A year in the rear-view mirror
By Charles Chandler
On the evening of December 4th Mayor Jamie Denslow, City Manager Lora Kalkofen, Council Members Jeffrey Murchison, Ashley Zatalokin, Charles Chandler, and Kay Scott, and Department of Public Works (DPW) Supervisor Don Barnhart assembled in the new White Cloud DPW barn for a long-awaited ribbon-cutting ceremony. Others attending this event were River Country Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Colleen Lynema and trustees, Dan Abid, Scott Swinehart, Ross Nelson, Rachel Bridges, and Pam Schwallier. White Cloud DDA member Bob Scarlavai and Planning Commissioners Jerry LeBlanc and Keith Payne, and Officer Scott Ingraham also attended.
Supervisor Barnhart had the honor of cutting the ribbon because it was almost a year to the day when he and Manager Kalkofen stood by on that cold night and watched the old DPW Barn and all its contents reduced to a pile of smoking rubble. The next morning after that devastating fire Manager Kalkofen and staff came to grips with the scope and scale of their loss, and of course, it began snowing again. The plow and sand trucks, pickups, back hoes, mowers, all water department tools, equipment, materials pieces, and parts were gone. Not a phone, pencil or pad of paper was to be had, all went up in smoke. The cause of the devastating fire was inconclusive.
After the smoke had cleared Manager Kalkofen developed an effective recovery plan and the City was on its way to an early 2018 Christmas present. Kalkofen quickly schedules a meeting with carrier B & H Insurance agents for a thorough coverage review. The next calls were to the County Road Commission and other Newaygo Municipalities for assistance. Arrangements were made with the Road Commission to plow City streets. After the Insurance review, the City Staff did a happy dance because the City had more than adequate coverage in all areas. Kalkofen developed and sent out RFPs and Bids and went shopping. Generous offers were made and deals struck with neighbors in Newaygo and Fremont and soon the DPW crew had two new red pickup trucks and other vital equipment. Jeffery Parkers Architects and G.P Construction LLC were selected and plans approved for the new DPW Barn. Mr. Neal Johnson was named the Construction Project Manager and he quickly moved his construction trailer on site and began work.
The City staff, Council and Planning Commission also started 2018 with challenges but ended the year with some impressive accomplishments. Early on there were some major changes in the personnel department. In January Mayor Jamie Denslow took the gavel and Ashley Zatalokin was seated on the Council. Continuing that trend the important Planning Commission had a significant turnover and seated new members Mayor Denslow, Mike Kymes, Lori Shears, Keith Payne, and a new Zoning Administrator Peter Morgan. Also, in 2018 this new Planning Commission completed the daunting and contentious project of revising the City Zoning Ordinances and Master Plan allowing more flexibility for commercial development. Other City new hires included April Storms, Deputy Clerk, and Treasurer and Police Officer Jason Fritsma. Office Fritsma will be the White Cloud Public Schools Police Liaison.
In 2018 the City in collaboration with several Newaygo County and State of Michigan agencies were able to execute some major infrastructure projects. These include a runway surface treatment project at the AirPort. Kalkofen working with MDOT and Pere Marquette Rail Line campaigned and received grants of about $250,000 for Railroad Crossing and Safety projects. Late this year the wretched Pine Hill Street Crossing was completely rehabilitated and a start date on the Safety Project is anticipated in early 2019.
In February the White Cloud Dam sustained damage from flood water spillover and again Kalkofen with help from Director Abby Watkins of the Newaygo County Emergency Services and OM&M Engineering obtained a $100,000 grant from FEMA for the necessary repairs. Regarding water, the City had all three water wells tested by an independent lab and no PFA contaminations were detected.
After about 10 years of saving a dollar here and there the City was able to complete much needed major and minor street repairs. Working with the Newaygo County Road Commission, the City was able to get attractive pricing on labor and materials and were able to spend about $125,000 in selected street repairs. Additionally, the City spruced up the Hall this year with new paint in and outside, new carpet and some furnishings including computing systems upgrades.
Now White Cloud's computer processing is in the basement and the storage is in the Cloud.
2018 was also a very good year for the City Industrial Park businesses. Ceres Solutions was the first customer to purchase property and build in the Industrial Park and their state-of-the-art feed mill was completed and became operational in early spring. At the end of the year, the City has received about $430,000 from property sales and all Industrial Park lots are sold or under contract. Currently, there are three companies planning various Medical Marijuana operations in the Park. After discussion with these operators, it is anticipated that between 50 and 70 new jobs will be created here in White Cloud.
In 2018 three new businesses opened in White Cloud, ZZ Wild located at 1099 Wilcox, M 37 Auto Repair at 253 South Charles and White River Wellness at 194 North Charles. The White River Wellness was on track to open in October but are now on standby. They are awaiting the politicians in Lansing to get their act together and formalize a workable policy for both Medical and Legal Marijuana operations.
A new Special Needs Group Home is under construction at 355 North Street and the large Quality Surplus Sales building at 1109 Wilcox sold and the owner is offering rental space for new businesses.
And on a more local and personal note, White Cloud property values are moving in the right direction. There has been some turnover here on the front lines of the N3 White Cloud contributor’s desk. Longtime residents Coach Dave Roberts and Jenny at 100 South Webster Street and Businessman Eric Rudert at 75 Webster Street moved away this fall. The Gleason Family purchased the Roberts’s property and former resident and a White Cloud favorite Charley Twing and his family have purchased the Rudert property. Good neighbors moving out and good neighbors moving in.
Considering the start, 2018 has been a very good year for the City of White Cloud. Are there issues, and problems to be faced in 2019 certainly like most every other business and municipality. For continued economic development White Cloud must attract skilled professionals and experienced business owners and operators to the area. One of the limitations to that end is the lack of quality housing in the City and surrounding County. (Maybe we could build some nice lofts in the beautiful new DPW barn.)
The City has a good leadership team in place with Dan Evans our dedicated Chief of Police, efficient and effective City Manager Lora Kalkofen and her staff, and Mayor Jamie Denslow. They strongly believe in collaboration with the County and other area municipalities, using professional expertise when needed and making good long-term decisions for the City. They are bringing new and innovative ideas and methods to solve some of White Cloud embedded and anticipated problems.
It is expected that 2019 will be another good year for White Cloud.
Board votes unanimously to not take action for removal
By Ken DeLaat
Newaygo School Board President Vince Grodus addressed the crowd after the board came out of a closed session and delivered this motion:
“The Board has no desire to remove the display at this time.”
The crowd of nearly all of the 50 some folks who turned out responded with cheers and applause and after a unanimous roll call vote supporting the action the controversy over the Wise Men was put to rest for now.
The board heard from 10 people during the public comment with each voicing their desire to have the Wise Men remain in their place citing a tradition that has spanned over 7 decades and encouraged the board to not give in to what several speakers referred to as bullying by the group challenging the legality of the display.
The action also contained a directive to Superintendent Peg Mathis to look at possible adjustments in the future however the three figures that have graced the school each Christmas season will be allowed to remain without action from the board.
NCCA-Artsplace Winter Community Photography Contest Winners
The NCCA-Artsplace Winter Community Photography Contest is a free annual contest for all ages and all levels of skill with the theme "Baby, It's Cold Outside!". The 2018 contest winners were selected by Jacqueline Danielson of Fremont.
The first place award was given to Nan Pokerwinski of Newaygo for her photograph “Freeze!". Mark Andrews of Newaygo received second place for the entry “Ice Fishing on Croton Pond” and Sonya Vlastuin of Grant was awarded third place for “Winter Glow”. Honorable mention went to Susan Gilliland of Hesperia for her photograph "Whorls" and Delaney Cronk of Grant for "Brindle in Black and White".
All entries will be on display through January 5 in the corridor gallery at NCCA-Artsplace, 13 East Main Street in downtown Fremont.
Spectrum Health Gerber Memorial’s medical fitness program team was awarded the Spectrum Health Synergy Award for most creative program in 2018, a medical fitness program called Momentum. The Gerber Memorial award winners, from left, front row: J.J. Schafer, fitness specialist coordinator; Matt Purtee, fitness specialist coordinator; Amanda Irwin, Tamarac Wellness Center manager; Justin Aman, Tamarac Wellness Center supervisor; and Dean Ford, Tamarac fitness specialist who is now supervisor at Spectrum Health Pennock’s Health and Wellness Center in Hastings. Standing, from left: Becky Strayer, Tamarac administrative support coordinator; Beth VanTreese, manager of rehabilitation services; Michael DeWeerd, MD; Josh Gustafson, director of regional community programs; and Kathleen Middaugh, fitness specialist coordinator.
Gerber Memorial staff win award for innovative medical fitness program
FREMONT – Spectrum Health Gerber Memorial’s medical fitness program on Thursday, Nov. 29, was recognized with a Synergy Award, an annual prize that celebrates successes in safety, quality and innovation among Spectrum Health’s entire system throughout Michigan.
During a ceremony at Fredrik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids, the Gerber Memorial team was recognized in the creativity category, for creating a new program that partners an individual’s health provider with fitness experts to help establish a sustainable pathway toward improving patients’ overall health and wellness, and prevent chronic diseases. The medical fitness program, called Momentum, brings together providers, community health and fitness experts and others throughout Gerber Memorial. Momentum is implemented at Tamarac, the first wellness center in West Michigan nationally recognized for quality and safety through the Medical Fitness Association (MFA) certification.
“Those who came together and collaborated on the Momentum medical fitness program are among the best at finding creative solutions to helping our patients safely achieve their health and wellness goals,” said Amanda Irwin, wellness center regional manager. “Momentum came out of us asking questions about how we can better serve our patients and what gaps we could fill. This took thinking outside the box and using the resources that we had at Gerber Memorial. Now, thanks to Momentum, we’re offering a medical fitness program that can greatly increase the number of people in our community who now have a safe and effective way to become active under the supervision of a qualified fitness specialist.”
Tamarac launched the Momentum medical fitness program this Spring. Momentum partners an individual’s health provider with fitness experts to help establish a sustainable pathway toward overall health and wellness. Momentum can benefit patients with a range of illness, including those with chronic diseases, diabetes, obesity, COPD, coronary artery disease, Parkinson’s disease and depression. The program is open to anyone who wants to incorporate the health benefits of exercise into overall wellness.
Using a nontraditional healthcare model, primary care providers, physical therapists, health coaches, care managers and fitness specialists work together to identify and partner with patients at high risk of future chronic disease. Through clinical pathways, Tamarac has provided best practice lifestyle medicine services to over 350 patients this year, with 40 percent of patients with elevated blood pressure now in the normal range, 55 percent improving muscular endurance, and collectively reducing their weight by 3 percent.
Momentum is a 12-week program. Cost is $99. For questions, contact 231.924.1600.
The annual Synergy prizes acknowledge extraordinary individual and team contributions to clinical or non-clinical care, processes, experiences, and quality and safety for our patients and their families.
New pot law means changes in law enforcement
On Thursday, December 6, the new law regarding recreational use of marijuana begins to take effect. The details can be found in our previous article at https://www.nearnorthnow.com/news/marijuana-now-what
What does this all mean for law enforcement?
Newaygo County Sheriff Bob Mendham was kind enough to field a few questions from N3 on the subject and herewith are his replies.
What has changed from the perspective of law enforcement?
The fact that adults 21 and older may have up to 2.5oz. of marijuana in their possession. Obviously this will be a huge change for law enforcement. We have many questions that have yet to be answered; Will folks think they can smoke in public? Will they sell their marijuana to others? Will people try to steal marijuana from others and will weapons or force be used? Will people break into homes if they know there is marijuana present?
What can people expect from the NCSD when it comes to marijuana use?
Our opinion and the directive we’ve given our deputies is that as long as folks are obeying the law we will take no action. Our job is to enforce the laws whether we agree with them or not. Our job is to serve and protect the citizens of Newaygo County, including those who are legally using marijuana.
What are situations that might require law enforcement intervention?
Law enforcement involvement will occur when and only when absolutely necessary. We anticipate trouble with citizens who possess more than legally allowed or use in public. Property crimes and driving violations that are related to marijuana use and possession. The use and possession of marijuana by minors and medical emergencies stemming from children who ingest edibles or adults that overindulge.
Our hope is that people obey the law and are cautious with the use, storage, and production of their marijuana. We will work with the public to properly enforce the new Recreational Marijuana Law and work to keep everyone safe. We ask that folks remember we are learning something new right along with them. The Newaygo County Sheriff’s Office is always available to answer any questions or concerns that folks may have.
Sheriff Bob Mendham
By Mark Mathis
Urban Legend seems to have decided that police dogs are in trouble, given the new legal status of marijuana in Michigan. Misguided reporters and trainers have at times claimed the dogs would need to be euthanized or retired. Those tales have been repeated until just about every corner of the internet has taken notice. While it all makes a great story, our four pawed friends are rather safe and secure in their jobs.
I’ve spent over 20 years training police dogs, testified in court as an expert on their training, written a boatload of professional articles, have a couple thousand street uses under my belt, and thoroughly enjoy the art of training a dog. Recently, several agencies have consulted me about the best path forward given the new status of marijuana in Michigan. My goal here is to simply provide a small primer to help give a clearer understanding of what is happening right now behind the scenes. If you love dogs, psychology, or even marijuana this should be a pretty fascinating read. I’ll try my best to keep it to everyday terms.
You must first understand how the dogs are initially trained. Police Dogs aren’t drug junkies, looking for their next fix of their favorite drugs. They are actually rabbit junkies, looking for the next animal to pop out of a box and try to run away.
Most American police dogs learn their drug odors in a game that looks like a dog version of three card monte. A whole host of drugs and tennis balls are placed into one box. The dog then has to figure out what box contains that all important odor. Once the dog locates the box and offers a correct behavior a ball/rabbit pops out and the chase is on.
A trainer will help a dog learn this process. When broken down it is pretty simple:
1. Use your nose to smell the boxes;
2. Find a box with the right smell;
4. Sit down;
5. A “rabbit/ball” pops out,
6. Great fun ensues.
In a matter of days the average police dog trainee can reliably search four random boxes and pick out the drug odors with great consistency. When you are a high drive police dog, rabbits rock!
Has your house dog ever watched you fix a sandwich at the counter and wanted some? Yours may whine, bark, scratch, jump, steal, bite, or watch intently for a dropped morsel. Each dog has a package of behaviors they will offer in an attempt to get what they want. These behaviors are your dog’s “rolodex.” (For my younger readers think of a favorite phone list that you access on a moment’s notice). Trainers reward the ones they want and help eliminate the ones that aren’t helpful.
If your dog gets food every time he barks, that behavior is going to move up the favorite list. If your dog jumps 22 times and each time is unsuccessful at getting food he will eventually start offering another behavior that actually works. The rolodex card that is reinforced will be accessed more quickly and the rolodex card that is never rewarded will disappear.
At the end of the three card monte, drug-dog kingpin edition, we remove the tennis balls from the boxes and use drugs only. The dogs have no problem finding the drugs without the tennis balls around anymore. (We still toss in a ball from a new mystery spot once the drugs are found.)
Finally, the dog will search a host of boxes: drug filled, empties, and boxes with just tennis balls. The dogs initially go to the tennis balls and start rolling through their rolodex of possible behaviors that would make a rabbit magically appear. It simply does not work. The dog will give up and go over and sit next to the drugs… and hocus-pocus a rabbit pops out! In very short order the dog could care less about tennis balls in a box — they do nothing in the all important game of rabbit. The offered and rewarded behavior for locating tennis balls disappears through “extinction”.
The Marijuana (Reefer)
Whatever concerns you have about legal Marijuana, don’t let police dogs be one of them. The dogs will go back to “basic” training. Through the game of rabbits and rolodexes trainers will make the previously offered behavior when smelling marijuana extinct.
We’ve eliminated responses to other odors using this game. Other odors are be placed out during a normal training day to make sure a dog does not indicate on it. On many training days you’ll find everything from wallets, cigarettes, tennis balls, food, and baking powder hidden in search areas. This is done as a confirmation to make sure that the dog is only indicating on the illegal substances. Marijuana, once it no longer elicits a response, will become another of these other distractor odors.
It’s harder to unlearn a behavior than learn it. So the task of eliminating any response to marijuana will take some time, consistency in training, and effort. Given a couple months the dogs will be able run across marijuana and leave it alone… just like they do tennis balls, tobacco, and McDonald’s quarter pounders.
How about right now? There are a smattering of dogs in the state that have never been trained on marijuana, including one in the N3 readership area. There are others undergoing this “extinction” training. There are still others in the state that plan to slightly modify use for the immediate future.
In simple terms the big issue is that Canine Teams that use their dogs to enter a vehicle without a search warrant will need a documented training and certification record. That record will need to show they reliably indicate only on items that are illegal to possess. Dogs that indicate on Quarter Pounders, Marijuana, or tennis balls won’t be able to be used for a search warrant exception.
So please fear not for your local police dog. Michigan’s Canine Teams are well positioned to adapt to a changing legal landscape.
Police Dog handlers, and dog lovers, can rejoice the internet isn’t always right on the details. Legal Marijuana isn’t really a concern of the average police dog. The dogs will be happy to hear that forced retirement shouldn’t be right around the corner.