Presenting the Heritage Museum of Newaygo County
Photos by Lil DeLaat
Story By Ken DeLaat
Wow. Just Wow.
The Heritage Museum Open House this Saturday will amaze those who choose to take a wander through the building that has been home to a gas station, grocery store, laundromat, and the Board of Public Works at one time or another.
The downtown Newaygo edifice is stunning in its design and structure, providing an intriguing stroll through the history of our area. From the imaginative exhibits to the enticing gift shop the Heritage Museum is an experience not to be missed. Even the color scheme reflects our area's economic history with shades of brown for agriculture, green for forestry and blue for the river rippling through the building.
Director Steven Radtke, his staff and the sea of volunteers who have given their time have created a warm and welcoming atmosphere as well as an inclusive experience that will provide a number of new initiatives to the county community.
Local artists will find room in the HM with the first exhibition featuring Stacey Kirk whose work lines the walls of the hallway. Other art pieces as well as books by local authors are available in the gift shop and the museum is open to having other local artisans selling their works in the shop.
An expanded Speakers Series, classic films, a variety of classes, and even a winter farmers market that has begun and will continue on Fridays through December are all part of the HM experience.
And because of the innovative design that allows for movement of the displays it can serve as a place for events such as their first wedding reception which will arrive in January.
On Halloween they will feature some of the classic figures such as Frankenstein, and Dracula and will explain the origin of their characters and for those with fond memories of the train that took center stage in the older version of the building, beginning this year it will return each Christmas season.
Kudos to the staff, the volunteers,the Museum Board and for certain the many generous donors, who all had a hand in making this transformation possible.
And to Director Radtke who was brought on board in 2018 and a year later began the arduous journey of grant writing, fundraising, planning and project design that has culminated in the new Heritage Museum of Newaygo County…
Well done, sir. Well done indeed.
Smuggler’s At North Shore groundbreaking signals the beginning of a new era in local dining
In August of 2018 the Hess Lake restaurant known as Smuggler’s Cove was irreparably damaged by a fire. The loss left a hole in the heart of not only the Hess and Brooks Lake regulars but also the many customers from throughout the area and beyond who enjoyed a wonderful view to go with their dining experience.
Now, 4 years later, construction has begun and the much favored spot for lakeside dining will once again welcome in folks when Smuggler’s At North Shore opens its doors next year.
The groundbreaking ceremony took place Tuesday morning as the Thompson family, joined by the crew from CopperRock Construction, took shovels in hand to symbolically deliver the message that Smuggler’s At North Shore is indeed on its way.
Raeanne Huskey, one of the owners of the soon to be built venue spoke to a group of media and community members about the project.
”There were so many questions as to when this would come to fruition. We come here as a family so excited to break ground at the future location of Smuggler’s At North Shore. This will become another treasured part of Newaygo County and the Hess and Brooks lake communities. It will also be a destination spot for many of the other surrounding communities bringing others to Newaygo and a great employment opportunity for those seeking to further their careers in the restaurant industry.
“So cheers to Copper Rock and Ken Dixon and Associates, our architectural firm for taking our dreams and making them a reality from the blueprints and we look forward to a bright future here on Hess Lake.”
As far as an opening date?
“We’re hoping for late Spring or early Summer,” said Huskey. “Depends on a lot of things but that’s what we are shooting for."
Smuggler’s at North Shore announces the groundbreaking ceremony for their new building.
Newaygo, MI – After much anticipation, Team Thompson is proud to announce the Groundbreaking Ceremony of the building of our new restaurant, on Tuesday, September 27th, 2022, at 9am at the future site of Smuggler’s at North Shore located at 864 E. 88th St, Newaygo MI 49337.
The previous Smuggler’s Cove suffered a fire on 8/14/2018 which, unfortunately, led to its demolition in 2019. Team Thompson has been diligently working on the plans for a new lakeside restaurant since the demolition.
“Breaking ground on our future restaurant is exciting, after all the time and effort we’ve dedicated to the design of this building,” said Team Thompson partner, Raeanne Huskey. "For the past three years, we’ve spent time developing all our ideas for this lake restaurant. We dreamt of a design that would be a phenomenal addition to our Hess/Brooks Lake Communities and for Newaygo County. This restaurant will be a destination that will bring many newcomers to our beloved Newaygo.”
The groundbreaking event will feature the owners of Team Thompson with shovels, provided by CopperRock Construction, to officially kick off construction for the future home of Smuggler’s at North Shore.
City of Newaygo Launches Façade Grant Program
NEWAYGO, MICH (September 14, 2022): Today, the City of Newaygo announced a façade grant program for the City’s Tax Increment Finance Authority district. The program is available to commercial and mixed-use property owners and lessees who wish to make permanent physical improvements to their buildings. The City of Newaygo is offering a competitive matching grant, up to 50 percent of the eligible costs.
The Newaygo Tax Increment Finance Authority board has approved up to $15,000 for the program’s first round. Eligible applicants must be located in the TIFA district and are encouraged to submit applications.
“The sustainability of our community hinges on the commerce and aesthetics of our local businesses. Aiding with the improvement of business facades will further attract customers and residents to our area.” -City Manager, Jon Schneider
Full details of the program, including a map of the eligible area, are available at the City of Newaygo’s website.
Unparalleled Trail Will Be Completed Next Year
“But it is one thing to read about dragons and another to meet them.”-Ursula K. LeGuin, A Wizard of Earthsea
White Cloud, MI: The Newaygo County Board of Commissioners appropriated $1.05 million of American Rescue Plan Act dollars to fund the completion of Michigan’s Dragon at Hardy Dam Project (Dragon Trail) to meet the increasing demand for recreation and tourism in the region.
Newaygo County, like other municipalities, received American Rescue Plan Act funds from the Federal Government in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Outdoor recreation has increased during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. Completing the Dragon Trail will help satisfy that new demand for Newaygo County residents and thousands of visitors that recreate in the region.
Once complete, the Dragon Trail will comprise 11 segments forming a 40+ mile loop around Hardy Pond, traversing through both Mecosta and Newaygo counties. Of the 22 miles already open to the public, 12+ miles are in Newaygo County, and 8+ or more miles of trail are already open in Mecosta County. Trail builders with Spectrum Trail Design LLC are in the process of building 14 more miles of trail. Later this Fall, a 7.6-mile connection between Newaygo State Park and Brower County Park will open to the public. Project officials hope to have all construction completed in 2023.
These newly allocated ARPA funds will pay for the completion of new construction in Newaygo County and two more phases in 2023. Most notable will be a fully ADA-Accessible mile of trail starting at Big Prairie Township’s Operators Park on the East side of Hardy Dam.
“It is important that people of all abilities can experience Michigan’s Dragon at Hardy Dam. This mile of accessible trail will allow wheelchair accessibility, and the trailhead will include handicapped parking so everyone can explore the Dragon Trail,” said Nick Smith, Newaygo County Parks Director.
With a recent Mecosta County Board of Commissioners allocation earlier in the year, the two Counties have ensured that the remaining construction phases are fully funded. The first half of construction was funded by many generous donors and community partners through fundraising and grants. Most recently, funds were received from the DNR Trust Fund Grant Program and utilized to fund two construction phases. Newaygo and Mecosta County have been working together on this project along with the West Michigan Mountain Biking Alliance for over ten years.
Restaurants, campgrounds, and other businesses are already experiencing the economic benefit of the Dragon Trail. Surrounding locations are reporting new visitors to the area due to the trail and increased sales. In addition, property sales are up surrounding the Dragon Trail, and new businesses are opening to meet the demand of these new visitors.
At the start of this project, Michigan State University completed an economic impact study that estimated a $4+ million annual economic impact to the region due to the addition of the Dragon Trail.
“This project is critical to meet our region's increasing recreational and tourism demand. The economic impact we are already seeing from this project made it a priority for Newaygo County to complete the Dragon Trail,” explained County Administrator Chris Wren.
Follow official Michigan’s Dragon at Hardy Dam Facebook Page for updates on construction progresses and new trail sections as they open, or visit www.thedragon.us.
ABOUT MICHIGAN’S DRAGON AT HARDY DAM
Michigan’s Dragon at Hardy Dam is a 40+ mile non-motorized, multi-use trail system between Hardy and Rogers Dams in West Michigan. The Dragon is managed by Newaygo County Parks, Mecosta County Parks Commission, and the West Michigan Mountain Biking Alliance. Construction for the trail began in 2019. Learn more at www.thedragon.us.
Representatives from more than 40 colleges, trade schools, and career training programs are coming to Newaygo County to give students a one-stop opportunity to explore their post-secondary options. College and Career Night Out 2022 will take place Thursday, September 29 from 5-7:30 p.m. at Fremont High School.
This fun, free event is open to all Newaygo County public, homeschool, and private high school students as well as parents, guardians, and adult students. Attendees will explore college and career possibilities and gather information on scholarships and financial aid. The event is hosted by WE CAN! Newaygo County—the local college and career access network—in partnership with Fremont Area Community Foundation.
Food will be available from 5-6 p.m. with information sessions beginning at 5:30. From 6-7:30 p.m. in the large gym, attendees can meet with representatives from colleges, universities, trade schools, military branches, and career training programs. There will also be opportunities to learn more about FAFSA, Early College Newaygo County, the Newaygo County Career-Tech Center, the Promise Zone, and scholarships available through Fremont Area Community Foundation and Gerber Foundation.
The information sessions presented from 5:30-6 p.m. will cover helpful topics like financial aid and choosing a college and career. Sessions currently planned include:
Explore the Promise Zone
You’ve heard Newaygo County is a Promise Zone, but what does that mean for your future? Join us to learn more about how the Promise Zone works and how it can help you.
Finding Money for College
College costs keep rising, but there’s a lot of financial aid out there! Come learn about college affordability options, from federal and state aid to community-based scholarship programs.
How to Choose a College
Unsure which college to attend? Newaygo County college advisors will lead a discussion to help guide you toward the school and career path that suits you best!
Preparing for a Great Career
Apprenticeships are a great way to prepare for careers in many in-demand fields! Learn more about how you can prepare for a rewarding skilled trades career.
For more information on the event—including a list of institutions expected to attend the college and career fair—visit facommunityfoundation.org/ccno.
Eric and Krystal Johnson purchase Newaygo’s book store
Story by Ken DeLaat
“What I say is, a town isn’t a town without a bookstore. It may call itself a town, but unless it’s got a bookstore, it knows it’s not foolin’ a soul.”-Neil Gaiman, American Gods
There is nothing that provides a welcoming vibe to a town like a bookstore.
When traveling I find discovering these little oases of bibliotherapy tells me a bit about the area. I’ve rarely let pass an opportunity to visit them and will generally find something to purchase because I want them to stay around.
Vacationing in Alabama the past couple of years, LSC Lil and I stumbled upon a classic used book store that captured our hearts in the town of Foley. We won’t be returning to the area anytime soon as we decided to explore other winter options but one of the arguments for returning was the book store.
Yeah, not the beaches, the trails or the epic bread pudding at Fisherman's Corner.
The book store
Here’s the thing about a bookstore of this ilk. You not only get some serious bargains on your reading material, you feel good about saving a tree or two by giving these novel nuggets a chance to be reread. When I’ve truly enjoyed a book I want to have others do the same. Interestingly (or to be more accurate ‘predictably’ I’m told) my reading tastes often differ from those I interact with so those who know me well often respond with ‘no thanks’ when I offer them the next read on one of my acquisitions. Thus having it return to the shelves allows for someone else to appreciate the selections.
Newaygo has been privileged to be home to an outstanding book store for many years, though it has gone through a transformation or two.
And now the latest chapter in the store’s story will begin.
The downtown bookery known as Flying Bear has recently changed hands as John and Marsha Reeves handed the keys over to Eric and Krystal Johnson who now hold proprietorship of this epicenter of good reading.
We sat down with the Johnsons in a cozy corner of their latest acquisition and talked about the new venture.
“We were looking for a business opportunity in the community and thought ‘Why not books?’", said Eric Johnson who also holds a seat on the City Council as Mayor pro tem.
“Everything about this just felt right. This is an up and coming community and we want to be a part of it with a thriving business.”
There will be changes to the store, though these will come in time as the Johnsons settle in with their new venture. Plans include adding a creperie as a place for folks to have a cup of coffee and a bite to eat as they peruse their purchases and displaying the works of local authors and artists in the welcoming little nook.
Other ideas include providing a venue for poetry readings, book clubs, music, reviews and more.
The store is able to order new releases as well as any other books should one care to be the first one to crack open their purchase. Personally I prefer a gently used edition, and despite opinions to the contrary not just because I’m often called, uh… thrifty. It just feels like kind of a recommendation when someone passes along a favorite read.
But yes, the price tag is always a tad sweeter.
The enthusiasm the couple has for joining the downtown Newaygo business landscape is obvious as I watched them greet customers in between discussing their vision for the new venture. Both love reading, the arts, and being part of this eclectic community.
And now they are hoping the community shares their enthusiasm, not only for what Flying Bear Books is…
But what it will become.
It’s a great place to browse, there is a wide selection of fun reads, the Johnsons are good company and (if you know how to play) there is a guitar on the premises just waiting for someone to put it through its paces.
Flying Bear Books is open Wednesday through Saturday from 12-6pm.
Newaygo County, EGLE, and The Recycling Partnership Work Towards Improving Residential Recycling throughout the State
White Cloud, Michigan – Newaygo County has joined the Michigan Dept. of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE), The Recycling Partnership, a nonprofit organization that works with communities, companies, and governments to transform recycling, and nearly 100 other Michigan communities to help residents recycle more, better.
Starting in September of 2022 and with the assistance of a $78,000 grant, the Newaygo County drop-off recycling program will be able to improve signage, engage with residents at drop-off recycling sites, and make site improvements to help residents be able to access recycling easier, and understand what is and isn’t recyclable.
“Recycling is not only the right thing to do, but also the smart thing to do,” said Dale Twing, Newaygo County Drain Commissioner and Board of Public Works Chairman. “Recycling properly saves our taxpayers money by reducing the cost of sending recyclables materials to the landfill, supports jobs, and improves the health of the environment. We know residents want to recycle the right way and through this campaign, we are providing them personalized, real-time feedback to do just that.”
“The Recycling Partnership is excited to continue working with MI EGLE and Michigan communities to improve residential recycling across the state,” said Cassandra Ford, Community Program Manager at The Recycling Partnership. “Through this project, we are helping capture more quality recyclables that are then transformed into new materials, as well as creating and supporting jobs, less waste, and stronger, healthier communities.”
“EGLE is excited to continue working with The Recycling Partnership and Michigan communities to continue to improve residential recycling through these quality improvement projects,” said Emily Freeman, Recycling Specialist with EGLE’s Materials Management Division. “We all have a role to play in the circular economy and these grants will help even more Michigan communities engage with their residents and improve the quality of recyclable materials collected in curbside and drop off programs across Michigan.”
This year, over $790,000 in grant funding will be allocated to 13 recycling program grantees, representing more than 362,000 households across the Great Lakes state this year. Overall, these 13 new grantees are building on the impact made during a 2021 project with a similar goal to improve recycling across Michigan that reached 100 communities and expand Michigan’s award-winning Know It Before You Throw It campaign, aimed at increasing the state’s recycling rate to 30% by 2025.
Learn more about where you can recycle, as well as what is and is not acceptable at Newaygo County Recycling on Facebook.
Community Meeting Sept. 8 to Discuss Future of Consumers Energy’s Croton Dam
WHY: Input from communities will help Consumers Energy determine the future of their 13 river hydro dams in Michigan. Ahead of their dams’ operating licenses expiring, the energy provider is gathering community and individuals’ opinions to help determine plans to either continue investing in or remove any of our river hydro facilities.
WHERE & WHEN: The Croton Dam public meeting is Thursday, September 8 at Newaygo High School Cafeteria, 360 S. Mill St., Newaygo, MI. An open house begins at 5:30 p.m. and the public meeting will begin at 6 p.m.
WHAT: Consumers Energy hired Public Sector Consultants (PSC), a Lansing-based nonpartisan research and consulting firm that specializes in public engagement, to hold public meetings with the goal of collecting unbiased feedback regarding its hydro facilities. PSC and Consumers Energy dam experts will provide information about the dam, explain future state options, discuss impacts if any dams were to be decommissioned, and facilitate community input.
For community meeting details, and more information access: ConsumersEnergy.com/HydroFuture.
“An outstanding opportunity to get the services that the community needs.”
NEWAYGO, MI – Arbor Circle has been awarded a grant from the Michigan Health Endowment Fund to support a Police Social Worker (PSW) for the City of Newaygo Police Department (NPD). The PSW will assist with clinical crisis responses for community members, connections to behavioral health and other community resources, and debriefings with department officers. In a community where resources are limited and not always easily accessible, this new support aims to connect community members to valuable services and will assist in improving overall community health.
“This program is meant to build on the strengths of both our organization and the Newaygo Police Department,” shared Emmy Ellis, Outpatient Program Director for Arbor Circle. “We are grateful to have such strong partnerships in our community and look forward to seeing the impact of this collaboration.”
A PSW is a specialized social worker who, as a citizen, works alongside law enforcement to assist community members with utilizing resources and services; provide crisis response support for mental health and substance related crises; and help law enforcement reduce rates of recidivism, recurring calls, and access to services for individualized needs. The social worker is able to offer immediate emotional support to community members during a crisis, along with officers responding to a traumatic scene. The PSW will be an integral part of the NPD team and will attend staff meetings, staff trainings, and become embedded in the culture of the police department.
“I see this position as an outstanding opportunity to get the services that the community needs in place during the ever-changing times in our country,” said Georgia Andres, Chief of Police for Newaygo Police Department. “Having a social worker ‘in house’ can provide the feet on the ground action Newaygo residents need. This grant is just what we need to get the ball rolling, it’s a breath of fresh air for our
Funded by the Michigan Health Endowment Fund’s 2022 Behavioral Health Grant, the PSW will work with the community as a whole; engaging with all ages of the population of Newaygo in an effort to better engage them with services necessary for their specific needs.
On the heels of reports of algae blooms in Hess Lake DHD#10 issued this press release after more were discovered in Hardy Pond
District Health Department #10 (DHD#10) was notified by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) that algae blooms were detected on Hardy Dam Pond near the Newaygo State Park in Newaygo County.
On August 22, 2022, MDHHS took water samples from Hardy Dam Pond that were sent to the MDHHS lab where results came back positive for microcystin, an algal toxin released by some types of algae in lakes or rivers. MDHHS then notified District Health Department #10 and the Newaygo County Parks and Recreation Commission of the results and provided guidance on posting signs and notifying the public about the situation.
Algae blooms can form when there are high nutrient levels within bodies of water along with warm temperatures. Additional testing will take place again the week of September 5, 2022 and signs have been posted at (1) Hardy Dam County Marina and (2) Sandy Beach County Park to notify individuals to avoid contact with the water in that area.
“Algae blooms look like a green mat right on top of the water that smells bad and has a gelatinous texture to them,” stated Michael Kramer, Environmental Health Director for DHD#10. “The algal toxins that are released can be harmful to aquatic life, pets, and humans so it is very important to avoid these areas.”
Below are some steps to take when near waterways:
People and pets can experience the following symptoms after exposure to algae blooms:
For more information about Algal Blooms, please visit https://www.michigan.gov/egle/about/organization/water-resources/assessment-michigan-waters/harmful-algal-blooms.