, originally from Brimley, Michigan in the upper peninsula, completed her undergraduate studies at Central Michigan University and now resides in Grant with her husband Kirk and two children.
“I am thrilled with being selected for the position of Executive Director during a period of substantial growth” stated Kelly. “I am excited to shift my career gears and invest my time and energy into my own community and see what kind of impact I can make in my own hometown. I’m excited to get to know the people and businesses that make this community such a great place to raise a family."
For the last 20 years Kelly has been employed by Sparta Area Schools, holding titles ranging from athletic Trainer, administrative assistant to the athletic director and Athletic Director or the last 10 years. Her family time centers around the gym, courts, or fields watching our kids play basketball, volleyball, football, baseball, and softball, as well as traveling and making memories all over the country.
“Kelly’s enthusiasm and excitement are contagious- She is looking forward to jumping in with both feet” stated Lynema. “I look forward to assisting Kelly as she transitions into the role as Executive Director. The River Country Chamber is on the right path for a bright future.”
Grant Schools Host Student Leadership Symposium
Photos and story by Mike Gesler
If you open up the Grant Public Schools webpage, one of the first things you see is the motto, “Developing Learners and Leaders.” Grant certainly took that motto to heart Wednesday morning by hosting the Newaygo County Student Leadership Symposium. The symposium was open to students in grades seven through twelve that were identified as leaders within their particular subgroups. In attendance were team captains, student council members, band chairs, National Honor Society members, etc.; students that have the ability to affect the lives of other students, their school, and their community. School districts from around the county and local area were invited to participate. Participating school districts included Grant, Newaygo, White Cloud, Hesperia, Creative Technologies Academy (Cedar Springs), and Comstock Park. Big Rapids had planned on attending but couldn’t due to school
Brett Zuver, Superintendent of Grant Public Schools, shared that the symposium was born out of what he saw as a necessity. He shared that today’s students have been through a lot of stress dealing with and navigating the ever changing scene of COVID over the last two years. But that stress was amped up with the tragedy at Oxford, and threats of violence that followed in some of our local school districts just before going into Winter Break. “Students have been feeling the toll of COVID enough and all their life changes, but then to throw the violence piece and the perceived threats on top of it, we had to do something different. Instead of it always coming from teachers, or principals, or superintendents, we wanted to have students here today, together from multiple school districts grades seven through twelve, to learn how to lift each other up, and be leaders, and to control what they can control, and make their school building a better place, and then ultimately their community, and then ultimately their county.”
“Today meant that I felt understood, and gave me a lot of advice,” stated Raven Wirts, a senior at Grant. “I felt like I could see a difference in my community being made.”
Zuver, himself a former NCAA head basketball coach and regional presenter on Culture and Leadership, reached out to friends who are also national presenters, successful collegiate coaches, and have worked with leadership and culture building across the country and world. Included in the panel of volunteer presenters was Theresa Beeckman, a nationally known Culture and Leadership expert and former NCAA head coach, who spoke on being thermometers or thermostats. Kendra Faustin, a former NCAA Division I and II head coach, leadership expert, and now the current AD for Comstock Park School District, who spoke on having the power and responsibility to make a difference. And Vern Hazard, a nationally recognized leadership expert with the Flippen Group who develops and works with educators, professional athletic teams, and Fortune 500 CEOs to improve leadership skills, who spoke about adjusting your perceived circumstances to help lift others up and finish strong.
The symposium certainly had not only the students engaged and interacting with one another, but also the school staff that were in attendance as well. Participants shared their goals and values with one another. They discussed who they believed were great leaders, and what made those leaders great. They looked at events and outcomes, and how their reactions can determine whether the outcome has a positive or negative impact on themselves and others. They were told to understand that everyone has a story, and it’s up to each person to control the narrative of their own story; to seize the day and get on living. Participants even let their hair down and got a little silly following the moves of an onscreen dance video.
Cyanne Schuitema, a junior at Grant, shared, “I think it’s important to me that I was able to get chosen for this opportunity. It’s been really fun. I like that they’re encouraging us to not be shy, and get out of our comfort zone. It’s been cool to not be nervous around here where I can be sometimes. Getting out of my comfort zone and having fun with my friends while learning about something interesting.” “As a leader, I’m in charge of my group. Okay, I’m the basketball captain. I got twelve people I’m working with. What about the other five hundred students in our school? What are we doing to capture them and lift them up, and make them feel valued? That’s what this is for,” concluded Zuver.
Masking advisory lifted in schools, public places
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) and District Health Department #10 (DHD#10) have entered the post-surge recovery phase of the COVID-19 pandemic and are updating their masking guidance.
DHD#10 has been a proponent of responsible protective behaviors to reduce the spread of COVID-19. With decreasing COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations across the state, MDHSS and DHD#10 are updating their mask guidance for public settings, including school settings, to reflect the post-surge recovery phase.
“The COVID-19 pandemic is not yet over,” said DHD#10 Health Officer Kevin Hughes. “However, with the downward trends in cases, and our increased access to masks, vaccines, testing, and treatment, it is time to begin the recovery phase.”
The COVID-19 cycle can be broken down into three primary phases:
MDHHS recommends that individuals, regardless of vaccination status, practice universal masking when in high-risk, congregate settings such as long-term care facilities, homeless shelters, corrections facilities, and healthcare facilities. It is also important that individuals wear a mask during isolation and quarantine periods to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. School districts and organizations are encouraged to continue to consider their local conditions when determining their masking policies.
At this time, universal masking is still recommended in all school settings. This will continue to be the recommendation until the amount of COVID-19 in our areas decreases further.
"We can confidently say at this point, that those who are up to date on their COVID vaccines and boosters, as well as wearing a high-quality mask, are well protected from COVID-19 infection, regardless of what others around them choose to do," said DHD#10 Medical Director Dr. Morse. "We are now at a point where responsible behavior is up to the individual and parents to decide. Those that wish to be fully protected from COVID-19 illness and its complications are encouraged to continue to mask in public and get vaccinated or boosted.”
KN95 masks are currently available in all 10 DHD#10 offices. Masks are given out 3 per person on a first-come, first-served basis while supplies last. To find your nearest DHD#10 office, visit www.dhd10.org/clinic-locations/.
From our friends at DHD#10
February 18, 2022 – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced a food recall on some nutritional formula manufactured by Abbott in Sturgis, Michigan, due to consumer complaints of Cronobacter sakazakii and Salmonella Newport infections in infants after consumption.
Specifically, The FDA is advising consumers NOT USE the Similac brand POWDER formulas including Alimentum and EleCare infant formulas if:
To determine whether your formula has been affected by this recall, use the following link: https://www.similacrecall.com/us/en/home.html.
The following formulas NOT subject to this recall are: Isomil, Neosure, and the liquid concentrated and ready-to-feed Similac products.
Products that do not contain the information listed above are not impacted. The FDA advisory does not include liquid concentrated or ready-to-feed formula products or any metabolic deficiency nutrition formulas. Consumers should continue to use all products not covered by the advisory.
The FDA is investigating complaints of four infant illnesses from three states. All four cases related to these complaints were hospitalized and Cronobacter may have contributed to a death in one case. The FDA has initiated an onsite inspection at the facility. Findings to date include several positive Cronobacter sakazakii results from environmental samples taken by the FDA and adverse inspectional observations by the FDA investigators. A review of the firm’s internal records also indicate environmental contamination with Cronobacter sakazakii and the firm’s destruction of product due to the presence of Cronobacter.
District Health Department #10 (DHD#10) currently has over 1,100 clients within their Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program that could be impacted by this recall.
“We are working very closely with State WIC Program officials to resolve this emergent situation,” stated Anne M. Bianchi, DHD#10 WIC Program Director. “DHD#10 staff is currently assisting clients to locate alternative formulas and resources until a state-wide solution is put in place.”
Until further notice, please consider the following guidance:
The FDA is continuing to investigate and will provide additional consumer safety information when it becomes available.
For Abbott’s press release, please follow this link: https://abbott.mediaroom.com/2022-02-17-Abbott-Voluntarily-Recalls-Powder-Formulas-Manufactured-at-One-Plant.
2022 Regional Spelling Bee Hosted by NC RESA
Newaygo County Regional Educational Service Agency (NC RESA) hosted the 2022 Regional Spelling Bee on February 15 with 13 district-level winners and runners-up (grades 3 through 8) competing for the regional title. Congratulations to Emerson Ashcraft from Newaygo Elementary, who was the overall winner by correctly spelling the word humus in Round 7. We also extend congratulations to Josiah Berry who was the runner-up. Josiah attends Fremont Middle School. Emerson will now advance to The Greater Grand Rapids Spelling Bee on Tuesday, March 22 in Grand Rapids.
These students are commended for their determination in preparing for the different levels of competition at their local school District Bee, Newaygo County RESA Regional Bee, and The Greater Grand Rapids Bee. The winner from The Greater Grand Rapids Bee will have the opportunity to compete in the Scripps National Spelling Bee. For a detailed national competition schedule, please visit Scripps National Spelling Bee website at www.spellingbee.com.
We are proud to acknowledge the district level spellers (front row: L to R) Asa VanLiew, Big Jackson School; Kaleb Zamora, Grant Elementary; Joey DuBois, Fremont Daisy Brook; Madison Butler, Newaygo Elementary; Emerson Ashcraft, Newaygo Elementary; Ayla Falkner, White Cloud Elementary; (back row: L to R) Tayler Plotts, Big Jackson School; Kaden Smith, Grant Middle School; Josiah Berry, Fremont Middle School; Megan Zimmer, Grant Middle School; Maren Simon, Grant Elementary; Luella Hilden, Newaygo Middle School; Reed Duy, Fremont Daisy Brook.
Bumstead bill would modify 75% requirement for schools reporting a threat
Michigan K-12 schools that have reported a threat to law enforcement would be relieved of the state’s 75% pupil attendance requirement under a bill introduced Thursday by Sen. Jon Bumstead.
“This is a simple, but important bill that would remove a bureaucratic barrier to provide our schools additional oversight and tools to address threats made to district buildings, students, teachers, and faculty,” said Bumstead, R-Newaygo. “In an emergency situation where lives are potentially on the line, the last thing our school districts should have to worry about is whether they have met an attendance percentage requirement.”
Senate Bill 873 would relieve affected districts of the 75% pupil attendance requirement for five consecutive school days following an initial reported threat.
The suspension of the attendance reporting requirement would apply to reported threats made against school buildings, school-sponsored activities, and school-owned student transportation vehicles.
The bill was referred to the Senate Education and Career Readiness Committee for consideration.
Pandemic Impacts Survey Report Now Available
The West Michigan Shoreline Regional Development Commission (WMSRDC) conducted an online survey between late September and early November to document local economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is an important component of a pandemic response and recovery plan (PRRP) that WMSRDC is developing for the region. Information gathered through the survey will also be incorporated into the region’s Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) and shared widely to help the region adapt to evolving economic circumstances and identify potential long-term economic hurdles.
The survey was created and promoted in partnership with local economic development partners from the counties of Lake, Mason, Muskegon, Newaygo and Oceana. Survey participants were able to complete any or all of three survey forms, which were targeted to households, businesses, and public and nonprofit entities. WMSRDC utilized the SurveyMethods online software to design the surveys. Links were distributed via social media, email to regional community and economic development networks, and on the WMSRDC website landing page.
Nearly 500 responses were submitted during the brief survey period, with participants hailing from all corners of the WMSRDC region. The sizable number and geographic distribution of responses will help paint a valuable region-wide picture of pandemic impacts. A survey summary report is available at https://wmsrdc.org/project/pandemic-impacts-survey/. The full PRRP document is expected to be complete by June 2022.
The pandemic impacts survey was made possible with a planning grant from the US Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration accepted by WMSRDC in July 2020. In addition to the PRRP efforts, the grant has enabled WMSRDC to adapt to the pandemic through workplace upgrades and enabled WMSRDC to facilitate broadband planning and implementation efforts throughout the region. WMSRDC played a lead role in establishing a broadband task force for Muskegon County earlier this year. Lastly, the grant enabled WMSRDC to hire a part-time planner to support PRRP efforts and increase the overall capacity of the organization.
Inquiries regarding the survey, PRRP, and the WMSRDC economic development program may contact Stephen Carlson at email@example.com.
Get a Jumpstart to Your Career with a Free Associate Degree
The Early College Newaygo County (ECNC) Program is an engaging three-year program that offers high school students a head start in advancing their careers. By earning up to 62 credits for free through Muskegon Community College, the ECNC program combines college coursework, a supportive cohort of students and staff, and essential skill building to better prepare students for high-demand and high-wage careers.
During grades 11 and 12, students continue to take high school requirements while also taking college courses. During their thirteenth year, students attend Muskegon Community College full-time, completing their high school diploma and earning an associate degree. This sets students apart and helps them reach their career goals sooner while saving money. Tuition, fees, books, and required materials are paid for, so there is no cost to the student. Additionally, for the first two years, the Career-Tech Center bussing is available for classes offered at NC RESA, with students being responsible for transportation during the thirteenth year.
Although students appreciate the money being saved and getting a jump start to their career, students like Hannah, have also shared that they really enjoy the friendships made.
“The thing I like most about the Early College program are the new friends I have made. I was honestly so nervous coming into the program, but I’ve made great friends” 2019 Cohort Student.
Interested students can apply during grade 10. Ask your school counselor today for the ECNC application or visit www.ncresa.org/ecnc for more information. Applications for the 2022-2023 school year are now available. Completed applications are due no later than March 4, 2022.
For more information, please contact Cheryl Flannery, Dean of Early College Newaygo County, at (231) 777-0308 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
DNR to provide a little skinny on the Lymantria dispar
A new session in Michigan’s NotMISpecies webinar series is aimed at covering how conservation officers help prevent invasive species.
Supported by the Michigan Invasive Species program, the monthly, hourlong webinars are designed to keep people informed about available programs, current research and emerging issues in the state and the Great Lakes region. Question and answer sessions and links to resources help attendees get the most out of each presentation.
New Name, Familiar Pest” (9 a.m. Thursday, April 14) focuses on Lymantria dispar (formerly known as gypsy moth), an invasive pest now considered naturalized in Michigan’s forests. An expert panel including Dr. Deborah McCullough from MSU, Dr. Steven Katovich of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service, Susie Iott of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, and the DNR’s James Wieferich will cover the unusual history of this pest in the United States and here in Michigan, and what you can do to reduce some of the unpleasant impacts of an outbreak. You’ll learn tips to help stressed trees recover from defoliation and options to help reduce the nuisance around your home
NC RESA Summer Internship Program Welcomes Employer Worksite Applications
The NC RESA Summer Internship program welcomes employer worksite applications submitted between February 9 - February 18, 2022. This opportunity is funded in part through a grant from Fremont Area Community Foundation.
Local employers may provide Newaygo County high school or college students an opportunity to learn about local companies, the industry, and various career opportunities. Students between the ages of 16 and 21 will be paid to serve in local internships for a maximum of 200 hours during the summer of 2022.
More information is available online at www.ncresa.org/sip or call 231-924-8828.
Newaygo County Tourism Council announces 2021 results, new executive board & 2022 goals
Over the past six years, the Newaygo County Tourism Council (NCTC) has been driving tourism in Newaygo County. With support and partnership from organizations like the Fremont Area Community Foundation and Newaygo County Convention & Visitor’s Bureau, 2021 was a banner year.
Through social media campaigns, organic postings, blogs & printed materials, the NCTC received over 70,000 visitors to their website, the most ever. Visitors were concentrated in the areas around and south of Grand Rapids, with traffic coming from over 9 states and even outside of the US.
The NCTC also created several maps and collateral pieces, promoting both natural assets in Newaygo County and supporting businesses. Throughout the pandemic, more and more people are choosing to get closer with nature, and the NCTC is capitalizing on this trend, ensuring Newaygo County remains 'on the map' for vacation opportunities.
Michigan tops over 106 million visitors annually, with visitors spending over $18B each year. Most recent data from 2019 indicates Newaygo County sees over $144M annually in tourism related spending.
The NCTC is excited to launch a nearly $70,000 marketing budget for 2022, with goals to continue driving traffic to our natural resources and businesses through continued outreach via social media, direct targeting through e-mail campaigns and collaborative partnerships to promote regional assets such as The Dragon Trail.
At their January meeting, the board re-elected Julie Burrell to serve as the Council President, and chose new members for the rest of the executive committee. Kelly Wawsczyk will serve as the Vice President, Nick Smith will serve as the Treasurer and Elizabeth Reid will serve as the Secretary. Collaboration is key to the Newaygo County Tourism Council's success, and the NCTC is appreciative of these dedicated individuals who serve as unpaid volunteers on our board.
Julie Burrell The Right Place
Kelly Wawsczyk NC RESA
Elizabeth Reid Newaygo County Convention & Visitors Bureau
Nick Smith Newaygo County Parks and Recreation
Mark Kraus Hesperia Area Chamber of Commerce
Reuben Tucker Big Prairie Township Parks
Marianne Boerigter NCCA-Artsplace and Dogwood Center
Colleen Lynema River Country Chamber of Commerce
Karen Baird Fremont Area Chamber of Commerce
The NCTC has open board seats available and invites anyone who enjoys Newaygo County's natural assets, represents a local tourism-related business or is simply interested in serving their local community to email us at email@example.com for consideration of an open board seat.
Newaygo County Area Promise Zone Scholarship Application Now Open
The Newaygo County Area Promise Zone provides high school graduates with a tuition-free path to an associate degree from Muskegon Community College or an approved apprenticeship. The Promise Zone believes that every student, regardless of financial means, should have the opportunity to earn post-secondary credentials.
By helping to remove the financial barrier that so many students face, the Promise Zone is helping to remove a cultural stigma that college is too expensive. Many students are starting to believe that higher education is within their reach and are taking steps to plan for their future.
Blake Prewitt, the Newaygo County Area Promise Zone Chair shares, “There is nothing more important than the education of children for their future success. In our society, education is required after high school, but your access to post-secondary education depends on your social-economic status. The Promise Zone levels this playing field so all students can achieve a post-secondary education, and therefore give our community more highly skilled employees.”
Since beginning in 2017, the Promise Zone has awarded over $1.9 million in tuition payments in support of over 263 Newaygo County Promise Scholars who have enrolled in their post-secondary journey.
The online application is now available for first year applicants at www.promise.zone. Applications are due no later than March 1, 2022.
To qualify a student must:
The Promise Scholarship covers tuition and mandatory fees up to 62 attempted college credits at Muskegon Community College. Books are not covered by the scholarship. Students must be enrolled at full-time status and attend a mandatory orientation to qualify.
An online scholarship renewal is required each year of eligibility for returning scholars. The online renewal application becomes available in June each year.
For more information about the Newaygo County Area Promise Zone visit www.promise.zone, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 231.924.8888.
Change would link Lake and Newaygo while Oceana melds with Mason
LANSING, Mich. -- Legislation sponsored by Sen. Jon Bumstead to restructure the judicial districts within Newaygo, Lake, Mason, and Oceana counties is heading to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer after the Senate finalized the bill Tuesday.
“I worked closely with local judges and court administrators to restructure the courts in Newaygo, Lake, Mason, and Oceana counties so that we can both improve judges’ workloads and help ensure the best access to justice for West Michigan residents while maintaining efficiency,” said Bumstead, R-Newaygo. “I appreciate the support of my colleagues in approving the bill and am hopeful Gov. Whitmer will sign it into law soon.”
Currently, Newaygo and Oceana counties share the same judicial courts, and Mason and Lake counties share the same courts. Under the legislation, the judicial courts will be restructured so Newaygo and Lake counties will share their courts, and Mason and Oceana counties will share judicial courts.
Every two years the State Court Administrative Office releases a Judicial Resource Recommendations report based on its review of the needs of the Michigan judiciary. The 2019 report identified issues with the judicial districts of Newaygo, Lake, Mason, and Oceana counties.
Senate Bill 654 now goes to the governor for consideration.