Meeting to be held at Grant MS starting at 3pm
Our recent article on the move by the Grant Public Schools Board of Education to sever ties with Family Health Care’s Child and Adolescent Health Center received a good deal of commentary, some on our site and a whole lot on our facebook page.
The next regular monthly meeting of the Board was to be July 10th at the Grant Middle School cafeteria beginning at 6pm, however the school website now lists a special meeting that will take place tomorrow Friday June 30th beginning at 3pm also at the MS cafeteria.
The Friday meeting should give those who have expressed their views via social media an opportunity to communicate their opinions in an open meeting.
It also provides an avenue for hearing the viewpoints others might have on this matter.
Once again, Friday June 30th, 3pm Grant MS Cafeteria.
Late agenda addition gets board support
Update: Meeting to be held on Monday July 10th at the Grant Middle School Cafeteria beginning at 6pm
By Ken De Laat
On Monday at the sparsely attended Grant School Board meeting with the Board President not in attendance, a motion that would close the doors of the Child and Adolescent Health Center was put forth by Board Member Rachel Gort as an action item.
The motion passed 4-1 with one abstention. Gort, Board VP Ken Thorne, Sabrina Veltkamp-Blok and Richard Vance voted in favor of severing ties with Family Health Care while Danette Obenauf abstained and Rob Schuitema voted against. Board President Neil Geers was not in attendance.
As a result the action would end the relationship between Grant Public Schools and Family Health Care who have provided services at the Center for the past 12 years.
Last fall a small group of community members complained to the board about a student created mural situated at the Teen Center. The group had issues with the mural’s depictions of gay and trans youth as well as some symbols they felt were promoting Satanism. Some at the time called for the closure of the Center. At a board meeting during the controversy the vast majority of speakers during public comment supported the young artist who created the mural as well as expressing support for the Teen Center.
A spokesperson for Family Health Care released this statement:
“Family Health Care was not given notice that the Board of Education would be discussing the contract regarding the school-based Child and Adolescent Health Center located within Grant Middle School. We are disappointed with the Board’s decision to end the contract within 90 days and how this will impact students and families in the Grant community. Family Health Care has been providing school-based health care in Grant since 2010. We will continue to provide services at the Grant Child and Adolescent Health Center until the contract officially expires. We also will provide services at our main clinic location at 11 N. Maple St. Family Health Care remains committed to our mission and vision of providing quality, integrated health care services that are accessible to all.”
Grant Superintendent Brett Zuver was apparently also blindsided by the move.
“ At our Board meeting Monday night there was a surprise motion made and passed by four GPS Board members to terminate the contract of the Child and Adolescent Health Center housed in one of our buildings.. Unfortunately, it will negatively impact hundreds of children and families in our community.”
We reached out to Family Health Care President and CEO Julie Tatko for a few questions.
CAHC has been in Grant schools since 2010. How many students availed themselves of the service the past 2 years?
Family Health Care served 658 students in 2021-2022. We count from October 1-Sept 30 (state fiscal year), so for 2022-2023 we have served 429 students to date and expect to reach that same number if we continue services into the fall.
What are the primary services offered?
1) Primary pediatric medical care, including well child visits, sports physicals, care for chronic conditions such as asthma. Students can visit our medical provider if they get sick while at school or injured. 2) Mental health services. We have a licensed master social worker who provides individual counseling to students, in person and via telehealth.
This came as a surprise. Was there concern before now? Were the issues raised by the board about meetings suspended during COVID restrictions, added expenses, space an ongoing issue?
We have not received any concerns or issues raised by the board apart from discussions about the student mural in the health center in the fall. Those concerns were resolved by the artist in January. Our agreement states that we will host meetings with the Community Advisory Council (CAC) two times each year, and we have been able to offer those. A board member attends those meetings, along with parents, school staff, and Family Health Care staff. Last fall the Michigan State Police asked us to cancel the CAC meeting due to concerns over safety. Most recently we held a CAC meeting in April. No concerns or issues were expressed then, or since that time.
Some of the objections have to do with rumors about services provided by the CAHC, i.e. gender affirming care, abortion referrals, etc.. Care to respond?
Per Michigan law, Family Health Care does not provide certain services in the school-based health center, including birth control, abortion referrals, and more. We are very clear about that in our communication with parents. We also stay in contact with parents whose kids are seen for services during the school day, so that the parents are informed about treatment their children received.
Is parental permission needed for treatment?
Yes. Only students who have parental consent can receive care at the health center.
What would be the biggest loss for Grant students as well as the community from this action?
The school board’s decision will impact the families of more than 650 Grant students who rely on school-based health and mental health care services for their kids’ needs. Without these services, we expect more missed school days, lack of timely treatment for health issues, and lack of support for addressing mental health concerns, including increased suicide and depression risk.
Anything to say to the community?
We invite the community to show their support for the health center by contacting members of the school board at the GPS administration office: 148 East Elder Ave, Grant, MI 49327; or by email: https://www.grantps.net/Governing-Board. You can attend the GPS Board Meeting on July 10 to voice your support.
N3 Note: We have reached out to the School Board President who was not at the meeting and the Vice President who chaired the meeting where the action took place for comments. We will add those comments when received.
The application period for grants from the Ice Mountain Environmental Stewardship Fund is now open. Completed applications are due by July 17.
Grant requests are accepted online for projects or programs that conserve, enhance, or restore the Muskegon River Watershed and demonstrate collaboration among organizations. Applications are accepted once each year, typically by July 15. However, because the 15th falls on a weekend this year, applications are being accepted until 11:59 p.m. on July 17.
The Ice Mountain Environmental Stewardship Fund was established at Fremont Area Community Foundation in 2002 by what is now BlueTriton Brands. In 2018, Ice Mountain renewed its support with a $2 million commitment over the next 20+ years. More than $800,000 has been awarded from the fund since its inception.
Grants are made from the fund to sustain the waters and water-dependent natural resources of the Muskegon River Watershed by supporting conservation, enhancement, and restoration projects. The fund provides up to $50,000 annually and typical grants are from $5,000 to $20,000.
In 2022, grants from the fund supported hazardous waste collection, the creation of a buffer zone at Sandy Beach, work on the Dragon Trail at Hardy Dam, and more.
For more information or to begin an online grant application, visit facommunityfoundation.org/icemountain.
The application for grants from The Amazing X Charitable Trust is now open. Completed applications are due July 17.
The Amazing X Charitable Trust is a supporting organization of Fremont Area Community Foundation. It was established in 1978 by members of the Gerber family to support community members with disabilities and to address general charitable needs.
Grants are accepted for projects or programs that serve people with disabilities, address general charitable needs, and are innovative, collaborative, and have a significant, measurable impact. Past grants have supported respite programs, equine therapy, adult day groups, accessibility projects, and more.
Applications are accepted online once each year, typically by July 15. However, because the 15th falls on a weekend this year, applications will be accepted until 11:59 p.m. on July 17.
For more information or to begin an online grant application, visit facommunityfoundation.org/grants
County hosts first Developer Day
NEWAYGO, MICH (June, 12, 2023): Today, The Newaygo County Economic Development Partnership, powered by The Right Place, announced Newaygo County’s 2023 Developer Day, to be held on June 22, 2023.
As an extension of the successful Developer Day held by The Right Place in Kent County in 2022, regional expansion events are being planned in 2023. Developers from Newaygo County and beyond are invited to join local leaders the morning of June 22 to learn more about state and local incentives and resources, including the launch of the Newaygo County Housing Partnership, a collaboration between the County of Newaygo and the Fremont Area Community Foundation.
Following the presentation will be an exclusive tour of Newaygo County, featuring targeted sites for housing development in Grant, Newaygo, White Cloud, Fremont and Hesperia.
To learn more or register, visit https://tinyurl.com/newaygoDD.
Newaygo County’s 2023 Developer Day is made possible through funding received from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.
Entrepreneurs to once again compete for cash and prizes
The Newaygo County Economic Development Partnership, powered by The Right Place, announced the return of Pitch North, an entrepreneurial pitch competition open to those living in Newaygo, Oceana or Lake Counties.
Current or aspiring entrepreneurs and small business owners are encouraged to submit their pitch for consideration now through July 14th at 11:59pm via an online form. A committee of local leaders will review and score all submissions. Five finalists will be chosen to pitch their ideas for a chance to win cash prizes at the live event.
Pitch North will be held at The Pavilion at Waters Edge, 1100 Ramshorn Drive in Fremont on August 16, from 4 to 6pm. The event is free to attend and open to the public. Learn more, register to attend, or submit your idea at rightplace.org/events/pitch-north-2023.
Pitch North began in 2019 and has engaged over 100 entrepreneurs in the first four years, awarding over $39,000 in cash and prizes to 20 finalists.
Pitch North is hosted by The Right Place, Inc. with our partners: Newaygo County Economic Development Partnership, Oceana County Economic Alliance, and Lake County Economic Development Alliance.
DNR crews battling wildfire southeast of Grayling
DNR firefighters and local partners are battling a 1,000-acre wildfire in Crawford County. The fire is located about 4 miles southeast of Grayling in Grayling Township, near Staley Lake Road.
The wildfire is moving to the west and southwest and threatens multiple buildings. Evacuations are being conducted by emergency personnel. Shelter for evacuees is available at the Grayling Middle School gymnasium, 500 Spruce Street in Grayling, and the Beaver Creek Township Hall, 8888 S. Grayling Road.
Multiple closures are in place:
Avoid the area to give crews room to work on suppressing the fire. A Temporary Flight Restriction is in place for a 5-mile perimeter around the fire at heights below 5,000 feet. Do not fly aircraft or drones in this area.
The wildfire has produced an abundance of smoke. Visibility may be reduced on roadways – drive with care in affected areas. Limit exposure to wildfire smoke by staying indoors with windows shut, especially if you have asthma or another respiratory condition.
Michigan State Police, USDA Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, South Branch Fire Department and Beaver Creek Fire Department personnel are assisting the DNR with fighting the fire.
Ground crews, heavy equipment, a Michigan State Police helicopter, and four USDA Forest Service fire boss planes and a Type 1 helicopter have been assigned to help suppress the fire. Aircraft will scoop water from Neff Lake, Shellenbarger Lake and Lake Margrethe.
The fire cause has not yet been determined.
Michigan is currently experiencing unprecedented hot and dry conditions for this time of year, causing extreme fire danger. The DNR recommends these actions to reduce the risk of wildfire:
A Gerber Foundation grant creates sensory room at WCCL
By Ken DeLaat
“If they can't learn the way we teach, we teach the way they learn”- O. Ivar Lovaas
The White Cloud Library has been putting out some sweet programming of late with some innovative initiatives designed to appeal to a wider range of patrons.
One such program is the addition of a sensory room.
Youth Services Librarian Katie Hanson had heard about sensory rooms in schools from a friend who taught kids with learning disabilities. A room with relaxing light, tactile objects to feel and other amenities aimed at providing a comforting atmosphere.
“We’re a public library and we’re here for all the public,” Hanson explained. “For some the library may be over-stimulating so the sensory room helps eliminate distractions and provides access for more people to use our facility.”
She received a grant from the Gerber Foundation to go ahead with the project and contacted the Newaygo County Autism Community for input before moving forward. Now on most Tuesdays (“we have limited space in our building”) the room is available for those in need to visit and enjoy the new offering from the library. She explained it was Most Tuesdays because the room also serves as the meeting room for the library and on occasion a meeting scheduled might bump the sensory room.
Side note: For years White Cloud has been in need of a new building having outgrown their needs long ago. Such institutions reflect the pride of the community and the value residents place on knowledge. It is hoped the community can get behind the WCCL’s desire to build a new structure that will serve their current needs and allow them to further expand their programming.
We posed a few questions to Ms. Hanson.
Why is this room important?
This room is important because not only is it an inclusive program, but it’s something that shows our community what else a library provides besides just books.
Do you do any organized activities like storytelling? If so, how does it differ from other storytelling events?
I have storytimes that vary month to month. For one program, kids created their own tall tale about White Cloud, and for another they searched with blacklight flashlights for words written in invisible ink! There’s a variety to all of our programs. This summer, I hope kids will take part in our Board Game Days and Epic Comic Club, so that they might become monthly programs as well.
Beyond those who use it, what are the benefits to the community?
I think just having the sensory room set up, with the meeting room door open, gets patrons peeking in and asking questions. And if they ask the right questions, they can find out about all the cool programs we offer- not just for children, but adults too!
Anything you may want to add?
Yes. I would love for kids to sign up for the summer reading program starting June 5th! Kids read 15 to 20 minutes a day over the summer and win prizes. It’s that simple! Also, I would like everyone reading this to check out our website at whitecloudlibrary.net for more information about our events and services. Support your local library!
On the day we visited the room was in use with some younger children enjoying activities in what is clearly a calming ambiance.
Kathy Broome is a member of the NC Autism Community who has used the room with her daughter. “As the rates of Autism Spectrum Disorder continue to increase, it’s great to see our community respond, “she stated. “ Kudos to the White Cloud Community Library for providing a sensory-friendly space.
And we agree with the sentiments of Ms. Broome. Kudos to the leadership and staff of the WCCL for their efforts in making this happen. They are to be commended for the effort to increase access to the library and make all who enter feel welcome.
And seriously, I hope the sensory room finds a home in a new facility that doesn’t need to share space with a meeting room.
Pictured left to right: Luci Moore (Gerber Life Vice President of Operations), Holly Moon (Promise Zone Board Member and Fundraising Chairperson), Blake Prewitt (Promise Zone Chairperson), Michele Schlafer (Gerber Life Vice President of Independent Distributions), Brian Stuck (Gerber Life Vice President of Human Resources).
The Newaygo County Area Promise Zone has received a generous $25,000 donation from Gerber Life Insurance. This donation will be used to directly support student tuition and launch student futures.
This is the second year Gerber Life Insurance has generously supported the Promise Zone. When asked why supporting the Promise Zone is important to Gerber Life Insurance, Luci Moore, Vice President of Operations, shared, “Gerber Life Insurance, on behalf of Western & Southern Financial Group, is honored to support the Promise Zone, an essential program in our community. We know that education and training, especially for our youth, are key avenues of growth and opportunity. Donations like this help with college scholarships, which in turn provide local talent for businesses in our area, including Gerber Life Fremont."
The Newaygo County Area Promise Zone provides high school graduates with a tuition-free path to an approved apprenticeship or an associate degree from Muskegon Community College. 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 shift a cultural stigma that college is too expensive. With the Promise Scholarship, many students are starting to believe that higher education is within their reach and taking steps to plan for their future.
Holly Moon, Promise Zone Fundraising Chair, said, “We are extremely grateful for Gerber Life Insurance’s continued support of our Promise Scholars. Their generous donation will directly impact student success and help provide a more highly trained workforce for our County.”
Since beginning in 2017, the Promise Zone has awarded over $2.2 million in tuition payments in support of over 300 Newaygo County students who have enrolled in pursuing their post-secondary credentials.
The 2023 Promise Scholarship online application is open with a $50 late fee and due by 4pm on June 2. For more information about the Newaygo County Area Promise Zone visit www.promise.zone, email email@example.com or call 231-924-8888.