By Carol Mills, Executive Director, Newaygo County Mental Health
May is Mental Health Month! Since 1949, when National Mental Health week was observed, we have continued to encourage awareness of mental and emotional health. As we continue to be embattled by the COVID-19 pandemic, 2021 needs to be the year of Mental Health and Self Care. Everyone has been affected by the pandemic. Many people have lost jobs they once thought were secure. Adults have also experienced many losses of activities, hobbies and routines. Students have had unpredictability in how their education will continue to be provided. Even more sadly, many of us have lost dear family members and friends that were not able to overcome this virus. Vaccinations are helping us see the light at the end of the tunnel, but we are still a long way from emerging and finding our new normal.
Because May is Mental Health Month, it is a fitting time to remember that mental health is as important as physical health. It will take time to heal from the trauma many have endured over the last year. Healing is a difficult process to go through alone, or with inadequate supports. It is a difficult process even with the right supports in place. Many more people are suffering with loneliness, addiction and lack of socialization with friends and family. Working from home for some has grown old – they are ready to interact in person again.
If you are having difficulty coping with loss or the challenges and changes we have been through, consider seeking help. There are many ways to access help – churches, on-line support meetings like AA and NA, private counselors and Community Mental Health. Newaygo County Mental Health has been serving this community for almost 50 years. While there are some criteria that people have to meet for services, all of our services are based upon income with a sliding fee scale for those who do not have Medicaid. If you do not meet criteria for our services, we will assist you by referring you to an appropriate provider that can help you.
During the month of May, we will have several articles written by staff of Newaygo CMH about various mental health issues. We look forward to helping the community and to planning for the future. For those interested in seeking assistance, please call 231-689-7330 during office hours for an appointment. As a reminder, Newaygo CMH is available 24/7 for people in crisis. Our crisis line is 231-689-7580. You can also visit our website at www.newaygocmh.org
Letter to the community from Drew Dostal, President of Spectrum Health Gerber Memorial, Ludington Hospital and the Integrated Care Campus-North Muskegon.
Spectrum Health and Hart High School in neighboring Oceana County will jointly be offering a vaccination clinic on Saturday, May 1 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Hart High School, located at 300 Johnson Street in Hart. All those 16 and older are welcome and encouraged to register, as we work together to ensure your health, the health and safety of your families and make it safe for you to work and be around others.
On behalf of Spectrum Health, I’d like to encourage everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated to schedule their appointment so we can begin to put this highly contagious outbreak behind us and more quickly get back to normal life, as much as possible. Our expert nurses will be administering 400 vaccine doses at this clinic. Our registration staff will very efficiently review your information to confirm your birthdate. Our volunteers are ready to welcome you. Our entire team will be available to help make this a fast, easy process.
To schedule your appointment time, go to the vaccine registration website (https://www.spectrumhealth.org/covid19/covid-19-vaccine) and click on “Schedule Your Vaccination.” Answer the questions, and you will then be taken to a page showing the Spectrum Health vaccination clinic locations where you can select an appointment at the location of your choice. Or, you may call 833.755.0696 between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. for help getting an appointment. Make sure to specify the Hart High School location.
There is no out-of-pocket cost to you for the vaccine. If you have insurance, you will be asked to show your insurance card so that we can recoup some cost for the administration of the vaccine. If you do not have insurance, you will still be able to get your vaccine.
There have been several myths around the COVID-19 vaccine that we would like to address. Here are some facts:
We urge you to take COVID-19 seriously. Sign up to get a vaccine and encourage those you know and love to do so also. In the meantime, mask up, stay at least six feet apart and wash your hands frequently.
Hiking? Tell us about it.
Of all the activities that have gained traction during this past year, hiking has likely enjoyed the most appreciable upsurge in adherents.
Makes sense of course. With the pandemic causing a somewhat seismic shift in our daily lives folks have been pursuing new ways to recreate. Hence the shortage in everything from exercise equipment to travel trailers.
And as bipeninsularians who occupy this corner of paradise we are fortunate to be blessed with a veritable plethora of opportunities to ‘take it to the woods’.
Beyond the treasure of a trek known as the North Country Trail that meanders through our county and the loops that connect it to other scenic sections there are many more from mini-hikes to more arduous undertakings.
And within a short drive beyond our county there are chances to ambulate through some awesome areas from beaches to bogs, rivers to ridges.
At N3 we want to hear about your trail tales. Where have you been? What are your favorites? Who do you go with?
And more importantly…
What has it given you?
There are volumes of research touting the bountiful health benefits to be gained from getting outside and moving about and trail hiking fits the bill perfectly for such an experience.
We are asking you to share why you hike and what you have learned (if anything) by engaging in this ambulatory activity.
Send us your stories (photos strongly encouraged) and we will post our favorites. If you just want to send a photo with a caption we want to see those too.
You can use the comment section at the end of this article or send it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We look forward to hearing from you.
“The world reveals itself to those who travel on foot”-Werner Herzog
By Tim McGrath
Park! Pay! Display!
The sign fastened to the utility pole at the edge of the graveled parking lot cheerfully exhorted those entering in its passive-aggressive way. It all seemed quite simple. Step one: Park! No sweat, check. Step two: Pay! This is where things were a tad murky. We were in one of those parking lots that had no attendant at the exit gate, or pay when you leave stations; just the little self-serve kiosk in the middle of the lot. First time using one of these jobs.
At this point, it would have been fun to zoom out and watch the scene unfold. The kiosk, the two of us trying to figure the thing out, and the woman in line behind us waiting, waiting, waiting while we sorted it out.
“What’s that say?” both of us asked too loudly as we squinted over the tops of sunglasses, struggling to read the directions through the scratched surface of the electronic screen. The blazing sun reflecting off the screen made direction following impossible.
“Stop stooping over, you look like a little old man,” Cheryl cajoled under her breath as I struggled with what it was telling me in simple terms to do. Couldn’t see a thing.
“Here, you try it, then,” I retorted.
“OK, you put the money in here. No, wait, have to turn it the other way around like it shows on the picture. What…,wait…, no, hold on a minute….”
Meanwhile, I had the feeling that Impatient Irma behind us was ready to spring out of her shoes at our incompetencies. I could feel her annoyance billowing out around us in waves. I was afraid if I turned around she’d be standing with arms crossed, tapping her foot, giving us a withering stink eye. Imagine it would have been the same look my third-grade teacher gave me when she caught me eating paste during art class one day.
“Hot dang, there it goes!” I hollered. “Now, what’s this about Display!”
Reminds me of another first time….
You have to wonder if there’s many things in life more excruciating than a first date. And, when I say first date, I mean first date, ever. The kind we all laugh about years later during Happy Hour when regaling each other with “I-can-beat-that” tales of our youth. Reliving the angst and awkwardness of kids trying to find their way along the treacherous paths of love. That time was far off in the future, however, and this was no laughing matter.
I was in a pickle. My senior year at Wyoming Park High School, and I had a massive crush on the most beautiful, perfect girl I’d ever laid eyes on. My goal was simple: I wanted her to be my date for Prom. Long story short, I messed around trying to muster the courage to talk with her, let alone ask her to Prom. I even knew she’d say “Yes!”, but I just couldn’t do it. Prom came and went. Graduation shortly thereafter, and…, I never saw, nor heard of her again. Charlie Brown of romance strikes out, royally.
Well, sir, this time would be different. I was a college man now, eighteen, and with a car of my own; a ’72 Plymouth Duster. It was jacked up in the rear, slotted chrome reverse wheels all around. I’d installed an 8-track tape player with massive 6x9 speakers. Had 56 8-track tapes: Foghat, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Humble Pie, BTO, Montrose, J. Geils Band, to name a few. I’d also added some Carpenters and Bread; something for just about everyone. Plus, I’d just installed some cool green shag carpeting throughout. Impressive – certain to turn any girl’s head, I was sure of it.
Bachman Turner Overdrive was coming to town. This might just be the thing I was looking for. They were scheduled to play at the Dome on Grand Valley’s campus soon. I’d been there a bunch of times for other concerts, so I knew my way around. Didn’t want to be wandering around aimlessly in some strange place with a girl in the car, lost, wondering where we were going. I didn’t need any more help in the doofus department, thank you very much. Now to ask the girl.
As a college freshman living at home, my female connections were slim. There was a very nice young lady living just down the street from me, though, whom I’d known for a long time. Let’s call her Kathy. She was a year behind me in school, and we’d always said hi to each other. I wondered….
The next step in the operation was to actually ask Kathy to the concert. I didn’t want anyone at my house horning in on my conversation with her, especially Mom, or my little brother. Since this was pre-cellphone days, the only logical place to make The
Call was at a pay phone. Knowing I was on a timeline, I had to put my pitiful past out of mind and just get on with it. I rehearsed the conversation over and over, until I knew exactly what witty, charming things I’d say to Kathy to convince her. I’d even set a date and time for when to make the call.
The assigned day and time came. With trembling fingers and dry mouth, I dropped my dime in the slot and dialed. After several rings, someone answered; it was Kathy’s little brother. From this point forward, I don’t remember much of the conversation. Apparently, Kathy got the phone, I croaked out something very unwitty or charming, she said yes, and the thing was on. Putting down the receiver, I exhaled. Wondered if this what was meant when someone swooned.
Mom was elated, of course. I think she’d wondered when I’d finally get with the program.
“Oh my, Kathy is such a nice girl. Now, you just make sure to be a gentleman,” she admonished. Like I’d know what to do anyway.
Little brother got in on it, too. “Are you going to smooch?” he laughed while making slurpy, kissing sounds.
D-day: the day I’d been dreading, and the day I couldn’t wait to arrive. The car was freshly washed and polished, vacuumed, new pine scent air freshener rubbing shoulders with the graduation tassel hanging from the mirror.
Normally, I wouldn’t give a flying fig about my manner of dress when attending a rock concert: T-shirt, jeans, tennis shoes, jean jacket. This time was different, though. I really wanted to impress Kathy with my worldly ways. Got the car, now the classy dress. I got out my best corduroys, button down shirt, and a very nice sweater vest. Finished off the ensemble with my newly polished brown wing tips. Heading out the door, on a whim, I reached in the front hall closet and grabbed Dad’s top coat. It was the knee-length one he wore to church over his suit. The young gent stepping out with his girl for an evening on the town. Very nice, but soon to be a tactical error.
The conversation on the way to the show was surprisingly easy. We caught up on what was happening at school, goofy brothers, friends. Maybe this isn’t so terrifying after all, I thought. We got in line, waiting for the doors to open.
“Hey, kid, you James Bond, or something?” the big redheaded dope behind us in line asked as he eyed my clothing choice. Kathy and I feigned deafness. Mercifully, the doors opened, and we got pushed along with the crush of people filing into the dome.
We made our way through the milling crowd, and found a couple of great seats in the bleachers. Settling in, our conversation turned to the show. Standing up to take off my topcoat, somebody hollered, “Whoa, wait a minute, Jeeves, you ain’t going to flash us, are you? Nobody wants to see any of that. Your girlfriend there is going to get pissed if you do!” Laughter all around. My face burned flame red. Scrunching up the coat, I jammed it down by my feet, and cursed myself heartily. Kathy was a good sport, though. She smiled, and kept up the conversation as if nothing had happened.
Let’s just say the rest of the evening was darkly comedic. The warm up band’s front man was wasted, cursed the crowd repeatedly, flipped us all off, then stalked off stage. The people around us kept passing joints; called us “bogus” when we didn’t take any hits. Can’t forget the beer shower that rained down repeatedly from the upper regions of the bleachers, either. We both got soaked by numerous bottles of Schlitz.
The ride home was quiet. We both tried to salvage the evening with some lighthearted banter, but had to quit because neither of us could hear anything. “…the echoes from the amplifiers ringing in your head,” Bob Seger’s prophetic words crooned from the 8-track. We pulled into her driveway, she thanked me, I her, and that was that.
Pulling into my drive, I stopped the car, shut off the engine, and sat there. My gloom soon gave way to mirth. Yes, it had been a disaster but, I’d done it. I’d pulled it off…, sort of. It’s a start, my friend, it’s a start. Hopping out, I whistled a happy tune up the front walk. Reaching for the handle on the front door, I stopped abruptly.
Wait a minute, where’s the topcoat?
By Ken De Laat
"Screwdriver business just gets me confused
It takes me half an hour to change a fuse
And when I flicked the switch the lights all blew
I'm not your handyman"- Billy Bragg. Handyman Blues
Here at N3 World Headquarters & Seed-to-Garden Emporium we are in the midst of a dreaded Spring Redo Initiative where half of the team has found some incredibly inventive ways of avoiding the holding a paintbrush.
There are always stories and articles to write or look over of course and news items to follow up on. Other duties involving meetings outside of the house consume some hours here and there And of course the recent tourney run delivered ample time away since the games were played in distant arenas and being a cautious type it was not unusual to allow for a 2-3 hour cushion...just to be sure.
While certain what I describe is not likely to be seen as an attribute and readers may consider this as part of a larger character defect in reality it has consistently proved to be the best approach to anything resembling the need for one to be in any size, shape or form ‘handy’.
This is a tough one to share but anyone who knows me on any level beyond ‘that tall older guy who always looks kind of disheveled’ would be familiar with this deficiency. My long suffering LSC Lil is, of course, far more acutely aware than all others of this limitation. And, having come from a family that always knew how to ‘do things’ it seems reasonable that the legendary patience she has developed over the past several decades might have gotten traction from said limitation.
So when a room...say, a large bedroom with various angles, heavy furniture and many wall attached items...has been deemed in need of painting my reply is as predictable as the Tigers falling out of contention before Mothers Day.
“I can hire a painter or you can hire a painter or you can do it if you choose, but those are the only options.”
Now mind you, I have been more than willing to be supportive. To take full charge of chores we generally split, run any needed errands and be on call to help move this or that or even fetch hydration and sustenance when required.
But I have a history with painting and, alas, it's not a pretty one. I will 100% without a doubt mess it up and this is less excuse than it is a deep sense of self awareness.
In past years the propensity of my failure to heed the wisdom of Primum non nocere has led to many unfortunate results. You know I've found the process of aging, while not always a carnival ride, has its benefits if one pays a little attention to experiences. Efforts to go against the grain and learn how to ‘do things’ have been repeatedly made and while none were attempted with any level of commitment or enthusiasm (likely a huge part of the problem) the occasional stab at various fix-it type projects inevitably ended somewhere along a spectrum running from disappointing to disastrous.
So when I tell folks I own just 3 tools, a big hammer, duct tape and the phone?
I mean it.
And believe me the one I use the most is the phone.
Support local businesses, right?
"Tools are for people who have nothing better to do than think things through and make sensible plans.”- Laini Taylot, Muse of Nightmares
Congratulations to the Newaygo Lions Girls varsity basketball team.
It has been a real pleasure watching you obtain your mountain of a goal and making it to the State Finals. I don't know any of the players or coach personally. I do know Grandpa Jack Long, but please don't hold that against me. I have had the wonderful opportunity of announcing some of their regular season games when they played at Fremont, District games last year before covid hit and then the Regionals this year.
This team is the best of the pride. Twenty five years behind the microphone at various high school sports has given me the opportunity to witness many things. Most teams always have a player you love to hate, not so with this team of eight. They all bring a unique set of skills and passion for the game. They love playing the game of basketball with each other and they never gave up. They played hard and aggressive all the time, from start to finish.
The chemistry that they have is a tribute to fine coaching and parents support. This team has always been kind, courteous and played with positive sportsmanship. You should be so proud of your accomplishments and thank you, it's been a real treat watching you play.
Good luck in your future endeavors.
Voice of the Packers
By Jim McCormick, Former Director Newaygo County Department of Health and Human Services (Retired)
Michigan State Senator Jon Bumstead recently wrote to N3 regarding his support for election reform claiming that his constituents are concerned about election integrity. The Republican-controlled Legislature in Michigan is but one of 43 State legislatures currently considering hundreds of bills that would alter voting rights.
This reaction results from the former President claiming the 2020 presidential election was “rigged and stolen”. Examining facts, however, shows this effort to be a solution in search of a problem.
The ultra-conservative Heritage Foundation claims in it’s election fraud database that 1,317 proven cases of voters cheating exist. If one looks further, however, the data is a total from all elections since 1982 and encompass voter irregularities at any level, down to local elections. In Michigan’s case, there were 12 cases during those 38 years with no cases of voting twice in an election, no cases of ineligible people voting and no instances of people impersonating a voter.There was one case from the 2020 election where a father admitted to filling out his daughter’s absentee ballot while talking to her by phone at the college she attended. He then signed her name and sent it in. Interestingly. The fraudulent signature was caught by election officials.
One instance in the entire State of Michigan where 5.5 million votes were cast in just the November 2020 presidential election, and even in that one case the court found no criminal intent.
1,317 instances found by a far-right organization over 38 years at all levels in all states when over 1 billion votes have been cast in just the 10 presidential elections. Even if all 1,317 cases were during a presidential election, the fraud rate would be about one in 1 million. If the total votes cast in all elections were known, it would be one in billions.
Voter fraud is a myth being brought to you by sore losers who only want people who will vote for them to vote. This behavior is especially troubling when one considers the Michigan electorate passed Proposition 3 in 2018 by more than 66%. That proposition greatly expanded voting rights in Michigan which some now want to curtail. Oh, and they’re going to use a quirk in Michigan election law to do it. They’ll get someone to pay for gathering signatures on petitions and then pass the changes themselves, thereby avoiding a veto by the Governor. They’ll only need 340,000 signatures, as opposed to the 2.7million yes votes Proposition 3 obtained.
Strengthening voting integrity is an admirable goal, but it starts with telling the truth.
By Colton Isenhart
This fall I plan to attend Lake Superior State University, a small school with a 1 to 17 teacher to student ratio in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. I plan to study wildlife and fisheries biology to protect our valuable natural resources for generations to come. LSSU is one of the more affordable schools coming in just under $19,000.00 for tuition and fees. No one disagrees that the cost of a college education is increasing, even out of reach for many. Those who depend on student loans to get through college often graduate with crippling debt. The answer is not more loans, but more opportunities to earn that education. I propose three recommendations to my state legislature to reduce the cost or meet students halfway by increasing their power to earn that education.
First, audit all the colleges and universities in the state and compare the quality and costs of their programs. Find out where the money is spent and make that information public and easily accessible. This can certainly help me in making an educated choice when picking schools and spending my college savings. Use that information to give more aid to colleges who offer the best value. This educates consumers and rewards quality institutions who deliver the best value to their students.
Second, meet me halfway. I am saving for college by working part time at Meijer while in school, and full time in the summer. When I began working, I opened an account with Gerber Federal Credit Union right away because my parents taught me it was important to save a portion of my income. Reward hard workers, and savers like me, by matching my tuition payments. If I can manage to save $4,000.00 for school then offer a grant that matches that amount. I will be a more invested student if my own money is also on the line and you will be rewarding the good habits of working and saving.
Finally, increase work programs like MICorps and the CCC. Through these programs students who work for the state during the year through state parks programs, or other work projects, get not only a wage but college tuition contributions. Projects are getting done for the state, hard work is rewarded, and continued education is made possible.
Give students a chance to further their education without crippling debt. I have studied, volunteered, worked hard, and saved a large portion of my income. Unfortunately, the cost of even a lower end college education is still more than I have saved, and more than I currently have the power to earn. Legislators, please consider these three recommendations: match students' college savings; hold institutions of learning accountable by sharing a college tuition audit with the public, and meet students halfway with increased work study programs so together we can improve our state and make college more affordable.
Colton Isenhart is a senior at Fremont High School. This essay won him the top award in the recent Gerber Federal Credit Union's Annual Essay Scholarship Program.
By State Sen. Jon Bumstead, 34th Senate District
There has been a great deal of controversy surrounding election laws and security since the election in November. In the days, weeks and months following the 2020 election, I heard from many who wished to voice their concerns and distrust about how the election was conducted and an overwhelming number of voters I talk to have lost trust in our state’s election process. Many of these concerns were echoed across the country.
Our system of government allows us to have a say in the creation of the laws we live our everyday lives by. An elected voice in government and the ability to choose our leaders are what make our form of government special and the ability to confidently accept the results, whether we like them or not, is what makes the system work.
I believe everyone can agree that we need to have confidence in our elections. Election laws like security measures, identification requirements, and similar standards are what protect your fundamental right to vote. I believe we need to reexamine election laws and processes to make meaningful reforms that work to restore the public’s faith in elections.
Last week, my colleagues and I took this step and formally introduced a legislative package aimed at strengthening and improving election integrity in Michigan.
Over 30 bills were introduced as part of the election integrity package that covers a wide variety of issues dealing with processes before, during and after an election.
The bills include numerous reforms, including improving security at ballot drop boxes, strengthening poll challenger and poll watcher rights, cleaning up outdated voter lists, and requiring photo identification for in-person voting and when submitting an absentee voter ballot application. The reforms also would prohibit the mass mailing of absentee ballot applications and increase transparency in the audit process by ensuring audits are bipartisan and open to the public.
I sponsored two bills in the package. Senate Bill 288 would make audits bipartisan and open to the public. The bill gives each major political party the right to appoint an election inspector to oversee audits. This legislation would also allow each political party to appoint two observers to monitor the audit process, and the secretary of state would be required to stream video of the audit live on their website.
SB 309 would strengthen the rights of poll challengers and poll watchers. Under the bill, poll challengers would be given the right to sit behind the processing table and observe the election process from a reasonable distance. A poll challenger would also have the right to challenge a ballot if an elector is not listed in the poll book or is claiming the identity of another individual, or if the photo identification being used appears fraudulent or invalid.
My office has also created a website to give constituents an opportunity to provide feedback on the newly introduced election integrity package. To view a full summary of the election integrity package, and to provide feedback directly to my staff and me, visit www.SenatorJonBumstead.com/election.reform/.
As elected officials, I believe it is critical we listen to input from the people that elected us to represent them in state government. The election integrity package is a top priority for many of our residents, and I am open to hearing suggestions on the best way to strengthen and improve election integrity in Michigan.
Voting is the foundation of our system of government, and it is my hope that this legislation helps our residents regain confidence that their elections are being conducted honestly.
Sen. Jon Bumstead, R-Newaygo, represents the 34th state Senate District, which includes Muskegon, Newaygo and Oceana counties.
Letter to the Editor Policy
Near North Now welcomes original letters from readers on current topics of general interest. Simply fill out the form below. Letters submissions are limited to 300 words.