Governor pays a visit to Newaygo County
Housing, child care, broadband and water quality were among the issues on the table when Governor Gretchen Whitmer paid a visit to Newaygo County Friday to participate in a roundtable discussion held at the Fremont Area Community Foundation.
She was joined by Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Director Gary McDowell and the Deputy for MDARD’s recently created Office of Rural Development Sarah Lucas and the trio fielded questions and concerns from local leaders during the one hour gathering.
Foundation President and CEO Shelly Kasprzycki opened the meeting with a welcome then invited introductions before giving way to the governor who shared some perspective on the unique challenges facing rural Michigan.
Governor Whitmer also spoke of her familiarity with Newaygo County, explaining that she had spent summers here as a child attending camp as had her daughters. “This is a beautiful area with hard working, good people who expect a fair shake and a level playing field and that’s what we’re trying to provide.”
Director McDowell and Deputy Lucas each provided information on some recent initiatives then, along with the Governor, took questions and comments from attendees.
FACF Vice President Lindsay Hager began by pointing to the lack of housing availability and related some of the efforts made by the Foundation to partner with organizations with a goal of bringing affordable housing to the area while stressing the need for further supports.
Dr. Lori Tubergen Clark referenced the child care ‘desert’ in our area and the need for child care subsidies to be restructured or expanded.
On environmental issues, Charles Chandler brought up the need for enforcement of water quality standards and Lola Harmon Ramsey thanked the Governor for the programs and grants being made available to support recycling services locally.
As the comments and questions continued the three guests responded to each as well as expanding on other topics with the Governor often taking notes while listening to the concerns.
Responding to media questions after the meeting the Governor was asked about some of the measures being proposed recently to help with inflation related rising costs, particularly in fuel.
“I was encouraged by what was done in the Senate yesterday. (A bill that would set Michigan’s per-gallon motor fuel tax rate at zero cents from June 15th through September 15th)
“My goal is to give people relief right now. People can’t wait. Some of the things the legislature passed wouldn’t have gone into effect until next year and that doesn’t give people relief. I want to give people help right now. That's what I’m interested in. That’s why I proposed a tax rebate of $500. The $400 checks for people with cars was a good thing but we need to do more and we need to do it now”