The Great Decisions Speaker Series brings national experts to West Michigan for thought-provoking discussions on eight critical issues related to U.S. foreign policy and other international concerns. The Great Decisions Global Discussion speaker series is put together by the World Affairs Council of Western Michigan and will be live-streamed at the Dogwood Center for Performing Arts on Tuesdays during February and March, 12 noon to 1:00 p.m. in the main stage.
The goal of the series is to discuss eight critical issues that are facing the world today, and features diplomats, policy makers, practitioners, think tank specialists and journalists using their diverse expertise to lead conversations. Migration, cyber security, China and trade are just a few of the global issues in the series.
“Our organization’s perspective on this series is that to change the world — or to even begin to understand global issues — one first must know about the world, and that’s what we attempt to do with Great Decisions,” Michael Van Denend, executive director of the World Affairs Council of Western Michigan.
The February 19 event will be “Immigration Policy beyond the Border” with Ambassador Jim Nealon, former U.S. Ambassador to Honduras. On February 26 the topic will be “A New Nuclear Arms Race?” with Kelsey Davenport, the Director for Nonproliferation Policy at the Arms Control Association assessing the possibility of a new nuclear arms race.
The Great Decisions Speaker Series will be video streamed live at the Dogwood Center, 4734 S. Campus Court, Fremont, from 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. Tuesday's in February and March. The live-stream sponsor for the series is Gerber Products/Nestle Nutrition. The lectures are free and open to the public. View the speaker schedule at www.dogwoodcenter.com. or www.worldmichigan.org.
Communities, Forest Service to look for options
On February 1st the edict came out regarding the use of alcohol on rivers that traversed the National Forest. Sections of the Manistee Pine and Au Sable rivers would be seeing an alcohol ban from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
With a fine of up to $5000 for an individual and $10,000 for organizations found to be in violation of the order.
Then came the outcry as citizens and business owners opposed to the new rule filled the pages of social media, created petitions and drew supportive responses from their state Reps.
Thus, on February 12th the organization released this statement:
“The Huron-Manistee National Forests will delay implementation of a closure order prohibiting alcohol on sections of three National Wild and Scenic Rivers until at least 2020. The delay creates an opportunity for the Forest Service to work with local communities to develop alternative means of restoring public safety and preventing damage to congressionally-protected sections of the AuSable, Manistee, and Pine Rivers.
“Individuals and businesses throughout northern Michigan have expressed strong interest in partnering with the Forest Service to address ongoing public safety and environmental issues on our National Wild and Scenic Rivers,” said Leslie Auriemmo, Huron-Manistee National Forests Supervisor.”We welcome a practical community driven solution to these challenges.”
Auriemmo has come under fire for her part in ordering the ban, the prohibition option of addressing what the Forest Service refers to as “persistent public safety issues.”
While the closure is not completely off the table, the Forest Service will work with the communities to come up with an action plan to restore public safety to these rivers by May. During the summer the action plan would be implemented and if conditions don’t improve the Forest Service will consider bringing back the ban in 2020.
The work group will be made up of local businesses, officials and citizens from along the three river corridors.
Though the Muskegon, a paddler paradise and tuber treat, is not currently part of this discussion it is an issue that has certainly been addressed in our area and with a collective effort among townships and the city of Newaygo, law enforcement and the community, weekends along the Mighty Mo have become more family friendly without requiring the implementation of a ban on adult beverages.
Rachel Wisner’s family has been sending people down the Muskegon in a variety of crafts for half a century. We asked the proprietor of Wisner Rents Canoes if she would care to comment on the efforts by the Forest Service to impact the issue and she most graciously agreed to do so.
“I know for a fact that it can be done. The Muskegon River used to be way worse but thanks to the DNR, Newaygo County Sheriff's Department, City of Newaygo Police and Muskegon River Watch (and, of course, those people who called in on the "River Jerks") it has improved substantially.
As the Owner of Wisner Canoes, we get plenty of customers that want to consume alcohol while floating the river. We also have just as many that don't. There is room for both. You just really need to remind people to respect the river, the property owners (even if it is State land) and each other - it really isn't that complicated but it did take some serious cracking down for quite a few years before it has mellowed out. Maybe if everyone, I mean EVERYONE- including people who paddle sober and people who like to have drinks ALL start taking stock in their own group in how they are acting and behaving, whether it be swearing around others, littering, arguing, trespassing... just bring a River Jerk... and say NO. Not let YOUR group get out of hand and each group take care of their own and it will make the whole summer a better place.
And wouldn't it be great if the other group paddling by had no reason to get their bathing suits in a wad and could just smile, wave and say 'peace, love. float'?
That is livin' my dream…”
Thank you Ms. Wisner
Any thoughts folks?
By Holly Moon, Newaygo County Treasurer
After all the official notifications, personal visits and publications to notify property owners that are in jeopardy of tax foreclosure have been exhausted, County Treasurers across the State are then left with the daunting task of foreclosing on April 1, 2019 as required by law. The properties in jeopardy of foreclosure this year are those with unpaid 2016 taxes. Thankfully, the number of parcels you saw in the December publication is dramatically lower by the final foreclosure date of April 1, 2019. (The statutory foreclosure date of March 31 falls on a weekend this year allowing taxpayers one more day to save their property.)
Some of your readers might be curious how this happens. Each year approximately 6,000 parcels are returned delinquent (unpaid) from the local townships, cities, and village to the Newaygo County Treasurer. In Newaygo County the Treasurer purchases these delinquent taxes from the local townships, cities, and village using the Delinquent Tax Revolving Fund and subsequently begins the task of collecting them. The property owners of parcels advertised in December last year have missed property tax payments dating from 2016 forward, prompting the foreclosure process mandated by the State and ordered by the court.
Last year the Circuit Court Judge ruled to give 55 property owners extensions beyond the March 31 deadline. County Treasurers do not want to take anyone’s property, but taxes must be paid. Our job as County Treasurers is to collect taxes not to foreclose on properties. However, after 3 years the law mandates foreclosure, if the taxes remain unpaid. If you or someone you know needs an extension, please contact my Office immediately. The Circuit Court hearing with Judge Springstead is February 26 to grant extensions. There’s no time to waste….requests must be received prior to this date! Of the 55 extensions awarded last year, 90+% were paid and saved from foreclosure. This is a wonderful example of our success in working together with our taxpayers in Newaygo County. Taxpayers receiving extensions will all be provided a payment plan to continue paying on their 2017 delinquent taxes. Extensions are limited and are not intended to be a solution. They are a “hand up” toward bringing their delinquent taxes current.
The problem of foreclosure continues to demand urgent attention, and we recognize the need to help families struggling with this issue. As County Treasurer I have partnered with StepForward Michigan (Stepforwardmichigan.org), TrueNorth’s Center for Non-profit Housing, (CNH), LOVE, Inc., the Newaygo County Department of Human Services, Five Cap, Inc., and the County’s Veteran’s Affairs Officers to help those eligible for assistance through their programs. Our overarching goal is to help families understand the tax foreclosure process and to assist citizens in developing a solution to save their property.
We include information sheets with our delinquent tax notices to encourage taxpayers to set up a payment plan early. We also provide them with information about the programs and services available in our County and the contact phone numbers. We educate taxpayers to be sure they have a Principal Residence Exemption, and provide information on how to request a Hardship Exemption from the local units. Tax foreclosure is final…there is no redemption period after April 1 this year!
If you are reading this and need assistance, or know someone who would benefit from a payment plan, please call us at the Newaygo County Treasurer’s Office: (231) 689-7230. My staff and I would be happy to help. If you would like to review the timelines for tax foreclosure and read our Frequently Asked Questions, please visit: www.countyofnewaygo.com/countytreasurer.aspx for additional tax foreclosure information.
By Megan Wirts
“Are you freaking kidding me??!!”, I exclaimed out loud to myself when I got the text that school was closed for what seems like the hundredth time this year. I am down to BBQ sauce and angel hair pasta for food options in the house and very little coffee. How will we survive!?
The winter weather for the past few weeks has been unprecedented making many school aged children's snow day dreams come true, which can be a nightmare for some parents. Especially when you are contemplating making BBQ Pasta for dinner. Barf. If you are a working parent a snow day can mean lost wages or having to pay for childcare. I have been there and it sucks.
When I became a stay at home parent, snow days definitely changed for me. I was no longer scrambling to find a babysitter or begging a coworker to fill in for me. Snow days turned into sleeping in, snugglefests and playing in the snow. Then the snow days kept coming, again and again and again. The days began to blur together, we watched all the movies and it was too cold to play in the snow.
I do love sleeping in, having my small people warm and safe, while snuggling all day and watching movies. All of that is great until, one kid's foot is in the other kid's face, someone farted and it wasn't the dog, we can't agree on what movie to watch and did I mention, I only have BBQ sauce and angel hair pasta left to eat in the house!!!! Not to mention my dwindling coffee supply.
I understand the need for cancelling school when the roads are treacherous and I am thankful that the safety of our children has become a priority. I am not mad at the schools, don't get me wrong. I have heard many people say that this generation is “soft”, or “back in my day we never had snow days!”, or “I used to walk two miles uphill both ways barefoot in the snow no matter what!”, blah, blah, blah. I have heard it all and even thought some of those thoughts. However, I appreciate that the lives of our children and the school staff are valued enough to cancel school on really crappy weather days. Sometimes though, I just want them to go back to school because if I hear another child say “I'm bored” this mama might snap!
Yes, I love my children and I even consider myself to be a creative and fun mom. I usually have a positive attitude, but on snow day #322 my creativity wanes and fun mom turns into stressed and tired mom that understands why some species eat their young.
As of this writing there are 35 days until Spring. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. I see you burnt out and exhausted parents. I am with you parents and caregivers that have been stuck inside while the joys of your life test your limits and you begin to relate to Jack Nicholson in The Shining. We are in this together.
Tomorrow I will get groceries and hopefully the children will go back to school. If not, it looks like another day of BBQ pasta and if I run out of coffee….well... hopefully the children survive.
DEQ annual Solid Waste Report piques our curiosity
We at N3 are big fans of recycling.
First off, it’s a really fine thing to do given the compelling propensity toward consuming we bipeninsular denizens share with much of humankind.
We recognize it’s not a profitable enterprise and is, in fact, rather expensive and still efforts are made to find a way to make it available so we can reduce what ends up in landfills. These efforts are encouraged from many sides including our state government.
But given this proclivity for consumption no matter how much effort is put into recycling and reusing and reducing we still produce a lot of solid waste.
A whole lot.
So when we receive a release such as this which speaks to the amount of waste that ends up in landfills...our state’s landfills… from other states and Canada the ongoing acceptance of refuse from these sources seems to our naive eyes to be rather...well...excessive might be a good word.
After all we are asked to recycle, reuse and reduce right? To do our part to keep landfills...our state’s landfills...from becoming inundated to the point of perhaps requiring another landfill maybe?
This is not new news (nor is it fake news) and yet given the ever escalating cost of both recycling and trash removal, it seems to be an issue worth visiting.
N3 sent the press release in question to our local State Representative Scott VanSingel expressing our puzzlement as to why we import a quarter of the trash that is found in our landfills from other states and Canada and asked if he might shed a bit of light on the situation and here was his (very prompt) reply.
“That is a good question. The simple answer is the tipping fee the state charges for waste entering a landfill is significantly lower than all the surrounding states which makes Michigan a destination for garbage. Currently the state charges 36 cents per ton of solid waste. Courts have ruled that we cannot charge a higher fee for out of state waste, therefore, we are an attractive location to import garbage. As an example of how low our fee is compared to other states, Wisconsin charges $13 per ton, Illinois is $2 and Pennsylvania is $6.25. This is one reason most other states have much higher recycling rates than Michigan.
Last term, the Governor had proposed raising the tipping fee to $4.75 which would put us in line with the surrounding states. It was estimated to raise $79M which would be used for environmental cleanup and recycling efforts and would likely reduce the amount of out of state trash entering Michigan. The proposal did not have sufficient support. Instead, a terrible compromise was reached during the lame duck session in which we essentially took money from the School Aid fund to pay for the environmental cleanup and recycling efforts. I am working on legislation to reverse this and create a permanent funding source that is not at the expense of public education.
Thank you Representative VanSingel.
Of course we are intrigued as to why the measure never received adequate support during the infamous recent lame duck session. Perhaps our solons were reticent to raise the rates because the costs would be passed onto consumers from haulers which is understandable and yet it continues to keep trash flowing into our state. Trash we did not produce.
1. We seem to have have bargain rates when it comes to dumping stuff.
2. The courts apparently have said we can’t charge more for another country much less another state.
Being charitable to our neighbors is good. Keeping haulers costs down so that it doesn’t hit consumers? Also good.
Taking in about 12 million cubic yards of trash that was produced elsewhere?
Problematic in our most humble of opinions. But maybe we're missing something here.
Let us know your thoughts.
And here is the release for your perusal.
LANSING-The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) recently released its 23rd annual solid waste report, which offers an annual look at waste disposed of in Michigan’s landfills. Michigan’s long-term planning for landfill capacity continues to pay off, resulting in 27 years of landfill capacity at the current rate.
There was a 3.6 percent overall increase in solid waste disposed of in Michigan landfills compared to the same period in 2017. This increase highlights the continuing challenge of short term costs associated with disposal versus that of a more balanced materials management approach (i.e., reduce, reuse, recycle) in Michigan. Waste disposed of by Michigan residents and businesses increased by almost 5 percent, and waste imported from other states and Canada decreased by about 3 percent.
Imported waste represented about 24 percent of all waste disposed of in Michigan landfills. The largest source of waste imported into Michigan continued to be Canada, contributing 18.6 percent of waste disposed of in Michigan, underscoring the large gap in disposal costs between Michigan and Canadian landfills. Eleven states import waste into Michigan; of the eleven states, Ohio contributed the largest amount of waste imported to Michigan from a state.
All 66 Michigan landfills are required to submit information on disposal to the MDEQ. The department compiles this information into an annual report for the Legislature.
The specific amounts of waste disposed in Michigan during fiscal year (FY) 2018 from various jurisdictions are:
Waste Generation Origin
Waste Volume (Cubic Yards)
FY 2017 FY 2018
Canada 10,572,922 9,770,385
Connecticut 0 126,138
Illinois 30,762 19,097
Indiana 598,361 558,613
Iowa 19 10
Kansas 20 7
Michigan 37,723,925 39,932,328
Minnesota 10 0
Missouri 4 4
Montana 11 0
New Jersey 276 21,956
Ohio 1,459,442 1,792,600
Tennessee 14 0
Pennsylvania 0 42
Washington 6 0
West Virginia 180 100
Wisconsin 218,740 223,935
To view the report, visit www.michigan.gov/deq/0,4561,7-135-3312_4123-47581--,00.html.
The MDEQ, as part of its ongoing mission, will continue discussions with stakeholders regarding potential policy changes and other options to further promote reducing overall waste generated, innovative reuse of materials, and increased recycling in Michigan.
Recently we asked readers to share stories of fellow community members who step up, particularly when events such as our recent weather woes strike a blow to our daily routine.
Ms. Julie Burgess who is involved with the Boomerang group in White Cloud (don’t miss their Cupcake Festival this spring) submitted this social media post issued by White Cloud Band Director (and WC Mayor) Jamie Denslow during yet another school closing on Thursday.
As Ms. Burgess stated:
"Our mayor/dedicated band instructor deserves some special props for being willing to do this for his students"
Roads are crummy now, and the ice/flash freeze isn’t even here yet. Any Solo/ensemble groups willing/able/want to get together today? At this point, I may be willing to drive to you to work on stuff.
If enough interest I will ask the piano player if she’s willing to drive also.
If I get enough that are willing/interested, I will then talk about time.
I’m even willing to FaceTime rehearsals if that helps!!!
Mr Denslow has developed an outstanding band program at WCHS with participants as dedicated to striving for excellence as he is to helping them achieve it.
2019 — A Look Ahead
By Sen. Jon Bumstead -34th Senate District
The 100th Legislature is up and running.
I am beyond humbled to have the opportunity to serve as your state senator, and I would like to give a special thank you to those who had confidence in me to be your voice in Lansing.
As things continue to pick up, I am eager to get to work and excited to represent our district in the state Capitol. We are off to a good start so far in 2019. We are already analyzing budget projections to ensure we maximize investments in schools, roads and other crucial state programs, and we are working to lower auto insurance rates in Michigan.
My staff and I are available anytime if you have questions or opinions about legislation in Lansing, have difficulty with contacting or working with state departments, or have any other concerns.
There are many ways to contact my office. My office address is suite 4600 of the Binsfeld Senate Office Building, which is located at 201 Townsend St. in Lansing.
My mailing address is State Senator Jon Bumstead, P.O. Box 30036, Lansing, MI 48909-7536. My Lansing office phone number is 517-373-1635, my fax number is 517-373-3300, and my email address is SenJBumstead@senate.michigan.gov. For additional information, you may visit my website at www.SenatorJonBumstead.com.
I have also received my committee assignments for this legislative term. I serve as vice chair for the standing committees on Appropriations and Natural Resources, and chair of the Natural Resources and Environmental Quality Appropriations Subcommittee. I am also a member of the following standing committees: Education and Career Readiness; Finance; and Energy and Technology. I also serve on the K-12 and Michigan Department of Education and General Government Appropriations subcommittees.
Finally, I will be hosting office hours throughout the district several times a month, so residents can stop by for a conversation, receive publications or other state resources, and share their thoughts on how to continue Michigan’s comeback.
It is a tremendous privilege to serve West Michigan in the state Legislature. I am committed to representing our district in Lansing, strengthening our economy, helping craft a responsible budget, lowering auto insurance rates, fixing our roads and making decisions that continue to move Michigan forward. I look forward to working with my colleagues in both the House and Senate, as well as our new governor, to continue building a better Michigan for future generations.
Sen. Jon Bumstead, R-Newaygo, represents the 34th state Senate District, which includes Muskegon, Newaygo and Oceana counties.
By Megan Wirts
It fills up our kitchen counters, our desks, rooms and our minds. Clutter isn’t just stuff, it’s all the things that are weighing us down. It can be anything, an overflowing makeup bag (did I really need 25 blushes?), piles of paper on the kitchen table, overthinking thoughts about last night's conversation, past experiences, or anger that you have held onto. All of those things clutter up your mind and your coffee table, causing you to not think about all the happy and good things in your life or see the beautiful hardwood floors underneath all that stuff.
Instead you are left feeling stressed, anxious and like you are living in chaos. Clutter takes up way too much of our time, attention and lives. Time we could be playing Uno with our kids or making dinner with our spouse. For many of us, the clutter is overwhelming and we try our best to shove it in closets, hide it in decorative baskets or we push it deep down into our guts until it eventually turns into a bleeding ulcer. Either way, we don’t want to deal with it.
Unless you live in a bubble, you have probably heard about the Netflix show Tidying Up with Marie Kondo where she helps people transform their homes and lives with her KonMari method of tidying up. I’m not surprised that the show and her tidying up method have struck a chord with so many people. Clutter is a common cause of chaos. Personally, I am a sucker for an organization show and I immediately jumped in head first. I binge watched the entire season in one day. The next day I joined every KonMari Facebook group I could and then I ordered her book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Then my kids had a snow day and I saw it as the perfect opportunity to put them to work and start the process.
Right away, I did it wrong according to the KonMari method. What can I say? I’m a rule breaker. Also, don’t tell people in KonMari Facebook groups that you didn’t start with clothing or they will all lose their tidy little minds. Some people take the process VERY seriously. Instead of clothes, I started with my kitchen. *gasp* I know. I started there because I had both of my kids here to help me with the heavy lifting and climbing. I have terrible balance and can barely lift a gallon of milk. I had to use them while I had them. Lucky for me both of my small people are now taller than me and can reach all the things I can’t. I knew it would happen eventually, but I can’t stop myself from calling them my small people.
We took the entire kitchen apart, grouped things into categories and then I held each item one by one and asked myself if it “sparked joy”. I really did! It felt silly at first and it took FOREVER! Most things were just expired, broken or didn’t have a matching lid, so that’s why they didn’t spark the joy. Some things really truly sparked joy for me, like my beautiful blue KitchenAid mixer that is the absolute light of my life. Some things didn’t spark joy, but because we need to eat off of plates and not the floor, and it’s not in the budget to replace them with some real joy sparkers, I have to keep my plates.
We did it though! In one day, my kids and I tidied up my kitchen and it is incredibly clean and organized. Except I keep forgetting where I moved my canned goods and I have hit my head on the super handy rack to organize the lids to my pans because I forget it’s there, until I hit my head on it again.
After we tidied up the kitchen, I read the book, ‘The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up’. Before, when I just watched the Netflix show, I was inspired to clean up and organize. After reading the book, I was struck by how profound tidying up truly is when I finally started the clothes category. I piled everything I owned into a mountain on top of my bed and began the joy sparking process. Through this process I realized it was time that I let go of some clothing that once brought me joy and then hung in various closets for over 20 years. Every time I would see those dresses I would be flooded with memories, some happy, some sad and heartbreaking. I thought I needed to keep them forever because of how expensive they were when I bought them or because the occasion was an important or special time in my life, but they never brought me joy again. Not until that day when I felt joy letting them go and letting go of the past that I so desperately needed to let go of.
Decluttering is the physical act of letting go. Letting go emotionally, that’s an entirely different story. Decluttering the anger or hurt you have held onto for years might take more time, but it does feel freaking amazing to throw that ugly pink bridesmaid dress that you wore in your ex-best friends wedding 17 years ago, in the trash where it belongs. The first step is to throw the stuff away. The next step is to reorganize. The reorganizing takes more time and patience.
After I got through the clothes section, my husband happened to have an entire week off of work (he was not quite as thrilled with the timing as I was) and we tackled the rest of the tidying up together. We went through our books and papers. Then we got to what Marie Kondo calls “komono” or miscellaneous stuff and then finally sentimental things. We tore the house apart and then put it back together again only with much less clutter. We looked through old photos, emails we wrote each other when we first started dating, reminisced about when the small people were both very small and came out of this happier, refreshed and knowing how to fold our undergarments into tiny little rectangles.
There really isn’t any magic to it, unless you count learning how to fold a fitted sheet, but the real magic to the process is how you feel when your home is filled with things that truly fill you with joy. It seems simple because it is. Surround yourself with joy and feel joy. Plus you should be able to find it all, if you can remember where you put it, because it’s organized.
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