January 9th Newaygo County Board of Commissioners Meeting
By Charles Chandler
On Wednesday, January 9th Mr. Brian Kolk the new Chairperson gaveled in the first Board of Commissioners’ meeting of 2019. The roll call introduced four new Commissioners. They included Mr. Burt Cooper representing District 1, Mr. Ken DeLaat representing District 5, Ms. Brenda Bird representing District 6 and Mr. Mike Kruithoff representing District 7. The meeting agendas were approved and Chair Kolk proceeded in an orderly manner with the new commissioners voting on motions, resolutions and presenting comments and committee reports. For the first meeting with a new Chair and four new Commissioners the County business was taken care of in an effective and efficient manner.
Regarding the Changing of the Guard, several new or recently promoted County Employees were introduced to the Board. County Treasurer Ms. Holly Moon introduced Kimberly Foster a new employee in the Treasurer’s Office. Kimberly is familiar with the office having been an intern while in High School and for a brief stint worked there full-time. After graduation and college, she moved to Shepherdsville, KY with her husband. While there she held various positions at Amazon rising to a department lead. The Foster Family decided to move back to Newaygo County in November, and Treasurer Moon stated that she was thrilled to have Kimberly back in the Department.
County Register of Deeds Mr. Stewart Sanders introduced three employees from his department that was new or recently promoted.
Karen Totten new Chief Deputy Register. She and her husband moved back to the White Cloud area from the East side of the State. Karen is a former Meijer Store Manager. She has been in the Register of Deeds office for 3 years.
Deputy Register Nicole Visser started with the Department on July 31st of 2018 and was most recently the Office Manager for Best Homes in Newaygo. She and husband reside in the Newaygo Area.
New Register Amy Nelson was previously employed by Spectrum of Grand Rapids and resides in the Newaygo area.
County Clerk Jason Vanderstelt introduced Amanda Hunter as new Deputy Clerk – Elections Administrator. Amanda comes to the County Clerk’s Office from the Building Department, with high recommendations. She has a Bachelor of Science degree from Grand Valley State University.
The Commissioners welcomed and congratulated the new and newly promoted County employees.
White Cloud City Manager Lora Kalkofen was re-appointed to the Brownfield Authority Board for a three-year term.
Standing Committee Reports
Commissioner DeLaat presented the Finance Committee business.
During the Finance Committee reports Ms. Holly Moon presented a brief overview of the investment policy for Newaygo County to the new Commissioners as required by Public Act 20. In brief the Policy focuses on three objectives. Safety: the preservation of principal while mitigating credit and interest rate risks.
Liquidity: ensuring that the investment portfolio remains sufficiently liquid to enable the Treasurer to meet all reasonably anticipated operating requirements. And Return on Investments: Designing the Counties’ investment portfolio so that through budgetary and economic cycles and considering risks makes money over the long term. Treasurer Moon explained further how she structured investments and discussed the impact of current market volatility.
The Board approved the proposal to extend the contract with Rehmann Robson LLC for auditing services for three years, 2019, 2020, and 2021. The Proposal was supported by County Administrator Wren.
Miscellaneous Committee Reports
Commissioner Maike reported that he had recently attended a Newaygo County Community Collaborative (NC3) meeting. In this meeting of a group of area business executives had attended and are working to help curb poverty in Newaygo County. One initiative is developing ‘Randy’s House’ located in Newaygo City. Commissioner Maike also mentioned a planned expansion of the HarbisonWalker International, Inc Refractory facilities located at 1301 East 8th Street, White Cloud, MI and in Everett Township.
Commissioner Trapp reported that the Board of Public Work had a meeting and they are getting close to having an operational prototype of a Recycling Facility in Fremont. Commissioner Trapp mentioned that the Fremont Area Community Foundation had been a strong supporter of the Recycling Facility and the ongoing efforts to find a long-term solution to Newaygo County’s Recycling needs. Drain Commissioner Dale Twing of the same meeting also reported that he was working with Newaygo County ISD to recruit volunteers to staff operations at the prototype Recycling Facility. Commissioner Twing described the features and amenities at the facility and stated there will be a press release forthcoming when the opening date for the Recycling Facility is determined.
Administrator Wren reported on the proceedings of the Michigan Indigent Defense Commission and noted that the County had received their Grant Agreement from the State. More details will follow as Newaygo and other Counties work through the details of the Grant Agreement with the State. Commissioner Wren is currently interviewing candidates for the Indigent Administrator Position.
It is being recommended that the County Building Department move in a new direction in order to provide ongoing Building Inspection services to County residents, contractors and other users. The Townships have been notified of the proposed new direction. Contract(s) to that effect will be presented to the Finance Committee next week and then to the full Board after that. The Board will have an opportunity to review and approve all service contracts.
Newaygo County in collaboration with eight other Counties is close to finalizing negations with a Forensic Pathologist to bring those services to the Morgue in Big Rapids. This will be the first-ever County or Publicly operated Morgue in the State of Michigan.
The County has received generous awards from the Fremont Area Community Foundation (FACF). Those were in the sum of $500,000 for the construction of Michigan Dragon Trail at Hardy Pond, $75,000 match for recycling services, and a $630,000 loan at 1 percent for improvements at the Central Dispatch Facilities. The County appreciates the generosity and continued partnership with the FACF.
There has been $8,298.00 added to the budget for the Crime Victims’ Rights program for the fiscal year 2019. Of that amount about $3,000. been allocated to Ancillary Direct Victim’s Needs program.
County Prosecutor Worth Stay discussed details of the Crime Victims ‘Rights Program. Specifically, the Ancillary Direct Victim’s needs which include, request and reimbursement for travel cost, replacing broken locks, or broken windows and cost to damaged security systems. Prosecutor Stay discussed the policy for informing victims about the program and the various forms and procedures for getting work done and paying vendors for those services.
The Board of Commissioners quickly and with thanks from the Administrator and other Commissioners for her service reappointed Abigail Watkins as Director of Newaygo Emergency Services Director.
And quickly approved of 2018 Edition of Newaygo County Emergency Operation Plan that is developed and managed by Director Watkins.
As a benchmark for their first Commissioner Meeting each of four new Commissioners was asked by the N3 Correspondent what their goals were or what they hoped to accomplish in their first term of office. The answers follow.
From Commissioner Cooper: “I've always been a supporter of Public Safety (Emergency Services, Law Enforcement, Dispatch, and Disaster Support) and Veterans services (retired military and former Newaygo County Veterans Affairs Committee member), having been personally involved in or interacted with all these areas. Now, I'm looking forward to supporting them at a Commissioner-level. In addition, supporting job training and economic growth for Newaygo County by serving on the boards of Michigan Works-West Central Board and the West Michigan Shoreline Regional Development Commission.”
From Commissioner DeLaat: “I hope to effectively represent the interests of the people who elected me as their commissioner. A large part of this involves helping to ensure the financial health of our county while continuing to provide the necessary services our community requires. This is a continuing and ongoing challenge as the need continues to grow while resources are often limited.My hope is for our board to support efforts being made locally to face the challenges of workforce development, affordable housing, and the changing economic landscape. The area looks to experience growth in the near future and we need to be prepared for what that growth will mean to our communities.”
Commissioner Bird: “As far as my goals for this job, it is the same as my way of life; to serve people to the best of my ability. Holding fast to the right and focus on doing good!”
Commissioner Kruithoff: “My goals as a commissioner are to help keep our County going in a positive direction, being on the physical and Economic Development Committee, I look forward to improvements and repairs on our County buildings and parks and continue to make Newaygo County a tourism destination. I look forward to serving our County as a Commissioner. Thank you.”
The next Board of Commissioners Meeting will be held on January 23.
The County Offices will be closed on January 21 to observe Martin Luther King Day.