Sara Bouwkamp was honored for her years of service at the regular meeting of the Newaygo County Board of Commissioners meeting on Wednesday, January 25th.
Ms. Bouwkamp retired after 19 years at the county with her last nine being with the Sheriff’s Office where she finished her career as Office Manager. The resolution read by Board Chair Bryan Kolk praised her as being “a role model to all who were lucky enough to work with her.”
In other business the Board named Doug Harmon to a 3 year term on the Board of Public Works, accepted a bid for flooring work at the Commission on Aging and accepted a grant from the Fremont Area Community Foundation to continue support of the economic development partnership between the county and The Right Place.
White Cloud office offering Safe Use Kits for IV drug users
From our friends at DHD#10:
District Health Department #10 now offers Safe Use Kits, which are aimed at reducing the negative effects associated with drug use, and include syringes, alcohol swabs, sterile water, cookers, cottons, tourniquets, fentanyl test strips, and condoms. A Substance Use Disorder (SUD) resource sheet with treatment, recovery, and naloxone resources are also provided.
Safe Use Kits can be accessed Monday – Friday from 8:30am – 4:30pm in Crawford, Kalkaska, Lake, Manistee, Mason, Mecosta, Newaygo, Oceana, and Wexford Counties.
In addition, individuals can dispose of syringes, needles, and other sharps at all DHD#10 offices. Sharps/needles brought into the office must be sealed in either a standard biohazard sharps container or a laundry detergent jug that is tad shut and labeled sharps. Loose sharps will not be accepted inside the building. A 24-hour drop box is available on the external wall of the buildings. This option is intended for small amounts of loose sharps that are not in a container. For safety purposes, sharps containers should not be left on the ground outside the building. Free sharps containers are provided and can be picked up at all DHD#10 offices.
“IV drug use is a serious issue and one that impacts our communities” said Angie Gullekson, Public Health Educator/Certified Prevention Specialist for DHD#10. “Sharing of injection equipment between people who use drugs has led to several outbreaks of HIV and hepatitis C and spread of other serious infections in the U.S. Since the 1980’s, providing clean injection equipment has been used as a safe and proven way to prevent the spread of these infections. People who inject drugs and regularly use a program providing clean injection equipment, called a Syringe Service Program (SSP), are more than five times as likely to enter treatment for a substance use disorder and nearly three times as likely to report reducing or discontinuing injection as those who have never used an SSP. Providing Safe Use Kits reduces risk in various ways.”
For more information on these programs, visit https://www.mi.gov/ssp and https://www.cdc.gov/ssp.
Newaygo County Schools Participate in Michigan Green Schools
By Katie Clark, Newaygo County Environmental Coalition
Newaygo County Environmental Coalition (NCEC) is proud to coordinate Michigan Green Schools for Newaygo County. On January 18th, NCEC Board member, Katie Clark, presented Scott Sherman, principal of Fremont High School (FHS), and Julie Anderson, FHS MI Green School Coordinator and orchestra teacher, the school’s Michigan Green Schools Emerald Award and flag to display.
“I saw that the coordinator position was open last year, and I like to do my part to be environmentally responsible. Plus, as the orchestra teacher, this position allows me to work with more of our student population. I’m hoping to continue to grow the program,” stated Ms. Anderson.
Michigan Green Schools encourages and recognizes schools that focus on environmental stewardship. A school is eligible to receive a Green, Emerald, or Evergreen School Environmental Designation if the school or students acquired a certain number of points within four categories: recycling, energy, environmental protection, and miscellaneous activities of their choice.
Fremont Public Schools are all active in the MI Green Schools Program, and all earned an Award this year:
Michigan Green Schools is now coordinated by EGLE (Michigan’s Environment, Great Lakes & Energy), and is “…dedicated to assisting all Michigan schools, public and private, achieve environmental goals, which include protecting the air, land, water, and animals of our state along with world outreach through good ecological practices and the teaching of educational stewardship of students pre-kindergarten through high school.” The program started as an idea from some Michigan students and teachers in 2005, and it was presented as a bill in 2006, which was unanimously signed into legislation that same year. In its first official year, 18 schools participated, and in 2016 MI Green Schools program had over 650 Michigan schools engaged.
The new EGLE MI Green Schools portal has a wealth of resources for those participating. There are virtual trainings, resources that schools can borrow for specific activities that are geared toward environmental lessons specifically about Michigan air, water, land, climate, flora and fauna.
If your Newaygo County school would like to participate in the MI Green Schools program for 2023-2024, contact the Newaygo County Michigan Green School Coordinator at email@example.com. You can also find information at the MI Green Schools website: www.michigan.gov/egle/public/egle-classroom/michigan-green-schools.
Human Trafficking Arrest In Grant
Task force seminar leads to investigation, arrest
A human trafficking investigation has led to the arrest of a 30-year-old Philadelphia, Pennsylvania man in Michigan.
The Grant Police Department is a member of a county-wide task force working to
educate youth on the dangers of illicit online activity. After attending an in-school
seminar regarding human trafficking the victim approached the school resource officer asking for help. Officers from the Grant Police Department then began an investigation. While traveling to meet the victim, Patrick Adam Lathrop was arrested on January 14, 2023 after being intercepted by GPD officers at the Gerard R Ford International Airport. Additionally, multiple electronic devices and hard drives have been seized as evidence. On January 17, 2023 Lathrop was arraigned in the 78th District Court in Newaygo County.
Lathrop is being held on a $75,000 cash bond in the Newaygo County Jail. He is charged with (1) count of Child Sexually Abusive Activity, a 20-year felony and/or $100,000; (1) count of Using a Computer to Commit a Crime, a 20 year to Life felony; (1) count Children – Distributing Sexually Explicit, Visual or Verbal Matter, a 2-year felony. Additional charges in federal courts are possible.
Grant Police Department was assisted by the Newaygo County Prosecutors Office,
Newaygo County Sheriff’s Office, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Gerard R Ford International Airport Police, and the Philadelphia Police Department.
Grant Police Chief Bradley Wade: "Education provided to Grant Students utilizes the K-12 Human Trafficking Education curriculum. This education provides students with information regarding, grooming, red flags and safety measures pertaining to human trafficking. Through this education, it gives students a voice to report any suspicions to a trusted adult".
Teresa Fetterley: "As the Newaygo County Human Trafficking Taskforce Chair, we are relieved to know that this student is safe. The catalyst that triggered the student to come forward was the A21 Prevention Education Curriculum, specifically the online grooming lesson. We are grateful for the passionate staff at Grant High School willing to take the time and energy to address this pervasive and hidden crime of Human Trafficking in our schools, county, state and nation."
Anyone with information regarding this investigation is asked to the call the Grant Police Department at (231)834-7212.
Keeping Students Safe
Grants awarded to help fund school resource officers
LANSING, Mich., Jan 17, 2023- Today, Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced that 195 school districts, intermediate school districts, and public-school academies will receive nearly $25 million to support the hiring of 195 school resource officers (SROs) for the next three years. The program will improve safety and security for more than 334,000 students in our state.
Here are the grants awarded to local schools and their enrollment numbers:
Fremont $131,966 2,086
Grant $118,14 1,639
Hesperia $90,000 843
NC RESA $128,77 1,050
Newaygo $109,850 1,531
“Every parent wants their kids to be safe at school,” said Governor Whitmer. “These grants will help us hire almost 200 more School Resource Officers so we can make sure our children, teachers, and staff are safe at school.
A panel consisting of representatives from education and policing awarded the grants, giving priority to schools and school districts without a school resource officer currently in place, as well as schools from more communities with lower student enrollment and less total per pupil funding. These funds administered by the Michigan State Police (MSP), Grants and Community Services Division, may be used to support salaries, benefits and training for SROs, which are law enforcement officers responsible for keeping students safe in school. A 50 percent match is required to be provided by the applicant jurisdiction.
“These grant awards will not only help to provide better safety in our school buildings by increasing the number of schools throughout the state with at least one SRO, but very importantly, by prioritizing smaller schools in more remote areas, we will reduce the time it takes for a police response in the event of an emergency,” said MSP Director Col. Joe Gasper.
Expanding Local Broadband Access
Fremont Area Community Foundation Awards $5 Million Mission-Related Investment to Great Lakes Energy
Fremont Area Community Foundation recently awarded a $5 million mission-related investment to Great Lakes Energy to expand local access to broadband internet service in Lake, Mecosta, Newaygo, and Osceola counties.
The investment will support Great Lakes Energy’s expansion of their Truestream fiber network, empowering more rural residents with access to the internet connections they need for work, school, and telehealth. The expansion is slated to impact all four counties served by the Community Foundation and its three geographic affiliate foundations.
Approximately 53 percent of people in Newaygo County do not have broadband access, according to FCC data. While numbers are more encouraging in Mecosta County, a quarter of the population still lacks access to broadband. In Lake and Osceola counties, the number is over 70 percent. This creates significant barriers to working and studying from home, accessing telehealth services, and completing important tasks like looking for a new job or filing taxes. Affordable access to reliable internet can also create new possibilities for business expansion and increased home sales.
“Rural areas like ours are still not widely served by the reliable, high-speed internet that is now a necessity for most people and businesses,” said Shelly Kasprzycki, president and CEO of the Community Foundation. “We are excited to support the local expansion of broadband service.”
Kasprzycki noted that a mission-related investment is a unique, flexible tool that philanthropic organizations can use to create positive impacts in a community beyond regular grantmaking programs.
“Unlike a typical grant, a mission-related investment is repaid, and because these investments are recovered, it allows our resources to go farther and be used again,” said Kasprzycki. “Great Lakes Energy has an over 85-year history in our state, and we’re proud to partner with them on this important project.”
Great Lakes Energy is the largest member-owned power company in Michigan, serving rural parts of 26 counties in western Michigan. They provide electric service to nearly 29,000 homes and businesses in Lake, Mecosta, Newaygo, and Osceola counties. They launched Truestream, a fiber internet and voice service, in 2018 to provide connections to underserved and unserved rural areas. Nearly 4,000 miles of fiber line has already been installed in 10 counties and nearly 16,000 homes and businesses have been connected.
“This partnership with the Fremont Area Community Foundation furthers our goal to bring internet and voice services to our members,” said Shaun Lamp, president and CEO of Great Lakes Energy and Truestream. “We have already begun expanding the Truestream network in Newaygo County and with this investment will continue the momentum to connect more homes and businesses to life-changing fiber service.”
For more information about Great Lakes Energy’s Truestream network visit truestreamfiber.com.
A Rescue At Blanche Lake
Conservation Officer, Newaygo County Man released from hospital following ice rescue; DNR urges ice, snowmobile safety ahead of holiday weekend
From our friends at Michigan DNR:
Leading into a long weekend for many Michiganders, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources reminds outdoor enthusiasts to use extreme caution when on or near the ice – including snowmobilers.
The DNR is emphasizing such caution after an ice rescue Sunday on Blanche Lake in Newaygo County. A 21-year-old Grant man and a DNR conservation officer received treatment for hypothermia, and both have since been released from the hospital.
“The department is beyond grateful that one of our conservation officers and a young man are both doing well after spending an extended amount of time in the cold water,” said Chief Dave Shaw, DNR Law Enforcement Division.
“As anxious as we all are to enjoy our favorite winter activities, the unseasonable winter has created unstable ice conditions throughout much of the state, particularly the Lower Peninsula,” Shaw said. “Everyone should use extreme caution when on or near the ice, consider wearing a personal floatation device and have ice picks easily accessible. There is no such thing as safe ice.”
Conservation Officers Jeff Ginn and Tim Barboza and probationary Conservation Officer Brandon Benedict responded to Blanch Lake, located east of M-37 and north of State Road after a caller contacted 911 around 3:20 p.m., stating a man walking on the ice had broken through into the water, where the depth ranges from 15 to 20 feet. Wearing a personal floatation device, Ginn crawled on the ice to the open water, about 50 to 75 yards from shore, where the man was clinging to the edge of the ice about an inch thick. The man displayed signs of hypothermia and was too weak to swim.
“When I was about 10 feet from the man, I threw him a personal floatation device and a rescue rope,” Ginn said. “He was unable to hold the PFD because he was holding onto the ice shelf.”
The officers attempted several ice rescue methods, including tossing the man a throw rope and ice picks.
“He was unable to wrap the rope around himself because he did not want to let go of the ice,” Ginn said. “I threw him ice spikes, but he couldn’t reach them.”
Ginn was using an off-road vehicle ramp for weight distribution, and used the ramp to push the ice picks closer to the man.
“Water began to flood the surface of the ice, then broke underneath me, causing me to enter the water,” Ginn said. “Once in the water, I swam to and grabbed ahold of him. I grabbed the PFD I previously threw to him, had him hold it to his chest, then grabbed the rope and ice spikes and swam us to the edge of the ice. I used the ice spikes to hold us against the ice shelf and attempted to tie the rope around his body under his arms.”
Barboza then crawled on the ice to tie a rope through Ginn’s PFD. Additional ropes were tied to the original line, which emergency responders used to try and pull the men from the water, but the ice continued to break. Ginn was eventually pulled from the water but jumped back in to keep the man from sinking.
“I knew we were going to be in the water for a while, and kept talking to the man to keep him alert,” Ginn said. “I knew if I let go, he’d sink.”
Dressed in cold-water survival suits, emergency responders from the Newaygo Fire Department deployed an inflatable raft to successfully secure the 21-year-old and remove him from the water. Then Ginn climbed out of the lake onto the ice, and rescuers used the rope to pull him to shore.
The 21-year-old was in the water for more than 30 minutes and had a reported body temperature of 87 degrees Fahrenheit; he was transported to a hospital in Grand Rapids, treated for hypothermia and later released.
Ginn, in the water for about 20 minutes, was transported to Gerber Hospital in Fremont, where he was treated for hypothermia and released Sunday evening. Ginn had a reported body temperature of 89 degrees Fahrenheit.
Additional assisting agencies include the Ashland-Grant Fire Department, Life EMS, the Newaygo County dive team and Newaygo County Central Dispatch.
“Going into a long weekend, this is when conservation officers usually see a lot of snowmobile and ice-related activity,” Shaw said. “We hope everyone keeps safety in mind by being cautious on the ice and operating snowmobiles sober and at a safe speed.”
The DNR is not releasing the name of the 21-year-old man.
Winter outdoor recreation activities require preparation and caution. If you witness someone break through the ice, immediately call 911. Before spending any time on or around ice, review ice safety tips at Michigan.gov/IceSafety.
City selected to host Community Development Fellow
On Friday, the Community Economic Development Association of Michigan (CEDAM) announced the ten communities chosen to host Community Development Fellows in 2023. The City of White Cloud is among this year’s cohort, the only community from West Michigan.
CEDAM’s Community Development Fellowship program was created in 2018 to help add capacity to communities working to achieve their economic development potential. Fellows have a proven track record of securing grant funding for projects, supporting the integration of planning and zoning best practices, gathering important resident feedback and much more! This program is made possible through funding and partnership with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. This technical assistance program places a trained community development professional in selected communities for 15 months, at minimal cost to the community.
“We are thrilled that White Cloud has been chosen for this amazing opportunity! We are looking forward to hosting a fellow and working collaboratively with local leaders, stakeholders, and residents to continue to work towards White Cloud’s full potential. It’s a marathon and not a sprint, but this is an excellent step assisting us in the goals we have.” says City Manager, April Storms.
This opportunity will capitalize on the momentum the City of White Cloud has had over the past 12 months, including: significant progress on redevelopment ready communities’ certification, partnership with developers on workforce housing PILOT opportunities, securing several grants for upgrades to parks, security, sidewalks, and several park upgrades.
“The City of White Cloud’s participation with the CEDAM Fellowship program is another example of the growth focus exhibited by their current leadership,” shared Julie Burrell, Newaygo County Economic Development Director and Regional Partner Lead for The Right Place. “It is exciting to see communities take advantage of the resources available, and we are excited to work alongside White Cloud through this incredible opportunity.”
A True Professional
Packer Athletics honor Doug Harmon
By Ken DeLaat
It was halftime at the Fremont/Tri County boys basketball game and I was sitting next to Doug Harmon who had been ensconced behind the microphone since before the earlier girls game preparing for the evening's events.
Actually Doug has been in that seat quite a bit longer. For over a quarter of a century Harmon has been announcing Packer athletics and on this night unbeknownst to him there was a bit of a surprise in store.
As the teams exited to the locker room for intermission Former Packer Coach Pete Zerfas appeared at courtside, picked up a mike and delivered a tribute to the man who has givenn a voice to Packer athletics since the mid 90’s.
“Welcome to everybody here from Fremont, and our sports community. Today we’re taking a moment to recognize the contributions of an important member of our Fremont athletic organization, who has been a crucial part of our sporting events for 27 years. I’d like to recognize the work and dedication of the one, and only, Doug Harmon at the announcer’s microphone.”
As Doug looked over at Pete he also saw his family enter the gym and take their place at center court. As he scanned the area he also saw friends from throughout the community who may not be regular attendees at the games but showed up to honor the man who brought a level of dedication and professionalism to the high school athletes that compete on the court or football field. He then joined his family at center court after receiving a plaque to commemorate his tireless efforts over the years.
Harmon is a true professional. Over the years of covering sports I’ve had the privilege of sitting beside him courtside or being on the field and listening to his announcing from the booth. A master at his craft he seems to effortlessly work his way through the games, injecting the occasional PSA and playing a pre-planned series of musical interludes during breaks all the while giving life to the game and credit to those who play it.
But don’t be deceived by the ease with which he performs his tasks. Harmon does his homework. From the programming and timing of the music to ensuring the names of the participants are pronounced correctly he prepares for each contest with the professionalism he brings to any task. In his introduction Coach Zerfas spoke to how Doug has always treated every athlete coach and official with a heightened level of respect. This is who Doug Harmon is.
Having known him for many years and witnessed him in action as he serves the community through many committees and boards as well as pitching in at various events throughout the area, I have been continually impressed with his good nature, his work ethic and above all his integrity.
These are all elements Doug has brought to the sporting events he has been announcing since his own children wore the Packer uniform.
Coach Zerfas: "For all the years I coached Doug was a fixture at the table announcing our players and coaching staffs. He has been a constant and important piece of Fremont Athletics. Though he has announced basketball and football games for the past 25 years, his service to our community and our school system goes far beyond that. It is almost impossible to put into perspective all the community service, time and energy he has given to our community.
"The games were always important, but when you heard Doug's Voice, 'The Voice of Fremont', it just felt like the game was that much bigger.
"It was always nice to see Doug before the game and talk about fishing, hunting and the outdoors. Doug is a pillar of our community and I am lucky enough to call him a friend.”
After the presentation Doug was obviously touched by the outpouring of appreciation received. But there was a second half to play and with the task at hand he settled in at the mike and, as always, seamlessly called the rest of what turned out to be a Packer victory.
Catching up with him later he gave us this response:
“I was humbled and was feeling blessed. Family and friends, coaches, staff and players surprised me with a presentation of a plaque and kind words from former boys coach Pete Zerfas. Totally caught off guard, I thought maybe I was getting my walking papers. It was a wonderful expression of appreciation for 27 plus years of announcing Fremont sporting events. I have been blessed to have the support of my wife Holly and family for all of the years of my involvement.
“Working with so many wonderful people over the years, coaches, officials, staff, players and scoring table volunteers has been such a positive experience.
“I thank everyone for allowing me to be a small part of the local athletic experience. In my heart there is nothing better than high school sports.”
In any community there are the people who step up. Those who can be counted on to help out in any way they can.
Doug Harmon is such a person.
And the community is better for it.
Ashland Township, Michigan (December, 29, 2022): Today, Quality Finishing Systems, a 2nd generation family-owned industrial equipment manufacturer, and The Newaygo County Economic Development Partnership, powered by The Right Place, announced an expansion at 333 W 136th Street in Ashland Township near Grant, MI.
“On behalf of everyone at Quality Finishing Systems, we are excited to be kicking off a new expansion,” said David Courson, General Manager. “Being founded in Grant, it was important to our family to find a solution to grow our business and stay in the same location.”
Quality Finishing Systems plans to add 10 new jobs and invest over $500,000 in the next 12 months. This expansion comes after the company acquired additional land in 2020, with technical assistance provided by the Newaygo County Economic Development Partnership. The company broke ground on this expansion in early December 2022.
“We are excited to celebrate Quality Finishing System’s choice to expand their operations in Newaygo County” said Julie Burrell, Economic Development Director of the Newaygo County Economic Development Partnership at The Right Place, “They have been a leader in southern Newaygo County and we are happy to support their growth.”
Quality Finishing Systems, established in 1998, serves industrial customers across North America, specializing in paint finishing systems. Second generation leadership was established in 2020, providing an opportunity for further growth and supporting this expansion.
Additionally, Michigan Works! West Central supported this expansion with a training package totaling $99,679.
Ed H Henning County Park Forestry Work
Problematic Red Pine Stands to be Removed
Forestry work to begin in January 2023
Newaygo, MI: The Newaygo County Park and Recreation Commission is moving forward in its first phase of forest stewardship work at Ed. H Henning County Park in January 2023. After completing a comprehensive Forest Stewardship Review and Planning Process, the disease prone and mature plantations of Red Pine were recommended for harvest to allow the native hardwood understory to be released.
The Park Commission is always looking to improve its natural areas and expand recreational offerings to visitors and residents. One such project that is partially complete is the new Muskegon River Bluffs Disc Golf Course. It was vital to the Park Commission that forest health be an essential aspect when considering this project. Therefore, Newaygo County contracted with Mark P Janke as their consultant, a Registered Forester overseeing forest stewardship planning and implementation. With Mark’s help, the County conducted a Forest Stewardship Review and developed a plan to best manage the forest lands at Ed H. Henning County Park.
Mr. Janke, who has decades of forestry experience, completed a comprehensive inventory and inspection of all the forest lands at Ed H. Henning County Park and worked with the County to develop an action plan to improve the forest lands and integrate the proposed disc golf course in the most sustainable way possible. One of the biggest resource concerns that Mr. Janke found at the property was the unhealthy 80+-year-old Red Pine plantations that were diseased and gradually deteriorating.
“While reviewing the property, it was clear that the large Red Pine stands were starting to become diseased/dying, which was spreading to uninfected Pines quickly. In addition, these pine stands are currently inhibiting the growth of a diverse and native understory of young hardwoods, and dying Pines pose a risk to park visitors if not addressed," explained Mark P. Janke, Consulting Forester.
In Red Pine plantations, the progression is a natural transition from pine to hardwood. The Pines act as a natural nursery environment for the young hardwoods to flourish, and as the Pines die off, the native hardwoods take over and result in a mature hardwood forest. Henning Park is currently in that transition stage, resulting in a number of dying trees standing close to Park areas. Removing the doomed Red Pine trees will accelerate the growth of the existing hardwood trees, improve the overall forest health, and make the Park safer for all visitors.
“Timber removal, especially on this scale, is not pretty, but in the end, it will improve the overall health of our forest at Henning Park. This is one of the reasons we are reaching out to let the public know that our end goal is to improve visitor safety and forest health,” explained Parks Director Nick Smith.
Later this month, crews from a local timber company, Outback Forestry, will begin removing the Red Pines from Henning Park. In addition to large-scale pine removal, some select hardwoods will be removed. While this is underway, timber crews will take special precautions to preserve the young hardwood understory so these trees can flourish once forestry activity is completed. Debris will be left on site and placed strategically to improve soil health and provide some animal habitats.
“We look forward to completing this first step in forest health improvement and seeing the hardwoods take over where the pines once stood,” said Mr. Janke.
Once completed, crews will enter the area and finish installing the disc golf course this year.
If anyone has questions about this forestry process or the Forest Stewardship Plan, they are welcome to contact the Parks Commission Office at 231.689.7340.
More Dam News
Reader asks about upcoming Dam work
N3 received a note from one of our readers asking if we could see if there are any updates on the rebuilding of the Hardy Dam spillway and roadway across the Dam.
We got in touch with the ever amiable Rich Houtteman from Consumers Energy who provided the following:
We are awaiting milestones next year that involve regulating entities such as Michigan Dept of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) permitting,
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approval, as well as revenue recovery from the Michigan Public Service Commission.
We are planning as though the project will begin after Labor Day 2023 but that is very tentative at this time. We should have more
confidence in a start date (if granted) by early to mid-summer.
The road over the dam should be operational through at least Labor Day Weekend and likely beyond into Fall.
In the meantime we will carry on with logging and clearing work where the tentative new spillway will be constructed. Folks can check the
latest info here at https://www.consumersenergy.com/company/electric-generation/renewables/hydroelectric
He also added:
Hardy Pond Drawdown Schedule Change
This year’s annual winter drawdown for Hardy Pond will begin early November 1, 2022 in preparation for a future auxiliary spillway project. The restoration to normal operating water levels will be by May 26, 2023 (Friday prior to Memorial Day weekend). The future auxiliary spillway project is in the design and engineering phase. Construction dates will be shared when finalized.
For additional information, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
What Will Be The Future of Our Dams?
Consumers Energy to Study Impacts of Its Dams on Local Communities
JACKSON, Mich., Dec. 19, 2022 – Consumers Energy is funding an independent study during the first half of 2023 to determine the contribution of its 13 river hydro facilities to local communities near those dams across Michigan. That study will build on information gathered during community engagement meetings held in 2022 to help determine the future of its dams.
“Consumers Energy is committed to being a good neighbor and working transparently as we make informed decisions to reach the best outcomes for our customers, stakeholders and the communities we serve,” said Norm Kapala, vice president of generation operations at Consumers Energy. “We know our dams play significant roles in Michigan, especially in the economies of the communities near our facilities, and we share with local leaders and others the desire to quantify those impacts before developing long term strategies regarding the future of those facilities.”
The 30- to 40-year federal licenses to operate the dams Consumers Energy owns and operates on the Muskegon, Manistee, Grand, Kalamazoo and Au Sable rivers are set to expire beginning in 2034.
Consumers Energy is considering four options for each of its 13 dams: Relicensing the river hydro dam and continue generating electricity, selling the dam to a third party, removing the dam, or replacing the dam with an alternative structure that maintains some level of reservoir.
The energy provider hired Public Sector Consultants (PSC), a Lansing-based nonpartisan consulting firm that specializes in public policy research to perform the economic study. PSC has longstanding expertise in studying energy and the environment, economic research, public engagement, and group facilitation. The firm conducted the 2022 community river hydro in-person listening sessions and will build on the feedback from those meetings for this current work.
PSC will begin by engaging each of the local communities to identify and review available data to ensure the studies find all contributing factors that influence the local economies around Consumers Energy’s dams. They will produce individual studies for each dam to better understand the unique economic contributions – including additional data on how the hydro facilities and their associated reservoirs contribute to the recreational and tax bases of the communities -- of all 13 hydro sites.
“A common theme we heard during our 27 community engagement meetings with communities and stakeholders is to know more about how much of the economic activity in the communities around our dams are associated with the hydro facilities,” said Kapala. “We have listened to the community members and we are working on this economic contribution study to answer those questions to better understand those impacts.”
Consumers Energy makes decisions based on the Triple Bottom Line that ensures benefits for people, the planet and Michigan’s prosperity. Factors Consumers Energy considers in determining the future for its dams include regulatory compliance, safety, community impacts, operating costs and environmental impacts.
For more information about the process to determine the future of Consumers Energy’s river hydro facilities, visit ConsumersEnergy.com/HydroFuture
NCRESA Seeks Family Navigator
Toptracer opens at Waters Edge
FREMONT, MICH. – On Tuesday, Dec. 13, Waters Edge Golf Course in Fremont hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony for its newest offering: Toptracer at The Bunker, a top-rated range technology in the golfing industry worldwide that enhances a players’ driving range experience.
Integrated in over 30 countries, there are 219 Toptracer locations in the U.S. Toptracer’s newest location, The Bunker at Waters Edge, is fully dedicated to providing opportunities for individuals in West Michigan to enjoy a unique aspect of the game of golf.
“Toptracer is transforming the everyday driving range experience by utilizing the same technology that televised golf tournaments use to track shots of the game’s best players,” said Larry Yachcik, Waters Edge general manager. “It uses cameras mounted around The Bunker at Waters Edge where ball-tracing technology displays accurate, live shot data, including distance, speed, launch angle, shape, and more, on a monitor in each hitting bay. The data can then be used for practice purposes or to compete in games and challenges with friends and other Toptracer users throughout the world.”
With Toptracer, guests of all ages and skill levels, including kids, can compete against friends, play virtual courses, receive instant shot feedback on interactive game screens, and receive advanced analytics to perfect their swing.
The Bunker at Waters Edge, the golf course’s new state-of-the-art facility, features eight heated Toptracer bays that can sit up to six people for year-round play, a full-service bar, and fixed food menu for table service. Waters Edge Golf Course and all of its facilities, including Toptracer at The Bunker and Lakes 23 restaurant, are open to the public.
“Waters Edge is a wonderful amenity for the Fremont community and it’s exciting to see the new addition of The Bunker,” said Fremont Mayor James Rynberg. “This addition to the community will draw community and visitors alike to the Waters Edge Golf Course. We are excited for all the updates that have taken place here and we know even more great things are coming.”
“On behalf of the Fremont Area Chamber of Commerce and our business community, we want to congratulate Waters Edge Golf Course on a fantastic new addition for our residents and visitors,” said Karen Baird, executive director, Fremont Area Chamber of Commerce. “Waters Edge has been a great community partner for many years, and continues to provide a positive economic impact on the community. The Bunker is sure to be an economic driver as visitors come to discover Fremont and this new investment at Waters Edge.”
A ribbon-cutting celebration was held in conjunction with the Fremont Area Chamber of Commerce, where The Bunker at Waters Edge received a proclamation from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s office.
“With the opening of The Bunker, Waters Edge will surely attract thousands of new patrons,” states the proclamation. “With their goal of always challenging and improving their players’ games of golf, they will undoubtedly continue to be successful for years to come. May the grand opening of The Bunker bring about a new era of prosperity for all those at the Waters Edge golf facility.”
How Fast Is Your Internet?
County Encourages FCC Map Confirmation
Ok, Near Northians Listen Up, Please!!
There are boatloads of federal money coming down the pike for high speed internet. If you want to help the chances of having it brought into your home, you seriously need to take a look at this info from our friends at the Newaygo County Economic Development Partnership.
In November, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released a new map of broadband service for the nation. Unlike previous maps, this new data collection provides information at the address level. For the first time, the FCC is accepting challenges to the data shown on the maps, and encourages consumers, communities, and others to examine the map’s accuracy.
These maps dictate which areas are eligible for future funding, enhancing the critical nature of this opportunity to verify accuracy.
The Michigan High-Speed Internet Office is working to identify discrepancies state-wide, however the County of Newaygo is suggesting residents take the initiative to ensure their data is correct. It is critical that challenges to the FCC map be filed by Jan.13, 2023. Having an accurate federal map will ensure that Michigan receives its equitable share of funding through the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment Program to invest in achieving universal broadband availability for the state.
The map can be accessed here: https://broadbandmap.fcc.gov/
Newaygo County is working with regional partners to coordinate broadband planning through facilitated information sharing and coordination of outreach efforts. Additional resources and up-to-date information for this region are available at https://wmsrdc.org/project/wmsrdc-broadband-support/
A Trio of Tidbits from N3 World Headquarters
Big News In Big Prairie
We understand Big Prairie Township scored a $150,000 Recreation Passport grant to create a new welcome center for Oxbow Park. The win was one of several RecPass grants received throughout the state for a variety of projects. Our fave is the splashpad that will be going in down by Lowell…and by the way, Fremont, you seriously need a splashpad.
One project that received funding up by Gladwin has what we think is a great name.
A Trail of Two Cities.
I can see the review on it already.
“It was the best of hikes, it was the worst of hikes….”
For Crepes Sake
If you ventured out and participated in Newaygo’s Christmas walk perhaps you wandered into Flying Bear Books where new owners Eric and Krystal Johnson were uber-busy putting together their signature crepes for the long line of folks interested in giving them a try.
They were able to churn out 150 in about 3 hours.
Lil and I snared a couple of them and wandered out to find a spot to unwrap and devour them.
They were righteous. Nicely done Johnsons.
Their temporary permit to serve them expired this past Saturday, but Eric reports the thin and tasty creations will be coming back on a permanent basis around the end of January.
This initiative provides a great option for food seekers in the downtown area of River City and besides it’s in a book store. THE book store in Newaygo County.
“I’m not one who can share a crepe. I need the whole crepe.” -Emily Cooper (Lily Collins), ‘Emily In Paris’
“And before I go…”
Scott VanSingel recently returned from Lansing following his last session in the state house. In his farewell address he handed out a lot of thank yous but also called out some of the divisive elements he has encountered both in the capital and here in his home district.
While not always agreeing with Rep VanSingel we found him to be ever-accessible, unafraid to answer any of our questions and a true light of reason in a milieu where lately it seems a crass sense of discourtesy now passes for political discourse.
We will be doing an interview with our outgoing voice in Lansing and post the interaction later this week.
“Ends are not bad things, they just mean that something else is about to begin. - C. JoyBell C.
Semi Annual Siren Coming to the Dams
Consumers Energy to Conduct Siren Tests Near Rogers, Hardy and Croton Dams December 14
Consumers Energy announced the emergency public warning siren systems near its Rogers, Hardy and Croton hydroelectric generating plants on the Muskegon River will be tested on Wednesday, December 14, at about 9 a.m.
· The test will include a voice message, a 30-second siren and a second voice message. The public does not need to take any action during the test. The siren systems are tested each August and December.
· The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission requires hydroelectric facilities to be able to quickly notify residents and visitors of any developing emergency at the plants.
· In an emergency, the sirens would be used only if the threat of a dam failure is imminent at one of the facilities. At that time, anyone on or near the river should evacuate at once to high ground. Additional information would be provided on local radio and television stations.
Consumers Energy reminds those who visit dams in the winter that ice on a reservoir near a hydroelectric facility is not reliable and should be avoided by snowmobilers, anglers and others. Also, ice-covered water down river from a hydroelectric facility should never be considered a safe place to walk.
When 13 Is Anything But Unlucky
County Scores HIgh on Education, Job Skills, Employment Opportunities
How are we doing Newaygo? I mean, as a county, how are we doing when it comes to building toward prosperity via education and employment? Well, according to a national organization who puts out an annual scorecard on such things we’ seem to be looking pretty good.
Each year Lightcast (formerly Emsi Burning Glass), a global leader in labor market analytics, releases a Talent Attraction Scorecard. The Scorecard is meant to help communities understand how they are doing in attracting and developing talent to meet their workforce needs.
And we placed 13th.
While some may say ‘Well, it’s not first place” to give a bit of perspective the last survey Lightcast released we landed at 2182nd so moving up 2169 places feels like some pretty major success in this corner.
Rankings are based on education, overall job change, migration, skilled job change, competitive effect (jobs created above or below what is expected),and skilled job openings. This year’s rankings captured data taken from 2017 to 2021, highlighting key changes in demographics, education and open jobs due to COVID-19 and what it shows is how the county has made substantial progress in the key areas.
Education? The level of educational attainment rose 22% from 2017 to 2021. Bachelor’s Degrees jumped 32% and those with Master’s Degrees or beyond went up 18%.
How about jobs? Well, annually we are averaging 572 skilled job openings per year with an increase of 32% and overall job openings have jumped 31%.
“It is exciting to be a part of positive movement forward on educational attainment and careers in our community,” said Shelly Kasprzycki, President and CEO of the Fremont Area Community Foundation. “Newaygo County is thriving, and while we have much more work to do, we are seeing growth.”
Growth indeed, and not by chance and certainly not by luck. The climb from last year’s four figure finish to 13th happened because of a multitude of efforts put forth to improve the educational achievement of the county and a focus on developing employment opportunities that have not only drawn talent from other areas but retained residents with skills who might have once left the county to seek better employment opportunities.
“Newaygo County leaders have focused on strategic programs like Kickstart for Career and the Newaygo County Promise, supporting our existing and upcoming talent,” said Julie Burrell, Economic Development Director of Newaygo County and Regional Partner Lead at The Right Place. “Our efforts to connect industry to education are supported by the data from this Lightcast Ranking, and we will continue working to improve the greater Newaygo County economy.”
Sentencing to take place in January
Just under a year ago Darrell Dean Dakan was arrested after an altercation with his son Joshua Dakan escalated, ending with the elder Dakan fatally shooting his son.
On December 2nd Dakan, of White Cloud, was found guilty following a week long jury trial regarding the December 27, 2021 shooting death.
Court records indicated Joshua Dakan was sitting in the passenger seat of a friend’s car when his father came out and confronted him about leaving a cable across the driveway that ended up damaging the elder Dakan’s truck. As they argued, the father got a rifle from his trailer aiming it at his son.His friend reported that Joshua Dakan at one point said ‘Just shoot me”. Then, according to the friend, Darrell Dakan fired the .22 caliber rifle at his son. Joshua struggled with his father for a short time before collapsing with the bullet piercing his heart and lung.
Dakan was found guilty of second degree murder and weapons- Felony Firearm. The murder conviction carries a sentence of life in prison or any term of years. Felony Firearm carries a penalty of two years to be served consecutively to and preceding any term of imprisonment for the underlying felony.
Newaygo County Prosecuting Attorney Worth Stay commented: “I thank the Newaygo County Sheriff’s Office, for their investigation of this matter, the witnesses for their willingness to give testimony, and the jury for their service during this lengthy trial.”
Sentencing is scheduled for January 31, 2023 at 9:30 a.m. in the Newaygo County Circuit Court in White Cloud.
To celebrate Tamarac’s 15th birthday, the health and wellness center is featuring a two-week series of events culminating with a special birthday celebration at Tamarac on Saturday, Dec. 17, from 8 to 11 a.m. All events and specials are for the entire community to take part in and free of charge.
Amanda Irwin, manager, has been with Tamarac since its inception in 2007. Over the years she has seen the impact the center has on its members and the community.
“We are so excited to share our 15th birthday with the community and the ways in which we help our members and community live healthy, active lifestyles,” said Irwin. “We look forward to many more years of continuing to help our community achieve their health and wellness goals and encourage everyone to check out the schedule of events happening through Dec. 17. There’s truly something for everyone.”
During the special birthday celebration on Dec. 17, Tamarac will have information booths, presentations and special events held by industry experts in health, fitness, rehabilitation and nutrition. For those who wish to become a member of Tamarac, the enrollment fee is reduced to $15 and runs throughout December and January. In addition, all who attend can receive a 15% discount on all café purchases and special discounts at the pro shop.
All events are held at Tamarac (1401 W. Main St.), and registration is required for some events as space is limited. Please join Tamarac’s Facebook group (www.facebook.com/groups/TamaracWellness) to view the full listing of events and register.
Tamarac is a member of Corewell Health Gerber Hospital. Whether you’re looking for a place to work out, relax in the spa, attend a fitness class, swim in a heated pool, improve your knowledge on various health topics or just meet new people while enjoying food at our café, Tamarac has something for everyone.
Will New Year Mean New Career?
Opportunities abound at Newaygo County
We are less than a month from a new year, a time when many of us look to the turning of the calendar as an opportunity to make some changes in our lives.
And what better time to take a look at what we might want to pursue when it comes to how we earn our money?
Newaygo County not only pays well but also provides some seriously fine benefits to its employees while offering room for professional growth and advancement.
Ready to make a change?
Ever thought about Law Enforcement? Well, it just happens that there is an opening in two areas of the Sheriff’s Office.
As a Deputy you will patrol assigned areas, investigate, make arrests, direct and control traffic, write violation citations, prepare reports, appear in court, serve civil process, and provide services and assistance to the public. In addition, the selected candidate could also be subject to assignments such as School Resource, Drug Enforcement, and Traffic Enforcement Deputy.
And you take your cruiser home between shifts.
More of an inside person?
How about serving as a Corrections Officer? Challenging work to be sure but the right person will demonstrate integrity and honesty, the ability to remain calm under pressure, and the ability to de-escalate conflict and volatile situations.
Sound like you?
On-the-job training will be available.
Interested in the legal system but maybe not in a cruiser or helping the folks behind bars?
Circuit Court is searching for the right candidate to serve as an Enforcement Officer.
What is this you say?
Well, it involves working in a legal office setting, processing confidential court matters and meeting with clients and attorneys to collect information and resolve issues.
If you have excellent communication skills, a good eye for attention to detail, possess organizational skills, and are comfortable with accounting and working with numbers, this might be the career you’ve been waiting for.
Interested in helping our elders? The Commission on Aging has a bundle of full and part time positions ranging from drivers to meal prep to homemakers. A truly great place to earn some cash while doing your part to help serve our older citizens.
Yes, we are on the cusp of a New Year. A year that promises opportunities for change and growth in many areas. If it seems like time to head into another direction when it comes to employment, Newaygo County just might be your ticket to career fulfillment.
So, if you get seized by a Carpe Diem moment and want a bit more info on the above positions just visit:
And see if anything piques your interest.
'Cool Robots' and Career Opportunities
Record Breaking Number of Newaygo County Students Explore Careers in Manufacturing
The Newaygo County Economic Development Partnership (NCEDP) announced today, the culmination of their 2022 Discover Manufacturing initiative.
Discover Manufacturing, part of the national MFG DAY initiative, is a coordinated, regional effort designed to celebrate manufacturing, address common misconceptions, and highlight local career opportunities for students. 2022 marks the sixth year of Discover Manufacturing in Newaygo County, and NCEDP leadership is excited to share the record breaking results. Over 580 students from six schools in Newaygo County took part in tours of local manufacturers.
Julie Burrell, NECDP Economic Development Director shared “The work we’ve put in over the past several years truly paid off in 2022. Educators and employers are trusting us to provide a thoughtful framework to highlight solutions for issues that both sides face in regard to talent attraction and career advancement after graduation”.
In collaboration with regional economic development organizations, The Right Place facilitated grant funding from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. The Newaygo County Economic Development Partnership received $3,076, which was used to cover transportation costs and purchase incentive items for students.
Grant Middle and High Schools and Newaygo Middle School participated for the first time in 2022. Newaygo County Career Tech Center, Hesperia Middle School and White Cloud Junior High School continued their long-standing participation.
When asked why participation has been a priority for White Cloud Junior High School, Counselor Melissa Bedell said “We want to provide opportunities for our students to explore careers in our community. It is so great to see the different career pathway options such as marketing and technology within the manufacturing businesses represented on the tours”.
Discover Manufacturing provides an opportunity to strengthen the relationship between employers and educators, addressing the skilled labor shortage and improving the confidence in the local talent pipeline. Riveridge Cider, G-M Wood Products, Quality Finishing Systems, HarbisonWalker International, the Fremont Generate Digester and Magna Mirrors all committed to hosting tours this year.
“Coming from a rural community, it may be difficult to imagine your town playing a role on a national scale,” said Trish Taylor, Riveridge Cider marketing manager. “By doing Discover Manufacturing tours with students, we were able to show them all the apple trees they see make us unique and those apples end up in cider that goes to all 50 states. Newaygo County may be small but it is a big deal in Michigan agriculture!”
Going beyond a simple tour, several employers utilized real life stories to convey the magnitude of opportunities that exist. Jeremiah Ebenstein, Human Resources Manager at G-M Wood Products, shared his experience of starting out in production and working his way up to management. Tyler Huntley, Plant Manager, highlighted several facets of the great work environment at G-M Wood Products, adding “Plus, we have cool robots!”
G-M Wood Products Vice President Kevin Karrip went on to say “G-M Wood Products was very excited to participate in Discover Manufacturing. Our hope in hosting these young people at our facilities was to show them that there is a bright and exciting future right here in Newaygo County. Manufacturing offers many different opportunities in trades and technologies.”
Discover Manufacturing is conducted annually in October and November. To learn more, contact Julie Burrell at email@example.com
Trial Ends With Guilty Verdict
It may have taken 39 years for justice to find its way to Roy Snell, but on Wednesday a jury found him guilty of murder. In January he will receive his long overdue sentencing for the crime.
Newaygo County Prosecuting Attorney, Worth Stay, announced that Roy Lesando Snell, of Minneapolis, was found guilty on November 16, 2022 after a nearly three week jury trial regarding the August 10, 1983 disappearance of Rick Atwood.
Snell was found guilty of Homicide Felony Murder, in violation of MCL 750.316, and Weapons - Felony Firearm, in violation of MCL 750.227b. Felony Murder carries a mandatory sentence of life without parole. Felony firearm carries a penalty of two years consecutively and preceding any term of imprisonment for the underlying felony. The case was a joint prosecution of the Newaygo County Prosecuting Attorney and Michigan Attorney General's Office..
Sentencing is scheduled for January 9, 2023 in the Newaygo County Circuit Court, White Cloud, Michigan.
As Prosecutor Stay explained: "I am heartened that the family of Rick Atwood may begin to find some closure in this verdict. I thank the jury for their service during this lengthy trial.
"This result would not have been possible without the efforts of many individuals. I thank the cold case team, which was comprised of members of the Newaygo County Sheriff's Department and Michigan State Police. I would particularly like to highlight the tireless work of retired Detective Scott Rios. Detective Rios never gave up on this case and worked past his retirement to ensure every fact and circumstance was investigated and able to be presented to a jury."
Prosecutor Stay continued: "I would also like to thank First Assistant Attorney General William Rollstin and Assistant Attorney General Dan Gunderson for the skill and dedication that they brought to this case. Their work, in conjunction with the resources of Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel's office, ensured that Rick Atwood was not forgotten."